Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Starting Over by Tony Parsons

Paperback:  291 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Harper 2009
Source: My own Bookshelf, not sure where it came from originally - Will now Bookcross
First Sentence: She doesn't feel comfortable driving this car.
Main Character: George Bailey
Review Quote: A funny sad love story, The Spectator.
My Opinion: A male writer of chick flicks for men is how I have seen Tony Parsons described, I prefer to think of him as a male writer of Contemporary Fiction which can be enjoyed by both male and female readers. I happen to enjoy his take on relationships and have read five other novels of his, although this is only the second time I have reviewed one here. 
If you have not already realised that 'life' is a precious gift, you will have by the time you have finished reading 'Starting Over'. This is an emotional read. Though not in my opinion his best work, it is probably worth reading if you are already a fan of his novels.

My Previous Review: My Favourite Wife

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

After suffering a heart attack at the age of 42, George is given the heart of a 19-year-old - and suddenly everything changes. But he soon discovers that being young again is not all it is cracked up to be - and what he actually wants more than anything is to have his old life back.

Author Profile

Tony Parsons is an award winning journalist, broadcaster and best-selling novelist. Born in Romford, Essex, on November 6th 1953, he was the only child of working class parents. He spent the first five years of his life in a rented flat above a shop in Essex, before his family moved to their own house in Billericay, Essex.

His father was a former Royal Naval Commando who won the Distinguished Service Medal in World War Two. After the war, he worked as a lorry driver, market trader and greengrocer. His mother was a school dinner lady. Parsons attended a grammar school but dropped out when he was 16 years old and worked in a series of low-paid, unskilled menial jobs. 
Parsons married fellow New Musical Express journalist Julie Burchill they have one son together and divorced in 1984. Parsons became a single parent caring for their 4-year-old son. The experience of being a young man caring for a small child was to later influence his best-selling novel, Man and Boy. Parsons' father died of cancer in 1987 and his mother died of cancer in 1999, just weeks before the publication of Man and Boy. The book is dedicated to Parsons' mother.
In 1992, Parsons married his Japanese wife, Yuriko. They have one daughter, Jasmine. He now lives with his wife and daughter in London.

He began his career as a music journalist on the NME, writing about punk music. Later, he wrote for The Daily Telegraph, before going on to write his current column for the Daily Mirror. Parsons was for a time a regular guest on the BBC Two arts review programme The Late Show, and still appears infrequently on the successor Newsnight Review; he also briefly hosted a series on Channel 4 called Big Mouth.

He is the author of the multi-million selling novel, Man and Boy (1999). Parsons had written a number of novels including The Kids (1976), Platinum Logic (1981) and Limelight Blues (1983), before he found mainstream success by focussing on the tribulations of thirty-something men. Parsons has since published a series of best-selling novels – One For My Baby (2001), Man and Wife (2003), The Family Way (2004), Stories We Could Tell (2006), My Favourite Wife (2007), Starting Over (2009) and Men From the Boys (2010). His novels typically deal with relationship problems, emotional dramas and the traumas of men and women in our time. He describes his writing as 'Men Lit', as opposed to the rising popularity of 'Chick Lit'.

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.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Family Album by Penelope Lively

Paperback: 261 pages                                                                                                 

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Penguin 2010
Source: British Red Cross Charity Shop
First Sentence: Gina turned the car off the road and into the driveway of Allersmead
Review Quote: 'Lively succeeds brilliantly in getting a hold on the climate of family life. Simply devastating' The Times
Favourite Quote:"like most people they know one another inside out and not at all"
Literary Awards: Costa Book Award Nominee for Novel (2009)
My Opinion: A family saga about the unreliability of family life and how is not always as it seems to outsiders. Nine people living together in a rambling Edwardian house in a provincial town somewhere in the UK. For years the six children protected their mother's memories of a childhood that was blissful. We hear from them as adults how their different viewpoints of growing up have had consequences in their adult lives. A heartfelt tale that is an absorbing read.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

A big shabby Victorian suburban house, the smell of raincoats and coq au vin in the hall, the six mugs for the children slung from the kitchen dresser hooks: for destructive Paul, difficult Gina, elegant Sandra, considerate Katie, clever Roger and flighty Clare, Allersmead was the perfect place to grow up. But was it? Now grown-up and off in different directions, one by one the children return to Allersmead, to their home-making mother and aloof writer father and a house that for years has played silent witness to the secrets of a family, and one particular secret of which no one speaks… In her sixteenth novel, Penelope Lively shows her extraordinary understanding of what makes us human as she delves into the mystery of family life.

Video Interview for 'Family Album' Courtesy of YouTube

Author Profile

Penelope Lively was born in Cairo, Egypt on March 17th 1933. She came to England at the age of twelve, in 1945, and went to boarding school in Sussex. She went on to read Modern History at St Anne's College, Oxford. In 1957 she married Jack Lively (who died in 1998). They had two children, Josephine and Adam. Jack Lively's academic career took the family from Swansea to Sussex and Oxford, and eventually to Warwick University, where he was Professor of Politics. Penelope Lively now has six grandchildren and lives in London.

She is the author of many prize-winning novels and short-story collections for both adults and children. She has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize: once in 1977 for her first novel, The Road to Lichfield, and again in 1984 for According to Mark. She later won the 1987 Booker Prize for her highly acclaimed novel Moon Tiger.

Her other books include Going Back; Judgement Day; Next to Nature, Art; Perfect Happiness; Passing On; City of the Mind; Cleopatra’s Sister; Heat Wave; Beyond the Blue Mountains, a collection of short stories; Oleander, Jacaranda, a memoir of her childhood days in Egypt; Spiderweb; her autobiographical work, A House Unlocked; The Photograph; Making It Up; Consequences; Family Album, which was shortlisted for the 2009 Costa Novel Award, and How It All Began.

She is a popular writer for children and has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Award. She was appointed CBE in the 2001 New Year’s Honours List, and DBE in 2012.

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads Author Profile    Penelope Lively - Amazon Book Page

Penelope Lively - Official Website

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

Paperback: 306 pages                                                                                             
Genre: Historical Romantic Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday 2012
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: Tess pulled at the corners of the sheets she had taken straight from the line and tried to tuck them tight under the mattress, stepping back to check her work.
Favourite Quote:“Life is an act—most of it, anyway. Get out there today and pretend you’re in charge, for goodness’ sake. Do you hear me? Lift up your head and pretend.” A flicker of a smile passed over her face. “It’s the secret to everything.”
Review Quote: "An unashamed girlie-book....we learn a good deal about what it was like when the ship went down. But we also follow Tess as she learns about the high-fashion business in New York."
--Washington Post
Main Characters: Tess Collins, Lady Duff Gordon
Setting: Washington, D.C., 1912 (United States)
Cherbourg, 1912 (France)
Atlantic Ocean, 1912
New York City, New York, 1912 (United States)
My Opinion: Fact combined with fiction using the sinking of the Titanic as background makes for fascinating reading.  Discover what happens to some of the survivors as there life continues, the author weaves her protagonists stories around the rumours that circulated about this historic event. Too many wealthy people had survived while those from steerage had died! An enjoyable easy read.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Just in time for the centennial anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic comes a vivid, romantic, and relentlessly compelling historical novel about a spirited young woman who survives the disaster only to find herself embroiled in the media frenzy left in the wake of the tragedy.

Tess, an aspiring seamstress, thinks she's had an incredibly lucky break when she is hired by famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon to be a personal maid on the Titanic's doomed voyage. Once on board, Tess catches the eye of two men, one a roughly-hewn but kind sailor and the other an enigmatic Chicago millionaire. But on the fourth night, disaster strikes.

Amidst the chaos and desperate urging of two very different suitors, Tess is one of the last people allowed on a lifeboat. Tess’s sailor also manages to survive unharmed, witness to Lady Duff Gordon’s questionable actions during the tragedy. Others—including the gallant Midwestern tycoon—are not so lucky.

On dry land, rumors about the survivors begin to circulate, and Lady Duff Gordon quickly becomes the subject of media scorn and later, the hearings on the Titanic. Set against a historical tragedy but told from a completely fresh angle, The Dressmaker is an atmospheric delight filled with all the period's glitz and glamour, all the raw feelings of a national tragedy and all the contradictory emotions of young love.

Author Profile

Kate Alcott is the pseudonym for the journalist Patricia O’Brien, who was born in the USA. She has written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. As Kate Alcott, she is the author of The Dressmaker (a New York Times bestseller), The Daring Ladies of Lowell, and A Touch of Stardust. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads Author Profile    Amazon Author Page   Kate Alcott - Official Website.

Facebook Profile

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

Hardback: 278 pages
Series: To Kill A MockingBird #2                                                                                                 
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins 2015
Source: Tywyn Public Library
Characters: Scout Finch, Atticus Finch, Aunt Alexandra, Henry "Hank" Clinton, Jack Finch
Setting: Alabama, USA
First Sentence: Since Atlanta, she had looked out the dining-car window with a delight almost physical.
Favourite Quote:“As sure as time, history is repeating itself, and as sure as man is man, history is the last place he’ll look for his lessons.”
Review Quote: "The flashes of lyrical genius and ability to evoke the intensity of childhood play that come to fruition in To Kill a Mockingbird are in evidence…It’s nowhere near the novel Mockingbird is. It is much better than that…What Watchman tells us, and tells us rather powerfully, is that racism is not confined to people who are so clearly not like us…Watchman is for grown-ups. It asks serious questions about what racism is. And it comes at a time when American desperately needs a grown-up conversation about race." (Erica Wagner New Statesman)
Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction (2015)Waterstones Book of the Year Nominee (2015)
My Opinion: Although it is many years since I was at school in the sixties and read To Kill A Mocking Bird it was rather special to decades later be able to meet the characters again on the pages of  Go Set A Watchman. Unless you have read the former I doubt you will get much from the latter, as it feels more of a postscript than a sequel. In fact many say it was written first. Scout Finch has returned home to Alabama and finds herself thrown into conflict with her father who is now portrayed as a bitter racist, far from the virtuous man he had appeared previously as. Certainly a thought provoking read.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch--"Scout"--returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past--a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience. Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision--a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.

Video Trailer for 'Go Set A Watchman' Courtesy of YouTube

Author Profile

Harper Lee, known as Nelle, was born in the Alabama town of Monroeville, in 1926, the youngest of four children of Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Cunningham Finch Lee. Her father, a former newspaper editor and proprietor, was a lawyer who served on the state legislature from 1926 to 1938. As a child, Lee was a tomboy and a precocious reader, and enjoyed the friendship of her schoolmate and neighbor, the young Truman Capote.

After graduating from high school in Monroeville, Lee enrolled at the all-female Huntingdon College in Montgomery (1944-45), and then pursued a law degree at the University of Alabama (1945-50), pledging the Chi Omega sorority. While there, she wrote for several student publications and spent a year as editor of the campus humor magazine, "Ramma-Jamma". Though she did not complete the law degree, she studied for a summer in Oxford, England, before moving to New York in 1950, where she worked as a reservation clerk with Eastern Air Lines and BOAC.

Lee continued as a reservation clerk until the late 50s, when she devoted herself to writing. She lived a frugal life, traveling between her cold-water-only apartment in New York to her family home in Alabama to care for her father.

Having written several long stories, Harper Lee located an agent in November 1956. The following month at the East 50th townhouse of her friends Michael Brown and Joy Williams Brown, she received a gift of a year's wages with a note: "You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas."

Within a year, she had a first draft. Working with J. B. Lippincott & Co. editor Tay Hohoff, she completed To Kill a Mockingbird in the summer of 1959. Published July 11, 1960, the novel was an immediate bestseller and won great critical acclaim, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. It remains a bestseller with more than 30 million copies in print. In 1999, it was voted "Best Novel of the Century" in a poll by the Library Journal

She died on 19 February 2016.

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

You Tube Video   Amazon's Harper Lee Page    Goodreads Profile

Friday, February 23, 2018

Peach Blossom Pavilion by Mingmei Yip

Paperback:   421 pages                                                                                               
Genre: Historical Romance.
Publisher: Avon 2014
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence:  Prologue: The California sun slowly streams in through my apartment window, then gropes its way past a bamboo plant, a Chinese vase spilling with plum blossoms, a small incense burner, then finally lands on Bao Lan - Precious Orchid - the woman lying opposite me without a stitch on.
Favourite Quote: “I was performing my ritual of sipping tea, shooting flirtatious glances and planning murder”
Review Quote: ‘Memoirs of a Geisha but with a sharper, more suspenseful pace’ Powell’s Books
My Opinion: A fascinating account of how life was for a Chinese Courtesan in the early 20C. The protagonist Xiang Xiang is now an elderly lady in her late nineties and the story is her account to her great granddaughter of her life. Living in the Peach Blossom Pavilion where she was sent by her mother after the death of her father, she grew up with the prime reason for her education being to prepare her for life as a courtesan. Such a sad childhood, despite being successful and well cared for Xian Xiang never forgets her parents and plots to one day escape. When she does it is not for the straight forward life that you may imagine, oh no, adventures both passionate and dangerous lay ahead for her. A compelling read one of my favourites.
Highly recommended if you liked Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha or enjoy the writing of Anchee Min

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

A seductive and evocative debut that opens the doors on life as a Chinese courtesan in the Peach Blossom Pavilion…

Behind the doors of the pavilion, a world of sensuality and intrigue awaits…

Xiang Xiang’s life as an innocent girl is about to change beyond recognition.

Falsely accused of murder, Xiang Xiang's father is executed, and her mother forced into a Buddhist nunnery. Xiang Xiang, alone and friendless at thirteen years old, is tricked into entering the Peach Blossom Pavilion, where she is given the name Bao Lan – Precious Orchid.

There she is trained in the fine arts of womanhood, studying music, literature, painting, and more importantly, the art of seduction and pleasuring men; and becomes one of China’s most successful courtesans.

However, Precious Orchid is determined to avenge her parents and sets out on a journey that includes passion, adventure, danger, fame, and finally, her chance to achieve the justice she has sought so long.

An enchanting tale of opulence and desire, perfect for fans of Anchee Min and Memoirs of a Geisha.

Author Profile

Mingmei Yip was born in China, received her Ph.D. from the University of Paris, Sorbonne, and held faculty appointments at the Chinese University and Baptist University in Hong Kong. She's published five books in Chinese, written several columns for seven major Hong Kong newspapers, and has appeared on over forty TV and radio programs in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, and the U.S. She immigrated to the United States in 1992, where she now lives in New York City.

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads Author Profile    Amazon Author Page    Mingmei Yip - Author's Official Website

Mingmei Yip - Instagram       Facebook Profile    Mingmeiyip - Twitter

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Cholesterol by Tony Drury

Paperback: 256 pages                                                                                                  
Genre: Thriller, Romantic Suspense,
Publisher: City Fiction June 2013
Source: City Fiction
First Sentence: His chest was exposed and there were electrodes attached to his skin.
Main Characters: Adrian Dexter, DCI Sarah Rudd
Setting: London
My Opinion: A thriller with some romance that will keep you intrigued. Once again, this prolific author has produced a novel with a story that is compelling enough to make it a worthwhile read, especially if you are a fan of his writing or romantic suspense in general.

Other Tony Drury Titles Reviewed:  Megan's Game   The Deal

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Adrian Dexter is a corporate financier struggling through the turbulence of recession in 2012. Far away from the City of London, the love of his life waits for him in Johannesburg – as does his mortal enemy and notorious South African fraudster, Nigel de Groot. When Adrian meets the beautiful Helen Greenwood and they embark on a passionate affair, he begins to feel young again. But his new found happiness is about to be rudely interrupted. A business merger, an unexpected pregnancy, a kidnapping, a royal ambush – suddenly Adrian’s life is spiralling out of control. Will DCI Sarah Rudd save the day by solving a killer’s cryptic clue? And then, of course, there’s those nasty fatty deposits lurking beneath the surface

Author Profile:

Tony is the author of five DCI Sarah Rudd City thrillers. In each, he draws upon his career as a London financier to expose the underworld of dark practices and shadowy characters. None, however, are able to withstand the bravery and incisive detection methods of one of the police force’s bravest officers. Her juggling of career demands, husband, children and her own demons, make riveting reading.

He has now written two more novels which trace the early career of probationary police constable Sarah Whitson. In ‘On Scene and Dealing’ she meets her future husband Nick. In ‘Journey to the Crown’ she has a devastating affair with Dr Martin Redding. The final chapter jumps ahead to sample her future life as a private detective.

Tony has created an innovative series as a novella writer. Reflecting iconic cinema classics, his first is ‘Lunch with Harry’, which is inspired by ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. Others to follow include ‘Twelve Troubled Jurors’ (echoing ‘12 Angry Men’) and ‘Forever on Thursdays’ (capturing the drama of ‘Brief Encounter’).

He writes short-stories wherein the net proceeds go to HEART UK – The Cholesterol Charity. He is an ambassador for the charity.

Aged seventy, Tony is a follower of the wisdom of Albert Einstein: “When a man stops learning, he starts dying.” He lives in Bedford with his wife Judy. They value every trip down the M1 to Watford to be with Grandson Henry.

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Tony Drury - Facebook   City Fiction - Facebook   Twitter - mrtonydrury

Goodreads - Author Profile     Tony Drury - Official Author Website    Amazon Author Page

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Kindle Edition: 1663KB
Hardback: 415 pages
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Flatiron Books 2016
Source: Amazon
First Sentence: 'This is a story that begins with a barbecue,' said Clementine 
Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction (2016)Holden-Crowther Book Award Nominee (2016)
Review Quote: "Truly Madly Guilty" will be widely read It has all the requisite trademarks of one of her hits It probes some of the things she writes about best: fraught friendships, covert backbiting, stale marriages. "New York Times"
My Opinion: When I knew that this title was going to be a choice for Book Club, based on my previous enjoyment of this author's novels, I purchased a copy for my Kindle. What a disappointment, very much in the minority as regards to opinion, I found Truly, Madly Guilty, boring to the extreme. 

Links to my Previous Reviews: 

The Husband's Secret       Little Lies/Big Little Lies

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

The electrifying new novel from the international bestselling author, Liane Moriarty

Despite their differences, Erika and Clementine have been best friends since they were children. So when Erika needs help, Clementine should be the obvious person to turn to. Or so you'd think.

For Clementine, as a mother of a two desperately trying to practise for the audition of a lifetime, the last thing she needs is Erika asking for something, again.

But the barbecue should be the perfect way to forget their problems for a while. Especially when their hosts, Vid and Tiffany, are only too happy to distract them.

Which is how it all spirals out of control...

Video Trailer for 'Truly, Madly, Guilty' Courtesy of YouTube

Author Profile

Liane Moriarty is an Australian author born in Sydney on the 15 November 1966.

Her best known novel The Husband's Secret sold over three million copies worldwide, was a number 1 UK bestseller, an Amazon Best Book of 2013 and has been translated into over 40 languages. It spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list. CBS Films has acquired the film rights. 

With the launch of Big Little Lies, Liane became the first Australian author to have a novel debut at number one on the New York Times bestseller list. An HBO series based on Big Little Lies is currently in production, starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. 

Writing as L.M. Moriarty, Liane has also written a children's book series, The Petrifying Problem with Princess Petronella, The Shocking Trouble on the Planet of Shobble and The Wicked War on the Planet of Whimsy. 

Liane lives in Sydney with her husband, son and daughter. 

For further biographical info visit her official website - about Liane

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads Author Profile      Liane Moriarty - Amazon Page         Author's Official Website     

 Facebook Profile - Liane Moriarty        Wikepedia - Liane Moriarty

YouTube Interview    

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

On Open Ground, The Moss Gatherers and The Curlew's Cry (Ty Coch Trilogy) by Tia Jones

Paperback: 255 pages                                                                                                

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Gomer Press 2008 (2nd impression 2016)
Source: A Likely Story Bookshop, Tywyn.
First Sentence: Ann Baxter needed to have the upper hand. 
Review Quote: 'Moving, beautifully written and full of edge' Lord Carlile of Berriew
Main Characters: Elin, Ianto and Mervyn
Setting: Wales

Précis Courtesy of Amazon:

When Elin returns to Wales to heal the wounds of war, she is drawn by childhood memories of her aunt's farm and the mountains by the sea. It is here she meets and marries Ianto, the quick-tempered farmer and horse breeder. But it is here also that her dreams start to unravel as she discovers unspoken truths about relationships and rivalries that have blighted several generations. Gradually, the isolation and ancient superstitions of this rural community seem to close in on her. And when Elin meets the local farrier, it is not long before the fortunes of farm and forge become tragically embroiled....

Paperback: 376 pages                                                                                                 

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Gomer Press 2013
Source: A Likely Story Bookshop, Tywyn.
First Sentence: In the cold morning he dressed quickly, gulping down his breakfast and filling his thermos flask before putting it into his canvas bag.
Main Characters: The children of Elin and Ianto, Richard, Bethan and Simon.
Setting:  Wales

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

A sequel to the novel On Open Ground. Though they are children no longer, Richard, Bethan and Simon continue to be drawn to TyAe Coch, their childhood home in Llanfeni. Whilst Richard broods on his failing farm, Bethan's marriage is subsiding into cruel intrigue. But when she is visited by Simon, a desperate series of events is set in motion that can only lead back to one place - Llanfeni, and to a dramatic conclusion in the marginal land between sea and mountain.

Paperback: 314 pages                                                                                                

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Gomer Press 2016
Source: A Likely Story Bookshop, Tywyn.
First Sentence: Bethan looked repeatedly back over the stretch of white sand to the dark shape on the edge of the tide mark, aware that the distance between them was considerable.
Main Characters: Elin, Mervyn, Bethan, Richard, Tegwyn.
Setting: Wales

Précis Courtesy of Amazon:

The third novel in a trilogy centred around the agricultural and personal troubles of a farming family living on the Welsh coast. A sequel to On Open Ground and The Moss Gatherers. The Curlew's Cry is the third novel in a trilogy centred around Ty Coch, a farm on the mid-Wales coast, where three generations of domestic drama is played out in the light of economic, environmental and political developments on a global scale. As the drama unfolds, we are left to contemplate not only the nature of suffering, hope and renewal, but also what in the 21st century constitutes man's proper relationship with the natural world. Plucked from the sea, Bethan and her daughter Clare are clinging on to life in Llanfeni, where Tegwyn continues as devoted as ever. At Ty Coch farm, Bethan's family home, survival has also become a way of life, as Richard and Penny fight the foot-and-mouth outbreak, which has left many neighbours wondering whether wind farming, not livestock, is the way ahead. Casting a further shadow over the community is the war in Iraq, where Martin Price is trapped in no man's land. All the while, across the Irish Sea, Bethan's estranged and vengeful husband is waiting to strike.

My Opinion of the Trilogy:
By the time I finished reading these books I was left feeling that I was going to miss following this Welsh farming community as they coped with the pressures of everyday life. This family saga depicts rural life not as the romantic idyll, that so many think it is, but instead with realistic candour. One is left not just feeling you know all the characters that she portrays so plausibly, but that you have also learnt how current affairs can make an impact on the hill farmers of Wales.  Tia Jones writes from the heart as she lives on a Welsh hill farm herself and she has produced an emotional narrative with this fascinating trilogy. 
Although they can all be read as stand alone novels, I recommend reading them all, as one feels the author's confidence growing during the telling of this tale. Quite a task to write such a trilogy. 

Author Profile

Tia Jones lives and works with her husband on their organic hill farm in Montgomeryshire. She has written for television and radio, and regularly contributes to newspapers and popular magazines.

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Amazon Author Page     Tia Jones - Goodreads

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Wife Who Ran Away by Tess Stimson

Kindle Edition: 1094KB
Paperback: 337 pages                                                                                                  
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Pan 2011
Source: Amazon
First Sentence: Whenever I read in the newspaper about a mother who's abandoned her children and run off to Spain, or who popped out to the shops and never came back, I never think, 'God, that's awful. How could she?' I think, 'I wish I had the guts to do that.' 
My Opinion: I originally added this title to My Kindle as an Italophile as this is where it is partially set. That was back in 2012 so I have waited a long time to read, finally got round to doing so, on a long flight.  Perfect for passing the time as it was a delightful easy read that I quickly immersed myself in. The Wife Who Ran Away is a story of the ups and downs of family life that is narrated by various members of the family. This made it interesting as we get the different perspectives on what happens when Kate Forrest the protagonist runs away!
I have not read a novel by Tess Stimson for rather a long time, but I certainly will not hesitate to add more of her writing to my Kindle for future journeys.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Kate Forrest is invisible...Ned, the husband she adores, doesn't seem to know she's alive, and her two charming children have grown into stroppy adolescents. Her boss is suddenly shunting her towards career Siberia, and her demanding mother is never off the phone. With her fortieth birthday fast approaching, all Kate wants to do is run away from the lot of them. And so she does. On impulse, Kate walks out of her job, her family and her life, and gets on a plane to Italy. With no ties and no responsibilities, she soon finds herself deliriously caught up in La Dolce Vita -- and the arms of a man barely half her age. But when the unthinkable threatens her family, Kate is brutally forced to choose between her past and the future.

Author Profile

Born in Caterham, Surrey, England.

Tess Stimson is the British author of ten novels, including top-ten bestseller The Adultery Club, and two non-fiction books, which between them have been translated into dozens of languages.

Her first "proper" job after graduating from St Hilda's College, Oxford (where she read English) was as a news trainee with ITN (Independent Television News).

She reported and produced regional and world stories, travelling to hotspots and war-zones all over the globe.

In 2002, she was appointed Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Florida and moved to the US. She now lives and works in Vermont with her husband, Erik, their three children, and (at the last count) two cats, three fish, one gerbil and a large number of bats in the attic.

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads Author Profile     Facebook - Tess Stimson    Twitter Account

Tess Stimson - Official Author Website       Amazon Author Page

Sunday, February 18, 2018

State of the Union by Douglas Kennedy

Paperback: 608 pages                                                                                            
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Hutchinson 2005
Source: Oxfam Bookshop
First Sentence: After he was arrested, my father became famous.
Favourite Quote: “biggest roadblocks you encounter in life are the ones you construct for yourself.”
Review Quote: "State of the Union has the feel of a handgun primed for Russian roulette. The climax, when past and future collide, is explosive" (The Times)
Main Characters: Hannah Buchan
Setting: USA
My Opinion: Douglas Kennedy is not an author I am very familiar with, as although I have read two of his books previously it was a long time ago and I really do not remember much about his writing. I must have picked this up because I recalled his name, there are two more titles of his still sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read.
State of the Union is very readable, at first I was doubtful I was going to enjoy it but after the first three chapters I was gripped and despite its size I finished it in a couple of days!  As a man the author has got inside the mind of his female protagonist Hannah, very successfully. Set in the period I grew up in also made it interesting as despite being set in the states one was able to relate to what was happening in the world at that time both politically and socially.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Hannah Buchan leads an orderly life in a small town in Maine — a schoolteacher, married to a doctor, with two grown up children. However, her past conceals a dark secret. Thirty years ago she had a brief, dangerous fling with Tobias Judson, a high profile student activist, which she had reconciled to that internal, off-limits attic room marked “Ancient History.” But when Tobias suddenly pops up out of nowhere with a book about his radical years, her life goes into free-fall. And before she knows it, Hannah discovers that a long-ago transgression is never really forgotten.

Set amid two wildly contrasting periods of recent American life — the militant 60s and 70s, and the new-found conservatism of today — State of the Union is a remarkable portrait of one woman’s attempts to find her own way in the shifting political currents of her time. But it is also an intriguing portrait of the complexities of a long marriage, the ongoing guilt of parenthood, the perpetual tension between familial responsibility and personal freedom, and the divisive debate between liberal and conservative values that so engulfs the United States today. 

Author Profile

Douglas Kennedy was born in Manhattan on January 1st 1955. He studied at Bowdoin College, Maine and Trinity College, Dublin, returning to Dublin in 1977 with just a trench coat, backpack and $300. He co-founded a theatre company and sold his first play, Shakespeare on Five Dollars a Day, to Radio 4 in 1980. In 1988 he moved to London and published a travel book, Beyond the Pyramids. His debut novel The Dead Heart was published in 1994.
He was married to Grace Patricia Carley  they have two children Max and Amelia but I believe are now divorced.
Apparently dividing his time between London, Paris, Berlin, Montreal, Maine and New York he must spend a lot of time travelling. He writes in French as well as English as can be seen if you visit his Official Website and Facebook

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Wikipedia Profile       Authors Official Website    Douglas Kennedy - Twitter

Lovereading - Author Profile    Facebook - Douglas Kennedy France     Amazon Page

Saturday, February 17, 2018

How to Hong Kong by Lena Sin and Nicholas Tay

Hardback: 124 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Hong Kong, China, Art, Photography, Social History,
Publisher: Blacksmith Books 2017
Source: Amazon
First Sentence: If nostalgia is hereditary, then mine must come from my mother who's prone to reminding me time and again how much better the Hong Kong of her childhood was - a time when the streets felt wide and breezy, the city more a village than a metropolis.
Setting: Hong Kong
My Opinion: I absolutely love this delightful book, an illustrated travel journal of Hong Kong a place that I have grown to love. Thanks to my daughter moving to live in Hong Kong I have had many opportunities to visit this city that is seen by many as just a modern and commercial city. The couple have successfully portrayed the more intimate side of a place they obviously love with a passion. Full of Lena's memories of her upbringing in Hong Kong, plus stories from locals, stunning illustrations and photographs the different neighbourhoods come alive on the page. Many of the places they visit are familiar to me but there are also plenty of for me personally undiscovered delights which I will have to explore on my next trip.
Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys virtual travel, or is planning a trip there or if you are like me already in love with this city.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

In this joyful travel sketchbook, Hong Kong is captured through the hearts of a writer and an artist. From the winding, incense-filled streets of Sheung Wan to the pandemonium of a wet market in North Point to the sleepy island backwater of Tai O, Lena Sin and Nicholas Tay take you on a wonder-filled journey that shines a light on the softer, more romantic side of this chaotic city. Filled with tales of growing up in Hong Kong, Lena weaves personal anecdotes and conversations with locals into richly illustrated watercolours and photographs by herself and her artist husband Nicholas. The result is an intimate portrait of a city that is at once vibrant and energetic as well as charming and nostalgic.

Author Profile

Photo courtesy of Papaya Voyage. website started by the couple to share their passions of art, travel and storytelling.  Their first book, How to Hong Kong: An Illustrated Travel Journal, was published in 2017. 

Lena Sin is a journalist who was born and raised in Hong Kong. However, her first love was always art and she spends much of her time illustrating in watercolour, often while downing copious amounts of milk tea. She is a two-time Jack Webster Award nominee for her journalism.
She lives in Vancouver with her partner Nicholas Tay who studied illustration at Art Center College of Design in California. This education prepared him for a lack of sleep and his career as an art director and artist on several video game franchises including Need for Speed, NBA Street and SSX. Recently, Nicholas has added fine art gallery shows, teaching and advertising illustration to his expertise.

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Amazon   Blacksmith Books Link to Book   Instagram Profile   Lena Sin on Twitter

The Authors Official Website - Papaya Voyage

Friday, February 16, 2018

Tai O - Love Stories of the Fishing Village by Wong Wai King

Paperback: 185 pages                                                                                             
Genre: Non-Fiction, Social History,
Publisher: Wong Wai King, 2000
Source: Purchased in Tai O from the author.
First Sentence: Lantau is the largest island in Hong Kong and Tai O is situated at its south west.
Favourite Quote:Stilt houses have been in Tai O for more than 200 years.
Setting: Tai O, Lantau Island, Hong Kong.
My Opinion: Tai O is an old fishing village on Lantau Island in Hong Kong. I purchased this directly from the author on my last visit to Tai O. It is a delightful social history of the village in Chinese and English with lots of photographs and covers the period from 1920 until the publication date of 2000. It is well worth reading if you have ever visited, or plan to do so, or you are interested in travel and social history. This atmospheric village on stilts that although much changed still feels it is living in a time warp.  A very special place, that visitors to Hong Kong should try and visit to help appreciate that there is so much more to explore in Hong Kong beyond the city.

Video ' Tai O Village ' Courtesy of YouTube and Ed Pal

Author Profile

The author Wong Wai King was born in 1958. She grew up in Tai O and the book is her true memory of the fishing village. She spent years gathering valuable information which along with  photographers contributions has made this book possible.

Education: Finished Form 3, Ming Yuen Secondary School
Profession: Housewife, Mother of two sons
Community participation experience: Since 1982 she has participated in Community Work in Tai O and in 1992 The Young Most Outstanding Young Volunteer Women Award.
In 2000 she was a present member of the Tai O Culture Workshop.

I have no up to date information beyond 2000 when the book was published as when I spoke to her in Tai O I did not think to ask, maybe next time I visit, I will have the pleasure of meeting her again.

Photographs: Are My Own and those of Christopher Cheng.
Trailer: About the village is from YouTube, credits above. 
Biographical Information courtesy of the book itself.

You Tube Video     

Facebook Search for Wong Wai King turned up this public post. With thanks to Christopher Cheng 
Every place needs its own heroes. In one of the city’s oldest fishing villages Ms Wong Wai King is that sort of person. An ambassador of local culture and heritage, who for the past 20 years have been fighting against capitalist forces of grandiose developement or should I say destruction. She is a local hero; passionate in what she does, a messager, and voice of the community. She has a heart of gold. Hong Kong needs more people like you! Thanks for coming to one of my favourite places --Tai OJenni and exploring the rest of Lantau Island with me as well. Trust you had a great day and leave with many favourable memories of Hong Kong!

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Blood Rose Angel by Liza Perrat


Paperback: 382 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Triskele Books 2015
Source: The author in return for an honest and unbiased review.
First Sentences: 'Christ's toenails, ignore him Heloise,' Isa chided, as I glared at Drogan sauntering towards us through the market-place stalls and customers.
Setting: France
My Opinion: I was delighted to obtain a copy of Liza Perrat's third novel as I thoroughly enjoyed the first two in her trilogy, 'Spirit of Angels' and 'Wolfsangel'  The trilogy 'L'Auberge des Anges' (The Bone Angel) all feature the 'Angel Talisman' and although they can be read as stand alone novels, it seems a shame not to read the complete series.
Blood Rose Angel is another well researched novel from this this talented author, that more than met my expectations. I therefore recommend Liza Perrat as an author well worthwhile reading. She writes in a way that will draw you in, especially if you are a fan of historical fiction.

Links to my Previous Reviews: 

Spirit of Angels   Wolfsangel 

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

1348. A bone-sculpted angel and the woman who wears it––heretic, Devil’s servant, saint.

Midwife Héloïse has always known that her bastard status threatens her standing in the French village of Lucie-sur-Vionne. Yet her midwifery and healing skills have gained the people’s respect, and she has won the heart of the handsome Raoul Stonemason. The future looks hopeful. Until the Black Death sweeps into France.

Fearful that Héloïse will bring the pestilence into their cottage, Raoul forbids her to treat its victims. Amidst the grief and hysteria, the villagers searching for a scapegoat, Héloïse must choose: preserve her marriage, or honour the oath she swore on her dead mother’s soul? And even as she places her faith in the protective powers of her angel talisman, she must prove she’s no Devil’s servant, her talisman no evil charm.

Blood Rose Angel, from the spellbinding The Bone Angel series, tells a story of continuing family traditions, friendships overcoming adversity, and how good and evil are too often bestowed on fellow humans in the name of faith––Zoe Saadia, author of 'The Rise of the Aztecs' and 'The Peacemaker' series.

Medicine, religion, and love intertwine in this captivating, richly-detailed portrait of a young woman’s search for identity as the Black Death makes its first inroads into Europe. Liza Perrat uses her training as a midwife and her experiences living in a French village to create a compelling and unforgettable heroine determined to heal the sick in a world still ruled by superstition––C. P. Lesley, author of The Golden Lynx and The Winged Horse

Video Trailer for 'Blood Rose Angel ' Courtesy of YouTube

Liza Perrat talks to Catriona Troth about her Auberge des Anges trilogy, set in rural France and the latest novel set against the Black Plague.

Author Profile

Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years.
When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her husband and three children for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator.

Since completing a creative writing course ten years ago, several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004 and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine and France Today.

Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in the historical "L'Auberge des Anges" series set against a backdrop of rural France during the French Revolution. The second in the series, Wolfsangel, set during the WWII Nazi Occupation of France, was published in October, 2013. Liza is currently working on the third in the series, Midwife Héloïse - Blood Rose Angel, set during the 14th century Black Plague years.
Friends, Family and Other Strangers is a collection of humorous, horrific and entertaining short stories set in Australia.
Liza regularly reviews books for the Historical Novel Society and Words with Jam magazine

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads Author Profile   Liza Perrat - Twitter    Author's Official Website - Liza Perrat

Blog - Liza Perrat - Author  Facebook Profile - Liza Perrat     Amazon - Author Profile

You Tube Video