Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Murder Stone - Louise Penny

Beneath a scorched summer sky, the wealthy Finney family have gathered at a lakeside manor to honour their late father. But when the heat wave boils over into a mighty storm, a dead body is left in it's wake - Chief Inspector Armand Gamache finds himself with a building full of suspects.

Published by:Sphere - Headline Book Company - Fiction
Year: 2009 - Paperback
Pages: 424
ISBN: 978-0-7515-4753-5

The Finney family have gathered at the Manoir Bellachasse for their annual reunion but this year will be a little different. This year they are going to erect a statue in memory of their father Charles.  Following the celebrations a big storm hits and in it's wake one of their family will be found dead, murdered but why.

Louise Penny has written a series of novels involving her main character Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. 'The Murder Stone' is number 4 in the series and number 23 off my yet to be read bookshelf..   When I picked up this book I thought it was going to be a really good read. I even looked at downloading other novels in the series to my Kindle.  Unfortunately I was to be left disappointed.  It is a crime thriller but took until page 112 before a crime was committed and took the remaining 312 pages to discover who had committed the murder which seemed to be quickly resolved within the last two chapters.  For me there appeared to be a lot of what I would describe as padding out in order to make a novel and could of been a lot shorter than it's 424 pages.  

I know Ms Penny has a huge following for her novels but I don't think I will be including myself in that group. It was definitely a novel that I had to keep reading but not necessarily for the right reasons. In my case it was in the hope that it something would happen soon and that the novel would move up a pace but in the end it was more that I was left wanting to get to the end as soon as possible in order to move onto something else.

Happy reading one and all


Friday, 29 August 2014

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt - Beth Hoffman

When Camille Sugarbaker Honeycutt, the pretty but crazy 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen, dies suddenly, her twelve-year-old daughter CeeCee is whisked off by her Great Aunt Tootie to the fabled city of Savannah in the most magnificent car CeeCee has ever seen.

Soon, among the sweet scent of magnolias and the loving warmth of her aunt and her colourful collection of friends it looks as though CeeCee has arrived in paradise. But when a darker side of the Southern dream threatens this delicate, new found happiness, Aunt Tootie and her friends must rally to CeeCee's aid.

Publisher: ABACUS - Fiction
Year:2012 - Paperback (UK)
Pages: 311
ISBN: 978-0-349-00018-3

Cecelia Honeycutt a twelve year old child who is ridiculed by her peers at school and members of her community about her mother who has mental health issues and seems to be stuck in a time warp of 1951 when she was crowned Vidalia Onion Queen.  CeeCee's father cannot handle his wife's eccentric behaviour and chooses to work away from home as much as possible.  One particular day her mother leaves the house never to return when she is involved in an accident resulting in her death.  Following family discussions it is decided that CeeCee should go and live with her Great Aunt Tootie in Savannah.  At first CeeCee is apprehensive about the move but once  there is taken under the wing of Auntie Tootie and her housekeeper Oletta Jones as well as her aunts friends and neighbours.  she soon realizes that this was the best move.  Nobody knows of her mothers past and therefore she never needs to explain anything other than the fact her mother died and her father works away a lot on business. Under the care of the strong women of Savannah CeeCee blossoms into a very capable young women. 

What can I tell you about 'Saving CeeCee Honeycutt' well to begin with it is a magnificent debut novel bu Beth Hoffman.  For anyone who is a fan of such novels as Steel Magnolias or The Secret Life of Bees this is a MUST read for you.  I couldn't put it down and immersed myself into reading this one till the small wee hours in which to finish it at which point I was left wanting more.

Can't wait to see what else Beth Hoffman is going to go on to produce.  

I will now be looking out for her new novel 'Looking for Me'.

Happy reading one and all


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Empty Cradle - Rosie Goodwin

To the outside world, Charlotte is the privileged daughter of the local vicar, but her life is cruelly controlled by her father. She longs for freedom  but when her captivating innocence leads her into trouble, she is sent to Ireland to hide a shameful pregnancy. Forced into a convent's harsh and humiliating regime, she must eventually give up the one thing that makes her life worthwhile.

When Charlotte returns to England, older than her years, she chooses to forget the past. Becoming a London midwife, she longs only to help others at this hardest and mist joyful moment in their lives. But her deep compassion, and dersire leads her into a darker and more dangerous place.

Published by: Headline - Fiction
Year: 2012 - Paperback
Pages: 374
ISBN: 978-0-7553-8576-8

'The Empty Cradle' is number 22 off the bookshelf. Certainly this summer has given me the opportunity with such inclement weather to catch up on a lot of reading averaging two -three books a week depending on their size.

I have read Rosie Goodwin novels before and this one was just as good as her previous novels.

Charlotte and her mother are bullied by her father and woe betide them if they should disobey him.  She can't understand why her mother has stayed with him for all these years.  As Charlotte approaches leaving school her grandmother encourages her to look at nurse training even telling her that she will support her financially to get her through her training.  Unfortunately before she can convince her father that this is the career she wishes to follow something happens to change her life forever.  Whilst walking back home from her grandmothers her best friends brother offers to walk her home through the park as it is dark but a much quicker route to the vicarage.  Charlotte agrees but as they are walking through the park he attacks her and rapes her. Charlotte doesn't feel she can tell her mother what has happened as she has been ill of late.  All too soon Charlotte realizes that her worst fear is about to come true when she realizes as a result of her attack she is pregnant.  Eventually her mother notices and convinces her that she should have a termination, but in the 50's it was still illegal to have an abortion,  Charlotte then discovers she is not the only one in her family to have secrets when she discovers what her father has been getting up to over in the church.  She confronts her father and tells him of her pregnancy.  Charlotte thinks she has the upper hand, but he father confides in his sister in Ireland and between them they come up with a plan that will rid them of Charlotte once and for all by sending her to a convent where they look after unmarried mothers. Charlotte gives birth to a daughter who she names Daisy. She knows she won't be able to keep her the girls never do and soon the day arrives when a young couple come to the convent to adopt her Daisy.  She vows she will find a way in which to leave the convent and to one day be reunited with her daughter.

Some years later she fulfills her at least one of her dreams by leaving the convent.  She moves to London where she trains to be a nurse as her grandmother had wished going on to become a midwife.  As the years go on she helps many women to become mothers but at the same time she has also been using her skills to help those women who find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy.  One day her world will come crashing down around her when in helping one particular women leads to tragedy.

'The Empty Cradle' was a well written novel by Rosie Goodwin and if you are a fan of her writing you will not be disappointed.

Happy reading one and all.


Monday, 25 August 2014

A Little Love - No Greater Love Series - Amanda Prowse

Everybody needs a little love in their lives.

Pru Plum is the celebrated owner of a famous Mayfair bakery. She wears Chanel and her hair is expensively cut. Few would believe this elegant women turned sixty-six last year.

But Pru is not the confident, successful businesswoman 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 ....

Published by: Head of Zeus - Fiction
Year:2014 - Paperback
Pages: 338
ISBN: 9781781854976

What else do you do when you are desperately clinging to the last days of summer, even if the weather is against you, what better way to spend a bank holiday weekend than to pick up a good book in which  to immerse yourself. For anyone who has been following my blog from the beginning will know I am a huge Amanda Prowse fan and have read everything she has had published, from her very first novel Poppy Day.  'A Little Love' is Amanda's fourth novel in the 'No Greater Love' series.  Essentially the story is about Pru Plum and her cousin Milly who have stuck together through thick and thin from childhood.  The girls didn't have it easy growing up and resorted to things that they are not proud of in order to survive.  But that was a long time ago and now they are the successful owners of Plum Patisserie in Mayfair.  Pru Plum had never married or had children.  The nearest she has been to being a mother is in looking after her neice who she adores.  She is her brothers daughter who came to live with Pru and Milly after her mother had left her and her father found her couldn't cope looking after a young girl and cope with his addiction to drugs.  And so it was Roberta (Bobby) has come to live with her aunt.  Pru doted on Bobby and hoped she had been able to give her the kind of upbringing she deserved.  Bobby is now an adult and about to be married when a tragedy occurs and Pru's life will change forever.  . Out of such a tragedy Pru finds love for the first time in her 66 years, but will her past destroy her chance at a happy future and everything she has worked so hard to achieve.

This is yet another fantastic offering from Amanda Prowse and I'm afraid that whenever D has come to find me he's found me with my nose in this book, including whilst I was cooking the dinner.

If you love novels that are about everyday going on's of life with a little romance thrown in then you will undoubtedly enjoy Amanda Prowse novels. 

Happy reading one and all
hope the weather is being a little kinder to you where you are.


Friday, 22 August 2014

The innkeeper's Daughter - Val Wood

Life isn't turning out quite as hoped for thirteen-year-old Bella. She lives at the Woodman Inn - an ancient hostelry run by her family in the Yorkshire countryside - surrounded by her unreliable siblings. When Bella learns not only that her father is seriously ill, but that that her mother is expecting her fifth child, her dreams of becoming a schoolteacher are quickly dashed.

Times are hard, and when their father dies Bella must also take on responsibility for her baby brother. Her days are brightened by the occasional visit from Jamie Lucan - the son of a wealthy landowner in a neighbouring coastal village. But then her mother announces that she to move the family to Hull.

Could things get any worse? Or could this move turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Bella?

Published by: Corgi - Fiction 
Year: 2012 - Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-552-16815-1

'The Innkeeper's Daughter'  is number 21 off my yet to be read bookshelf.  I now just have 5 out of the 26 books left that were still residing on my bookshelf at Christmas left to read, which in itself is very exciting.

Bella is an intelligent young girl whose only wish is to become a school teacher. Unfortunately her dreams are crushed when her father becomes ill and he tells her that she will have to finish school to help her mother in the house and look after her siblings.  Her mother has kept a secret throughout her husbands illness. She reveals to her Bella that she is expecting her fifth child but doesn't want her husband to know, Bella tells her mother than before long her father would notice but her mother assures her that he has never noticed when she carried before.  Shortly afterwards her father dies from heart failure.  It falls upon Bella and her brothers to help her run the Woodman until after her mothers confinement.    Every other Friday a young man comes into the Woodman for a drink, he often talks to Bella whilst she is serving at the bar. His wish is to move to London to train to become a doctor. Even though Jamie Lucan will get his wish, when Henry arrives Bella's mother finds it hard to return to normal and it falls upon Bella to care for Henry.   When Henry is about to start school their mother announces that she is moving the family back to Hull where she was born.  Bella and her brother are concerned as to whether their mother has made the right choice. When Jamie Lucan returns home to Yorkshire he learns that Thorpe family have moved back to Hull but nobody seems to know which hostelry they have taken over.  Years later newly qualified as a Surgeon Apothecary Jamie Lucan will get his chance to meet up with Bella again but will it be too late to tell her how he feels.

I have not read any Val Wood novels before and I found this one to be a cross between Mills & Boon and Catherine Cookson.  Nothing wrong with that if they are your type of reading.  It was a good read and I wasn't put off reading this or another Val Wood novel.

Happy reading one and all.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

I'll Never Give Up On You - Becky Hope

Becky Hope works on the front line of child protection.

 Every day, her job takers her into the heartbreaking lives of the most defenseless children. Although Becky has witnessed some horrific things, her courage, optimism and wonderfully warm sense of humour help her through the darkest of days. But the thing that really keeps her going is the children and her dedication to the fight to keep them out of harm's way.

This is the gripping story of one woman's battle to protect our most vulnerable children and to give them the safety they deserve.

Published by: Hodder & Stoughton - Non-Fiction
Year: 2011 - Paperback  
Pages: 323
ISBN: 978-1-444-76307-2

'I'll Never Give Up on You' is number 20 off my yet to be read bookshelf.  I don't very often read these types of books, mainly because it's usually written to boost the ego of the author.  But with Becky Hope's book I was presently surprised.  It was all about the children and the needs of those children and their families.  She also praises the work of the foster carer's without whose help so many children would be left in harms way or would head down the wrong path.  Some of her stories are quite sad where generation after generation have followed the same path. But she also describes the successes.  

Unfortunately no child comes into this world with a manual and in some cases it is a shame that we don't have to pass as much screening as foster parents do in order to become parents in the first place. 

Attending an inner city school I did have friends who were in foster care and it was certainly through the dedication of the foster carers that they turned out as well as they did.  Unfortunately not everyone is so lucky.


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Love Anthony - Lisa Genova

I'm always hearing about how my brain doesn't work right ... But it doesn't feel broken to me.

Olivia Donatelli's dream of a 'normal' life was shattered when her son, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at age three. He didn't speak. He hated to be touched. He almost never made eye contact. And just as Olivia was starting to realize that happiness and autism could coexist, Anthony was gone.

Now she's alone on Nantucket, desperate to find meaning in her son's short life, when a chance encounter with another women brings Anthony alive again in a most unexpected way. In a piercing story about motherhood, autism, and love Lisa Genova offers us two unforgettable women who discover the small but exuberant voice that helps them both find the answers they need.

Published by: Simon & Schuster UK - Fiction
Year: 2013 - Paperback
Pages: 302
ISBN: 978-1-47111-327-7

'Love Anthony' is number 19 from my yet to be read bookshelf.  As I have a son with autism myself I was drawn to this novel by it's content.  Lisa Genova must have carried out extensive research  for this book with the accuracy it shows for living with a child with autism.  This is especially borne out in the way that her character  Beth writes her story from the perspective of a child with autism, a story that Olivia recognizes as her own son Anthony's story. Anthony had died 5 years ago.  The one thing Anthony was never able to do whilst he was alive was to articulate his feelings about being a child with autism.  Since his passing Olivia has always felt his presence and when she agrees to read Beth's novel she begins to realize that some how Anthony is telling his story through Beth's writing.  

This a beautifully written novel by Lisa Genova and one I would recommend to read this summer.

Happy reading one & all


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The Color Purple - Alice Walker

 Set in the deep American south between the wars, this is the classic tale of Celie, a young poor black girl. Raped repeatedly by her father, she loses two children and then is married off to a man who treats her no better than a slave. She is separated from her sister Nettie and dreams of becoming like the glamorous Shug Avery, a singer and rebellious black. woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually Celie discovers the support of women that enables her to leave the past behind and begin a new life.

Publisher: Phoenix - Fiction
Year: New Ed Edition 2004 - Paperback
Pages: 272
ISBN: 978-0753818923

I first read 'The Color Purple' back in the 80's and the film has been one of my favorites for many years. I was really surprised when my daughter came home with it to read for English Literature. It gave me a great opportunity to read it again with her and I got to enjoy it all over again.  As one of my challenges this year is to re-visit books read at school I couldn't resist making this one of them.  So 'The Color Purple' had to be my book for August.  There are subtle differences between the book and the film especially the ending.  In the book Celie writes letters to God, as since her sister was sent away by Albert she doesn't know whether she is alive or dead.  Throughout she tells of her life first with her father and sister and then the awful life she has with Albert and his children.   She fears for the two children conceived from the man she believed to be her father, not knowing what happened to them. Her only true friend is Shug Avery who teaches her about love and life and how to become her own women. Eventually she is reunited with her sister Nettie and her son and daughter who were so cruelly snatched from her as babies.

If you have never read 'The Color Purple' you should definitely make it one of your must reads.

Happy reading one and all


Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Son of a Witch - Gregory Macguire

After Dorothy killed the Wicked Witch of the West she clicked her heels together and headed home to live happily ever after. But, back in Oz, one young man isn't enjoying such a happy ending.

Lur is found bruised and comatose in a gully. Taken to the Cloister of Saint Glinda he is willed back to life by a silent novice. What dark force left Lur in this condition? Is he really the Wicked Witch's son? He has her broom and her cape - but what of her powers?

In an Oz that is under new and dangerous management, can Lur keep his head down long enough to grow up?

Published by: Headline Review - Fiction
Year: 2007
Pages: 503
ISBN: 978-1-4722-1214-6

'Son of a Witch' is the second in the series of novels by Gregory Maguire that tells the alternative story of the Wizard of Oz and number 18 off my 'yet to be read bookshelf'.  In the first book titled 'Wicked' which is the novel that inspired the musical, the wicked witches have both met their demise. When Elphaba left the mauntery she took with her a young boy Lur. Everyone believes him to be the son of Elphaba and Fieryo but Elphaba has no memory of giving birth to a child.  After the death of Elphaba all that Lur has is the witches broom and cape.  In this sequel Lur goes in search of Nor his childhood friend and possible half sister.  Along the way he will make many acquaintances but one in particular is Candle who helps him recover from injuries incurred along the way.  Lur will also establish the truth as to who is his mother. 

Although this was another great novel from Gregory Maguire I did think there was something lacking in it for me. That said it would not put me off reading the remaining 2 novels in this series. We have all read a sequence of books haven't we where we thought there was one not quite so good as the others.

If you are a Wizard of Oz fan I would recommend you read this series of alternative novels to the original Frank Baum books.

Happy reading one & all.