Monday, March 18, 2019

Five Days by Douglas Kennedy

Paperback: 328 pages                                                                                                  
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Hutchinson 2013
Source: My Bookshelves
First Sentence: I saw the cancer immediately.
Favourite Quote: Every life is its own novel.
Review Quote: "This modern Brief Encounter asks what it is that stops us from instigating change. Throughout we are kept in exquisite suspense, waiting to see whether the beleaguered pair will seize their chance of happiness." (Independent)
Main Characters: Laura and Richard
Setting: Maine USA
My Opinion: After a very slow start I eventually got engrossed in this rather sad tale that is told around five days in the life of the female protagonist. Kennedy successfully narrates this story through her voice. Love, life and mental instability with the familiar plot where two unhappy people connect after a chance meeting. It was an easy pleasant read, but I think I know now why it sat on my shelves for so long.

A year ago I reviewed another Douglas Kennedy novel.  State of the Union

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

For twenty years, Laura has been a good wife and mother. She's supported her husband through redundancy, she's worried about her son, she's encouraged her daughter. She has been constant, caring and selfless.

She's stopped thinking about her own dreams, the places she'd like to go and the books she'd like to talk about.

But a chance meeting with a man in a hotel lobby - and the five days that follow - remind Laura of the young woman she used to be, and the woman she could have become.

Author Profile:          

Douglas Kennedy was born in Manhattan on January 1st 1955. He studied at Bowdoin College, Maine and Trinity College, Dublin, returning to Dublin in 1977 with just a trench coat, backpack and $300. He co-founded a theatre company and sold his first play, Shakespeare on Five Dollars a Day, to Radio 4 in 1980. In 1988 he moved to London and published a travel book, Beyond the Pyramids. His debut novel The Dead Heart was published in 1994.
He was married to Grace Patricia Carley  they have two children Max and Amelia but I believe are now divorced.
Apparently dividing his time between London, Paris, Berlin, Montreal, Maine and New York he must spend a lot of time travelling. He writes in French as well as English as can be seen if you visit his Official Website and Facebook

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Wikipedia Profile       Authors Official Website    Douglas Kennedy - Twitter

Lovereading - Author Profile    Facebook - Douglas Kennedy France     Amazon Page

Monday, March 11, 2019

What Happens in France by Carol Wyer

Paperback: 361 pages                                                                                                 
Genre:  Humorous Contemporary Fiction,
Publisher: Canelo Publishing 2019
Source: The author.
First Sentence: Bryony Masters clattered down the hospital corridor, handbag swinging wildly on her shoulder, skirting round patients and staff as they ambled without direction in front of her.
Review Quote: "Left me with tears in my eyes and wanting more. A hilarious and touching tale." Sue Watson, author of Love, Lies and Lemon Cakes
Main Characters: Bryony Masters and Lewis Scott.
Setting: Brittany, France.
My Opinion:  It is just about seven and a half years since I read and reviewed Carol Wyer's début novel Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines and I have followed her career and rise to fame as a novelist ever since. My thoughts at that time were that here was a novelist who knows how to make you laugh and take you away from the cares of the world for a few hours. She has gone on to prove this in a big way since then.
Then in 2017 she surprised her many fans, including me by releasing a thriller! A complete change of genre, so she is now also a successful writer of detective crime novels. A prolific writer she has already published several titles in this genre. I was unsure about the change in genre as detective crime novels are not really a favourite of mine, however the one I have read was very readable.
As I have only read one of her novels in this genre to date, her humorous writing is still my personal preference. 'What Happens in France' was a delight to read and met my expectations, feeling low when I picked this title from my tbr shelf, within a few minutes I was immersed in this contemporary romantic comedy. It is what it sets out to be an easy read, light hearted with emotional undertones and if you are looking for something to lift your spirits this will certainly do the job.

Previous Reviews:   

Mini-Skirts and Laughter Lines   Surfing in Stilettos   Just Add Spice 

Three Little Birds   Little Girl Lost

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

“She stood and took her place in front of the camera... It was now or never”

Bryony Masters has been looking for her long-lost sister, Hannah, for years, but when their father has a stroke her search takes on new urgency. So when primetime game show, What Happens in France, puts a call-out for new contestants, Bryony spots the ultimate public platform to find her reality TV-obsessed sister, and finally reunite their family.

With the help of handsome teammate Lewis, it’s not long before she’s on a private jet heading for the stunning beauty of rural France. With a social media star dog, a high maintenance quiz host and a cast of truly unique characters, Bryony and Lewis have their work cut out for them to stay on the show and in the public eye.

Yet as the audience grows and the grand prize beckons they find that the search that brought them together may just fulfil more than one heart’s wish…

Video Trailer for 'What Happens In France' Courtesy of YouTube

Author Profile:

Reproduced below is the autobiographical information from her website

Well, what can I tell you about myself? I actually began my working life abroad, in Casablanca, Morocco, where I taught English and French. I raced around the streets on an ancient VéloSoleX bike, avoiding donkeys and other clapped out bikes, to get to the jobs on time. I had one run in with a donkey at a set of traffic lights which caused me to fall off my bike – but that's another story.

After a few years, I returned to the UK to teach and run the English as a Foreign Language department of a private school. (Imagine Hogwarts without the wizardry.) Although I enjoyed wearing a gown and a mortar board and being called a mistress, I left the school to set up a language company and ventured out on my own.

I've written stories since I was in my early twenties. My first efforts were for children and sported silly titles like 'Humphrey and the Dustbin Cats', 'Hurrah for Hugo!' and 'Noir and Blanc - Two Naughty Cats'. They taught French language to younger children and were accompanied by a tape of French songs, mercifully not sung by me.

I began writing for adults in 2009 after my son flew from the nest. I converted his old bedroom into an office and began writing in earnest. At first, I wrote light-hearted novels and non-fiction books that encouraged people to age disgracefully and to 'carpe diem'.

It wasn't an easy journey but I was most fortunate and after much success with my comedies, in 2015 I signed with Bookouture (part of Hachette Group) who published the hilarious 'Life Swap', and then signed me for a three book deal. I was going to provide more comedies but I sent in a suggestion for a thriller which my editor loved and after publication of 'Take A Chance On Me', I submitted the first in the DI Robyn Carter series - 'Little Girl Lost'. The book became a huge success, becoming #2 Best Seller on Amazon Kindle UK and even featuring in USA Today Top 150 best selling books. DI Carter found her audience and by the end of 2017, the series had sold over 250,000 copies.

DI Natalie Ward came onto the scene in September 2018. 'The Birthday' rose to #3 and stayed in the Top 10 Best Selling Kindle charts for over 3 weeks. 2019 will see the release of three more novels in this series  along with 2 new romantic comedies.

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Carol Wyer - Amazon Page     Official Author's Website     Goodreads Author Profile

Facebook Author Profile          Twitter Profile

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Things We Have In Common by Tasha Kavanagh

Hardback: 260 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd 2015
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: The first time I saw you, you were standing at the far end of the playing field near the bit of fence that's trampled down, where the kids that come to school along the wooded path cut across.
Review Quote: "The most chilling last line you'll read this year" (Independent on Sunday)
Main Characters: Yasmin and Alice.
Literary Awards: Costa Book Award Nominee for First Novel (2015)ALA Alex Award (2018)
My Opinion: I really did not enjoy this novel despite the fact that it is a well written debut, not one I would have read had it not been a choice for the book club I am a member of.
The protagonist fifteen year old Yasmin is desperately lonely as she has no friends due to her weight and the subsequent bullying she is subjected to. To fill this void she has become obsessed with her attractive classmate Alice, which at first made me feel pity for her. The way the story is narrated in such an intimate way makes it particularly creepy, especially when Yasmin notices that a man also appears to be watching Alice and she transfers her obsession to this mysterious man. My pity changed to annoyance at this stage with Yasmin's disturbing fantasies. To be frank it was just not what I expected from the blurb, it bored me. In the minority, not liking this one, but I wonder if it is because the novel is apparently, aimed at Young Adults and I am certainly not in that category.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Yasmin would give anything to have a friend… And do anything to keep them.

The first time I saw you, you were standing at the far end of the playing field. You were looking down at your brown straggly dog, your mouth going slack as your eyes clocked her. Alice Taylor.

I was no different. I’d catch myself gazing at the back of her head in class, at her thick fair hair swaying between her shoulder blades.

If you’d glanced just once across the field, you’d have seen me standing in the middle on my own looking straight at you, and you’d have gone back through the trees to the path quick, tugging your dog after you. You’d have known you’d given yourself away, even if only to me.

But you didn’t. You only had eyes for Alice.

Video Trailer for 'Things We Have In Common' Courtesy of YouTube

Author Profile:

Tasha Kavanagh lives in Hertfordshire with her family and three cats. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, has worked as an editor on feature films, including 'The Talented Mr Ripley', 'Twelve Monkeys' and 'Seven Years in Tibet' and has had ten books for children published under her maiden name Tasha Pym. 'Things We Have in Common' is her first novel.

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

YouTube Trailer   Amazon Author Page     Tasha Kavanagh Website    Facebook Author Page
Twitter Profile - Tasha Kavanagh       Goodreads Author Profile

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Nutshell by Ian McEwan


Hardback:199 pages.                                                                                                  
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction.
Publisher: Jonathan Cape.
Source: Lent to me by a Book Club friend.
First Sentence: So here I am upside down in a woman.
Favourite Quote:“It's already clear to me how much of life is forgotten even as it happens. Most of it. The unregarded present spooling away from us, the soft tumble of unremarkable thoughts, the long-neglected miracle of existence.”
Review Quote: "An astonishing act of literary ventriloquism unlike any in recent literature. A bravura performance, it is the finest recent work from a true master… Told from a perspective unlike any other, Nutshell is a shocking tale of murder and treachery from one of the world’s master storytellers." (Daily Telegraph)
Main Characters: Baby Cairncross, Trudy, Claude, John.
Setting: London, UK.
Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction (2016)

My Opinion:
This was a first for me. A story told from the viewpoint of the foetus in the womb of one of the protagonists, very clever.
The narrator is the unborn baby of Trudy, very close to the delivery date so able to hear but not see. From the restricted viewpoint the foetus speculates on everything he hears that is going on in the world that he is getting to know via his mother. Even a love and knowledge of good wines thanks to her, heavy drinking! He is very concerned about the world he is about to be born into and the fact that his mother and uncle appear to be involved in a murder plot.

Another great read from Ian McEwan which his many fans are bound to enjoy and appreciate the skill he has of making social criticism in his writing.

My previous review on this blog for Sweet Tooth

My previous reviews for  Amsterdam,   
AtonementOn Chesil Beach,  Saturday and The Cement Garden were written for Bookcrossing  before this Book Review blog was in existence. 

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Nutshell is a classic story of murder and deceit, told by a narrator with a perspective and voice unlike any in recent literature. A bravura performance, it is the finest recent work from a true master.

To be bound in a nutshell, see the world in two inches of ivory, in a grain of sand. Why not, when all of literature, all of art, of human endeavour, is just a speck in the universe of possible things.

Video Trailer for 'Nutshell' Courtesy of YouTube  

                                                       Ian McEwan discusses Nutshell

Author Profile:

                                  Photo Credit: Annalena McAfee
                                                                photo credit: Annalena McAfee

Ian McEwan was born on 21 June 1948 in Aldershot, England. He studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970. He received his MA degree in English Literature at the University of East Anglia.

Ian McEwan’s works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award (1987) and the Prix Fémina Etranger (1993) for The Child in Time; and Germany's Shakespeare Prize in 1999. He has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction numerous times, winning the award for Amsterdam in 1998. His novel Atonement received the WH Smith Literary Award (2002), National Book Critics' Circle Fiction Award (2003), Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction (2003), and the Santiago Prize for the European Novel (2004). Atonement was also made into an Oscar-winning film.

In 2006, Ian McEwan won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel Saturday and his novel On Chesil Beach was named Galaxy Book of the Year at the 2008 British Book Awards where McEwan was also named Reader's Digest Author of the Year. Solar won The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction in 2010 and Sweet Tooth won the Paddy Power Political Fiction Book of the Year award in 2012. Ian McEwan was awarded a CBE in 2000. In 2014 he was awarded the Bodleian Medal. On Chesil Beach and The Children Act have recently been made into feature films.

His most recent novel Machines Like Me  will be published in April 2019

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Amazon Author Page   YouTube    Goodreads Profile Page     Ian McEwan Website