Monday, 24 September 2012

Over The Hill And Far Away By Jo Carroll

What's it about? (from Amazon)
There must be something between the retirement party and buying a zimmer frame. JO CARROLL decided this was the time to revive her teenage dreams and go round the world. So she packed her rucksack, a round-the-world ticket, and a notebook. Not prepared, then, for being marooned on a beach in Australia with the tide rising and nothing but cliffs behind her; nor negotiating with a gunman who wanted to marry her in Lucknow. Let’s not think about the snakes and leeches in the jungles of Malaysia.

But could anything have prepared her for the drama that brought her home? Nor the kindness of strangers who kept her safe at that moment when she was least able to do it for herself.

Did I Like It? 
The idea for the trip started about two years earlier when Jo read a newspaper article,reading that gap years were wasted on the young, she agreed and the seed was planted.This was something she had wanted to do ever since her brother had went backpacking but couldn't do it for fear of upsetting her mum.
 She found support in her daughters and the rest of her family, packed her rucksack and jolly well went to see the world for a year.
I read this book while on holiday in Turkey where I had everything I needed at my fingertips including a case full of clothes and a washing machine. I just don't know how Jo lived out of a rucksack and lived so simply for all that time but I loved reading about it. I couldn't wait to read the next chapter.
Of course life isn't as simple as that when you are older and are leaving behind grown up daughters, the ties that bind you have a way of pulling you back and Jo faced many dilemmas of that sort along the way.
I followed Jo's travels through India and Malaysia. I never knew India was so big. I laughed with Jo,worried about her and at times I bit my nails because of her.
I devoured this book so quickly I really want to go back and read it all over again.
 A second book of Jo's travels called Hidden Tiger Raging Mountain about her travels to Nepal is now out for kindle and I for one can't wait to read it.
You can find Jo Carroll's book in this link.
Over The Hill and Far Away
Hidden Tiger, Raging Mountain.
I give this book five out of five stars *****

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

State of Wonder by Ann Patchet

What's it all about ?  (from Amazon)

 There were people on the banks of the river. Among the tangled waterways and giant anacondas of the Brazilian Rio Negro, an enigmatic scientist is developing a drug that could alter the lives of women for ever. Dr Annick Swenson's work is shrouded in mystery; she refuses to report on her progress, especially to her investors, whose patience is fast running out. Anders Eckman, a mild-mannered lab researcher, is sent to investigate. A curt letter reporting his untimely death is all that returns. Now Marina Singh, Anders' colleague and once a student of the mighty Dr Swenson, is their last hope. Compelled by the pleas of Anders's wife, who refuses to accept that her husband is not coming home, Marina leaves the snowy plains of Minnesota and retraces her friend's steps into the heart of the South American darkness, determined to track down Dr. Swenson and uncover the secrets being jealously guarded among the remotest tribes of the rainforest. What Marina does not yet know is that, in this ancient corner of the jungle, where the muddy waters and susurrating grasses hide countless unknown perils and temptations, she will face challenges beyond her wildest imagination. Marina is no longer the student, but only time will tell if she has learnt enough.

 Did I like it? 

The book begins with news of a death in the Amazon and it did have me hooked from the start. I found half way through it a bit slow as Marina tried to get to the jungle lab to meet with Dr Swenson and I became irritated by the young couple, the Bovenders who were preventing her and guarding the mysterious doctor.
 I did get back into the story again but realised I didn't like any of the characters apart from Marina.
 Dr Swenson was a strong female but I think the reverence the Lakisha people had for her had made her unlikeable. Mr Fox, Marina's lover was such a wimp with no good qualities I could see and I wanted her to tell him where to go. Once I was halfway through the book I couldn't put it down. Ann Patchett gave me the experience of living in the rainforest listening to the insects and feeling the heat. The ending was very good although maybe our imagination was left to tie up a few loose ends.
I didn't think the author could have written this book without visiting the amazon and I have found out that half way through writing the book that's what she did. Ann Patchett has just answered questions about her book on Gransnet
The questions and answers are very interesting but I'd advise you to read the book first as they do give away the ending. A good book if you want something a bit different from chick lit.
State of Wonder Amazon.com
                          Amazon.co.uk
and in bookshops and kindle.
This book receives **** stars out of five from me                        

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Catching Babies by Sheena Byrom

What's it about (from Amazon)

"From her very first day as a nervous student nurse in Blackburn to the dedicated completion of her nursing qualifications and her training as a midwife in Burnley, Sheena Byrom has never once looked back, enjoying a thirty-five-year career with the NHS.

Catching Babies is a moving account of an extraordinary career. It reveals the unique experiences that filled Sheena's days as she looked after overwhelmed mums and dads and helped to bring their precious babies into the world.

At the forefront of evolving medical practices, she was the first midwife to oversee a home water birth in her area, but also found herself at the centre of a traumatic delivery that resulted in a nine-year litigation case and tested her to her limits.

Yet, whatever has come Sheena's way, ultimately, there are the strong mothers who taught her so much and the little miracles who have made every single moment as a midwife truly magical."

Did I like it?
I worked as a Nursery Nurse in a maternity hospital in the seventies so I relived my memories reading this book. I remember how strict Matron and the ward sisters were. The rules of the ward had to be obeyed by all and women didn't really have a voice or birthing plan like they do today. Sheena speaks of breaking into the chocolate cupboard on the ward, this was where all the gifts of boxes of chocolate were kept instead of being handed to the nurses. How I laughed at this as the exact same thing happened to me when we broke into the cupboard and made ourselves sick eating all the chocolate before sister returned.

This book is a real document of  social history, it tracks the changes in midwifery and how along the way sometimes there was one step forward followed by two steps back.
Every woman should thank Sheena for her efforts in enabling women to have a choice in how they want to give birth. For the many hands she held and babies she safely brought into the world.
 I had my children in 1981 and 1984 and had no choice and had to lie flat on a bed which goes against all your natural instincts, how I wish I had had Sheena as my midwife.
The book starts from Sheena's stay in hospital as a child which I could also relate too. We are with her through her nursing and midwifery training to meeting her husband and having her own children and being involved in litigation case which nearly broke my heart as I read about it, and her case proves, don't believe everything you read in newspapers as things aren't always as they seem to be.
 I think I cried all through this book as Sheena recounts some of the births that she attended and women she met and helped. I love how she says that being a midwife is not about delivering babies but catching them as it is the woman who is giving birth does all the work. What a lovely sentiment.
Sheena has been awarded the OBE for her services to midwifery.
I absolutely loved this book and five stars is just not enough. *****

Catching Babies is in your bookstore or on Amazon and kindle
Sheena Byrom can be found on her blog Five Girls or on twitter @SagefemmeSB

Thursday, 5 July 2012

It's Publication Day!

Today is  publication day for one of my favourite authors Amelia Carr and her new book,
The Secret She Kept.
What's it about? (from Amazon)

"A dual-strand romantic epic, with lots of secrets, twists and turns, in the vein of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore and Katherine Webb.

Fearless Felicity Penrose thrives on adventure: she's one of the most experienced female sailors in the world. But one day, in the middle of the 1950s, her boat is found abandoned. Fliss has mysteriously vanished, tragically leaving behind her husband and baby girl.

Nearly thirty years later, Emma's world is rocked when she is approached by journalist Mike Bond with an extraordinary revelation: that Fliss was seen in America after she was presumed drowned. As Emma delves into her mother's past, she begins to unravel a tale of deep, abiding love and promises forgotten. And the rest of her family are thrown into turmoil. For Fliss is not the only one with secrets long-concealed..."

Amelia's books are always filled with family secrets, turmoils, dilemmas  and lots of twists and turns along the way and just when you think you know the ending you find out you're wrong.
I'm looking forward to reading this book with my wine and chocolate of course.

To wet your appetite for her new book here is what I thought of her last book,
 A Woman of Secrets.

What's it about (from Amazon)

"A poignant, touching and epic tale of lost love, set against the drama and danger of World War Two 1947. One wet and chilly November afternoon a woman stands at the edge of a lake forced into a heartbreaking choice between her past and her future. 2008. Police diver Martha makes an incredible discovery in a local lake of a package containing a series of lost mementoes which reveal a story of intrigue, betrayal and heartbreak. As the threads of the past and present are drawn together, Martha's world, and that of her family, is changed for ever."
Did I like it? 
I do enjoy stories set in World War Two  and although this starts off in 2008 it takes you back to wartime France and the brave men and women who fought alongside the French resistance. There were times as I was reading this book I was on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next.
 Amelia is a wonderful story teller especially the way she weaves all the different little stories throughout the book and finally makes them come together beautifully at the end.  I cried buckets reading this book. As in her previous books, I didn't guess the ending.
The Secret She Kept is the forth novel by the author under the name of Amelia Carr but she has also written many more books under the name of Janet Tanner, check them out on  here

Friday, 29 June 2012

Righteous Exposure by A.K.James

 A rollercoaster ride.

This is a completely different book from I usually read but I thought I would give it a try. So with my glass of wine in hand in my comfy chair I ate chocolate and read.

What's it about?
Dr Alita Ramirez has achieved hard won goals,despite her humble beginnings from a poor Hispanic neighbourhood in SanAntonio,Texas. When she by chance discovers the truth about her past, she is driven to take drastic action. Alita is prepared to jeopardise everything, even her life,to expose the hypocrisy and cruelty of one man- Robson Cutter.
One of the richest men in San Antonio,Cutter is a pillar of his communtiy. Alita's quest is to reduce this pillar to dust. She knows a dark secret about Cutter that will bring him to his knees, but exposing the past of such a powerful man requires extreme measures. Will Alita have the strength and determination to suceed?

Did I like it? 
I actually loved this story. It had a very explosive beginning and I was hooked from the first few pages and that doesn't happen very often. There was a mixture of  suspense, crime and romance sprinkled with humour. It's not a book you can place in a definite genre.
  I actually found my heart racing as our herorine Alita found herself in deeper trouble than she ever imagined. I did get annoyed with her her at times as she risked her job and her good name for revenge, but as the story progresses I was with her all the way hoping the mighty Cutter would get his just desserts. Did he?
 Well, you'll have to read the book to find out, you wouldn't want me to spoil it for you.
 I always like to know what happens after the story ends, this to me is the sign of a good book. The author did not let me down as she concluded the story perfectly.

This book was published by Crooked Cat Publishing and can be found in Amazon  here

The author, Mandy has now signed with Choc Lit Publishing and is awaiting publication of her new novel,
"A Stich in Time" and I will be at the head of the queue for it.
This is my first ever book review on my new blog and I'm pleased to say I'm giving it five stars *****