Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Villa in Italy by Elizabeth Edmondson


          Italy in Books - Reading Challenge 2011


  • Paperback: 426 pages
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Publisher: Harper Collins 2006
  • Source: Purchased Oxfam Bookshop in UK
  • Review Quote: "Deeply satisfying! rich and compelling." -Oxford Times
  • A Favourite Quote:‘the Italian winter is Italy’s best kept secret’.


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


Prior to picking up this book in an Oxfam Bookshop in the UK I had not even heard of this author. I was attracted to the title because of the Italy in Books - Reading Challenge 2011 that I had heard about early in December for which it seemed a perfect candidate.

It certainly was and I thoroughly enjoyed this easy to read and very atmospheric novel set in a grand but neglected villa on the northern Italian coastline of Liguria in the nineteen fifties.

The protagonists are four complete strangers all named in the will of the now deceased Beatrice Malaspina, owner of the Villa Dante where they are summoned to accept their unknown inheritance in a mysterious fashion. The interaction between  them as they slowly learn why they are at the villa makes for I thought an interesting read, not your normal mystery story, but certainly still very mysterious. 

George an atomic scientist at Cambridge University, who hates the monster his skills have created. Delia an opera singer who is having problems with her voice. Marjorie a poor and struggling detective novelist with writer’s block and finally Lucius an American banker whose life appears perfect but is in fact in chaos make for an odd group of benefactors.   While they wait to learn why they have all been named in their unknown benefactresses will the villa with its overgrown garden, mediaeval tower and faded frescoes starts to have a calming affect on them all.  All four of them have family secrets and sadness's to hide but somehow they start to slowly heal and learn to love again as they unravel the mysteries they find themselves presented with.

If you enjoy novels with family secrets, family history and lots of evocative description you will I think enjoy this, even more so if you love Italy.


Elizabeth Edmondson's pictureElizabeth Edmondson

Elizabeth Edmondson was born in Chile, educated in Calcutta and London before going to Oxford University. Married to an art historian and with two children she now divides her time between Oxford and the countryside north of Rome.


Biographical Information is courtesy of the following websites and from the paperback itself.

Fantastic Fiction - Elizabeth Edmondson 

Harper Collins Author Profile



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

News From Italy

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Just One More Day by Susan Lewis



  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Genre : Memoir
  • Publisher: Arrow Books  2006
  • Source: Unknown – On my TBR bookshelf
  • Review Quote ‘Susan Lewis fans know she can write compelling fiction, but not until now, that she can write even more engrossing fact. We use the phrase honest truth too lightly: it should be reserved for books – deeply moving books – like this’  Alan Coren


I have no idea how this title came to be on my bookshelf as I have only ever read one novel by this author, although I have two others  by her on the TBR shelf. I need to get down to some serious reading if I am ever to catch up!

‘Just One More Day’ is the moving memoir of Susan Lewis growing up in 1960’s Bristol in a household that was facing tragedy, whilst pretending it was not happening. As Susan was only seven years old at the time I did have my doubts that she remembered so much so clearly, maybe her mother left a diary.  I have not been able to find out if this was in fact the case. Susan spends her young childhood being brave about a situation she does not fully understand, while her toddler brother is oblivious to the pain within the family. Eddress and Eddie married when she was only twenty one and it as still a young woman she is faces cancer, without admitting her fears. It was just not done to show your feelings back in the sixties, so Eddress tries to deny to herself what is happening to her.

Susan struggled in this world of adult secrets but explains it well in this heart breaking true story  of a young woman who dies at the tender age of thirty three leaving her husband a widower at thirty seven with children of nine and five. A scenario that really tugged at my heart strings and was a very emotional read.


There is a biography of Susan Lewis on her Website here which is an interesting read.  Having now learnt so much about her I am now keen to read some more of her novels as so far I have only read one and that was back in 2007!

Taking Chances

Susan LewisSusan Lewis

My research was done using the following sites. 

Author's Official Website and her  Facebook Fan Page

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Arrival by Nicole Macdonald



  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Genre : Fantasy Fiction
  • Publisher: Kindle 22nd December 2010
  • Source: Sent to me by the author in eBook format in return for an honest and unbiased review.


I do not normally read much paranormal or fantasy fiction and was seriously wondering if I should be reviewing this book at all. Was it going to be fair to the author when I was prejudiced against the genre without even reading a word. I like my fiction based in reality and this novel is about as far removed from reality as you can possible get.

As I started to read about the heroines Cat, Kassie, Sian and Loi my doubts continued because it was confusing with the continual switching between the different characters and their viewpoints. It took awhile for the structure of the story to settle down but the author seems to get into the flow of her writing and the interaction between the characters improves.

It really is a far fetched and ridiculous story but once I got over my initial prejudices and the jerky start it did turn out to be an entertaining read and I am sure fans of this genre will be particularly enthralled with the girls adventures.

The four protagonists are friends living in New Zealand in the 21C and being fed up with the lack of decent men in their lives, decide for fun to cast a love spell to try and find their soul mates.  In casting this spell they get somewhat more than they bargained for finding themselves transported to another world, which is full of weird and wonderful creatures. I do not want to include any spoilers but the girls find they have amazing magical powers which they have to use as the momentum and tension grows.

The ending is certainly a cliff hanger and if you enjoy the book will certainly leave you waiting for more adventures that will transport you to  another world.

Nicole is so personally involved with the characters in The Arrival that if you visit her blog Damsel in a Dirty Dress you will find posts about some of them, read what she has to say about the character of Cat here . I thought it was really interesting how she has got right inside their personalities, in this way, even suggesting actors to play the parts. Well you never know do you!

This is one young lady with a tremendous passion for her writing and I wish her all the best with this debut novel.

My Photo

The biographical information below is quoted from the authors blog profile.

Damsel in a Dirty Dress – Nicole’s Blog

Nicole MacDonaldSays
”I am a 28yr old New Zealander who’s really only recently discovered an utter passion for writing. For years it was reading and as a child I dreamed of been locked in our local bookstore overnight so I could read to my hearts content. Then one day I decided to have a shot at writing. I figured no one would ever read it and I’d get to be the heroine and have one heck of an adventure… Well I wasn’t wrong! Nearly two years later and I have the first in the Birth Right Trilogy published and am currently working like mad on the draft for book two. What started as a whim really has become an all consuming passion. I can’t believe I didn’t start earlier!”

Monday, April 25, 2011

White by Rosie Thomas




  • Audiotape: 2 tapes Abridged 3hrs listening
  • Genre : Romantic Fiction
  • Publisher: Random House Audiobooks 2000
  • Source: From a selection I have languishing on shelves.
  • Read By : Juliet Stevenson


I have been reading and enjoying the novels of Rosie Thomas for many years now although it is a few years since I last read one. I must rectify this as I have at least four of her most recent novels waiting to be read. It is the usual excuse, so many books so little time, but listening to White has revived my interest.  I had read this previously but decided to listen to the tapes before making them available on Bookmooch. Rosie Thomas is not only an author but a keen traveller and mountaineer which comes over in her writing, especially so in ‘White’ as it is about an expedition to climb Everest.

Her obvious knowledge of climbing adds to the reality of the story which set against the mountain backdrop, makes this novel much more than a complicated love story between the three protagonists. Sam McGrath whose chance encounter on a plane means he ends up in Nepal. Al Hood an experienced climber who has promised his daughter that this climb will be his last and Sam Finch who has signed up as an expedition doctor. Demons and dreams are played out against the dramatic backdrop of Everest.

I actually read this back in October 2007 before I started this blog, but I was already posting reviews on  Amazon, my review was  entitled  Passion and Drama.

This is what I had to say then “This title was actually published in 2000 and it has been sitting on my bookshelf for awhile as I was not sure I wanted to read it! However I have now got around to it and enjoyed much more than expected.
I actually know very little about mountaineering so found the detail fascinating. I do find it difficult to understand why people want to push their body to its limits and beyond though. The experiences of the climbers struggling to climb Everest in this story are horrendous.
I was particularly interested to read about Namche and the trek to Everest Base Camp, as I have a niece who as part of her travels is due to go there.
If you like a good romance with some drama thrown in, you cannot fail to enjoy this”.



Rosie Thomas was born and grew up in North Wales, although she now lives in London. She read English at Oxford, and after a spell in journalism and publishing began writing fiction after the birth of her first child. She has written a large number of novels, including the top ten bestsellers White, The Potter's House, Sun At Midnight, Iris and Ruby and Constance. Once she was established as a writer and her children were grown –up, she discovered a love of travelling and mountaineering. She has climbed in the Alps and the Himalayas, competed in the Peking to Paris car rally, and spent time on a tiny Bulgarian research station in Antarctica.

Biographical info courtesy of : -

Lovereading   Wikipedia  Fantastic Fiction  and Goodreads

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Other Half Lives by Sophie Hannah



  • Hardback: 552 pages
  • Genre : Psychological Thriller
  • Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton  2009
  • Source: Purchased
  • Review Quote ‘For those who demand emotional intelligence and literary verve from their thrillers, Sophie Hannah is the writer of choice’  The Guardian Newspaper.


Not quite as enthralling as the previous three novels I have read by Sophie Hannah, as I found it confusing and had to keep checking back to remind myself of what was happening.  Thank goodness I was not reading this in eBook format, as it is much harder to flip backwards and forwards.  Once again it is Sophie Hannah’s now signature format of a psychological thriller and the police officers Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer from her previous novels are investigating the case. It does not matter though if you have not read her previous novels as apart from the reappearance of some of the characters in the police force the main theme of the story is unconnected. The only thing you will have missed out on is the changing relationship between Simon and Charlie, by the way the Charlie is female for those of you that might be wondering.

The mystery of this novel is really weird and certainly makes you think.  The female protagonist is Ruth Bussey a young lady who has moved to a new area to try and rebuild her life, after past mistakes for which she has been punished excessively'.  To her disbelief she befriends and falls in love Adrian Seed who proves to be very intense. The problems start when in an attempt to show Ruth how much he loves her he confides in her, that he once killed someone. When he tells Ruth she is stunned as she recognises the name, Mary Trelease, as that of someone she knows to be very much alive!  Ruth is already struggling with her own dark secrets when Aidan unburdens himself and this announcement leaves her feeling both confused and terrified.

Ruth for reasons that will be revealed if you read the book decides to get in touch with policewoman Charlie Zailer whom she feels will be sympathetic to her dilemma. The story builds with narrative from Ruth, Charlie and Simon as this chilling tale of desperate relationships unfolds. It has so many twists and turns along the way, which is what I found a tad confusing and the reason I had to keep checking back, to get my facts straight. Nothing is clear in this novel as all the characters have a different take on reality.

I will be very surprised if this does not keep even the most avid crime fan guessing, enough said  now as I do not include spoilers. 

If you have not yet discovered this author for yourself, I recommend all her novels, she has converted me to reading a genre I had previously tended to avoid.


 Sophie HannahSophie Hannah

More information about Sophie can be found at Sophie Hannah Official Website

I am also posting links to my reviews for the last three novels as I thought some of you might be interested.

Little Face by Sophie Hannah

Hurting Distance by Sophie Hannah

The Point of Rescue by Sophie Hannah

I have linked this post to the April Reading Linky Party here

What We're Reading

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One True Theory of Love by Laura Fitzgerald


One True Theory of Love


  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Genre : Romantic Fiction
  • Publisher: New American Library 2009
  • Source: Bookcrossing Bookring
  • A Favourite Quote: “It’s hard to end a relationship, especially when the person you are with is a great person. He probably did love you even as he left. just not in the way he needed to in order to make it work.”

One True Theory of Love disappointed me, after having been on a Bookcrossing Bookring list waiting to read for two years. I assumed it was something I must have wanted to read because I had enjoyed her previous novel Veil of Roses. To be honest I could not remember much about it, so I checked back to my review before writing the review for this one. It seems that did not meet my expectations either.

I do seem to be in the minority with my opinion on this one though, if you take a look at what the other Bookcrossers who read it before me had to say.

There is nothing to dislike or criticise about the writing or the characterisation, it was just I personally found the storyline a little too perfect and I am sorry to say I got bored. The protagonist Meg a single parent who was abandoned by her husband when she was pregnant with Henry her nine year old son is an intelligent and independent woman. She is a very complicated character, who seems to find it difficult to be completely truthful, in a relationship that seems to be so important to her, I found this disconcerting. The other thing that bothered me was just how easily Henry accepted his mothers relationship with Ahmed.  Maybe I was just never going to become emotionally engaged with a novel whose opening line is ‘It’s easy to look at men and think they’re idiots’ as I do not happen to agree!

I would still recommend One True Theory of Love  to those of you that enjoy this genre and her previous one Veil of Roses.

As for me I expect given the opportunity I will still read her recently published novel,  Dreaming In English, published February 2011, a sequel to Veil of Roses as disappointment does not equal dislike. 

Laura FitzgeraldImage of "Laura Fitzgerald"

Laura Fitzgerald, is the author of the three novels already mentioned. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, USA, with her husband and two children.

More information can be found about Laura and her writing on Goodreads or her Official Website 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Under Gemini by Rosamunde Pilcher


Under Gemini..Abridged

  • Audiotape: 2 tapes Abridged 3hrs listening
  • Genre : Romantic Fiction
  • Publisher: Harper Collins Audio Books 1992
  • Source: From a selection I have languishing on shelves.
  • Read By : Imogen Stubbs

A totally new departure for me, this is the first time I have reviewed an Audio Book. 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. They do have one advantage though over books on CD’s in that it is easier to find your place if you do not listen in one sitting. I normally listen to the radio or music on my i pod while I am ironing so time for an occasional change of routine.

I have started off with Under Gemini by Rosamunde Pilcher which was released in 1992 and I have no idea how or why I came to have it on tape. Rosamunde Pilcher is an author whose books I happen to have read no less than 7 of between 1990 and 1997 and just one since we left the UK in 2004.  My favourite of her books which was originally published in 1987 is ‘The Shell Seekers’ which was on the long list for The Best Love Story of the Last Fifty Years 1960 - 2010

This abridged version of Under Gemini was very easy listening, over two ironing sessions, nothing spectacular but I enjoyed listening to this tale of love, betrayal and deception. It is the story of identical twins Rose and Flora who are unaware of each others existence until they meet quite by chance in a London restaurant. The chances of this happening are so very remote that this did annoy me a little, but then this is a novel. They both lead very different lifestyles and for reasons that will be revealed to those that read or listen to this book, Rose persuades Flora to stand in for her to help her escape a man she no longer has romantic feelings for. In taking her twin sisters place Flora’s life is changed for ever. A bit of a cliché but then it is as she finds happiness beyond her dreams.

Pleasant enough easy listening, I certainly recommend you try her novels if you are a fan of British romantic fiction authors.

Rosamunde Pilcher

Rosamunde Pilcher was born in Cornwall, UK on September 22, 1924.

Rosamunde Pilcher has had a long and distinguished career as a novelist and short story writer, covering the period from 1949 to 2000 when she retired from writing. It was her phenomenally successful novel, The Shell Seekers , that captured the hearts of all who read it, and won her international recognition as one of the best-loved story-tellers of our time. At least three of her bestselling novels, September, Coming Home and Winter Solstice  were made into television films.  In 2002 she was awarded an O.B.E for services to literature. She lives near Dundee.

Biographical information courtesy of Wikipedia and