Thursday, 13 February 2020

Valentine's Day

 Forget the storms and snuggle up with this collection of fourteen love stories, 
all previously published in women's magazines.

Stories include:

Two for Joy
Superstitious Jess is looking for true love – will the magpies or the tea-leaves point her in 
the right direction?

Bonnie Prince Charlie
Isabel has an unexpected guest staying for Bed & Breakfast – and there are people who would 
pay to know his whereabouts.
Summertime Blues
It’s the year of Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep, but Lindsay, part-time record-spinner on 
a Scottish island, is feeling far from chirpy.

A Parallel Universe
Louise meets David for the first time in fifteen years and wonders about the life they might have had together – is it too late?

And Pomona Came Too
There’s a third party in Nick and Jill’s relationship – his metal detector. He even wants to take it on their weekend break to Basking-in-the-Wold …

Making a Scene
Of course her little boy’s birthday party is Lorna’s first priority but how she wishes she could
 be in two places at once.

For Love or Money
Jackie is about to marry someone who’s made a lot of money – is she trying to leave 
her two oldest friends behind?

The Palace of Complete Happiness
While escorting a school party through the Forbidden City in Beijing, Milly comes to the conclusion that she can learn a lesson from the life of the imperial family.



Thursday, 6 February 2020

Six in January

I read six books in January.

I was eager for another encounter with DCI Jude Satterthwaite and his colleagues after loving the first in this series Death by Dark Waters. It did not disappoint. A nursing home is a great enclosed-community setting for murder; at Eden’s End (what a fab name for such a place!) the death of Violet Ross is not at first thought to be suspicious – she was 100 after all – but it emerges that she had some murky secrets. The personal relationship between Jude and DS Ashleigh O’Halloran moves forward (that’s all I’ll say about that … ) and the ending is both surprising and completely satisfying. Look forward to number three.

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
I have never watched The Gilmore Girls so it wasn’t the fact that its star, Lauren Graham, is the author here that made me pick up this book, set in 1995, about Franny who is trying to make it as an actress in New York. Books set in NY always attract me and the highs and lows of acting do too for some reason so this was a double whammy – and of course the author obviously knows that world very well.
And I did enjoy it, mostly. I liked her relationship with her dad, and the humour in the awful commercials she was sent to audition for by the agent she should never have signed up with. It did feel rather slow though – not something I usually take issue with, but in this case the pace didn’t match the content.

The VS Pritchett Award is given annually for short stories. I was looking the history of the competition up online and came across the winning story for 2011 The Redemption of Galen Pike. It’s one of the best short stories I’ve ever read – and for me its ending is even more satisfying in 2020 than it would have been nine years ago. Read it here and see for yourself. So I wanted to read more by Carys Davies. The title story remains my favourite in this collection but there is much else to enjoy including a sad and surprising one set in the Australian outback, and a grimly funny tale of the perils of arguing over map-reading with your other half.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Aimed at the YA market as it has a contemporary seventeen-year-old female protagonist but can be read by anyone over the age of fourteen. Jennifer Donnelly won the Carnegie Medal with her first book A Gathering Light and on the strength of enjoying that so much I went to see her at the Edinburgh Book Festival in 2010 and bought this one. Why it’s taken me ten years to get round to reading it I have no idea … but when I started it I got completely immersed and every time I had to put it down I couldn’t wait to get back to it.
American teenager Andi is struggling after the recent accidental death of her little brother, for which she blames herself, and her wayward behaviour causes her father to take her away with him when he has to go to Paris for work. Andi finds a diary written by a girl, Alexandrine, during the French Revolution and the bloody time of ‘the Terror’ and thereafter their lives intertwine. It’s not exactly a time-slip story – or is it? I do find that historical period fascinating and her writing is fab.
I’m not sure that the title conveys all it might do and the hardback jacket is not very inspiring, in my opinion, but don’t judge the book by it …

Good Morning, Midnight by Reginald Hill
One of my 2019 Christian Aid Book Sale purchases. The title is taken from a poem by Emily Dickinson and RH is not the only one to have used it. It’s the title of a book by Jean Rhys and a sci-fi book made into a forthcoming George Clooney film.
This is an outing (the third last) for one of my favourite detective duos, Dalziel and Pascoe; here the Fat Man’s turn of phrase is as witty (and un-PC) as ever and the plot as clever.

Frederica by Georgette Heyer
The latest read in my extremely enjoyable romp through GH’s Regency novels … this has everything: an outspoken, impoverished heroine, her delightful little brothers, an imperious hero – comedy provided by his relationship with his social-climbing and sponging sister, and a perilous hot-air balloon ride. What made the book even more special was that it was given to me by my daughter-in-law whose favourite GH it is – so nice to have a loved author in common with her and to know that Georgette Heyer continues to have multi-generational appeal.