That Summer at the Seahorse Hotel by Adrienne Vaughan #FridayReads

Seahorse

An old house in an estate on the beautiful east coast of Ireland is a perfect setting for romance and mystery.  Mia Flannagan is summoned to Galty House by the sad news of the imminent death of Archie Fitzgerald, a celebrated Hollywood actor who took the place of a father for most of her troubled childhood.  During a rather distant relationship with her mother, stunning actress Fenella Flannagan, Mia was nurtured by Archie’s family and friends, but even they would never reveal the identity of her father.

 

Leaving the set of a disastrous film where she is in charge of the wardrobe, she is relieved to find Archie is in good form despite being weak and tiring easily.  He maintains a good relationship with his new neighbour, American hotel manager, Ross Power’ but Mia is more interested in a friendship with Pearl, the lonely, neglected niece.  Just as Mia was, she is an imaginative, talkative child and the two have adventures together visiting the mysterious island just off the coast.

 

As Archie declines, Mia’s life begins to fall apart. The film is abandoned and when she returns to London she finds her dastardly boyfriend/fiancé in the arms of another woman.  There is great humour in this scene and also in the way that the women of Galty House conspire to deal with the cad.  It seems inevitable that Mia will be drawn to Ross, but she discovers he too seems to be involved in sharp practice.  Thus, the revelation that the Fitzgerald family have kept a conspiracy of silence about her father can only make matters worse.

 

This is a tortuous tale of love, leading to passion and envy.  The characters have substance and strong personalities and there is a little bit of Irish magic in the conclusion.  Definitely a book that is difficult to put down.

That Summer at the Seahorse Hotel is available at Amazon UK or Amazon US

A Vaughan

Adrienne Vaughan

Adrienne Vaughan has been making up stories since she could speak; initially to entertain her sister Reta, who never allowed a plot or character to be repeated – tough audience. As soon as she could pick up a pen she started writing them down.

It was no surprise that Adrienne grew up to be a journalist, diving headfirst into her career after studying at the Dublin College of Journalism. These days she is recognised as a talented author and poet, having published The Heartfelt trilogy of acclaimed novels and an award-winning collection of short stories and poetry. Her fourth novel That Summer at the Seahorse Hotel was published in February 2018 by The Paris Press.

Adrienne lives in rural Leicestershire with her husband, two cocker spaniels and a rescue cat called Agatha Christie. She still harbours a burning ambition to be a ‘Bond girl’.

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Painting Ruby Tuesday by Jane Yardley #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Ruby Tuesday

Thanks to the introduction to the books of Jane Yardley by my friend Hilary I decided to read this book, mainly because of the intriguing nostagic title.

My Review

It is summer 1965 and ten-year-old Annie is whiling away the holiday in her Essex village with best friend Babette, trying to keep out of the way of her parents who run the village school.  But as she practises for her grade 5 piano exam and escapes into the latest Beatles or Rolling Stone song, the local community is shocked by a spate of murders.

 

At first, Annie continues to visit her favourite adult, Mrs Clitheroe, who shares her synaesthesia, the tendency to see music, days of the week etc as colours, absorbed in conversation with her while Babette leafs through an old photo album. But then the murders come closer to home.  Annie is a witness, but she has no intention of helping the police to find the culprit.

 

In tandem with the story of her childhood we meet Annie thirty years later, a musician and teacher with one failed marriage and another cooling.  She is offered a chance to move to New York, a place that has always been significant to her, but she needs to work on improving the relationship with her American husband, Alan.  But memories of her creative, chaotic first marriage to sculptor, Daniel are getting in the way.

 

This is a complex book about only children who live in a world of their own (I identify with this!) of the traumatic effect of discovering a murder scene and the way some people stay with you all of your life, even if you only knew them as a child.  It is amusing, mystifying and reveals the world of a sixties village very well.  It is a stimulating read which makes you think but it is also a great page turner.

Painting Ruby Tuesday is available at Amazon UK or at Amazon US

 

Just an Odd Job Girl by Sally Cronin #TuesdayBookBlog #Review

Odd Job Girl

Imogen has reached the milestone of 50, but her world has fallen apart.  After over 20 years of marriage to Peter, he has abandoned her for a younger model.  Thrown out of her lovely home, she has downsized and is hibernating.  After turning to comfort eating, she has gained several pounds so has decided to make a new start by looking for a job.  She hasn’t worked since marrying Peter, so she approaches an agency.  There she meets Andrew who listens to her; something Peter never did.

 

Talking to him about her work experiences unleashes a multitude of memories and we as readers are able to share in the variety of occupations of her youth.  This isn’t a depressing story about loss or wasted years, it is a lively, amusing account of work in a hotel, funeral directors and the catering world. It shows a woman’s worth, gained from all the challenges of life experiences.  By going back through her memories, Imogen rediscovers her confidence and is ready to face the world anew.

Sally Cronin

Sally G Cronin

Sally Cronin is a successful author, well known for Smorgasboarda blog magazine for lovers of health, food, books, music, humour and life in general.

Just an Odd Job Girl can be purchased on Amazon UK or Amazon US

 

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd #BookReview

London Eye

I recently discovered the books of Siobhan Dowd, sadly after she died.  Written as a young adult adventure, “The London Eye Mystery” is exactly the sort of book I would have bought for my school Library or classroom.

 

Written in the words of Ted, who lives with his parents and elder sister Kat in London, it describes the mysterious disappearance of his cousin Salim from a capsule on the London Eye and how he and Kat try to find him.  Ted’s approach is unusual, because he has Asperger’s syndrome and he has a particular knowledge and interest in meteorology. Thus, he works logically through all possibilities, even the absurd, such as spontaneous combustion, using climatic vocabulary, for instance The Eye of the Hurricane and The Coriolis Effect, to analyse events.

 

Ted and Kat put their sibling rivalry aside to find their cousin.  Kat tells Ted that he is genius and he learns that she is able to read body language which he does not understand. Ted’s navigation of the underground and his experience of the crowded Earl’s Court exhibition centre, highlight the fears such places can induce for many people but how feelings can be overcome when it really matters.  A great book for 10 or 11-year-olds but I really enjoyed it too.

Siobhan Dowd

Siobhan Dowd was born to Irish parents and brought up in London. She spent much of her youth visiting the family cottage in Aglish, County Waterford and later the family home in Wicklow Town.
She attended a Catholic grammar school in south London and then gained a degree in Classics at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University. After a short stint in publishing, she joined the writer’s organization PEN, initially as a researcher for its Writers in Prison Committee.

She went on to be Program Director of PEN American Center’s Freedom-to-Write Committee in New York City. Her work here included founding and leading the Rushdie Defense Committee USA and traveling to Indonesia and Guatemala to investigate local human rights conditions for writers. During her seven-year spell in New York, Siobhan was named one of the “top 100 Irish-Americans” by Irish-America Magazine and AerLingus, for her global anti-censorship work.

On her return to the UK, Siobhan co-founded English PEN’s readers and writers programme, which takes authors into schools in socially deprived areas, as well as prisons, young offender’s institutions and community projects.

During 2004, Siobhan served as Deputy Commissioner for Children’s Rights in Oxfordshire, working with local government to ensure that statutory services affecting children’s lives conform with UN protocols.
Siobhan has an MA with Distinction in Gender and Ethnic Studies at Greenwich University, has authored short stories, columns and articles, and edited two anthologies.

In May 2007, Siobhan was named one of “25 authors of the future” by Waterstones Books as part of the latter’s 25th anniversary celebrations.

Siobhan died on 21st August 2007 aged 47. She had been receiving treatment for advanced breast cancer for 3 years, and did not go gentle into that good night.

 

Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery by Jennifer S Alderson #NewRelease

Adventures of Zelda Richardson Book 3

Rituals

Zelda Richardson is an adventurous heroine who loves to solve mysteries.  She needs to succeed in her placement as an intern at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam but the work involves Asmat Bis poles from Papua New Guinea, totems made for the spirits of the dead, whose evil looking faces seem to be leading her into danger.

 

Seven crates have been discovered unopened for 50 years in the archive depot of Rotterdam’s Wereldmuseum.  As Zelda and the more important staff from the museums observe, the crates are unpacked, revealing not just Bis poles, but also human remains of the head-hunting Asmat culture of what was then Dutch New Guinea.  But the most intriguing discovery is the leather-bound journal of Nicholas Mayfield, a wealthy American anthropologist who went missing in 1962.

 

Interspersed with Zelda’s transcription of the journal and her investigations, are passages from 1962, where we discover the frustrations and difficulties Nicholas had experienced while trading in Dutch New Guinea, hindered rather than helped by experienced Dutch anthropologist, Albert Schenk.  Albert is now Director of the Wereldmuseum and he seems to be a thoroughly unpleasant, arrogant individual.

 

Soon, Zelda is alarmed when two people close to her are murdered.  She continues with her task of transcribing the journal and researching the background of the Bis poles for an imminent exhibition, but she keeps information close to her chest and, at times, is unwise in those she chooses to trust.

 

This exciting story is also an education about a culture of which I knew very little.  The actions of colonial powers, the church and collectors of artifacts is called into questions but there is also our moral dilemma of whether to exhibit treasures from the past or return them to their source.  But don’t let this put you off; you will be on the edge of your seat wondering if Zelda will take one risk too many as well as wishing to discover what actually happened to Nicholas Mayfield.  A thoroughly good read.

An amazing picture of a Bis pole

Rituals of the Dead on Amazon UK and Amazon US

My review of Zelda’s first adventure Down and Out in Kathmandu

UK2 (Project Renova Series, #3) by Terry Tyler #NewRelease

UK2

The third book in this post-apocalypse story promised fear, revenge and an unknown future.  Vicky, still in shock from the murder of her lover, Heath, has yet to learn the true mastermind behind his death, and her daughter, Lottie, now a mature 18 year old, must reveal what happened.

 

The community in Lindisfarne is disturbed by the visit of Barney, a bullying ex-policeman, who comes to tell them of a wonderful newly developed community UKCentral, down south.  Travis is amazed to see Barney accompanied by his old friend Doyle, who is now managing data analysis at UKCentral, but Doyle is less than enthusiastic about this brave new world.  Several of their community, including “princess” Flora, can’t wait to go to a new life in a modern apartment with hot water and entertainment.  What could be wrong with it?

 

Through the words of Vicky, Lottie, Doyle and Flora, we learn how they feel about the way UK2 is developing and how the community of Lindisfarne is in danger of disintegrating.  Are newcomers, Seren and Hawk, a threat or do they have an answer to their problems?  There is another danger to humanity approaching and it is important to know who you can depend upon.

 

This novel is the perfect conclusion to the trilogy.  Mankind is trying to move on in a world without the internet or communication and bonds are made which establish a future for many. * Tiny spoiler here, I love the Book of Lindisfarne, a biographical parish record.  But like any good conclusion, there are still questions to answer and lives to continue.  If you haven’t started Project Renova yet, I recommend you download the trilogy as soon as possible.

UK2 is available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

My reviews of Tipping Point and Lindisfarne

Restitution by Rose Edmunds #NewRelease #Bookreview

Restitution

It is exhilarating to meet “Crazy Amy” once more, trying to pick up her life again by using her financial and legal expertise to help 83-year-old George stake his claim to a valuable Picasso painting, recently rediscovered.  Believing that it belonged to his Art collector father before he was murdered in 1939, George travels to Prague accompanied by Amy, not realising that there are others with a similar mission who will stop at nothing to get hold of the picture.

 

Still in shock from a recent tragedy, Amy appears to be in control, but that little voice still pops up questioning her competence, while Mel, one of her erstwhile betrayers turns up, claiming friendship.  Amy is haunted by reminders of the horrors of her childhood, but she seems to be making progress in her task.  It is possible that both Mel and Amy might find romance in Prague, but first they need to stay alive.

 

The complex plot, deception and danger, make for an exciting narrative and Amy’s insightful analysis of the weaknesses of other characters raises a smile.   We really shouldn’t like Amy; she drinks too much, lacks patience and shows intellectual arrogance, but she is addicted to adrenalin, walking head on into every situation bravely, with a plan which may or may not work.  Some call her crazy, but Amy is trying to cope with her demons by helping others and proving her worth.  Another great adventure with this indomitable anti-heroine.

You will find Restitution on sale at Amazon UK and Amazon US

Earlier adventures of Amy are reviewed here: Concealment  and Exposure