Wednesday 30 November 2011

Books in my Month...

It's the end of the month again so .....

Here are the books I have read and enjoyed this month...

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Fallen Angels by Tara Hyland
The Promise by Susan Sallis
Blood Brothers by Josephine Cox
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan
The Other Family by Joanna Trollope

My book of the month 

A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 5 paws

My Halloween Read 2011.

Research historian Diana Bishop is a witch from a long line of esteemed witches, and yet she refuses to use her skills. Whilst researching ancient documents in Oxford's Bodleian Library, she unwittingly unleashes the power of Ashmole782 an ancient alchemical manuscript. But once unleashed, the catalytic effect of this ancient document will turn Diana's well ordered life upside down.

Meticulously researched, Deborah Harkness has created a world within a world, which is believable and utterly compelling to read.

I loved it, and can't wait until book two is published in 2012.

Book Two is entitled Shadow of Night , due to be published in 2012.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

End of an era...

I'm a little bit sad today as it the end of an era, because the visits to my local area by the mobile library service have been stopped forever. It's all due, of course,  to local government spending cutbacks, but it's a real blow to our community, especially for those like me who enjoyed the convenience of having a decent library right  there on my doorstep.

Luckily,I have a new library to visit, it's just a couple of miles away, but that means a journey by car - still, I realise how lucky I am to have a library service at all - so I'm not complaining.

I'm just sad for a service lost.....

Here are some of my favourite books  borrowed from the mobile library this year ....

The Small Hand by Susan Hill
The House at Sea's End by Elle Griffiths
Started early, took my dog by Kate Atkinson
The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor
Darkside by Belinda Bauer
Belle by Lesley Pearse
The Gallows Curse by Karen Maitland
Florence and Giles by John Harding
The Absolutist by John Boyne
The Midwive's Confession by Diane Chamberlain
Fallen by Karin Slaughter
Before I go to Sleep by S J Watson
Now you See Me by S J Watson
The Dressmaker by Posie Graeme-Evans
The Haunting by Alan Titchmarsh
Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

And way back in 1991.... I was the first person to borrow a new book which was a little known historical / time travel novel by an unknown American author called Diana Gabaldon. That book was Cross Stitch or Outlander which has since become one of my all time favourite reads - and it's the only book EVER, that once finished I turned immediately to the beginning and started it again. I renewed it several times before reluctantly handing it back to the library !!

Monday 28 November 2011

The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon...

I eagerly await a new Diana Gabaldon book with a longing something akin to the birth of a child - there is so much waiting and anticipation.....

........ and then finally the big day draws nigh...

And then here it is....

and it's beautiful 

From the book

"London 1760, and Lord John Grey- aristocrat, soldier and some time spy- finds himself in possession of a packet of papers that might as well have come equipped with a fuse, so explosive are their contents....

One of the documents is written in Erse, the language spoken by Irishmen and Scottish Highlanders, and a language Lord John became all too familiar with as governor of Ardsmuir Prison when it was full of Jacobite prisoners.

Including a certain Jamie Fraser...."

Doing a happy dance

My Review

For Jamie Fraser devotees, The Scottish Prisoner is like a gift from the gods. Not only does the exiled Scot play a significant role in this latest Lord John adventure, but he also appears to be largely in control of the action. For those familiar with the Outlander story, Jamie is from necessity, sojourned at his Majesty’s pleasure in the wilds of the English Lake District, where as part of his parole after Culloden, Jamie must eke out his days as a groom on Lord Dunsany’s estate at Helswater. When Lord John Grey and his brother, Harold, Duke of Pardloe acquire a secret and highly dangerous document, they need help to translate its Irish Gaelic contents in order to resolve a potentially volatile situation. 

Jamie Fraser, enigmatic Scotsman, traitor to the crown, is the one man Lord John knows who can be trusted to decipher the Irish Gaelic contents of the documents. Removed from the protective safety of Helwater, Jamie is at first a reluctant conscript, and yet once drawn into the mystery surrounding the documents, we quickly see a return of the Jamie Fraser of the early Outlander novels, where the bold and fearless warrior, with his heart of gold, and arteries of steel is back in the midst of the action.

Diana Gabaldon’s skill as a writer turns this adventure story into a series of violent escapades, from sword fights and treachery, to pistols at dawn, but throughout the narrative, she blends quite seamlessly the story of two very different men, forced together by circumstances, and whose shared history creates more questions than it does answers. 

For me this book worked on several levels. As a continuation of the Lord John books, the story was a well thought out adventure, both fast and furious in equal measure, and a commendable continuation of the Lord John catalogue. On the other hand, as a fully paid up member of the Jamie Fraser appreciation society, this book allowed a rare glimpse into Jamie’s hidden time at Helswater, where the loss of his beloved wife Claire runs like a silken thread throughout the narrative,and as ever his love and need of her is palpable and painful. His constant prayer that she and their child be safe, is heart breaking and utterly believable. On a lighter note, his burgeoning relationship with his son William is a joyful glimpse into Jamie’s role as protector, teacher and fatherly mentor.

At the end of the novel when Jamie returns to Helwater, I felt a sense of loss that his adventuring was over, and yet, inordinately grateful that once again due to the skill of this talented author,I had been allowed a rare glimpse into the life of this charismatic Scottish prisoner.


Sunday 27 November 2011

Liebster Blog Award

Jaffa and I are delighted to receive the Liebster Blog Award from our good friend Anne at Random things through my letterbox. Ann is one of my readitswapit friends, and the size of my wishlist and to be read shelf is mainly due to Anne's excellent book reviews. She always knows instinctively the type of book I simply can't resist !

Here's what you do if you are given the Liebster award

  1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you
  2. Reveal your top Five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog
  3. Copy and past the award onto your blog
  4. Hope that the people you have awarded it to forward it to their five favourite bloggers to keep it going.

Here are mine and Jaffa's 5 favourite picks : lovely Lindsay can be found here - lovely beadyjan can be found here -lovely dizzyc can be found here lovely jenny and hades can be found here the lovely macs can be found here

These friends keep my wishlist stocked up, because their wonderful book reviews always leaves me wanting more !!

Thursday 24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving...

A Very Happy Thanksgiving to all my lovely friends who are celebrating today with their family and friends.

Small cheer and great welcome
makes a merry feast

William Shakespeare

Sunday 20 November 2011

A week's gone by...

Time has simply flown by this week - but I have put my time to good use and have read some fascinating books ..

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 5paws - he is always happy when there is a cat somewhere in the story !

Remembrance read

Set on the island of Guernsey and during the German occupation of the island. This book tells the story of Vivienne de la Mare's illicit relationship with German officer Gunther.

It's the story of a strong woman and her determination to survive, and protect her family during difficult times.I thought that the book was well written with interesting characterisation and is beautifully descriptive of island life.

Enjoyed it.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 5paws - he loved Joey too.

Remembrance read

Primarily Warhorse is a book for young adults, however, this is one of those stories that can cross the great divide, as it slips into an adult read quite seamlessly.

Joey doesn't get off to the best of starts when he taken away from his young master and forced to serve as a war horse during the worst battles of WW1.

During WW1 the life of an infantry horse was fraught with danger, Michael Morpurgo conveys this story in beautiful writing, which conjures the horror, depredation, and sheer waste of life, in such a strong and meaningful way.

This story was especially poignant as one of our family spent time in Northern France during WW1, and worked with horses in much the same way as those who looked after Joey.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 5paws - he loves music and babies !

Max and Zoe Baxter have problems with infertility, and when one miscarriage too many spells the end of their marriage, Zoe takes refuge in her work as a music therapist. This means that she works with fragile and vulnerable people, but, it is her growing attraction to school counsellor Vanessa which complicates things - and Zoe's life is about to spiral out of control.

This is a difficult book to review as to do it justice would mean including spoilers, but it is safe to say that JP is a master story teller - she keeps you turning the pages long after you should really be off doing something else....

This is one of her best books to date - and believe me they're all darn good !

Saturday 12 November 2011

Presents Galore..

My coffee table overflows with gifts and cards from all my lovely family and friends

Thank you for making my birthday
a special day

Friday 11 November 2011




In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved and were loved and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch;be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with those who die
We shall not sleep. though poppies grow
in Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915

Inspiration for Flanders Fields

During the second battle of Ypres, a young Canadian, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed on the 2 May 1915. He was serving in the same military command as his friend Major John McCrea. As the brigade doctor, McCrae was asked to conduct the funeral service for Helmer. It is believed that this poem was composed after the burial had taken place.

Armistice Day commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I, and Germany, at Compiegne, in France. in 1918
The cessation of hostilities ended on the Western Front at the "eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month.

In Our Family - We Remember

Private John Hopkins
The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Died 24 January 1919

Driver Frederick Arkwright
Royal Army Service Corps
Died 1 February 1945
Buried Schoonselhof Cemetery, Belgium

Thursday 10 November 2011

Remembrance Reads...

Around this time of year I like to read books which have a war theme - they don't need to be literary heavy weights, but they do need to remind me that war stories ,whilst entertaining to read, serve as a timely reminder that we currently have young men and women facing danger on the front line.

We owe our armed forces an immense debt of gratitude.

Here are the books I hope to read during this remembrance time..

War Horse (War Horse, #1)

The Collaborator (MIRA)

The Return of Captain John Emmett

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Author Interview with Joanna Price.....

It is with great pleasure that I introduce the author Joanna Price

Joanna Price

Photo with kind permission of Joanna Price

She has kindly taken the time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her debut book

A Means of Escape 

is published by Aston Bay  Press

1 November 2011

What inspired you to become an author?

I think it was who rather than what. I fell in love with Agatha Christie books when I was about 13. I bought my first one from a second hand bookshop down the road from my Granny’s house. It was the ABC murders and I remember finishing it and thinking ‘wow’. It was so simple and yet so clever. It was the first time I’d been introduced to the concept of a serial killer or a story that had a twist. That was when I first decided I wanted to be a writer.

Are you a disciplined author, and where do you write?

Yes but only because I haven't got much choice. I work and I've got kids so I don't have a lot of time left over to write. I mainly write in the evenings and sometimes I get up before everyone else and manage to squeeze an hour in.

What gave you the inspiration for your latest novel A Means of Escape?

I knew I wanted to write crime fiction and that I wanted to set the book in Glastonbury. The actual idea for the plot came out of a chance conversation with a friend. I won't say anymore because I don't want to give anything away!

What comes first, the people or the plot?

The people. Kate Linton, the protagonist, was very clear in my mind before I even started writing. I felt like I already knew her but more in terms about how she made me feel rather than her characteristics. The way she looked came much later and even now that's still quite fuzzy. I don't describe the way she looks very much in the novel so that the reader can build up their own picture of her in their minds eye.

Do you find that writing come easily to you?

Sometimes - but sometimes it's a real struggle. I can feel the story and hear it in my head but it's much harder to get it down on paper. I suppose it's the same as anything we do whether it's work or sport or socialising. Some days we're on fire and other days we might as well not bother

Do you write books for yourself, or other people?

Both. I write books that I enjoy and that I know my friends would like. I want to them be entertained rather than impressed.

Who are your favourite authors?

I still love Agatha Christie! I also like Ruth Rendell, Minette Walters and PD James. In fact I'll read any crime fiction. I love it for the obvious reasons - the challenge of trying to solve the mystery, trying to guess who ‘dunnit’ and why, but I also find also it oddly comforting. There’s reassurance in its formulaic nature, the way that good generally overcomes bad; the satisfactory conclusion we don’t always get in real life. It’s the literary equivalent of a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea. I also love Jane Austen. Again, it's about the way her books make me feel. It's not just her writing but I find it it comforting to read about a bygone time.

What is your favourite classic novel?

That's difficult because I've got 2 favourites. A Room with a View and Pride and Prejudice. Probably A Room with a View. I think I've read it about 10 times. It's the book I turn to when I'm ill or feeling a bit low. Again, I find it oddly comforting.

What are you reading at the moment?

PD James 'Death Comes to Pemberly'. It's PD James sequel to Pride and Prejudice and it's what you get when you cross a Jane Austen novel with a crime thriller. Fabulous!

A huge THANK YOU to Joanna for giving such detailed answers - Jaffa and I are delighted that you could visit our blog, and we wish you every success in your writing career. 

This is my Review of A Means of Escape ....
My rating : 4 of 5 stars

On a cold November morning a woman’s body is discovered on Glastonbury Tor. Detective Inspector Rob Brown and his colleague Detective Sergeant Kate Linton head the murder investigation. When a second woman is abducted in Glastonbury, there are real fears that the killer may have struck again, the only problem is that the mystical community around Glastonbury creates more questions than answers.

This is an accomplished debut novel, with good character analysis, and a well driven and gutsy plot. There is enough information about the investigative process without it being too cumbersome, and some genuinely funny moments which help to lighten the mood. I especially warmed to both lead characters – the details of Linton and Brown’s separate personal lives adds a nice dimension to what could develop into a strong partnership. The added frisson of a “will they, won’t they” atmosphere to their relationship, makes the book all the more enjoyable to read.

It is refreshing to have another British female crime writer on the scene, and I am pleased to discover that this is the first book in a proposed series featuring Kate Linton. I am sure that the series will gain in strength and popularity, and I look forward to spending more time in the company of this gutsy and intelligent detective sergeant.

Friday 4 November 2011

A Lovely Autumnal Day...

This is the view I had on my walk today -  the Autumn colours are so lovely, and the swan enjoyed his bread and came back for more !!