Saturday, 30 August 2014

A Night on the Orient Express by Veronica Henry

Dear Readers,

A Night on the Orient Express, Veronica Henry, book reviewJust finished reading this wonderful book, couldn't put it down, finished it in one sitting. Veronica Henry has a new fan!

Welcome on board the Orient Express!

The famous Orient Express offers mystery and romance, it is the trip of a lifetime. What better way to travel to Venice! Each passenger has their own story to tell and a reason for being there. As the train travels from London to Venice, there will be revelations, drama and unforeseen gestures of love in all its forms. At the beginning of the novel there are many different characters that are introduced. Normally I do not like so many characters in a novel but this works, you get so drawn into their lives. 
Veronica Henry tells four different stories of individuals and families who have their own reasons for travelling in style to Venice.
 Imogen is heading to Venice to collect a painting for her grandmother but there is a surprise in store for her. Stephanie is travelling with her new partner, Simon and his children. It is their first trip as a family but it’s not exactly a smooth journey.  Riley is a successful photographer, who makes the trip regularly with a woman he has loved from a distance. Finally we have Archie and Emmie. Recently, Archie’s best friend Jay died from cancer but before he did, he entered Archie into a competition on the ‘Not on the Shelf’ website, to find his perfect date. In memory of his best friend, Archie takes the prize on the Orient Express where he meets Emmie who unbeknownst to her was entered into the competition by her sister. Each has a great deal of emotional baggage but as they get to know each other there is a connection as they are heading towards one of the most romantic cities in the world. 
There are huge decisions for all of these characters to make and all of their stories are utterly absorbing. 



The Man From Beijing by Henning Mankell

Dear Reader,

This is a stand-alone novel from the creator of the Wallander detective novels. This novel tells the tale of a horrific crime and a frightening killer. One cold January day the Police are called out to a small little village in the North of Sweden where they find victims of a savage murder. While the local Police struggle to finds clues or even a motive, the case attracts the attention of Birgitta Roslin, a Judge, whose mother grew up in the village. She comes across diaries from the house of one of the victims kept by Jan Andren, who is an immigrant ancestor of Birgitta’s. The diaries cover Andren’s time as a foreman on the building of the transcontinental railroad in America. Extended flashbacks chart the journey of, San, a railroad worker, who was kidnapped in China and shipped to America in 1863. After finding evidence linking the mysterious Chinese man to the Hesjovallen murders, Birgitta travels to Beijing, suspecting that the motive for the horrific crime is rooted in the past. Birigitta realises that she will have to solve the crime on her own, and here the books takes off in a total of four continents and a hundred and thirty years.

It was an interesting international mystery which at times meandered a little with the politics but it was a compelling read none the less.


Friday, 29 August 2014

The Real Thing by Catherine Alliott

The Real Thing (1996)

Tessa is heading off on the annual family holiday to the Scottish Highlands. She discovers that this year, Patrick - the artist she fell for when she was seventeen - is back from Italy. Back then her father, a vicar, had forbidden her from seeing Patrick and she then went on to marry David and have two children. But she has never forgotten Patrick. When David, a Barrister, returns to London early for work, Tessa has an accident and is forced to rest up at Patrick's mother's home. It seems that they may well be brought back together again. As Tessa faces up to whether she's with the right man, she goes from one crazy predicament to the next, with a lot of surprising announcements along the way.

A glorious tale of love with hilarious dialogue.  Really enjoyed this book a great pick-me-up after a stressful day at work! 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

An English Woman In New York by Anne- Marie Casey

Really enjoyed this book. A charming debut from Anne-Marie Casey. It's almost like a grown up version of Sex And The City.

The storyline grabs you from the first page so that you can't help but get hooked by each of the characters.

This novel revolves around four woman who live in New York.  We have Lucy, Christy, Robyn and Julia. They each live very different lives but they all share one thing - the city that they live in.

 Lucy is the first woman that we are introduced to in this novel, her husband has just lost his job and they have to move half way across the world from their sophisticated life in London to a small apartment in New York or Manhattan to be precise.

Christy is married to a wealthy man, who is a lot older than she is. She wants to get along with her stepdaughter who can't seem to try and get on with her .But when she starts feeling things for the doorman she doesn't know what she wants anymore and starts questioning everything about her life.

Robyn starts thinking that having an affair will be the best thing as her life is going nowhere. Being the wife of an aspiring novelist she decides that having an affair like the rest of her friends would be the right thing to do or would it?

Finally we have Julia, a television writer who is a work-aholic. Having a family is just another part of her life that she hasn't time for. Thinking that her family is better off without her she doesn't know where to turn when her neighbour's dog enters her life. She then starts to re-think what her life has become.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves humour with an absorbing storyline.

Secrets From The Past by Barbara Taylor Bradford

Just finished reading Secrets From The Past by Barbara Taylor Bradford.
It has been awhile since I have read one of her books and I was intrigued by this book on the shelf. The last book I read by her was Letter From A Stranger which I loved but I must say I was a little disappointed with this one.

This is a novel of deeply-buried secrets, passionate love, obsession and redemption.
 Thirty-year old Serena Stone is a talented war photographer who has followed in her father's footsteps. But when he dies unexpectedly in France, she steps away from the war zone weary of years of danger. She decides to write her father's own story and approaches Harry Redford, his best friend and front line colleague. Harry wants her to go to Venice to take care of Zac North, her former lover, who has come out of Afghanistan suffering from mental and physical exhaustion.

The scene shifts to Nice, where Serena reconnects with her older twin sisters, Cara and Jessica, at a villa inherited from their late mother, a movie star .  It isn’t until half way through that a riveting 'secret from the past' emerges. Whilst sifting through her father’s iconic archives, Serena finds photographs revealing that Tommy may have had a brief affair with another war photographer named Val. There are photos of a pregnant Val, with a caption suggesting that Serena may not be a movie star’s daughter. Serena can get no confirmation of her origins from her sisters or Harry. Then Zac distracts her from this dilemma with another. Although he promised to give up war-zone reporting, he wants to go to Libya to cover the rebellion against Gadhafi. He insists on taking Serena, now his fiancĂ©e, with him. Serena eventually agrees when she finds out that Val is now in Libya. But that’s not the most distressing information she’s withholding from Zac. I won't spoil it any further!

I found it dragged in parts. The characters all sounded the same and some of the sentences were repetitive . I just felt that there was a connection missing. Overall the story line was good.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Book Review - Homecoming by Cathy Kelly

Dear Reader,

Welcome to my first book review blog – very exciting altogether! I am going to start off with a review of Cathy Kelly’s, Homecoming, which I hope you read. I really enjoyed it. Let me know what you think of it.

Till next time, happy reading!


Homecoming by Cathy Kelly
Book Details
Paperback; 432 pages
Published September 16th 2010 by HarperCollinsUK (First published 2010)
Source: Library

Home is where the heart is
Four women. Four lives. One place they call home.

We are introduced to Eleanor Levine who left Ireland years ago with just a suitcase and her mother's recipe book. And now, seventy years later, she returns from New York to Dublin's beautiful Golden Square heartbroken after the recent, sudden death of her husband. As she watches life unfold from her window, she is drawn into the lives of the women who live in the square.

Beautiful actress Megan Bouchier had fame and success in her grasp - then she made the wrong kind of headlines and escapes to Ireland to her Aunt Nora (and her 
two dogs, Leonardo and Cici)

Big-hearted teacher Connie O'Callaghan is approaching forty and has given up on love. Why does no man match the heroes in her romantic novels?

Rae is a loyal friend and wife, dispensing tea and sympathy from Titania's Tea Rooms has a long-buried secret which is now resurfacing.

This is such a feel good novel. I love the way Cathy Kelly creates a warm and inviting community in Golden Square with an array of siblings, aunts, friends and husbands that these women interact with. And tying all the chapters together are excerpts from Eleanor’s mother’s journal, a keepsake if you will of lessons on life, pain, happiness, food and wisdom.
While the book if often poignant it is also laugh out loud funny. I enjoyed Connie’s character with Kelly’s description of her ultra-pink ‘boudoir’ with the line “She had three sets of twinkly fancy lights 
over her mirrored dressing table already. Anymore and the room would be a fire hazard.”

Homecoming is a fabulous, endearing read that I found impossible to put down.

Ailish Fitzgerald