Wednesday, 31 July 2013

My Animals and Other Family - Claire Balding

Claire balding's family was larger than most. Not only was there her brother, mother and champion-trainer father, but also racehorses, mares, foals, ponies and an ever-present pack of boxers and lurchers. In this unforgettable memoir, she shows how they taught her everything she knows about life, love, joy and sadness. 

Published by:Penguin - Non-Fiction
Year: Papback 2012
Pages: 258
ISBN: 978-0-241-95975-6


I never really knew anything about Claire Balding other than she is a TV Presenter and seeing her at Crufts.  I certainly had no idea that she was the daughter of a race horse trainer who famously trained Mill Reef.  Her memoir is a lovely account of her life with her family and of course her beloved animals.  Great as a holiday read and not just for adults.  What I didn't didn't know about you  Ms Balding was just what a naughty little girl you were!!!!

Friday, 26 July 2013

The Accidental Husband - Jane Green

Maggie and Sylvie are strangers...

Two very different women, living on opposite coasts. But they share more in common than they could ever imagine.

Both women have beautiful children on the verge of flying the nest, a home they worked hard to build and a handsome and devoted husband they can't believe belongs to them. Both think their lives are seamlessly secure. But they couldn't be more wrong...

Each is about to discover a secret that will shake their world to the very core, throwing into doubt everything they ever thought they knew, and bringing them together in a most unexpected way.

Published by: PENGUIN BOOKS - Fiction
Year: Paperback 2013
Pages 393
ISBN: 978-0-718-15753-5


I was recommended this book by a work colleague who managed to read it within three days, I didn't quite manage that but did manage to complete it in four. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and found I just couldn't put it down.  In each chapter you discover each of the characters and about their lives the good times as well as the bad. You see the children grow and mature into adults and Maggie and Sylvie transform their lives.  The sad truth being that for some this would not just be a fictitious story but an account of their lives and as individuals we would be in  wonder just how they couldn't know what was going on without having a slight suspicion   It was another gripping book for me and one I would certainly recommend as a good read.  I have not read anything by Jane Green before but if this book was anything to go by I would certainly read more of her work. 

Monday, 22 July 2013

My Secret Sister - Helen Edwards & Jenny Lee Smith

Helen grew up in a pit village in Tyneside in the post-war years, with her gran, aunties and uncles living nearby. She felt safe with them, but they couldn't protect her from her neglectful mother and violent father. Blamed for everything that went wrong in their lives., she suffered years of abuse.

Jenny was adopted at six weeks old and grew up in Newcastle. An only child, she knew she was loved and with the support of her parents she became a champion golfer. But she still felt that something was missing.

Neither knew of the other's existence until Jenny went looking for her birth family and found her sister Helen. Together they searched for the truth about Jenny's birth - and uncovered a legacy of secrets and lies that overturned everything Helen thought she knew about her family.

Moving and inspirational, this is a story of the extraordinary bond of sisterhood and a tribute to two women strong enough to let love, not bitterness, define them.

Published by: PAN Books - Non-fiction
Year: Paperback  2013 
ISBN: 978-1-4472-2887-5


This is the remarkable story of two sisters separated at birth neither knowing of the the others existence until one of them decided to trace her birth mother. I did enjoy reading this book (enjoy might not be the right word really) I know from researching family history myself that a lot of informal adoptions between families went on  when a child was born out of wedlock and webs of secrets were constructed to prevent the child ever finding out.  The mother of these two ladies certainly did that and more and it is testament to these two ladies that they have been able to put the past behind them and build on the future as a family.

Monday, 15 July 2013

The Legacy - Katherine Webb

In the depths of a harsh winter Erica and Beth Calcott return to the house where they spent idyllic summers as children. 

As Erica sorts through her late grandmother's belongings, strange fragments of family history, and vivid memories. break the surface of the present day.

Memories of their cousin, Henry, who disappeared one summer long ago.

Of their grandmother, a bitter women, full of deep, dark hatred.

As Erica sifts through remnants of the past, a secret emerges, reaching all the way back to a beautiful heiress in turn-of-the-century Oklahoma. As past and present converge, Erica and Beth must come to terms with two terrible acts of betrayal - and the heartbreaking legacy left behind. 

Published by: ORION - Fiction
Year: Paperback 2010
Pages: 422
ISBN: 978-1-4091-1716-2

In the winter of 2009, following the death of their grandmother, two sisters Erica and Beth Calcott return to Storton Manor situated in the County of Wiltshire.  When Erica begins to sort through her grandmother's things she discovers an old photograph of her great-grandmother Caroline and a small child with a date of 1904 on the back, nobody know's who this child is and Erica knows that her great-grandparents did not marry until 1905 so who is this child and what became of him,  she also  finds herself thinking back to her childhood and of her Cousin Henry who disappeared one summers afternoon.never to be found.  


Although this is a slightly older book, I was given it  in a book swap by a work colleague who said she thought I would enjoy reading it.  I found it to be a very good  and I could see why she thought I would enjoy it.  The lies and deceit told by their late great-grandmother make a compelling story.  I liked the way in which it swapped from present day back to the turn of the century. You discover what turned a young beautiful heiress with her whole life a head of her into a bitter and twisted women full of hatred. You also get to learn about the troubled lives of the two grand daughters Erica and Beth as they unfold the truth behind the lies.  I would recommend 'The Legacy; as a good read.

Monday, 8 July 2013

The Dog that Saved My Life and Beyond The Call of Duty - Isabel George

 Meet Judy, the English Pointer who was torpedoed, shot at, and became the     only dog to be officially registered as a prisoner of war    . 

And Canadian Newfoundland, Gander who was smuggled into Hong Kong and gave his life to save the injured men he fought alongside. And Boonie, a front-line explosives search dog in Fallujah, Iraq.Plus many more courageous canines, who were invaluable not only for their incredible skills - but also for their absolute devotion and love, at a time when men and women needed them most. 

Published by: Harper Element - Non-Fiction
Year: Paperback  2013
ISBN: 978-0-00-753920-4

Meet Smoky, the Yorkshire Terrier who saved 250 American soldiers from being bombed by the enemy in the Second World War.

And the stub-tailed Bull Terrier, Stubby, who became a hero of the First World War after his bravery in the trenches of Flanders.

And Antis, the German Shepherd that was rescued as a  puppy from  the rubble of a French farmhouse before becoming an invaluable war companion to his saviour.

Plus more devoted dogs from around the world, who have displayed incredible traits of courage and love as they accompanied man into battle.

Published by: Harper Collins - Non-Fiction
Year: Paperback 2013
ISBN: 978-0-00-737151-8


I decided to review these two books together.  Each tells the true stories of our servicemen and women  from as far back as the First World War to present day conflict in Afghanistan, and how our four legged friends have played a big part in boosting the morale of our servicemen as well as saving countless lives.  I think they would appeal to more of the male brain or to someone who is from a services family/background.  My personal interest being that I have a son in the forces who is due to go out to Afghanistan later this year.  Most of the dogs within these books did come through the conflicts they were involved with and were able to return home with their forces owner enabling them to live out their days in comfort knowing they were truly loved and appreciated for their bravery. . I would certainly recommend to anyone with an interest animals within the services.   

Monday, 1 July 2013

Calling Me Home - Julie Kibler


Shakerville, Kentucky, 1939. A world where black maids and handymen are trusted to 
raise white children and tend to white houses, but from which they are banished after dark.

Sixteen-year old Isabelle Mcalister, born into wealth and privilege, finds her ordered life turned upside down when she becomes attracted to Robert, the ambitious  black son of her family’s housekeeper. Before long Isabelle and Robert are crossing extraordinary, dangerous boundaries and falling deeply in love.

Many years later, eightly-nine year old Isabelle will travel from her home in Arlington Texas, to Ohio for funeral. With Isabelle is her hairstylist and friend, Dorrie Curtis – a black single mother with her own problems. Along  the way, Isabelle will finally reveal to Dorrie the truth of her painful past a tale of forbidden love, the consequences of which will resound for decades.

Published by:PAN BOOKS - Fiction
Year: Paperback 2013
Pages 325
ISBN: 978-1-4472-1256-0


My Oh My Oh My.  Well if this is Julie Kibler's first novel then I cannot wait to see what she has published next.  This was a truly gripping story from the first to the last page.  Throughout their journey you are trying to guess whose funeral they would be attending in Ohio as Isabelle reveals the truth behind her story of long ago. The story is so well written that you think you know but with a surprise twist to the tale left right until the end.  I have been telling anyone who stands still long enough just how good this book has been even before I had finished it. 

I would definitely recommend anyone who enjoyed books such as 'The Colour Purple or 'The Help'  to read this book you will definitely not be disappointed.  I could see this story being made into a film and I would be one of the first in the queue to go and see it.