Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Blogging Break


Keep Calm...

I am going to be spending time with family and friends over Christmas, New Year and most of January so will not be posting any more Book Reviews for a few weeks. If you have called by looking for ideas for your next read I am hoping that with the over 60 books I have read and reviewed this year that I have left you with plenty of ideas.

Please have a browse around now you are here and hopefully you will find something of interest amongst this lot. Do let me know as it always fun to discuss the books we read with others isn’t it.

I look forward to continuing to share my reading with you during 2012 and also reading your reviews as well if you are a fellow book blogger.

Thanks everyone for your support.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Perhaps Tomorrow by Jean Fullerton


                                    Perhaps tomorrow by Jean Fullerton


  • Paperback: 277 pages
  • Genre: Historical Romantic Fiction
  • Publisher: Orion 2011
  • Source: Book provided by the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
  • First Sentence : ‘Mattie Maguire, owner of Maguire and Son’s coal yard, woke to the light tap of the knocker-upper’s cane on the window and Brian, her three-year-old son, chattering to his wooden soldiers in his cot at the foot of her bed.’
  • Review Quote : ‘A real page-turner with larger- than-life characters and convincing period detail’ – Daily Express.
  • My Opinion: A relaxing read that transported me back to an era that I am glad I was not born in!


    It is thanks to the enthusiasm of many authors today that use the internet to publicise their work that I have started reading more widely than ever. I have always had eclectic tastes but until recently historical fiction was a genre that I had not been reading much. If you look back over my recent book reviews you will notice that many of them are books I have read thanks to the generosity of the authors. I very much appreciate that they are willing to let me read and review their work. It is also thanks to some of these authors that I am now reading and enjoying more historical fiction.

    Jean Fullerton is one of the authors whose enthusiasm for her writing goes far beyond the book and the story. Since reading Perhaps Tomorrow while researching autobiographical information about her, I discovered that on her website, she has copious information and photos of locations used in the novel. Wonderful it really brings it alive and makes you realise how comprehensive this author’s research is.


    The female heroine is young widow Mattie Maguire who is a tough young lady. Struggling for three years since her husband died, to keep the family coal business afloat she has a hard time. Not only is she a woman in a mans world, but she has a young son and a disturbed mother in law to look after as well. At first she has no idea that her livelihood is under threat by the proposals of corrupt local business man, Amos Stebbins. Mattie believes that she will never fall in love again, until into her life comes Nathaniel Tate. Nathaniel has escaped wrongful imprisonment and returned to London to make the man who has ruined his life pay for his past crimes. Of course the man is Amos Stebbins and tracking him down to the coal yard is how he and Mattie meet when she offers him work.  It is thanks to Nathaniel that Mattie manages to cope with the dastardly deeds that Amos tries to bring her business to collapse. The pair grow ever closer only to be torn apart again when the police catch up with him. It is a challenge for him to prove his innocence, expose Amos and get back with the woman he loves.

    A relaxing read that transported me back to an era that I am glad I was not born in! If you think you would enjoy a love story set in the late 1840’s then you will not go far wrong with this one.

    Jean Fullerton

    Author information

    Jean Fullerton  was born into a large, East End family and grew up in the overcrowded streets clustered around the Tower of London. She still lives in East London, just five miles from where she was born. She feels that it is her background that gives her stories their distinctive authenticity. Jean is particularly fascinated by the 18th and 19th centuries and her books are set in this period. she is also passionate about the historical accuracy, so enjoys researching the details almost as much as writing the novels. 

    These links will take you to further information about her earlier novels.

    A Glimpse at Happiness

    No Cure for Love

    Information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites.

    Author's Official Website

    Goodreads Profile

    Amazon Profile


  • Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    The Blue Demon by David Hewson

    Italy in Books - Reading Challenge 2011

    The Blue Demon (Nic Costa, #8)

  • Paperback:  391 pages
  • Genre:  Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
  • Publisher:   February 5th 2010 by Macmillan
  • Source: Obtained in a Charity bookshop in the UK especially for the Italy in Books Challenge
  • First Sentence : The garden of the Quirinale  felt like a suntrap as the man in the silver armour strode down the shingle path.
  • My Opinion:  The fact that it was set in places I am familiar with added to the interest considerably.


    The December post for the list of books that the other people taking part are reading this month has already been posted. December Reviews

    This is my last entry as the challenge reaches a successful conclusion for me, I have read and reviewed a book for every month of the year. I would like to take the opportunity to thank  Brighton Blogger of  Book After Book for hosting what has been a fun challenge to participate in.

    I doubt I would ever have considered reading this title had it not been for the Italy in Books Reading Challenge for 2011.  Thrillers and mysteries are a genre I do not read a great deal of although I have a few authors of this genre I enjoy. In fact I usually only read this genre if it is one my husband has read and recommends to me. This was the case with this one and also to be honest I was hunting around our bookshelves for something set in Italy for the final book of the challenge. So although this title would maybe not be my first choice I did find it a good read and the fact that it was set in places I am familiar with added to the interest considerably.

    With mainly Italian characters, lots of references to Italian history, art and culture, use of Italian and familiar places how could I fail to enjoy this novel.  Having visited some of the Etruscan tombs in this region it was fascinating to read a novel weaved around the legacy of the lost race of the Etruscans. The storyline is complex with many twists and turns and will keep you guessing right to the very end.

    The story commences with the kidnapping of a government minister and his driver murdered, just days before an important  conference with leaders of the G8 in Rome. When a ritual murder takes place, performed it seems by someone dressed as The Blue Demon from Etruscan history. It is then that Detective Nic Costa suspects that a twenty year old case where a mysterious group committed a series of crimes in the style of the infamous Blue Demon of Etruscan history was never really solved. The group has reformed and are planning attacks on Rome with devastating consequences. Old Etruscan myths, conspiracy and murders old and new are all part of the investigation.

    Well worth reading if you are not only a lover of all things Italian but enjoy a good mystery.

    For those of you interested in learning more about the historical background, I have included a couple of links to get you started.

     The Tomb of The Blue Demons      The Blue Demons in the Etruscan Underworld.

    Author Profile

    David Hewson

    DAVID HEWSON was born in Yorkshire in 1953 and left school at the age of seventeen to work as a cub reporter on one of the smallest evening newspapers in the country in Scarborough. Eight years later I was a staff reporter on The Times in London, covering news, business and latterly working as arts correspondent. I worked on the launch of the Independent and was a weekly columnist for the Sunday Times for a decade before giving up journalism entirely in 2005 to focus on writing fiction.

    He has written sixteen novels, as well as several travel books. Until 2005 he was a weekly columnist for the Sunday Times until becoming a full-time author. David lives in Kent but visits Italy frequently. All 11 of his Italian books are now in development as TV movies.

    Sources of information used in this post :- 

     Goodreads Author Profile     Author's Official Website  David Hewson - Blog


    I also post these ‘Italy in Books’ reviews on my other blog.
    News From Italy

  • Monday, December 12, 2011

    2.18 by Aglaya Moroz



  • Ebook:  321KB in the Kindle Edition
  • Genre:  Fantasy Adventure Fiction
  • Publisher:  Aglaya Moroz; Original Edition edition (29 Aug 2011)
  • Source: Book provided by the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
  • First Sentence : The valley was generously and unhesitatingly painted with green, red, yellow and purple.
  • My Opinion:  I did not enjoy this at all, I did warn the author though that I find fantasy difficult and this was just too much for me, but may well appeal to fans of the genre.

    The story started well enough as we learn that the heroine Tessa and her boyfriend Orson are leading a normal life in Denver. Until one day Tessa finds herself transported through a time portal to Geodar a parallel world to Earth with two supernatural beings called Camille and Val. These two strangers that appeared that night in her bedroom introduced themselves to her as her guardians. Camille was a representative of light and Val one of darkness. This is indeed a very strange fantasy adventure story involving this trio hunting down a crazy Russian scientist called Roman, who actually turns the tables on them by kidnapping Tessa.

    Unfortunately the further I got into the book the more confused I became and also more irritated. Maybe I do not have the imagination I think I have but I was really unable to get my head round the higher powers that were supposedly running this parallel world!           

    I read on despite not understanding what was going on! Tess is thrown out of the realm of Geodar for performing magic during a minstrels tournament, only to find herself in Ergo meeting a Goddess called Ayouso.

    Will she be stuck in these different realms for the rest of eternity or will she be returned to Earth the same day she left? If you want to find out you will have to read the book yourself.

    I was also disappointed that I came across so many grammatical and spelling errors, this does seem to be a recurring problem where eBooks are concerned. Not in all cases but certainly I feel more than is acceptable. Is it lack of editing I wonder, do some authors just not get their books proof read or edited before publishing.

    Not for me then but many of you fantasy fiction fans out there will probably enjoy this, especially if the author gets the editing sorted before the print publication.

    For the sake of those of you that may enjoy this genre and not find my preview of the story very clear I am reproducing here the book description from Goodreads

    An ordinary, 23-year-old, MarCom manager in Denver finds herself falling in love with her seemingly ever-present Guardian... Demon. “Seemingly” is the key word here, because by a bureaucratic mistake, at the time of Tessa’s birth, she was not assigned a Guardian Angel or a Guardian Demon, until just today.
    And the reason Camille and Val appear in the middle of a hot summer night in her bedroom is a simple one. By another mistake made by somebody in the Archives of the Powers, she wasn’t given a purpose in life.
    Tessa Vetrov is offered a new mission -- to hunt down an insane Russian scientist in Geodar, a neighbouring realm of Earth, under the supervision of her newly-appointed Guardians. She reluctantly accepts the offer, which is guaranteed to take only one minute of her life here on Earth, and the successful completion of which will bring her a hefty reward.
    Unfortunately, it turns out that Tessa is just a pawn in a high-stake game of the Higher Powers, and not all of their promises will be kept..."

  • Sorry Aglaya but I know this review will disappoint you. You obviously write a good story,  just not to my taste.  In my opinion this does need some editing before it appears in paperback next summer.  I guess or hope that this is already in the hands of your publishers and they will have said the same as me. Thanks for asking me to review for you and I wish you all the best with your writing.

    Author Profile.

  • All I can say about  Aglaya Moroz  is that she describes herself on her  Blogger Profile as a Storyteller. Explorer. Dreamer and Doer.

    I did ask the author for some biographical details and a photo but unfortunately she did not provide me with any, so this photo is the one she uses on her Goodreads Profile which does not tell us anything about her either. Maybe she is a shy young lady, she does have a blog though  My Belfry  and a Facebook Page.

  • Monday, December 5, 2011

    Legacy by Danielle Steel


  • Paperback: 415 pages
  • Genre: Romantic fiction
  • Publisher:Corgi 2011 – Part of Transworld Publishers
  • Source: Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge
  • First Sentence : ’There was a heavy snowfall that had started the night before as Brigitte Nicholson sat at her desk in the admissions office of Boston University, meticulously going over applications.’
  • Description From Amazon : One woman's quest to find her family...and herself.
  • My Opinion: Enjoyable, quick read.

    Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge

    Book Group Logo

    This is my second and final read for the Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge as somehow the other two titles I had picked for some reason or other never reached me! I do not think it was the post, as many other books have reached me. Having picked  four titles my first choice was the excellent and evocative The Sandalwood Tree. missing out choices two and three we move on to my fourth and final choice reviewed here today.

    It is only because of the Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge that I find myself reading Danielle Steel again as just over two years ago I read and reviewed Sisters claiming that ‘Although I have been reading the novels of Danielle Steel as light relief for over thirty years I am now seriously wondering why I continue to do so. She may be a prolific and popular author but I think the time has come to remove her novels from my wishlist and spend more time reading other authors that I enjoy more’. If I was so disappointed why did I indeed pick one of her titles for the challenge, well I am glad I did as this was so much better. An enjoyable read which I devoured in a couple of days, but I do prefer a book to have more substance to it these days than this provided. Danielle Steel is certainly a very prolific and popular writer with millions of fans and if her books come my way I may well read them from time to time for light entertainment, but they will still not be appearing on my wishlist.

    Two female protagonists dominate this story, separated by hundreds of years but sharing family genes. We first meet Brigitte Nicholson the modern day female, actually a somewhat boring character, living a safe and academic lifestyle, that I wanted to shake very early on in the book. Her life is turned upside down unexpectedly and struggling to come to terms with what has happened to her, she agrees to help her mother with a genealogy project, just for something to do initially. Fortunately for the reader the story is not just about Brigitte, she is just the tool the author has used to introduce us to the other female protagonist Wachiwi; whom we first meet in Chapter Six when we are transported from modern day to 1784 and are introduced to this daring young Sioux Indian girl. Her story is one of courage in the face of the unknown and for the rest of the novel it swaps between present and past as we learn Wachiwi’s story both in real time and through the research Brigitte is carrying out in the present day. Brigitte discovers that her family has connections to the French aristocracy and she cannot wait to learn how and why a Sioux Indian should end up in France married to a member of her family. Her boring life at last seems to be changing as she finds herself  taking opportunities she would never have thought of considering before embarking on the family research. Her ancestor Wachiwi certainly seems to shake up Brigitte’s life for the better and the story provides the reader with a few hours romantic entertainment.

  • Legacy by Danielle Steel

  • Uploaded by rhpubgroup on Sep 20, 2010


    Danielle SteelAuthor profile courtesy of  Goodreads

    Danielle Steel was born on August 14, 1947 in New York, New York, The United States. She is one the world’s most popular and highly acclaimed authors, with eighty international bestselling novels in print and 600 million copies sold. Nowadays she divides her time between California and Paris. She has nine children that despite her many interests always remain her first priority. From an education in New York and Europe to a professional background in public relations and advertising, and teaching, Danielle moved on quickly to her literary career, she wrote her first book at nineteen. Often, she works on five books at a time — researching one storyline, writing another, and editing the third. Still, she often spends two to three years researching and developing a single project. In the heat of a first draft, it is not uncommon for her to spend eighteen to twenty hours a day glued to her 1946 Olympia manual typewriter.
    Family, children, and young people are the central focus of her life, and her passion, which frequently shows in her writing. She deals with the themes that touch on the most pressing issues of real life, which makes her books universal, and touch so many people. She is fascinated by the pressing life situations that affect us all, how people handle them and are often transformed as a result. And her novels have explored subjects such as kidnapping, incest, mental illness, suicide, death, divorce, adoption, marriage, loss, cancer, war, among others. She also frequently writes about historical themes, shedding new light on familiar historical events with meticulously accurate research.

    Information for this post is with thanks to the following websites.

    Goodreads Author Profile       Facebook Profile

    Danielle Steel writes a blog Minnie Mouse where you can learn a lot more about Danielle the person.  For Danielle the author visit her Official Author Website

  • Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    Passeggiata–Strolling Through Italy by G.G. Husak


                Italy in Books - Reading Challenge 2011


  • Paperback: 355 pages
  • Genre: Travel memoir
  • Publisher: Booksurge Publishing  2008
  • Source: Sent to me by another blogger Maggie of Normandy Life via Bookmooch
  • First Sentence : Prologue ‘for almost fifteen years, March has signified not only the coming of spring, but my husband Al’s and my pilgrimage to Italy.’
  • Quote From Amazon.com : Ms. Husak’s memoir of travels to Italy with her husband will appeal to those who love travel in general and Italy in particular.
  • My Opinion: Suited especially to the first time visitor or virtual traveller to Italy.



    The November post for the list of books that the other people taking part are reading this month has already been posted. November Reviews

    Although I enjoyed this memoir about this couples travels in Italy, I did not really find it excited me. I hope that does not mean I have been living here too long for a travel memoir of Italy to inspire me. Personally I feel this is more suited to the first time visitor or virtual traveller to Italy and better read in small doses as it did tend to be repetitive in parts. The repetitiveness was a shame as I felt it was due to poor editing as were some of the mistakes I found. Mistakes I hasten to add that those that do not live here or speak any Italian I doubt will even notice, so I am not going to be pedantic and will not even mention them in detail.

    The Cinque Terre is one of the couples favourite places and it  also saddened me somewhat to be reading this so soon after the recent disasters caused by flooding in the area. That withstanding they covered many of the major tourist centres on their annual holidays, including Roma, Florence, Venice, Milan, Orveito, Siena, Naples, Sorrento and Positano.  A wide selection indeed. Some of the things that they had to say about various places and the way things work here in Italy did niggle me a bit at times.  Again this was probably a case of knowing both the places and the vagaries of life in Italy, a little better  in some aspects, not others) than this intrepid pair of adventurers. Also one must remember that this was the early nineties they were writing about for their first trips and times have changed a lot since then.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Italy has got under this couples skin and really enriched their lives, otherwise why would they still be coming here, as we are led to believe they still do. I would be very interested in a sequel as I think they may have learnt a lot more about Italy since those early days. Although even on those early trips they soon learnt to relax and go with the flow, it is the only way to happily exist in Italy.

    ‘Passegiata strolling through Italy’ certainly has a lot to recommend it to lovers of all things Italian, who wish to immerse themselves in the personal details of the Husak’s adventures.


    Since 1993, Glen Grymes Husak has made an annual pilgrimage to Italy. Glen brings her background and insight as an English teacher and museum docent to the history and art of Italy.

    Glen Grymes Husak has travelled with her husband Al to Italy since 1993. Their adventures in Italian cities and villages and growing love for the Italian experience provide the inspiration for her writing. She brings the background and insight of an English teacher and museum art docent to historical sights and art of Italy. She tells her friends that she enjoys writing about Italy almost as much as being there.
    In more recent years, Glen and Al have added other Mediterranean destinations to their travels but always end up in Italy. They have not found a place that they like better. The author is I believe currently based in Houston, Texas.

    Other sources of information used in this post :-

    Author's Goodreads Profile

    G.G. Husak's Official Website



    I also post these ‘Italy in Books’ reviews on my other blog.
    News From Italy

  • Monday, November 21, 2011

    The Golden Sky by E.C. Stilson


                                               The Golden Sky

  • Advance Proof Paperback: 284 pages
  • Genre:  Personal Memoir
  • Publisher:  Wayman Publications 2011
  • Source: Book provided by the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
  • First Paragraph : Entry#1 Being pregnant isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread. On the days I don’t feel like I have Alzheimer’s, I’m like Hercules journeying from hell. Here I am at the age of nineteen, with a seven month old girl and another kid on the way.
  • My Opinion: This true story about the death of a baby hit me in a way I did not quite expect it to, it was emotionally draining.


    I defy you not to be moved by this memoir written by a young woman who at times seems so innocent and others so wise. It might not be a great literary work but it is truth and real and something that happens to far too many people. When Elisa was just nineteen her second born child, a son died, she and her husband Cade became a sad statistic, which sadly many thousands of others can relate to. We have all experienced grief and loss but the acute pain of losing a child was just so hard to imagine, until I read this.

    One day Elisa Stilton aged 26 found the strength to reread the journal she wrote at the time of his death, when she was hurting more than most of us can ever imagine! It was painful and difficult to read her journal again but it helped Elisa at last find peace with Zeke’s death. Grateful that she had written down her experience at the time this brave young lady decided to share her families pain with the world. Published on November 18th 2011, the anniversary of Zeke’s birth she hopes that by doing so she can help others that have experienced the loss of a child.

    The memoir is written in a very honest and personal way and Elisa bares her soul to the world in this diary, leaving nothing out. There are a lot of personal details about her relationships, her pregnancies, her thoughts when they discover the baby may be handicapped, the trauma of his birth, personal letters from her family on his birth and how her marriage nearly falls apart because of all the trauma. However Elisha is one amazing young lady who never gives up, seems to remain cheerful through it all and is determined to find a way of keeping her husband and daughter Ruby together as a family. She is willing to work hard to do so and her fighting spirit and humour will draw you to like this young woman.  In Elisa’s own words I echo that publishing this memoir In honour of Zeke, was a wonderful thing to do, ‘because after every storm, there is a golden sky’.

  • I was hoping to share a video trailer with you but have been unable to get the embedding to work, so I am just including the link The Golden Sky Trailer - You Tube. It is just 1min 24 sec, do pop over and take a look.

    Author Profile – Elisa Stilson

    bookThe autobiographical information and photo published here was kindly provided for me by the author herself.

    Elisa Hirsch has her degree through the University of Phoenix. Her particular degree has a counselling emphasis and she finds it very useful when leading grief counselling groups for parents who have lost children.
    For the last six years she owned and operated EC Boutique. Her company received various awards including, Best of Show at the Utah State Fair, Top Ten Award from Boutique Customs Mini Mall and last year on e-bay it was even rated as the fifth largest custom handmade kids' clothing store in the world. Elisa designed and created outfits for children, but has since decided to close her business and work on her writing career.
    Elisa plays six instruments; the violin, piano, drums, alto sax, tenor sax and the clarinet. Her husband is also a musician. They love to play at weddings, funerals, coffee shops and restaurants.
    She also enjoys speaking publicly and meeting new people. She has spoken at M.O.P.S., been Juliet in the local play and made it to the final three for the Salt Lake Story Tellers contest in 2001. She hopes to continue being asked to speak at functions and counsel people who need help overcoming grief.
    Her husband and four beautiful children are a blessing. She is so proud to have them in her life especially since one of her little boys passed away eight years ago. He was born with birth defects and he changed her life. Since his death, writing has become an even stronger passion of Elisa's. She always wrote, even finishing a ninety page manuscript at the age of ten, but now writing is one of her best driving forces. She tries to write for at least two hours each morning and is in a writing critic group as well as the Writers League of Utah.

    Elisa has also put together a selection of the private family photos of her son’s birth,  Zeke Jackson

    Elisa and her husband Cade are also musical, listen to some by visiting  Our Music

    A young writer to watch take a look at her blog The Crazy Life of a Writing Mum.

    A talented couple who went through so much so young, I wish them a successful and happy future together, also thankyou Elisa for asking me to review The Golden Sky, it was a privilege to do so.

  • Friday, November 11, 2011

    Rebellion by Rachel Cotterill


            Rebellion (Chronicles of Charanthe #1)


  • Ebook: 371 pages
  • Genre:  Fantasy Adventure Fiction
  • Publisher:  Rachel Cotterill (10 Oct 2010)
  • Source: Book provided by the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
  • First Two Paragraphs : Prologue: His attention was caught by the snapping of a twig down in the valley. He held himself still, forcing even his breathing to silence, and turned his eyes to follow the sound. The disturbance came not a moment too soon; he'd been starting to doubt the quality of his informants. 
  • It was a few moments before the girl emerged from the dense cover of the trees. She walked barefoot up the slope, a purposeful look on her face, and though she looked up she didn't seem to see him hidden between the branches. She was a thin child, short for her thirteen years, with stunning red hair which flowed down her back. She looked so like her mother.
  • My Opinion: This is a well written novel and despite it being fantasy a genre that does not normally appeal, it proved to be a better read than expected. Thanks Rachel for encouraging me to read your novel.

    Although Fantasy is not a genre I am fond of I was impressed with the writing and the way that Rachel has created a whole fantasy world in this first novel in the trilogy the Chronicles of Charanthe. It is a strange world but through the protagonist Eleanor you will be able to step into this world where children are taken away from their parents at birth to be educated. Upon graduation the students are awarded lifetime job assignments, but Eleanor’s posting is not the dream job she had always hoped for. The job offered to her is one she feels far below her abilities so she decides to reject the offer. This is where her problems begin as suddenly free for the first time in her life, she recalls the legends which tell of a secret society of elite assassins, who live outside the laws of the Empire and who may or may not truly exist. As she seeks out the truth she has many adventures, of which if you are not a fan of this genre may seem incredibly far fetched, as she cheats, steals and kills her way to succeed.  I coped as I liked the way the author portrayed her characters and it was a fast paced read. I did however find the descriptions of weaponry, fighting and even torture a little too much at times, but this was a personal issue and other readers probably love all this fast paced action. 

    If you are a fan of this genre or someone that likes to stretch their comfort reading zone from time to time than I recommend you try the work of this talented young author. I will also admit that I am looking forward to reading Revolution, which is published today 11.11.11, to see how the story progresses and the characters develop.

    Author Profile – Rachel Cotterill

    Rachel Cotterill

    Born on January 06, 1983 in The United Kingdom Rachel now lives with her husband in the Cotswolds. When she's not writing, she's studying for a PhD in computational linguistics. On her website she describes herself as a writer, photographer, computational linguistics PhD student, and someone who collects skills the way other people collect stamps - so far including dry-stone walling, taekwondo, sugarcraft, EFL teaching, rope-splicing, skiing & snowboarding, knitting & crochet, cooking, juggling, and coppicing, an enterprising young lady indeed, she also enjoys learning a little of the languages of the countries she visits, so that she can ask for directions when she gets lost.

    If you are unsure if her novel Rebellion is going to appeal to you, the first few chapters are available to read online here

    You can find out more about Rachel her writing and her photography on her website Rachel Cotterill, her Goodreads Author Profile  or her Flickr Profile.

    Chronicles of Charanthe Website  Rebellion is the first Chronicles of Charanthe novel. Revolution, the second, will be published in November 2011, and the final book of the series, Reformation, is due in 2012.

  •  Revolution - Chronicles of Charanthe 2 is published today 11.11.11

  • Monday, November 7, 2011

    Zlata’s Diary – A Child’s Life in Sarajevo by Zlata Filipovic




    • Audiotape: 2 tapes Abridged 3hrs listening
    • Genre : Biography/Autobiography
    • Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks
    • Source: From a selection I have languishing on shelves.
    • Read By : Dorota Puzio


    Reviewing an Audiobook here is a recent  departure for me, as this is just the second time I have done so. I recently discovered a collection of approximately twenty audio books that we have moved from house to house for years. It is time that most of them were moved on as tapes are rather out dated, although I might keep the classics. My first audio book review was back in April and I was planning to review about one a month. So much for good intentions, somehow the plan never materialised until the other day when I came across this copy that I had originally purchased for our younger daughter in 1995.  Never a great fan of reading, unless we read to her, we did manage to get her into the habit of listening to tapes. Thankfully it worked and although she might not have read them herself, she has a reasonable knowledge of many children’s classics either from us reading to her, or listening to tapes.

    She was eleven years old herself, the same age as Zlata, when Zlata’s Diary was originally published and it was an excellent way to introduce to her the effects of war on children.

    At the beginning of 1992 Zlata Filipovic was living in Sarajevo, the normal everyday life of a young girl, school, holidays and time with friends were uppermost in her thoughts. She did mention the war in her diary but at first it was just a distant threat. Until suddenly that April war broke out in Sarajevo and her main concern became survival! It was dangerous living in the city as snipers were active there. Inevitably the war meant hardships for her family and they had to adapt to living without the things we all take for granted especially food and not being able to move around outside safely! There was always the constant fear of death in the air never knowing if family and friends would survive the atrocities. In writing this diary I felt that Zlata shows amazing fortitude for one so young and learning about the war through her perspective is a moving experience. As she does not fully understand the politics behind this war she tends to have more to say about how the war affects her life, rather than about the culture clash which is at the root of the troubles.

    The diary does end rather abruptly which I felt was a shame when Zlata and her family are moved to safety in France, because of the publicity her diary attracted!

    An insightful read for adults and children alike.

    Author photograph.

    Zlata Filipovic was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1980. At the age of ten, she started keeping a diary, which, when conflict began in the former Yugoslavia, became a record of the war and survival in her city. Zlata’s Diary was published first in France in 1993 and was an instant international bestseller. It has since been translated into thirty-six languages and is required reading in many schools around the world.

    She holds a B.A. in Human Sciences from Oxford University and an MPhil in International Peace Studies from Trinity College Dublin. She has spoken extensively at schools and universities around the world and has worked on many occasions with organizations such as the Anne Frank House, the United Nations, and UNICEF. She is also a three-time member of the UNESCO Jury for Children’s and Young People’s Literature Prize for Tolerance.

    Her written work includes contributions to several books, radio programs and newspapers, including a foreword for The Freedom Writers Diary(Doubleday, 1997) and the English translation of Milosevic: The People’s Tyrant (I.B. Tauris, 2004), for which she has also written a foreword. More recently, she co-edited Stolen Voices: Young People’s War Diaries from WWI to Iraq (Penguin, 2006).

    She recently worked within the UN Children and Armed Conflict Division in New York under Olara Otunnu and is collaborating with Amnesty International USA on developing human rights education material based around her most recent book, Stolen Voices.

    Zlata now serves on the executive committee of Amnesty International Ireland and is currently making documentary films.

    For a visual insight into the atrocities in Sarajevo please take a five minutes to watch this video.

    Uploaded by Freeweezy6290 on Mar 8, 2011

    For more background I also recommend reading an excellent interview with Zlata Filipovic published in April 2011  Starting A New Life in Ireland –   on the  globalcitydublin blog.

    Author biography and photography is taken from The Penguin Speakers Bureau

    Other sources of information used in this post were:-

    Zlata Filipovic - Wikipedia

    Wikipedia - Zlata's Diary

    Zlata Filipovic - YouTube

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Guernica by Dave Boling




  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Genre: Literary Fiction
  • Publisher: Picador 2009
  • Source: My sister-in-law.
  • First Sentence : Prologue (Guernica 1939)Justo Ansotegui returns to the market now to hear the language and to buy soap.
  • Review Quote : 'Where Picasso's painting so vividly captured the hellfire of the town's destruction, this book fills in the humanity. The characters, the culture and the landscape are all lovingly described.'
    --New Statesman
  • My Opinion: One of my favourite reads this year.


    Until I read this novel my only knowledge of ‘Guernica’ was as a place in the Basque region of Spain that had come under attack during the Spanish Civil War. I had also heard of Picasso’s painting of the same name, but had never looked at it closely. Although I have now done so online, it would be a moving experience to see it in reality, especially now I know more about the events behind the creation.  I understand when reading historical fiction that fact and fiction are sometimes difficult to separate. So I enjoy the fact that reading a novel like this one, besides being a pleasure to read has also taught me something along the way.

    The novel concentrates on the story of two Basque families related by marriage the Ansotegui’s and the Navarro’s. An extraordinary fictional tale of their  family life from 1893 – 1940 with appearances by some real people from history. The story is woven around the characters Miguel Navarro and Miren Ansotegui, when the two of them meet they believe they have a love that nothing can destroy.

    While reading this I felt thoroughly immersed in the surroundings and so connected with the characters that I felt their grief and happiness as if I knew them personally. This is truly a wonderful love story not just between individuals but a love of family, traditions and place, definitely one of my favourite reads this year.


    Image of Dave BolingAuthor photo

    Dave Boling was born in Chicago, USA and has been a journalist in the Pacific Northwest since 1980. Prior to that, he worked as a logger, iron-worker, boat-builder, bartender, bouncer, short-order cook, painter and college football coach. He lives on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. Guernica, his first novel, was voted Richard and Judy's best 'Summer Read' for 2009.

    The interview with Dave Boling is less than six minutes but split into three parts, in the first part he discusses the novel, no spoilers. I have also included the links to the next two parts in which he discusses why he became an author and the reasons behind why he wrote Guernica.

    Uploaded by picadorbooks on Jul 15, 2009

    Dave Boling Interview Part 2

    Dave Boling Interview Part Three

    Information for this post is with thanks to the following websites.  
  • Amazon - Author Profile   

  • Guernica - The Painting – Wikipedia

  • Author's Official Website

  • YouTube

  • Sunday, October 9, 2011

    Gone Travelling


                  Keep Calm...


    I am away for the rest of October and will not be posting any more Book Reviews until after my return. However I have left you with plenty of ideas over the last week, having finally caught up on writing and posting Book Reviews.

    Hopefully you will find something of interest amongst this lot, do let me know.

    Links to all of my October Book Reviews.

    Reversing Over Liberace by Jane Lovering

    Follies by Rosie Thomas

    The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison

    The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell

    Ex-Pat Women Confessions by Andrea Martin

    Coffee at Little Angels by Nadine Rose Larter

    Economics of Ego Surplus by Paul Mcdonnold

    Recipe For Life by Nicky Pellegrino

    Trade Winds by Christina Courtenay

    Happy Reading

    Saturday, October 8, 2011

    Trade Winds by Christina Courtenay



  • Paperback: 363 pages
  • Genre: Historical Romantic Fiction
  • Publisher: Penguin 2005
  • Source: Obtained via Bookmooch
  • First Sentences : ‘You have the devil’s own luck, Kinross, but it can’t last. Just one more throw of the dice and you’ll see I’m right.’
  • Review Quote:Courtenay has created a well-researched background for the romance ... And as the weather starts to turn here, it's a good book to snuggle up inside with. News of the World, October 3, 2010.
  • Awards: Short-listed for The Romantic Novelists' Association's Pure Passion Award for Best Historical Fiction 2011.
  • My Opinion: It is novels like this one that are encouraging me to read more historical fiction than I used to.

    I have only recently been introduced to the writing of Christina Courtenay and that is because while I was reading other book blogs I came across a Prize Draw for The Scarlet Kimono another book of hers, it appealed to me, so I entered. What a lovely surprise it was when I won. Deciding to track down and read her earlier work first I obtained this copy of Trade Winds via Bookmooch.

    Just the sort of fiction I recommend reading if you are in the mood to be transported back not only in time but also to a far away place. It is novels like this one that are encouraging me to read more historical fiction than I used to.

    Reading the Authors notes at the beginning of the novel it appears that Christina Courtenay has done her research well for this novel basing it on the Swedish East India Company’s first journey to China in 1732. The protagonists of the story Jess van Sandt, Killian Kinross and their family and friends are all fictitious. However Colin Campbell and other crew members named in the novel were real people, whose lives she researched to enable her to write this realistic portrayal of a daring journey to the Far East. 

    The novel opens with Killian Ross a handsome Scot and professional gambler having a win that allows him to make dramatic changes to his life. Already disinherited by his grandfather Killian decides to leave his past behind in Scotland and try a to build a new life for himself in Sweden. It is in Gothenburg that he meets up with feisty Jess van Sendt, who on meeting Killian decides he might be just the man to help her prove that her stepfather is trying to do her out of her rightful inheritance. Killian is learning the art of trading in her family business and makes plans to join an expedition to the Far East. At first Jess finds Killian immensely irritating and he seems to find her just as infuriating. Intrigued with each other, Jess comes up with a plan for Killian to help her get possession of what is rightly hers. However I do not intend to spoil the story by telling you any more other than it does not quite work out the way Jess plans.

    This is a delightful story with two well developed main characters that come to life, as you get to know them. It is a good read with plenty of love and adventure that will take you away to times past for a few satisfying hours.


  • About ”Trade Winds” Reproduced Courtesy of Author's Official Website

    “Trade Winds” is a historical romance set in Sweden and China.  It is loosely based on the Swedish East India Company’s first journey to the Far East in 1732, but when I first started writing it, I had no idea this was going to be the case.

    Ideas for stories can come to an author in many ways – they might be triggered by seeing a picture, hearing a snatch of conversation, noticing a scent or reading something that catches your interest.  Usually, for me, one particular thing will make a scene form in my mind, but with this novel I was inspired in two very different ways.

    First of all, in May 2007 the Swedish ship “Götheborg” anchored in London for a couple of weeks, which was exciting to me (a) because I’m half Swedish and (b) because it’s not often you get to see huge sailing ships these days.  The “Götheborg” is an exact replica of one of the ships used by the Swedish East India Company to sail to China in the eighteenth century.  It had been on a journey to Canton and was on its way home.  Members of the public were allowed to go on board and have a look around, so I took the opportunity to do so.  It was fascinating and I couldn’t believe how cramped conditions must have been for the poor sailors in the 18th century.  They were truly brave men!  (For more information and some photos, please click here)  Out of curiosity, I began to read more about the Swedish East India Company, and the idea for my story took root.

    The second thing that inspired me was a music video – “Call Me When You’re Sober” by the American band Evanescence.  The video for this song is based on the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood, but the wolf in this instance is a handsome young man who looks wicked and mischievous.  He happened to be dressed in old-fashioned clothing, which fits in with my historical writing, and this fired my imagination.  The beautiful singer of the band, Amy Lee, was of course Little Red Riding Hood and although she appears timid and naive at the beginning of the video, she starts to assert herself and ultimately triumphs over the wolf/young man because he is enthralled by her.  I decided my heroine had to be just as feisty.  (If you want to watch the video of “Call Me When You’re Sober” you can find it on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=izYIO9VtjUs)

    The wolf guy became Killian Kinross, a Scotsman who travels to Gothenburg in the hope of making his fortune.  Once there, he meets Jessamijn van Sandt, a girl who is being swindled out of her inheritance by her step-father.  They join forces for their mutual benefit and eventually end up together on the ship Friedericus Rex Sueciae bound for Canton.  This turns out to be an eventful journey in many ways, not least emotionally, and they have to overcome numerous obstacles before all ends well.

    If you would like to read an extract, please click here.

    Photo and Biography – Amazon

    Christina Courtenay lives in London and is married with two children. Although born in England, she is half Swedish and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, the family moved to Japan and she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East and other parts of the world.

    Christina is a committee member of the Romantic Novelists' Association. She has won two of their prizes - the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy for a historical short story in 2001 and the Katie Fforde Bursary in 2006. She has had several Regency novellas published by DC Thomson's 'My Weekly Pocket Novel' series, two of which have also been sold to large print.

    Her hobbies include genealogy, archaeology (the armchair variety), listening to loud rock music and collecting things.

    Christina Courtenay’s Novels

    The Scarlet Kimono is already on my bookshelves courtesy of me winning a signed copy in a Prize Draw, but I wanted to track down and read a copy of Trade Winds first. I prefer to read an author’s work in order or writing/publication if possible. I am planning to read The Scarlet Kimono very soon as on November 1st her new book Highland Storms will be published. I have of course added the title to My Wishlist already.

    Biographical and other information including photos and videos are courtesy of the following websites and from the paperback itself.

    Official Website - Christina Courtenay

    Amazon Author Profile

    Facebook - Christina Courtenay

  • Friday, October 7, 2011

    Recipe For Life by Nicky Pellegrino


    I have decided to post this today instead of on my return from our travels, as a tribute to Steve Jobs 1955 - 2011 as by coincidence he is quoted in the book as you will see if you read on. An amazing and erudite man that will be sorely missed but leaves us a lot to remember him by.

    Steve Jobs.

           Italy in Books - Reading Challenge 2011


  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Genre: Women’s Fiction
  • Publisher: Orion Books 2010
  • Source: Sent to me by another blogger Maggie of Normandy Life
  • First Sentence : ‘At Villa Rosa there was an old dog barking in the garden, running between the straggle of artichokes, chasing a bird as though he was still a puppy.’
  • Quote that Starts Part One: “Your time is limited so don’t waste it leading someone else’s life” Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple Inc.
  • Review Quote : ‘Set against a backdrop of love, life and friendship, the description of Italian food will make your mouth water.’ Cosmopolitan.
  • My Opinion: A pleasure to lose myself in for a few hours.




    The October post for the list of books that the other people taking part are reading this month has already been posted. October Reviews

  • A blogging friend of mine Maggie from Normandy Life joined this challenge after reading about it on my blog. I enjoyed her review of Recipe For Life which you can read here and in response she kindly sent her copy to me.

    This is the first title by this author that I have read and I doubt it will be the last as I believe they are all set in Italy. Although I am already here living the dream it was a pleasure to lose myself in the setting for this delightful novel for a few hours. A very relaxing read and the sights and smells felt almost real, it is obvious that the author knows those sights and smells for herself and is passionate about Italy.

    The story is told by the two main female characters, Alice and Babetta in alternating chapters. Alice a young British girl has had a traumatic incident in her life which has caused her to drop out of university and for her whole life to change direction. She wants to make the most of her life but seems somewhat confused as to how to go about this. The other protagonist is Babetta the typical Italian mama figure who has spent her life tending to her family’s needs. Babetta is feeling lost as her husband seems to have lost his zest for life. leaving her feeling useless.           One summer these vastly different women are brought together, thanks to the beautiful Villa Rosa. Despite not being able to communicate easily, cooking and growing fresh food enables these two women to build a special relationship.

    If you are passionate about Italy then there is no doubt you will enjoy this story. There is a lot of romance but there is also so much more as our protagonist discovers that life’s lessons are certainly not learnt easily.


    Nicky Pellegrino - New Zealand AuthorImage credit: New Zealand Woman's Weekly.

    Biographical Information

    Nicky Pellegrino was born in Liverpool on January 01 1964 but spent childhood summers staying with her family in southern Italy. A shy, tall, gingery child she never really fitted in with her exuberant Italian cousins and had a tendency to stay quiet and observe things.

    When Nicky started writing fiction it was her memories of those summers in Italy that came flooding back and flavoured her stories: the passions, the feuds but most of all the food.

    Nicky now lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband Carne (and yes she does find it slightly odd being married to a man whose name means “meat” in Italian), her large poodles and her even larger chestnut horse.

    She works as a freelance journalist, has weekly columns in the Herald on Sunday newspaper and the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly and her novels are distributed in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and have been translated into 12 languages.

    She loves cooking for friends, drinking red wine, walking on New Zealand’s amazing beaches, riding her horse through the forest and lying in bed reading other people’s novels.


    The TV advert played in New Zealand to promote  ‘Recipe for Life’

    Uploaded by AlisonHachette on May 4, 2010

    Nicky Pellegrino discusses her novel ‘Recipe for Life.’

    Uploaded by orionbooks on Mar 18, 2010


    Information, photo and video used in this post is with thanks to the following websites.

  • Nicky Pellegrino - Official Author Website

  • Goodreads Profile

  • YouTube - Nicky Pellegrino



    I also post these ‘Italy in Books’ reviews on my other blog
    News From Italy