In spite of July being a busy and challenging month, I did manage to keep up with my reading. For a writer, reading is essential but more than that its a pleasure. I cannot imagine my life without reading.
The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
A feeling of nostalgia had me reaching for this well-loved childhood classic. Beautifully produced and with the original illustrations, it is a visual delight. Reading now as an adult, I was surprised at how some of the stories defied the happily ever after tradition.
The Olive Sisters by Amanda Hampson
After reading Amanda Hampson’s later book The Yellow Villa I was looking forward to reading this. Initially, I found the dual timeline confusing. As I read on the strands of the story became clearer. The sisters came to Australia with their family from Italy. Their family relationship is complex. Later, one of their descendants inherits the farm. For her, it becomes a refuge and retreat as she uncovers more about her past and long-lost family secrets.
The Upside Of Over by J.D Barrett
When TV newsreader Olivia makes a drunken mistake her whole life implodes. She loses her marriage, her career and her self-esteem. How did it all go so horribly wrong? And what can she do now?
Luckily, a couple of friends are still there for her as she picks up the pieces. Through her own efforts and with their help she discovers that the network was eager to get rid of her due to her age and this was the perfect excuse.
Olivia discovers that there is an upside to over, being your own person and authentically yourself. Funny, sexy and wise, but not necessarily for the prudish.
Disclaimer I won a copy in a contest but was under no obligation to review the book.
Date with Mystery by Julia Chapman
Book Three in The Dales Detective Series.
Although I hadn’t read the two previous books I still enjoyed this book. It’s an amusing mystery full of Yorkshire wit and grit. About three-quarters of the way through the book I had a good idea as to what had happened but no idea of the why-the reason. I am not too sure about the contrivance of having characters called Samson and Delilah. It stretches the bounds of credulity, but it seems to work for TV’s Shakespeare and Hathaway, so that may just be a personal quibble.
The Beach Hut by Veronica Henry
When I picked this book up I hadn’t realised that it was an interconnected series of short stories. All are based around the beach huts on Devon’s Everdene beach. A peek into many lives over the weeks they use the huts. Some stories come full circle while others remain incomplete, left to the readers’ imagination. Initially, I found it rather disconcerting to move from one story to another. I feel the cover gives an impression of a lighter read, while the stories have more depth.
PR Secrets for Savvy Authors By Louisa West
As a writer, you need to get your work noticed and for that, you are going to need PR. (Public Relations) Maybe you are an introvert who doesn’t want to put yourself ‘out there’. Or perhaps you are an extrovert but don’t want to come over as ‘pushy.’ And what is PR anyway?
Help is here, Louisa West is both an author and PR professional. The book is written specifically for authors and addresses their concerns. From learning the difference between PR and marketing, to how to feel ‘legit’ and how to establish your ‘brand’.
The importance of networking effectively with readers, writers and influencers. It demystified the whole process of how to post in social media and how to make it work for you. Presented in an easy to read style – this book should be an important part of any authors toolbox
I learnt a lot and I think it’s a great read for anyone wanting to know more about PR
Disclaimer I was gifted an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.
June was a good month for reading as I read seven books almost all of them were fiction. I like to try different authors and genres as well as reading nonfiction. Here are this month’s selections.
The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey
I don’t want to give plot details away, so of necessity, this review will be non-specific. I was fortunate enough to win a copy of the book in a giveaway but was under no obligation to review it.
I think the book is well written, but I found it hard to warm to the protagonist Gemma Woodstock. She is obviously a dedicated detective and this time the case is personal. While I found the hint of intrigue about the past worked well initially, I grew impatient with the continual repetition and non-disclosure. The book had an unpredictable ending, overall, I didn’t find it a satisfying read
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
This is fiction based on fact and tells a remarkable story of how an American Socialite and philanthropist Caroline Ferriday made a difference to so many women’s lives. Always a Francophile and a volunteer at the French consulate she was gradually drawn into working far more closely with women who had been incarcerated and brutally mistreated in the notorious Ravensbruek concentration camp.
Initially, I found the triple timeline somewhat confusing as each woman’s point of view was presented. American Caroline, Polish Kasia and German Herta. It was worth persevering because this is a story that needed to be told. Unimaginable horrors and deprivations, cruelty, and kindness death and despair, hatred and forgiveness. This is a memorable story, meticulously researched and beautifully written quite unforgettable. The authors note details the research and the real people whose lives were impacted by these terrible events. Note Caroline Ferriday and Herta Oberhauser were real people Kasia is a composite of many of the Polish women who were held in the
Mail Obsession by Mark Mason
A great book for trivia lovers and those interested in finding out quirky facts about Britain. Not a book to read at one sitting. This is a book to amuse and delight, but one that is probably best read in small doses. There is a temptation to read out many of the amazing facts and bits of information to your long-suffering family.
A few snippets which amused me. In 1879 Belgium trialled using cats to deliver the mail. The thirty-seven cats did not cooperate, ( who would have thought that!)and the trial was abandoned.
The Queen carries several items in her handbag, including a handkerchief, lipstick, spectacles, a folded five-pound note and a handy suction hook to stick under a table to hold the bag itself
My favourite though is that on April Fool’s Day 2010 The company Gamestation inserted a clause in their online contracts which enabled them to claim their customer’s souls.
The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers
An unknown woman arrives in Chartres and stirs up forgotten feelings and prejudices. Each person sees something different in Agnes Morel with her dark skin and topaz eyes. She cleans the famous Chartres cathedral. Does the cathedral influence her as she polishes the labyrinth walk? Can a wrong ever be righted? Can a sinner find redemption? Is holiness more important than kindness? Everyone has an opinion about her. The town gossips Madame Picot and Madame Beck spend their time speculating about her past. Abbe Paul from the cathedral, Professor Jones and Philippe Nevers all have a certain fondness for Agnes. While Robert, the painter uses her as his muse, model and mistress. Dr Denman wonders if he did right by Agnes. Alain the restorer wants to help her to find her own identity. The nuns’ Mother Veronique and Sister Laurence knew Agnes years ago and their intervention in her story is not the happiest of events,
We saw each person’s perception of Agnes but each time there was something of their personality in the observation too. Was Agnes more sinned against than sinning? Judge for yourself.
The Yellow Villa by Amanda Hampson
Despite its charming cover, this story has more involved in it than you might at first imagine. A young Australian couple Mia and Ben, buy a villa in France hoping to make a fresh start. They meet a sophisticated older couple Susannah and Dominic and are initially impressed with the pair of Expat Brits.
Throughout the story, fresh information is revealed and the veneer of each couple’s ‘perfect’ life gradually discloses uncomfortable truths about their relationships and each other. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Water Under The Bridge by Lily Malone
The characters were well drawn, and the story events were intriguing. The relationship between Ella with her son was realistic, a boy out of his depth missing his old life and friends. Ella is challenging herself embarking on a new career, selling real estate and trying to put her past behind her. Handsome Jake is a complication that she doesn’t need, and he’s the owner of the house she has listed to sell. It’s inevitable they will keep meeting.
The story while complicated is certainly feasible and is the beginning of a series by Lily Malone
The key to my heart is a good book and in May I read quite a few books. One really touched me, while others entertained me. This month there is a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Whoever it was who said ‘life is too short to read bad books’ I agree with them. I may pick up a book, read a bit and decide it is not for me. I won’t post a lousy review because it didn’t suit me, I will simply stop reading and not mention that book.
Hubble Bubble by Joan Lovering.
A bright and breezy romance with plenty of humour and sprinkling of magic thrown in. When Holly and the other women cast a spell, she specifies she wants ‘excitement.’ She gets that in spades and a couple of hunky men too. Although all are surprised with the results of spell casting, it seems they have effected change and their wishes are coming true.
The Memories That Make Us by Vanessa Carnevale
I was impressed by how much Vanessa Carnevale has developed as a writer since her previous book The Florentine Bridge. The concept of memories making us who we are resonated with me as I struggle with the emotional cost of my close friend’s death. Gracie and Flynn are a relatable couple as she fights to regain her memory. The idea that flowers played a significant part in her recovery seems plausible. Wasn’t it Kipling who wrote’ scent is surer than sight or sound to make the heartstrings crack’? Well written, nicely plotted and well worth a read!
The Sweethearts by Lynn Russell & Neil Hanson
The story of the women and girls who worked at the Rowntree’s chocolate factory in York., United Kingdom, A social history which explores the lives of ordinary women who worked for the giant Rowntree company. It tells how although the work was hard and often physically demanding, the women generally appreciated the time away from husbands and home.
The company seems like a paternalistic employer, who valued a strong work ethic but one with a social conscience. The company provided hot meals, a library, sports facilities, convalescent places and continuing education and even a company pension.
Women’s lives between the wars were incredibly hard and they lived and worked in challenging conditions, bad housing, large families, and before the National Health Service the fear of sickness and injury. The book introduces various women and tells their individual stories
Rowntree’s was York’s largest employer and was well-regarded until it was taken over first by Mackintosh and then later by Nestle. The Quaker care values that saw retired employees being sent a Christmas card and ten-pound voucher to buy chocolate misshapen chocolates was discontinued. Staff was replaced by machines and eventually, even the Rowntree’s name was gone.
Keep The Home Fires Burning by Simon Block
The book starts where the top rating and much-missed television series left off. Even a petition was unable to get it recommissioned. For all of us who enjoyed the series, the book is the next best thing,. We’ve known and loved the characters so we are invested in knowing what happens to them. Set in the Cheshire village of Great Paxford during
Will Campbell the doctor is battling cancer while Erica his pharmacist wife and their daughters all concerned about him. Frances Barden is trying to find her way with Noah, the son of her dead husband and his mistress. Sarah the vicar’s wife is still waiting to hear news of her husband Adam who is a prisoner of war. Theresa the teacher is working hard to make a success of her marriage to squadron leader Nick. Alison is alone apart from Boris her dog, still ashamed at her part in the Barden factory closure. She misses the company of Theresa. Steph and Little Stan are keeping the farm going. Downtrodden Pat is still enduring her marriage to Bob and wondering where Czech officer Marak is. As problems are solved new ones emerge and once again we are left with a cliffhanger ending and waiting for the next book in the series.
Overall, I enjoyed the chance to revisit Great Paxton and I will certainly order the next book. I did, however, have two minor quibbles. Joyce Cameron has become less acerbic and more gullible I was surprised by the use of the word ‘loo’ as I would have thought lavatory, toilet or WC would all have been in more common usage. I checked and the first mention of the word loo was in 1940 by Nancy Mitford according to Oxford Dictionary.
The Paris Seamstress By Natasha Lester
This is the book that made my month, and days after reading it I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
It’s a few days since I finished reading The Paris Seamstress. I enjoyed it so much and I didn’t want to simply write a review filled with superlatives. I relish dual timeline stories if they are well written and this was. Spanning from 1940 France with Estella Bissette, the Parisienne seamstress of the title to 2015 and her granddaughter Fabienne Bissette in Australia, the story crosses decades and continents. It explores family secrets, war, spies, love and loss, madness, revenge, fashion, and relationships. Natasha Lester’s research makes the story impressively believable as real places and people interact with her fictional characters. The story moves seamlessly from past to present and keeps interest and tension throughout. Some of the real characters in the story are so much larger than life, that were they simply fictional creations they would not be believed. Informative and entertaining The Paris Seamstress is Natasha Lester ‘s best book so far.
The Drifter by Anthea Hodgson
I enjoyed this rural romance, which I picked up prior to the author giving a talk at our local library. Unfortunately, my plans changed and I was unable to attend the talk. Its set in the wheat fields of Western Australia, the author captures the locale and characters well. The subtitle asks ‘How far would you go for a second chance? ‘Both Cate and Henry have secrets they’d prefer not to share, but they are drawn together as they are both close to Ida Cate’s great-aunt. The story had enough complexity to keep me interested.
Close Up by Kate Forster
Subtitled ‘In Hollywood, the drama isn’t always on screen’ this book reminded me of a Jackie Collins Hollywood book. The parallel storyline has two young women trying their luck in Hollywood to escape their loveless pasts. This is contrasted with the lives of Zoe Greene a successful agent to the stars and Maggie Hall an actress whip has been in Hollywood long enough to know how it works. Dylan Mercer a young runaway on a personal quest adds to the mix. I also had fun deciding if any of the ‘star characters were based on real movie stars. The characters and their problem are relatable and I found it an enjoyable read.
What Your Clutter is Trying to Tell You by Kerri L. Richardson
‘Uncover the message in your mess and reclaim your life’
As a confirmed packrat- I know I have a problem. Maybe its a natural inclination or maybe it was growing up with parents who saved string, rubber bands, paper bags, jam jars etc. My house is full of stuff. As a writer words are my resource but my office is filled with paper clutter which I might need ‘someday’.
Through its eight chapter, the book explores our clutter problem is clutter ‘monster or messenger’? Chapter two talks about resistance to dealing with clutter( guilty!) then what’ if your clutter could talk?’
‘Common causes of clutter’ are explored in chapter four, while in five the question is asked ‘is your clutter a handy distraction?’ The book offers practical solutions, and suggestions as well as handy quizzes to discover what your clutter is trying to tell you. The book is a definite call to action – the question now is am I motivate enough to act?
The Right Girl by Ellie O’Neill
The book defied my expectations of a light read with a love story. Yes, there is a love story, with an appealing heroine and couple of suitable ‘ men. Is she the Right Girl for the Wrong Man?
The book also points to a dystopian future. A future that is inexorably .sucking everyone in. It’s a life where your power to choose for yourself is slowly being taken over by the App that is supposed to make your life function smoothly. An App that with its constant usage that erodes your confidence in your own ability to make informed choices.
This is a cautionary tale of a future, that many of us are sleepwalking towards. Will it strike a chord, who knows? It certainly gave me pause for thought.
The Librarian By Salley Vickers
The title appealed to me, I tend to enjoy books about books and reading and this was no exception. It began almost like a children’s’ story as Sylvia Blackwell sets out to make a success of her new job as Children’s librarian in fictional East Mole, Wiltshire, Young and idealistic she want to inspire a love of reading while escaping the confines of her own life.
The era (1958) is well conveyed, with its social niceties and class consciousness. At first, her attempts to encourage children into the library are welcomed and she enjoys a modest success. But then the suspicion of a scandal hovers over her and her own integrity is called into question. The Librarian explores the beginnings of social change, and the power of books, and the importance of libraries, especially for those who cannot afford to buy books.
While reading it so many of my own old favourite books were mentioned. I appreciated the comprehensive book list at the back of the book which reconnected me with other books I had either forgotten or had never read.
The end papers of the book are a design from the Victoria and Albert Museum and add to the feeling that is a book from a bygone era when books were beautiful.
After reading The Nightingale I was really looking forward to reading this book. Kristen Hannah’s love for and knowledge of Alaska shine through these pages.
Personally, I found the book too long and too repetitive. The physical isolation of Alaska is described, as well as the kind of people who are drawn to it and able to survive there. Some can’t handle the feeling of being cut off and the mental Isolation. Ex -Vietnam vet Ernst, thinks Alaska is the place for him and his family. His experiences have led to his growing paranoia and to domestic violence.
Leni is a young teenager when they first arrive and for a while doesn’t sense anything is wrong with her parents. then she can not understand why her mother excuses and forgives her father and doesn’t want to leave
Inevitably, Leni falls in love with a boy from a family her father loathes, making her life far more complicated. An act of shocking violence changes all their lives and they return ‘civilisation’, but Leni still has Alaska and the boy she left behind in her heart.
Not for me at this time- perhaps my recent sadness at the death of my friend made it too bleak.
The Secret Vineyard By Loretta Hill.
Grace knows that her ex-husband Jake is ‘a lying, cheating, wife abandoning bastard’.What she didn’t know until his death was that he was the owner of a vineyard in Margaret River, Western Australia. As Grace is scraping together a living and looking after their three boys it seems like a chance for a fresh start or at least a lucky break.
His current wife and Grace’s ex-best friend tries unsuccessfully to challenge the will, which has left the vineyard to Grace’s three boys. Grace packs up herself and the boys for a trip down South to see the vineyard and decide if it is saleable. It’s a ramshackle place, in need of some TLC, but it has a certain charm. And events conspire so she has to stay longer than she first planned.
Scott, the charming real estate agent, is always around and there is a mystery about the house and its resident ghost. Then there is the handyman, who is happy to work for just his board. Grace’s life is far more interesting than it ever was in the city. I enjoyed this book, but I did find the blurb on the back of the book confusing. In the book Grace’s husband is Jake, the blurb refers to him as Derek. It must have been too expensive a mistake to correct!
The Cat of The Baskerville’s by Vicki Delaney
The third book in the popular Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery Series by Vicki DelaneyWhen Sir Nigel Bellingham, star of screen and the theatre accepts an invitation to star in the classic play for the West London Theatre’s Festival, the Cape Cod locals are both thrilled and amazed. Unfortunately, in person, he is not as impressive as his reputation, and it soon becomes apparent that he has a drinking problem. QuIte a few people benefit in various ways because of his death. Even Gemma herself as it increases book sales and memorabilia.
Gemma Doyle proprietor of the Sherlock Holmes bookshop is both observant and clever. This time she faces a conflict of loyalties and worries that what she has observed will implicate someone close to her.
Choosing Happiness: Life and Soul Essentials by Stephanie Dowrick
I wouldn’t suggest that you read this book in one sitting. It lends itself more to be a potpourri of a book, one to dip in and out of as need arises. It’s a mental and spiritual health check to be used as required.
The chapter heading broadly define the scope of the book.
Trust Who You Are.
Let Your Values and Goals Work for You
Build Self Respect
Honour the People You Live With.
Think & Act Positively.
The book is like having a wise and sympathetic friend to talk with. The kind of friend who makes you think a little more deeply about yourself and your behaviour.
Maggie’s Kitchen by Caroline Beecham.
I spotted a review of this and the concept appealed to me, women’s work in wartime
Maggie has opened a wartime restaurant- which is a long-held dream of hers. She is facing problems with supplies as her restaurant as ironically becomes ‘too popular. ‘Dealing with red tape and Ministry of Food types is exhausting enough, but then there is twelve-year-old Robbie to worry about too. Where are his parents? Janek the helpful and mysterious Pole reminded me of the Czech officer Marek in the sadly missed and inexplicably cancelled ITV series Home Fires.
Maggie didn’t really ‘come alive’ for me and it felt like the story ended very abruptly. The book also contains a few wartime recipes, showing the ingenuity of the cooks of that time.
A long, hot summer- one with plenty of reading time
I read nine books this month, a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Often a serious book will prompt me to choose something lighter to read or I will pick a non-fiction book instead.
Does your own reading follow a pattern or do you choose books at random?
In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende
Three people brought together by chance, in a snowstorm. Richard, a university professor, Evelyn, an undocumented migrant from Guatemala and Lucia, a visiting Chilean academic, she is also Richard’s tenant.
Each has past filled with secrets and heartache. They form an unlikely alliance to help Evelyn who was involved in a minor car accident with Richard. Terrified she can hardly speak as she faces a major problem.Her problem involves them in something far more serious than anticipated. In spite of some bleak events, this is a life-affirming and inspiring book. I won a copy of In the Midst of Winter in a giveaway but there was no obligated to write a review
. 5:2Vegetarian by Celia Brooks
While I am not a vegetarian, I don’t eat a lot of meat, so this book appealed to me. With recipes for easy fast day meals, speedy breakfasts and simple snacks, the book was just what I was looking for. There is a section on convenience foods and packed lunches, with suggestions for how the recipes in the book can be used as packed lunches. All in all a practical and useful book. I borrowed this book from the library
The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life by Sharon Pywell.
This is a book that is quite hard to categorise, in fact, it’s a bit of a genre-busting book. The cover although brilliant is slightly misleading as it conveys the promise of a romance.The story concerns, ghosts, history, domestic violence, entrepreneurship, the relationships between siblings, a murder and a pirate tale. There is a parallel storyline between the supposedly real-life events involving the two sisters and the romance storyline. In a sense, I felt that the title was deceptive in its promise of “romance”. The romance was certainly there, but the author delivered another and more complex and darker version of what life and romance might be. I would certainly be interested in reading another of her book.This book was one that I bought.
Jenna’s Truth by Nadia L King
The book was written in response to the tragic suicide of Amanda Todd a US teenager who was bullied to death.Jenna’s Truth is a powerful story, which is very relevant for today’s’ teens and their concerned parents.
Written in the first person it feels very authentic. When Jenna is befriended by the popular girl at school she doesn’t question why, as this is her dream come true. Tina’s aim is to lull Jenna into a false sense of security and then to betray her trust.The casual cruelty of the situation is well depicted. Driven by desperation Jenna feels that she has nowhere to turn.
This is a book that should be widely read and its message shared, to speak out against bullying and that there are things that can be done to stop the spread of bullying.In addition to the story itself, the book has pages of resources against bullying and cyberbullying, discussion questions and activities. For international readers, there is a glossary of Australian terms.
The Hairy Dieters Eat for Life by Si King and Dave Myers
One look at the cover photo will show how well the boys have succeeded in losing weight. The recipes are colourful and tasty and they should appeal to the man in your life.Unless you are eating one meal a day they may be mostly too high in calories for using with 5;2 or the Fast diet. Eat for Life would be good to use to on non-fasting days to keep your calorie count in check.
The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth
Although the book tackles potentially depressing topics –such as young age Alzheimer’s disease and the aftermath of fraud and suicide, it is not a depressing read. In parts, the story felt reminiscent of Lisa Genova’s Still Alice as Anna, writes herself journal entries to try and retain a sense of who she is.
Anna Forster is only thirty-eight and worked as a paramedic so she knows the outcome of her disease only too well. Now, she is a resident of RosalindHouse, an assisted living facility. Jack, her twin chose it because there is another young resident.
Eve, Bennett has come to Rosalind House as the cook, a far cry from her easy life of wealth and privileged, as a pampered wife. Her circumstances have changed and she has an important motive for being there.
The story has a parallel structure with Eve and Anna telling their own stories, I found it was easy to read and it kept me turning the pages.
But, the author left Anna and Luke, (the two young age Alzheimer sufferers,) still functioning and maintaining a sense of their own personalities. So while their final outcome was spelt out, the book did not go there. A thought-provoking book.
Million Love Songs by Carole Matthews
After a marriage breakup and a blow to her self-esteem, Ruby Brown wants to start a new life. Forget love and commitment, it’s time for Ruby to let her hair down and have some fun.
Although her friend Charlie warns Ruby about Mason Sloan ( aka Shagger Sloan) and their boss. Ruby enjoys flirting with him. He’s a charmer and an outrageous flirt and his bad boy reputation doesn’t hurt either.
Then there is Joe, her diving instructor who is good looking, caring, friendly but with serious baggage, An ex-wife, who he is technically still married to and two teenage children,
Having the two such different men in her life Ruby is spoilt for choice.Can she tame bad boy Mason? Does she want to? Will Joe see her as more than a casual friend? Is she ready to take on his surly children?
Charlie her best friend and huge Take That! fan swoons over Gary Barlow, it’s far safer than getting involved with a real-life man, one who could hurt you. Ruby’s emotions sway in favour of one and then the other. Her love life has never been busier or her heart so torn.
Nevermoor; The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
While I am not the intended readership of this book, it’ss for primary school aged children ) I enjoyed it very much. I feel it is probably more advanced than most primary aged readers and at 448 pages it is quite a long read. I suggest its more for a mid-grade readership, perhaps 11+
Who could resist reading about Morrigan Crow who is cursed? She is an unusual but relatable character and the concept and ideas of the story worked well. Although it’s a longish book I never felt that the story dragged
Transported to an unfamiliar world Morrigan has the protection of Jupiter North, who proves to be an erratic and eccentric guardian.But without him, she knows that she would be dead.
She learns that in order to remain in Nevermoor she has to face four trials. She feels ill-equipped to handle even one and the mysterious Jupiter isn’t exactly helping.
For an older reader, there are plenty of oblique references to our world, which are likely to amuse you. I particularly liked the reference to the Gobleian library. A second book in the series planned for release in 2018 and I am sure many fans will be looking out for it.
Ghouls Just Haunt to Have Fun by Victoria Laurie.
This is part of a series of books written by real-life psychic Victoria Laurie.It’s not the first book in this series, but it is the first one that I picked up and it can easily be read as a stand-alone.
Its a fast and easy read, with a mixture of humour and suspense. M.J Holliday is talked into appearing on a TV show by Gilly her business partner The show is being promoted as a cross between The Antiques Roadshow and Ghostbusters. MJ and other psychics will sense what the objects handed to them have to say.
They are staying in ‘the most haunted hotel in San Francisco’. It is obvious that more than a TV show has to happen. So a murder and an apparent suicide, a portal, and a demon are all in the days work for MJ. and Heath the fellow psychic that she is working with.
The first two-thirds of the book engaged me, the last third less so. It felt a bit rushed and my suspicions about certain characters proved to be correct.
Do any of my choices appeal to you? What have you been reading this month? I’d love to know!
I read nine boosk this month but I only reviewed eight.
February already! January flew by in a flash, and it was a busy month, as I expect it was for many people. I started a diet ( the 5:2 or Fast diet). I also prepared a submission for an Arts festival and also did a short online writing course.
Our TV schedule provided me with plenty of opportunities to read, I managed to read nine books this month. I am only reviewing eight of them because I gave myself permission to abandon one book., so I don’t feel it is fair to comment on that.
Vasilisa The Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women by Kate Forsyth illustrated by Lorena Carrington
A beautifully presented book and one with an uplifting message- that girls can do just about anything, Having read and loved all of the Andrew Lang Coloured Fairy Books, I suppose that I was a natural fit for this book. It did not disappoint me.The tales are all little-known folk-tales, which are retold sympathetically by Kate Forsyth.Adding to the charm of the book are the delightful and almost magical illustrations by Lorena Carrington.You will probably want to keep a copy for yourself, but this book would make a wonderful gift for most teenage girls.
The Other Woman by Laura Wilson
A domestic noir that left me virtually on the edge of my seat.The Other Woman completely subverts a reader’s expectations, at the same time providing shocks and surprises in plenty. It kept up the pacing and the growing tension. Best of all, it did feel completely plausible. It was easy to project yourself into Sophie’s enviable life and then its gradual disintegration. Surprises up to the very last page. An author I will look out for.
The 5.2 Diet By Kate Harrison.
Easy to read and very practical, this book is based on Michael Mosley’s The Fast Diet. In it, Kate Harrison explains how the diet changed her way of eating and how it worked for her.Part one also contains the scientific information that underpins the diet. Part two tells personal experiences and shares recipes and food ideas. Easy to follow and encouraging. Brands listed are UK ones.
A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan
A big book of 484 pages which spans the times from 1821 to 1937 and follows the lineage of one family the Orchieres. When they are forced to flee from France the family settled in Cornwall. Their secret is of course that one of them is a witch. The craft is passed from generation to generation, with each daughter facing her own challenges, needs and desires.Equally not all mother-daughter relationships are shown to be perfect.
For me personally, its pacing felt a little slow, until I got to 1886, midway through the book. Then I raced through the rest of the story, feeling a deepening connection with each of the women. There were some surprising developments in 1937 onward, which added to the veracity of the book. The author has chosen to use pseudonym and dedicated the book to her mother, which could add to the intrigue, If you have the patience this is an enjoyable read,
The Other Side of the Season by Jenn J. McLeod.
I find dual timeline stories intriguing and in reading this one I felt as though I had hit the jackpot. Both the times that were chosen were interesting, the 1970s and the present day.For me, the characters were real., flawed and complex. Some were instantly relatable while others were harder to appreciate. This book played with my emotions( in a good way) as I cared about the characters. It was one of those books that I both wanted to finish and equally one that I didn’t want to end. The landscape is a part the appeal but the book is never bogged down by description. Its Jenn J McLeod’s best book yet.
River Road by Carol Goodman
An almost literary thriller. I enjoyed it but anyone who expects a fast-paced read will find it too slow for their taste. Professor Nan Lewis is a college creative writing lecturer who might have hit and killed a student as she returned from a year-end party. Nan’s private life has been a mess since the tragic death of her young daughter six years earlier. She turns up for class and teaches and grades student’s papers but increasingly is drinking more and more. Could she have done it and not remember? And if she didn’t, then who did?
Gifts for Our Time by Anna Jacobs.
The final book in the Rivenshaw series. Although you could read it as a stand-alone novel as all the major plot points are covered.Set in post-war Britain with its privations and shortages, Gifts for Our Time is an enjoyable read. Jacobs skilfully draws the many threads of the previous books together, and also adds new characters, this book is a worthy conclusion to the series
Disclaimer . I won a copy of the book in a giveaway, but was not required to write a review.
To explain yes I was still reading in October and November, but as it was National Novel in a Month my focus was mainly in my writing. Reading was my relaxation and also my inspiration throughout the month.
I did achieve the word count of 50,000 words and that is nowhere near the end of the story., which I will allow to rest for a month and then look at again.
These are the books that I read in October
A Seaside Affair by Fern Britten
An easy and relaxing read, Fern’s own television experience has obviously informed the insights into how reality TV is constructed.
At times reminiscent of those old movies where a bunch of amateurs try to save a theatre by ‘putting on a show.’That is essentially what happens here, only with professional actors. Producer Penny is able to call in some favours to recruit stars of TV and film to help save the old theatre. Fern name drops Downton Abbey’s Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville and writer Lord Julian, Fellowes believably and with ease. A good holiday read,
Talk of the Town by Rachael Johns
An enjoyable read with an engaging duo of Megan and Lawson at its centre, as well as a supernatural element. I personally really enjoyed the supernatural aspect of the story and would have liked to have seen more of it.
Megan has moved interstate in an attempt to leave her past behind her. Perhaps she hadn’t reckoned on country town hospitality and curiosity? in spite of being wary of revealing too much about herself, Megan is unable to resist Lawson, and his adorable and incorrigible eight-year-old son, Ned. The characters are well drawn, relatable and appealing. The mysteries of the Old Store and Megan’s past are revealed slowly and satisfyingly.
How to Market Your Book by Rachael Bermingham.
A thoroughly practical and useful book, written by someone who as she says,’made all the mistakes’.She shares her insights and expertise and as she is a best-selling- author, Rachael is the best advertisement for her methods.
Chapters cover so much ground from media release tips to marketing plans How to get your book into libraries and how to obtain testimonials. How many promotional copies you should send out. Many of the suggestions simply require you to use your time rather than money. A worthwhile book for anyone with a book to promote
Body on Baker Street By Vicki Delany
A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery.
Although I had not read book one of this series Elementary, She Said, It is an oversight that I will rectify. In spite of that. I was able to connect easily with the characters and the story,
The Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium and Mrs Hudson ‘s Tea Rooms are situated in West London, Massachusetts The bookshop is currently being run by British Expat Gemma, during the prolonged absence of her Uncle Arthur. Her friend Jayne runs the tea rooms, which are handily situated next door.
When a famous author Renata Van Markoff who writes, a pastiche Holmes series decides to visit the store it is a tremendous boost to the bookshop sales.That is until she is murdered there. It happened after a very public argument during the book signing. Gemma’s amateur sleuthing abilities are put to the test, and it sets her at odds with the local police department. Worse, there is an embarrassment of suspects, many of whom wanted to see Renata dead, Who will solve the case first?
It is a More Abbreviated List for My November Reading
A Trail Through Time By Jodi Taylor
Book Four in The Chronicles of St Mary’s Series; The Battle for St Mary’s.
A brilliantly original idea and a great concept, but for me, it is all getting a little too complex and confusing,
When historians cross and recross the timelines and St Mary’s itself has several different incarnations, then the story can become too complicated. While the introduction of the Time police in this book whose job is to monitor the timelines was an innovative touch.Adding to my confusion with the story is that the two major characters Max and Leon have both died at various times in some timelines. By crossing and recrossing the timelines, loves, lives, memories and relationships are all being challenged both by the past and the future interactions. This popular series continues.
Still Writing by Dani Shapiro
I was prompted to read this book as it was recommended by author Natasha Lester at a workshop that she gave.
While there are no outstanding insights, I felt that Dani Shapiro was an encouraging voice who understood the doubts, fears and insecurities which plague most writers.Her advice is sound and she reminds us via words from poet Jane Kenyon to ‘Be a good steward to your gift’
I loved the irony of the title, as ‘still writing?’ is the query that writers, whether paid or not, hear most frequently. The subtext apparently being ‘what haven’t you got a proper job yet’