The Detour: A road trip with my mom, her pug and a 1986 Volvo by Jennifer Ammoscato #BookReview #RBRT

Detour

Michael Garland’s is so good at getting lost that the thirty-year old coder lives an almost virtual life. He works from home, shops exclusively online—and does not drive. The poor man is shocked to discover his mother’s last wish is that he bring her ashes in the old family Volvo from San Francisco to her childhood hometown of Lebanon, New Hampshire. Guilt for reaching his mother’s deathbed too late will fuel the trip—with additional gas supplied by his mother’s Pug, Puddles, he must bring along. Armed with a GPS, a series of ever-more detailed lists, and the support of his best friend, Savannah, he embarks on an emotional side trip that will change his life.

My Review

I started this book expecting a light amusing story, which it certainly is but it is also much deeper. It is about friendship, loyalty and love.  We share Michael’s courageous adventure into the real world departing from his safe organised home. This is something we can all appreciate as we cautiously put out a toe from Lockdown.

Clearly Michael has some form of Asperger’s syndrome. He is highly intelligent and has been brought up by a warm, caring mother, but expressing emotions or trying something new is not part of his life.  As he sets out on his long journey across America, we share Michael’s fears of the traffic and the possibility of bedbugs in the hotel, but we also see that he is growing in confidence and independence. There are many amusing incidents often including Puddles the Pug but everything always works out in the end.

I always enjoy reading about journeys, all the more so at present, and I particularly warmed to Michael’s caring friend, Savannah. I can really recommend this book to put a smile on your face and make you feel good.

The Detour on Amazon UK

Ammoscato

Author Jennifer Ammoscato – solving the world’s problems one cosmo at a time.

Jennifer Ammoscato is a paid, productive member of society. Frankly, it’s not enough. Therefore, May 2015 saw the launch of her debut novel, “Dear Internet: It’s Me, Avery” (The “Avery Fowler 2.0” series, Book I).

During the day, she is an intrepid writer/editor for the public relations department of a Canadian university. By night, she fights crime and the urge to organize closets and stuff herself with salted chocolate caramels.

Dreams do not inspire Jennifer’s books. In fact, they tend to terrify her. In particular, the ever- popular naked-at-school or I-have-a-final-exam-and-didn’t-study dreams. She usually just makes stuff up.

She is married to her husband, Ezio. As opposed to someone else’s husband (insert name here). She is the proud mom of two very tall sons, Dante and Christian.

Miss Tavistock’s Mistake by Linore Rose Burkard #RegencyRomance #RBRT

Tavistock

Young Miss Tavistock is promised in marriage to Captain Rempeare by the wish of her dearly departed papa. But the captain’s been at sea for a decade. When she finally meets him, tempestuous sparks fly, and she impulsively adopts a daring false identity. Going by “Lady X,” she vows never to marry such an infuriating man.

Captain Gabriel Rempeare is prepared to fulfill his duty and marry Miss Tavistock—if only he can clap eyes on her. One circumstance or another keeps them apart, though he cannot seem to avoid the beautiful, maddening, Lady X. When fate throws them together in London, Miss Tavistock discovers the real nature of the captain, and regrets her subterfuge. But can such a noble man forgive deceit? Or has her mistake already cost her everything?

My Review

Feodora Tavistock is an exuberant heroine, who despite living as a ward of the aging Duke of Trent on a remote estate, shows enthusiasm for whatever life offers. When Mrs Filbert arrives as companion to the 19-year-old girl, she embraces her as friend despite the fact that she is middle aged.  One day life for Feodora (or Margaret as she prefers to be called) will change, for she is betrothed to her cousin Gabriel who showed her great kindness when she was first orphaned ten years earlier. But Gabriel Rampeare has spent most of the intervening years in the navy and he has scarcely written to her at all.

With Mrs Filbert’s collusion Margaret persuades her guardian to allow her to join the London Season so that she can enjoy one summer of balls, parties and frivolous gowns before her marriage. In the meantime, Gabriel and Margaret meet under unfortunate circumstances, not recognising each other and his behaviour is so despicable she determines to refuse the marriage.  Unfortunately, they are thrown together in London although Captain Rempeare believes she is “Lady X” the Inamorata of his elderly uncle.  The secrets, lies and misunderstanding are a perfect basis for an amusing, exciting plot.

For me, Captain Gabriel Rempeare is the perfect hero. A career sailor he misses the sea, but intends to do his duty by his betrothed, yet he is hampered by the necessity to cover the debts and appalling behaviour of his brother. Miss Tavistock lacks experience of life so makes foolish mistakes and is prepared to give up her chance of happiness rather than confess her falsehoods to Gabriel.

The author knows the era very well. Her descriptions of the ballroom with its chalked floor, of the sumptuous dinners provided and the extravagant fete at Carlton House are filled with authentic detail and her account of naval battles in the early 19th century, ring true. My only complaint would be the rather sudden ending when I would have liked a little longer to enjoy the inevitable conclusion.

Miss Tavistock’s Mistake on Amazon UK

Linore

Linore Rose Burkard ( L.R.Burkard) is a serious watcher of period films, a Janeite, and hopeless romantic. An award winning author best known for Inspirational Regency Romance, her first novel (Before the Season Ends) opened the genre for the CBA. Besides historical romance, Linore writes contemporary suspense (The Pulse Effex Series, as L.R. Burkard), contemporary romance (Falling In), and romantic short stories (ie., “Three French Hens”). Linore has a magna cum laude English Lit. degree from CUNY which she earned while taking herself far too seriously. She now resides in Ohio with her husband and family, where she turns her youthful angst into character or humor-driven plots.

#BookReview: A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson

Ibbotson Song        Ibb Chant

When Ellen Carr abandons grey, dreary London to become housekeeper at an experimental school in Austria, she soon knows she has found her calling. She never expected the Hallendorf school to be quite so unusual. Her life back in England with her suffragette mother and liberated aunts certainly couldn’t be called normal, but buried deep in the beautiful Austrian countryside, Ellen discovers an eccentric world occupied by wild children and even wilder teachers and a tortoise on wheels. But it is the handsome, mysterious gardener, Marek, who intrigues her – Marek, who has a dangerous secret. As Hitler’s troops march across Europe, Ellen finds she has promises to keep, even if it means sacrificing her future happiness.

My Review

I discovered Eva Ibbotson through her amazing children’s book A Journey to the River Sea written in 1998, when she was 73. I then selected her adult romances, often promoted for Young Adults. The cover pictures for A Song for Summer pitch it as a romance, which it is, but it is so much more than that. As Ellen, an educated young woman from a suffragist household, travels to 1930s Austria, we see this idyllic country knowing that it will soon be plunged into turmoil. Spurning her chance for an academic life, she yearns to visit the country of her unofficial grandmother and to cook and care for a group of needy children in an extremely eccentric school. Never judgemental, she spreads happiness and sorts out problems and this school has many.

The other adult trusted by the children is Czech handyman, Marek, who carries two secrets; one a dangerous mission to help people escape from the Nazis and the other a wonderful talent and fame. But he is a flawed hero, impulsive and easily roused to anger and circumstances are bound to separate him from those he cares for.

There are many amusing characters in this story, such as Tamara, the passionate Russian ballet dancer, who is actually Beryl from England, Hermine a pretentious eurythmics teacher with her baby Andromeda, tucked down the front of her smock and the dire, Kendrick Frobisher, who adores Ellen but is scared of his mother or any involvement in real life.  And yet, the awful consequences of the advancing fascists are also addressed within the plot so that we hope Ellen can survive but do not expect a happy ending.

For me this was a perfect read for the present time.

Eva Ibbotson

Eva_Ibbotson

Eva Ibbotson was born to Jewish parents in Vienna in 1925. When she was nine Eva moved to London to join her mother, a successful novelist and playwright, who had fled Vienna in 1933 after her work was banned by the Nazi authorities. Other members of Eva’s family also escaped Vienna and settled in England, and their shared experiences later influenced Eva’s writing, with the themes of home, refugees and immigration running through her books.  Eva studied Physiology at Cambridge University and later trained as a teacher. She started to write in her thirties and her first children’s book, The Great Ghost Rescue, was published in 1975 when she was fifty years old. Despite her late literary start, Eva went on to write more than twenty books for children and won the Smarties Prize for her novel Journey to the River Sea in 2001. She also wrote seven books for adults. She died at her home in Newcastle in 2010, aged eighty-five.

 

The Peppermint Tea Chronicles by Alexander McCall Smith #TuesdayBookBlog #Humour

Peppermint tea

 

It is summer in Scotland Street (as it always is) and for the habitués of Edinburgh’s favourite street some extraordinary adventures lie in waiting.

For the impossibly vain Bruce Anderson – he of the clove-scented hair gel – it may finally be time to settle down, and surely it can only be a question of picking the lucky winner from the hordes of his admirers. The Duke of Johannesburg is keen to take his flight of fancy, a microlite seaplane, from the drawing board to the skies. Big Lou is delighted to discover that her young foster son has a surprising gift for dance but she is faced with big decisions to make on his and her futures. And with Irene now away to pursue her research in Aberdeen, her husband, Stuart, and infinitely long-suffering son, Bertie, are free to play. Stuart rekindles an old friendship over peppermint tea whilst Bertie and his friend Ranald Braveheart Macpherson get more they bargained for from their trip to the circus. And that’s just the beginning . . .

Reading this book was a welcome return to the characters of Scotland Street, Edinburgh.  All ages and all sorts of characters are represented. Problems are solved and worries assuaged, usually by the kindness of others.  Like the other books in the series, there are interesting philosophical discussions and relationships develop.

My favourite characters are 7 year Bertie Pollock, his simple friend Ranald Braveheart Macpherson and their helpful adult comrade Angus Lordie with his cheerful dog Cyril.  The book is sprinkled with humour, be it the vanity of handsome Estate Agent, Bruce, making a fool of himself when he tries to show off his knowledge (or lack of it) about whisky to the owner of a distillery; or an account of the Scotch Pie company once called Pies for Protestants, then Inclusive Pies and now with the surge of nationalism, named Pure Dead Brilliant Scotch Pies (Nae Messing).

By the conclusion of the novel young Pat has found a new, rather young, boyfriend, Bertie’s father has found romance and Matthew has found a way to cheer his lonely wife who struggles with triplets Rognvald, Fergus and Tobermory.  For a feel good, thought provoking read you cannot beat the wit of Alexander McCall Smith.

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

Intrigue & Infamy (The Victorian Detectives Book 7) by Carol Hedges #NewRelease #BookReview #RBRT

Intrigue

Book Description

It is 1866, the end of a long hot summer in Victorian London, and the inhabitants are seething with discontent. Much of it is aimed at the foreign population living in the city. So when a well-reputed Jewish tailoring business is set aflame, and the body of the owner is discovered inside, Detective Inspector Lachlan Grieg suspects a link to various other attacks being carried out across the city, and to a vicious letter campaign being conducted in the newspapers.

Can he discover who is behind the attacks before more people perish?

Elsewhere, Giovanni Bellini arrives in England to tutor the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Haddon, ex-MP and City financier. But what are Bellini’s links to a dangerous Italian radical living in secret exile in London, and to beautiful Juliana Silverton, engaged to Harry Haddon, the heir to the family fortune?

Romance and racism, murder and mishap share centre stage in this seventh exciting book in the Victorian Detectives series.

My Review

Never has a Victorian murder mystery seemed more appropriate for the time of reading.  Once again Carol Hedges captures our imagination with her tale of honest policemen, hard-working women and dastardly villains.  At a time when Italy and Germany are hotbeds of revolution as they try to build up unified national identities, foreign residents of London are subject to racist attacks by an unknown group.  Meanwhile, Juliana Silverton has ensnared her perfect husband and she can look forward to a happy successful marriage provided no scandal is revealed about her or her fiancé, Harry Haddon. But in the house of Harry’s father, Sir Nicholas Haddon, his second wife despairs as her young’s son’s loyalty is lost to a new young Italian tutor.

As the elegant Juliana tries to preserve her future, she is threatened by a jealous friend while Harry finds the bullying he received at Eton, continues into his adult life.  They must both summon courage and sang-froid to achieve happiness together. As more innocent people are attacked in the city, thank goodness we can rely on the careful detective work of our old friends Jack Cully and Lachlan Greig.

Intrigue and Infamy recreates the glitter and sparkle of sumptuous 1860s London, contrasting it with deception and secrecy and we are shown how so many people struggled against prejudice, misfortune and cruelty. Another compulsive read!

Intrigue and Infamy can be purchased at Amazon UK

My review of Diamond and Dust Book one of the Victorian Detectives series.

 

Love, Loss, and Moving On by Lorie Kleiner Eckert #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT

Love loss

Where to begin?  This book was a total surprise- part memoir, part fantasy and one way of dealing with loss, guilt and loneliness.  And any book which gives a detailed description of the life and films of actor, Bill Nighy can’t be bad.  Lorie Kleiner Eckert relates events during 2015, two years after the death of her long-term partner, Big Irv, via her diary entries, some of her “Slice of Life” newspaper columns and fan letters to Bill Nighy. She is witty and informative. Supported by good friends, Lorie shares regular visits to movies, prepares weekly dinners for her children and grandchildren and runs a craft day each Monday for her youngest grandchildren.  Being of a similar age, I admire her energy tremendously, but she was aware that she had not come to terms with Irv’s death from cancer or her guilt at turning him out of her house.  An amazingly creative lady she had previously produced stunning quilts with simple, important messages spelt out in the designs but now she felt unable to return to her craft.  Then she responded to the suggestion of writing The Book of Irv with sections on Good Stuff, Bad Stuff and Ugly Stuff.  Working through these topics she tells us about their relationship and how despite their love for each other he made life impossible by trying to keep her family away.  Interspersed with the fan letters she sent to Bill and those she wrote but did not send, Lorie works out what she wants from the future but she also helped me, the reader, to see echoes in my own life when I had to deal with the death of my mother.  The best thing about reading “Love, Loss, and Moving On” is that I have found a person to follow, whose blogs and motivational articles speak personally to me.

Lorie

Lorie Kleiner Eckert

Lorie has a degree in Elementary Education. She has 3 children and 9 grandchildren.  She has returned to quilting and now sells some of her creations on Etsy

She has published 4 books and writes 2 regular blogs. Love, Loss, and Moving on can be purchased at Amazon UK

Lorie regularly posts motivational messages on social media and she blogs on Worthy.com and LorieKleinerEckert.com.

She is a Queen of social media. You can find Lorie’s pictures on Pinterest or Instagram

And she is also on Twitter  and Facebook

The Doll Maker (The Viper and the Urchin Book 4) by Celine Jeanjean #NewRelease #TuesdayBookBlog

Doll

Revolution in the streets.

A deadly weapon stolen.

A wardrobe too wide to fit up the stairs.

All is most definitely not well back in Damsport…

For Rory and her companion Longinus, this is an exciting time, a new beginning.  No longer is Rory a waif, a defiant pick-pocket given a place to sleep and guidance by the wise but eccentric assassin.   They are moving into a new home as equals. Rory believes she is paying her way, an independent young woman who helps the Marchioness when Damsport is under threat.  Longinus is in his element, decorating their new home stylishly and employing Tess, a maid, to take care of them.  But their happiness is soon disturbed when Rory discovers their friend Cruikshank, the skilled machinist, critically injured by brutes who have broken into her workshop.  A dangerous weapon containing a lethal explosive has been stolen and the whole city could be destroyed.

Rory must work with Varanguard, Raif, once more and this time she has come of age. She is prepared to recognise her feelings for the strong handsome young man. Together with Longinus they face terrifying events.  Rory participates in a thrilling duel on board Crazy Willy’s steamcoach and Longinus faces up to fears from his past when he enters the eerie rooms in Arthur’s Automaton Emporium.  He found,

“himself facing rows and rows of beady black eyes, all looking at him.  The eyes belonged to dolls. Rows and rows of dolls….

The doll’s eyes were as black and gleaming as beetle wings and so shiny they looked wet….

One had hair but no face so that its black eyes looked out from metal sockets above an articulated metal jaw, its joints held in place by vicious-looking screws.”

Will the Old Girl maintain her position as ruler of Damsport or will a popular rising, funded by bribery and lies, replace her with a corrupt, power-seeking aristocrat who only cares for himself?  Rory’s links to the underworld in the Rookery are essential if the city is to survive.

This is the best of all these exciting steampunk adventures.  The plot turns from one frightening situation to another problem which must be solved.  The characters the reader now knows so well, are courageous, loyal and enterprising and their personal development is believable and heartening.  A must read!

The Doll Maker on Amazon UK

 

T is for Dido Twite from Black Hearts in Battersea #AtoZChallenge #TuesdayBookBlog

Hearts  Black Hearts

Joan Aiken was an amazing writer of children’s fiction about the supernatural or alternative history. The long series of fat books which begin with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase are set in Britain in a version of late 17th century history where James II was never deposed in the Glorious Revolution, but supporters of the House of Hanover are active enemies of the monarchy. Wolves have invaded the country from Europe via the newly built Channel Tunnel. The child hero or heroine varies from one book to another, but my favourite appears first in book 2, Black Hearts in Battersea. Here I met Dido Twite, a poor ragamuffin girl who helps young apprentice painter, Simon and the wealthy, Sophie. Dido Twite speaks appallingly, dresses scruffily and is defiantly independent. She also proves to be loyal and brave.  The children deal with wolves, kidnapping and shipwreck.

Part of Dido’s endearing quality is her personal vocabulary.  In distress she exclaims, “Croopus!” Her friendly greeting is, “Wotcher my cully,” and we understand her meaning when she says, “betwaddled,” or “havey-cavey.” It is such a relief when this extraordinary girl reappears in Night Birds in Nantucket and other books in series.

Dido Twite

This will be the last of my #AtoZChallenges for two reasons. Firstly, because I am travelling for several days with limited Internet connection but secondly because I am uninspired by the last few letters of the alphabet.  Perhaps you can suggest suitable book characters you might have included in your list of favourites.

My A to Z favourite Book Characters

Q is for Ramona Quimby #AtoZChallenge #FridayReads

Ramona pest    Ramona 8

Ramona Quimby is an ordinary little girl with normal parents and a well-behaved older sister.  Although set in America, this family could easily be a typical British middle-class family where times are sometimes hard. My favourite book is Ramona the Pest when she anxiously starts nursery school alongside her neighbour, Howie.  Her kind teacher, Miss Binney, tells her to, “sit there for the present,” so she patiently waits to be given the present.  She is fascinated by her classmates corkscrew curls so she pulls them to see them ping which, rather harshly I thought, causes her to be suspended from school. Her vivid imagination makes her a joy to encounter but constantly gets her into trouble. As the series continues we see Ramona longing to grow up quickly, dealing with school bullies and trying to help her family when her father loses his job.

“Come on, Mama!” urged Ramona, “We don’t want to be late for school.”

“Don’t pester, Ramona. I’ll get you there in time.”

“I’m not pestering,” protested Ramona who never meant to pester. She was not a slow-poke grown-up. She was a girl who could not wait. Life was so interesting she had to find out what happens next.

Perhaps you watched Ramona on the TV programme which was pretty true to the books.  I would be proud to have Ramona as a member of my family.