Saturday, February 24, 2018

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

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

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

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

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

Author Profile

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

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

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

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

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

She died on 19 February 2016.

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

You Tube Video   Amazon's Harper Lee Page    Goodreads Profile

Friday, February 23, 2018

Peach Blossom Pavilion by Mingmei Yip

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

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Profile

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

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

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

Mingmei Yip - Instagram       Facebook Profile    Mingmeiyip - Twitter

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Cholesterol by Tony Drury

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

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

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

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

Author Profile:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tony Drury - Facebook   City Fiction - Facebook   Twitter - mrtonydrury

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

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty

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

Links to my Previous Reviews: 

The Husband's Secret       Little Lies/Big Little Lies

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Profile

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

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

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

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

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

For further biographical info visit her official website - about Liane

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

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

 Facebook Profile - Liane Moriarty        Wikepedia - Liane Moriarty

YouTube Interview