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The Secrets of Happiness – Lucy Diamond

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image.jpegThere appears to be many secrets of happiness but I am only going to let you into a couple! Sibling love and creativity should be enough to whet your appetite for Lucy Diamond’s 2016 novel set mainly in Hereford with a smattering of Birmingham and Manchester mentions!

Rachel goes off on a day adventure to Manchester hoping to unpick a throw away comment that Violet makes at her Dad’s funeral. Both Mum and Dad are dead now and Rachel doesn’t realise how much she needs a family until her partially estranged step sister and step mother swoop in to help after Rachel meets with an unfortunate accident.

Becca the ‘wicked’ step sister is the one that blossoms on creativity and she finds both an avenue for this and a potential romance when she stays in sleepy Hereford the calming antidote to the chaotic and not necessarily fulfilling life she temporary leaves behind.

There are more secrets to unravel about Harvey the dog, Lawrence the ex husband, the annoying mummy mafia and Meredith the ex flat mate…… but I’m not going to give any more away perhaps it’s suffice to say it’s a jolly good read!

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The Ladybird Book of The People Next Door

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image.jpegThis is one from a series of adult Ladybird books that is a play on those well known books we of a certain age at Grey Mansions will remember fondly from childhood. During the sixties the Ladybird books were early readers and I can remember receiving one about Elijah from the bible as a Sunday school prize. They were loved and respected.

The People next Door is a tongue in cheek look at our neighbours, you will no doubt recognise the person next door and indeed yourself as the Ladybird authors casually and artfully observe with wry humour. A quick read but a humorous one and I quote from the first page ‘Our planet is small and we must learn to share with each other. Every Sunday, at dawn, Neil sits outside his house, sharing the deafening engine noise of his unmuffled vintage M.G.roadster with the rest of the street who are having a lie-in. Not everything needs sharing.’ The accompanying picture is one of the perfect fifties/sixties suburb, fenced in front gardens,large semi’s, tidy flower borders, a girl just off to play tennis and a boy on a bike.

I look forward to reading more from Penguin, this is an absolute hoot.

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A chat with Jonathan Harvey

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image.jpegThank you to Jonathan to agreeing to feature on my ‘author’s chats’ page. An incredibly exciting time for me as I launch this new phase in my blogging career. Comments in italics are from Jonathan.

Like me one of Jonathan’s favourite author’s was the prolific writer Enid Blyton.  I loved the Secret Seven books by Enid Blyton. They were just great stories, well told, and I longed to have my own secret club meeting in my garden shed. I certainly think that Enid must be at the top of fave childhood author’s lists of many people as her books just allowed your own imagination to run wild. I loved the Faraway Tree.

Which authors inspire you and why?

I love so many. Marian Keyes, Armistead Maupin, Claire Mackinstosh, Patrick Gale, Jojo Moyes. Writers who write about a world I recognise and tell me something about the human condition.

Where do you usually write and do you have a ‘usual timetable’?

I am quite adaptable and can write anywhere but I prefer to be in my office at home and try to keep daytime office hours. But if there’s a deadline looming then weekends are good, as fewer people email or call.

What is your most recent book and in a few words can you tell us something about it?

My latest is The History of Us, about three friends growing up and getting older and how a secret from their childhood affects them all today when one of them is found dead. I’m certainly looking forward to reading this and hope I find it in my Christmas stocking. I loved Jonathan’s The Girl Who Just Appeared which is partially set in Liverpool so I am a convert to Jonathan’s style of writing and story telling.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on my next novel, though I’ve not decided on a title yet. And I continue to do quite a bit of telly, like Coronation Street and Tracey Ullman’s Show.

Do you use social media to promote and interact with readers?

I certainly do, it’s lovely to have that immediate feedback. 

Any tips for aspiring writers?

Write. It’s easy to find excuses not to, but you have to put the hours in.

Thank you Jonathan.

If you too are a fan please comment below would love to hear from you.

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The Girl Who JUST APPEARED ~ Jonathan Harvey

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image.jpegNo I haven’t made a mistake on the title – this is how it is shown on the front cover of this gorgeous paperback. First time for me to read one of Jonathan’s books and I am definitely going to try another one soon.

Holly is adopted and the trail of looking for her birth mother starts when her adopted mum Jean dies. The journey takes her to Liverpool where she meets new friends Iggy, Rose and Irish Alan. All this time she is accompanied by Michael the dog she is ……. dog sitting for her previous boss Sylvie a has been celebrity currently overseas.

She rents a flat where she believes she lived with her birth mother and immediately the quest picks up speed dipping and diving amongst ‘characters’ that she reads about in a hidden diary found under the floorboards…….. sounds like an adopted story that is too good to be true…….but I read on!

The tale has many twists and turns and I tried second guessing what would happen next and invariably I was wrong which whetted my appetite to get to the end even more.

Although a poignant story it is hilarious too as you meet these characters through Holly’s eyes and hear her thoughts on the page. This is interspersed with diary chapters from Darren written in the lovely scouse accent which I could clearly hear as I read it.

…… and so the story ends on the sunshiny island of Santorini and  I didn’t see the end coming but it was great, I couldn’t put this book down and I want to know what happened to Holly next!

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The Girl On The Train ~ Paula Hawkins

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The hook reads – ‘You don’t know her but she knows you‘, and it certainly hooked me in. Me who isn’t much of a thriller reader but someone now who will be haunting the book shops for other  Paula Hawkins’ reads. Haven’t seen the film so would be keen to know from others how it shapes up against the novel.

I felt sorry, sympathetic, cross and ashamed for  Rachel the drunk who is trying to shake off drinking, trying to get over the loss of her job and the biggie trying to get over her divorce. Each problem impacted on another until she finds herself still travelling on the computer train to London each day to avoid confrontation and admittance of her lost job to her seemingly unfriendly flat share.

It then seems that she is anxious to fling herself into other people’s lives and then…………………….. well I’m not going to spoil the story for you….and I didn’t see the end coming.

Published by Transworld

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Style of Wight Magazine.

imageLove a free magazine on the hoof, particularly one so stylish as Style of Wight which I was lucky enough to see at the Caledon Guest House in Cowes recently…..fantastic stop over (separate post to come). This little gem of an island  broken off from the south coast here in the UK is a walkers and travellers delight. You probably read The Isle of Wight Coastal Path – Yarmouth (4 miles), and Cruising with Wightlink.where I sing its praises….and yes more singing praises to Isle of Wight to come!

Style of Wight magazine is glossy, very good quality paper and heavy so for a reader and a nosey traveller one at that it suited me fine. I need to know what is round the corner, what an area has to offer and the best places to eat and walk…and Style of Wight ticks all the boxes.

The September slash October  edition of Style of Wight hooked me in from the front cover which had a hint of Brief Encounter about it with a wistful girl leaning out of a train window. I was later to read that she was sporting latest fashions which can be picked up from island shops.

Style of Wight has introduced me to a new author Deborah McDonald and I can not wait to read her latest publishing of A Very Dangerous Woman. I’m very sorry to have missed the Isle of Wight Gin Festival but lets hope it’s on next year…. let me know pleaseeeeeeeeee!

There are profiles on destinations on the island, foraging tips from Bryony Rust (what a beautiful name and so suited to her autumn article!) and historic tales of Wight…..and of course so much more!

Yes Style of Wight can’t wait to get back if only to read your magazine, cheers! This post  will also be published on The Grey Traveller

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The Forgotten Garden ~ Kate Morton

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img_4103This story moves effortlessly between the English West Country, London and Brisbane encompassing the early part of the 20th century, the seventies and the beginning of the 21st century.

A mystery around the apparent abandonment of a little girl who throughout her own life and her grand daughters they seek to find out who she really is. So crossing continents for each of them helps to unravel the story.

Central to this is the Forgotten Garden a place for escape for many of the characters that you will meet.

Of course there is a love story …….. One of the best of my summer reads this year for me.

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Paradise House ~ Erica James

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img_2912Genevieve’s home is anywhere other than Paradise or so it seems, she is the lynchpin of the family and the one who takes responsibility for the family bed and breakfast business that is Paradise House.

A little bit of Welsh sunshine and beach gives this summer holiday read a smile. You are kept guessing all through this love tale as to who she will end up with. I found myself rooting for her all the way as she certainly deserved some good luck with the disparate but loveable family members who give her problems and leave her holding the fort and or baby.

The references to food are appetising and the post prandial glow when  the  book is complete is satisfying. Thank you Erica James.

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Tiffany’s Summer ~ Karen Swan

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img_2910Cassie is a more than a budding flower amongst the London Rich and Successful. Having a share of a dream business of vintage fine dining catering amongst the reasonably wealthy she hangs on the arm of Henry a good looking modern day explorer. His sister and her best friend also has a dream job organising expensive weddings. Seems almost too good to be true doesn’t it?

Cassie is reluctant to finally tie the knot with Henry and this beach read will tell you exactly why.

With names like Velvet and Cornish holiday homes called Butterbox Farm, life seems very good indeed for these rich young things. I would like a slice of this as I’m certainly less likely to shop in Tiffany’s!

A pretty front cover is often a draw and the colours are a definite big hint of summer ……. In Tiffany’s. The label on the front tells you it was a Sunday Times Best Selling book and clearly a sequel to Christmas at Tiffany’s . I enjoyed it during my summer by the pool.

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Francesca’s Party ~ Patricia Scanlan

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img_2908A modern story of our times. Set in Dublin it tells the tale of Francesca and Mark’s marriage as it flounders and blunders its course to divorce. You find yourself  getting frustrated with the main characters as they fight and argue and hurl blame at one another. ….. But of course every cloud has a silver lining and Francesca eventually finds her feet and then some. She transforms from little wifey to mature career woman collecting respect and admiration in small doses along the way. It’s not an easy journey for the characters to ride but it’s entertaining and throws hope out to every woman who’s been thwarted in love. You will be celebrating when you arrive at Francesca’s Party along with the rest of the guests.