Sunday, 12 June 2016

Book Review: Diary of A Single Parent Abroad: Jill Pennington

The following review has been posted on Amazon UK & US + Goodreads

I was blown away by this book and read it in a few sittings. The memoir had been on my kindle for a while and I really hadn't expected it to be so good, but it turned out to be such a cracker of a read that I could hardly put it down. Jill Pennington and her husband have experience of renovating "doer upper" old houses and decide to buy one in a mountain village in Italy. 

Unfortunately, Jill's husband flits too often back and forth between his various business interests in other countries and also unbeknown to his wife has frequent visits to his long term mistress. Eventually the feckless husband leaves Jill and their children more or less to fend for themselves in their newly adopted country and living in a house only partly renovated.

 How Jill and her children adapt to their circumstances is truly remarkable. Living on very little and through an enormous amount of hard graft Jill provides for her family, single-handedly renovates the house, grows and rears their food to give them a fantastic lifestyle in a country they all love. A highly recommended inspiring read.
To purchase:

Update: This memoir was published in 2013. This remarkably tough lady is still living in the same house in Italy and still trying to make ends meet and raising a family on her own. Fans of the book are awaiting a sequel because there will be much to write about I'm sure.
If a reader would like to experience Italy in the beautiful Apennines Jill offers glamping holidays that are exceedingly good value at Goat Cottage on her property

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Review - Watery Ways: Valerie Poore

The following review was posted on Amazon UK & US + Goodreads

I did enjoy this book and feel quite bereft now that I've finished reading Watery Ways. I didn't want the book to end but fortunately more books have been written by the author about the continuing story of her life aboard a barge or rather barges in Holland and Belgium.

I've always enjoyed reading memoirs of people living alternative lifestyles, especially those resettling and living in other countries who don't necessarily subscribe to the usual ex-pat life abroad. I chose this book as the first one to read in the 20 books of Summer challenge on Twitter and what a lovely way to start. I have also recently started following Val's blog.

At the beginning of the book Val is newly divorced having temporarily lived aboard a barge in Rotterdam for a while with her now ex-husband. 

The lifestyle of living alongside other enthusiastic, friendly and helpful barge owners has been appealing so Val's aim, with her limited means is to buy and restore her own historic barge and make a comfortable home for herself on board. First though as a temporary measure, a Dutch friend offers her a barge to stay in rent free if she helps to restore the old boat. This she does almost single-handedly using her experience of restoration work on antique wooden furniture and helping to restore her earlier barge home. With occasional help from other local barge owners who seem to form an unspoken but useful collective of skills, the barge is slowly and lovingly restored. There are many mishaps, humerous anecdotes and a collection of feline and canine companions who come and go as temporary guests.

Eventually Val must find her own barge to restore and live in and a new man enters her life.

The whole story is narrated in such a very descriptive, appealing and humerous way that I felt like upping my own sticks immediately and buying a barge in Holland, but unfortunately I couldn't do this with my circumstances and health so I'm going to have to add the other books in the series Walloon Ways and Harbour Ways into my summer reading. Looking forward to reading them.

Highly recommended.

To buy

Monday, 6 June 2016

My 20 books of Summer

Cathy at @cathy746books has set readers and other bloggers a challenge to read 20 books of Summer.
I was going to try 10 books at first for the 20 Books of Summer challenge, partly because at some point during the Summer will be moving house. Once I started adding books to the list, I couldn't stop so 20 books it is.

First one to read has been on my kindle for a while and have no idea why I haven't read it yet because I like reading about alternative lifestyles

1. Watery Ways: Val Poore

2. The Beekeeper's Secret Josephine Moon
This book was very kindly sent as Book Post via the publisher along with some lovely additional gifts.

3. The Running Hare: John Lewis-Stempel
After reading Meadowland by this author and listening to extracts on Radio 4 Book of the month I pre-ordered this and it was a very lovely Book Post when it arrived.

4. A Darker Domain: Val McDermid
A book I've had for a while and haven't got around to reading yet.

5. The Secrets of Rue St Roch: Janet Morgan

Another physical book I've had for a while but haven't got around to reading. Mine has a different cover.

6. The Mystery of Mercy Close: Marion Keyes

Marion Keyes is one of my favourite authors and this must be one of the very few of her books that I haven't yet read.

7. See How They Run: Tom Bale

'The thriller everyone is talking about' except for me because I haven't read it yet!

8. Trapped: My life with cerebral palsy: Fran Macilvey

A book I've been wanting to read for a while.

9. The Lost Child: Ann Troup
Bought two of Ann Troup's books recently as they were on offer, so if I like this one may read The Silent Girls too.

10. Whisky From Small Glasses: Denzil Meyrick
A friend of mine recommended this author to me, knowing that I'm a crime fiction fan with a liking for Scottish Noir, so will start at the beginning of the series.

11. Coffin Road: Peter May

I've been wanting to read this since the publication date, but it was a bit pricey at first, so now it's on sale at a more reasonable price, I'll buy it.

11. Born For Life: A Midwive's Story: Julie Watson

Recommended to me by a friend who knows that I can't resist memoirs of a medical nature. My fifth grandchild is due to be born in November so it's possible I may become a tad emotional reading this!

12. I know Why The Caged Bird Sings: Maya Angelou

Amaxon informs me that I bought this last November so it's about time I read it. Have heard so much about this lady, so I'm looking forward to reading this.

13. How To Be Brave: Louise Beech

Have heard only good things about this book and the author had a new book out soon that I like the sound of.

14. Best Seller: Terry Tyler
I bought this in kindle edition after reading about it on Twitter and having a few friendly chats with the author. Sounds interesting.

15. My Kind of Food: Recipes I love to cook at home John Torode

As a huge fan of Masterchef and a cookery book collector, I couldn't not obtain a copy of this book to read and try out some of John Torode's own recipes.

16. Flowers For The Dead: Barbara Copperthwaite

This book has had good reviews from members of The Crime Book Club Facebook group.

I'm going to cheat a bit here, but only slightly because I'm going to leave 17. 18. 19 & 20 for a short while because some favourite authors have new books out in the June-September period, which will be added here. All reviews will have their own blog page and then all listed in the A-Z index. 

Friday, 3 June 2016

Review- The Wrong Kind of Clouds: Amanda Fleet

The following review has been published on Amazon UK & US, Goodreads and NetGalley.

It's hard to believe that this psychological mystery is a debut novel, such is the quality of the writing. A bit slow at the outset, but intriguing enough to carry on reading.

The book, set in Edinburgh, starts off with the mysterious abduction, assault and disappearance of Patrick Forrester, occupation indeterminate, a womanizer, gambler and cheat whose saving grace is that he helps disadvantaged children in Malawi to achieve an education by supporting a charity out there.

During his abduction he manages to make an alarming call for help to his ex girlfriend Summer Morris, a photographer with synaesthesia, which is a condition I've never heard of before but is explained on the NHS UK site here:
In Summer's case emotions are felt as colours.

 Summer tries in vain to enlist police assistance in Patrick's disappearance, but at first they're not interested until it is discovered that a female government minister and Patrick have had an affair. Before that discovery though and subsequent police involvement, Summer visits his flat and not very sensibly removes items to try to find out what has happened to her ex-boyfriend with whom she hadn't parted very amicably from.

With several trails to follow, including the mysterious disappearance of children in Milawi and a number of suspects apparently seriously annoyed with the missing man, police involvement when it appears is in the form of the rather enigmatic DS LB Stewart.

I liked the dynamics between the detective and Summer as together they try to unravel the mystery and find out what happened to Patrick Forrester, although if I was being critical the mutual attraction and holding back from the pair of them did go on a tad too long and I felt like shouting at them to get a room, but no, tlme was critical and a man's life could be at stake.

 I think and hope there might be more books involving these two intriguing characters because only parts of their personal histories were revealed and there's more I'd like to know about them as individuals.

Altogether a cracking good read.
To Purchase the book