Friday, 27 September 2013

Little Face - Sophie Hannah

           She's only been gone two hours.

Her husband David was supposed to be looking after their two-week-old daughter. But when Alice Fancourt walks into the nursery her terrifying ordeal begins, for Alice insists the baby in the cot is a stranger she's never seen before.

With an increasingly hostile and menacing David swearing she must either be mad or lying, how can Alice make the police believe her before it's too late?

Published by: Hodder & Stoughton - Fiction
Year:2006 - Paperback
Pages: 357
ISBN: 978-1-4447-1093-9

Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear.  I had such high expectations of this first crime thriller by Sophie Hannah.   Predominantly known for her poetry and children's books, Sophie moved into crime thrillers in 2006 when she released this first crime thriller 'Little Face' and has subsequently gone on to write approximately 8+ books around the her two main characters Charlie Zailer and Simon Waterhouse. With this in mind I decided to start at the beginning so I would get to understand the background to the two detectives.  Essentially the story is around the two detectives and the Fancourt family. David Fancourt has been married before and has a son from that marriage. His first wife is killed just outside the family home and although a man was jailed for her murder, his second wife  Alice Fancourt is suspicious as to who was really behind her murder.   Alice Fancourt proceeds to go to great lengths to get to the truth.  I'm afraid that I found it difficult to follow the story and at times a little far fetched, would you be able to convince your husband and  anyone else willing to listen that the baby that is sleeping in the nursery upstairs is not the baby you bought home from hospital two weeks earlier and then convince the police of the same.  I would not be put off reading further work by Ms. Hannah and in deed have the next in the series of books 'Hurting Distance' sat on the book shelf but I may leave it a while before I read it so that I can go into reading it with an open mind.

May be you are a fan of Sophie Hannah and have a different view, why not leave me a comment on your thoughts about 'Little Face' or may be you have a recommendation of another of Sophie Hannah's books that will get my attention better.

Friday, 20 September 2013

The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd

Lily has grown up believing she accidentally killed her mother when she was four. She not only has her own memory of holding the gun, but her father's account of the event. Now fourteen, she yearns for her mother, and for forgiveness. Living on a peach farm in South Carolina with her father, she has only one friend: Rosaleen, a black servant whose sharp exterior hides a tender heart. South Carolina in the sixties is a place where segregation is still considered a cause worth fighting for. When racial tension explodes one summer afternoon, and Rosaleen is arrested and beaten, Lily is compelled to act. Fugitives from justice and from Lily's harsh and unyielding father, they follow a trail left by the woman who died ten years before. Finding sanctuary in the home of three beekeeping sisters, Lily starts a journey as much about her understanding of the world, as about the mystery surrounding her mother.

Publisher: Headline Review - Fiction
Paperback/Kindle: 384 pages
Year: 2011/2013
ISBN-13: 978-0747266839 

This is a truly touching story of a young girl who for 10 years has carried the guilt that she had accidentally shot and killed her mother.  Her father who loves her in his own way is a hard task master and doesn't understand 14 year old girls at all.  Her one true friend is Rosaleen, a black servant on her fathers peach farm,  who has looked after her since the death of her mother.  When Rosaleen finds herself in trouble with the police and badly beaten,  Lily decides she has to do something to protect her friend.  Armed with a photograph of her mother and a picture of a black Madoona they set off to to find sanctuary.  This they find in Tiburon at the home of the Boatwright sisters.The Boatwright sisters keep bees and  have lived in the pink house for years. They are best known for the honey that their bees produce the jars of which bear the label of the Black Madonna. Lily needs to know the connection between the Boatwright sisters and that of her dead mother. I have watched the film on a number of occasions but when I saw the book was available on kindle I just had to read the book.  I was surprised to find that the film stayed true to the book.    If you are a fan of 'The Help' you will find this a good read.  

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Reason I Jump - Naoki Higashida

'Composed by a writer still with one foot in childhood and whose autism was at least as challenging and life-defining as our son's. The Reason I Jump was a revelatory godsend. It felt as if, for the first time, our own son was talking to us about what was happening inside his head.

David Mitchell

Published By: Sceptre - Non-Fiction
Year: 2013 - Hardback
Pages: 180
ISBN: 978-1-444-77675-1

Introduction by David Mitchell
Translated by KA Yoshida & David Mitchell


What is Autisn?  Well I suppose most of us have preconceived ideas as to what Autism is, myself included until my number 3 came along.  Naoki Higashida is severely autistic and communicates by using a cardboard keyboard.  Naoki wrote this book in order to help us neuro-typical types have a better understanding of what it's like to be part of his world.  We are fortunate that our number 3 is verbal but even so a lot of what he says isn't always in the right context and has to be worked through to fully understand what the point is that he is trying to get across.  This book gives a very useful insight into the world of autism and will dispel some of the myths as well as informing you of what it is like to be autistic in today's society.  Naoki was 13 when he wrote this book and as my number 3 has just hit double figures I have found it very useful.  What was most reassuring was that a lot of the strategies we have put in place at home since his diagnosis Naoki has described within his book. Definitely a worthwhile read for anyone who has a family member or who works with autism.   

You can find more books on Autism and Asperger Syndrome  at Jessica Kingsley Publishers and are available to order direct or through Amazon.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Mum's Way - Ian Millthorpe

Angie plaited our daughters hair every morning. 'Watch how I do this' she said. 'I'll never be able to do that' I replied. 'Yes you will' Angie said quietly, 'because I'm going to teach you.'

For Angie Millthorpe, being a mother was everything. 

Childhood sweethearts, Ian and Angie had always known they were meant for each other and wanted nothing more than a big family. But eight children later and aged just forty-eight, Angie fell seriously ill; when she was told her illness was terminal, the welfare of her beloved children and her adoring husband became her only focus.

Raising that many children would be a big job for any couple; to raise them alone, without their mother, a superhuman task for Ian. But this was exactly what Angie wanted him to be able to do. So in the last months of her life, Angie compiled a list of 'rules' to guide Ian in the future from lunchbox favorites to bedtime rituals and favorite lullabies, Angie's manual gave Ian the strength and certainty that he could fulfil her wishes after she was gone. 

This is an inspiring memoir that celebrates an irreplaceable wife and mother, and the legacy of enduring love.  

Simon & Schuster UK  - Autobiography
Year 2013 
Pages: 266
ISBN: 978-1-47112-664-2

Many years ago I watched an old black & white  film called 'Who Will Love My Children'  that was about a terminally ill women and mother of eight children.  The Millthorpes story reminded of this film. Both women fighting a cruel disease that would eventually take them away from their children, but that is where the similarity ends.  Where as in the film the women is desperately trying to find families willing to take each of her children and love them as their own, Angie Millthorpe didn't have such a worry,  because she was going to teach her husband Ian everything he needed to know.  Their family would be able to carry on after her death and would be able to continue running her household exactly as she would have done 'Mum's Way'.  It is an inspiring story of the courage of both Ian and Angie throughout her illness to make sure their children's every need would be taken care of long after her death.  It is written in good humour and not sadness and will make you laugh and cry throughout the highs and lows of their journey.  Well worth a read but you will need a box of tissues handy  at times. 

Friday, 6 September 2013

A Little Big Life - Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz had thought he was happy. He had been married to his high-school sweetheart, Gerda, since the age of twenty, and they had made a good life together in Southern California. Though famous the world over for his bestselling thrillers exploring the dark side of human nature, Dean's own life was the picture of peace and contentment. Then along came Trixie.

Trixie had trained as a companion dog for the disabled but an injury prevented her taking up the work and instead she undertook to restore a sense of wonder in the Koontz household  when they had't even known they lacked one. But Trixie had a tremendous impact on their lives, not only because she brought with her a sense of fun and pure love and affection, but also because she taught them that we should trust our intuition as dogs trust theirs and believe in  the miraculous.

Harper Collins - Non Fiction
Year: 2013 - Paperback
Pages: 271
ISBN: 978-0-00-753682-1

Dean Koontz is best known for his crime thrillers.  I am afraid I have to admit that I haven't read any of them thus far, but the story of Trixie will touch the hearts of anyone who is an animal lover especially of dogs.  A little big life tells the story of Trixie who came into their lives and totally transformed it.  Trixie was trained to be an assistance dog but had to retire before a career really got going due to an injury requiring surgery and found herself a loving home with the Koontz family.  Both Dean Koontz and his wife Gerda are supporters of the charity 'Canine Companions'  which is the equivalent to our 'Dogs for the Disabled' here in the UK. Both these charities work to provide dogs for the disabled enabling them to live more independent lives. You can find out more about each of these charities here and here.  Little Big Life is a touching story of how an animal can bring so much love to a family and shows you a different side from  Dean's crime writing.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Amanda Prowse Month - No Greater Love Series

After working as a Management Consultant for most of her career Amanda started writing in 2008.  Her first novel 'Poppy Day' was released in 2011. Amanda lives with her husband Simeon, a serving soldier and their two sons.

Amanda is the author of the 'No Greater Lover' series. Each of her novels tells of the story of how extraordinary women who find themselves dealing with extraordinary situations. I have now read all 3 novels and Amanda Prowse's Kindle exclusive first short story.  I first came across Amanda's novels when I read her second novel in the 'No Greater Love Series,  'What Have I Done' a powerful story of an abusive marriage and one women's drastic action to end the abuse and her fight to regain the trust of her children. I was given a copy of 'Poppy Day' as gift from a dear friend, I have a son who is in the armed forces and knowing that my son is due to go on tour to Afghanistan later this year, thought I would appreciate the fact that all proceeds from this book go to the Royal British Legion to help fund the charity's  'Battleback Centre' for injured service personnel.   Poppy Day's story is one of love and determination of a young women who when her husband is taken hostage in Afghanistan decides to take matters in her own hands by going to Afghanistan to get her man back. Throughout her story you also get to know about Poppy's immediate family especially her grandmother and this leads you into the Amanda's third novel 'Clover's Child' which is actually the prequel to Poppy Day. Clover's Child tells the story of Dorothea (Poppy's grandmother) as a young girl who falls in love with Sol and in the 1960's East End of London he is not the man to have fallen in love with. Lastly is Amanda released her Kindle exclusive 'Something Quite Beautiful' which tells the story of a women governess to a Scottish prison.  Rumour has it that once you enter Glenculloch prison you never you never get to leave.  

You can find out more about battleback here.

I have found all Amanda's novels worth reading and her fourth novel in the 'No Greater Love' series is due for  release in Paperback in February 2014.  Below is a taster of her next novel which is titled 'A Little Love'.
Publication Date 13.02.2014 Paperback

Everybody needs a little love in their lives.....

Pru Plum is the celebrated owner of famous Mayfair bakery, Plums Patisserie. She wears Chanel and her hair is expensively cut. Few would believe that this elegant women turned sixty-six last year. But Pru is not the confident, successful businesswomen she appears. She has done shameful things to get to where she is today. And she will do anything to protect the secrets of her past - especially when, for the first time in her life, she has finally fallen in love...  This is a story about love, loss and lies ... and finding happiness before it's too late.

Publisher: Head of Zeus - Fiction
Year: 2014 - Paperback