Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Sorrow of an American - Siri Hustvedt

My sister called it 'the year of secrets', but when I look back on it now, I've come to understand that it was a time not of what was there, but what wasn't.

Published by: Sceptre 
Year: 2009 - Paperback
Pages: 304
ISBN: 978-0-340-89708-9

Erik Davidson tells the story of how he and his family cope for the first year following his fathers death and in the process unearths secrets not only about his father but also his sisters late husband. 

I must admit the first five - ten pages he had my attention and I thought it was going to be a really good book full of intrigue.  But sad to say it wasn't. It is essentially about a lonely divorcee looking for love and settling for a second best relationship.  All the while trying to support his recently widowed sister and his niece and now his elderly widowed mother.  The secrets that are revealed are not what I would call an OMG secret and were events that happen in a lot of families.  

It turned out to be a book I couldn't put down but not because I was so absorbed by it's content but more because I wanted to get to the end and move on to something more interesting. 

Sorry Siri this one just did not do it for me.   

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Whispers-Rosie Goodwin

The old manor house has stood empty for years, left to rot since the last master of the Fenton family died. Until Jess Beddows steps inside and feels she has come home. Against her family's wishes she buys the house, promising to bring it back to life.

In an attic room, untouched for a century or more, she finds a journal. It holds the heartbreaking tale of Martha and of the cruel, entangled lives of the house's servants and masters nearly two hundred years before.  As Jess is drawn into their tragedy, the whispers begin. Before long everything she loves will be threatened by violent emotion and long-kept secrets. 
Can she survive the echoes from the past?

Published By: Headline - Fiction
Year: 2011 Paperback
Pages: 388
ISBN: 978-0-7553-5394-1


Jess Beddows is left a substantial amount of money by her grandmother which enables her to buy the house that she is hoping will turn out to be the house of her dreams.  Whilst exploring the attic rooms, which would have been the servants quarters years ago, she discovers a journal written by a young servant girl.  The journal tells of the cruelty and abuse the young servant girls endured at the hand of the master of the house and how one young girls plans to put an end to the masters rein of terror. The spirit of the young servant girl remains in the house and cannot rest  as evil returns to live under the roof of the manor house, she must make Jess understand the danger within before it is too late.  


I've not read anything by Rosie Goodwin before but I found 'Whispers' not a gripping tale but good content and an easy read and I would certainly not be put off reading other works by this author. 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Memory Garden - Rachel Hore

The Memory GardenLamorna Cove - a tiny bay in Cornwall, picturesque, unspoilt. A hundred years ago it was the haunt of a colony of artists. Today, Mel Pentreath hopes it is a place where she can escape the pain of her mother's death and a broken love affair, and gradually put her life back together. Renting a cottage in the enchanting but overgrown grounds of Merryn Hall, Mel embraces her new surroundings and offers to help her landlord, Patrick Winterton, restore the garden. Soon she is daring to believe her life can be rebuilt. Then Patrick finds some old paintings in an attic, and as he and Mel investigate the identity of the artist, they are drawn into an extraordinary tale of illicit passion and thwarted ambition from a century ago, a tale that resonates in their own lives. But how long can Mel's idyll last before reality breaks in and everything is threatened?

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK - Kindle Edition
Year: 2012
Pages: 430
ISBN: 1849835322


Mel Pentreath works as a University Lecturer, but takes some time out to carry out research on the Cornish Artists of Lamorna Cove in Cornwall. She hopes that it will help her recover from the death of her mother and the ending of a long term relationship. She rents a cottage in the grounds of Merryn Hall owned by Patrick Winterton.  Mel has a passion for gardening and in between working on her research offers to help her landbord to rediscover the overgrown gardens.  Together they unfold the mysteries of the gardens and discover the identity of the artist responsible for paintings discovered in the attic and the sad life of a young servant girl of Merryn Hall.  Inevitably there is an attraction between Mel and Patrick but will their pasts allow them to be happy together.  Well if you want to know that you'll have to read the book.

A good summer holiday read.  Not too taxing on the grey matter.  Not one that grips you so much that you can't put it down but an easy read.  

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Things We Never Said - Susan Elliott Wright

The past shapes us all. But what happens when it hides a secret that changes everything?

In 1964 Maggie wakes to find herself in a mental asylum, with no idea who she is or how she got there. 

Remnants of memories swirl in her mind - a familiar song, a storm, a moment of violence.

In the present day, Jonathan is grieving after the loss of his father. A cold distant man, he was not easy to love, but at least while he lived there was hope for reconciliation. Then a detective turns up on Jonathan's doorstep to question him about crimes committed long ago. 

And as the truth is gradually revealed, both Maggie and Jonathan realise that nothing is quite what it seems.

Simon & Schuster UK - Fiction
Year: 2013 - Paperback
Pages: 375
ISBN: 978-1-4711-0121-5

I loved this book. It had you gripped from the start.  Throughout the book you weave between the present and the past and learn how the lives of Maggie and Jonathan are linked.  I don't want to describe what happens in the book or it will spoil it for you. What I did like however was the fact that the author includes real characters in her book. Part of the story is situated in Hastings East Sussex and describes an old lady who walks around the town with a pram containing a doll and if you get too close she will shout at you 'don't you touch my baby'. Having been to Hastings many times I can tell you that up until my last visit there is indeed an old lady who walks around the town with a doll in a pram  and will tell you not to touch her baby if you get too close.  These touches to me make the story more real. You will find in reading this novel that you can really relate to each of the characters and understand the reason they took or will take the actions they do in order to protect themselves and their families. Although Susan Elliott Wright is known as a writer this is her first novel  but is a very compelling read and one I would and have recommended. It is now doing the rounds of the office but we are going to wait for the last one to finish reading it before we ask what everyone thought.  But on the QT those who have read it have said it was excellent. 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

To Kindle or not to Kindle

I've had my Kindle Fire HD  for just over a month now and thought it was time that I gave you my verdict. I had been considering a Kindle for sometime.   I decided to purchase a Kindle for it's versatility.  My son has owned a tablet for a few years now and was always telling me how much more portable it is than a laptop.  I didn't need microsoft office but wanted to be able to access the internet and apps as well as being able to store photo's.
All books listed on the Kindle enable you to download a sample, which is usually the first chapter, you can then go on to purchase the full book or delete the sample. The print is very clear and easily readable but  there is a facility on all Kindles to change the size of the font, alter the brightness, size of text and if necessary you can alter the background to sepia or reverse the the text from black on white to white on black. Some of the books available have a text to speech facility so you can listen rather than read.  The Kindle also comes with a audio book store. All the books listed enable you to play a sample usually the first 5 mins. I don't know how the prices of these compare to buying the CD's. 

As the Kindle belongs to Amazon then you link to any wish lists you have created on your account. My book shelf currently has in excess of 30 books still waiting to be read. The majority were purchased prior to my acquiring the Kindle but some have been purchased since.  My wish list currently has 50+ books saved to it in the que for downloading. If I had bought all of these books in paperback I would have nearly 100 books sat on the shelf. I still alternate between books and the Kindle but this is mainly due to the fact of price.  I carry a small note book around with me and when I see a book of interest I make a note of the name. I then check my Kindle to see if it's listed. It then comes down to the price.  Some of our supermarkets have regular deals on their books such as two for £7 or three for £10 therefore it has to be £3.50 or thereabouts on the Kindle for the Kindle to win.  If I am going to purchase from the Kindle I can store in the wish list until I am ready to purchase and read.

I like the fact that if I have been working late and miss any of my favourites on TV that I can now watch them on TV Catch Up.

You can store all your favourite photographs either on your Kindle device or on your cloud which comes as part of the software.  I have already accumulated a number of photographs and still have plenty of space left.  There are lots of apps available to enhance your photographs including instagram, colour effect and my sketch all available to download.  The one downside to the Kindle is the inbuilt Kindle.  The photographs are very poor quality and all photographs have to be taken facing you.  I've not tried the video facility as yet but I'm not sure how good the lighting quality would be.

And lastly my son has set up SKYPE for me so that whilst he is away on tour in Afghanistan we will be able to periodically be able to talk to one another and I will be able to see for myself that he is ok.  Well you never stop being a parent do you just because they have grown up. 

Hope you have found my ramblings helpful.

Have a good week one and all.