The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin

 

Synopsis:

When Caitlin left London for New York, she thought she’d left her problems behind: her alcoholic father, her dead mother, the unrelenting pressure to succeed.  But now, down to her last dollar in a strange city, she is desperately lonely.

Then she finds Jake. Handsome, smart, slightly damaged Jake. And he wants her to meet his family.

He takes her to a lake house in the middle of the woods – in the middle of nowhere.  The community there live off-grid.  They believe in regular exercise and group therapy.   And they’re friendly.  Really friendly.

Turns out they’re not Jake’s real family – but isn’t family exactly what she’s running from.

But as the days drift by, Caitlin starts to feel uneasy. Now that she’s no longer running, does she risk getting lost forever.

 

Review:

This is Emma Dibdin’s first novel which is a physiological thriller and it doesn’t disappoint.

Caitlin is the main character where she describes everything in great detail from the scenery to how she is feeling so you feel connected to her throughout the story. She comes across as someone who is confused in life and very panicky that she is going to turn out like her mother, where the Lake House makes it worse.

With the character of Jake, the man she meets, he comes over very secretive and you just wish he would open up a bit more. The rest of the characters at the Lake House are also very secretive but it all becomes clear at the end why they are like this. You just want to know more about them!!

The story is just at the right pace and the plot is centred around the Lake House which all seems normal but is it? Feel the characters needed to be a bit more in-depth but apart from that a good read.  A dark and twisted plot where you need to find out what happens.

 

Thank you to Iona Karen Waterman for her guest review today.

Michelangelo’s Son by Peter Cane

IMG_1739

📖📖📖📖

Synopsis

Aly, son of Michelangelo and a moorish slave, and part of a family who include some of the most revered artists of the Renaissance.  Learning from the masters, Aly follows in his father’s footsteps and learns not only how to paint but  also how to hide messages in his paintings.  Aly’s life takes him around the world, from the America’s, to the Far East and from the Renaissance court’s of Spain and Portugal to England and Scotland.  He finds himself involved in political power play, war, intrigue and even murder.  As Aly tells his story he writes of an alternative to the Renaissance history that we know.

 

Review

By now my regular readers will know of my great love for historical fiction and the history of art, so I was very excited to read Michelangelo’s Son, which combines the two.   The plot is mainly narrated by Aly, who at the end of his life decides to write down all that has happened to him, and in the process tell of secrets and lies that he has kept for years.  The book starts at the very end of the fifteenth century and finishes late in the sixteenth century a period of that takes in the many wars,  political machinations, religious reformation and exploration of the new world.

Aly is noted in history as the son of Michelangelo, and while it is conceivable that Michelangelo did have a son, as there is not that much information on him.  Peter Cane uses Aly’s story to give an alternative history of this period, that will make you challenge all that you thought you knew.  The plot its self is multi layered, first of all it is Aly’s story, from his beginnings as a slave, to his being depicted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, his involvement in many of the political intrigues of the period, and even his skill as an assassin.  Then there is one of my favourite plots of this book, the many aliases used by the main protagonists as they traveled the world in the fifteenth century, mainly those of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and the double lives of others.  I will admit that at first I wasn’t convinced with all of this, and did consider giving up on the book.  I am so glad I didn’t, I emailed Peter Cane who sent me all the evidence he had collected over the years, family trees, paintings etc, and I have also looked at his blog, that has much of the information and research on it (I will give details of this at the end of my review).

This feels like a work of passion for Peter Cane, there is a lot of historical detail in this book, and obviously a lot of research.  It is well written and Peter does remind you throughout the book who the characters and their aliases are so you don’t have to remember them all.  This is a big book, at eight hundred pages, and is not a book you can speed read; you need the time to take it all in and enjoy it, like a good whisky, to get the most out of this book.  It is a wonderful and interesting read, perfect for those who like a big slice go historical fiction, mixed with fact.

Below I have an email sent to me about Michelangelo’s Son from Peter Cane that explains how and why he came to write this book.  This is a fascinating email so please take the time to read it and learn more about this amazing author who has put so much into this book.  I am also putting the link to Peter Cane’s WordPress sight where you can read more about the different subjects raised in this book.

 

To find out more please see Peter’s blog https://petermerlincane.wordpress.com

 

This is the reply I received when I asked Peter about how he came to write this book, it is a very interesting read.

What gave me the idea?

Well, first thing you need to know is that I’m 73, and have long been fascinated by communication, and the hidden things that influence and control it. My first love in this regard was linguistics, and the ways in which the very structure of language directs what we perceive and express ourselves, not just vocabulary, but the very syntax by which it is turned into a facsimile of the ‘real’ world. (I was a huge fan of the Sapir-Whorf theory, alas though, when it was totally out of fashion). Then one evening in the early 90s I watched a short documentary by a professor called Manfred Clynes, who had discovered characteristic structures in both sound and touch that conveyed basic senses of joy, sadness, tranquility, fear, etc. (He was both a professor of neurobiology, and a concert pianist, and this combination proved enormously fertile). If you can imagine saying the word ‘Oh’ imbued with different emotions, again joy, sadness, awe, surprise, and then compare the prosody of the sound in each case – each one conveys its distinctive emotion even if you change the ‘Oh’ to ‘Wow’, or indeed any other word. And when he got people to press against a pad to express this emotion, the length of the gesture, its intensity, its profile, its surge and dying away were identical. He had found the characteristic wave patterns of communicating emotion. It was so profound in its implications, I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

At the time I worked in the field of popular art, and I had gone to great lengths to try to figure out why some forms of art (and indeed even kitsch) moved people, and others, even when superbly painted, did not. It occurred to me that if these wave patterns appeared in the senses of both hearing and touch, then they were likely universals, and should appear in vision also, and I was determined to discover them if they were there. The first one popped out at me almost immediately. It was the cusp: the shape of a rose thorn, of a fang, a shark’s fin, a talon, and elongated even the horns of a buffalo. One glance and we instinctively withdraw from contact. The sharp tip inspires fear of being pierced, the curve, of being pierced and then retained by a predator, or ripped. It’s a primordial shape, and I immediately realised how artists had used it throughout history. In particular, in cartoons. Take a creature with soft round eyes, and replace the curves with a pointed cusp, its eyebrows too, its nose, its ears and you don’t even have to bother about its teeth or claws – it looks evil and cruel. Build that cusp into the shape of its cloak, and you have a vampire, or wings – a bat. Into its hat, a wicked wizard or witch. Its shoes… It was universal, and it worked cross-culturally too. Everyone reacted the same… we might withdraw in distaste, young boys might challenge it to show how brave they were, but everyone recognised that the invented being was dangerous.

It’s complementary shape was easy, too. Anything rounded. If it’s rounded it can’t pierce us. It’s symbolic of everything we want instinctively to reach out and touch, fondle. Unwelcome touching was a problem for well rounded parts of one’s anatomy, and for grocers, who had to put up signs saying ‘don’t touch me until I’m yours’ on their peaches, and other soft fruit. And the shape was directly analogous to Manfred Clynes’ audio and tactile ‘shape’ for ‘love’. And then, having picked up two ‘sentic’ forms using in communicating appropriate emotion, the floodgates opened, and I found a wealth more. Big, tall things denoted power. Little things tended to turn on parental instincts. Things that are attenuated, long and strong in one direction, and slender in another aroused fascination, one pause, looked in awe at the grace of a cheetah, a racehorse, a saluki dog, and arrow, a flowering grass, a ballerina. Things that were chunky did not inspire the same awe. They could be treated roughly and wouldn’t break. Pigs, bulldogs, Miss Piggy even… After a few years I started lecturing on this new subject – bioaesthetics – at an institute in London, giving occasional seminars on ‘sensory triggers’, and their use in art and marketing. I built a huge website of about 2000 pages displaying what I had found, and eagerly added to it each day as examples accumulated.

That was when it happened.

I was looking for ‘tension’ triggers. Those simple visual forms that make you stop in your tracks, freeze, hold your breath, and stand open mouthed watching, waiting for something – we know not what – to happen. I knew that tense curves were used in car profiles and panels, and had some good photos to show people. I had heard that Michelangelo used tense spirals in his sculptures, and that the sense of frozen movement would mesmerise those who looked at them – so I wanted examples, and Googled what I thought were appropriate words. Alas, my choice was inept, and all I got were endless pictures of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, and the creation of Adam. After some hours fruitless effort in finding that perfect exemplary sculpture, it struck me WHY all I could find was God reaching out to touch Adam’s finger. This was a tension trigger. And it was so powerful that it not only made this feature the central point in the whole vast ceiling, but it hypnotised people to the extent that it was almost all that I could find. So – having found gold, I selected the highest resolution image of the pregnant gap between the two fingers that I could find, and set to work colour correcting it, and improving the contrast to put it on my site. The only thing was, I could see misty, evanescent forms between the two fingers. Initially I ignored it, because I assumed it was the result of centuries of wear and tear, but then it struck me (camouflage having been one aspect of the directing of human attention that I had studied), that what I was seeing was – perhaps – not the result of accident and misfortune, but intentional but hidden.

And so I darkened the light areas, and intensified the contrast, dramatically so. Before the age of Photoshop it would have been impossible, but I knew how to break camouflage digitally, and if there was something there, I was determined to find it. Letters emerged, and then a word. The word was ‘CHIAVE’, which in English means ‘key’. That was the goosebumps moment. Michelangelo had written the word ‘key ‘ in the most salient spot of the most dramatic feature on the entire ceiling. I started reading about hidden features in Michelangelo’s art, and immediately came across an article that related the ubiquitous presence of acorns on the Pope’s ceiling to the name of the then Pope, and Michelangelo’s patron – Giuliano della Rovere, ‘della Rovere’ meaning ‘of the oak’. The article pointed out that in Tuscan dialect, the same word was used for acorn as for the end of the male appendage, and that this Pope was notorious for his fascination for youths and young men. When I looked again at the sacks of acorns and the analogous parts of the naked youths on the ceiling, they bore more than a fortuitous resemblance to one another. Michelangelo was having a go at the Pope, who it is well know, he hated. I went back to the lettering, and found all around the fresco of the Creation of Adam the word ‘vendetta’. It cascaded in a cloud from the two legendary fingers, and paraded across empty spaces in profusion. I found words flowing from Adam’s mouth, accusing the Pope of being scandalous ‘papa birba’, and found also that the cloud of dust beneath the two hands contained the word ‘arsenico’. I looked to see when Pope Julius had died, and found it was just shortly after Michelangelo had finished the ceiling, and days after he had gotten a signature from His Holiness for a further commission. It seemed quite possible that his death was no accident, and that it involved something that had happened to Adam.

I was hooked. And then I found two things. The profile of an African lad up in the shadows over God’s shoulder, and the words ‘Aly, te amo’. I had to know two things. Was this extraordinary hiding of material something of Michelangelo’s invention, or was it something he had learned from Ghirlandaio. I looked at his earliest work, and there it was again, well developed. The Torment of St Anthony was not really about St Anthony. It was an allegory. I looked at Ghirlandaio’s work, and found he did it too. Who did he learn from? I traced back the techniques generation by generation, back to the very start of the Renaissance, and before. All the way to Rome, indeed all the way back to the frescos in the Palace of Knossos. It was a human universal, in times of tyranny. I had found Michelangelo’s name in his work, and found the names of other artists too. Most paintings were signed, and carried – it seemed an entire genealogy of who the father was, written below the eye of the person (in a portrait), and along the chin the name of the mother. Occasionally I found more than one name. On Jan van Eyck’s paintings, I found, to my consternation, the word ‘Masolino’. And then on another part of the Pope’s Ceiling, I found the two words together also. Could it be? They are both credited with originating oil painting. I drew up timelines for them both, and they dovetailed. They didn’t conflict, they dovetailed. One could not find the two people at the same time in different parts of Europe. And then I slowly unveiled the true meaning of the Arnolfini Wedding… The new story made sense in a way the old one simply did not. Arnolfini was the name Jan used when working as a merchant. Masolino when he was in Italy. ‘Arnolfini’ in the painting was the Duke of Burgundy, and his wife was the Infanta of Portugal, and she was pregnant with Charles the Bold. Oh, but that was not the half of it. Across the wall was splattered the words ‘Als ik xan, Costanza’. And on the bed spread two stains that spelled out ‘Vend’ and ‘etta’. Across the lady’s belly it said that Charles the Bold was a bastard, and that he, Jan was the father. The brush on the wall said it had brushed clean the throne of Burgundy (the wooden chair) from the Valois, and that revenge – for Costanza’s rape by the Duke of Burgundy a decade before, had been served.

And so on, over five years and several thousand paintings, the story developed, family trees were revealed and drawn, and the story you find in the book revealed.

But one thing lingered with me all along. That there was hidden material in the paintings was beyond doubt, but did it say what I thought it said? The new emergent story told of a very different Renaissance, and it was a story that explained many inexplicable features of conventional history. There were occasions, such as when I combined two studies of the Mona Lisa that I had done years apart, having discovered a portrait of Leonardo hidden to the far right in one, and lettering spelling out the date of the painting and where it was painted in roughly the same area. When I combined the two files, fed up with never knowing in which one was the text I remembered seeing, I was astonished to find the text now came directly from Leonardo’s mouth. These sorts of things gave it credibility, much as one seeks credibility in deciphering any camouflage – in warfare, weapons are camouflaged, and fake ones set up to draw the fire. Fail to bomb the real weapons, and they will take you out. Bomb the fake ones and you use up your ammunition and won’t have it to defend yourself when the attack comes from somewhere else. Life and death decisions have to be made with inadequate and confusing data. Indeed, in communications theory, there are two epic problems recorded: the ‘type one error’, and the ‘type two error’. One is to see something that is not there – seeing a face in the clouds, pareidolia. The other is to NOT see something that IS there. The first error leaves one open to ridicule, the second to death. So – was what I was seeing truer than what I found in the history books? My research showed that Masaccio changed his name in 1428, and pursued a ecclesiastical and political career thereafter, plus some wonderful bas-relief sculpting. I seemed to have portraits of the same person under different names, too. What was the basis for the historical claim of 1428? Well, there is a Florentine tax record that has written in the margin by his name ‘it is said he died in Rome’. Now, being 73, I have a certain experience of tax records, and I would not expect medieval Florentine ones to be any more reliable. That was the only base for the ‘truth’ of his death in 1428. Similarly for Hieronymus Bosch, Leonardo, and even Amerigo Vespucci and Christopher Columbus…

So, as I wrote, I came to realise that I was not so much propagating a new vision of history, as talking about the inherent duplicity of truth, and how we all manage to live in a world of endless uncertainty, a counterfeit world of words. This really became the main theme of Aly, Michelangelo’s Son.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extract from We Have Lost The Chihuahuas by Paul Mathews

WHLTChihuahuas_cover_small (2)

 

As part of the blog tour for We Have Lost The Chihuahuas by Paul Matthews I have an extract to wet your appetite.

Extract

Howie did his best to sound sympathetic, without allowing his voice to give the slightest hint that he would be offering practical assistance any time soon. ‘It’s a tough job, I know. But someone’s got to do it.’
They continued on and out of the park in silence. As they approached the palace, Conor spoke again.
‘Can I ask you a question in complete confidence, sir?’
‘Of course you can.’
‘What would happen if these dogs ever escaped from my custody? I wouldn’t lose my job or anything like that, would I? I mean, I’m just doing it as a favour. It isn’t part of my job description or anything like that.’
Howie thought about it for a short while. ‘In theory, no.’
Conor sighed with relief. ‘That’s good to know. Just in case, you know, it where ever to happen in the distant, middling or very near future. Heaven forbid.’
‘But, in practice, you’d never work in Whitehall again – not if you’ve got a reputation for losing the First Lady’s Chihuahuas. It would be like losing the queen’s corgis before the revolution – you’d probably end up being thrown in the Tower of London.’
‘But the First Lady isn’t royalty, is she, sir?’
‘No. But she thinks she is. And there’s no royalty around to argue with her, is there?’
That revelation killed the conversation until they were nearly at the gates of Buckingham Palace.
Conor stopped. ‘I forgot to tell you, sir. I have a physio appointment this afternoon for my left hand. Donnie sank his teeth into it four weeks ago and it still tingles when I wiggle my fingers. Mrs O’Brean insisted that I get it looked at – mainly because I’ve been using it as an excuse all month not to do any household chores.’
Howie frowned. ‘You didn’t mention anything to me about going to physio.’
‘Didn’t I?’ mumbled Conor. ‘I was sure I did.’
‘And I’m sure you didn’t.’
‘We’ll have to agree to disagree on this particular moment in British history, sir. That’s the intrinsic problem with history. It’s always written from an intrinsically subjective point of —’
‘Okay, okay,’ interrupted Howie. ‘I don’t need to hear your intrinsic-problem-with-history theory again. I intrinsically know you never told me. And you intrinsically know you never did. So, let’s intrinsically stop arguing about it.’
Conor bowed his head. ‘I really do need to get intrinsically going, sir.’
‘Okay,’ groaned Howie. ‘You can go.’
Conor shoved all three dog leads towards him. ‘Then I’ll leave this trio of wonderful creatures in your intrinsically capable hands, sir, and be on my way.’
Howie’s face bore the expression of a man who wasn’t refusing to do something, but would much rather the person proposing it forget their physical pain for a few more minutes and finish the job themselves.
Conor seemed to sense Howie’s reticence, so he quickly added, ‘Traffic is awful this time of day. I’ve got to be at my Hammersmith physio by three o’clock.’
Howie reluctantly took the dogs’ leads. ‘Alright. I’ll return the princes and princess to Her Majesty.’
‘Thank you, sir. And thanks for accompanying me to the park in your lunch break.’
Howie grimaced. ‘Don’t mention it.’
Conor hurried away towards Green Park Metro station.
All three dogs eyeballed Howie. Ronnie and Connie’s expressions were relatively serene. But Donnie had a devilish glint in his eye. Howie accelerated towards the palace gates – all the time keeping a close eye on Donnie and an even closer eye on his ankles.

 

WHLTC Banner

An Interview with Cassandra O Leary to celebrate the release of Heart Note

 

HeartNote_FinalCover

As part of the blog tour for Heart Note, I have an interview with Cassandra O Leary about her writing and the journey to becoming a writer and of course Christmas in Australia.

Starting writing

I’ve always been a creative person. Back in my school days, I was interested in art and drama. I read lots of books and enjoyed writing, but I never seriously considered a career as a writer. In the last few years, I’ve thought about the reasons why. Where I went to school, in the outer suburbs, a lower socio-economic area of Melbourne, Australia, it wasn’t the done thing.
There wasn’t much encouragement to work in the creative arts. I didn’t know of anyone with that kind of job. My dad worked in finance, my mum was a homemaker (also a volunteer and later, a swimming teacher and admin person). Other kids’ parents were mechanics, cooks, accountants, government workers, plumbers and builders, plus the odd school teacher.
As I got older, I decided I’d do something creative anyway. I pursued art and design. When I went to university, first studying Interior Design, I enjoyed all the art history, research and writing subjects more than the actual designing. So I switched to a Communications degree.
I still didn’t have the courage to go out into left field and just do something as ephemeral as creative writing. I needed money as a broke student so I worked in retail (yes, on the perfume counter of a department store, like the heroine in Heart Note) and I aimed to become a PR person.

PR and marketing to writer…

For many years I worked in PR and marketing jobs and I finally realised it was boring. Ha! It took me a while to work it out. I liked the money and the challenges of fast-moving projects. But translating other people’s thoughts into plain English, writing website content or explaining IT systems or higher education fees wasn’t rocking my world.
I suddenly started creative writing again at age 38. I’d always had an idea in the back of my mind that I’d write a novel. Once I started, I didn’t want to stop. It’s been almost 5 years since I put my hands back on the keyboard. A story idea in my head had to come out, the characters were talking to me. I loved putting words on the page.
I wrote a book!
I was a writer. Who knew?
No-one was as shocked as me. But to have an actual manuscript to my name was quite amazing. I also set myself the task of learning all about publishing and editing, plus social media marketing. I submitted a novel or two. And I wrote.
When my debut novel, Girl on a Plane, was published in 2016, it was like being a kid again on Christmas morning.

Christmas in Australia

Speaking of Christmas, I promised to write a little about Christmas in Australia, since that’s the setting for Heart Note. As an Aussie kid, I was inundated with media and movies from overseas and I longed for a white Christmas and snow. I still love Christmas movies but I reckon we need some Aussie ones.
Christmas to me is synonymous with summer. Scorching hot days without air-conditioning, sun so hot it felt like an oven with an open door as soon as you stepped outside, and summer holidays spent at the beach. This was fun until you got sunburnt!
Christmas lunches at our house involved quite a few extended family members. Prawns, lobster and cold meats like ham were on the menu. We had a live pine tree in a pot which we brought inside and decorated each year. We also went to Catholic Mass, which I suffered through rather than enjoyed. So many Amens and hymns to get through before presents!
These days, my husband and I have two little boys and we love having a big barbeque and party at our house on Christmas Eve. Lots of old friends and family come over and the kids run riot, bouncing on the trampoline and spraying each other with water pistols. And we eat, drink and be merry, which is what I reckon it’s all about.

 

Pop over to my fellow bloggers pages to learn more about Heart Note and Cassandra O Leary.

Heart Note Full Banner

 

 

My Top Ten Romantic Fiction Authors

 

This is the fourth in my top ten favourite authors feature.  I don’t like the term ‘chick lit’ in relation to women’s romantic fiction, it is derogatory  both to the author and the reader.  ‘Bonkbuster’ is another term I don’t like, so I have used the words romantic fiction for this list of my favourite authors.

As with my previous top tens, this is my personal list, of authors I have read and liked.  I am sure many of you will have different opinions and I hope that you will share those with me.

 

Carole Matthews

I first came across Carole Matthews when looking for a Christmas book to read.  I chose Wrapped Up in You and fell in love with characters, especially with the Kenyan Maasai Warrior `Dominic; I know, a Maasai Warrior in a Christmas book, I didn’t see that coming.  From that year on I have bought one her festive reads every year, except last year when she didn’t release one.  My favourite books by Carole Matthews are ‘The Chocolate Lovers’ series of four books, which follows the lives of four friends who meet regularly in a cafe called Chocolate Heaven.  The characters are full of warmth, but all have their problems and by the end they feel like life long friends; and yes there is even A Chocolate  Lovers Christmas.

 

Jenny Colgan

I have read fair few of Jenny Colgan’s novels and my first were the sweet sounding ‘Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams’ and ‘Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe’.  With titles like this you know you are in for a great read.  I love the characters in Jenny Colgan books, they are people you can identify with, and their problems are ones we all face through our lives.  One of my favourites is The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, which affirms how precious life is and about the decisions we make coming back to haunt us; and of course Paris and chocolate, a wonderful combination.  Jenny’s books will leave you warm, fuzzy and feeling good, which we all need in our lives.

 

Louise Bagshaw / Mensch

Louise has written under her maiden name Bagshaw and married name Mensch.  Her books always have a great story line, a touch of glamour, fascinating characters and are pure escapism.  My mum introduced me to Louise Mensch when she gave me Sparkles about a family in the diamond industry.  I loved the characters and got lost in the cut throat world of selling diamonds.  I have also read Glitz about  three heiress nieces who stand to loose their inheritance when their uncle remarries, and more recently Beauty about a woman, who has made it in the beauty business only to find someone from her past is trying to take it all away.  These are easy reads, that you can get lost in; perfect holiday reads.

 

 

Lindsey Kelk

Lindsey Kelk is the author of the I Heart..series of books which follow the story of Angela Clarke, who finds out her long term boyfriend is having an affair, whilst at her best friends wedding.  Angela flees to New York with just her Louboutin shoes and a change of clothes and begins a whole new journey.  These books are so much fun, and you really get behind Angela, wanting her to do well.  There is lots of humour as Angela and her side kick Jenny get into many scrapes, and also romance.  Lindsey has just released the seven in the series I Heart Forever which is a Christmas themed book and is sitting on my shelf waiting to be read in December.  The series in order are; I Heart New York, I Heart Hollywood, I Heart Paris, I Heart Vegas, I Heart London, I Heart Christmas and I Heart Forever.

 

Marianne Keyes

Mariane Keyes has to one of the top authors in this genre. I admit that about ten years ago I was a bit of a book snob and wouldn’t read anything that came under the “chick-lit” banner.  But when I had to give up work due to my spondylosis I read even more than usual, and on my kindle I had Anybody Out There and I loved it and from that moment on  I was no longer a book snob.  I have since read many of Marian’s books, all of which I have thoroughly enjoyed.  I love her characters, and her plots than can make you laugh and cry within a matter of moments, I am so glad I read that first book.

 

 

Cecilia Ahern

After falling in love with Marian Keyes I decided to try one of Celia Ahern’s novels Thanks for the Memories.  This was a wonderful heart warming read about a woman, who after a terrible accident has episodes of Deja vu that she shouldn’t be having as they are of things and places she has never done or been.  Again, her books are full of humour and emotion that really engage and captivate you.  Since then I have read, The Book of Tomorrow and probably her most famous novel, the wonderful P S I Love you, that has since been made into a film.

 

Tasmina Perry

Tasmina Perry started writing what I would term as the ‘Bonkbuster’ style of book.  Her books Gold Diggers, Daddy’s Girls, Guilty Pleasures, etc, are all full of rich glamorous women, charming and handsome men, set in glamorous locations and are sassy, sexy and a scintillating read.  I have read and loved every one, they are pure escapism.  More recently Tasmina has written more in the romance genre, and her latest The Pool House due for release in 2018, moves into the psychological thriller genre; she is a lady of many talents.  Most recently I have read The Last Kiss Goodbye and The Proposal  which have the dual plot line of past and present that ultimately come together by the end of the book.  They are full of secrets, lies, mystery, still glamorous locations and of course romance.  Whatever sort of romantic novel you like, Tasmina Perry has a lot to offer.

 

Victoria Fox

Similar to Tasmania Perry, Victoria Fox has made the move from ‘bonkbuster’ to more mainstream romantic fiction, successfully.  The first book I read of Victoria’s was Power Games about seven celebrities who are offered a flight on a private plane to paradise, but the plane crashes on an island and the celebrities, all of whom have secrets, have to survive.  It is a fabulous read, full of sex, scandal and secrets, and I have gone on to read the aptly titled Hollywood Sinners and Glittering Fortunes. Most recently I have read The Santiago Sisters, which is a move away from her previous novels but just as good.  Victoria still has great characters. in this book two sisters who get separated, one raised with no money, the other adopted by an actress and given everything money could buy.  The glamorous locations are there,  Argentina, Hollywood, Los Angeles, as are the glamorous characters.  Most recently Victoria Fox has written The Silent Fountain set in Hollywood and Tuscany.

 

Rebecca Chance

Rebecca’s books are simply fabulous, wonderful characters, fascinating plots and are sexy, sassy and sinfully enjoyable. My favourite book is Mile High, about a young pop star who has a stalker, and is trapped on the debut flight of the Pure Air LuxeLiner with a feuding crew and handsome pilot flirting with a stewardess.  This book has everything for me; glitz, scandal, secrets, intrigue, brilliant characters and a plot to grip you from page one.  Most recently I read and reviewed Rebecca’s latest novel Killer Affair, that has tongue in cheek look at the world of reality television stars, and just how far they will to to stay top of their game.  A cast of memorable characters, intrigue, glamour and humour  it is a brilliant, escapist read.

 

Jilly Cooper

There is no doubt for me that the queen of the Bonkbuster is Jilly Cooper.  I remember my mum giving me Riders to read when I was about fifteen, and from that moment I think I have always been a bit in love with the sexy, Rupert Campbell-Black, who features in many of her novels grouped under the ‘Rutshire Chronicles’ recently reissued to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Riders. In subsequent years I have read all the books in the Rutshire Chronicles and have loved everyone of them.  Her books are full of memorable characters, both human and animal (which feature heavily on her books), many whom appear in more than one of her books.  Jilly is a skilful, witty and astute writer whose books will delight, amuse and engage you; you will find your self engulfed in the story and find them hard to put down.  I read and reviewed her latest book Mount earlier in the year, set in the world of flat racing and the stud market of horses.  Rupert Campbell-Black, now older but no less sexy makes a triumphant return and I can’t wait for her next novel set in the world of Premier League Football.

 

 

Thank you for looking, I hope I ma have given some of you some new authors to read and caused a bit of a debate where you will tell me some of your favourite authors that I may like.

As always I really appreciate you views, likes and shares that are vital in the growth of my blog 💗💜❤️

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Days of Leda Grey by Essie Fox

51q5DyT9bfL

📖📖📖📖📖

 

Synopsis

When journalist Ed Peters unearths a dusty old photograph of the silent film actress Leda Grey, he is insanely enchanted by her alluring beauty.

He discovers she is still living, in a decaying cliff-top house.  And there, after a fifty year silence, she is finally ready to share her haunting story.

She tells of a volatile love affair, of obsession and jealousy, and the darkly glamorous world of early cinema.

She tells of a world filled with secrets and lies, and a past more sinister than any of the silent films that Leda Grey once starred in.

 

Review

The Last Days of Leda Grey is a beautiful book that has mystery, romance and  almost a supernatural air in parts. The book starts in 1976, with Ed Peters finding a photograph of the beautiful Leda Grey which starts his journey of finding out more about this mysterious actress.  A lot of the plot though is based in the early years of the twentieth century, and the world of the magical silent movies, which we see through the eyes of Leda herself, in her ‘Mirrors’, refections on her past.

Essie Fox’s writing style is more like the writing we expect to read from the Edwardian period, in which this book is set.  She writes with such detail, her descriptions vivid and meticulous; both in respect to the characters and setting.  The detail on the making of silent films is wonderful and obviously well researched;  all the technical and artistic detail bring it to life and captures the readers imagination.

As a character, Leda is intriguing and has an ethereal quality to her, both in the past and the present.  She reminds me of Miss Havisham from Great Expectations in respect of her never leaving White-Cliff  House, and her living in the past, and also of Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard in her reminisces to Ed of the films, and her youth. Ed, the other main character is also clinging to the past in some way, he has spent ten years carrying around the ashes of his mother who died when he was sixteen; he finds it hard to let go of the past as does Leda.  There is a great cast of supporting characters; the obsessive and controlling Charles Beauvois, the director of the silent films and subsequently Leda’s lover; Leda’s older brother Theo, artistic and very beautiful; Ivor Davies, a young Shakespearian actor who is in love with Leda; and a cast of colourful extras.

 

There is a haunting and ethereal quality to this book, both in character and plot.  In the present White-Cliff House has a sense of otherness about it, it is like a time capsule where time stands still, as does Leda who lives there.  Leda doesn’t see the decay around her, where as Ed sees this but also has visions of the house and its inhabitants from the past, as if he was there with Leda and Charles, even feeling Charles inhabit his body some point; the past and present converging.  Mystery and secrets, waiting to be told add a sense of suspense to the narrative, just what happened all those years ago, and why did Leda become a recluse?

The Last Days of Leda Grey is an enchanting novel, full of mystery, suspense, obsession and wonderful characters.  It truly is a beautiful read,this is not a book to read quickly, like a good wine you need to take your time and savour the flavour to fully appreciate it and all the work that has gone into creating it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Life in Books with Robin Roughley

img_0921-1

Today I welcome author Robin Roughley to my blog to discuss A Life in Books.

 

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

Hi my name is Robin Roughley, I live in the North West of England and have been a full time writer for the past four years. I am the author of the DS Lasser crime series and have fourteen books out in the series so far, I also have the first in a three book series out with Bloodhound Publishing in the UK.
Also I am close to releasing a standalone featuring one of the characters from the Lasser books. Before becoming a full time writer I drove trucks for a living and wrote plays in my spare time. After being laid off at the last company I decided to try self-publishing on Amazon and haven’t stopped since then.

 

 What was you favourite book from childhood?51IKKHaYQ9L

I struggled with reading and writing as a kid so I was a bit of a slow starter, though the first book I remember managing to read under my own steam was The Wind in the Willows. It took me about six months to read but I loved every minute of it and it sparked a love of books that stayed with me for a long time.

 

 What type of books did you read as a teenager?

I was a bit of a horror lover in my teenage years, so anything by James Herbert or Stephen King was always on my wish list, although I used to enjoy the James Herriot vet books as well, gentle and humorous with laugh out moments as well.

 

71BfKKAWcdLWhen you were at school what was your favourite book you studied?

This is an easy one, I loved the book Kes by Barry Hines when I was at school. It is a brilliant book that spoke to me as a kid and still does all these years later.

 

 

What is your favourite classic book?

This is a tricky one for me as the classics were not something I encountered very often. I tended to find them hard going and would soon lose interest. To me something like The Lord of the Rings would be classed as a classic though I can imagine others might disagree. I tried Dickens but couldn’t get into the stories and Shakespeare has always remained a mystery to me.

 

What would you consider to be one of the best books you have had over the last 51A6rmAqknLyears.

The last book I read was one called December by Phil Rickman a brilliant ghost story packed with wonderful characters and atmosphere.

 

6. What book to you think you should read but never get round to?

To kill a Mockingbird is one that I feel I should read they did it at school in the year I left and I have always meant to get a copy and try it but never been able to find the time.

 

51Od6nQMfTL What do you consider to be your favourite book ?

December by Phil Rickman, as mentioned above it has everything I am looking for in a read. A story that draws you in and characters that really stay with you long after the book is finished.

 

Is there a book that you have started but been unable to finish?

To be honest I don’t really read anymore as I find writing takes up all of my time. In the past I always finished a book no matter how unengaged I was in the story.

 

If you were stranded on a desert Island which 2 books would you want to have with51+9YaiWbLL you

It by Stephen King and The Lord of the Rings both hefty books that would keep me happy for weeks until the boat came to save me!

 

 Kindle or Book?

As mentioned earlier I don’t really read these days but if I did then I would have to say Kindle simply because it allows you to take the books with you wherever you go.

 

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Robin-Roughley/e/B00CQ15GG4

or via my website https://www.robinroughley.com/

 

Her Mother’s Shadow by Nikola Scott

61dFWSk1PsL

 

Synopsis:

Addie had a difficult relationship with her Mother feeling that she never quite measured up to expectations and felt that her sister, in particular, was a favourite child.   A year after her Mother’s death a surprise visitor starts a trail of discovery for Addie.  In parallel we read about Liz (Addie’s Mother) who suffered after the death of her own mother when she was a teenager and how it affected the rest of her life.

 

Review

The opening chapter of the book made chills run down my spine the prose was so beautiful… “Loves found and lost, the pain of unexpected death and the deliciousness of forbidden trysts.”  The reader is prepared for a wonderful feast of words.   Unfortunately this descriptive style does not continue through the book, but it is replaced by two interconnecting stories which feed from each other and pull the reader along through the book as you discover more facts around the central mystery and the characters involved.

Themes of relationships with Mothers and with Fathers and siblings dominate but there is also social history here which is fascinating and horrifying at the same time.  I would certainly read more by the same author, the book delivers an interesting narrative, a good writing style and great characterisation.

 

A Life in Books with A H Richardson

 

img_0921-1

 

I am delighted to welcome Angela Richardson, author of Murder in Little Sheldon, my blog this evening.

 

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I was born and brought up in England, South London Wimbledon actually, where they play the tennis champion ships. The late and great British composer Clive Richardson, was my father, so music and art, sculpting and writing I think I inherited from my famous father.  I studied acting at LAMDA, was on the stage for three years, then in l962, I came to America. I love horses, dogs (I have three) painting and sketching in my cute little house in the mountains of East Tennessee.

 

What was your favourite book from childhood?IMG_1855

The favourite book from childhood days was ‘Jane Eyre’ – I read it over and over captivated by this story which had everything in it.  Great romance, sadness, tension and mystery, humour and pathos – it all resonated with me, and I was probably 10 years old when first I read it.  I was also madly in love with Mr. Rochester!

 

What type of books did you read as a teenager?

As a teenager I loved books about travels in Africa, wild animals, and books on horses.  I remember a favourite of mine was ‘Leopard in my Lap’ written by the Dennises – the title caught my imagination and the stories of their travels I found fascinating. I also loved Baroness Orczy’s ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ and read all of those.  Secretly wishing I could be Lady Blakeney!

 

 IMG_1856When you were at school what was your favourite book you studied?

I was at boarding school in England (they were generally considered to be the best schools) and studied ‘Gulliver’s Travels’  ‘Silas Marner’, and most of the old classics.  My favourite was ‘Moby Dick.’

 

 What is your favourite classic book?

Favourite classic book was ‘Pride and Prejudice, without a doubt.

 

What would you consider to be one of the best books you have written over the last 5 years?

A book that I have written?  Is that what you mean? My first children’s book, ‘Jorie and the Magic Stones’ I think has been a success, and also in the murder mystery category ‘Act One, Scene One—Murder’.

 

What book to you think you should read but never get round to?IMG_1858

I think that I should have read more of the Sherlock Holmes’ mysteries, some of which escaped me, and I will make it a point to do so.

 

What do you consider to be your favourite book?

One of my favourite books is ‘The Painted Veil’ – I absolutely adore W. Somerset IMG_1860Maugham – now there was a writer!  I have read and enjoyed all his stories told with such flair and knowledge of his subject, and his brilliantly depicted characters.

 

 Is there a book that you have started but been unable to finish?

I have never started a book that I did not finish… that’s a big ‘no-no’ in my book, and leads to bad habits.

 

If you were stranded on a desert Island which 2 books would you want to have with IMG_1861you

Stranded on a desert island I would take the Bible, and the works of William Shakespeare… would I by any chance be allowed to take Antonio Banderas too?

 

 

11.  Kindle or Book?

Kindle or book? Oh, that’s easy, a book of course.

 

 

Murder in Little Sheldon is available to buy now.

Murder in Little Sheldon by A H Richardson

mils-3

📖📖📖📖

Synopsis

In the picturesque English village of Little Sheldon, the peace and quiet is disturbed by the murder of local shopkeeper Mr Bartholomew Fynche.  The village is gripped by fear, villagers wondering who will be next, and who could have committed such a heinous crime.

Police Inspector Stanley Burgess is in charge of finding the perpetrator along with his friends Sir Victor Hazlitt and famed Shakespearean actor Beresford Brandon.  But who in the village committed the murder and why did they do it?

 

Review

Murder in Little Sheldon is a classic whodunnit set in post WWII.  Everything about this book epitomises the era in which it is set; we have the quintessential English village, very picturesque with quaint houses, a church a pub, the characters and  A H Richardson’s writing and dialogue.

I loved the cast of characters in this book, they were fairly stereotypical of what we would expect to find in a typical village; there is the wonderful Lady Armstrong, head of the village so to speak, the shy librarian, the retires army major, the spinster sisters and the vicar in his life.  What really distinguished the characters, as well as their standing in the village is the dialogue used for each character; their individual voices are very distinctive.

The murder of Mr Bartholomew Fynch is well explored in the plot, and it seems every character had a reason to kill him.  As each motive is explored you think you know who the murderer is, then you change your mind as someone else is put in the frame; it will keep you guessing until the final pages.  I really loved the epilogue, it was a nice touch to see what happened to the characters after the conclusion of the investigation.  Overall this is a brilliant whodunnit that pays homage to Agatha Christie, and will keep you engaged throughout;  a quintessential English murder mystery.