Saturday, 30 July 2011

Books in my Month...

It's that time of the month again when I round up the books I have read and enjoyed this month -

Here they are :

Pride and Premiership ~ Michelle Gayle. Aimed at the YA market - it's a story about a young girl who wants to be a WAG, and marry a premier league footballer. Nicely written and with a subtle warning that we should be careful what we wish for. I am sure that teenage girls will enjoy this one.

Deliverance from Evil ~ Frances Hill. - it's a story about the Salem witch trial of 1692 and adds some new insight into this difficult time in American history. I enjoyed the second half of the book rather more than the first,as it took a while to get to know all the characters.

Alice Bliss ~ Laura Harrington - It's a story about love, and military loss -sensitively told through the eyes of 15yr old Alice Bliss. I thought that this book covered a very sad subject very well and conveyed an important message that those we love are never really lost to us.

The Stonehenge Legacy ~ Sam Christer - It's a story about a secret cult, murder and mystery with Stonehenge at it's heart. If you suspend belief at times this story develops into a really exciting romp and I enjoyed it right to the very end.

That's Another Story ~ Julie Walters - a rather interesting autobiography from this talented actress

Florence and Giles ~ John Harding - it's a chilly little story -reminiscient of Henry James' Turn of the Screw

The Absolutist ~ John Boyne - a beautifully written book about WW1 and is MY BOOK Of THE MONTH. I have written about this book already - it's such a poignant and emotive story which has stayed with me , and I suspect it will remain with me for a while.

The Secrets between us ~ Lousie Graham - It's a story about an unsolved mystery, and obsessive love, set in beautiful Somerset

Sisters ~ Rosamund Lupton- It's a murder/mystery with an unexpected twist at the end, which to be honest I didn't see coming at all.

The Midwife's Confession ~ Diane Chamberlain- it's a story about secrets and lies, and the way we never really "know" someone

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici ~ C W Gortner - It's a good look at the life of this fascinating Queen.

Chasing Fire ~ Nora Roberts - It's a story about Smoke Jumpers in Montana, with a hint of suspense and romance. Nora Roberts can write a good story and this one certainly kept me turning the pages. I sort of guessed who dunnit , but that didn't spoil the ending at all.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Happy Tuesday...

I've been occupied with Knitting over the last few days as I wanted to add the finishing touches to some baby clothes I have been making for my daughter's friend's baby - I finished the last baby hat yesterday afternoon just in time ,as baby Isabella arrived safely last night.

I can always find time to read, and coincidentally have been reading The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain -which is a multi layered story about secrets, lies and the enduring friendship of strong women.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 5paws

When midwife Noelle commits suicide at the start of the book, her death unleashes a series of secrets that she has kept from her close friends. Tara and Emerson were friends with Noelle since their college days - Noelle was there when they were having their babies, they trusted her implicitly, and yet when it came down to the minutiae of Noelle's life, none of them really knew her at all.

The story is beautifully written, the characters come quickly to life and stay with you long after the last page is turned. Diane Chamberlain's writing just gets better and better, and this one particularly struck a chord with me as I worked in midwifery. From the opening chapter I was hooked, and in order to find out what happened next , I just had to read a "little bit more".

If you pick up this book be prepared to do nothing until you have finished it.

I'm now looking forward to Diane Chamberlain's next book ~ The Shadow Wife which is a reissue of her 2002 book Cypress Point, and is due out in the UK 19 August...

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Review of The Secrets Between Us by Louise Douglas

I was asked to review this book for newbooks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 5paws

Sarah has escaped on holiday to Sicily to recuperate following a traumatic event, and whilst there she meets the enigmatic Alexander, and his young son Jamie. Against the better judgement of her family, Sarah follows Alexander to his home in a small Somerset village, and becomes his lover, his housekeeper, and nanny to Jamie. This idyll, however, is marred by the continuing mystery of the disappearance of Alexander’s beautiful wife, Genevieve.

Reminiscent of the Gothic splendour of a modern day Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, I thought that this was a really accomplished novel. Louise Douglas certainly knows how to write a good story and involves the reader in an imaginative and consuming way. The plot is twisted and convoluted right to the very end, and yet is beautifully atmospheric, with some genuinely creepy moments. The characterisation is subtle, and yet all consuming as we begin genuinely to care for Alexander who is flawed and vulnerable, Jamie who is damaged and precocious, and Sarah, who whilst fighting her own demons, must try and keep this family together.

The Secrets between Us is a haunting and passionate love story, which will entertain and keep you guessing from the opening page.

I've now read all of Louise Douglas's books and this is by far my favourite, it's dark, creepy and wonderfully it when you can.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Stunningly good.....

I have loved all of John Boyne's books - The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has to be one of my all time favourite reads - so I knew, when I started this book yesterday, that I was in for real treat and, wow ....what a treat it was to read...

So, here's my review :

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 5paws - he kept very still the whole time we were reading....

From the start of The Absolutist, I was engrossed in Tristan and Will's story, and found myself really hurrying the pages to see what happened next.

The description of the time in the trenches is poignant, desperately sad, and hugely horrific, but never without tender philosophy.I loved both characters, and wanted everything to work out for them - but like all those who fought and died in the Great war, nothing would ever be the same again.

John Boyne is a master storyteller, who manages in a few short sentences to convey a complete world, and a time and place that really exists in your subconscious, with characters that come to life, and who live on in your memory, long after the last page is turned.

I stayed up long and late to finish this book, reading all 309 precious pages in a day, simply because I could not put it down. I loved every word of it , and it has to be up there in my Top Ten reads for 2011.

Read it if you can .....

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Taking advantage of the Amazon Kindle sale, I am delighted to review this little gem of a book. Having heard good reviews from my bookish friends - I started this book yesterday afternoon, and finished it late last night - having read the whole book in one sitting.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 5 paws

1891 - and little girls are seen but not not heard.

Orphans 12 year old Florence, and her younger brother, Giles are abandoned by their guardian, and left in the care of servants, in a crumbling Gothic manor house, in New England.When Florence is banned an education by her mysterious guardian, she teaches herself to read by visiting the forbidden library, and develops her own unique language. Fiercely protective of her brother, Florence senses a malevolent spirit pervading the character of their new governess, Miss Taylor.

I loved the story and was very quickly immersed in Florence's life, the activity within the house is expertly described. Deliciously gothic,and eerily creepy, this story, reminiscent of Henry James's novella - The Turn of the Screw - will stay with me for quite a while.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Latest review is Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington

I was lucky to be asked to review a copy of this lovely book. Here are my thoughts -

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 4paws

Matt Bliss is a reservist in the American army, and when he is called to fight in Iraq, he tries to prepare his family for the possibility of life without him. Alice Bliss is fifteen; she idolises her father, loves dancing with him, and plans their garden with him, and with great awareness she tries to keep from imagining a life without him. With wisdom beyond her years, Alice tries to keep her family together without the presence of the father she adores.
The story begins rather slowly, we get to know Alice and her family, we laugh with them, and ultimately we cry with them. There are some lovely characters interspersed within the story, Gram, Henry and Uncle Eddie, all add richness to the text, and help lighten the gloom. When the family get the news that Matt is missing in action, the story really begins to evolve into a perceptive analysis of love and loss.
Overall, I thought that the story was quite nicely written, as with quiet dignity Laura Harrington has managed to explore the sensitive topic of military loss in a tender and realistic way. There are some beautiful one-liners within the narrative which will stay with me for a long time.

I enjoyed reading it and will recommend it to my friends.

Taken from the book -

" You asked me what I miss....
You. I'll begin and end with you "

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Therapy Blanket...

I've just finished Knitting my therapy blanket - I find the whole process of knitting almost as therapeutic as reading - and I can listen to my favourite audio books at the same time - which means I get the best of both worlds.

I'm a great fan of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series - I read the first book way back in 1991 - it's hard to believe that this time travelling story was started 20 years ago !!

Whilst I've been knitting this blanket, I have listened to Voyager by Diana Gabaldon - which is Book three in the series - I've read these books so many times but this is the first time I've listened to them, and I am amazed at how much I missed, and how different the story is when read to by someone else. The actress, Davina Porter, is the excellent narrator - she must have the patience of a saint to read every word with such precision. I always thought that Jamie Fraser would sound a bit like the Scottish TV presenter, Neil Oliver - but I'm amazed at how close Davina can get with her rendition of a Scottish highlander !!


Thursday, 7 July 2011

My latest review book is Deliverance from Evil by Frances Hill

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 3paws

Deliverance from Evil is a meticulously researched and intricately written fictional account of the Salem witch trials of 1692. The author, historian, Frances Hill, has used her expert knowledge to bring to life a town steeped in superstition, and grievous rumour.

The story opens with two girls playing at fortune telling, they little realise what repercussions their actions will have, as soon an evil miasma pervades the town, and friends and neighbours are betrayed and subjected to horrific speculation.

Initially, I found the book difficult to read, there are an abundance of characters, and trying to place them within the story becomes a bit tedious, so much so, I nearly gave up. Not liking to admit defeat I continued, and found that the book started to become more interesting about half way through, and from then on I enjoyed it. I’ve read a few novels about the Salem witch trials, and whilst this isn’t up there with my favourites, I can acknowledge that the author certainly knows her subject very well, and has recounted the story in a different and slightly more academic way.

I have reviewed this book for

He's not for moving....

Jaffa is a very discerning shopper and only likes bags that are biodegradable.....he's been like that for hours so he's obviously very comfy....

Jaffa in a bag....

Sometimes reading gets too much for Jaffa and he likes to snooze in a bag......!!

Sunday, 3 July 2011


Whilst taking advantage of some super Kindle bargain offers on, I managed to get several books from my wishlist....

Here's what I got :

Whatever you love by Louise Doughty
Witness by Cath Staincliffe
Why don't you come for me - Diane Janes
These Things hidden - Helen Gudenkauf
The Summer Season by Julia Williams

Which means that I've got lots of lovely reading for over the summer ......

That got me thinking about wish lists and I realised that I had several on the go - all with different books...

My Amazon wishlist is for those books I would really like to have as presents, or for when I have a bit of extra cash to treat myself...

My Good reads wishlist is for those books I would like to have but there's no rush to get them...

My Bookmooch wishlist is for books I will mooch when they crop up - these are usually harder to get books, older books, and books that are only available in the USA...

My Readitswapit wishlist is for the more popular books, usually from the R&J and TV book clubs, or books that risi forum members have recommended...

I think that just about covers everything !!...

Friday, 1 July 2011

Rabbits, Rabbits, Rabbits....

Well - it's the first of July, and I wonder how many people have woken up with their fingers crossed and repeating rabbits, rabbits, rabbits......??

This good luck charm at the start of the month is something I have done since I was a little girl and I always remember ...according to wiki I'm not the only one to do it !

Have a Happy July everyone......