Sunday, 31 August 2014

Two novellas

Gypsy Heart by Rosemary Smith

Read this on the way to London a couple of days ago.  Katharine is a well brought up young lady living with her aunt and uncle. On her 20th birthday she meets a gypsy, Kane, falls instantly in love and marries him secretly. Her aunt disapproves and won't allow her to see him. She needs to uncover the secrets of her birth before he can be accepted by her family.

A gentle, escapist tale. True love wins, and the twist ending is not much of a surprise. A pleasant way to pass a long train journey!

A Place of Peace by Sally Quilford

After the above book, I read this, on the same day. Sally's become a bit of an expert at writing romantic intrugue novellas. In this one, Nell goes to live in a house-swap on an island in New England, where she soon falls for the dishy police chief. She's escaping a scandal in England, but finds herself investigating another possible crime on the island.

A satisfying romance, an intriguing mystery and an unexpected ending - this was the perfect novella.

Monday, 25 August 2014

From Paris With Love

From Paris with Love by Samantha Tonge

This is the sequel to Sam's highly successful Doubting Abbey, and features the same mad woman, Gemma and her aristocratic boyfriend Edward. They're working for a month in Paris, learning more about the restaurant industry, as the plan is to save Edward's ancestral home by setting up a cookery school in it.

Then Gemma gets recruited by MI6 to try to uncover a potential threat to the royal family...

It's a wacky plot, but a really fun read, and is highly recommended for a bit of escapism.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Bring me Sunshine

Bring Me Sunshine by Charlie Connelly

Having read his guide to the shipping forecast and loving his style, I bought another couple of books by this author. This one's a guide to Britain's weather- the history of weather forecasting, biographies of the scientists and crackpots who've tried to understand or control the weather, and the author's own reminiscences and experiences of the great British weather.

Very enjoyable. There are a lot of characters described in this book - mostly obsessive Victorian scientists, who along the way invented the barometer, the Beaufort scale, the weather forecasts and various methods of collecting weather related data.

Excellent little book.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The Moment Keeper

The Moment Keeper by Buffy Andrews

Another Carina author!  This is an unusual story of two girls, a generation apart. One is poor, brought up by her grandmother, bullied at school, with few friends. The other is rich, spoilt by her doting parents, popular at school. On the surface they have little in common, but the first girl, Sarah, who has killed herself, is the 'moment keeper' for the second, Olivia. It's Sarah's job to record the most important moments in Olivia's life. As she watches her grow and develop, Sarah finds they have more in common that was at first apparent.

A warm-hearted tale of love, which keeps you turning the pages. Possibly to my middle-aged English mind the values and preoccupations of the teenage American girls were a little hard to comprehend but it's an enjoyable tale nevertheless. 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Dear Lizzie

Dear Lizzie by Annie Lyons

Annie's a fellow Carina author who I met at the RNA party in the summer. This is her second book published by Carina.

Lizzie's beloved sister Bea has just died of cancer, and Lizzie is bereft. She's estranged from the rest of her family, due to complex events which happened when she was a teenager. Bea was her only link and her only friend. Bea leaves her 12 letters, to read one a month for the year following her death. Each one contains a challenge designed to help Lizzie move on, become stronger, and build a better life for herself.

This is a really warm, tear-jerker of a novel. I can't count the number of times I needed to reach for a tissue. It's a wonderful exploration of human relationships in all sorts of ways, and I would highly recommend it.

Lady of Hay

Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine

Ms Erskine is always recommended whenever someone mentions timeslip novels, and this is widely regarded as one of her best. I bought the 25th anniversary edition, which has an extra chapter at the end, covering what happened to the characters in those 25 years and with an extra twist or two. It's a whopper of a book - I bought the paperback but at over 800 pages think it would have been an easier read on my kindle.

It has a huge an complex plot. In the present day (well, mid 1980s) journalist Jo Clifford is experiencing regressions to a past life - that of Matilda, a lady from the 12th century. Jo's got trouble in her private life - the love of her life Nick has left her and is seeing someone else. Nick's brother Sam is a hypnotist, and can make Jo regress back to the 12th century and be Matilda for a while. He has her best interests at heart - or does he?

Matilda is married very young to a brute of a nobleman, and in her complex history has several children, consorts with Prince then King John, has a love affair with another man. She's a real character who actually existed at that time, and you can tell the author has done a lot of research.

I found the whole reincarnation thing a bit far-fetched, especially as Jo/Matilda isn't the only one in the book. Everyone seems to have been someone else from that time. I know you have to suspend disbelief when reading any book that has a supernatural element, but for me, this one pushed me a bit far without having an adequate explanation of why it was all happening and why these people were targeted as hosts by the long-dead historical characters. Having said that, I very much enjoyed this novel. Erskine is a superb story teller, and I loved the historical strand of the story.