Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Everything Love Is - Claire King



From the author of The Night Rainbow: a poignant, mysterious and unforgettable story of love, and of the happy endings we conceive for ourselves

What I want is something that makes me feel alive. Joy, passion, despair, something to remember or something to regret. I want to have my breath taken away. 

Baptiste Molino has devoted his life to other people's happiness. Moored on his houseboat on the edge of Toulouse, he helps his clients navigate the waters of contentment, yet remains careful never to make waves of his own.

Baptiste is more concerned with his past than his future: particularly the mysterious circumstances of his birth and the identity of his birth mother. But Sophie, the young waitress in his local bar, believes it is time for Baptiste to rediscover passion and leads him into the world on his doorstep he has long tried to avoid. 

However, it is Baptiste's new client who may end up being the one to change his perspective. Elegant and enigmatic, Amandine Rousseau is fast becoming a puzzle he longs to solve. As tensions rise on the streets of the city, Baptiste's determination to avoid both the highs and lows of love begins to waver. And when his mother's legacy finally reveals itself, he finds himself torn between pursuing his own happiness and safeguarding that of the one he loves.


What did I think?

Everything Love Is has to be the most hauntingly beautiful, thought provoking and poignant story I have read this year; it well and truly captured my heart.  I admit that I didn't think I was going to enjoy it at first as I didn't really know what was going on, or indeed from whose point of view I was reading, but then as if the sun appeared from behind a cloud it all became clear.  The confusion is part of the point of the story, you see, as you really do get to step into the shoes of a person with dementia and it quite honestly almost broke my heart.

Baptiste is an orphan after an unconventional entrance into the world.  He was born on a train to a woman in a green coat carrying a violin case.  Unfortunately his mother died during childbirth and he was brought up by the off-duty midwife who delivered him on the train.  Baptiste knows nothing of his ancestors so it is no surprise that he is happy with his own company and lives on a houseboat, named Candice, in Toulouse.  He makes friends with Sophie, a girl working in his local bar who draws birds on her patrons' napkins. Sophie draws a kingfisher for Baptiste, a bird that looks below the surface of the water rather than its own reflection, a skill that Baptiste has as part of his job as a therapist.

Amandine comes to Baptiste's houseboat for therapy, although quite who is the patient and who is the doctor is a bit muddied as Amandine questions Baptiste about his past.  Baptiste falls in love with Amandine but she is his patient so he struggles with his feelings. Throughout the book Baptiste refers, with great affection, to someone with the pet name 'Chouette'; continuing the bird theme, chouette is translated as owl.  Could this be Amandine?

Everything Love Is is most definitely a book to be read twice.  The first read is filled with questions that all become clear on the way through whereas the second read makes it even more poignant as our eyes are wide open from the start.  It is an absolute masterpiece filled with colourful and poetic prose.  Claire King has given us a heart-breaking and poignant insight into a devastating condition - a condition where we lose our loved ones even though they can be standing right in front of us.  A stunning book, both inside and out.

I received this book from the publisher, Bloomsbury, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:



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Environmentally Friendly - Elias Zanbaka



Out of seven billion people, one man has declared war on Mother Nature and plans to bring it to its knees.

Out of all the criminals in Los Angeles, he's the number one target being hunted by the LAPD tonight.

And out of the entire LAPD, one officer is hell-bent on helping him complete his mission.

What did I think?

Environmentally Friendly is a short story and a very fast-paced one at that.  Although just 19 pages long, it is descriptive, dramatic and powerful with a very interesting storyline.

An army veteran has broken out of a psychiatric ward and is waging war on mother nature in revenge for losing his squad, not in combat, but in a natural disaster.  He is armed with a flamethrower and a chainsaw and the fine officers of the LAPD are ready to shoot to kill as required.  One of the policeman has other ideas as he guides the veteran onto a movie set and recreates a tsunami, allowing the veteran to get his revenge after all.

It was a really interesting premise to use the power of nature instead of weapons to catch an escapee.  The description of the tsunami was very dramatic and it was actually quite tear-jerking to see the effects of combat on this veteran.

The author should be applauded for such a unique storyline and for portraying the recapture of the veteran in such a humanitarian way when it could so easily have ended in a bloodbath.

I received this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:




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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The Whistler (Exclusive Early Sampler) - John Grisham


The most corrupt judge in US history. A young investigator with a secret informant. The electrifying new thriller.
Lacy Stoltz never expected to be in the firing line. Investigating judicial misconduct by Florida's one thousand judges, her cases so far have been relatively unexciting. That's until she meets Greg Myers, an indicted lawyer with an assumed name, who has an extraordinary tale to tell.
Myers is representing a whistle blower who knows of a judge involved in organised crime. Along with her gangster associates this judge has facilitated the building of a casino on an Indian reservation. At least two people who opposed the scheme are dead. Since the casino was built, the judge has made several fortunes off undeclared winnings. She owns property around the world, hires private jets to take her where she wishes, and her secret vaults are overflowing with rare books, art and jewels.
No one has a clue what she's been doing - until now.
Under Florida law, those who help the state recover illegally acquired assets stand to gain a large percentage of them. Myers and his whistle blower friend could make millions.
But first they need Lacy to start an investigation. Is she ready to pit herself against the most corrupt judge in American history, a judge whose associates think nothing of murder?

What did I think?

What a teaser! I've always been a big fan of John Grisham books so I was eager to read the 4 chapter sample of The Whistler but now I absolutely NEED to read the whole book. It is filled with corruption and intrigue ensuring the reader is hooked from the start.

It's all about a dodgy judge who seems to be making some illegal money in the Native American casino business. Two investigators, Lacy and Hugo, have been thrust into the midst of this case by contact from a whistle blower. I have no doubt that they will succeed in taking the judge down and revealing the depth of the corruption.

Roll on October when I can read The Whistler in full.
I received this e-book sampler from the publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:




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The Confession of Stella Moon - Shelley Day



1977: A killer is released from prison and returns ‘home’ – a decaying, deserted boarding house choked with weeds and foreboding. Memories of strange rituals, gruesome secrets and shame hang heavy in the air, exerting a brooding power over young Stella Moon. She is eager to restart her life, but first she must confront the ghosts of her macabre family history and her own shocking crime. Guilt, paranoia and manipulation have woven a tangled web. All is ambiguous. What truth and what lies are behind the chilling confession of Stella Moon?

What did I think?

I do love to read books set in my native North East England; there's just something so much more tangible about the story when you have actually walked in the footsteps of the characters.  Chillingham Road in Heaton and Worswick Street bus station in Newcastle get a mention; Worswick Street bus station was once the transport hub of Newcastle before the Metro came along.  Although I've never been to Low Newton, where the beach hut is located, it is part of the beautiful Northumbrian coastline in the shadow of the ruin of Dunstanburgh Castle.

The book starts in 1970 with the statement of Stella Moon confessing to killing her mother and giving details of what happened.  A cut and dried case leading to Stella's imprisonment but with only Stella's version of events, we have to wonder how much of it is actually true.  Is she really a cold blooded killer?  Stella is released in 1977 and heads back to her native Newcastle, to find that everything has changed.  Her grandmother's house is boarded up and she has nowhere to go so she breaks in through the kitchen window to take shelter for the night.  Only the house isn't as deserted as it would appear...

As Stella relives her childhood we learn about a devastating event that affected all the residents of the house - Baby Keating disappeared from his pram outside the house.  During a seance hosted by Stella's grandmother, Stella appears to be possessed as she tells the gathered ladies that Baby Keating is dead.  How would she know this?  Was this Stella's first murder?

The Confession of Stella Moon is dark, compulsive reading.  I was addicted from the first page as the twin storyline of Baby Keating's disappearance and Stella's mother's death intertwine and disappear into the darkness of Stella's memory like curls of smoke.  It's absolutely riveting from start to finish as the layers of Stella's life are peeled back like an onion and only then do we find out what really happened between Stella and her mother.  A superb read!

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:




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Monday, 29 August 2016

Before I Let You In - Jenny Blackhurst


Karen is meant to be the one who fixes problems.
It's her job, as a psychiatrist - and it's always been her role as a friend.
But Jessica is different. She should be the patient, the one that Karen helps.
But she knows things about Karen. Her friends, her personal life. Things no patient should know.
And Karen is starting to wonder if she should have let her in . . .

What did I think?

Jenny Blackhurst's debut How I Lost You was one of my Top 20 Books of 2015, so I was eager to read what Jenny had in store for us next.  I certainly wasn't disappointed with the brain-twister that is Before I Let You In.

Karen, Bea and Eleanor have been friends since they were young.  Karen is a psychiatrist and tries to look after her friends; she knows how people work, after all.  Bea is hiding her true feeling from her friends as she struggles with a painful memory from her past. Eleanor is happily married with two children, but she only gave birth to one of them.  Each woman has secrets that won't stay buried for long.

When a new patient, Jessica, turns up at Karen's practice the tension really does go up a notch.  Jessica seems to be turning psychiatry on its head as we wonder who is the doctor and who is the patient.  Jessica plays with Karen's mind and plants seeds that grow into huge weeds, trying to cause a rift between Karen and her friends.

There are loads of twists and turns in Before I Let You In; it certainly managed to tie my brain into knots.  Jenny Blackhurst is an amazing author; she builds up tension, drops bombshells that you're not expecting and leaves you reeling at the end of the book.  If you haven't read any of Jenny Blackhurst's books yet, I strongly urge you to do so - you won't be disappointed.

I received this e-book from the publisher, Headline, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:




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Keep You Close - Lucie Whitehouse



They said it was a tragic accident.

She knows better...

The brilliant young painter Marianne Glass is found dead in her snow-covered garden.

Rowan Winter, once her closest friend, knows it wasn't an accident.

Marianne had vertigo, paralysing vertigo.

She never would have gone that close to the edge.

What did I think?

Although I have two of Lucie Whitehouse's three previous novels in my book collection, Keep You Close is the first one I have read.  I did find it a little difficult to get into but it was well worth persevering.

Marianne Glass is a famous artist who is just about to exhibit in America when she is found dead in her garden after an apparent jump from the roof of her house.  With only Marianne's footprints in the snow, the police believe it is suicide but Marianne's family and her estranged schoolfriend, Rowan, know that Marianne had vertigo and would never have gone near to the edge of the roof.  Rowan and Marianne's brother, Adam, try to put the pieces together of Marianne's last movements to prove that she didn't jump.  Rowan, however, has a slightly different agenda as she tries to keep the secret buried that drove her and Marianne apart all those years ago.

I love books with a deeply buried secret and Lucie Whitehouse has brilliantly built up the tension as layer after layer is unwrapped of Rowan and Marianne's friendship.  Rowan was so close to Marianne's family when they were younger, so we wonder what on earth could have happened to drive them apart.  Was it a silly schoolgirl argument or something more sinister?  You will just have to read Keep You Close to find out for yourself.

Keep You Close surprised me at every turn as nothing is quite what it seems.  It is a goosebumpy examination of a friendship and a scary account of just how far some people will go to protect themselves in the guise of protecting those they claim to love.

I received this book from the publisher, Bloomsbury, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:




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Sunday, 28 August 2016

Dead Simple (Roy Grace Book 1) - Peter James


It was meant to be a harmless stag-night prank. A few hours later Michael Harrison has disappeared and his friends are dead.
With only three days to the wedding, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace - a man haunted by the shadow of his own missing wife - is contacted by Michael's beautiful, distraught fiancée, Ashley Harper.
Grace discovers that the one man who ought to know Michael Harrison's whereabouts is saying nothing. But then he has a lot more to gain than anyone realizes, For one man's disaster is another man's fortune . . .
Dead Simple is the stunning first novel in the number one bestselling Roy Grace series from award-winning author, Peter James.

What did I think?

After seeing rave reviews of Peter James novels on THE Book Club on Facebook, I picked up a few copies in one of the church fayres I visited recently.  When I recorded them on Goodreads I realised that I had purchased numbers 9, 10 and 11 in the Roy Grace series.  I couldn't possibly start a series at this stage, however unrelated each book is, so I bought a pack of the first three novels from The Book People for the bargain price of £4.99.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I then wrapped them up and gave them to my Mam for her birthday - even more of a bargain!  (She loved them, by the way!)

Dead Simple is a fantastic start to a series and has perhaps the best chapter 1 of all time.  Michael Harrison, who has been known to pull a prank or two himself, is on his stag night with four friends.  His friends decide to pay him back for all the pranks he pulled on them by placing him in a coffin and burying him in a shallow grave.  Before screwing down the lid of the coffin, they leave Michael with a torch, porn magazine, bottle of whiskey, walkie talkie and a breathing tube.  Their plan is to drive away for a few drinks then go back to collect Michael, but on their way to the next pub they are involved in a road traffic accident and there are no survivors.  How long can Michael survive when nobody knows where he is?

As Michael's wedding day looms, and the police look at the option of a runaway groom, his distraught fiancée, Ashley,  can't believe what is happening.  Ashley is determined that the wedding will go ahead, so she turns up at the church with her last shred of hope that Michael will appear.  As the police hunt for any clues, it soon becomes apparent that some people know more about Michael's whereabouts than they are prepared to reveal.  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, is all I'm prepared to say!

As Detective Superintendent Roy Grace investigates Michael's disappearance, he's prepared to use any means available to him, however unconventional, to find out what happened to Michael.  As the clock ticks and the plot thickens, I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest.  I simply couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

Dead Simple is an edge of your seat, race against time thriller and a cracking start to a series.

My rating:




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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY: I Need a Doctor - Janey Travis


Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: 15th July 2016
Publisher: Thornhill Print

Beauty and fame… a blessing or a curse?

Loveless fashion model Nola Nichols thinks being beautiful is a curse; that is until she is cursed and her looks begin to fade just a week before the most important photo shoot of her career. In her attempts to get un-cursed, she finds herself taking part in a rather unconventional funeral, reveals one or two unrests in her own past, and falls madly in love with a doctor. Erm… that would be a witch doctor, right?

What did I think?

This was such fabulous lighthearted fun and just what the doctor ordered.  It was quite a quick read but it certainly left a lasting impression and ensured I was left with a smile on my face at the end of it.

Nola is a jet setting model who travels first class and mixes with the rich and famous, but who is she really?  Brought up in Glasgow and named Nora, she couldn't wait to leave home and leave her past behind.  Now named Nola and with a Duchess of Cambridge accent she is used to getting her own way.  When her peace is interrupted on a transatlantic flight by a Caribbean lady having a panic attack, Nola can't hide her fury.  She confronts the crew and insults the lady, resulting in a voodoo curse being placed on her.

When things start going wrong with her appearance, Nola believes that she must have been cursed and tries to find the lady to get the curse removed.  Only this proves harder than she thought.  There was perhaps a blessing behind the curse as Nola meets handsome doctor, Louis.  After an unconventional meeting, they fall in love and get married but Nola doesn't quite realise what she has married into.  Louis has family in Haiti and not only that, his family are descended from a famous voodoo priestess; a tradition that is passed down through the female generation.

I think it was absolutely brilliant the way that Janey Travis transformed Nola from a superficial, selfish model into an accommodating, caring wife and mother.  It reminded me that we should never forget our roots and should never be ashamed of where we came from (and also not to get angry with any Haitian ladies).  I Need a Doctor is like Harry Potter for chick lit fans; we all need a sprinkling of magic every now and again.

I received this e-book from Brook Cottage Books in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:




BUY LINKS

What the Readers say:

Just the right sprinkling of romance and humour.” Brook Cottage Books

“A very enjoyable and clever plot. Different, fresh and enjoyable.” Jenny in Neverland

I couldn't help but like Nola even though at times she is a proper diva.” Comet Babe’s Books

I love all the quirky characters in the story and just the pure madness and fun of it all!” Books4U

“A nice balance of humour, sweet romance, morals and a spooky side!” The Little Reader Library

A Five Star Read - I really enjoyed the light-hearted tone.” Love Reading Love Books 


About Janey Travis:


Janey Travis is currently travelling around the world chasing the sun while blogging, tweeting, writing fun-to-read novels and travel magazine features. Look out for her new light-hearted romantic comedy novel I Need a Doctor. You can catch up with her on Twitter: @janey_travis on Facebook: janeytravisbooks.

Janey also writes bestselling romantic adventure fiction as Janice Horton. Find out more at www.janicehorton.co.uk

Author Links:
Janey Travis on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janeytravisbooks



GIVEAWAY
An ecopy of the book (open internationally)

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Tenacity - J. S. Law


Two hundred metres below the surface, 

she will have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

A sailor hangs himself on board a naval submarine. Although ruled a suicide Lieutenant Danielle Lewis, the Navy's finest Special Branch investigator, knows the sailor's wife was found brutally murdered only days before.

Now Dan must enter the cramped confines of HMS Tenacity to interrogate the tight-knit, male crew and determine if there's a link.

Standing alone in the face of extreme hostility and with a possible killer on board, Dan soon realises that she may have to choose between the truth and her own survival.

The pressure is rising and Dan's time is running out...

What did I think?

I did really enjoy Tenacity, it has all of the ingredients for an edge of your seat thriller, but I'm not familiar with job roles on a submarine so I found I got slightly bogged down with terms such as 'Coxswain' and 'Chief Stoker' and which character they actually related to.  For this reason, and this alone, I gave Tenacity 4 stars rather than 5.

Danielle (Dan) is a woman in a man's world.  She has been sent on board HMS Tenacity to investigate an apparent suicide of one of the crew.  Walker has apparently committed suicide after being informed of his wife's murder and Dan is tasked with finding out if there's more to it than meets the eye.  Of course there is more to it, ensuring that the pages turn faster than you can say 'up periscope'.

I felt quite claustrophobic when Dan was on Tenacity, there simultaneously seems like nowhere to hide yet sometimes feeling all alone. The crew were unsurprisingly suspicious of her and all were ready to stick a metaphorical knife in her back, leaving me wondering if there was anybody she could trust.  The captain, known as the Old Man, had no intention of helping Dan with her investigation and saw her as a nuisance on his ship.

Tenacity really is a page turner and I look forward to reading more about Danielle Lewis.  I struggled a little bit with matching characters' forenames to their jobs so I wasn't always sure who I was reading about when names like 'Chief Stoker' were mentioned, however, the story was fast paced enough to overlook this minor gripe.  Tenacity is an amazing debut from J.S. Law with a spunky heroine from whom I'm sure we'll be hearing lots more.

I received this book from the publisher, Headline, via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:




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Monday, 22 August 2016

Summer: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons - Melissa Harrison



Summer is a season of richness: gold against blue; sun dazzle on water; sweet fragrance, and the sound of insects, filling the air. We feel the sand between our toes, or the grass beneath our feet. In these long, warm days, languid and sensual, we reconnect with the natural world, revelling in light and scent and colour once more.

Capturing the high point of the year’s progress, Summer presents prose and poetry spanning eight hundred years. Featuring new contributions by Simon Barnes, Michael McCarthy and Esther Woolfson, classic extracts from the work of Charles Dickens, Mary Webb and Philip Larkin, and diverse new nature writing from across the UK, this vibrant and evocative collection will inspire you to go out and enjoy the pleasures of summer.


What did I think?

Perhaps it is due to the British Summer being a bit of a wet weekend that I didn't really get a feel of Summer shining out of the pages, like I did with Spring.  There are some excellent passages in this collection and I was pleased to see Timothy the tortoise getting a mention, courtesy of the Reverend Gilbert White's The Naturalist's Journal from 1776.

I love how the classics mingle with modern day writings in this collection; you quickly switch from reading classics like Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee to modern day writings of stars, butterflies and bees.  Each passage reminds us of lazy summer days with beautiful butterflies flitting between flowers and drunken bees weighed down with pollen.  Perhaps bees really were the origin of fairies, for what is more magical than seeing these little furry creatures buzzing around our garden?  It is almost unbelievable to think that one day bees might become extinct, then fairies really will be a thing of myth and legend.

Published in conjunction with The Wildlife Trusts, the sale of each anthology helps to raise funds for trusts throughout the UK.  The amazing cover of Summer perfectly captures the essence of the season and no stone is left unturned as each passage describes this most longed for season.

I received this book from the publisher, Elliott & Thompson in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:




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Sunday, 21 August 2016

My Sister's Bones - Nuala Ellwood


Kate Rafter is a high-flying war reporter. She's the strong one. The one who escaped their father. Her younger sister Sally didn't. Instead, she drinks.
But when their mother dies, Kate is forced to return to the old family home. And on her very first night she is woken by a scream.
At first Kate tells herself it's just a nightmare. But then terrifying things start to happen, things she can't explain...
What secret is lurking in her mother's garden?

And what if the real danger is where you least expect it?

What did I think?

I started My Sister's Bones one lazy Sunday afternoon and could not go to sleep that same night until I had finished it.  The book was glued to my hand from start to finish and, although I might have had suspicions about certain people, I certainly wasn't expecting the story to take the direction that it did.

Kate is a war reporter who was on assignment in Syria when her mother died.  She didn't make it home for the funeral, leaving her sister Sally to make the arrangements with the help of her husband, Paul.  When Kate returns home, she finds Sally drinking herself into oblivion leaving Paul at the end of his tether.  Sally has an awful lot to cope with so I can understand her turning to alcohol to numb her pain.  Sally was a teenage mum, giving birth to her daughter, Hannah, but after a drunken argument, Hannah left home at 16 never to be seen again.

Kate moves into her family home and it becomes clear quite quickly that she is suffering from PTSD.  She has flashbacks and nightmares of her time in Syria, so when she hears a young boy crying in the night she is determined to rescue him.  Kate tackles her neighbour, Fida, about the boy but Fida claims that there aren't any children living in the house.  Then Kate spots a young boy in her garden during the night and follows him into next door's shed only for him to disappear.  With insights into the cause of her PTSD, the reader is naturally drawn to the conclusion that Kate is hallucinating.  But is she?  When one day she wakes up with blood on her hands and no memory of how it got there, I really didn't know what to believe.

Absolutely impossible to put down, My Sister's Bones will have you questioning every single sentence that you read.  It is an exceptional debut and an impressive psychological thriller that really gets inside your head, making it impossible to tell fact from fiction. There are a multitude of threads to follow and untangle and I felt like I had held my breath until the very last page was turned.  I could write so much more about this book but writing any more than I've written would spoil some of the surprises.  I have no doubt that My Sister's Bones is going to be a massive hit when it is released in 2017.  Make sure you look out for it as you really don't want to miss this one!

I received this book from the publisher, Viking, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:


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1066: What Fates Impose - G.K. Holloway



England is in crisis. King Edward has no heir and promises never to produce one. There are no obvious successors available to replace him, but quite a few claimants are eager to take the crown. While power struggles break out between the various factions at court, enemies abroad plot to make England their own. There are raids across the borders with Wales and Scotland. 

Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, is seen by many as the one man who can bring stability to the kingdom. He has powerful friends and two women who love him, but he has enemies will stop at nothing to gain power. As 1066 begins, England heads for an uncertain future. It seems even the heavens are against Harold.

Intelligent and courageous, can Harold forge his own destiny – or does he have to bow to what fates impose?

What did I think?

Although it was never one of my favourite subjects at school, I've always had a keen interest in history.  I love reading and learning about the kings and queens of England but unfortunately the history syllabus at school was more concerned with the industrial revolution.  I've mainly read about post-Plantagenet kings and queens so an Anglo Saxon novel was something new for me.

We've all heard of the Battle of Hastings and I'm sure that many people will know this was in 1066.  Equally, we have all heard of King Harold and the arrow in his eye.  So I was really surprised, when reading this book, how little I actually knew about the Battle of Hastings and the events leading up to it.  It can get confusing at times as to who is who, but the author has very kindly listed all of the main characters at the beginning of the book.  This was an invaluable reference and I found that I frequently turned to it, mainly due to the Norse sounding names of this period.

The story begins in 1045 in the court of Edward the Confessor.  Edward is married to Edith of Wessex, but when they fail to produce an heir, due to Edward's famous piety, Edward names Edith's brother Harold as his successor.  This doesn't go down well with Edward's cousin's son, William (the Conqueror), and others who believe they have a claim to the English throne.  The story obviously ends in 1066 where the Battle of Hastings is laid out in such glorious detail that I almost felt as if I was watching the battle myself.  The strategies employed by each side and the sheer scale of the bloodiness gave us a 360 degree view of this famous battle.

The book feels so very well researched that I had no reason to doubt any of the facts therein.  Of course, records dating from this time are sketchy but with so much historical treachery and political intrigue surrounding the English throne I have no doubt that 1066: What Fates Impose is more fact than fiction.  

If you think King Harold was killed by an arrow in the eye, think the Battle of Stamford Bridge is a derby between Chelsea and Spurs, and think William the Conqueror was the only threat to King Harold's crown then you must read this book.  G. K. Holloway brings Anglo Saxon history to life in 1066: What Fates Impose and my knowledge of this period is now so much richer for having read it.  A tremendous 5 star read.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:




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Sunday, 14 August 2016

The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame: The Greatest Classical Music of All Time - Darren Henley, Tim Lihoreau, Sam Jackson



The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame celebrates classical music's unique ability to stir the emotions of a listener - whether it's the haunting melodies of Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs or Purcell'sDido and Aeneas; the passionately charged opening bars of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5; dramatic operas such as Puccini's La boheme; the moving sounds of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 and Mozart's Clarinet Concerto; beautiful ballet scores from Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky; or blockbuster film soundtracks composed by John Williams and Howard Shore.

This new edition of the Sunday Times bestseller celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the Classic FM Hall of Fame. With a fully updated chart of the nation's 300 favourite works, based on votes cast by millions of listeners over the past twenty years, a revised introduction and beautiful new illustrations, this definitive collection encompasses a rich variety of classical greats, contemporary masters, lesser-known treasures and outstanding British composers to provide a fascinating insight into our relationship with the music we love.

Darren Henley, Sam Jackson and Tim Lihoreau guide us through the world of classical music and the people responsible for creating and performing it. Combining fascinating histories and biographies, recommended recordings and the ranking of the 300 pieces themselves, this book is as relevant to a new listener discovering the joys of classical music as it is to long-time lovers of the genre. The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame is a beautifully illustrated testament to the enduring power of classical music to inspire, entertain, relax and invigorate us.

What did I think?

I admit it took me quite a while to read this cover to cover, but once I did I found that it will be a book I refer to time and time again.  It's almost like an encyclopedia of composers' best works - I just have to think of a composer and I can turn to their entry in the Hall of Fame to find out all about them.  To accompany the entries, there are some absolutely beautiful artistic depictions of some of the most well-known pieces of music.

Each piece of music has a little narrative describing it and its inspiration, along with where you might have heard it (such as Prokofiev's Dance of the Knights from Romeo and Juliet being the theme tune of The Apprentice and also the music that Sunderland, my football team, play when they run on to the pitch during home games).  The recommended recording to fully appreciate each piece is also stated along with the chart position.

There are so many interesting facts to learn in The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame - all of the best known classical composers have a dedicated page with their own mini biography and a 'Did You Know?' fact.  The most jaw-dropping moment for me was discovering that George Frideric Handel, of Messiah and Water Music fame, was a British citizen.

The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame is a stunning companion to the Easter weekend top 300 chart and a book to refer to again and again.  It has reawakened my love for classical music as I remembered long forgotten pieces and found some new favourites.  Thanks to The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of FameI now tune in to Classic FM for my daily commute.

I received this book from the publisher, Elliott & Thompson, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:




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