Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Last Family in England by Matt Haig

Paperback: 341 pages
Genre: Humorous Fiction
Publisher: Vintage 2005
Source: I have no idea but I selected it from my bookshelves to fulfil the letter L in the A - Z Title Challenge
First Sentence: 'Dogs like to talk'
Favourite Quote: ' I now realise that there is a fundamental difference between us and humans and it is a difference which highlights why they need our help. the difference is this: whereas dogs can learn to suppress their instincts, for humans there is no hope.'
Review Quote: 'A comic tour de force.....A desperately sad view from underneath as a family falls apart' The Times.
Note:  This title is published as ' The Labrador Pact' in the USA. 
My Opinion
Written as humorous fiction I did actually find it rather sad. 

It took me a long time to get into this and I nearly gave up. My husband said I should continue and he was right!  I liked it in the end and was glad I persevered but it is not going to stand out as a favourite read for this year, guess that is probably why it sat so long on our bookshelves before I selected it for the Letter L in the A - Z Title Challenge.

I am an animal lover but I definitely prefer cats to dogs so I did not find it easy to empathise with the narrator of the story ' Prince' who just happens to be a Labrador Retriever.  Prince feels responsible for his human family and he cares for them under the rules of ' The Labrador Pact' as he struggles to save the family from being broken up by outside influences. 

The Shakespeare quotes before the novel starts, within plus characters names led me to recognise that  the author is using some of the situations from the History Plays Hamlet and Henry IV.  Although to be honest I never really understood the reasoning beyond showing us that Prince in his efforts to save his family will put his own life under threat.

Written as humorous fiction I did actually find it rather sad.  The issues covered are serious ones, love, commitment to our families and dealt with in a way that I found difficult to relate to.  Matt Haig's  style of humour may not appeal to me in this novel, very much although I did laugh.  His writing is without a doubt very clever and it is definitely worth reading for that reason alone.

Author Profile

Matt Haig was born in 1975 in Sheffield, and grew up in Newark, Nottinghamshire. Since then he has lived in Nottingham, Ibiza and London.  He studied  English and History at Hull , then Leeds Universities, for his MA.   After running his own internet marketing company and working for a nightclub in Spain, he became a full-time writer. He writes for various national newspapers, including The Guardian and The Independent. and in 2009 won the Yorkshire Young Achievers 'Achievement in the Arts' Award. He now lives  in York with his wife the writer Andrea Semple and their children Lucas and Pearl.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites where you can also learn more about the author and his writing.

Goodreads - Author Profile    Matt Haig - Author Official Website  
Matt Haig - Wikipedia    Matt Haig - Facebook     

I have chosen to read this title as the letter L for The A - Z Book Challenge which I have decided to attempt to achieve in alphabetical order. I have a good selection of titles to choose from our bookshelves, it will be interesting to see how far I can get before I get stuck. You can follow my progress here.   

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Unfaithfully Yours by Joanne Clancy

Ebook: Also available as paperback 190 pages
Genre: Contemporary Womens Fiction
Publisher: CreateSpace (December 13, 2011)
Source: From the author in return for an unbiased review.
First Sentence: "I'm in love with a married man," Shona Morgan sighed deeply and put her head in her hands.
My opinion: Lively easy read.

I did sort of enjoy this, it was certainly a very lively easy read, two sessions and I was finished. I felt it was very weak to start with but it improved once the author got into her flow, The story might have improved but I am sorry to say the editing didn't, there are at least a couple of times where the wrong name is used which catches the reader off guard for a moment, so watch out for those if you decide to read this. The theme of the novel as you can easily tell from the first line is one we have all seen in novels like this before, married man and his sordid adulterous relationships which turn sour.  In this case, to quote William Congreve, as the author herself does 'Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.

I really did not like any of the characters, apart from the scorned wife. The male protagonist Mark McNamara is an unpleasant person, he deserves everything he gets. However I must say that I did not have much sympathy for the 'other' women in his life either. Rebecca his wife is the only character I had any sympathy for at all and I felt she was right wanting her revenge. This will no doubt stir your emotions in some way or another, a sign of a well written story.

A very quick précis then is that Rebecca's perfect marriage falls to pieces when she discovers her husbands guilty secrets. She and the other women in his life who are all angry with him for different reasons, decide that he will pay for his behaviour and if you want to find out how you will have to read it yourself. I think it is fair to warn you though that if you do not like explicit sex scenes then this is not for you! 
I have another of Joanne Clancy's novels on My Kindle and I enjoyed this one enough to say that I am now looking forward to reading and reviewing Unforgettable Embrace. Ms Clancy has more to offer as a writer I feel so it will be interesting to see how her writing develops.

                                          Book Trailer - No Spoilers.
                                          Published on 2 Apr 2012 by 

Author Profile

Joanne Clancy is from County Cork, Ireland. She is an avid reader,obsessive writer and a self-confessed Kindle addict who loves tea.
Joanne is the author of Secrets and Lies, the first book in The Secrets and Lies Trilogy, The Wedding Day, Unfaithfully Yours, Unforgettable Embrace and My Love.
She is currently working on Aftermath, the second book in The Secrets and Lies Trilogy which will be available during Autumn 2012. Redemption, the final book in the trilogy, will be released before Christmas.

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

YouTube    Amazon Author Profile      Goodreads Profile        William Congreve -Wikipedia

Friday, July 20, 2012

Never Coming Home by Evonne Wareham

Paperback: 316 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Suspense
Publisher:  Choc Lit 2012
Source: Choc Lit in return for an unbiased review.
First Sentences: Prologue: He wasn't meant to be there.
Not on that road, at that time, on that day - but the job in Atlanta had fallen apart, the client was screaming  and someone had to sort out the mess.
Review Quote: A début from an exciting new talent. A gorgeous, contemporary, romantic thriller set in London, Italy and the U.S. -- Lovereading.  Award: Winner of the 2012 Joan Hessayon Award (New Writer's Award) -- The Romantic Novelists' Association.
My Opinion:  Fabulous début novel
What a fabulous début novel, on her website welcome page the author claims to write romantic suspense, romantic thrillers, romance with a darker edge, well it is true, she does!  If you like your romance with more than a dash of suspense then Evonne Wareham is going to be an author to look out for. Her next novel Out of Sight, Out of Mind is due to be published next year and I will certainly be adding it to my wishlist.

A missing child, assumed dead,  not a scenario that is going to immediately appeal to parents but get beyond your initial apprehension and pick up this book to read. You will not I do not think be disappointed as the author deals with this sensitive issue in a compelling way, as the mystery unfolds in the lives of the protagonists Devlin and Kaz Elmore.  Devlin is the mysterious stranger that comes unexpectedly into the life of Kaz after he witnessed the death of her young daughter. Whilst on a business trip to London he decides to introduce himself to Kaz to hopefully give her some comfort knowing her daughter was not alone when she died. It turns out to be a lot more complicated though when seeing a photo of Jamie Elmore, he realises that maybe it was not her in the car at all! The police however consider the incident closed so Kaz decides to investigate enlisting Devlin to help her do so. The mystery thickens and the search leads them into danger as they try to discover the truth, while the intrigue is building so is the emotional connection between the two of them. 

No need to say more though, as spoilers can ruin a book for others, except that if you are looking for a mystery that will keep you turning the pages with a romantic relationship then this has what you are looking for. Oh yes an added bonus for me was the fact that part of the story is set in Italy!

Author Profile

Evonne was born in South Wales and spent her childhood there. After university she migrated to London, where she worked in local government, scribbled novels in her spare time and went to the theatre a lot. Now she's back in Wales, writing and studying history and living by the sea. Her membership of the Romantic Novelists' Association lets her enjoy the company of other authors and gives her an excuse to sneak back to London from time to time for essential stuff, like attending parties. She still loves the theatre, likes staying in hotels and enjoys walking on the beach, where she daydreams about her characters. She hopes that all those things come through in her books - drama, glamorous locations, engaging heroines and dangerous heroes. 
This is Evonne's début novel and her second Out of Sight, Out of Mind is due to be published in 2013.
Photo and Biographical Information is with thanks to the following sites where you can also find out more about the author and her writing.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Keeping The World Away by Margaret Forster

Hardback: 338 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher:  Chatto and Windus 2006
Source: Charity Bookshop in UK in 2010.
First Sentence:  Chapter One 'The wind pushed and forced them along, great savage gusts of it,stinging their ears, penetrating their scarves, whipping their uncovered hair into fierce tangles, slicing through their coats and chilling their small bodies so completely they were crying and gasping for breath before ever they reached the steps.'

Review Quote:  "Forster has a god-given gift for storytelling" The Times
My Opinion
:  A
 perfect example of why I have been enjoying the novels of Margaret Forster since the late nineteen sixties.

'Keeping The World Away' is a novel about a painting and the women whose lives it touches, original and a fabulous read, a perfect example of why I have been enjoying the novels of Margaret Forster since the late nineteen sixties. This is not an exaggeration, I find her work just as appealing now as I did all those years ago. What makes 'Keeping The World Away' so fascinating is the fact that it has taken the painting of a real life artist Gwen John(1876-1939) as its subject with the novels title coming from the artist's own notebooks. She was a known recluse and to quote from those notebooks "Rules to Keep the World Away: Do not listen to people more than is necessary; do not look at peoplemore than is necessary ; have as little intercourse with people as possible".
I like stories where the author has used characters from real life inspiration as although it is fiction I still feel I am learning something from reality at the same time. For example reading this novel has led me to research about the artist. 

The story is divided into six sections to track the paintings journey and Forster manages to link each one by an almost imperceptible link known only to the reader. The journey starts with the paintings artist Gwen John herself before she has produced this small and intimate painting of the attic room, where she spends so much time waiting for her lover Rodin. A complex and determined young woman from an artistic background, Gwen had persuaded her father to let her study at the Slade, which led her to later live in Paris and become a model for the great master Rodin.

Gwen gifts the painting to a close friend and hence we move on to the next woman in the story, although not the one you might expect. Owned by five women, Gwen, Charlotte, Stella, Lucasta, Ailsa and Gillian  whose lives the painting touches as it is lost, found, sold, bought,  inherited, given away and stolen. You learn how this painting affects their respective lives as each woman has an interesting connection to the previous one. I felt the story flowed across the time period exceptionally well, leaving me with the feeling that the painting had done the job the artist originally intended. Which was of course to keep the world away, even if only for those few cherished moments when one was gazing at it.

As I said at the start of my review an original read that I think will appeal to anyone that enjoys art and creative women. Margaret Forster draws you into the lives of  these women, especially as the source of the story is all based on a wonderful little painting. 

Gwen John, A Corner of the Artist's Room in Paris

    Author Profile
                     Image courtesy of Eamonn McCabe
Margaret Forster was born in Carlisle, England on May 25th 1938, where she grew up and lived until going to Somerville CollegeOxford to read modern history. Since graduating in 1961, after a brief period as a teacher she has gone on to work as  a novelist, biographer and freelance literary critic, contributing regularly to book programmes on television, radio and various newspapers and magazines. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1975.
She has been married to to the writer, journalist and broadcaster Hunter Davies since the day after she finished her final exams in 1961, having met and fallen in love when she was just seventeen. 
The biographical information and photos used in this post are with thanks to the following websites.
I have chosen to read this title as the letter K for The A - Z Book Challenge which I have decided to attempt to achieve in alphabetical order. I have a good selection of titles to choose from our bookshelves, it will be interesting to see how far I can get before I get stuck. You can follow my progress here.   

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fighting The Devil by Jeannie Walker

Ebook: Kindle (336 pages)
Genre: Murder True Story
Publisher:  iUniverse 2010
Source: The author in exchange for an unbiased review.
First Sentence:  From the Introduction 'There was a time when the millionaire rancher, Jerry Sternadel, gave all the orders.'

My Opinion
:  A Heinous True Story

Jeannie Walker and her family needed closure and publicity for this tragic event and I admire her for deciding to write a book about it.  An extremely personal memoir of events in which she lays bare her deep religious feelings and views about the 'devil'. It is this honesty that gave the story enough impetus for me to keep reading, as really it was not something I would have picked up had I not been asked to do so by the author.

I do believe the story needed relating but I am not convinced Jeannie was the right person to document it as I felt her emotional involvement made it hard for her to write this as a factual account. At times it felt almost too repetitive as I kept reading the same facts again and again. In some ways I wonder if it would have made a far better read if she had completely let go of her emotions after stating the basic facts and turned this true account into an amazing thriller. For if you did not know this was a true story that is exactly how you would view it as a story showing the dark side of human nature that comes from authors imaginations. Well not this time this is scarily real.

Goodreads Synopsis:
A Texas millionaire rancher discovered his wife and bookkeeper had stolen thousands of dollars from him. After he demanded the money back, he started getting sick. While in the hospital, doctors were mystified as to how an otherwise healthy, energetic man could become so deathly ill. The dying man told everyone within earshot that his wife and bookkeeper were killing him. The man's wife said her husband was hallucinating from drugs the doctors were giving him. The millionaire rancher succumbed in the hospital while strapped down to his bed with restraints on his hands and feet and tubes in every orifice. After the rancher died, an anonymous caller tipped off the police. The widow was the sole beneficiary of the estate and a $350,000 life insurance policy. A week before the man's death, a teenager visited the rancher's home and became deathly ill after he drank juice that was in the rancher's refrigerator. Two years after the millionaire's death, a bottle of arsenic was found in a storage locker rented by a woman under an assumed name. The millionaire's ex-wife, the mother of his children, became a sleuth to help solve the murder. No one could have predicted the aftermath with its strange twists and unexpected results.

A true story of consuming passion, deadly poison and murder and worth reading to learn just how the American Justice System dealt with this heinous crime.

                                                Fighting The Devil Book Trailer
This short video will give you a scary preview!
                                          Uploaded by  on 3 Aug 2010

Author Profile (Reproduced from Amazon Author Profile Page)

First and foremost, I want to thank you, my readers, for choosing my books over many others that are available to you. I am sincerely grateful that you've chosen my stories to read. I want everyone to know that you are not alone in your struggles, and you have the ability to overcome and the right to become your loved one's advocate, if it becomes necessary. I am truly indebted to you, my readers, for your generous support, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I believe the secret to success and happiness is believing in God and giving thanks accordingly.
I am pleased to announce my debut true crime book "Fighting the Devil" was selected as 2010 Book of the Year Silver Awards Winner in True Crime by ForeWord Magazine and 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist in True Crime. I am an Award Winning Author, Award Winning Songwriter and freelance writer. I studied creative writing in New York and Connecticut. I am a member of the International Association of Writers.
Honors and Awards for my true crime book, "Fighting the Devil"
2011 National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist in True Crime.
2010 ForeWord Magazine Finalist Book of the Year True Crime.
Awarded 5* Review from ForeWord Clarion Reviews
Awarded: Reader's Choice
Awarded: Editor's Choice

The biographical information, video and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites.

YouTube   Authors Official Website    Amazon Author Profile Page   Goodreads - Fighting The Devil

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Moon Coin by Richard Due

Ebook: Kindle Edition 297 pages. ( Also now available in paperback)
Genre:  Fantasy Fiction
Publisher: Gibbering Gnome Press 2011
Source: The author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
First Sentence:  '
Ebb Autumn stood tall and slender in his coat of many pockets..'
A Favourite Quote ‘ as you grow older, you’ll discover a curious thing about the truth it plays by its own rules. It cares not one whit about your or anyone else’s beliefs. The truth just is. There is no stopping or changing it. Further, I would counsel you to prepare yourselves, as the truth can be quite far removed from one’s  expectations.’ 
My Opinion: Magical and Adventurous
Note: Since reading and writing this review I am delighted to report that Richard Due has kindly sent me an autographed paperback edition of  'The Moon Coin'  The paperback edition is lovely to have as this book has beautiful illustrations. I will treasure my copy. You can order yours direct from the author, publisher, or read on an eReader.
Awards : Update October 2012 - Gold Medal Winner - http://www.moonbeamawards.com/about.php

I do not usually read or review books intended for children or from the fantasy genre, but I made an exception for this one when the author approached me as it sounded intriguing and it is illustrated.  In fact the illustrations by Carolyn Arcabascio are absolutely beautiful even viewed on the Kindle, I guess this is a taste of how story book reading aloud to children of future generations may well be. With no children or grandchildren to test my theories on I think that this illustrated fantasy will apeal to anyone who enjoyed  series such as Harry Potter and The Narnia Chronicles. Richard Due has a captivating style of writing and the two central characters of the tale seem very realistic.
This book is now available in paperback I think it may well be even more successful in this format.

I am using the authors own press release instead of trying to précis the story myself as he does a far better job than I would be able to:-

Gibbering Gnome Press Presents a Tale of Epic Fantasy
For Lily and Jasper Winter, the Moon Realm began with a single secret bedtime tale. As the children grew older, Uncle Ebb enthralled them with thrilling tales of the Dragondain riding horse-sized, catlike Rinn; mysterious tales of peerin-wielding lunamancers manipulating the magic that lies just beneath the surface of reality; exciting tales of flying dragons, swimming merfolk, stomping giants, and troublesome faeries. But as the magic of their childhood faded, so too did the tales. Eventually, they were just . . . good stories.
Or were they?
Now, nine years after it all began, Uncle Ebb is missing.
Lily and Jasper search for clues, but their uncle's mansion is full of distractions. A Tesla generator thrums in the basement. Prismatic electrimals flit around walls resembling underwater reefs. Then a most unexpected friend comes to their aid, leading them to a hidden room where they find a mysterious coin—the moon coin. Before the night is out, Lily is transported to the real Moon Realm. But the moons are in trouble. The Rinn of Barreth are under siege, and the lunamancers of Dain are beset by the very dragons they once loved. Most horrifying of all, the moon Darwyth has fallen to a villain named Wrengfoul, whose creeping evil now threatens to overshadow all the Realm.
Are Lily and Jasper too late to save the Moon Realm, or will they have enough time to write an ending of their own?
Featuring twenty-two stunning full-color illustrations by Carolyn Arcabascio. Volume One of the young adult fantasy adventure series The Moon Realm.
So what do I personally think?
A beautiful story from this début author that even I who readily admits that fantasy is far from my favourite genre has to say that I liked it, possibly because of the authors talent in the way he tells the story.  Lily and Jasper have an Uncle like no other in Uncle Ebb and they have grown up enthralled by his truly amazing bedtime stories. When he disappears for longer than normal it seems natural that they should be concerned about this. Whilst they are searching for clues as to his whereabouts the reader is whisked off to The Moon Realm and the land of fantasies. I am too much of a realist as an adult to fully let myself go but I do appreciate that this sort of fantasy is good for children, there is plenty of time to discover the real world as an  adult.  In conclusion I think this is a magical and adventurous fantasy that will appeal to fans of this genre from all age groups and I wish the author every success with the series.
Do take three minutes to watch this delightful video made by the authors daughter.
                                                                      Uploaded by  on 17 Sep 2011

Author Profile

Richard Due was born on April 2nd 1964 in Baltimore, U.S.A. He first imagined the Moon Realm while telling bedtime tales to his children. He now lives in Southern Maryland, where he and his wife have owned and operated Second Looks Books since 1991. The Moon Coin is the first novel in the Moon Realm series. Visit  for The Moon Realm  for more information.

Illustrator Profile

I felt the illustrator  Carolyn Arcabascio also deserved a mention so I have included a Profile and an interview with her kindly provided by Richard Due.

Carolyn hails from Massachusetts, where she lives and works as an illustrator. At any given time you'll find her reading/writing/doodling - a result of her lifelong fascination with words, images, and the magical places where they meet.

From Sketch to Chapter Art, an Illustrator at Work Interview with Richard Due.
For me, getting to work with Carolyn Arcabascio was a dream come true. On The Moon Coin, we worked from a master list of scene options, with Carolyn picking out scenes she liked and making sketches. For the prologue, Carolyn drafted three options. All three were great, but two in particular were spectacular. I first went with option 3 (one of my scene suggestions). I think we spent more time on this sketch and subsequent color drawing than on any other piece. But it never seemed right. At the eleventh hour, I asked Carolyn how hard she’d hit me if I suggested scrapping the thing and instead going with the pinky promise scene you see below (one of her scene suggestions).  Carolyn responded: "There would be no hitting involved!" and told me it wouldn't be a problem. You sure can't ask for better than that.
From the Prologue: Bedtime Tales.
Click on image to enlarge.
Richard: Did you make all these sketches in the same location, Carolyn?
Carolyn: Yes, I do all of my work at a drafting table that's situated in a little nook of my apartment in Acton, Massachusetts. There's a bookshelf to my right and a wall of "inspiration" to my left, where I hang prints of other artists' and illustrators' work. On either side of my drafting table are drawers of supplies, and stacks of sketchbooks and old paintings. The drafting table faces a window overlooking a quiet street and the woods beyond it.
                                                From Chapter Two: A Coin of the Realm.
Click on image to enlarge.
Richard: Do you use models when you're sketching?
Carolyn: I use a combination of models and photo references. If I need to work out the nuances of a character's posture and really understand the perspective of it, I'll ask whatever friend or family member is handy to pose for a sketch. Often, I'll get into the position myself or mimic the facial expression I want to portray in order to get the feel of it. And sometimes, if there's a character being portrayed multiple times across scenes, I'll make a rough model of their head out of clay so I'll have it to refer to.
From Chapter Four: To Barreth.
Click on image to enlarge.
Richard: When drawing fantastical creatures, do you use bits and pieces of real animals for inspiration, or have you actually seen a wirtle and you're just not telling us? ;)
Carolyn: No wirtles native to Massachusetts, fortunately! When figuring out the look of fantastical creatures, I use photo references of different animals to understand the way the anatomy might work, and then combine features as I see fit and as the story calls for. To understand the wirtle's legs and paws, for example, I referred to a series of photographs of show dogs leaping over hurdles. The severely arched, scruffy back was influenced by photos of hyenas on the prowl. The bone-structure of the face ended up being something of a cross between a cow and a warthog, and I wanted the snout to be bare—kind of gross and raw-looking. Add it all up and, voila! We have a wirtle.
The author also kindly provided the following links to tempt you further.

Here's a free audio version of the first two chapters: http://themoonrealm.com/2011/10/23/free-audiobook-sample-of-the-moon-coin/

The biographical information, photos and video used in this post are with thanks to the author himself and the following websites.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Cosy Knave by Dorte H. Jakobsen

Paperback: 198 pages (I read Kindle edition)
GenreHumour and Mystery
CreateSpace (17 Jun 2012) 
Source: The author in return for an unbiased review.

My Opinion
:  Fast paced, fun read.

Looking for a quick read with humour and mystery, then try this one. I read it as The Cosy Knave on my Kindle but it can also be found by readers in Europe entitled  Murder deLight.  I thought this was rather a tongue in cheek mixture of humour within a mystery because I am afraid to say that I found the characters names just too ridiculous.  Maybe they were meant to be over the top and I got this wrong but they meant I was unable to take this novel seriously.  Rose Walnut Whip, Olivia Cadbury Flake, Chief Inspector Mars Wrigley, Rhapsody Gerswhin, Rhett and Scarlett Wensleydale, Catherine Wheels and two policeman called Smith and Wesson, are just a few examples!

Assuming I was meant to be amused by these farcial names it passed a few hours as the mystery was unravelled. Set in modern day Yorkshire, a murder takes place during a World Cup Football Match in the local tearoom, in the village of Knavesborough. One of the villagers is stabbed to death while the twenty people present are watching the football! The case is investigated by the local policeman Archibald Penrose and his librarian fiancee Rhapsody Gershwin.  He needs her help as his superior is more concerned with the World Cup Football Competition than tracking down a murderer.    

In my opinion this was much more about eccentric villagers and having a laugh than wanting to find out who committed the crimes, yes there was a stabbing and another death but very little intrigue.  A fun read but do not expect any thrills.

Author Profile

Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen was born on February 12, 1961 in Thisted, Denmark. She is a teacher of English at upper secondary level. In her spare time she reads and writes crime fiction in English and Danish, and in 2010 she sold her first stories. 
Since then she has published two collections of flash fiction, "Candied Crime" (humour) and "Liquorice Twists" (a bit darker).
Her bestsellers are the romantic ghost story "Heather Farm" and "The Cosy Knave"  

Sources of information for this post are with thanks to the following sites.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Run Rabbit Run by Kate Johnson

Paperback: 390 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction Spy Thriller
Publisher:  Choc Lit 2012
Source: Choc Lit in return for an unbiased review.
First Sentence:  'Four in the morning and I was painting over the number plate of my boyfriend's car with black nail varnish while I hid in a camera blindspot in a car park in Dover for the early crossing to Calais.'
My Opinion
:  Fast paced, fun read.

I had no idea until after I read this novel that it is actually number 5 in the Sophie Green series, now I understand the dedication at the the front of the book.'To everyone who's emailed, Tweeted and Facebooked to ask what happened to Sophie next'.  It is just that this is only the second book that has been published by Choc Lit from this author.  Run Rabbit Run is perfect for a stand alone read, as you do not need to know anything about Sophie or her past at all.  A fast paced fun read thanks to the runaway imagination that Kate Johnson has. The situations that her heroine Sophie encounters in this story are really way beyond belief and the sheer number of them left me breathless. Despite the feeling of exaggeration making it feel like a female James Bond adventure without the gadgets, I surprised myself by enjoying this novel. 

The novel opens with Sophie on the run after being framed for a murder that she most definitely did not commit, but she now has every law enforcement agency you can think of trying to track her down. Determined to prove her innocence this impetuous young woman who seems to attract trouble has a whole series of escapades whilst trying to do so. 
As Sophie is an ex-spy it is no real surprise that her gorgeous boyfriend Luke Sharpe is an MI6 officer, or was until his girlfriend became a murder suspect! He of course is in an excellent position to keep abreast of the case against her and at the same time try and help her clear her name. The story alternates between telling us what is happening from both their points of view, with the plot keeping you guessing all the way to the end.  It was sometimes quite worrying to know what Luke knew, knowing that Sophie had no idea of the danger she was in. 
Besides Luke's help in absentia Sophie also has the help of Jack, another person framed for a murder he did not commit, whom she met when she first went on the run in the most unforeseeable way! I was never quite sure whether he could be trusted or not.

In the end over the top exaggeration excluded this is a romantic story with adventure and mystery that make Run Rabbit Run worth reading.

        Author Profile
Kate Johnson was born on January 1st 1982, she lives in rural Essex where she belongs to a pride of cats and puts up with a demon puppy. She did actually do most of her homework, but quickly so as to have more time to stare out of the window thinking about heroes. Stay in school, kids. Kate has done a variety of not-particularly great jobs, ranging from airport check-in to lab assistant, but much prefers writing for a living. For one thing, the hours are better, and no one ever tells her off for not ironing her shirt. In fact, the lack of ironing might be the single greatest advantage to being an author. Kate loves going off at mad tangents, which you’d surely never have guessed, but also enjoys reading romance and fantasy, watching funny stuff on TV, drinking coffee by the gallon and occasionally leaving the house.  (Copied directly from Author's Goodreads Profile)

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites.

Amazon Author Profile  Goodreads Profile - Kate Johnson   Kate Johnson Official Website 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Jumping To Conclusions by Sarah Challis

Paperback: 439 pages
Genre: Humorous Romantic Fiction
Publisher:  Headline 2006
Source: Charity Bookshop in UK in 2010.
First Sentences: Tom knew there was something wrong as soon as he saw the mare in the paddock. It took two men to lead her up and even then she swung her quarters about, her back arched like a cat, her neck dark and steaming with sweat.

Review Quote:  ' Brilliant' Rosamunde Pilcher
My Opinion
: An evocative read that transported me to the English countryside.

An author whose work I have liked the sound of for a long while, but for some reason have not got around to reading any of her novels before now. With choosing 'Jumping to Conclusions' from our bookshelves for my letter 'J' in the title reading challenge I am taking part in this year, that has at last been rectified. With one more on our shelves already, I have added the rest of her back catalogue and the new one 'The Lonely Desert ' due out in Jan 2013 to my Amazon Wishlist. You never know I may just get the opportunity to read some of the tempting books on this one day.

A heart warming and romantic story set in a rural setting with realistic and strong characters, immerse yourself in village life, horses and rumours. An evocative read that transported me to the English countryside where we spent many happy years before moving to Italy.

Jess Haddon is a point to point jockey and she lives with her mother Belinda and daughter Izzy in the Dorset village where she grew up and developed her passion for horses.  Jess has always kept the identity of her daughter's father strictly to herself but of course this did not stop the rumours when she was born, when locals suspected that she had been having an affair with a local married man.  Seven years later those old wounds are reopened when the name 'Johnnie Bearsden' appears in some books purchased at a local village jumble sale, it seems he and his family are back. On seeing his name again Jess is unsettled but will neither confirm or deny that he is Izzy's father not even to her Mother. Belinda feels that the secret cannot be kept for ever and that when it  does come out everything will change, especially for her granddaughter.
Will Jess manage to keep her secret or will all be revealed?

Author Profile

Sarah Challis, whose father is the distinguished cinematographer, Christopher Challis, travelled widely with film units as a child. She has since lived in Scotland and California but is now happily settled in a Dorset village with her husband, four sons, three dogs and chickens. 

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites.
Fantastic Fiction Profile  Headline Author Profile  Lovereading - Sarah Challis

I have chosen to read this title as the letter J for The A - Z Book Challenge which I have decided to attempt to achieve in alphabetical order. I have a good selection of titles to choose from our bookshelves, it will be interesting to see how far I can get before I get stuck. You can follow my progress here.