Monday, June 3, 2019

Love Unscripted by Owen Nicholls


Paperback: 373 pages                                                                                                  

Genre: Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Headline Publishing, August 2019
Source: Headline Publicity, Advanced Proof Copy.
First Sentence: When we were eleven, Leon Woodward told me about his plan to kiss Sally Carter.
Review Quote: High Fidelity with celluloid replacing vinyl - an astutely observed romantic comedy that had me shaking with laughter and sniffing away tears. Pure pleasure. (Nev Pierce, Contributing Editor EMPIRE Magazine)
Main Characters: Nick Marcet and Ellie Brown.
Setting: London, England.
My Opinion: Owen Nicholls debut in the world of romance is a romantic comedy with many classic film references. The latter of which were mainly lost on me although I do enjoy modern cinema.  Excited to be given the opportunity to read and review the paperback edition before publication by Headline Publicity I was disappointed when it did not meet my expectations, especially with the apparent current revival and popularity in romantic comedies.
Although the story is at times warm and funny, for me this is just another love story, where the protagonist a film projectionist is trying to understand what the difference is between his passion for love on the big screen and the reality of his own love life. 
The style is in my opinion reminiscent of Nick Hornby so if you enjoy his writing you will probably enjoy this.

Pre Publication Details Courtesy of Amazon: 


For film projectionist Nick, love should mirror what he sees on the big screen. And when he falls for Ellie on the eve of the 2008 presidential election, it finally does.
For four blissful years, Nick loved Ellie as much as he loved his job splicing film reels together in the local cinema. Life seemed... picture-perfect.
But now it's 2012, Ellie has moved out and Nick's trying to figure out where it all went wrong.
With Ellie gone and his life far from the happy ending he imagined, Nick wonders if their romance could ever again be as perfect as the night they met.
Can love really be as it is in the movies?

Author Profile:


Owen Nicholls is a screenwriter with a Masters in Scriptwriting from the University of East Anglia. His work has appeared in both Empire and the NME and earlier this year 'Love Unscripted' was selected for the Escalator Scheme run by the Writers Centre in Norwich. He lives in Norfolk with his partner and their two sons.


Photograph and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.



Amazon Author Page     Goodreads Page   Owen Nicholls - Twitter Profile 

Headline Publishing - Owen Nicholls

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell



Paperback:  424 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Arrow Books 2017
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: Those months, the months before she disappeared were the best months.
Favourite Quote: “Poppy’s hands fall on to the book. ‘Stories’, she says, ‘are the only thing in this world that are real. Everything else is just a dream.”
Review Quote: "Jewell builds a gripping novel around a maze of dark secrets, a tautly wound psychological thriller in which the suspense builds slowly. Her storytelling is immaculate, hopping between past and present, and in and out of characters. It’s a tough read at times, but Jewell always keeps everything moving. The intrigue never flags as she pushed towards a redemptive resolution. As astute and emotionally charged read, riddled with creepiness. Fully recommended" (Irish News)
Main Characters: Laurel Mack, Ellie Mack, Paul Mack, Hanna Mack, Floyd Dunn, Poppy Dunn Sara-Jade Virtue and Noelle Donnelly.
Setting: London Suburbs
Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Mystery & Thriller (2018)
My Opinion: This months choice for my Book Club group  'Then She Was Gone' is about the disappearance of a teenage girl, some ten years previously and the effect this not unsurprisingly is still having on her parents and siblings.
A great plot that makes for compelling reading, which from every viewpoint it is heart wrenching. Although some parts may be considered a little improbable, as shocking as it may sound, most of the happenings in the story line are events with a scary ring of the truth. Considering what a strange world we appear at times to live in, this could have happened! 
A quick read but emotionally not an easy one, recommended to readers that enjoy a contemporary psychological thriller.

I have only read four previous titles from Lisa Jewell's back catalogue, the most recent was
The House We Grew Up In in 2014, also for Tywyn Book Club.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.
And then she was gone.
Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?


Video Trailer for Lisa Jewell reading an extract from 'Then She Was Gone' Courtesy of YouTube



Author Profile:


Lisa Jewell is the internationally bestselling author of sixteen novels, Then She Was Gone, I Found You, The Girls in the Garden, and The House We Grew Up In. Her debut novel in 1998 Ralph’s Party, was an instant bestseller. In total, her novels have sold over 2 million copies across the English speaking world. Her work has also been translated into sixteen languages. Lisa lives in London with her husband and their two daughters.

For more biographical information check out her Goodreads Profile


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

Amazon Author Page     Lisa Jewell - Official Facebook Page     Wikipedia - Lisa Jewell

Twitter Profile    Goodreads Author Profile

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Courageous Witness by Oliver Richbell






Paperback: 65 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Novella Nostalgia Series, Thriller,
Publisher:  City Fiction (28 Feb. 2019)
Source: The publishers and author, in return for an honest and unbiased review.
First Sentences: It was a size too big for her. That was why she was wearing it. Amanda wrapped the pink-flowered cheongsam around her naked body.
Main Characters: Amanda Buckingham, Sara Tomkins, 
Setting: London, England
My Opinion: This is the seventh volume in the Novella Nostalgia Series, which links cinema classics with modern stories, it is the second in the series to be written by Oliver Richbell. His last one 'Gloriana' is a very topical read, which I enjoyed, however I found this one to be more to my liking.
The protagonist, Amanda Buckingham first appeared very briefly in 'Twelve Troubled Jurors' so I was delighted to discover her character has been developed into one of the main characters for 'The Courageous Witness'. I think we may well hear more of this character in forthcoming publications, as the back of this novella includes a potted life history of Amanda Buckingham. Is she I wonder going to feature in the author's forthcoming novel? We will just have to wait and see, I personally hope so because as much as I am happy to read and review this series I much prefer to have longer stories to immerse myself in.
In my opinion ' The Courageous Witness' is a well written and engrossing legal novella which I devoured in one evening. An office party goes terribly wrong, leaving the female protagonist Sara accusing her colleagues of rape!
For those looking for quick reads, then I certainly recommend not just this title but the entire series, Novella Nostalgia is certainly a name to look out for as more titles are added to the collection.


Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

A rising star at The Bar, barrister, Amanda Buckingham is persuaded by the Head of Hartington Chambers to take on a case that she instinctively would have preferred not to. The defence counsel, as the Trial neared its denouement, had surely done enough to cast sufficient doubt in the minds of the jury. Amanda was hurtling towards a career defining loss. There was something though that Amanda just couldn’t reconcile – something she had forgotten in the evidence that had been put before the Court which had reopened memories of her own traumatic past. To turn an acquittal into a conviction Amanda needed to delve deep into her own personal nightmare as well as finding the key evidence before it was too late for her and Sarah.


Notes on The Story of  'The Accused' : From the Book 'The Courageous Witness'
This 1988 American drama was one of the first Hollyworld films to include a rape incident of unimaginable graphic realism.

The storyline of  The Accused was loosely based on the 1983 gang rape of Cheryl Araujo in New Bedford, Massachusetts and the resulting trial.
This film is set in Washington State but was filmed in Vancouver, Canada. Sarah Tobais (played by Jodie Foster is gang raped in a bar.
Assistant DA, Kathryn Murphy (played by Kellie McGillis), agrees a plea bargain with the legal representatives of the three men accused. They plead guilty to a charge of 'reckless endangerment' which carries a lesser prison sentence and the chance of parole. Sarah is incensed, not least because she was denied the opportunity to testify in court.

Kathryn opts to prosecute three witnesses identified by a friend of sarah. They are charged with criminal solicitation. The evidence in court is partly overlaid with a visual reproduction of the whole of the rape scene. Another bystander gives evidence and the three men are convicted. One consequence is that the perpetrators, now in prison, will serve longer sentences and not be eligible for parole.

The final scene is a display, by Sarah and Kathryn, of mutual respect as they go their separate ways.





Author Profile:

Oliver was born in 1977 and qualified as a Solicitor in 2007. He worked in London for a litigation and sports law practice before a brief stint in two regional firms. In 2010 he married in his sweetheart and in 2014 he became a father. in 2015 Oliver took a leap of faith and formed his own dispute resolution consultancy. Oliver loves to write and has now achieved one of his many ambitions in life in becoming a published author. His first work, Gloriana, was published in September 2018 and inspired by the movie Valkyrie, Gloriana tells a story of a band of conspirators intent on assassinating The Prime Minister in the aftermath of the Brexit Referendum. My review may be read here Oliver's first novel will be published later this year.


Photographs, Biographical Information and film details courtesy of the following sites.

IMDb - The Accused - Plot Summary   Wikipedia - The Accused 

Amazon Author Page - Oliver Richbell     Goodreads - Oliver Richbell


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Casanova and the Faceless Woman by Olivier Barde-Cabucon







Paperback: 380 pages.                                                                                                 
Genre: Historical Thriller
Publisher: Pushkin Press March 2019 ( First published as 'Casanova et la femme sans visage' in 2012
Source: The publishers in return for an unbiased and honest review.
First Sentence: Night swarmed through the streets of Paris, casting its black veil over the carriage standing motionless in the middle of the deserted thoroughfare.
Favourite Quote: 'Truly, there is entertainment in everything!'
Review Quote: 'A splendid mystery with an appealingly enigmatic protagonist, plenty of melodrama and intrigue, and a vivid, pungent evocation of a turbulent time' -- Guardian
Main Characters: Volnay, (The Inspector of Strange and Unexplained Deaths) and Giacomo Casanova.
Setting: Paris, France.
Literary Awards: Prix Sang d'Encre for Crime Fiction in 2012
My Opinion: Not a novel I would have chosen to read had I not been given the opportunity to read and review by Pushkin Press. However I have very eclectic tastes and like to be pushed outside of my comfort zone, in this case I found it worthwhile. Set in and around Paris in 1759, there is lots of excitement to keep the reader interested with conspiracy and spies around every corner as Volnay does his utmost to solve this case in his position as The Inspector of Strange and Unexplained Deaths. A position that is not popular with the Paris police chief as he reports directly to the King, despite once being a rebel himself.  A quality read, the author and translator have produced a very descriptive period thriller.
This is the first in a series to be translated from the French by Louise Lalaurie Rogers for Olivier Barde-Cabouchon. I believe more of his novels will be translated if his writing proves to be popular with English readers of this genre.
Certainly to be recommended for fans of historical thrillers looking for new authors to read.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

A chilling mystery set amidst the glamour and squalor of pre-Revolutionary Paris

THE OLD WORLD IS CRUMBLING
1759: Outside the gates of the magnificent Versailles palace, the city of Paris sits mired in squalor and crime. One night a young woman's body is found with ghastly mutilations that shock onlookers to the core.

SPIES ARE ALL AROUND
The Inspector of Strange and Unexplained Deaths begins investigating this macabre outrage, but the clues he uncovers draw him into a deadly web of intrigue, and bring him face-to-face with notorious adventurer and seducer, Giacomo Casanova.

A SECRET STRUGGLE RAGES
As a second butchered corpse is discovered, the Inspector finds his life in grave danger and his revolutionary past exposed. Can he navigate between the factions secretly warring for power and find a way to the truth?



Author Profile: 



Olivier Barde-Cabuçon is a French author and the creator of The Inspector of Strange and Unexplained Deaths, who has featured in seven bestselling historical mysteries so far. Casanova and the Faceless Woman won the Prix Sang d'Encre for crime fiction in 2012 and is the first of the series to be translated into English.



Photographs and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads - Author Page     Translator - Louise Lalaurie Rogers   Amazon Author Page

Olivier Barde-Cabucon - Facebook Page

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Sail Away by Celia Imrie



Hardback: 364 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Humorous Contemporary Fiction.
Publisher:  February 2018, Bloomsbury
Source: My own signed copy purchased from Waterstones.
First Sentences: Suzy Marshall's phone rang. It was her agent, Max. 'Interview, darling!'
Review Quote: Anything written by Celia Imrie is guaranteed to put a smile on our faces and her latest book is no exception (Good Housekeeping)
Main Characters: Suzy Marshall and Amanda Herbert.
Setting: Mainly onboard a cruise ship travelling from Southampton to New York.
My Opinion: Celia Imrie's third novel is mainly set on an ocean liner where the two heroines by chance come to be on the same ship. They do not know each other and only come to together as the story gains pace for the ending. The cruise is a traumatic experience for both protagonists and as first timers not at all what they expected.
The chaos that ensues makes for an enjoyable humourous read, though if I am honest I still prefer Celia Imrie's work as an actress. This will not stop me reading her future writing though as she writes with such warmth and humour and although firstly an actress, it is obvious that Celia also enjoys writing. Fitting this in between acting work, she admits that she always has a character in mind for herself if her dreams of her novels ever becoming films became reality. Recommended to not only fans of Contemporary Fiction but also to fans of Celia Imrie the actress.


My Previous Reviews For Celia Imrie:    Not Quite Nice    The Happy Hoofer

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

The deliciously witty, irresistibly indulgent new novel from the top ten Sunday Times bestselling author of Not Quite Nice follows the exploits of two retired women on an Atlantic cruise ship

The phone hasn't rung for months. Suzy Marshall is discovering that work can be sluggish for an actress over sixty – even for the former star of a 1980s TV series. So when her agent offers her the plum role of Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest in Zurich, it seems like a godsend. Until, that is, the play is abruptly cancelled in suspicious circumstances, and Suzy is forced to take a job on a cruise ship to get home.

Meanwhile Amanda Herbert finds herself homeless in rainy Clapham. Her flat purchase has fallen through, and her children are absorbed in their own dramas. Then she spots an advertisement for an Atlantic cruise, and realises three weeks on-board would tide her over – and save her money – until the crisis is solved.

As the two women set sail on a new adventure, neither can possibly predict the strange characters and dodgy dealings they will encounter – nor the unexpected rewards they will reap.

Vividly evoking the old-world glamour of a cruise ship – and the complex politics of its staff quarters – Sail Away is at once a hilarious romp and a thrilling tale of intrigue, from the acclaimed pen of Celia Imrie.


Video Trailer for ' Sail Away' Courtesy of YouTube


Do take a few minutes to watch this interview with Celia Imrie as she talks about her writing and acting.


Author Profile:

Born in Guildford, Surrey, England, UK on July 15th 1952, Celia is mainly known for her works as an actress. Her parents were mother Diana Elizabeth Blois and father David Andrew Imrie who was a radiologist and was from Scotland. She completed her high school from Guildford High School. Then she went to Guildford School of Acting. She has never married, but has a son Angus whose father is the late actor, Benjamin Whitrow.

For a comprehensive Biography please visit the Imdb Link


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

Celia Imrie - Goodreads Page     YouTube Interview    Imdb - Biography   Twitter Profile

Wikipedia - Celia Imrie   Amazon Author Page

Monday, March 18, 2019

Five Days by Douglas Kennedy




Paperback: 328 pages                                                                                                  
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Hutchinson 2013
Source: My Bookshelves
First Sentence: I saw the cancer immediately.
Favourite Quote: Every life is its own novel.
Review Quote: "This modern Brief Encounter asks what it is that stops us from instigating change. Throughout we are kept in exquisite suspense, waiting to see whether the beleaguered pair will seize their chance of happiness." (Independent)
Main Characters: Laura and Richard
Setting: Maine USA
My Opinion: After a very slow start I eventually got engrossed in this rather sad tale that is told around five days in the life of the female protagonist. Kennedy successfully narrates this story through her voice. Love, life and mental instability with the familiar plot where two unhappy people connect after a chance meeting. It was an easy pleasant read, but I think I know now why it sat on my shelves for so long.


A year ago I reviewed another Douglas Kennedy novel.  State of the Union

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

For twenty years, Laura has been a good wife and mother. She's supported her husband through redundancy, she's worried about her son, she's encouraged her daughter. She has been constant, caring and selfless.

She's stopped thinking about her own dreams, the places she'd like to go and the books she'd like to talk about.

But a chance meeting with a man in a hotel lobby - and the five days that follow - remind Laura of the young woman she used to be, and the woman she could have become.


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

Monday, March 11, 2019

What Happens in France by Carol Wyer





Paperback: 361 pages                                                                                                 
Genre:  Humorous Contemporary Fiction,
Publisher: Canelo Publishing 2019
Source: The author.
First Sentence: Bryony Masters clattered down the hospital corridor, handbag swinging wildly on her shoulder, skirting round patients and staff as they ambled without direction in front of her.
Review Quote: "Left me with tears in my eyes and wanting more. A hilarious and touching tale." Sue Watson, author of Love, Lies and Lemon Cakes
Main Characters: Bryony Masters and Lewis Scott.
Setting: Brittany, France.
My Opinion:  It is just about seven and a half years since I read and reviewed Carol Wyer's début novel Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines and I have followed her career and rise to fame as a novelist ever since. My thoughts at that time were that here was a novelist who knows how to make you laugh and take you away from the cares of the world for a few hours. She has gone on to prove this in a big way since then.
Then in 2017 she surprised her many fans, including me by releasing a thriller! A complete change of genre, so she is now also a successful writer of detective crime novels. A prolific writer she has already published several titles in this genre. I was unsure about the change in genre as detective crime novels are not really a favourite of mine, however the one I have read was very readable.
As I have only read one of her novels in this genre to date, her humorous writing is still my personal preference. 'What Happens in France' was a delight to read and met my expectations, feeling low when I picked this title from my tbr shelf, within a few minutes I was immersed in this contemporary romantic comedy. It is what it sets out to be an easy read, light hearted with emotional undertones and if you are looking for something to lift your spirits this will certainly do the job.


Previous Reviews:   

Mini-Skirts and Laughter Lines   Surfing in Stilettos   Just Add Spice 

Three Little Birds   Little Girl Lost


Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

“She stood and took her place in front of the camera... It was now or never”

Bryony Masters has been looking for her long-lost sister, Hannah, for years, but when their father has a stroke her search takes on new urgency. So when primetime game show, What Happens in France, puts a call-out for new contestants, Bryony spots the ultimate public platform to find her reality TV-obsessed sister, and finally reunite their family.

With the help of handsome teammate Lewis, it’s not long before she’s on a private jet heading for the stunning beauty of rural France. With a social media star dog, a high maintenance quiz host and a cast of truly unique characters, Bryony and Lewis have their work cut out for them to stay on the show and in the public eye.

Yet as the audience grows and the grand prize beckons they find that the search that brought them together may just fulfil more than one heart’s wish…


Video Trailer for 'What Happens In France' Courtesy of YouTube







Author Profile:


Reproduced below is the autobiographical information from her website

Well, what can I tell you about myself? I actually began my working life abroad, in Casablanca, Morocco, where I taught English and French. I raced around the streets on an ancient VéloSoleX bike, avoiding donkeys and other clapped out bikes, to get to the jobs on time. I had one run in with a donkey at a set of traffic lights which caused me to fall off my bike – but that's another story.

After a few years, I returned to the UK to teach and run the English as a Foreign Language department of a private school. (Imagine Hogwarts without the wizardry.) Although I enjoyed wearing a gown and a mortar board and being called a mistress, I left the school to set up a language company and ventured out on my own.

I've written stories since I was in my early twenties. My first efforts were for children and sported silly titles like 'Humphrey and the Dustbin Cats', 'Hurrah for Hugo!' and 'Noir and Blanc - Two Naughty Cats'. They taught French language to younger children and were accompanied by a tape of French songs, mercifully not sung by me.

I began writing for adults in 2009 after my son flew from the nest. I converted his old bedroom into an office and began writing in earnest. At first, I wrote light-hearted novels and non-fiction books that encouraged people to age disgracefully and to 'carpe diem'.

It wasn't an easy journey but I was most fortunate and after much success with my comedies, in 2015 I signed with Bookouture (part of Hachette Group) who published the hilarious 'Life Swap', and then signed me for a three book deal. I was going to provide more comedies but I sent in a suggestion for a thriller which my editor loved and after publication of 'Take A Chance On Me', I submitted the first in the DI Robyn Carter series - 'Little Girl Lost'. The book became a huge success, becoming #2 Best Seller on Amazon Kindle UK and even featuring in USA Today Top 150 best selling books. DI Carter found her audience and by the end of 2017, the series had sold over 250,000 copies.

DI Natalie Ward came onto the scene in September 2018. 'The Birthday' rose to #3 and stayed in the Top 10 Best Selling Kindle charts for over 3 weeks. 2019 will see the release of three more novels in this series  along with 2 new romantic comedies.



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


Carol Wyer - Amazon Page     Official Author's Website     Goodreads Author Profile

Facebook Author Profile          Twitter Profile

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Things We Have In Common by Tasha Kavanagh




Hardback: 260 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd 2015
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: The first time I saw you, you were standing at the far end of the playing field near the bit of fence that's trampled down, where the kids that come to school along the wooded path cut across.
Review Quote: "The most chilling last line you'll read this year" (Independent on Sunday)
Main Characters: Yasmin and Alice.
Literary Awards: Costa Book Award Nominee for First Novel (2015)ALA Alex Award (2018)
My Opinion: I really did not enjoy this novel despite the fact that it is a well written debut, not one I would have read had it not been a choice for the book club I am a member of.
The protagonist fifteen year old Yasmin is desperately lonely as she has no friends due to her weight and the subsequent bullying she is subjected to. To fill this void she has become obsessed with her attractive classmate Alice, which at first made me feel pity for her. The way the story is narrated in such an intimate way makes it particularly creepy, especially when Yasmin notices that a man also appears to be watching Alice and she transfers her obsession to this mysterious man. My pity changed to annoyance at this stage with Yasmin's disturbing fantasies. To be frank it was just not what I expected from the blurb, it bored me. In the minority, not liking this one, but I wonder if it is because the novel is apparently, aimed at Young Adults and I am certainly not in that category.


Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Yasmin would give anything to have a friend… And do anything to keep them.

The first time I saw you, you were standing at the far end of the playing field. You were looking down at your brown straggly dog, your mouth going slack as your eyes clocked her. Alice Taylor.

I was no different. I’d catch myself gazing at the back of her head in class, at her thick fair hair swaying between her shoulder blades.

If you’d glanced just once across the field, you’d have seen me standing in the middle on my own looking straight at you, and you’d have gone back through the trees to the path quick, tugging your dog after you. You’d have known you’d given yourself away, even if only to me.

But you didn’t. You only had eyes for Alice.



Video Trailer for 'Things We Have In Common' Courtesy of YouTube




Author Profile:



Tasha Kavanagh lives in Hertfordshire with her family and three cats. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, has worked as an editor on feature films, including 'The Talented Mr Ripley', 'Twelve Monkeys' and 'Seven Years in Tibet' and has had ten books for children published under her maiden name Tasha Pym. 'Things We Have in Common' is her first novel.


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


YouTube Trailer   Amazon Author Page     Tasha Kavanagh Website    Facebook Author Page
Twitter Profile - Tasha Kavanagh       Goodreads Author Profile

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Nutshell by Ian McEwan



                                       29752912

Hardback:199 pages.                                                                                                  
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction.
Publisher: Jonathan Cape.
Source: Lent to me by a Book Club friend.
First Sentence: So here I am upside down in a woman.
Favourite Quote:“It's already clear to me how much of life is forgotten even as it happens. Most of it. The unregarded present spooling away from us, the soft tumble of unremarkable thoughts, the long-neglected miracle of existence.”
Review Quote: "An astonishing act of literary ventriloquism unlike any in recent literature. A bravura performance, it is the finest recent work from a true master… Told from a perspective unlike any other, Nutshell is a shocking tale of murder and treachery from one of the world’s master storytellers." (Daily Telegraph)
Main Characters: Baby Cairncross, Trudy, Claude, John.
Setting: London, UK.
Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction (2016)

My Opinion:
This was a first for me. A story told from the viewpoint of the foetus in the womb of one of the protagonists, very clever.
The narrator is the unborn baby of Trudy, very close to the delivery date so able to hear but not see. From the restricted viewpoint the foetus speculates on everything he hears that is going on in the world that he is getting to know via his mother. Even a love and knowledge of good wines thanks to her, heavy drinking! He is very concerned about the world he is about to be born into and the fact that his mother and uncle appear to be involved in a murder plot.

Another great read from Ian McEwan which his many fans are bound to enjoy and appreciate the skill he has of making social criticism in his writing.




My previous review on this blog for Sweet Tooth

My previous reviews for  Amsterdam,   
AtonementOn Chesil Beach,  Saturday and The Cement Garden were written for Bookcrossing  before this Book Review blog was in existence. 



Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Nutshell is a classic story of murder and deceit, told by a narrator with a perspective and voice unlike any in recent literature. A bravura performance, it is the finest recent work from a true master.

To be bound in a nutshell, see the world in two inches of ivory, in a grain of sand. Why not, when all of literature, all of art, of human endeavour, is just a speck in the universe of possible things.


Video Trailer for 'Nutshell' Courtesy of YouTube  


                                                       Ian McEwan discusses Nutshell


Author Profile:

                                  Photo Credit: Annalena McAfee
                                                                photo credit: Annalena McAfee
                                                                      

Ian McEwan was born on 21 June 1948 in Aldershot, England. He studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970. He received his MA degree in English Literature at the University of East Anglia.

Ian McEwan’s works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award (1987) and the Prix Fémina Etranger (1993) for The Child in Time; and Germany's Shakespeare Prize in 1999. He has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction numerous times, winning the award for Amsterdam in 1998. His novel Atonement received the WH Smith Literary Award (2002), National Book Critics' Circle Fiction Award (2003), Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction (2003), and the Santiago Prize for the European Novel (2004). Atonement was also made into an Oscar-winning film.

In 2006, Ian McEwan won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel Saturday and his novel On Chesil Beach was named Galaxy Book of the Year at the 2008 British Book Awards where McEwan was also named Reader's Digest Author of the Year. Solar won The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction in 2010 and Sweet Tooth won the Paddy Power Political Fiction Book of the Year award in 2012. Ian McEwan was awarded a CBE in 2000. In 2014 he was awarded the Bodleian Medal. On Chesil Beach and The Children Act have recently been made into feature films.

His most recent novel Machines Like Me  will be published in April 2019




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

Amazon Author Page   YouTube    Goodreads Profile Page     Ian McEwan Website  

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A Search For The Truth by Tony Drury (Novella Nostalgia Series)





Paperback: 105 pages                                                                                                  
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: City Fiction
Source: Author in exchange for an unbiased review.
First Sentence: They stripped him naked and tied his hands to the metal brackets coming out of the inner wall of the groundman's shed.
Favourite Quote: The title is implausible: ' To Define a Jew'. Does he seriously think that in six weeks and ten thousand words you can explain a religion and its culture, centuries of history, the birth of a nation, the Palestinian conflict, political tensions and the corrupt world of anti-Semitism?   
Main Characters: Lily Jane Huddleston, James Fetterman, Steve Laing and Israel Rabinovich
Setting: England
My Opinion:  'A Search for The Truth' is Book Six in the Novella Nostalgia Series. As I have mentioned in previous reviews, I am not a fan of the genre and no nothing really about the movies they are inspired by. Tony Drury's writing has always been a pleasure to read, my favourite novel of his is Megan's Game , however I have appreciated the opportunity to read and review the Novella Nostalgia Series.  This title is an insight into Judaism, a sensitive subject to write about, in just 105 pages we are given a very readable story. The protagonist Lily is working on her dissertation to enable her to obtain a 1st class Honours degree. Her university tutor Steve, her boyfriend James and a trainee Rabbi Israel are all pivotal in decisions she must make with regard to her future. The warmth of the character Lily shines through and I would enjoy getting to see how this character would have developed in a full length novel.
I recommend the series in general and this title in particular to fans of the genre as they are fun to read, a successful and innovative idea that appeals to a wide cross section of readers.

Previous Reviews : A Flash of Lightning   Megan's Game   The Deal    Cholesterol

                                   
                                  Novella Nostalgia Series

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Can undergraduate Lily Jane gain an honours degree by completing a special dissertation and, in doing so, make the right choice out of two men who want to define her future?
Lily, a Gentile, is coming to the end of her university course and cannot accept that she doesn’t warrant an honours degree. Tutor Steve relents and challenges her to write a ten-thousand word analysis of Judaism in six weeks. She clashes with her partner who abhors anti-Semitism and has recently joined the Jewish Labour movement. She visits a synagogue and meets an assistant rabbi who offers to help her.
Lily relishes her discovery of Judaism: understanding its history, laws, writings, festivals and the pioneering establishment of Israel. She struggles to understand the causes and consequences of anti-Semitism.
As her dissertation takes shape, she becomes attached to two men who attract and encourage her. She defers making a choice until the dissertation is delivered to her tutor. Will she score high enough to be awarded an honours degree and what decision does she make?
Lily is on a voyage of discovery about Judaism, life and relationships.
It might all go very wrong for her...

Author Profile:

       
Tony has an about page on his website which I refer you to for biographical information.


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

City Fiction Publishing - FB     City Fiction Publishing - Website    Tony Drury on Twitter

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


Monday, February 11, 2019

The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis




Paperback:  360 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Mystery, Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Headline, April 2019
Source: Publicity Manager Headline
First Sentence: Ivy paused, trying to compose herself so that the pen in her hand would stop shaking enough for her to write.
Favourite Quote: “No, it’s not a cliché to want to feel loved for who you really are. But if you don’t show them the real you, how can they love you? Perhaps”
Review Quote: A great book, truly hard to put down. Fast-paced, brilliantly plotted and desperately sad at times - all hallmarks of a bestseller (Lesley Pearse)
Main Characters: Ivy Jenkins, Samantha Harper

My Opinion: I was fortunate enough to obtain an advance copy of the paperback edition of 'The Girl in the Letter' from the publicity department of Headline.  I am so pleased that they gave me this opportunity as somehow, I had missed hearing about this novel when it was first published last year. Having never previously heard of Emily Gunnis it was interesting to discover that she is one of the four daughters of the sadly deceased author Penny Vincenzi whose writing I enjoyed in the nineties. Made me feel old to think I was now reading her daughters work, however Emily's portrayal of her protagonist's sixty year old grandmother was nothing like me or any 21st century sixty year old I know!
A baby taken from its mother affects generations of women and sadly this poignant story set in the 1950's is particularly heart wrenching as it is well known that single mothers were indeed treated very badly in mother and baby homes.
As the author wrote in her notes "It was not 'evil nuns' that enabled the systematic abuse of thousands of women and children to take place. Nuns were the face of the institutions, but it was the wider communities in which these young girls lived that really allowed these atrocities to occur: the parents, the uncles, the doctors, the local government solicitors and adoption agencies - everyone who turned a blind eye."
The dual time aspect works well as Sam Harper the modern day protagonist, after coming across a letter from one such young mother incarcerated in one of these homes decides to unravel the mystery surrounding Ivy Jenkins.
An outstanding debut dealing with these harrowing atrocities that occurred in the fifties but managing to weave them into a readable novel that is recommended to just about anyone that loves a good read. Certainly a good choice for book clubs as there is so much potential for discussion.


Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

1956. When Ivy Jenkins falls pregnant she is sent in disgrace to St Margaret's, a dark, brooding house for unmarried mothers. Her baby is adopted against her will. Ivy will never leave.

Present day. Samantha Harper is a journalist desperate for a break. When she stumbles on a letter from the past, the contents shock and move her. The letter is from a young mother, begging to be rescued from St Margaret's. Before it is too late.

Sam is pulled into the tragic story and discovers a spate of unexplained deaths surrounding the woman and her child. With St Margaret's set for demolition, Sam has only hours to piece together a sixty-year-old mystery before the truth, which lies disturbingly close to home, is lost forever ...





Author Profile:

Emily Gunnis lives in Brighton, Sussex, with her husband Steve, an architect, and their two daughters, Grace and Eleanor. 

She has wanted to be a published author since her mother, Penny Vincenzi, got her first book deal, now thirty years later she has discovered it is slightly more difficult than she made it look. 

After graduating in Journalism in 1997 she began writing scripts and had two episodes of BBC Doctors commissioned, while I working as a PA at the BBC and the Daily Mirror newspaper she learnt as much as she could about storytelling until it all became fodder for her debut novel, The Girl in the Letter.

For a fuller autobiography please visit her Goodreads Author Profile  

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


Goodreads Author Profile     Emily Gunnis - Twitter     Amazon Author Page

Facebook - Emily Gunnis Author         Instagram - Emily Gunnis

Thursday, February 7, 2019

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr





Hardback: 514 pages                                                                                                   
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Scribner 2014
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentences: At dusk they pour from the sky. They blow across the ramparts, turn cartwheels over rooftops, flutter into the ravines between houses.
Favourite Quote:“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”
Review Quote: ‘Doerr can bring a scene to life in a single paragraph … Delicate and moving … the novel takes hold and will not easily let go’ The Times
Literary Awards: 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.
Setting: Paris, France. St Malo, France and Zollverein, Germany. 
Main Characters: Werner Pfennig, Marie-Laure LeBlanc



My Opinion:  I enjoyed this and am pleased it was a Book Club choice as I had not read any of this author's work before and may well never have picked this myself. This WWII novel is definitely one  that has had a lasting impact on this particular reader. Surprising myself how much of the story was still lingering in my mind despite having read it sometime ago. This story reminded me of the power of radio, especially to those of unfortunate not to have the gift of sight, heart breaking. An incredibly moving novel that once started is impossible to put down, highly recommended beautifully,written prose balancing historical fact with the fictional story of a cursed diamond 



Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book, National Book Award finalist, more than two and a half years on the New York Times bestseller list

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).




Video Trailer for 'All The Light We Cannot See' Courtesy of YouTube






Author Profile
  
PHOTO © BY ULF ANDERSEN


Anthony Doerr is the author of five books, The Shell Collector , About Grace , Memory Wall , Four Seasons in Rome and All the Light We Cannot See . Doerr’s fiction has won four O. Henry Prizes and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. He has won the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, the Rome Prize, the Story Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Award, and the Ohioana Book Award three times. Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho.



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

YouTube   Goodreads Author Profile   Anthony Doerr Facebook Page    

Author Official Website   Amazons Author Page.

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Beginners Goodbye by AnneTyler

                                                 13518580
                                                                 


Paperback:  198 pages                                                                                                 

Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Chatto and Windus 2012
Source: My Bookshelves
First Sentence: The strangest thing about my wife's return from the dead was how other people reacted.
Favourite Quote: “That was one of the worst things about losing your wife, I found: your wife is the very person you want to discuss it all with.”
Review Quote: "Deeply rewarding novel about grief and hope, infused with gentle humour" (Sunday Times)
Main Characters: Aaron Woolcott, Dorothy Woolcott
Literary Awards: Andrew Carnegie Medal Nominee for Fiction (2013)International DUBLIN Literary Award Nominee (2014)

My Opinion: I have read a few of Anne Tyler's novels, but have never reviewed any before as it was prior to setting up this blog.  I actually read this one back in 2016, from my old notes I liked this one but did not have any particularly strong feelings. 

The story is basically about the protagonist's journey through the grief process and adjusting to life after his wife died.  This exploration of loss I found difficult to cope with at times, despite reading it a few years after my husband died.



Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:


Anne Tyler gives us a wise, haunting, and deeply moving new novel in which she explores how a middle-aged man, ripped apart by the death of his wife, is gradually restored by her frequent appearances—in their house, on the roadway, in the market.

Crippled in his right arm and leg, Aaron spent his childhood fending off a sister who wants to manage him. So when he meets Dorothy, a plain, outspoken, self-dependent young woman, she is like a breath of fresh air. Unhesitatingly he marries her, and they have a relatively happy, unremarkable marriage. But when a tree crashes into their house and Dorothy is killed, Aaron feels as though he has been erased forever. Only Dorothy’s unexpected appearances from the dead help him to live in the moment and to find some peace. 

Gradually he discovers, as he works in the family’s vanity-publishing business, turning out titles that presume to guide beginners through the trials of life, that maybe for this beginner there is a way of saying goodbye. 


A beautiful, subtle exploration of loss and recovery, pierced throughout with Anne Tyler’s humor, wisdom, and always penetrating look at human foibles.


Author Profile:


Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 25th 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Breathing Lessons and many other bestselling novels, including The Accidental Tourist, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Saint Maybe, Ladder of Years, A Patchwork Planet, Back When We Were Grownups, The Amateur Marriage, Digging to America and The Beginner's Goodbye. 

In 1994 she was nominated by Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby as 'the greatest novelist writing in English' and in 2012 she received the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence, which recognises a lifetime's achievement in books. In 2015 A Spool of Blue Thread was a Sunday Times bestseller and shortlisted for both the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker Prize. Her latest novel, published in 2018 is Clock Dance.


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


Amazon Author Page        Facebook Profile    Anne Tyler - Goodreads Profile