Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Secrets of a Happy Marriage by Cathy Kelly




Hardback:  426 pages                                                                                              
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Orion Books 2016
Source: St Cadfan's Church Fund Raising Sale - Tywyn
First Sentences: Prologue: In the San Francisco February dawn, Faenia Lennox sat at an off-white chalk-painted desk facing the Bay with its familiar and beloved fog visible beyond the Japanese maples in her garden and typed at speed, the same speed she'd learned from Mrs Farmsworth's classes in New York all those years ago. Over forty years ago, in fact.
Review Quote:  An uplifting story of warm, larger-than life characters. Comforting and feel good, the perfect treat read. (Good Housekeeping)
Favourite Quote: Secrets of a Happy Marriage #7 Never underestimate kindness. Being kind to the person you love is worth more than  hundred gifts. Kindness makes us feel love, supported and appreciated.
My Opinion: Cathy Kelly is an author I have read in the past but not since 2006. When I saw this brand new hardback for sale at a bargain price at a church fund raising event a few months ago I purchased as it looked like a read for lazy summer days.  Just finished reading, it was perfect for taking my mind off the weather, where has the sunshine gone?
A heartwarming story in Cathy Kelly's style of Irish storytelling about modern life. The dynamics of the relationships from the protagonists Bess and Edward, the older couple that have found love in later life to the rest of the characters within the extended family circle, are written about in a realistic way. The themes of friendship, marriage, trust, bereavement, infertility and depression are all topics covered that will not be unfamiliar to many readers.
I also liked the anecdotal chapter headings, all about marriage, a compassionate addition to the novel. Recommended to fans of Irish women's fiction, contemporary fiction and Cathy Kelly, an overall easy read.



Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Any family knows that a special birthday party is the perfect chance to come together, but for the Brannigan clan it's about more than just raising a glass . . .

Bess is hoping to show everyone just how happy her recent marriage is, but behind all the party-planning the cracks are beginning to show. Why is joining a family so difficult?

Jojo, Bess's stepdaughter, has a point to make. Bess is not her mother, and she won't replace the one she's been missing every day for the last two years. And will she ever get the chance to become a mum herself?

Cousin Cari is a fierce career-woman who isn't unnerved by anything - apart from facing the man who left her at the alter, and he's on the guestlist. Her job has been a safe place to hide ever since - but is it time to let love into her life again?

Thanks to laughter, tears and one surprise appearance, the Brannigans might just discover the secrets of a happy marriage . . . But will they find out before it's too late?



Author Profile:





Cathy Kelly was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland on September 12th 1966. A former Irish journalist she has been writing women's fiction since 1997, since when she has gained international recognition.

Published around the world, with millions of books in print. Cathy is the bestselling author of The Honey Queen, Once in a Lifetime and Between Sisters, and is a No.1 bestseller in the UK, Ireland and Australia. Her trademark is warm and witty Irish storytelling about modern life, always with an uplifting message, a sense of community and strong female characters at the heart.
She lives with her family and their three dogs in County Wicklow, Ireland. She is also an Ambassador for UNICEF Ireland, raising funds and awareness for children orphaned by or living with HIV/AIDS.


Photographs and biographical information courtesy of the following sites.

Amazon Author Page - Cathy Kelly     Wikipedia - Cathy Kelly       Author's Official Website

Cathy Kelly Books - Facebook     Twitter - Cathy Kelly

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry





Paperback:  400 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Arrow Books - 2017 -  Originally Published 1994
Source: A Likely Story - Tywyn
First Sentence: The fact is I had just been sacked from my paper, some frantic piffle about shouting insults from the stalls at a first night.
Review Quote:  "Fresh, filthy, funny and fizzing with ideas" (Evening Standard)
My Opinion: I read this in preparation for an evening at The Magic Lantern Cinema in Tywyn last night. What a great evening it was, this is a very funny novel. It is however also a no holds barred story about a young man struggling with reaching sexual maturity, that some readers might find offensive. Personally, I found it a very sensitive novel which I feel considering the author may well contain some autobiographical content. I was also pleased to discover that the director had kept very much to the story and the few changes he made were appropriate. I would highly recommend that you read the book before seeing the film if you can. So, in conclusion book or film? Both, as this novel was, thanks to John Jencks the director and his talented team of actors, writers and extended team, beautifully converted using Stephen Fry's words to the big screen. 




Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Ted Wallace is an old, sour, womanising, cantankerous, whisky-sodden beast of a failed poet and drama critic, but he has his faults too. Fired from his newspaper, months behind on his alimony payments and disgusted with a world that undervalues him, Ted seeks a few months repose and free drink at Swafford Hall, the country mansion of his old friend Lord Logan. But strange things have been going on at Swafford. Miracles. Healings. Phenomena beyond the comprehension of a mud-caked hippopotamus like Ted.

With this funny and deliciously readable novel, Stephen Fry takes his place as one of the most talented comic novelists of his generation.
 

Author Profile:

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry was born on August 24th 1957 in London, England. He is a leading light in film, theatre, radio and television the world over, receiving accolades in spades and plaudits by the shovel. As a comedian, writer, producer, director, actor, presenter and technophile he has featured in works as varied and adored as the movie 'Wilde', the TV series 'Blackadder' and 'Jeeves and Wooster', the sketch show 'A Bit of Fry and Laurie', the panel game 'QI', the radio series 'Fry's English Delight', Shakespeare's Globe's celebrated 2012 production of 'Twelfth Night' (as Malvolio) and documentaries on countless subjects very close to his heart.

He is also the bestselling author of four novels - 'The Stars' Tennis Balls', 'Making History', 'The Hippopotamus' and 'The Liar' - as well as two volumes of autobiography - 'Moab is My Washpot' and 'The Fry Chronicles', which published in six unique editions that combined to sell over a million copies. His third volume of autobiography, 'More Fool Me', was published in September 2014.



Photographs and biographical information courtesy of the following sites.




Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Second Honeymoon by Joanna Trollope





Paperback: 383 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Bloomsbury 2006
Source: My own bookshelves and since released via Bookcrossing
First Sentence: Edie put her hand out, took a breath and slowly slowly pushed open his bedroom door.
Review Quote: "Trollope has perfectly caught the angst of the empty nest... the ebb and flow of relationships is brilliantly handled" (The Observer)
My Opinion: I am a long time fan of Joanna Trollope. Have been reading her novels since her first 'The Choir' was published in 1989 and always found her novels to be light and entertaining, 'Aga Sagas' used to be the popular term for them. In fact it is a few years since I last read one though I still have a few reclining on my bookshelves, so I took a couple with me on my recent travels and then released them via Bookcrossing afterwards.  Although the term 'Aga Saga' is not heard much nowadays it does still seem to describe her writing about contemporary relationships. Actually 'Second Honeymoon' felt very dated to me, but that was my own fault for not reading when it was first published! I might then have found the problems Edie Boyd had struggling with empty nest syndrome a more appealing read.



Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:


Ben is, at last, leaving home. At twenty-two, he's the youngest of the family. His mother, Edie, an actress, is distraught. His father, Russell, a theatrical agent, is rather hoping to get his wife back. His brother, Matthew, is struggling in a relationship in which he achieves and earns less than his girlfriend. And his sister, Rosa, is wrestling with debt and the end of a turbulent love affair.

Author Profile:








Joanna Trollope was born on 9 December 1943 in her grandfather's rectory in Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, England, daughter of Rosemary Hodson and Arthur George Cecil Trollope. She is the eldest of three siblings. She is a fifth-generation niece of the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope and is a cousin of the writer and broadcaster James Trollope. She was educated at Reigate County School for Girls followed by St Hugh's College, Oxford. On 14 May 1966, she married the banker David Roger William Potter, they had two daughters, Antonia and Louise. In 1983 they divorced, two years later, she married the television dramatist Ian Curteis, they divorced in 2001.

From 1965 to 1967, she worked at the Foreign Office. From 1967 to 1979, she was employed in a number of teaching posts before she became a writer full-time in 1980. In 1996 she was awarded the OBE for services to literature.She now lives alone in London.

A fuller Biography can be found on her website.


Photographs and biographical information courtesy of the following sites.


Author Profile - Goodreads   Amazon - Joanna Trollope    Wikipedia - Joanna Trollope   

   Facebook - Joanna Trollope  Official Author Website

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald





Hardback:   376 pages.                                                                                               
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Chatto and Windus 2015
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: The strange woman standing on Hope's main street was so ordinary it was almost scandalous.
Favourite Quote: "For as long as she could remember, she had thought that autumn air went well with books, that the two both somehow belonged with blankets, comfortable armchairs and big cups of coffee or tea"
Review Quote: "This is a story about community, about being needed and about belonging... A warm, cosy, compassionate read" (Independent)
My Opinion: My latest book club read and I was disappointed to find it just an ok read. I know at least one of the other members of the group was loving it, but it just did not hit the spot with me. There are certain aspects I enjoyed such as the fact that the main action as such, takes place in an independent bookstore, plus the fact that it is a story full of compassion. Of course I love books, but I just did not get the point of including quite so many within this novel, actually spoilt it for me, though maybe I just missed the point as I seem to be in the minority. The Independent reviewer was I think spot on with their opinion "This is a story about community, about being needed and about belonging... A warm, cosy, compassionate read" just needed less books mentioned!

Full List of Titles Mentioned in the Book:

There are at least 79 titles and if you are interested the list can be found on Goodreads


Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

The International Bestseller

Warning: once you let books into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…

This is a book about books. All sorts of books, from Little Women and Harry Potter to Jodi Picoult and Jane Austen, from to Stieg Larsson to Joyce Carol Oates to Proust. It’s about the joy and pleasure of books, about learning from and escaping into them, and possibly even hiding behind them. It’s about whether or not books are better than real life.

It’s also a book about a Swedish girl called Sara, her elderly American penfriend Amy and what happens when you land a very different kind of bookshop in the middle of a town so broken it’s almost beyond repair.

Or is it?

The Readers of Broken Wheel has touches of 84 Charing Cross Road, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Chocolat, but adds an off-beat originality and intelligence all its own.


Author Profile

Katarina Bivald grew up working part-time in a bookshop. Today she lives outside of Stockholm, Sweden, with her sister and as many bookshelves she can get by her. She is currently trying to persuade her sister that having a shelf for winter jackets and shoes is completely unnecessary. There should be enough space for a book shelf or two instead. Limited success so far. Apparently, her sister is also stubbornly refusing to even discuss using the bathroom to store books.

Katarina Bivald sometimes claims that she still hasn't decided whether she prefer books or people but, as we all know, people are a non-starter. Even if you do like them, they're better in books. Only possible problem: reading a great book and having no one to recommend it to.


Photograph and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads - Author Profile     Amazon Author Page      Katarina Bivald - Official Website

Penguin - Katarina Bivald      Twitter Profile