Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Year at Hotel Gondola by Nicky Pellegrino

Paperback: 305 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Chick Lit
Publisher: Orion 2018
Source: Won in a Prize Draw I entered via Twitter, courtesy of  @thebooktrailer @orionbooks @nickypellegrino
First Sentence: There is no sadder feeling than being jealous of your own life.
Review Quote: 'Warm, engaging and truly delicious' Rosanna Ley, author.
Main Character: Kat Black
Setting: Venice, Italy
My Opinions: Having lived the Italian dream myself for a number of years, it is always a pleasure to lose myself in a story written by an author whose passion for Italy is obvious. From the delightful way she writes about the sights and smells to the detail of including some authentic recipes in her storyline. This is the fourth novel I have read by Nicky Pellegrino, surely a good recommendation in itself. She writes in such a way that I feel myself drifting off to the world she writes about, so far always set in my beloved Italy, but each novel portrays a different Italian world. This time she transports us to the magical city of Venice.
A novel recommended for those Italophiles that cannot resist another story set in Italy, fans of the author's writing, or indeed anyone interested in travelling via the pages of novels.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Kat has never wanted to live a small life. She's an adventurer, a food writer who travels the world visiting far-flung places and eating unusual things. Now she is about to embark on her biggest adventure yet - a relationship.

She has fallen in love with an Italian man and is moving to live with him in Venice where she will help him run his small guest house, Hotel Gondola. Kat has lined up a book deal and will write about the first year of her new adventure, the food she eats, the recipes she collects, the people she meets, the man she doesn't really know all that well but is going to make a life with.

But as Kat ought to know by now, the thing about adventures is that they never go exactly the way you expect them to...

Video Trailer for 'A Year at Hotel Gondola' Courtesy of YouTube

My earlier reviews for Nicky Pellegrino Novels:

Recipe For Life    The Italian Wedding    When in Rome

Author Profile:

Nicky Pellegrino's Italian father came to England and fell in love with a Liverpool girl which is where Nicky was born on the first of January 1964. She grew up in Liverpool, then as an adult she worked in London as a magazine journalist.  Twenty one years ago she went on holiday to New Zealand and met her now husband, Carne Bidwell at a wedding.

When Nicky first started writing fiction it was her memories of childhood summers in Italy that came flooding back and flavoured her stories: the passions, the feuds but most of all the food. It is her father's Italian mantra that you 'live to eat not eat to live' that is one of the inspirations behind Nicky's delicious novels.

She works as a freelance journalist, has weekly columns in the Herald on Sunday newspaper and the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly and her novels are distributed in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and have been translated into 12 languages.

She now lives near a beach in Auckland with her husband and their dogs Charlie the standard poodle and Lucy the pointer. Nicky spends her time writing novels, working as a freelance journalist, riding her two horses, growing vegetables, cooking, trying to get other people to cook for her, eating and reading. There isn't much time for anything else except a little light housework.
Her all-time favourite book is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and my book of 2013 was Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

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

Nicky Pellegrino - Goodreads Profile     Twitter Profile    Author Facebook Profile

 Nicky Pellegrino - Official Author Website     Nicky Pellegrino - Instagram

Amazon Author Page   YouTube

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Witch Finder's Sister by Beth Underdown


Paperback: 347 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Fiction, Historical Thriller.
Publisher: Penguin Books 2017
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: Once, I scarcely believed in the devil.
Favourite Quote: “I will lay it out in black and white, and my tale will contain more truth than the great dead histories on my father's bookshelves. For they say what happened, but not what it was like. They say what happened, but they do not say why.”
Review Quote: Beth Underdown cleverly creates a compelling atmosphere of dread and claustrophobia... Even from the distance of nearly four hundred years, her Matthew Hopkins is a genuinely frightening monster (Kate Riordan, author of The Girl in the Photograph)
Main Characters: Matthew Hopkins, Alice Hopkins
Setting: Essex and East Anglia
Literary Awards: Historical Writers Association Debut Crown Award 2017
My Opinion: Graphic and horrifying, the only reason I found this novel interesting was the fact that although fiction it is loosely based on the life of the renowned witch hunter Matthew Hopkins. He was active in the 1640's during the English Civil War, mainly in East Anglia where the author has set her story. The protagonists are Matthew and his sister Alice. She is fictional, but it is feasible that he may well have had a sister as he was one of six siblings. Matthew is an obnoxious character, obsessed with what he believes is his vocation. Women were accused of being witches for the most contrived reasons and confessions were obtained by torture. Certainly not one of this year’s favourites and not one I would have bothered to read had it not been this month’s Book club choice. If you are looking for a Halloween read this might be for you

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

'The number of women my brother Matthew killed is one hundred and six...'

1645. When Alice Hopkins' husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women's names.

To what lengths will Matthew's obsession drive him? And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

Winner of the Historical Writers Association Debut Crown Award 2017, and a Spring 2018 Richard and Judy Book Club pick, this beautiful and haunting historical thriller is perfect for fans of Sarah Waters, The Miniaturist and Burial Rites.

Video Trailer for 'The Witch Finder's Sister ' Courtesy of YouTube

Author Profile:

                                                Beth Underdown

Beth Underdown was born in Rochdale in 1987. She studied at the University of York and then the University of Manchester, where she is now a Lecturer in Creative Writing.

The Witchfinder’s Sister is her debut novel, and is based on the life of the 1640s witch finder Matthew Hopkins.

She first came across him while reading a book about seventeenth-century midwifery. As you do.

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

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Copy Cat by Alex Lake


Paperback: 404 pages                                                                                              
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins 2017
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: The first time someone said that Karen was gone for good was during the week she disappeared.
Favourite Quote: “There’s no point worrying about work, he’d say, adding his favourite quote: ‘worry is a dividend paid to disaster before it’s due’. You spend your time thinking about things that might never happen. It’s pointless. If it happens, figure it out. If it doesn’t, don’t worry about it.”
Review Quote: ‘Fabulous stuff!’ Northern Crime
Main Characters: Sarah Havenant
Setting: Maine, USA
My Opinion: Another thriller, surprising as I claim not to be fond of this genre that I have read quite a few recently. I picked this one up from the library as it seemed very plausible with all the current news going around with regard to the dangers of social media that someone could have their Facebook Profile cloned. This psychological novel is a good read and kept my interest, it is thought provoking how someone can if they want turn your life upside down, by stalking you both online and in the real world. Unnerving as the protagonist Sarah Havenant finds her happy life slipping away from her.  Although I am sure most readers will guess who the stalker is way before it is revealed , for me it was the way this happens that makes it worth reading. Recommended to fans of The Gone Girl and Girl On The Train.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Your stalker is everywhere.
Your stalker knows everything.
But the real problem is that your stalker is you.
Sarah Havenant discovers–when an old friend points it out–that there are two Facebook profiles in her name.

One, she recognizes: it is hers. The other, she has never seen. But everything in it is accurate. Recent photos of her and her friends, her and her husband, her and her kids. Even of her new kitchen. A photo taken inside her house.

She is bemused, angry, and worried. Who was able to do this? Any why?

But this, it soon turns out, is just the beginning. It is only now–almost as though someone has been watching, waiting for her to find the profile–that her problems really start…

Author Profile:

The name Alex Lake is a pseudonym, so no photo to be found. 

Alex Lake is a British novelist who was born in the North West of England. After Anna, the author’s first novel written under this pseudonym, was a No.1 bestselling eBook sensation and a top-ten Sunday Times bestseller. The author now lives in the North East of the US.

 Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Just For the Holidays by Sue Moorcroft


Paperback: 369 pages                                                                                               
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins 2017
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: Michele: Re holiday...Alister wants to come!
Review Quote: ‘Effortlessly engaging…a magical must!’ Heat
Main Characters: Leah Beaumont and her sister and family.
Setting: France
My Opinion: Strangely this is only the second novel I have read by this author and that was Uphill All The Way  back in 2007, somehow I have missed out on the many she has published in the intervening years. A month long holiday in a gite in rural France sounded like a perfect break to Leah the protagonist, but unfortunately it turned out to be very different from her expectations. It is a humorous relaxing read with engaging characters that I would recommend to those looking for the perfect read to whisk you back to summer and or France.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

The #1 bestselling author returns for summer! Grab your sun hat, a cool glass of wine, and the only book you need on holiday…

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

A glorious summer read, for you to devour in one sitting - perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

Author Profile:  

Sue Moorcroft

Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times bestselling author and has held the coveted #1 spot in the Amazon Kindle chart. She's also a bestseller in Germany. She writes women's contemporary fiction with sometimes unexpected themes.

Sue has won the Best Romantic Read Award, been nominated for a RoNA and is a Katie Fforde Bursary winner. She also writes short stories, serials, articles, columns, courses and writing 'how to'.

An army child, Sue was born in Germany then lived in Cyprus, Malta and the UK. She's worked in a bank, as a bookkeeper (probably a mistake), as a copytaker for Motor Cycle News and for a typesetter, but is pleased to have wriggled out of all 'proper jobs'.

Photographs and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.