Friday, November 10, 2017

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo




Hardback: 290 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Chatto and Windus 2013
Source: Tywyn Public Library 
First Sentence: We are on our way to Budapest: Bastard and Chipo and Godknows and Sbho and Stina and me.
Favourite Quote: “The problem with English is this: You usually can't open your mouth and it comes out just like that--first you have to think what you want to say. Then you have to find the words. Then you have to carefully arrange those words in your head. Then you have to say the words quietly to yourself, to make sure you got them okay. And finally, the last step, which is to say the words out loud and have them sound just right. 
But then because you have to do all this, when you get to the final step, something strange has happened to you and you speak the way a drunk walks. And, because you are speaking like falling, it's as if you are an idiot, when the truth is that it's the language and the whole process that's messed up. And then the problem with those who speak only English is this: they don't know how to listen; they are busy looking at your falling instead of paying attention to what you are saying.”
Review Quote: “A deeply felt and fiercely written début novel.” Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times.
Literary Awards: Man Booker Prize Nominee (2013)Guardian First Book Award Nominee (2013)PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award (2014),Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Nominee for Fiction (2014),Betty Trask Award (2014)
My Opinion: Short listed for the Booker Prize in 2013, I guess this why it was chosen for one of the book clubs that I am a member of. I was disappointed as I felt the theme of an African being uprooted to America was far better covered in my opinion by Americanah which I also read recently for another book club. Maybe it was just too much of a good thing at the wrong time, as although the novel captures the sights and sounds of Africa, it did not really impress me. The second part of the story when the protagonist was eventually living illegally in America, I found more interesting, it was sad how she discovered that escaping to the West is not all that it is claimed to be. 
As I mentioned earlier I feel it is unfortunate that this book was published within a month or so of Adichie’s  brilliant novel of Nigerian immigrants’ experiences in the states, Americanah. In conclusion I feel that this is a poignant first novel and that maybe this young woman will go on to write some great novels. I will look out for her work in the future.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:


A remarkable literary debut -- shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize! The unflinching and powerful story of a young girl's journey out of Zimbabwe and to America.

Darling is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo's belly, and grasp at memories of Before. Before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, before the school closed, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad.

But Darling has a chance to escape: she has an aunt in America. She travels to this new land in search of America's famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few. NoViolet Bulawayo's debut calls to mind the great storytellers of displacement and arrival who have come before her-from Junot Diaz to Zadie Smith to J.M. Coetzee-while she tells a vivid, raw story all her own.


2 Video Trailers for 'We Need New Names' Courtesy of YouTube



   NoViolet Bulawayo reads from her novel.



                                                   No Violet Bulawayo interview

Author Profile






NoViolet Bulawayo ( is the pen name of Elizabeth Zandile Tshele), she was born in Tsholotsho a year after Zimbabwe’s independence from British colonial rule, on  October 12, 1981.  When she was eighteen, she moved to Kalamazoo, Michi­gan. USA.

In 2011 she was awarded the Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story "Hitting Budapest," about a gang of street children in a Zimbabwean shanty town. 

NoViolet earned her MFA at Cornell University where she was a recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship. She was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University,(2012-2014) where she now teaches as a Jones Lecturer in Fiction.

Her first novel We Need New Names (2013) was short listed for the Man Booker Prize, making her the first African female writer to earn this distinction.  She is now working on a memoir project.


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

YouTube      Goodreads Author Profile    NoViolet Bulawayo - Official Website  

Amazon Author Profile       Wikipedia - NoViolet Bulawayo        Facebook Profile

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce





Hardback: 296 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday 2012
Source: Tywyn Library
First Sentences: The letter that would change everything arrived on a Tuesday. It was an ordinary morning in mid-April that smelt of clean washing and grass cuttings.
Favourite Quote:  “It was not a life, if lived without love.”
Review Quote: "Distinguished by remarkable confidence... Polished to perfection... Joyce's experience as a playwright shows in her ear for dialogue and eye for character diatom - even the walk-on parts stay with you as real people. She handles her material with deceptive lightness but Harold's journey towards a better version of himself is totemic. To read about him is to be moved to follow him" (Daily Telegraph)
Literary Awards: Man Booker Prize Nominee for Longlist (2012)Desmond Elliott Prize Nominee (2012)Japanese Booksellers Award Nominee for Translated Fiction (2014)
My Opinion: I loved this, cannot understand why it has taken me four years since it was published to get round to reading and even now it was only because it was chosen for my book club. An indication of just how much I enjoyed 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry' is that I have already added  'The Love Song of Queenie Hennessy' which was published in 2014, to my wishlist.
The protagonist Harold Fry walks 627 miles in 87 days to visit a dying friend, from the first time I met him on the printed page I felt I wanted to support his endeavour. It is a novel that once started you do not want to put down. Sad, beautifully moving, yet it will also make you laugh. Highly recommended.



Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:


Harold Fry is convinced that he must deliver a letter to an old friend in order to save her, meeting various characters along the way and reminiscing about the events of his past and people he has known, as he tries to find peace and acceptance.

Recently retired, sweet, emotionally numb Harold Fry is jolted out of his passivity by a letter from Queenie Hennessy, an old friend, who he hasn't heard from in twenty years. She has written to say she is in hospice and wanted to say goodbye. Leaving his tense, bitter wife Maureen to her chores, Harold intends a quick walk to the corner mailbox to post his reply but instead, inspired by a chance encounter, he becomes convinced he must deliver his message in person to Queenie--who is 600 miles away--because as long as he keeps walking, Harold believes that Queenie will not die. 

So without hiking boots, rain gear, map or cell phone, one of the most endearing characters in current fiction begins his unlikely pilgrimage across the English countryside. Along the way, strangers stir up memories--flashbacks, often painful, from when his marriage was filled with promise and then not, of his inadequacy as a father, and of his shortcomings as a husband. 

Ironically, his wife Maureen, shocked by her husband's sudden absence, begins to long for his presence. Is it possible for Harold and Maureen to bridge the distance between them? And will Queenie be alive to see Harold arrive at her door?



Video Trailer for ' The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry     ' Courtesy of YouTube





My review for 'Perfect' by Rachel Joyce was published on my blog in 2015


LindyLouMac's Book Reviews - Perfect

Author Profile



Rachel Joyce lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and four children.  She has written over 20 original afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4, and major adaptations for both the Classic Series, Woman's Hour and also a TV drama adaptation for BBC 2. In 2007 she won the Tinniswood Award for best radio play. She moved to writing after a twenty-year career in theatre and television, performing leading roles for the RSC, the Royal National Theatre, The Royal Court, and Cheek by Jowl, winning a Time Out Best Actress award and the Sony Silver.



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


Goodreads Author Profile     YouTube Video     Rachel Joyce - Author Official Website

Amazon Author Page

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Photographer's Wife by Nick Alexander

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Ebook:  400 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: October 2014 - Bigfib Books                          
Source: Amazon
First Sentence: Barbara pushes up onto her toes and grasps the windowsill with her small, pale hands. 
Review Quote: Honest, moving, witty and really rather wise -- Time Out. 
My Opinion: I usually read ebooks when I am travelling, much easier to take a Kindle in my luggage! The Photographer's Wife was a perfect choice for my last trip as I did not get much time to read, so a novel that was easy to pick up and put down without loosing the thread was important. The story covers two separate periods but clearly and concisely. The realistic plot unfolds as the tension builds, there was humour and sadness as the two story lines came together and it all began to make sense. I did guess the result of the mystery quite early on as the author gives the reader plenty of hints and for this reason I did get rather annoyed with the plausible characters, who without exception all had flaws and annoying traits. Overall a read that kept my attention and was easy to pick up and enjoy in small bites.  



Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:


The Photographer's Wife is an epic tale set in two eras, a tale of the secrets one generation has, rightly or wrongly, chosen to hide from the next.

Barbara – a child of the Blitz – has more secrets than she cares to admit. 

She has protected her children from many of the harsh realities of life and told them little of the poverty of her childhood, nor of the darker side of her marriage to one of Britain's most famous photographers. 

With such an incomplete picture of the past, her youngest, Sophie, has struggled to understand who her parents really are, and in turn, Barbara sometimes worries, to build her own identity. 

When Sophie, decides to organise a vast retrospective exhibition of her adored father's work, old photos are pulled from dusty boxes. But with them tumble stories from the past, stories and secrets that will challenge every aspect of how Sophie sees her parents.



Author Profile




Nick Alexander is the best selling author of ten novels, including The French House and The Case of the Missing Boyfriend. He lives in the southern French Alps with two mogs (Paloma-Paquita & Leon-Pedro), three (nameless) goldfish and a complete set of Almodovar films.


Bio Courtesy of Official Author Website 
Nick Alexander was born in 1964 in the seaside town of Margate, Kent, the fifth child in a family of painters. As a child, he talked constantly and when forbidden to talk (at school, for example), he wrote.
In his mid twenties, he moved to France and started working part-time on his first novel – a task that was initiated (and abandoned) many, many times. Finally, in 2001, he finished a gay fiction title called 50 Reasons to Say Goodbye. A friend at The Times told him he should get it published, which was unexpected to say the least. He hadn’t considered it good enough.

For a few years he tried to find a publisher, but it was a hopeless, thankless, depressing task so he gave up and self published the book with Lulu.com.
To his surprise, it sold well, becoming one of the UK’s best selling gay fiction titles.

By 2010, five novels later, he felt that hehad said all he wanted to in the gay fiction genre, so he decided to write his own take on the Chicklit genre, instead.
Still unable to find a publisher, he self published The Case Of The Missing Boyfriend on Amazon’s then brand-new Kindle platform. The response was truly astounding. The book went to #1 and sold over 300,000 copies, and the sequel, The French House, did even better. I followed these up with two Family Saga titles, The Half-Life of Hannah, and Other Halves.

These days, writing is his full time job, and he alternates between self publishing and working with mainstream publishers who have finally (900,000 sales later) decided to take him a little bit more seriously.


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


Nick Alexander - Amazon Author Page    Official Author Website  

 Nick Alexander -Twitter

Facebook Profile   Goodreads - Author Profile

The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen






Hardback: 291 pages                                                                                                 
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Chatto and Windus 2012
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: In the beginning there was an empty room, a little bit of space, a little bit of light, a little bit of time.
Favourite Quote:  “I wondered what it would be like to die. Was it like going to sleep or like waking up? Was there no more time? Or did time go on forever?”
Review Quote: "Extraordinary" (Emma Donoghue, author of Room)
Literary Awards: Desmond Elliott First Novel Prize 2012   Betty Trask Award 2013
My Opinion: I was rather surprised at my reaction to this novel which was a recent  Book Club choice. Reviews had me expecting something along the lines of  'Room' by Emma Donoghue, as a child narrator is also a main theme, along with a narrow lifestyle. I was actually bored by this novel built around a father and daughter, members of a non mainstream religious sect. Despite my overall boredom it is a heartbreaking scenario as the protagonist Judith struggles with her beliefs. Having now written this review and done some research on the author I was not surprised to discover that Grace McCleen grew up in a fundamentalist religion herself. So now thinking that there is maybe  an autobiographical to this novel, still cannot say to whom I would recommend it though.  

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Blissfully inventive, brilliantly written, with a huge heart, and a tense, pulsing plot: The Land of Decoration introduces a young heroine who will change the way you see the world.

Judith and her father don't have much -- their house is full of dusty relics, reminders of the mother she's never known. But Judith sees the world with the clear Eyes of Faith, and where others might see rubbish, Judith sees possibility. Bullied at school, she finds solace in making a model of the Promised Land -- little people made from pipe cleaners, a sliver of moon, luminous stars and a mirror sea -- a world of wonder that Judith calls The Land of Decoration. Perhaps, she thinks, if she makes it snow indoors (using shaving foam and cotton wool and cellophane) there will be no school on Monday...

Sure enough, when Judith opens her curtains the next day, the world beyond her window has turned white. She has performed her first miracle. And that's when her troubles begin.

With its intensely taut storytelling and gorgeous prose, The Land of Decoration is a heartbreaking story of good and evil, belief and doubt. Its author, Grace McCleen, is a blazing new talent in contemporary literature.



Video Trailer for 'The Land of Decoration' Courtesy of YouTube




                 A Richard and Judy Book Club selection in 2013, this trailer is worth watching.




Author Profile






Grace McCleen was born in Wales and grew up in a fundamentalist religion where she did not have much contact with non-believers. Her family moved to Ireland when she was ten, where she was schooled at home. When Grace and her family moved back to Britain she went back to school and her English teacher suggested she apply to Oxford. 

She studied English Literature at Oxford University and The University of York before becoming a full-time writer and musician. She lives in London. The Land of Decoration is her first novel.

More Biographical content can be found on her website


.

Photographs and biographical information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads - Author Profile     You Tube - The Land of Decoration   


 Amazon - Grace McCleen     Author's Official Website 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee

                                         6418266 


Paperback:  331 pages                                                                                               
Genre: Historical Romantic Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins 2009
Source: Oxfam Bookshop Salisbury
First Sentences: It started as an accident. The small Herend rabbit had fallen into Claire's handbag.
Review Quote: 'Former Elle editor Lee delivers a standout debut dealing with the rigours of love and survival during a time of war, and the consequences of choices made under duress…The rippling of past actions through to the present lends the narrative layers of intrigue and more than a few unexpected twists. Lee covers a little-known time in Chinese history without melodrama, and deconstructs without judgement the choices people make in order to live one more day under torturous circumstances' Publishers Weekly
Favourite Quote: “And in the end, I think, we're all just trying to survive, aren't we?”  
Main Characters: Claire Pendleton, Melody Chen, Victor Chen, Will Truesdale, Trudy Liang
Setting: Hong Kong
My Opinion: I enjoyed this probably more so as Hong Kong holds a special place in my heart. A powerful love story set in Hong Kong during the second World War, an interesting portrayal of life in Hong Kong during that unsettling period. The story of Will and Trudy's love during the war years was the part of the novel I enjoyed the most. It is a much stronger narrative than the part about Claire, the Piano Teacher of the title. This novel will probably appeal to those interested in not only a moving love story but also Hong Kong.


Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

"A rare and exquisite story...Transports you out of time, out of place, into a world you can feel on your very skin." -Elizabeth Gilbert


In the sweeping tradition of "The English Patient," Janice Y.K. Lee's debut novel is a tale of love and betrayal set in war-torn Hong Kong. In 1942, Englishman Will Truesdale falls headlong into a passionate relationship with Trudy Liang, a beautiful Eurasian socialite. But their affair is soon threatened by the invasion of the Japanese as World War II overwhelms their part of the world. Ten years later, Claire Pendleton comes to Hong Kong to work as a piano teacher and also begins a fateful affair. As the threads of this spellbinding novel intertwine, impossible choices emerge-between love and safety, courage and survival, the present, and above all, the past.




Video Trailer for 'The Piano Teacher' Courtesy of YouTube










Author Profile

Janice Y.K. Lee
Janice Y. K. Lee was born and raised in Hong Kong, the child of Korean immigrants. She went to the United States for school and graduated from Harvard College with a degree in English and American Literature and Language.

After college she moved to New York and worked for several years as an editor at Elle and Mirabella magazines before getting an MFA from Hunter College and starting her first novel. The Piano Teacher was published to critical acclaim from the New York Times, People, and O magazine, among others. It spent 19 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, was a Richard and Judy Summer Read pick (UK), and was translated into 26 languages worldwide.

Janice’s writing has appeared in ELLE, Mirabella, Glamour, and Travel and Leisure, as well as numerous other publications.

She lives in New York City with her husband and four children.


Photographs and biographical information courtesy of the following sites.


Goodreads - Author Profile    Janice Y.K.Lee - Twitter 

Author Official Website

YouTube
   

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet by Michael Mosley

                                                28269378




Paperback:  272 pages                                                                                               
Genre: Health, Science
Publisher: Short Books 2015
Source: A Likely Story Bookshop Tywyn
First Sentences: Millions of us have high blood sugar levels - and many of us don't know it.
Review Quote:  "Brilliant book if you have Type-2 diabetes or you don't want to get it" --Jeremy Vine, BBC Radio 2 presenter
Favourite Quote: “Diabetes – the physical costs Hypertension: 70% of diabetics also require medication for blood pressure. Cholesterol: 65% of diabetics require medication to reduce their cholesterol. Heart attacks: Diabetics, even when on full medication, are twice as likely to be hospitalised, crippled or die from a heart attack. Strokes: Diabetics are 1.5 times more likely to suffer a debilitating stroke. Blindness and Eye Problems: Diabetes is the number one cause of preventable blindness in the developed world. Impotence: Diabetes is also the number one cause of impotence. Dementia: Having diabetes doubles your risk of dementia. Kidney disease: Diabetes is the cause of kidney failure in half of all new cases; most people on dialysis are diabetics. Amputations: There are over 7000 diabetes-related amputations done every year in the UK and over 73,000 in the US.” 
My Opinion
Even before reading this book I was working on cutting down my sugar intake! I now appreciate the importance of doing so.

I am now more conscious of the dangers of too much sugar and although I did not feel the need to rigorously carry out the diet recommendations. I like to think that having lived in Italy for many years that I already have a reasonably healthy diet and I try to lead an active lifestyle. 

My personal feelings are that too much of so many foods are not considered healthy for us, so I try to be moderate in all my eating habits. I do still eat bread, pasta rice and potatoes but much less than I used to!

I would recommend this as a worthwhile read to any one interested in a healthy lifestyle not just those worried about being overweight and the dangers of diabetes.




Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Dr Michael Mosley, author of the bestselling 5:2 Fast Diet, reveals a game-changing approach to one of the greatest silent epidemics of our time - raised blood sugar levels. The food we eat today, high in sugar and easily digestible carbohydrates, is not only making us fat, but is putting us at risk of type 2 diabetes, strokes, dementia, cancer and a lifetime on medication. More than a third of adults in the UK now have raised blood sugar levels and most don't know it. In this timely book, Dr Mosley explains why we pile on dangerous abdominal fat and shows us how to shed it, fast. He demolishes common myths, such as the claim that steady weight loss is always better than rapid weight loss and that those who lose weight rapidly will inevitably put it back on. This is a book not just for those at highest risk but for anyone who has struggled with their weight and wants to regain control of their health. "I feel amazing. I have been given another chance at life." Cassie, 28 - lost 20kg. Average weight loss: 14kg in 8 weeks. Includes a detailed 8-week programme with menu plans.

Author Profile:





Michael Mosley (born 22 March 1957) is a British television journalist, producer and presenter who has worked for the BBC since 1985. He is probably best known as a presenter of television programmes on biology and medicine and his regular appearances on The One Show.

Born in Kolkata, India, the son of a bank director, Mosley studied philosophy, politics and economics at New College, Oxford before working for two years as a banker in the City of London. He then decided to move into medicine, intending to become a psychiatrist, studying at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School, now part of UCL Medical School.

Becoming disillusioned by psychiatry, Mosley upon graduation joined a trainee assistant producer scheme at the BBC in 1985.

Since then he has produced & presented many documentaries on science and/or medicine.



Photographs and biographical information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads - Author Profile    Twitter - Michael Mosley   Amazon Author Page

Blood Sugar Diet - Online Programme



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Secrets of a Happy Marriage by Cathy Kelly




Hardback:  426 pages                                                                                              
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Orion Books 2016
Source: St Cadfan's Church Fund Raising Sale - Tywyn
First Sentences: Prologue: In the San Francisco February dawn, Faenia Lennox sat at an off-white chalk-painted desk facing the Bay with its familiar and beloved fog visible beyond the Japanese maples in her garden and typed at speed, the same speed she'd learned from Mrs Farmsworth's classes in New York all those years ago. Over forty years ago, in fact.
Review Quote:  An uplifting story of warm, larger-than life characters. Comforting and feel good, the perfect treat read. (Good Housekeeping)
Favourite Quote: Secrets of a Happy Marriage #7 Never underestimate kindness. Being kind to the person you love is worth more than  hundred gifts. Kindness makes us feel love, supported and appreciated.
My Opinion: Cathy Kelly is an author I have read in the past but not since 2006. When I saw this brand new hardback for sale at a bargain price at a church fund raising event a few months ago I purchased as it looked like a read for lazy summer days.  Just finished reading, it was perfect for taking my mind off the weather, where has the sunshine gone?
A heartwarming story in Cathy Kelly's style of Irish storytelling about modern life. The dynamics of the relationships from the protagonists Bess and Edward, the older couple that have found love in later life to the rest of the characters within the extended family circle, are written about in a realistic way. The themes of friendship, marriage, trust, bereavement, infertility and depression are all topics covered that will not be unfamiliar to many readers.
I also liked the anecdotal chapter headings, all about marriage, a compassionate addition to the novel. Recommended to fans of Irish women's fiction, contemporary fiction and Cathy Kelly, an overall easy read.



Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Any family knows that a special birthday party is the perfect chance to come together, but for the Brannigan clan it's about more than just raising a glass . . .

Bess is hoping to show everyone just how happy her recent marriage is, but behind all the party-planning the cracks are beginning to show. Why is joining a family so difficult?

Jojo, Bess's stepdaughter, has a point to make. Bess is not her mother, and she won't replace the one she's been missing every day for the last two years. And will she ever get the chance to become a mum herself?

Cousin Cari is a fierce career-woman who isn't unnerved by anything - apart from facing the man who left her at the alter, and he's on the guestlist. Her job has been a safe place to hide ever since - but is it time to let love into her life again?

Thanks to laughter, tears and one surprise appearance, the Brannigans might just discover the secrets of a happy marriage . . . But will they find out before it's too late?



Author Profile:





Cathy Kelly was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland on September 12th 1966. A former Irish journalist she has been writing women's fiction since 1997, since when she has gained international recognition.

Published around the world, with millions of books in print. Cathy is the bestselling author of The Honey Queen, Once in a Lifetime and Between Sisters, and is a No.1 bestseller in the UK, Ireland and Australia. Her trademark is warm and witty Irish storytelling about modern life, always with an uplifting message, a sense of community and strong female characters at the heart.
She lives with her family and their three dogs in County Wicklow, Ireland. She is also an Ambassador for UNICEF Ireland, raising funds and awareness for children orphaned by or living with HIV/AIDS.


Photographs and biographical information courtesy of the following sites.

Amazon Author Page - Cathy Kelly     Wikipedia - Cathy Kelly       Author's Official Website

Cathy Kelly Books - Facebook     Twitter - Cathy Kelly

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry





Paperback:  400 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Arrow Books - 2017 -  Originally Published 1994
Source: A Likely Story - Tywyn
First Sentence: The fact is I had just been sacked from my paper, some frantic piffle about shouting insults from the stalls at a first night.
Review Quote:  "Fresh, filthy, funny and fizzing with ideas" (Evening Standard)
My Opinion: I read this in preparation for an evening at The Magic Lantern Cinema in Tywyn last night. What a great evening it was, this is a very funny novel. It is however also a no holds barred story about a young man struggling with reaching sexual maturity, that some readers might find offensive. Personally, I found it a very sensitive novel which I feel considering the author may well contain some autobiographical content. I was also pleased to discover that the director had kept very much to the story and the few changes he made were appropriate. I would highly recommend that you read the book before seeing the film if you can. So, in conclusion book or film? Both, as this novel was, thanks to John Jencks the director and his talented team of actors, writers and extended team, beautifully converted using Stephen Fry's words to the big screen. 




Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Ted Wallace is an old, sour, womanising, cantankerous, whisky-sodden beast of a failed poet and drama critic, but he has his faults too. Fired from his newspaper, months behind on his alimony payments and disgusted with a world that undervalues him, Ted seeks a few months repose and free drink at Swafford Hall, the country mansion of his old friend Lord Logan. But strange things have been going on at Swafford. Miracles. Healings. Phenomena beyond the comprehension of a mud-caked hippopotamus like Ted.

With this funny and deliciously readable novel, Stephen Fry takes his place as one of the most talented comic novelists of his generation.
 

Author Profile:

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry was born on August 24th 1957 in London, England. He is a leading light in film, theatre, radio and television the world over, receiving accolades in spades and plaudits by the shovel. As a comedian, writer, producer, director, actor, presenter and technophile he has featured in works as varied and adored as the movie 'Wilde', the TV series 'Blackadder' and 'Jeeves and Wooster', the sketch show 'A Bit of Fry and Laurie', the panel game 'QI', the radio series 'Fry's English Delight', Shakespeare's Globe's celebrated 2012 production of 'Twelfth Night' (as Malvolio) and documentaries on countless subjects very close to his heart.

He is also the bestselling author of four novels - 'The Stars' Tennis Balls', 'Making History', 'The Hippopotamus' and 'The Liar' - as well as two volumes of autobiography - 'Moab is My Washpot' and 'The Fry Chronicles', which published in six unique editions that combined to sell over a million copies. His third volume of autobiography, 'More Fool Me', was published in September 2014.



Photographs and biographical information courtesy of the following sites.




Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Second Honeymoon by Joanna Trollope





Paperback: 383 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Bloomsbury 2006
Source: My own bookshelves and since released via Bookcrossing
First Sentence: Edie put her hand out, took a breath and slowly slowly pushed open his bedroom door.
Review Quote: "Trollope has perfectly caught the angst of the empty nest... the ebb and flow of relationships is brilliantly handled" (The Observer)
My Opinion: I am a long time fan of Joanna Trollope. Have been reading her novels since her first 'The Choir' was published in 1989 and always found her novels to be light and entertaining, 'Aga Sagas' used to be the popular term for them. In fact it is a few years since I last read one though I still have a few reclining on my bookshelves, so I took a couple with me on my recent travels and then released them via Bookcrossing afterwards.  Although the term 'Aga Saga' is not heard much nowadays it does still seem to describe her writing about contemporary relationships. Actually 'Second Honeymoon' felt very dated to me, but that was my own fault for not reading when it was first published! I might then have found the problems Edie Boyd had struggling with empty nest syndrome a more appealing read.



Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:


Ben is, at last, leaving home. At twenty-two, he's the youngest of the family. His mother, Edie, an actress, is distraught. His father, Russell, a theatrical agent, is rather hoping to get his wife back. His brother, Matthew, is struggling in a relationship in which he achieves and earns less than his girlfriend. And his sister, Rosa, is wrestling with debt and the end of a turbulent love affair.

Author Profile:








Joanna Trollope was born on 9 December 1943 in her grandfather's rectory in Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, England, daughter of Rosemary Hodson and Arthur George Cecil Trollope. She is the eldest of three siblings. She is a fifth-generation niece of the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope and is a cousin of the writer and broadcaster James Trollope. She was educated at Reigate County School for Girls followed by St Hugh's College, Oxford. On 14 May 1966, she married the banker David Roger William Potter, they had two daughters, Antonia and Louise. In 1983 they divorced, two years later, she married the television dramatist Ian Curteis, they divorced in 2001.

From 1965 to 1967, she worked at the Foreign Office. From 1967 to 1979, she was employed in a number of teaching posts before she became a writer full-time in 1980. In 1996 she was awarded the OBE for services to literature.She now lives alone in London.

A fuller Biography can be found on her website.


Photographs and biographical information courtesy of the following sites.


Author Profile - Goodreads   Amazon - Joanna Trollope    Wikipedia - Joanna Trollope   

   Facebook - Joanna Trollope  Official Author Website

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald





Hardback:   376 pages.                                                                                               
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Chatto and Windus 2015
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: The strange woman standing on Hope's main street was so ordinary it was almost scandalous.
Favourite Quote: "For as long as she could remember, she had thought that autumn air went well with books, that the two both somehow belonged with blankets, comfortable armchairs and big cups of coffee or tea"
Review Quote: "This is a story about community, about being needed and about belonging... A warm, cosy, compassionate read" (Independent)
My Opinion: My latest book club read and I was disappointed to find it just an ok read. I know at least one of the other members of the group was loving it, but it just did not hit the spot with me. There are certain aspects I enjoyed such as the fact that the main action as such, takes place in an independent bookstore, plus the fact that it is a story full of compassion. Of course I love books, but I just did not get the point of including quite so many within this novel, actually spoilt it for me, though maybe I just missed the point as I seem to be in the minority. The Independent reviewer was I think spot on with their opinion "This is a story about community, about being needed and about belonging... A warm, cosy, compassionate read" just needed less books mentioned!

Full List of Titles Mentioned in the Book:

There are at least 79 titles and if you are interested the list can be found on Goodreads


Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

The International Bestseller

Warning: once you let books into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…

This is a book about books. All sorts of books, from Little Women and Harry Potter to Jodi Picoult and Jane Austen, from to Stieg Larsson to Joyce Carol Oates to Proust. It’s about the joy and pleasure of books, about learning from and escaping into them, and possibly even hiding behind them. It’s about whether or not books are better than real life.

It’s also a book about a Swedish girl called Sara, her elderly American penfriend Amy and what happens when you land a very different kind of bookshop in the middle of a town so broken it’s almost beyond repair.

Or is it?

The Readers of Broken Wheel has touches of 84 Charing Cross Road, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Chocolat, but adds an off-beat originality and intelligence all its own.


Author Profile

Katarina Bivald grew up working part-time in a bookshop. Today she lives outside of Stockholm, Sweden, with her sister and as many bookshelves she can get by her. She is currently trying to persuade her sister that having a shelf for winter jackets and shoes is completely unnecessary. There should be enough space for a book shelf or two instead. Limited success so far. Apparently, her sister is also stubbornly refusing to even discuss using the bathroom to store books.

Katarina Bivald sometimes claims that she still hasn't decided whether she prefer books or people but, as we all know, people are a non-starter. Even if you do like them, they're better in books. Only possible problem: reading a great book and having no one to recommend it to.


Photograph and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads - Author Profile     Amazon Author Page      Katarina Bivald - Official Website

Penguin - Katarina Bivald      Twitter Profile


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys



Hardback: 366 pages                                                                                                  
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Publisher: Doubleday March 2017
Source: Lovereading Reader Review Panel Member
First Sentence: Sandwiched between two policeman, the woman descends the gangplank of the ship.
Review Quote: "A sumptuous and thrilling read which reminded me of Daphne du Maurier. It captivates you in its spell right until the end. I loved it." (KATE HAMER, author of THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT)
My Opinion: Rachel Rhys is the pen name of the already successful Tammy Cohen, author of psychological suspense novels.  There is no doubt in my mind that her debut novel as a mystery writer will also be successful. The idea for the story comes from a memoir that she found whilst browsing her mother's bookcases, written by a late friend during a voyage from Tilbury to Sydney. The memoir chronicles in meticulous detail everything about this voyage, so all the ingredients that make a novel a pleasure to read are present, including a different from the norm location as most of the story is set onboard an ocean liner, just prior to the start of WWII. The reader gets to emerge themselves in ship board life, along  with protagonists, Lily Shepherd and the other passengers leaving the UK in hope of  a better life in Australia. Life aboard ship turns out to be an eye opener as Lily and the other steerage passengers get to socialise with first class passengers, that in real life they would probably have worked for! The unworldly atmosphere and somewhat claustrophobic life on the long journey is a perfect setting for this murder mystery though personally that was almost less important than the wonderful journey travelled in this engaging read.  

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.

But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.


By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.


Author Profile




RACHEL RHYS is the pen-name Tammy Cohen a successful psychological suspense author. A Dangerous Crossing is her debut under this name and is inspired by a real life account of a 1930s ocean voyage. A Dangerous Crossing is due to be published around the world. Rachel Rhys lives in North London with her family.

Autobiographical paragraphs below in the author's own words are courtesy of  the  Official Author Website.

I was born in Ibadan, Nigeria where my anthropologist father happened to be doing fieldwork at the time. Sabbatical years in far-flung places were a feature of my childhood and I attended school in both Sierra Leone and California. Otherwise, I mostly grew up in the suburbs of London where my adolescence was spent either in the local library or waiting for the last tube home.
After taking an American Studies degree at Manchester University I taught English in Madrid. While working as a secretary back in London, I started writing features and hand-delivering them to the magazine publishing house around the corner. The day the first one got accepted, I packed in my job and declared myself a freelance journalist, which is basically what I remained for the next twenty years, writing features for national magazines and newspapers, such as Marie Claire, The Times and The Telegraph, and then moving on to non fiction books. My dream was always to write fiction but it wasn’t until I was forty-seven that I finally conquered the self doubt and my first novel, The Mistress’s Revenge was published.
These days I live in North London with my partner and three (nearly) grown children and one very badly behaved dog. Together with my family I spent four happy years living in Spain from 2004 to 2008 and I live in fear of people finding this out and asking me something in Spanish at which I remain shamefully inept.
My first novel, The Mistress’s Revenge, was followed by three more contemporary fiction titles under the name Tamar Cohen – The War of the Wives, Someone Else’s Wedding and The Broken. In November 2014, my first crime novel, Dying For Christmas was published under the name Tammy Cohen, followed by First One Missing a year later. My third crime novel, When She Was Bad, is due for publication in April 2016. I am a member of the Killer Women collective of London-based female UK crime writers.


 Information courtesy of the following sites.

Rachel Rhys - Amazon Author Page   Tammy Cohen - Amazon Author Page  

Facebook Profile    Twitter - Tammy Cohen    Tammy Cohen - Official Website

Friday, March 17, 2017

Brother and Sister by Joanna Trollope




Paperback: 368 pages                                                                                              
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Blomsbury 2004
Source: My own bookshelves and since released via Bookcrossing
First Sentence: From where he sat, Steve could see right down the length of the studio.
Review Quote:'Her prodigious flair for illuminating emotional situations guarantees the appeal of Trollope's work ... immediate and engrossing.' (The Good Book Guide)
My Opinion: I am a long time fan of Joanna Trollope. Have been reading her novels since her first 'The Choir' was published in 1989 and always found her novels to be light and entertaining, 'Aga Sagas' used to be the popular term for them. In fact it is a few years since I last read one though I still have a few reclining on my bookshelves, so I took a couple with me on my recent travels and then released them via Bookcrossing afterwards. Although the term 'Aga Saga' is not heard much nowadays it does still seem to describe her writing about contemporary relationships. Certainly 'Brother and Sister' is a sensitive portrayal of  adoption and the issues these particular siblings had to cope with when they decided to trace their birth parents.



Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Nathalie and David have been good and dutiful children to their parents, and now, grown-up, with their own families, they are still close to one another. Brother and Sister.

Except that they aren't - brother and sister that is.They were both adopted, when their loving parents, found that they couldn't have children themselves. And up until now it's never mattered.

But suddenly, Nathalie discovers a deep need to trace her birth parents and is insisting that David makes the same journey. And through this, both learn one of the hardest lessons of all, that sometimes, the answers to who we are and where we come from can be more difficult than the questions



Author Profile:






Joanna Trollope was born on 9 December 1943 in her grandfather's rectory in Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, England, daughter of Rosemary Hodson and Arthur George Cecil Trollope. She is the eldest of three siblings. She is a fifth-generation niece of the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope and is a cousin of the writer and broadcaster James Trollope. She was educated at Reigate County School for Girls followed by St Hugh's College, Oxford. On 14 May 1966, she married the banker David Roger William Potter, they had two daughters, Antonia and Louise. In 1983 they divorced, two years later, she married the television dramatist Ian Curteis, they divorced in 2001.

From 1965 to 1967, she worked at the Foreign Office. From 1967 to 1979, she was employed in a number of teaching posts before she became a writer full-time in 1980. In 1996 she was awarded the OBE for services to literature.She now lives alone in London.

A fuller Biography can be found on her website.


Photographs and biographical information courtesy of the following sites.


Author Profile - Goodreads   Amazon - Joanna Trollope    Wikipedia - Joanna Trollope   
   Facebook - Joanna Trollope  Official Author Website