Friday, 24 June 2016

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse June 2016

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse: June 2016

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse, is a cosy gathering of book lovers, hosted by 

The Armchair Squid

is a meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the works they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.  If you wish to add your own review to the conversation, here is the link: 
http://armchairsquid.blogspot.com/

I would like to recommend two books this month, both are very different, one is under 200 pages so more a novella than a book and the other one is a full, more light-hearted novel. 



Product Description from  Amazon
Sometimes a glimpse into the past can help make sense of the future … 
Everyone thinks Lexi is crazy when she falls in love with Hollingsworth House – a crumbling old Georgian mansion in Yorkshire – and nobody more so than her husband, Dylan. But there’s something very special about the place, and Lexi can sense it. 

Whilst exploring the grounds she stumbles across an old diary and, within its pages, she meets Allie – an Australian nurse working in France during the First World War. 

Lexi finally realises her dream of buying Hollingsworth but her obsession with the house leaves her marriage in tatters. In the lonely nights that follow, Allie’s diary becomes Lexi’s companion, comforting her in moments of darkness and pain. And as Lexi reads, the nurse’s scandalous connection to the house is revealed …

MY REVIEW

4 ½ *

For a shortish novel (under 200 pages) this had me gripped.  We have two stories in one as Lexi buys a house and finds a diary from the previous occupant.

This is well written, the transitions between now and then (WWI) are seamless, the horrors of war time and the different troubles of modern day Britain, the romance of a nurse and a soldier, the bond of love that ties them together with the struggles the modern day marriage is going through.


This is my type of book which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. 

My second book is: 



Product Description from Amazon
For twenty-five-year-old Willow Watts, life has settled into a predictably dull routine: days behind the counter at her father's antique shop; nights watching fuzzy telly whilst the elderly residents of Britain's Ugliest Village bed down for yet another early night. But everything changes when Willow's epically embarrassing Marilyn Monroe impersonation is uploaded to YouTube. A canny viewer spots Marilyn's ghostly image hidden in the film and Willow becomes an international sensation. Her dire little town is suddenly overrun with fans proclaiming her to be the 'new Marilyn'. 

Egged on by the villagers - whose shops and businesses are cashing in - Willow eagerly embraces her new identity, dying her hair platinum and scoffing cakes to achieve Marilyn's legendary curves. But when the only man she has ever truly loved returns, seeking the old Willow, it's decision time. Should she risk stardom and the village's new-found fortune on love? Or is being Marilyn Willow's real ticket to happiness?

MY REVIEW

4*

A lovely read, light hearted but with substance, a well written novel, lovely touches of small town England also encompassing the wider world of show business, shady practices, lost loves and new loves.

It is nicely paced, a novel that could have easily become farcical but the author kept the characters true to life. 


A lovely, well written book.  

N.B. both books are set in England and as such will give global readers a very good taste of the English way of life. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

THE JOB


FFfAW – 05-17-16

WELCOME !
66th Challenge
Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers
Week of 05-17 through 05-23-2016
Guide for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers
1. A prompt photo will be provided each Tuesday to be used as a base to your story. Please include photo prompt with your story.
2. Linking for this challenge begins on Tuesday and runs to the following Monday evening.
3. Please credit photo to photographer
4. The story word limit is 100 - 150 words (+ - 25 words). Please try and stay within this limit.
5. Pingback to the challenge post in your story's post.
6. This is a flash fiction challenge (stories in 100-175 words or less) and each story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Therefore, no serial (continuation) stories. They become too complicated for our readers.
7. Add your story to the InLinkz Link-up (Blue Froggy button). If you need link-up instructions, please email mepricelessjoy@gmail.com.
8. Please keep your stories PG 13 rating or below.
9. Please, no disparaging remarks regarding any race, religion or life-style choices in your stories, even though it is fiction and/or you are merely making a point.

10. Remember, half the fun is reading and commenting on each other's stories. 

This week's photo prompt:
This week's photo prompt is provided by Yinglan. Thank you Yinglan!

THE JOB

This is what it comes down to

Covered in green top to toe

The only job in town

It’s better than being a clown


My own kids laughed out loud

Took pictures to upload to the cloud

I took pride in my look

It was alright in my book

To respect the past

Because it doesn’t last

The once magnificent beasts

Roamed the world at least

From fossils that remain

By the mountains and on the plains

We discovered their existence

Now we mourn their absence

My wages at the end of the week

Make up for looking like a freak.



Word count: 103

Sunday, 15 May 2016

CABLE CAR RIDE


The idea of Sunday Photo Fiction is to create a story / poem or something using around about 200 words with the photo as a guide. It doesn’t have to be centre stage in the story, I have seen some where the placement is so subtle, the writer states where it is.
Once you have written and posted your story, please clink on the link which will take you to the little froggy below so that it is added to the collection and we can all have a read.

The main object is to have fun.

Here is this week’s photo prompt.


Cable Car Ride

Alice bit the inside of her mouth, her stomach was churning, she was afraid to look down, she was afraid to look ahead, she was just afraid.  Why had she let Tom persuade her that this would be fun?  She hated heights.  She hated sports.  She hated enclosed see-through bubble type cabs swinging freely in mid-air. 

Tom put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her into his chest.  ‘It’s alright,’ he whispered softly as he stroked her hair in soothing motions.  ‘I won’t let anything happen to you.  Trust me, please.’  His voice was low and seductive, lulling her in to a false sense of security.

A gust of wind rocked the cable car, Alice grabbed at Tom’s shirt, he placed his free hand over hers squeezing it lightly, reassuring her with his touch.

Approaching the summit Alice took in the vista, a clear picture of nature’s beauty enveloped Alice’s senses, she gasped in surprise and delight.

She turned back to Tom, her eyes alight with wonder.  He reached into his pocket, glancing around nervously at the other passengers, he then produced a small velvet box, he opened it one handed and uttered the words she longed to hear.

Word count: 200

Friday, 29 April 2016

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse: April 2016


The Cephalopod Coffeehouse: April 2016


Our lovely host the Armchair Squid invites us at the end of each month to discuss our best book for that month, he says:

Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the works they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.  If you wish to add your own review to the conversation, please click the link above to find the linky.

This month I thought I hadn't had much time to read as life was rather busy but did read nine books, although one was only 124 pages long. 

My best read this month and one of the best books I've read this year is a psychological thriller, not my usual genre so I was so surprised at how much I enjoyed this book.   So without further ado, here is my pick for this month.


While My Eyes Were Closed
By
Linda Green
Approx. 416 pages

PRODUCT DESCRIPTON FROM Amazon

One, two, three . . . Lisa Dale shuts her eyes and counts to one hundred during a game of hide-and-seek. When she opens them, her four-year-old daughter Ella is gone. Disappeared without a trace. The police, the media and Lisa's family all think they know who snatched Ella. But what if the person who took her isn't a stranger? What if they are convinced they are doing the right thing? And what if Lisa's little girl is in danger of disappearing forever?
MY REVIEW

5*
This is a described as a psychological thriller and not my normal reading matter as the disappearance of a young child gives me chills.

This is a well written book making it a pleasure to read.  The author uses some of the Northern dialect but only to emphasis the location and not so that other readers from different areas can’t understand it.  There is some use of swear words but they are all in context and didn’t put me off.

This book kept me gripped. The little girl is so endearing, trusting and loving, the parents are distraught, the younger brother doesn’t really understand what is happening, the older half-sister returns from her trip to France when she hears about her missing little sister.  The grandparents who do a lot of caring for the children when the parents are at work are devastated and want answers which nobody can give in the beginning.

People are quick to judge, the parents, other people who may have black marks against them, are all in the frame, the parents have to find a way to support each other when it is the not knowing what has happened is so difficult to contend with.

It really doesn’t feel a long book (400+ pages) so that shows the quality of writing.  There are not many books that I feel deserve 5* but this was certainly one of the best books I've read this year.


Friday, 25 March 2016

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse: March 2016






The Cephalopod Coffeehouse: March 2016

The Armchair Squid says: 

Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the works they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.  If you wish to add your own review to the conversation clink the link to take you to the blue link.

http://armchairsquid.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/the-cephalopod-coffeehouse-march-2016.html


This month I read six books, one was a box set of three, so in effect I read eight books.  One of books wasn’t very good and was only worth 2* from me which was quite surprising because looking up the author she is quite prolific and has received awards for her writing.

Three books received 3* they had the potential to be so much more but the reading experience was less enjoyable due to the amount of errors, typos and spelling mistakes.   

I have gone from a murder mystery set in France, to a box set of ghosts who have been murdered, to a psychic visions novel, to a cosy small town romance, to a contemporary English romance and a historical novel.  So quite a varied and diverse reading choice this month.

My 5* book this month, the very best book I have read for quite some time (I don’t give 5* ratings very often) is …………



The Constant Princess
The Tudor Court Series

By

Philippa Gregory

I have read quite a few novels from Philippa Gregory and always enjoyed them.  The writing is brilliant and she blends historical facts within a fictional story.

The blurb from Amazon is as follows:
A splendid and sumptuous tale of intrigue in the Tudor Court from the international bestselling author, Philippa Gregory.
We think of Katherine of Aragon as the barren wife of a notorious king; but behind this legacy lies a fascinating story.
Katherine of Aragon is born Catalina, the Spanish Infanta, to parents who are both rulers and warriors. Aged four, she is betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, and is raised to be Queen of England. She is never in doubt that it is her destiny to rule that far-off, wet, cold land.
Her faith is tested when her prospective father-in-law greets her arrival in her new country with a great insult; Arthur seems little better than a boy; the food is strange and the customs coarse. Slowly she adapts to the first Tudor court, and life as Arthur’s wife grows ever more bearable.
But when the studious young man dies, she is left to make her own future: how can she now be queen, and found a dynasty? Only by marrying Arthur’s young brother, the sunny but spoilt Henry. His father and grandmother are against it; her powerful parents prove little use. Yet Katherine is her mother’s daughter and her fighting spirit is strong.
She will do anything to achieve her aim; even if it means telling the greatest lie, and holding to it.

MY 5* REVIEW

This is the story of Catherine of Aragon, who from a young girl, has been groomed by her Spanish parents from the age of four to become the Queen of England.

The writing is style is slightly different to other books I have read from this author in that we hear the thoughts of Catherine which are written in italics.  It doesn’t take very long to get used to this style of writing.

This is a great book to really get your teeth in to and although it may seem daunting at 500 odd pages the pace and quality of writing meant I was reading it whenever any opportunity arose to read a few more pages.

It is a detailed and comprehensive look at the lives of people living in the Tudor era in England, how they were used and abused and even murdered by the people in power who could also lose their positions very easily as well.

There is love, tragedy, mental illness, plots and tactics, prejudices against people of different faiths, countries and skin colour all skilfully woven through (well researched) facts and fiction.

A brilliant read.

I would thoroughly recommend this book if you like reading about English history. 

Friday, 26 February 2016

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse: February 2016


The Cephalopod Coffeehouse: February 2016

Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the works they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.  If you wish to add your own review to the conversation, please go to the link and sign on to the link list.



Title:  SUMMER SHADOWS

Author: Killarney Traynor


This is the description from Amazon:

Mystery. Romance. Danger. Murder. Not the typical family vacation. When Julia Lamontaigne arrives in Franklin, New Hampshire, she's looking for an escape from the tragedies that have taken over her life. Haunted by the legacy of her beloved sister, and entrusted with her sister's three orphaned children, Julia hopes for a summer of peaceful healing... and hopefully, bonding. 

At first, the small New Hampshire town seems to be the perfect location. They quickly settle in and make friends with their eccentric neighbours, then begin work on their summer house – while Julia is drawn into a relationship with Robert Wilde, the handsome cop next door. 

But Franklin is haunted, too - by the decades-old murder of a beautiful young artist, killed in the house at the end of Julia's street. Even though everyone says that the case is solved, Julia can't escape the feeling that there's more to the story than she’s being told. She's right. 
Someone doesn’t want the murder case re-opened. And they’re willing to kill again to stop it. 
The house at the end of the street hasn't begun to give up its secrets.

I gave this book 4*.

I found the story to be believable.  I was disappointed with the amount of typos and I feel that better editing would have made this novel 5*.  It would have picked up on missing words or using the same word used twice in one sentence, etc.

Having said that the book wasn’t boring and in fact kept me engrossed.  After a tragic accident that takes the lives of Julia’s sister and brother-in-law, she assumes the responsibility of her sister’s three children.  Julia and the children are all grieving in their own ways but trying to live as a family.  Julia loses her job and takes the opportunity to transfer them all to a property her sister had bought was planning to renovate in a small town during the summer holidays.

Ron, her eldest nephew is a stoic character, turning his grief inwards and trying to keep control of his younger siblings and keep them out of trouble.

Julia hopes that in renovating the house they can all bond and grow emotionally as a family and help each to heal over the loss of their parents and her sister and husband.

At the end of the street there is an empty house with a murderous past that gives a frisson and mystery to the story.

They begin to bond as a family with the help of some colourful characters as neighbours and there is also a touch of romance.

I enjoyed this book.


Thursday, 25 February 2016

LATE

Fiction from Photos
The idea of Sunday Photo Fiction is to create a story / poem or something using around about 200 words with the photo as a guide. It doesn’t have to be centre stage in the story, I have seen some where the placement is so subtle, the writer states where it is.
Once you have written and posted your story, please add the link to the little froggy below so that it is added to the collection and we can all have a read.
https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/sunday-photo-fiction-february-20th-2016/

The main object is to have fun.

LATE

Grace was running late, so very late, one thing after another, smudging her nail varnish, a run in her tights, her hair wouldn't go right but now she was in the car and on her way, she could make some time up on the motorway, as if she’d ever go over the speed limit, well only a bit, perhaps, sometimes.

The traffic started to slow down, a black Porsche sports car sped past her in the outside lane, the brake lights came on as he returned to the middle lane and a more sedate speed.

Ah, there was the problem, a police car hiding in-between two lorries just waiting for silly sports cars to go over the speed limit.

Taking her exit, she followed the directions, take the right hand lane, follow the road, turn right and then right again, park opposite Grace Chapel.

Grace checked her lipstick, took a deep breath trying to calm the butterflies in her stomach.  She entered the pub opposite the Chapel, chuckling to herself of the irony of it, as she prepared to meet her blind date.

A man climbed out of the black Porsche and followed her in to the pub.

Word count: 200