Sunday, December 30, 2012

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Ebook:  Also available in paperback (originally published 2009) 342 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction, Natural Disaster.
Novelicious Books (4 July 2012)
Source: I purchased for my Kindle to complete the A - Z Book Challenge 2012
First Sentence: 'On moonless nights the men and boys of Jableh, a dusty fishing town on the coast of Syria, would gather their lanterns and set out in their quietest boats.'

Review Quote: Eggers uses Zeitoun's eyes to report on America's reasonless post-Katrina world. Reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's documentaries, this is a true story told with the skills of a master of fiction. Immensely readable (Independent )

Literary Awards: Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest (2009)Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Non-fiction (2009)Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Non-fiction (2010)
My Opinion: .Fascinating although disturbing.

I purchased this book for My Kindle so that I was able to complete the A - Z Book Challenge 2012 that I have participated in this year. A title I doubt I would have ever considered if it had not been for the Challenge as it is non-fiction not a genre I normally review. However it was a good choice fascinating although disturbing.

The process behind this book started in 2005 shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. A team of volunteers from Voice of Witness, a series of books that use oral history to illuminate human rights crises collected testimonies from residents and former residents of New Orleans about their lives before after and during Hurricane Katrina. An interview with Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun was included in a publication called Voices From The Storm and it was something about their story that struck home with Dave Eggers and he decided to turn it into a stand alone book. Zeitoun is the result of nearly three years of interviews and research, it makes a compelling account of the terrible experiences of this family.

When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans,  Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a prosperous Syrian-American  and father of four, decided to sit out the storm rather than evacuate to protect his house and contracting business. In the days after the storm, he travelled the flooded streets in his canoe, passing on supplies and helping those he could. A week later, on September 6, 2005, Zeitoun abruptly disappeared.  What an earth happened to him? It is difficult to believe but sadly true!

All the events related in the book are seen through the eyes of the Zeitouns, so it must be remembered that this is how they recollect events. The process of bringing this story to print must at times have been a very painful experience for them. If you read this you will be reading the story of a very courageous family who have a tremendous amount of faith.

Author Profile

Born on March 12, 1970 in Boston, Massachusetts, The United States.
Dave Eggers is the author of six previous books, including "Zeitoun," and "What Is the What," which was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award. That book, about Valentino Achak Deng, a survivor of the civil war in southern Sudan, gave birth to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, run by Mr. Deng and dedicated to building secondary schools in southern Sudan. Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco that produces a quarterly journal, a monthly magazine ("The Believer"), and "Wholphin," a quarterly DVD of short films and documentaries. In 2002, with Nínive Calegari he co-founded 826 Valencia, a non-profit writing and tutoring centre for youth in the Mission District of San Francisco. In 2004, Eggers taught at the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and there, with Dr. Lola Vollen, he co-founded Voice of Witness, a series of books using oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. A native of Chicago, Eggers graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in journalism. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.

Photo and Biographical Information is with thanks to the following sites where you can also find out more about the author and his writing. 

Goodreads Author Profile   Dave Eggers - Amazon Author Profile

I have chosen to read this title as the letter Z for The A - Z Book Challenge which I decided to attempt to achieve in alphabetical order. I had a good selection of titles to choose from our bookshelves, so am pleased to announce that I have achieved my aim.  You can follow my progress and see the full list of titles that I read for the Challenge here.  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Yours Truly by Kirsty Greenwood

Ebook:  Estimated at 318 pages
Genre: Romantic comedy
Novelicious Books (4 July 2012)
Source: The author in return for an honest and unbiased review.
First Sentence: 'In all my twenty-seven years of life, I have never before noticed the astonishing similarities between my own head and a ten-pin bowling ball.

Review Quote: "Kirsty Greenwood could totally be the next big Chick Lit star...she's written one of my favourite books this year." CHICKLITREVIEWSANDNEWS.COM
My Opinion: Bordering on farcical.

I was really out of my comfort zone with this novel which is really not a surprise now I have discovered that the author is influenced in her writing style by Jenny ColganSophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes all excellent authors but not really ones I would consider myself a fan of, although I have read novels written by them all in the past. It is maybe not fair of me that I accepted a review copy from the author for review, as it is probably not one I would have selected for myself. Having said this I do have very eclectic tastes and am always willing to try and step out of my comfort zone. I think this time that I have grown out of such chick lit romps in the case of the majority of authors, although there are a few I still enjoy. Do not get me wrong I did not dislike 'Yours Truly' but at times it seemed to be bordering on farcical, there is certainly plenty to laugh about, maybe I was just not in the right mood for this one.

The protagonist is Natalie Butterworth  twenty seven, newly engaged, it seems she does not mind telling a few white lies here and there to keep herself out of trouble. She is happy but this is difficult to believe when you read about her incredibly dull fiancé plus a sister and mother that seem to control her life. Unfortunately thanks to attending a hypnotists show Natalie finds her life suddenly becomes very complicated and she is forced to face up to all sorts of situations that she would prefer to avoid. Just imagine what would happen to someone who didn't have the power to keep the sometimes hurtful truth to themselves and the trouble that would cause and you have the premise for this novel. From dodgy make overs, ugly wedding dresses, to an idyllic Yorkshire village which is full of secrets and nosey residents what chaos!  Will it all get sorted out and end with that perfect happy ending?  

This is one for the true chick lit fans and judging by the many five star reviews on Amazon my thoughts do not agree with the majority this time.

Author Profile

Kirsty Greenwood was born on April 17th 1982 in Oldham, Greater Manchester. A graduate of North Trafford College and Salford University, she is the founding editor of the female fiction and chick lit website Novelicious.  On her Goodreads profile she admits to drinking far too much tea and has an interesting list of Likes.  They are apparently, American telly, cooking,flittery book covers, green clothes, roasting potatoes, typography, 60s R&B, BOOKS!, Amy Farrah Fowler, singing, Sunday afternoon baths, wine, Beat Sheets, whimsical jewellery and smiley people.

Photo and Biographical Information is with thanks to the following sites where you can also find out more about the author and her writing. 

Goodreads Author Profile    Kirsty Greenwood - Official Website     Kirsty Greenwood - Facebook

Amazon Author Profile

I have chosen to read this title as the letter Y for The A - Z Book Challenge which I  decided to attempt to achieve in alphabetical order. I had a good selection of titles to choose from our bookshelves, so am pleased that it now looks as I have achieved my aim. You can follow my progress here.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

X by Matt Thompson

Ebook:  179pages
Genre:  Fiction
Publisher:   Independent  July 2012
Source: Amazon Kindle Bookstore
First Sentence: My charm I [1] prefer a soft toothbrush to one of those that are ultra-firm; to me those feel like I'm brushing my teeth with something that I would scrape charcoal off my grill with and that isn't something I want to feel in a moment of deep shame.
My opinion:  I had picked this for X for the Title Challenge. It was the wrong choice.

Do not get me wrong apart from a few editing errors and long winded sentences this is well written. It was just the wrong choice for me and to be honest I would never have downloaded it to my Kindle had I not been desperate to find a book beginning with X for the 2012 Title Challenge that I have been participating in. The complexities of the storyline which I found confusing were I think not helped by the 168 bracketed annotations! Not easily accessible in an ebook, as they were all at the end, even this I did not realise until I got there, having wondered what an earth the numbers were all about. Maybe this particular book would have worked better for me as a paper version as then I would have flipped the pages to read the footnotes as I read. Maybe this is not the authors intention though as each section does read ok alone, I just would have preferred not to have done so. Anyway the format just did not work for me although others may find it very interesting for just the reasons I found it strange.

The story is not for the prudish as there is detailed explicit content of a sexual nature because the protagonist Cale is a young man battling against a most unusual addiction. He rambles and is often delusional, the footnotes that follow being the more grounded telling of events as his addiction ruins not only his life but those of his loved ones as well. A candid look at someone with a severe addiction that although he has acknowledged it is one, has done nothing to obtain help. It is important to remember that the point of view is all Cale's, in the first part of the novel. Some of my thoughts did change after reading the annotation section and seeing things from the point of view of other characters. It is not until right near the somewhat emotional ending of the novel that Cale seems to suddenly become perceptive as events unfold.

Author Profile

A writer first, who writes what he wants to write and what he thinks needs to be said. He writes about real world problems and it's not always pretty. He's a student of literature, creative writing, and contemporary fiction.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following website and absolutely all I was able to find about this young man, after a quick search. - Author Profile

I have chosen to read this title as the letter X 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.   

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Christmas

I took this photo on December 11th 2012 in Tywyn Church,

Window Details:
Virgin and Child 
artist: Geoffrey Webb
about 1943
Church of St Cadfan, Tywyn, Gwynedd
south wall of the south aisle

I look forward to continuing to share many more Book Reviews and Author Profiles with you all. Thankyou so much to my followers here for your continuing support.

Where The Heart Is by Jeanette Hornby

Paperback:  240 pages
Genre: Fiction
Publisher:  Createspace 
Source: Gift from an Australian friend.
First Sentences: "I've met someone!" The words hung in the air, resonating in Dani Santi's head. She looked at her boyfriend, Darren Reid, in disbelief, noting his firm stance as he stood before her, his blonde hair tousled,blue eyes intense.

My Opinion:  A gentle pleasant read but nothing to excite me.

A gentle pleasant read but nothing to excite me, passed on to me by an Australian friend it sounded interesting mainly because of the Italian link. The layout of the book was a little strange with an unusual page layout and over use of quotation marks which I found distracting.

Set in the nineteen eighties which I think of as fairly modern times I found the way our heroine was treated by her parents difficult to understand, but then maybe that is because I know next to nothing about life in Australia. Maybe it was really hard still in those days for families from Italy and other countries, there is certainly an international cast of characters which helps create an idea of life in Australia then for them as foreigners.

The novel tells the story of an eighteen year old Australian - Italian girl who has just spent a year studying in Perth and returns home to I guess the outback, the way she describes her home town of Waroona, after breaking up with her boyfriend. There is not really much of a storyline as the book concentrates on relationships, mainly those of our heroine Daniela Sante with the people that surround her, in particular with her parents new house guest Antonio. Having struggled all her young life to accept her Italian heritage this newcomer in her life represents all that she has come to hate.

There is really nothing more I can say about this, without spoiling it for those that might want to read it. If you enjoy a relationship driven novel and are interested in learning more about the life of Australian - Italian families in the eighties then you may well like this more than I did. 

Author Profile.

Jeanette Hornby was born on October 11th 1964 and has lived all her life in a small town in Western Australia. Her first two novels  'Heart's Promise' and 'Where The Heart Is', are set in her hometown and are based on observations of real people and relationships. She also shares some local history with readers hoping to provide a glimpse of small town life.

Her third novel 'Grapevines and Gum Trees' is set in country Western Australia and is in the final editing stages.
She likes variety and has also just released a sexy romance, 'Candy's Man'.
While all her novels are different, there is a common thread that runs through them - they are all love stories.

Photo and Biographical Information is with thanks to the following sites where you can also find out more about the author and her writing. 

Jeanette Hornby - Official Website    Goodreads - Author Profile  Jeanette Hornby Books on FB 

Jeanette Hornby - Twitter

I have chosen to read this title as the letter W for The A - Z Book Challenge which I  decided to attempt to achieve in alphabetical order. I had a good selection of titles to choose from our bookshelves, so am pleased that it now looks as I have achieved my aim. You can follow my progress here.  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Veiled Freedom by Jeanette Windle

Paperback:  432 pages ( I read the ebook version on My Kindle)
Genre:  Christian contemporary fiction
Publisher: May 20th 2009 by Tyndale House Publishers
Source: Kindle purchase.
First Sentences: Prologue Kabul 13,2001. "Land of the free and home of the brave" The radio's static-spattered fanfare filtered through the compound wall. Beyond its shattered gate, a trio of small boys kicked a bundle of knotted rags around the dirt courtyard. Had they any idea those foreign harmonies were paying homage to their country's latest invaders?
My opinion:  It was certainly the characters and the place rather than any plot that held my interest.

A Christian novel set in present-day Afghanistan which will give you plenty to think about, in particular the plight of women.  I felt that this novel was a well researched  believable portrayal of life in Afghanistan and how religion both Christian and Muslim plays a big part in the problems facing aid organisations working there. The story deals with the critical issues that the people of Afghanistan are dealing with on a day to day basis, that we really cannot afford to ignore, but are probably not fully aware of. Also it may not be an accurate picture, after all this is fiction, but I fear it is horribly close to the truth  although not a particularly exciting novel it will transport you to Kabul whilst you are reading.  For me it was certainly the characters and the place rather than any plot that held my interest.

The novel tells the story of three main protagonists, Amy Mallory a young American and devout Christian who has just arrived in Kabul to work for an aid organisation helping women and children. Amy is desperate to be able to share her faith but knows she would be putting the life's of others in danger if she is over zealous in pushing her beliefs in her story telling.  A difficult path she trod, especially as one of the conditions of her position was that she should not share her faith with the locals and which did in fact have unexpected repercussions, not to be given away here. 

The other two protagonists are male firstly we meet Steve Wilson, an ex special forces soldier now chief of security for the Afghanistan Minister of the Interior who just happens to be Amy's landlord.   Originally part of the force that liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban, he has become very cynical about  the continued violence and lack of freedom.  He finds Amy very naive and seems to be always having to rescue her from dangerous situations. 
The final protagonist is Jamil a young man recently returned to his homeland from exile in Pakistan, well educated Amy employs him as a translator to help in her aid work. He has a harrowing past and as a devout Muslim, finds it very difficult to accept the kindness that Amy seems to show to everyone. He questions how her faith can motivate her to do so, dangerous and complicated.

Basically the interaction between the characters and the dramas that link them is the story and to say more about them would spoil it for those of you that may want to read this. Be warned there is a strong religious influence which may put some readers off, but I can recommend this to anyone who likes to learn more about the world we live in whilst they are reading.

Author Profile

 A daughter of American missionaries, Jeanette Windle grew up in the jungles and small towns of Colombia, now guerilla hot zones. In 1981, Jeanette graduated with a degree in Biblical Studies and Theology from Prairie Bible College in Three Hills, Alberta. In 1985, Jeanette and her husband Martin moved to Bolivia to work with a non-denominational Christian mission. While her husband served as director, Jeanette worked with women and children at risk in varied regions of Bolivia.

 Jeanette began her publishing/writing career producing Spanish-language educational and inspirational material for women and children at risk as well as writing articles for a variety of international publications.  Her first major adult novel, Crossfire, set against background of the counter-narcotics war in Bolivia that she was witnessing first hand. This was followed by The DMZ, set in the guerilla zones of Colombia where she grew up. There have been other novels which can found by following the links below.  Veiled Freedom, set in Afghanistan, has been followed by the sequel last year Freedom's Stand.

Jeanette and her husband Marty moved to Miami in June, 2000, for his non-denominational Christian mission organization work and again In January 2006 to Lancaster, PA. None of the biographical information I came across in my research gave me a date of birth, but I did discover that the couple have four children.

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

Wikipedia - Jeanette Windle    Books by Jeanette Windle    Goodreads Author Profile 
 Jeanette Windle - Author's Official Website.

I have chosen to read this title as the letter V for The A - Z Book Challenge which I  decided to attempt to achieve in alphabetical order. I had a good selection of titles to choose from our bookshelves, so am pleased that it now looks as I have achieved my aim. You can follow my progress here.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Italy by Catherine McNamara

Paperback: 284 pages
GenreHumorous fiction
Publisher: Indigo Dreams Publishing Ltd 2012

Source: The Author in exchange for an unbiased review.

First Sentence: An old friend of mine named Jean fell through a tear in her marriage and landed on her feet.
Review Quote:   Fast, sexy and very funny and reveals an Italy you've never seen before. It's the perfect read for anyone who believes, erroneously, that it's too late to start again. Now where did I put my passport? Chris Manby - Author
My Opinion: Hilarious

The front cover of this novel states that is based on the author’s vast experience and wild imagination. She is not kidding; I hope I have taken this novel in the right spirit as I found it hilarious! It is certainly rather different from the Italy I know and love but then I am not Marilyn Wade who was looking for a new start after divorce! Marilyn just seems to attract the most incredible characters, finding herself in some strange situations! 
After her divorce she decides that she needs to escape from the life she finds dull and boring in England, Italy is her choice following in the footsteps of an old contact she admired. So much happens in the novel that there is no chance of you finding it dull, it is well written and Catherine McNamara makes some clever reflections on human nature.
Arriving in Milano, Marilyn finds it all much harder than she expected: but with the help of an insensitive Australian woman, some interesting male contacts and copious amounts of Italian coffee she starts to find her feet! Or does she you will have to read to find out the consequences of her adventures.

If you are looking for a fast paced, funny read, which leaves nothing to the imagination then this might appeal.  Although it is set in Italy I do not necessarily think that this is going to appeal to all Italophiles but it will appeal to those looking for a light hearted read.

Author  Profile.

Catherine is an Australian; she grew up in Sydney, migrated to Paris then Milan . She lived in Africa for thirteen years where she travelled widely, worked in an embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia,  ran a bar and a traditional art gallery in Accra Ghana . Returning to Italy eight years ago she now lives beneath the Colli Euganei in Padova and has a love hate relationship with Italy, depending on the moment.
She has dabbled in photography, selling African art, translating physics and raising a family. Besides writing she enjoys  playing Chopin, free heel ski-ing and swimming.
Over the years she has written and published short stories in Europe, the USA and Australia. The Divorced Lady's Companion to living in Italy is her first novel.

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

Monday, December 17, 2012

Unforgettable Embrace by Joanne Clancy

Ebook: Also available as a paperback 322 pages. 
GenreContemporary Womens Fiction.
PublisherCupid's Arrow Publishing (24 July 2011).
SourceFrom the author in return for an unbiased review.
First Sentences: I am officially fat. Rachel Jenkins surveyed her naked body critically in her full-length and rather unforgiving bedroom mirror, and made a silent promise to herself that she would join a gym immediately.  
My Opinion: L
yrical enthusiasm for the beauty of Ireland has encouraged me to want to pay a visit.

Earlier this year I read and reviewed Unfaithfully Yours when I ended my review by saying that  'Ms Clancy has more to offer as a writer I feel, so it will be interesting to see how her writing develops.' After reading Unforgettable Embrace I am still of the same opinion.  I felt this novel had potential but somehow it just did not work that well for me. Some aspects of the storyline did not go into enough detail and yet other parts of the book were over detailed making it read at times more like a tourist guide.

It is well written and I feel that Joanne Clancy has the potential to write much better novels than this one.  I will read more of her novels given the opportunity as I will be interested to see if this happens.
The first part of the novel felt a little unexciting in the way the author described her protagonist’s long term relationship falling apart, once Rachel got the travel bug it was more interesting. Her restaurant descriptions and lyrical enthusiasm for the beauty of Ireland has encouraged me to want to pay a visit. However surely that is not the intention for the novel to read a little too much like a travelogue and restaurant guide. I am also wary of the accuracy of the descriptions as I was very disappointed to notice that Newquay in Cornwall was referred to as New Quay, a basic error showing poor research and editing. I think the novel would have worked better for me personally while reading it if the suspense and romance had taken priority.

At nearly thirty years of age the protagonist Rachel and her long term boyfriend decide that they no longer want to be together. It is not as easy as she had hoped to make a fresh start and after a few disasters with dating she decides that more serious action is needed to find herself a new life. She gives up her job and her home and sets off on a tour of Ireland in an old camper van on a voyage of self discovery. The storyline then becomes a little erratic and confused as Rachel seemed to keep changing her mind about what she wanted, or to much travelogue jumped into the plot. Anyway she gets into a tricky situation unbeknown to herself, the suspense is never fully developed but it is eventually resolved.  A reasonable quick read if you like romance and some sexy scenes mixed in with travel of course.

                                     Book Trailer - No spoilers
                           Published on 3 Apr 2012 by Joanne Clancy

                                           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  The Secrets and Lies Trilogy, The Wedding Day, Unfaithfully Yours, Unforgettable Embrace and My Love.

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

YouTube   Joanne Clancy - Author Blog  Facebook Profile  Amazon Author Profile    Goodreads Profile    

I have chosen to read this title as the letter U for The A - Z Book Challenge which I  decided to attempt to achieve in alphabetical order. I had a good selection of titles to choose from our bookshelves, so am pleased that it now looks as I have achieved my aim. You can follow my progress here.    

Friday, December 14, 2012

Things I want my Daughters to Know by Elizabeth Noble,

Paperback: 438 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Penguin 2008
 Purchased on a trip to the UK
First Sentence: (Letter) Dear All of you, Despite my controlling streak, there aren't too many rules, so far as the funeral goes.
Review Quote: 
 Witty, affectionate and unashamedly tear-jerking (Red ) 
My Opinion: 
isappointing as potentially it was a great idea.

Despite having read three of Elizabeth Noble's earlier novels and having had two titles sitting on my bookshelves for a few years this is the first time I have read one, since I started reviewing. I have always considered her novels to be ones I will enjoy without having to think to hard. Why it has taken me so long to pick another one up I have no idea. It is six years since I last read one, anyway now I have rediscovered her I hope it will not be long before I get hold of the rest of her back catalogue as this was a good read. The subject is far from comfortable but Noble tackles it sympathetically.

I plodded through this which was disappointing as potentially it was a great idea and as I have said already tackled sympathetically. Barbara has a terminal illness and has so much that she wants to share with her four daughters, knowing she is leaving them when individually they still have so much growing up to do. That part of the story worked well for me but I felt let down somehow by the rest which was seen from the points of view of her daughters.

Barbara is very much aware that her time is running out fast and that she will not be able to share the ups and downs of her daughters life's and give them the first hand support they require. She decides therefore I felt in an extremely brave move to write her four daughters individual letters. Each daughter deals with the death and the shocks they receive when reading their letters in a different way, but all with a mixture of anger and sadness before acceptance. Lisa the oldest in her mid-thirties is frightened of commitment, then there is Jennifer married but unhappily hiding this from the rest of the family. Amanda still in her twenties is the free spirited adventurer, seemingly unable to settle anywhere for long and Hannah mid teens living at home and devastated to watch her mother dying. 
Trying to help them come to terms with the early loss of their mother is Mark, stepfather to the eldest three girls, Barbara's second husband and father to Hannah. He recalls how his wife would have reacted as he tries to guide them all including himself through the home truths that the letters reveal.

I did not love this, but neither did I hate it, I was just disappointed. It will definitely not be another six years before I read another of this author's novels, if you are a fan of contemporary fiction that is also thought provoking then this might be for you.

Author Profile
Goodreads Profile Photo

Elizabeth Noble was born on December 1st 1968 in High Wycombe, Bucks, she now lives in New York with her husband and two daughters. She studied English at Oxford University and after graduating embarked on a career in publishing before taking up writing full time. She is the author of seven novels, The Reading Group, The Tenko Club, Alphabet Weekends, Things I Want My Daughters to Know, The Girl Next Door and The Way We Were, which were all Sunday Times Top Ten bestsellers. The Reading Group reached Number One. Her new novel, Between a Mother and Her Child, is out now.
A précis of all these novels can be found on her Official Website just click the link for more information.

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

 Amazon Author Profile   Elizabeth Nobel Official Website   Goodreads -Author Profile

I have chosen to read this title as the letter T 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. Letter T and I am still not stuck for titles, very pleased with the challenge so far. You can follow my progress here.   

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Lovely Indecent Departure by Steven Lee Gilbert

Paperback: 274 pages
Genre: Literary Thriller
Published March 23rd 2012 by Steven Lee Gilbert 
Source:  From the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
First Sentences: Look, there comes the girl. She is treading alone up the sidewalk.

Review Quote:   “Riveting…perfect for any kind of literary escape.”—The Wake Weekly 
 My Opinion:  A satisfying but poignant read.

A début novel from Steven Lee Gilbert who could be a literary thriller writer whose name may well become  more familiar in the future. I had never heard of him until he approached me to review his book. As some of you will know thrillers are not my favourite genre but I was tempted by this one. I was glad I was as it turned out to be a satisfying but poignant read of a young woman's love for her son and her fear for his well being. There was a big bonus for me in that part of the story is set in Italy and the author's use of Italian and the descriptions added to my enjoyment. 

Anna Miller is desperate for her son Oliver to live with her rather than with his father Evan so she flees to her native Italy. The novel tells the story from every viewpoint, from the parents, extended family, friends and of course the law enforcement angle as after all a crime has been committed. All the characters are extremely well portrayed and it is possible to empathise with each and every one of them. As the story unfolds one begins to understand what motivated Anna to do such a thing, as everyone tries to decide exactly what should happen if it is going to be for Oliver's best interest. Thinking about the outcome will keep you engrossed until the last page. 

You will undoubtedly know from my comments above if this is the sort of storyline that appeals to you. If it does and you decide to read the novel I doubt you will be disappointed.

Author Profile

Steven Lee Gilbert was born on November 17, 1964 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA. He considers his childhood home the green rolling foothills of East Tennessee and the southern Appalachia mountains, settlement to all sorts of interesting people, composites of which can be found throughout his writing. Most of his adulthood life has  spent in the Sandhills and Piedmont of central North Carolina, where he now lives with his wife and family. 

He has B.A. in English from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, after which he was commissioned and served four years as an officer and paratrooper in the U.S. Army. In 2008 he was awarded a Durham Arts Council Emerging Artist Grant for Literature. In addition to fiction, he writes a blog called Without Envy: which is about raising a child with Type 1 Diabetes, it details his family's triumphs, struggles and achievements in managing this incurable disease. 

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

Goodreads Author Profile   Steven Lee Gilbert - Official Website      Amazon Author Profile  

Facebook Page - Steven Lee Gilbert

Monday, December 10, 2012

Surfing in Stilettos by Carol Wyer

Ebook:  (Also available in paperback 384 pages)
Genre:  Humorous Contemporary Fiction 
Publisher:  Published 2012 by Lightning Source UK Ltd
Source: From the author in return for an unbiased review.
First Sentence: Introduction: Welcome to the first post on this, my new blog - Fortifying Your Fifties.
My opinion: Brilliant sequel to Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines

It is just over a year since I published my review of Carol Wyer's début novel Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines, the last paragraph of which I shall repeat here. 'A very funny book and I feel an excellent début from an author whose writing we can expect to see get even better as she grows in confidence. She has a tremendous sense of humour and has the ability to see the funny side of life in every day events. Keep writing Carol as I think there are many of us women of a certain age that will keep reading.' My predictions were correct Carol Wyer is back with Surfing in Stilettos which is I felt a stronger novel, showing her increased confidence, indeed a brilliant sequel. Although the two novels stand alone as stories, this is a sequel and if you read Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines first, which is my recommendation, then you will be able to pick this up and at once feel familiar with the characters.

It is another hilarious novel about Amanda Wilson, a role model for those looking to age disgracefully. Amanda and her husband Phil, newly retired and leaving there son in charge at home have set off  in a camper van to spend a 'gap year' travelling across Europe. It does not start off well as the camper van breaks down, enforcing an extended stay in rural France. Unfortunately even this does not turn out to be as idyllic as Amanda had hoped for as she finds herself alone there, with unbeknown to herself her life in danger! What happens? To reveal any more will spoil this delightful novel for you, read it for yourself, it will stir your emotions from tears to laughter, as lives are thrown into turmoil.

Once again the author has succeeded in providing us with an entertaining light hearted read, but with a touch of suspense and surprises.  As contemporary modern fiction with all the 21st century necessities of our computer orientated lives, there is something to appeal to all age groups not just those of us of a certain age! Do pick these up to read,  because they will make you smile and we all know that smiling is good for us.

If you missed my review of Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines you can read it here

Book Trailer for 'Surfing in Stilettos' - No Spoilers.
 Published on 24 Jul 2012 by avalongraphics

Author Profile

Carol E. Wyer is an award winning author whose humorous novels take a light-hearted look at getting older and encourage others to age disgracefully.
Her best-selling debut novel 'Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines' won five awards including Readers Views Reviewers Choice 2012 Award (category - humour) and was selected as a finalist for both the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the Indie Excellence Awards 2012.
'Surfing in Stilettos' which follows the further adventures of Amanda Wilson as she attempts to inject some fun into her life, is a Costa Award nominee.
Carol recently signed a two book deal with ThornBerry Publishing. More biographical and amusing facts can be found on her website

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