Friday, August 31, 2018

The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans

Paperback: 509 pages                                                                                             

Genre: Contemporary Romantic Fiction
Publisher: Headline 2018
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: The abandoned house covered in bindweed and brambles didn't look like anything much, when first glimpsed from the lane.
Review Quote:  'Plot twists that will make you gasp out loud and move you to tears' Marie Claire.
Main Characters: Anthony Wilde, Althea Wilde, Cordelia Wilde, Ben Wilde and Madeleine Fletcher.
Setting: Dorset, England
My Opinion: I was surprised to discover that this is the eleventh book that Harriet Evans has published. Somehow I have missed her earlier ones, maybe whilst I was living in Italy, as this is the first title of hers that I have read! I think it was maybe drawn to my attention by the fact that it is Richard and Judy Book Club Read for Summer 2018. 
My first it will certainly not be my last as it was just the sort of family drama that I enjoy getting immersed in and it was a substantial read at over 500 pages. Perfect summer reading, a family saga of three generations of family secrets, set in beautiful surroundings which I recommend to those that enjoy the work of Santa Montefiore and JoJo Moyes.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Tony and Althea Wilde. Glamorous, argumentative ... adulterous to the core.

They were my parents, actors known by everyone. They gave our lives love and colour in a house by the sea - the house that sheltered my orphaned father when he was a boy.

But the summer Mads arrived changed everything. She too had been abandoned and my father understood why. We Wildflowers took her in.

My father was my hero, he gave us a golden childhood, but the past was always going to catch up with him ... it comes for us all, sooner or later.

This is my story. I am Cordelia Wilde. A singer without a voice. A daughter without a father. Let me take you inside.

Video Trailer for 'The Wildflowers' Courtesy of YouTube

Author Profile:

Autobiography in the author's own words from her  Goodreads Profile

I was born in London in 1974 and grew up on the mean streets of Chiswick, where I went to school. I was a completely undistinguished pupil in every way, except I absolutely loved reading and drama. My only achievements from the age of 5 to 18 were, a) winning a doodling competition at primary school (of a witch flying in the sky with balloons in her hand), b) I was head chorister of the church choir, which believe me is not something that wins you cool points with anyone you know apart from your granny.

After school I went to Bristol University and did Classical Studies, which was great, I absolutely loved Bristol and I liked being a student and being with people who didn’t know my shameful head chorister past. I left university and adventurously headed straight back down the motorway to London again.

I wanted to get into magazines, but the only place that would employ me was the Lady magazine, which turned out to be one of those awful first jobs where you think your working life will always be like this: I was wholly unequipped for office life, its politics, its mundanity, its tensions. I did, however, learn how one polishes chandeliers and a lot about interesting road signs in Devon.

A couple of months later I was lucky enough to get into publishing, first at Penguin, where I worked for seven years, progressing from secretary to editorial director, publishing mainly women’s fiction. I left in 2003 and went to another publisher, Headline, where I worked until May 2009.

In the meantime, I started writing in the mornings before work, and in 2003 I sent the first few pages of my book to an agent under a pseudonym. Eventually, to my great joy, this led to a publishing deal with HarperCollins in the UK and Simon and Schuster in the US, who have now published all five of my novels. FIVE books, that’s crazy!

In 2008 I left my job to write full time. I was extremely happy at Headline, working with authors such as Penny Vincenzi, Emily Barr, and Louise Bagshawe, and coming up with initiatives like rejacketing Jane Austen’s novels to appeal to a younger female audience. But it became harder to balance the two jobs, and writing won out, and I know I’m very fortunate to be in a position to write full time, though I missed the office something chronic the first year after I left. It’s awful going to work on a rainy Monday morning, but there’s something great about walking down the road with your iPod in and your coffee in your hand ready to attach another day. When you’re inside all day wearing loose clothing and glasses you don’t feel quite the same…! 

I am passionate about commercial fiction, especially commercial women’s fiction, which seems to me to come in for an extraordinary amount of bile and patronising comment, in contrast to the same kind of books by men, which get reviewed, discussed, accepted into the canon with far greater ease. Books about young women’s lives, their jobs, romances, nights out, what they like doing, are seen as frippery and silly; books about young men’s lives covering exactly the same topics are discussed and debated, often accepted as valid and interesting contributions to the current social and media scene.

Last year my boyfriend and I bought a place together in Angel. I am getting used to living in North / East London - it’s strange being able to walk to Brick Lane when I’ve always been no more than 5 minutes from the M4 but I love it round here. I have my own study which is great - previously I was writing in bed or on the sofa, which is not conducive to knuckling down. It is conducive to having a quick nap though… I miss it.

More interesting facts from her life story can be found on her author website Meet Harriet

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

Goodreads Profile   YouTubeVideo   Harriet Evans - Official Website   Twitter Profile

Harriet Evans - Facebook  

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Companion by Sarah Dunnakey

Paperback: 324 pages                                                                                               
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Historical Fiction.
Publisher: Orion Books 2017
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: I grew up in a palace.
Review Quote: An absorbing mystery story, really evocative of the Yorkshire Moors and the mill. I loved the character of Billy Shaw! The story kept me engrossed and flipping the pages right to the end.  (Katherine Webb, bestselling author of The Legacy)
Main Characters: Billy Shaw and Anna Sallis
Setting: Yorkshire, England
My Opinion: I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel, the setting really comes alive on the pages and I now want to visit the place that was the inspiration for the story! Gibson Mill in Hardcastle Crags, near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, a National Trust Property, previously a cotton mill and then an entertainment emporium. It sounds like the perfect setting for the fictional Ackerdean Mill. If I am ever lucky enough to visit the area I will be able to imagine Billy and Jaspar running around the moors and the modern day Anna in her job as custodian of 'Ackerdean Heritage Centre', trying to unravel the mystery she stumbles across.
A believable mystery from the past with realistic and engaging characters that is worth getting immersed in. Recommended to readers that enjoy a compelling mystery.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

1932 - Twelve-year-old Billy Shaw lives in a palace. Potter's Pleasure Palace - the best entertainment venue this side of the Pennines, complete with dancing and swing-boats and picnickers and a roller-skating rink. Billy's ma runs the tea rooms and Billy himself looks forward to becoming the assistant to Mr Potter when he grows up. Until, that is, Mr Potter arranges for Billy to go to High Hob, the big house at the top of the valley, to be companion to Jasper Harper.

Jasper lives with his mother Edie and his Uncle Charles, brother and sister authors, escaped from London, and some say debt and scandal, in order to write. On his arrival, Billy finds a haphazard household where nothing that's meant is said, and he runs wild with the untamed Jasper, spending all the time they can on the moors trying to catch The Beast. For four years the boys are inseparable, but when Charles and Edie are found dead, ruled a double suicide, Billy has already left the valley to start a new life in London. His time in the Harper household is written out of history.

2015 - Newly-appointed custodian of Ackerdean Mill, formerly the Palace, Anna Sallis begins to sort through the chaotic archives of the Mill, the Palace and the Harper siblings, and finds documents pointing to inconsistencies in the accepted story of Charles and Edie's suicide. Anna becomes curious about what happened to her neighbour Frank's Uncle Billy, absent from the known story. Why did he leave the valley? And what did he know about the events at High Hob?

Author Profile:                                          

Sarah Dunnakey grew up in Guisborough, on the edge of the North York Moors and later Redcar in Teesside, by the sea. She now lives in West Yorkshire with her husband and daughter.

After brief stints as a College Librarian, an Education Officer in a Victorian Cemetery and an NHS researcher she landed her dream job as a Question Researcher on Mastermind.

She now write and verify questions for several TV quiz shows including University Challenge, Pointless and 15-to-1. Her work, especially researching Specialist Subjects for Mastermind, has been a rich source of story ideas.

She has had short stories published in various anthologies. Her story ‘The Marzipan Husband’ was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. In 2014 she won a Northern Writers’ Award for the ‘The Companion’, her debut novel.

For more information visit Sarah Dunnakey - Author Website

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

Goodreads Author Profile    Author Official Website   Facebook Profile   Twitter Profile

Amazon - Sarah Dunnakey Author Profile

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine


Paperback: 393 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Harper Collins 2018
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: Amber Patterson was tired of being invisible.
Review Quote: ‘An extraordinary debut and gripping psychological thriller that is full of unexpected twists. Readers will become obsessed with these chilling characters who pull you in and refuse to let go’ Sara Blaedel, Denmark’s award-winning internationally bestselling “Queen of Crime”
Main Characters: Amber Patterson, Daphne Parrish, Jackson Parrish.
Setting: Connecticut and New York USA
My Opinion: This debut thriller by sisters Lynne and Valerie was an addictive read. Very cleverly written the story was recited to us by both the female protagonists. First we heard from Amber who was fed up with the dull life she was leading. She felt she deserved a better life and knew just how she was going to obtain it!  Not a character I liked at all, so when I read the second part from Daphne's point of view, I was pleased to think that Amber was heading for everything she deserved, envy is a dangerous emotion! A suspenseful psychological thriller that kept me turning the pages, recommended to all that enjoy this genre, a great summer read.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn't have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces. 

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

Author Profile:

Liv Constantine

Liv Constantine is the pen name of USA Today and WSJ bestselling authors and sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine. Separated by three states, they spend hours plotting via skype and burning up each other’s emails. They attribute their ability to concoct dark story lines to the hours they spent listening to tales handed down by their Greek grandmother. THE LAST MRS. PARRISH, a national bestseller, is their debut thriller. Visit to read more about the sisters.

Rights for THE LAST MRS. PARRISH have been sold in 22 other territories, including Spain, Brazil, Portugal, Poland, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Korea, the UK, China, Russia, Greece, Croatia, and Slovakia.

Photograph and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.