The Fowl Twins By Eoin Colfer #YA #TuesdayBookBlog

IMG_0137

Dear Reader…

For ten thousand years, the fairy folk have trusted the secret of their subterranean existence to only a handful of humans, including their greatest ally, the young criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl. So, when a fairy is stranded on the surface, the folk turn to Artemis for help. But unfortunately, Artemis has launched himself into space, so the call to arms is taken up by his twin brothers, eleven-year-old Myles and Beckett, who are yet to have an adventure of their own.

But what the Fowl Twins lack in experience they make up for with argumentative natures, atrocious fashion sense and a total lack of regard for their own safety. How can it all end well? It probably won’t, especially with a murderous nobleman, a knife-wielding nun and a shadowy government organisation on their tails. But, whatever the outcome, you can be guaranteed that the journey itself will be fraught with danger, bloated with gas and infuriating beyond words.

So stock-up on snacks, switch off your phone and prepare to read way past bedtime – for here begins the second cycle of modern Fowl adventures.

Enjoy!

Eoin Colfer

The Fowl Twins was a Christmas present from my daughter as we both enjoyed the Artemis Fowl books back in 2004.  I feel the adventures of Artemis had run their course but this new series about his twin brothers has revitalised my interest in the talented Irish Fowl family and their friends in the LEP (Lower Elements Police).  The extraordinary abilities and fast moving adventures of this disparate group of boys and fairy folk leave you breathless as they travel around the world in the clutches of a maniacal nun, Sister Jeronima of Bilbao, and a dastardly peer of the realm, Lord Teddy Bleedham-Drye.  Our twin heroes are Myles, a rather arrogant intellectual, and his delightful, messy brother Beckett. Despite their very different characters, they have a close understanding and as the plot develops, it is evident that they are very much a team.

Their companions are a tiny tough troll with whom only Beckett can communicate and Lazuli, a trainee LEP who is a pixel or pixie-elf. Like all of Eoin Colfer’s books, the prose is erudite, vividly descriptive and hilarious. This is the first of a new series and it will be interesting to see how the relationship between Myles and Beckett develops and the potential of Lazuli with her newly acquired magic powers.

The Fowl Twins can be purchased on Amazon UK

The Subtle Knife Book 2 of His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman #TuesdayBookBlog

IMG_0127

I read Philip Pullman’s trilogy back in the late 1990s but after watching the first series of His Dark Materials on TV I decided I would like to reread The Subtle Knife.  On TV we have already been introduced to Will Parry in parallel to Lyra’s early story, whereas in print, he is introduced, initially as the main character in this second book.  But I was reassured to find that I still found this compelling series riveting, if often distressing.

Will is an impressive boy, old before his years, formed by the fear and loneliness of looking after his mother after his father’s disappearance.  It is heartening to see him gradually grow towards Lyra as she supports him. They are both inadequately parented and aware of the importance of their destinies.  It is good to come to know more about the witch Serafina Pekkala and the adventurous Lee Scoresby. The brilliant characterisation is the key to the conviction of this story.  The daemons, which those from Lyra’s world each have, participate more actively in this book and you cannot help wanting one as part of your own soul.

The bright exciting world in which Will and Lyra find themselves in this novel, soon reveals itself to be a place of grief and the subtle knife itself, a poisoned chalice.  There are so many interesting themes taken from Paradise lost and William Blake but recognising the allusions is not necessary to the appreciation of the vast panoply of ideas within the novels.  Although very much a middle story ending on a cliff-hanger, in many ways it is my favourite.  I am very much looking forward to seeing how The Subtle Knife is presented on screen.

The Occupation by Deborah Swift #TuesdayBookBlog #NewRelease

Occupation

1940, Jersey

When Nazi forces occupy Jersey in the English Channel Islands, Céline Huber, who is married to a German, must decide where her loyalty lies.

Love for her island, and fear for her Jewish friend Rachel, soon propel her into a dangerous double life.

Meanwhile, Céline’s husband Fred is conscripted into the Wehrmacht in occupied France.

Horrified by Nazi acts of atrocity and torture, he soon becomes a double agent for the French Resistance.

But when things go wrong, and his Nazi masters discover his true allegiance, he finds he has the whole of the German Army on his tail.

How far will Céline go for her best friend? Will Fred make his way home to her?

Or will their lives be changed forever by the brutality of war?

THE OCCUPATION is a moving war & military saga following the separate stories of a young man and woman through the years of the Second World War as they fight to survive.

My Review

This powerful story had me reading late into the night, by turns on the edge of my seat or reduced to tears.  Although I have read of the German occupation previously only now do I fully appreciate the hardship, distress and uncertainty of those who lived through it.  In the words of Céline and later her German husband Fred (Siegfried) we follow their lives from their pre-war bakery on Jersey as Fred responds to the order to join the Wehrmacht in France while Céline struggles to keep their business going.  When the German army arrives to occupy the island, Céline’s Jewish friend Rachel becomes alarmed as she has already lost touch with her parents in France.

Meanwhile Fred is initially relieved to leave active combat for a job as a translator in Paris, but he soon makes friends with the locals and is horrified by the deeds of the Nazis.  Unable to communicate with each other, both Fred and Céline must take actions and make decisions they would not have countenanced before the war.  Fred puts himself in peril for the sake of others, while Céline is endangered by the arrival of Fred’s bullying brother as a German officer. This carefully researched story with its basis in true life would make an amazing film and is the best book I have read for a considerable time.

The Occupation on Amazon UK

My reviews of Past Encounters and Pleasing Mr Pepys by Deborah Swift

The Ashes of London (James Marwood & Cat Lovett, Book 1) by Andrew Taylor #BookReview

Ashes of London

A CITY IN FLAMES

London, 1666. As the Great Fire consumes everything in its path, the body of a man is found in the ruins of St Paul’s Cathedral – stabbed in the neck, thumbs tied behind his back.

A WOMAN ON THE RUN

The son of a traitor, James Marwood is forced to hunt the killer through the city’s devastated streets. There he encounters a determined young woman, who will stop at nothing to secure her freedom.

A KILLER SEEKING REVENGE

When a second murder victim is discovered in the Fleet Ditch, Marwood is drawn into the political and religious intrigue of Westminster – and across the path of a killer with nothing to lose…

My Review

Six years after Charles II regained the throne for the Stuart family, London went up in flames.  No-one feels safe in an environment where former Protestants, government agents and hidden Catholics live cheek by jowl.  We arrive in the city as old St Paul’s burns down, surrounded by onlookers; and there we meet our two protagonists, James Marwood, son of an extremist Puritan and Cat Lovett, the daughter of a renegade Protestant. Marwood narrates the majority of the story, but we also follow Cat’s perils, in the third person, as she is manipulated by her untrustworthy uncle.

In a realistic adventure through the narrow streets and ruins of London we follow Marwood’s attempt to please more than one master, looking for a murderer, seeking Cat and trying to protect his elderly father.  Meanwhile Cat, doomed to suffer the fate of many women in the past, decides to escape her uncle’s home and hides out as a maidservant.  The tortuous plot completely involved me in the Royal court, the rebuilding of St Paul’s and the underbelly of 17th century society.  A thrilling, convincing tale.

Andrew Taylor

A Taylor

Andrew Taylor is a British crime and historical novelist, winner of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger (for lifelong excellence in the genre) and the triple winner of the Historical Dagger. He has published over 45 books.

They include the international bestseller, The American Boy (a Richard and Judy selection); the Roth Trilogy (filmed for TV as Fallen Angel); the Lydmouth detective series set in the 1950s; and The Anatomy of Ghosts, shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.

His most recent books are the Marwood and Lovett Restoration series. The Ashes of London was a Times/Waterstones number one bestseller. The sequels, The Fire Court, and The King’s Evil, have both been bestsellers. The fourth in the series, The Last Protector, will be published on 4 April 2020

The Ashes of London on Amazon UK

Watery Ways by Valerie Poore #BookReview #Memoir

Watery ways

In this account of her first year of living on a barge in Rotterdam’s Oude Haven, Valerie Poore’s overriding impression is that “one of the first things you learn about living on a barge is that an awful lot of stuff is going to end up in the water”.

The year in question is 2001, and at forty something, the author takes the plunge to exchange her life in the corporate fast lane of Johannesburg, for life on a historic Dutch barge. Every month brings new challenges, obstacles and experiences. She meets a whole world of fascinating people, not least of whom are an endlessly smiling, but absent minded ‘landlord’, an intellectual, but quirky friend and confidante and an old world charmer whose mastery at the helm wins more than just her respect. She also learns how to cope with the sometimes strenuous demands of casting ropes and negotiating locks when acting as skipper’s mate during numerous nail-biting watery adventures.

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to live on a barge, this book may be the bait that hooks you; whatever your reaction, it will certainly give you an off beat and amusing insight into the ways of living on the water.

My Review

Having followed Valerie Poore on Twitter for some time now, I finally got round to buying one of her books.  Watery Ways proved even better than I expected. The amazing characters living on the barges in Rotterdam’s Oude Haven reflect the variety of colour, shape and repair of the barges themselves. Val is a courageous, hard working resident of a barge without washing facilities or modern conveniences and with the help of her friends she soon learns to manoeuvre her barge in the busy, terrifying waterways beyond the Haven.  A budding relationship and her experiences on board convince Val that she wishes to own her own floating home, so we join her quest to find the ideal craft.  At times she has the companionship of dogs and a suicidal cat who add to the excitement of day to day life on board.  I found myself seeking out maps to follow her journeys, but having tried “driving” a boat on the Thames I wouldn’t dare try to navigate the Dutch waterways!

Valerie Poore

Val Poore

Val Poore was born in London, England, and grew up in both north London and the west of Dorset. After completing her degree in English, History and French at Bournemouth, she took a further course in the conservation and restoration of museum artefacts at Lincoln College of Art which qualified her for nothing at all really. She then spent two years doing furniture restoration before going to South Africa in 1981 with her husband and small children.

Valerie left South Africa permanently in 2001 and has settled in the Netherlands, where she shares her time between a liveaboard barge in Rotterdam and a cottage in Zeeland. She teaches academic and business English on a freelance basis and still writes in her spare time, although she admits there’s not enough of that at the moment. In fact, she has been writing since childhood and wrote stories, articles and radio plays for years before embarking on her first book in 2005. Val loves travelling especially when it involves roughing it a bit. She feels that she has better adventures and more interesting experiences that way.

She has written six books altogether: the Skipper’s Child (teen/kidult fiction), How to Breed Sheep, Geese and English Eccentrics (sort of grown-up, humorous fiction), Watery Ways and Harbour Ways (memoirs of her first years of living on a barge in Holland), Walloon Ways (three years as a weekend Belgian) and African Ways (a memoir her life on a farm in South Africa). Her seventh book (another novel) is in progress but is taking rather longer than she had hoped. This is simply due to real life getting in the way

To find out more about Val Poore’s life see her blog

Watery Ways on Amazon UK

The Blogger Recognition Award -a chance to share blogs with my followers #Thankful

blogger-recognition-2019

I am very thankful to be nominated by Mary Smith of MarySmithsPlace for the Blogger Recognition Award as it gives me the opportunity to mention some of the wonderful blogs which are worthwhile following.

This has probably been my least productive year as a blogger for several reasons. Exactly a year ago I was recalled after my mammogram for a biopsy followed by a lumpectomy in January and radiotherapy in April.  I cannot praise the NHS enough for their kindness and efficiency.  They treated me like an adult, keeping me fully informed and the whole experience was actually spiritually life-enhancing.  I was able to recuperate with long stays in the beautiful Algarve and I have spent a great deal of time with my grandchildren.  This meant that although I read many books, finding time for the reviews was limited, but I kept Lost in a Good Book going even if my other blog Lost in the Past turned into a photo album.

How My Blog Started:

In 2014 Rosie Amber invited other bloggers to participate reviewing one book each on her wonderful review site.  As this was successful she asked if we would like to carry on selecting titles from her list. I jumped at the chance, initially posting my reviews on my history/nostalgia site before deciding to begin this book blog site. My usual posts are reviews which I also put on Amazon and Goodreads but occasionally I participate in book launches or collect books on themes. I particularly enjoyed Interviews with a Book Character and intend to return to this theme.

Two pieces of advice to new bloggers

  1. Although you need to proofread each blog post, don’t keep perfecting it. Your readers will welcome your next post.
  2. Interact with your readers in post blog messages and on Twitter. You will then have more followers and more friends.

Bloggers I have chosen to nominate for the Blogger Recognition Award

Terry Tyler for her encouragement of other authors on https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.com/

Carol Hedges who blogs about her books, her life as a Grandma and tips for writers https://carolhedges.blogspot.com/

Mimi Matthews for her wonderful costume and art blog https://www.mimimatthews.com/blog/

 Ruth Daly for her amazing photography http://ruthdalyauthor.blogspot.com/

Becky B for showing me the birds and beautiful countryside of the Algarve https://beckyinportugal.com/

Johanna Bradley for her Monday Walks and Six Word Saturday https://restlessjo.me/about/

Lynn Heiden for her amazing research into old photographs to discover family trees and reunite the photos she has found with their owners https://lynnswaffles.com/

The Renaissance Gardener for a fascinating blog about making a garden in south west France.

There are several other bloggers I would include who have already been selected by others.

If you wish to participate, which of course you have no need to do at this busy time, these are the specifications!

1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
2. Write a post to show your award.
3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
5. Select up to fifteen bloggers you want to give this award to.
6. Comment (or pingback) on each blog to let them know that you’ve nominated them and provide a link to the post you’ve created.

 

The Lost Ancestor (The Forensic Genealogist series Book 2) by Nathan Dylan Goodwin #TuesdayBookBlog

Lost Ancestor

As usual I seem to be reading this series of mysteries in the wrong order but in The Lost Ancestor we quickly come to know the character of Morton Farrier, a clever forensic genealogist and his circumstances, living happily with his fiancé, Juliette in an old cottage in the centre of Rye.  Written in the third person, the houses and villages visited by Morton are vividly described and his research is familiar to anyone following their family tree.

On this occasion, Morton’s client is a terminally ill man anxious to discover what had happened to his grandmother’s twin sister.  In 1911, Mary Mercer, a lively, spirited girl had taken a job as a housemaid in the stately home of Lord Rothebone, for which she was totally unsuited. A few months later she disappeared, and no records of her whereabouts were found.  However, in 1962 a message was written by Mary and left with a rose on her sister’s grave.

Morton is intrigued and works hard on the investigation, but other members of Mary’s family seem reluctant to help. The present-day heirs of Lord Rothebone at Blackfriars House seem more co-operative but there is soon evidence that Morton’s life is under threat if he carries on with the case.

This is an exciting, intriguing story told in dual time and I became involved in Mary’s happiness and tragedy as well as anxious for the safety of Morton and Juliette.  A great read for the Christmas break.

The Lost Ancestor on Amazon UK

Nathan Dylan Goodwin

N D Goodwin

Born in the famed battle town of Hastings, England, Nathan Dylan Goodwin has always had a passion for writing in one form or another. Having gained a 2:1 degree in Radio, Film and Television studies, Nathan went on to gain a Masters degree in Creative Writing, from Canterbury Christ Church University.

Nathan started his writing career with non-fiction, his first book ‘Hastings at War’ being published in May 2005. This was followed by three further local history books pertaining to the area around his home town of Hastings. His first forays into fiction writing culminated in the publication in 2013 of ‘Hiding the Past’ – a genealogical crime mystery novel.

In his very early forties, Nathan enjoys running, skiing, reading, genealogy, writing and time with his husband and son. That about sums it up!