Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Books in my Month...



I had a really good reading, and reviewing month in February. I discovered new and promising authors and enjoyed reading the work of authors I had read before...



New Authors

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
This suspenseful and creepy psychological thriller had me on the edge of my seat. Really cleverly written and utterly believable from start to finish. Highly recommended.
5 *****


The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall - Reviewed for Real Readers
Beautifully written, this story captures your imagination from the very beginning, it tugs on your heart strings and leaves you with the belief that good story telling is beyond price. Highly recommended.
5*****




New to Me Authors

The Curiosity Cabinet by Catherine Czerkawsa
I love dual time narratives set in Scotland, and this story set on the Hebridean Island of Garve was just so beautifully written - I didn't want it to end. I shall certainly read more by this talented author.
5*****




The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life by William Nicholson
We are never really sure what is going on in the lives of others, and this well written look at life in a Sussex village captures the ambiguity, heartache and dilemmas that people face behind closed doors.
4****


A Foreign Country By Charles Cumming  - Reviewed for Waterstones
A great espionage thriller, cleverly written by an established author whose love and passion for this genre shines through every word. Recommended read.
5*****


The Pools by Bethan Roberts
A rather dark coming of age novel is cleverly written with spellbinding characters, it's full of menace,and when the ultimate betrayal happens, the consequences are far reaching, and heart breaking.
4****



Jail Bird by Jessie Keane
Lily King spent twelve years in prison for a murder she did not commit. When she gets out of prison she is determined to find the real  murderer and seeks retribution.In the style of Martina Cole, fast and furious and pulls no punches.
4****


Across the Bridge by Morag Joss (aka Among the Missing)
When a  bridge across the river collapses a woman decides to use this as an excuse to disappear from her ordinary life and husband.This strange little story starts off well, but quickly loses momentum and is best read quickly.
2**


The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman - Reviewed by newbooks magazine
The Lost Wife begins in New York in 2000 with a family wedding, and a revelation. What then follows is a well written story set during WW2. This beautifully written tory will stay with me for a long time. Recommended read.
5*****



The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Even though I have read some great reviews of this one, I really can't see what all the fuss was about, and to be honest was quite bored throughout.Maybe I'm not enough of a Hemingway fan to appreciate the story behind his first marriage to Hadley Richardson.
2**


First Lady by Michael Dobbs
A quick and fascinating look into what may go on behind the political front door, and the skulduggery of life in the seamy world of politics.
3***



Old Friends

Velvet by Mary Hooper
This Victorian melodrama is primarily aimed at young adults but I think Mary Hooper's novels are equally enjoyed by adults.This is an atmospheric look at the Gothic gloom surrounding the lives of mediums and spiritualists in Victorian London.
3***


A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths
This talented writer of suspenseful thrillers continues to go from strength to strength. This book #4 in the Ruth Galloway series and is set as usual in the salt-marsh area of Norfolk.
4****


The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
Reading a Sarah Addison Allen novel is like indulging in your favourite ice cream, best savoured slowly over the course of an afternoon, it's quaint, charming and utterly delicious.
4****

Wishlist Wednesday # 8


I am delighted to be part of wishlist Wednesday which is hosted by Dani at pen to paper 




 

The idea is to post about one book each week that has been on your wishlist for some time, or maybe just added.

So what do you need to do to join in?

Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.

Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.

Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist.

Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of her post.

Put a link back to pen to paper (http://vogue-pentopaper.blogspot.com) somewhere in your post.

Visit the other blogs and enjoy!



My wishlist # 8 Wishlist Wednesday book 

is

The Whore's Asylum


by


Katy Darby

The Whores' Asylum

Not only is this a fabulous title for a book but also the content satisfies my need for Victorian Melodrama. I have a real love of Victorian Gothic and this debut novel by author Katy Darby seems to tick all the right boxes.

From Amazon

When you read these words, and all those that follow, I am afraid it must be because I am no longer here to speak them to you. Love is a disease; no doubt of it, and one which has proved mortal to many men down the ages . . .'

Oxford, 1887: Even as Victoria celebrates the fiftieth year of her reign, a stone's throw from the calm cloisters and college spires lies Jericho, a maze of seedy streets and ill-lit taverns, haunted by drunkards, thieves and the lowest sort of brazen female as ever lifted her petticoats.

When Stephen Chapman, a brilliant young medical student, is persuaded to volunteer at a shelter devoted to reforming the fallen women of Oxford, his closest friend Edward feels a strange sense of dread. But even Edward - who already knows the devastating effect of falling in love with the wrong woman - cannot foresee the macabre and violent events that will unfold around them, or stop Diana, the woman who seems destined to drive them apart.

I hope it won't be long before I find a copy - 




Happy Leap Year Day...

Please make the most of your extra day.....


some day you'll wish you had


....time is precious.


Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Get Britain Reading

Whilst watching Daybreak on ITV1 this morning I was heartened by their appeal , which was launched yesterday, to Get Britain Reading. According to the World Literacy Foundation and the National Literacy Trust thousands of kids are leaving school without adequate reading skills. One in three children, between the age of 7 and 16 years old, does not own a book and over six million adults in Britain cannot read properly.

As part of their campaign Daybreak are asking us to pledge to read for 10 minutes every day either to ourselves or to our children and to donate good quality children's books to be given to the charities: Booktrust, Dyslexia Action & the Salvation Army. Daybreak bins will be located in 50 branches of Waterstones and 100 Morrisons supermarkets around the UK.

It's a great idea - jaffa and I will be making our pledge to Get Britain Reading.

Pledge here 




Friday, 24 February 2012

Friday recommends #6...


Friday again, and it's time for my choice of book for Friday recommends...






This is an exciting book blog hop that book bloggers can take part in once a week to share with their followers, the books that they most recommend reading!

The rules for Friday Recommends are:

Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
Pick a book that you've read, and have enjoyed enough to recommend to other readers. It can be a book you've read recently, or a book you read years ago - it's up to you - but make sure you tell us why you love the book (like a mini review). You make the post as long or as short as you like.
Visit the other blogs and enjoy!



This is not so much a recommended read, but more of a recommended author.

A few years ago I read a magical debut book by an American author, Sarah Addison Allen. I loved the magic realism of her stories and her ability to create pictures with words. The book was Garden Spells and the first time I read this book I was simply enchanted, not just with the evocative descriptions, but with a truly magical way to live your life. It encompasses love, life and the power of family and friendship. It enforces the fundamental need to believe in ourselves…

"You are what you are, whether you like it or not, so why not like it.”



Since reading Garden Spells, I have gone on to read all of her books and finished her latest, The Peach Keeper, just the other day. She has an ease of writing that draws you in from the beginning,  and her books are simply perfect for curling up with on a cold afternoon.




My Friday recommended read is 

The Peach keeper

 by

 Sarah Addison Allen








The Blue Ridge Madam was once the grandest home in the small town of Walls of Water in North Carolina. But when the Jackson family fell on hard times, their house sank into disrepair and became a local symbol for ruin and scandal. Many years later, Paxton Osgood is renovating the old house, and has invited the townsfolk to a grand opening. Willa Jackson,the latest descendant of the Jackson family, now lives a quiet life ,she keeps a shop in town, visits her grandmother Georgie Jackson in a local nursing home, and is unsure of whether to accept Paxton's invitation
Paxton and Willa have more in common than either of them knows, and when a mysterious collection of artefacts are unearthed in the garden of the Madam, neither is prepared for the secrets which are about to unfold.


Reading a Sarah Addison Allen novel is like indulging in your favourite ice cream, best savoured slowly over the course of an afternoon. It's quaint, charming and utterly delicious.

Reminiscent of the work of Fannie Flagg, Alice Hoffman, Ali Shaw-  this is magic realism at its absolute best.














Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Wishlist Wednesday #7...


I am delighted to be part of wishlist Wednesday which is hosted by Dani at pen to paper 




 

The idea is to post about one book each week that has been on your wishlist for some time, or maybe just added.

So what do you need to do to join in?

Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.

Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.

Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist.

Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of her post.

Put a link back to pen to paper (http://vogue-pentopaper.blogspot.com) somewhere in your post.

Visit the other blogs and enjoy!



My #7 Wishlist Wednesday book
 is 

Winter King 

The Dawn of Tudor England

by 

Thomas Penn








It was 1501. England had been ravaged for decades by conspiracy, violence, murders, coups and counter-coups. Henry VII had clambered to the top of the heap - a fugitive with a flimsy claim to England's crown who through luck, guile and ruthlessness had managed to win the throne and stay on it for sixteen years. Although he built palaces, hosted jousts, gave out lavish presents and sent ambassadors across Europe, for many he remained a usurper, a false king.
But Henry had a crucial asset: his queen and their children, the living embodiment of his hoped-for dynasty. Now, in what would be the crowning glory of his reign, his elder son would marry a great Spanish princess. On a cold November day this girl, the sixteen-year-old Catherine of Aragon, arrived in London for a wedding upon which the fate of England would hinge...
In his remarkable debut, historian Thomas Penn recreates an England which is both familiar and very strange - a country that seems medieval yet modern, in which honour and chivalry mingle with espionage, realpolitik, high finance and corruption. It is the story of the transformation of a young, vulnerable boy, Prince Henry, into the aggressive teenager who would become Henry VIII, and of Catherine of Aragon, his future queen. And at its heart is the tragic, magnetic figure of Henry VII - controlling, paranoid, avaricious, with a Machiavellian charm and will to power.



My love of historical novels encourages me to read a variety of non-fiction historical biographies. I love the look and feel of this book, and to have insight into the start of the Tudor period is invaluable. To see what helped shape the Tudor dynasty is a treat to be savoured. I think this will be one to borrow from the library as soon as a copy becomes available !!













































































Sunday, 19 February 2012

Review - The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall

I was delighted to be asked to review this book for Real Readers





The Book of Summers


Hardcover: 336 pages 
Publisher: Headline Review (1 Mar 2012) 
Language English 









Synopsis from Amazon

Beth Lowe has been sent a parcel.

Inside is a letter informing her that her long-estranged mother has died, and a scrapbook Beth has never seen before. Entitled The Book of Summers, it's stuffed with photographs and mementos complied by her mother to record the seven glorious childhood summers Beth spent in rural Hungary.
It was a time when she trod the tightrope between separated parents and two very different countries; her bewitching but imperfect Hungarian mother and her gentle, reticent English father; the dazzling house of a Hungarian artist and an empty-feeling cottage in deepest Devon. And it was a time that came to the most brutal of ends the year Beth turned sixteen.

Since then, Beth hasn't allowed herself to think about those years of her childhood. But the arrival of The Book of Summers brings the past tumbling back into the present; as vivid, painful and vital as ever.







My Review


The summers of our childhood pass by in misty recollection, and yet for Beth Lowe the memories of her special summers as a child in Hungary are something to be concealed. When a package is given to her along with some devastating news, Beth needs to find inner strength in order to face the demons of her past. The package reveals the Book of Summers lovingly compiled by her mother, Marika, and recalling the summers of Beth’s childhood between the ages of 10 and 16, when Beth left her home in Devon with her reticent father, and became Erzs├ębet and ran wild amid the Hungarian beauty of Villa Serena.

This beautifully written coming of age novel captures the real meaning of adolescence. The faultless exploration of the indecision of young love expertly combines the demands of living a double life, with fragments of secrets, and a hint of regret. 

However, the real skill of the author comes in the strength of her imagination; there is a poignant lyricism, together with a flawless narrative which captures perfectly a little girl trying to bridge the gap between two very different worlds.

Quite simply, The Book of Summers is a joy to read, and is an exceptionally good debut novel.

Without doubt I have found one of my books of 2012.









Happy Reading

Jo and Jaffa

xxx































Friday, 17 February 2012

Friday recommends #5

Friday again, and it's time for my choice of book for Friday recommends...






This is an exciting book blog hop that book bloggers can take part in once a week to share with their followers, the books that they most recommend reading!

The rules for Friday Recommends are:

Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
Pick a book that you've read, and have enjoyed enough to recommend to other readers. It can be a book you've read recently, or a book you read years ago - it's up to you - but make sure you tell us why you love the book (like a mini review). You make the post as long or as short as you like.
Visit the other blogs and enjoy!



Thank you Waterstones for providing an early reading copy of this book to review




A Foreign Country

by

Charles Cumming


A Foreign Country


Published
29/03/2012
Publisher
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
ISBN
9780007337866




From the book

Six weeks before she is due to take up her position as the first female head of MI6, Amelia Levene vanishes without a trace. There has been no ransom demand, no word from foreign intelligence services, no hint of defection. For disgraced MI6 officer Thomas Kell, the crisis offers a chance for redemption. He is approached by his former employers and ordered to find her.




My Review

This sharp and sophisticated spy thriller is cleverly constructed, with a skill that comes from an author who knows and loves his craft. I was intrigued by the story of disgraced intelligence officer, Thomas Kell, from the beginning and soon became immersed in his thrilling quest to find the missing female chief of MI6. From the opening sequence in Tunisia, through to the final conclusion, the story evolves at a cracking pace, with enough twists and turns in the plot to satisfy the most demanding of readers. The combination of good characters, a believable storyline and a nail biting finish, make this a book to remember.

If you like well written espionage thrillers then I recommend this book to you.








Happy Reading

Josie and Jaffa
xxx

















Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Wishlist Wednesday #6...

I am delighted to be part of wishlist Wednesday which is hosted by Dani at pen to paper 






The idea is to post about one book each week that has been on your wishlist for some time, or maybe just added...



So what do you need to do to join in?
Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.
Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist.
Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of her post.
Put a link back to pen to paper (http://vogue-pentopaper.blogspot.com) somewhere in your post.
Visit the other blogs and enjoy!




My #6 Wishlist Wednesday book

is

Poppy Day 

by

Amanda Prowse






Synopsis from Amazon



How far would you go to bring home the one you love?

This is the question posed in this contemporary love story that takes you from the streets of East London to the plains of Afghanistan.

Poppy Day is a twenty one year old hairdresser, devoted to her husband Martin and blessed with a sunny disposition. Martin is the one constant in her life, her protector and best friend since they were six, making an often difficult childhood easier to bear.

Martin and Poppy are an ‘ordinary’ couple who find themselves in an extraordinary situation. Having joined the British Army in search of a better life for them both, their world is ripped apart when Martin is taken hostage while on his first tour tour in Afghanistan.

Battling against army culture and procedure, Poppy decides to bring her ‘Mart’ home herself. Fuelled by naivety, she feels that nothing is impossible when doing it for the man she loves. Her journey sees her paying a very high price and incurs some heartbreaking consequences…

‘Poppy Day’ gives an insight into life beneath the uniform, a peek at what it’s like to be the one left at home, ticking off the days until your loved one returns and what happens when there is the knock on the door that every forces wife, husband, mother, father or lover dreads…

All proceeds from the sale of Poppy Day go directly to The Royal British Legion to help fund the charity’s Battle Back Centre for injured Service personnel.





This is a relative newcomer to my wishlist, as I only just saw Amanda Prowse interviewed by Alan Titchmarsh on his afternoon show on Monday. I was impressed with her lovely attitude to life, and her obvious love of writing fiction. Her husband, Simeon is a serving officer in the British army, and is often away from home, but she seems to cope with life as an army wife with incredible joie de vivre.

Book art is so important - the cover design is striking and the inclusion of poppies reiterates that ALL proceeds from the book will be going to the Royal British Legion.

I think this is one book that will find its way onto my book shelf - I hope sales soar, and the book raises lots of money for such a good cause.




poppies  poppies




Happy Reading

Josie and Jaffa
xxx






Monday, 13 February 2012

Review - The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

I was delighted to be given the opportunity to read and review this book for newbooks magazine





Packshot of The Lost Wife
Published in paperback by Hodder and Stoughton
12th April 2012



The Lost Wife begins in New York in 2000 with a family wedding, and a revelation. What then follows is a retrospective love story told through a series of individual chapters, following the fortunes of a Jewish Czech couple, Josef Kohn and Lenka Maizel. They meet amid the glamour of pre-war Prague, where Josef is learning medicine, and Lenka is pursuing her love of art at the Prague Academy. They fall in love, but with the threat of war imminent; their hastily arranged marriage is destined to be passionate, but short lived. With danger ever present, Josef and his family have the opportunity of escaping to America, but Lenka refuses to leave, and makes the difficult decision to stay behind in Prague with her mother, father and younger sister. Along with other Czechoslovakian Jews, Lenka and her family are transported, first to the Nazi work camp in Terezin, and then finally to the horror of Auschwitz. Using her love of art as her salvation, Lenka suffers the degradation and horror of the Holocaust, whilst maintaining her principles in the midst of a world gone mad. As the war progresses, and with no news of Lenka and her family, Josef must face an uncertain future in America.
On a personal level I found the novel easy to read, and as Josef and Lenka’s individual narratives are explained in more detail, their characters come alive. The story is quite harrowing at times, with frank and honest depictions of life in the concentration camps, and yet ultimately, this is a beautifully written novel about love, and the redemptive quality of the human spirit to face evil, and the individual fight to overcome adversity.
Tackling difficult issues, and turning them into a readable novel is never going to be easy, and yet the author has managed to put into words a perfect sense of time and place, without ever succumbing to mawkish sentimentality.

This is one of those books that will stay in my imagination for a long time.










Happy Reading

Josie and Jaffa
xxx

















Friday, 10 February 2012

Friday Recommends #4

Friday again, and it's time for my choice of book for Friday recommends...




This is an exciting book blog hop that book bloggers can take part in once a week to share with their followers, the books that they most recommend reading!

The rules for Friday Recommends are:

Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
Pick a book that you've read, and have enjoyed enough to recommend to other readers. It can be a book you've read recently, or a book you read years ago - it's up to you - but make sure you tell us why you love the book (like a mini review). You make the post as long or as short as you like.
Visit the other blogs and enjoy!

This week my book choice is:




The Curiosity Cabinet

 by 



Product Details


Book Description from shelfari.com 

Returning to the Hebridean island of Garve after 35 years, Alys falls in love with Donal, her childhood playmate. Interwoven with their story is that of Henrietta, held on an island against her will 300 years earlier. Linking the women are an enchanting embroidered curiosity cabinet, the tug of motherhood, and the island itself.



My Review


When Alys returns to the Hebridean island of Garve she feels comforted by the strength of her childhood memories, of holidays spent exploring rock pools, and the feel of the silvery white sand between her toes. Re-discovering fragments of herself, she sets out to search for the secret of a beautiful embroidered cabinet which is on display in her hotel. Her curiosity is encouraged by the deepening friendship with her childhood friend, Donal, who has remained on the island, and who is the guardian of the curiosity cabinet’s secrets.
Three hundred years earlier, Henrietta Dalrymple is forcibly removed from her life in Edinburgh, a life she shares with her baby son, but when she is kidnapped and held against her will on Garve she finds life on the small island totally abhorrent. Her captor is Manus McNeil, Laird of the isle and a highlander to boot, fearsome, devilish and ultimately controlling. Henrietta is lost and alone but takes comfort in small friendships, as gradually the relationship between captor and captive becomes something more meaningful.
Beautifully written, this dual time romance captures time and place completely. The interwoven love stories blend together quite seamlessly, both strands of the story are equally appealing, neither one outshining the other. The spirit of Garve is captured perfectly, the imagery is so unique, you may find yourself gasping as you see wild swans fly across the sky, and the tang of seaweed, and the hint of a sea breeze remain with you as you turn each page.

The skill of this talented story teller is present in every word, she weaves a kind of magic, and makes beautiful pictures in your mind.



This book pulled me in from the opening page - if you enjoy dual time narratives, with characters that leap off the page and enter into your world, then please give this lovely story a try....  it's now available as  a Kindle download, which is great as the story has become accessible to a wider audience.









If you're lucky you may find a paperback copy of this book.

book cover of 

The Curiosity Cabinet 

by

Catherine Czerkawska

Paperback
Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited (Feb 2005)
ISBN-10: 1904598420
ISBN-13: 978-1904598428






Happy Reading

Josie and Jaffa
xxx






Thursday, 9 February 2012

IttyBittyKnittyBlankie....


I've enjoyed knitting this ittybittyknittyblankie as I learned how to knit chevron stripes and the colourful wool mix made the pattern more interesting than just plain colours...it was surprisingly knit to knit, even though I scared myself by counting how many stitches I would have to do in total - around 25,000.











It's nice to knit and I get to listen to stories on audio at the same time  !!




Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Wishlist Wednesday #5

I am delighted to be part of wishlist Wednesday which is hosted by Dani at pen to paper






The idea is to post about one book each week that has been on your wishlist for some time, or maybe just added...


So what do you need to do to join in?
Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.
Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist.
Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of her post.
Put a link back to pen to paper (http://vogue-pentopaper.blogspot.com) somewhere in your post.
Visit the other blogs and enjoy!





My #5 Wishlist Wednesday book
is

Lone Wolf 

by 

Jodi Picoult




Lone Wolf


Expected publication: February 28th 2012 by Hodder & Stoughton


Synopsis from Goodreads







A life hanging in the balance…a family torn apart. The #1 internationally bestselling author Jodi Picoult tells an unforgettable story about family, love, and letting go.
Edward Warren, twenty-four, has been living in Thailand for five years, a prodigal son who left his family after an irreparable fight with his father, Luke. But he gets a frantic phone call: His dad lies comatose, gravely injured in the same accident that has also injured his younger sister Cara.
With her father’s chances for recovery dwindling, Cara wants to wait for a miracle. But Edward wants to terminate life support and donate his father’s organs. Is he motivated by altruism, or revenge? And to what lengths will his sister go to stop him from making an irrevocable decision?
Lone Wolf explores the notion of family, and the love, protection and strength it’s meant to offer. But what if the hope that should sustain it, is the very thing that pulls it apart? Another tour de force from Jodi Picoult, Lone Wolf examines the wild and lonely terrain upon which love battles reason.



This one has been on my wishlist for a while - I'm a huge fan of Jodi Picoult and eagerly await each book as it is published. She has great skill with words, and is able to engage the reader from the very first page.

Whenever I finish one of her books I feel that I am leaving behind a set of friends and I consider her to be one of my favourite contemporary authors.







Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Happy Birthday Charles Dickens...


Today celebrates the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens. He was born in Portsmouth in 1812, and died in Kent in 1870.





History





The Prince of Wales, and the Duchess of Cornwall will attend a service at Westminster Abbey, and will lay a wreath at the author's grave in poet's corner. Members of Dickens' family will attend the service,along with representatives from film, literature and the media. A reading from Bleak House,will be given by the actor, Ralph Fiennes.

There are also special celebrations in Dickens' home town of Portsmouth, where the actor Simon Callow will read from David Copperfield.,and the actress Sheila Hancock will read from Oliver Twist.

All around the world people are remembering Dickens....and yet, there is constant debate that Dickens is no longer relevant in modern society, and that children today do not have the attention span necessary to be able to read, and enjoy the author's work.

Dickens' wrote his books when most of the population had limited reading skills, and yet he aimed his writing at the ordinary man and woman, and championed the need for better education. We are failing our young people if we do not encourage them to read, and take enjoyment in some of the finest work in English literature.






"That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day." 



- Charles Dickens, Great Expectations









Monday, 6 February 2012

Look in at your library...


This weekend celebrated National Libraries Day on the 4th February, and since my local area has just opened a brand new, beautiful library I am determined to make the most of all the lovely books on offer, and will try to visit as often as I can....
Rather like shoppers who trawl the supermarket with a shopping list , I always peruse my library with a long list of wish list books to hand, and since most libraries have a computer search facility I can usually find what I'm looking for fairly quickly.
I'm amazed at how much technology has improved the library service, now you can search virtual shelves from the comfort of your home, order and reserve online, and borrow the latest books by paying a very modest reservation fee.



These are my latest library books:


Plague Child by Peter Ransley




Synopsis from Fantastic Fiction

The first instalment of a captivating trilogy set against the backdrop of the English Civil War.
September 1625: Plague cart driver, Matthew Neave, is sent to pick up the corpse of a baby. Yet, on the way to the plague pit, he hears a cry - the baby is alive. A plague child himself, and now immune from the disease, Matthew decides to raise it as his own.
Fifteen years on, Matthew's son Tom is apprenticed to a printer in the City. Somebody is interested in him and is keen to turn him into a gentleman. He is even given an education. But Tom is unaware that he has a benefactor and soon he discovers that someone else is determined to kill him.
The civil war divides families, yet Tom is divided in himself. Devil or saint? Royalist or radicalist? He is at the bottom of the social ladder, yet soon finds himself within reach of a great estate - one which he must give up to be with the girl he loves.
Set against the fervent political climate of the period, 'Plague Child' is a remarkable story of discovery, identity and an England of the past.



Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes



Synopsis from Fantastic Fiction

Catherine has been enjoying the single life for long enough to know a good catch when she sees one. Gorgeous, charismatic, spontaneous - Lee seems almost too perfect to be true. And her friends clearly agree, as each in turn falls under his spell. But there is a darker side to Lee. His erratic, controlling and sometimes frightening behaviour means that Catherine is increasingly isolated. Driven into the darkest corner of her world, and trusting no one, she plans a meticulous escape. Four years later, struggling to overcome her demons, Catherine dares to believe she might be safe from harm. Until one phone call changes everything. This is an edgy and powerful first novel, utterly convincing in its portrayal of obsession, and a tour de force of suspense.



The Picture Book by Jo Baker



Synopsis from Fantastic Fiction

Set against the rolling backdrop of a century of British history from WWI to the 'War on Terror', this is a family portrait captured in snapshots. First there is William, the factory lad who loses his life in Gallipoli, then his son Billy, a champion cyclist who survives the D-Day Landings on a military bicycle, followed by his crippled son Will who becomes an Oxford academic in the 1960s, and finally his daughter Billie, an artist in contemporary London. Just as the names - William, Billy, Will, Billie - echo down through the family, so too the legacy of choices made, chances lost, and secrets kept. Rich in drama and sensuous in detail, The Blue Album is a beautifully crafted story about fathers and sons, about fate and repetition, and about the possibility of breaking free.









Sunday, 5 February 2012

My weekly reads

Th weather has been so cold this week that Jaffa and I haven't ventured very far from the comfort of our reading chair..

Here's what we read this week....




The Paris WifeThe Paris Wife by Paula McLain
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 2 paws

The story follows the relationship between the author Ernest Hemingway, and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. After a quick courtship, the couple sail for Europe, and settle in Paris amongst the glitterati of the literary world. In the cafe culture of 1920's Paris, they mingle with writer F Scott Fitzgerald, and his wife Zelda, but Hemingway is a troubled soul , and the marriage is over when his need for someone other than Hadley is revealed.

I have to be ruthless, and say that even though I have read some great reviews for this one, I really can't see what all the fuss was about, and to be honest was quite bored throughout. I ended up skipping chunks and gave up altogether before the end.


Maybe I'm just not a Hemingway fan...





VelvetVelvet by Mary Hooper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 3 paws

When we first meet Velvet she is working in the squalid surroundings of a Victorian laundry, and then when her work, and fine attention to detail brings her to the notice of practising medium, Madame Savoya, Velvet's life takes a completely new turn.
Abandoning her faithful friends, Velvet quickly becomes immersed in the mysterious and exciting world of the Victorian medium...but, all is not as it seems, and soon Velvet is forced to make some difficult decisions about her future.

Mary Hooper is one of those YA writers who has managed the enviable crossover into the adult market, I've enjoyed all her books to date...





The PoolsThe Pools by Bethan Roberts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 4paws

I read this book over the space of a couple of afternoons, and whilst it is a quick read, it is still  a powerful story.

Told through a sequence of narratives, The Pools follows the lives of Howard and Kathryn, both damaged individuals in their own way , with the consequence of this damage being followed into the next generation. Their son Robert, is fighting for his own independence, and the need to become his own person. At the same time, Joanna, a school friend of Robert's is struggling with her own thoughts, feelings, and burgeoning sexuality.

When fifteen year old Robert is found dead at a local landmark known as The Pools, the story told retrospectively by all the characters is spellbinding,full of menace, and when the ultimate betrayal happens, the consequences are far reaching, and heart breaking.






First LadyFirst Lady by Michael Dobbs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 3paws

A quick, and fascinating look into what may go on behind the political front door. Ginny Edge is certainly more avaricious than her hapless husband,who with great cunning she steers towards her ultimate dream of becoming the Prime Minister's wife.


There are no great revelations in the book,but it's an interesting enough read for a cold winter's afternoon.





Friday, 3 February 2012

Friday Recommends #3

Friday again, and it's time for my choice of book for Friday recommends...




This is an exciting book blog hop that book bloggers can take part in once a week to share with their followers, the books that they most recommend reading!

The rules for Friday Recommends are:

Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
Pick a book that you've read, and have enjoyed enough to recommend to other readers. It can be a book you've read recently, or a book you read years ago - it's up to you - but make sure you tell us why you love the book (like a mini review). You make the post as long or as short as you like.
Visit the other blogs and enjoy!


My choice this week is :


A Room Full of Bones (Ruth Galloway 4)

by 

Elly Griffiths




A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths




Quercus Publishing Plc (5 Jan 2012) 



In A Room Full of Bones we return to the salt-mashes of Norfolk, to a world where the bones of the ancients threaten the peace and tranquillity of the museum in which they are housed. When archaeologist Ruth Galloway arrives at the museum for the official opening of an old wooden coffin, she is totally unprepared to find the museum curator lying dead on the floor next to the coffin. What then follows is the story of how a deadly curse, attached to the ancient bones, threatens the peaceful existence of all who come into contact with the museum.


As with Elly Griffith's previous novels, A Room Full of Bones is beautifully written, with characters who are as familiar as old friends. The continuing story of Ruth and DCI Harry Nelson is one that will run and run, and yet the return of old favourites like Cathbad and Max, reiterates the clever continuity of this talented story teller, as she continues to take us on a fascinating journey.


If you haven't read any of this wonderful series then please start with The Crossing Places, and follow the story from the beginning, you won't be disappointed.  Elly Griffiths is a talented story teller, and I await the publication of her books with eager anticipation.






Happy Reading

Josie and Jaffa
xxx





Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Wishlist Wednesday #4

I am delighted to be part of wishlist Wednesday which is hosted by Dani at pen to paper




The idea is to post about one book each week that has been on your wishlist for some time, or maybe just added...


So what do you need to do to join in?
Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.
Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist.
Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of her post.
Put a link back to pen to paper (http://vogue-pentopaper.blogspot.com) somewhere in your post.
Visit the other blogs and enjoy!






My #4 Wishlist Wednesday book

is

Tom -All -Alone's 
aka The Solitary House

by

 Lynn Shepherd





Published by Constable & Robinson (Corsair)
Publication date:01/02/2012
Book title:Tom-all-alone's
Format:Hardback & e-book







London, 1850. Charles Maddox had been an up-and-coming officer for the Metropolitan police until a charge of insubordination abruptly ended his career. Now he works alone, struggling to eke out a living by tracking down criminals. Whenever he needs it, he has the help of his great-uncle Maddox, a legendary 'thief taker,' a detective as brilliant and intuitive as they come.

On Charles's latest case, he'll need all the assistance he can get.

To his shock, Charles has been approached by Edward Tulkinghorn, the shadowy and feared attorney, who offers him a handsome price to do some sleuthing for a client. Powerful financier Sir Julius Cremorne has been receiving threatening letters, and Tulkinghorn wants Charles to - discreetly - find and stop whoever is responsible.

But what starts as a simple, open-and-shut case swiftly escalates into something bigger and much darker. As he cascades toward a collision with an unspeakable truth, Charles can only be aided so far by Maddox. The old man shows signs of forgetfulness and anger, symptoms of an age-related ailment that has yet to be named.

Intricately plotted and intellectually ambitious, The Solitary House is an ingenious novel that does more than spin an enthralling tale: it plumbs the mysteries of the human mind.



As this is Charles Dickens' Bicentennial Year - I hope to be able to read Tom-All Alone's alongside Bleak House.

Tom All Alone's was the original working title of Charles Dickens' Bleak House, the author Lynn Shepherd has cleverly used this title as the basis for the UK publication of her book.


The Solitary House was also a working title for Bleak House, and will be the title of the North American Publication of Lynn's book.





Happy Reading.


Happy Birthday....

Today


is


  Jaffa's 5th Birthday



JAFFA