Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry





Paperback:  400 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Arrow Books - 2017 -  Originally Published 1994
Source: A Likely Story - Tywyn
First Sentence: The fact is I had just been sacked from my paper, some frantic piffle about shouting insults from the stalls at a first night.
Review Quote:  "Fresh, filthy, funny and fizzing with ideas" (Evening Standard)
My Opinion: I read this in preparation for an evening at The Magic Lantern Cinema in Tywyn last night. What a great evening it was, this is a very funny novel. It is however also a no holds barred story about a young man struggling with reaching sexual maturity, that some readers might find offensive. Personally, I found it a very sensitive novel which I feel considering the author may well contain some autobiographical content. I was also pleased to discover that the director had kept very much to the story and the few changes he made were appropriate. I would highly recommend that you read the book before seeing the film if you can. So, in conclusion book or film? Both, as this novel was, thanks to John Jencks the director and his talented team of actors, writers and extended team, beautifully converted using Stephen Fry's words to the big screen. 




Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Ted Wallace is an old, sour, womanising, cantankerous, whisky-sodden beast of a failed poet and drama critic, but he has his faults too. Fired from his newspaper, months behind on his alimony payments and disgusted with a world that undervalues him, Ted seeks a few months repose and free drink at Swafford Hall, the country mansion of his old friend Lord Logan. But strange things have been going on at Swafford. Miracles. Healings. Phenomena beyond the comprehension of a mud-caked hippopotamus like Ted.

With this funny and deliciously readable novel, Stephen Fry takes his place as one of the most talented comic novelists of his generation.
 

Author Profile:

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry was born on August 24th 1957 in London, England. He is a leading light in film, theatre, radio and television the world over, receiving accolades in spades and plaudits by the shovel. As a comedian, writer, producer, director, actor, presenter and technophile he has featured in works as varied and adored as the movie 'Wilde', the TV series 'Blackadder' and 'Jeeves and Wooster', the sketch show 'A Bit of Fry and Laurie', the panel game 'QI', the radio series 'Fry's English Delight', Shakespeare's Globe's celebrated 2012 production of 'Twelfth Night' (as Malvolio) and documentaries on countless subjects very close to his heart.

He is also the bestselling author of four novels - 'The Stars' Tennis Balls', 'Making History', 'The Hippopotamus' and 'The Liar' - as well as two volumes of autobiography - 'Moab is My Washpot' and 'The Fry Chronicles', which published in six unique editions that combined to sell over a million copies. His third volume of autobiography, 'More Fool Me', was published in September 2014.



Photographs and biographical information courtesy of the following sites.




Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Second Honeymoon by Joanna Trollope





Paperback: 383 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Bloomsbury 2006
Source: My own bookshelves and since released via Bookcrossing
First Sentence: Edie put her hand out, took a breath and slowly slowly pushed open his bedroom door.
Review Quote: "Trollope has perfectly caught the angst of the empty nest... the ebb and flow of relationships is brilliantly handled" (The Observer)
My Opinion: I am a long time fan of Joanna Trollope. Have been reading her novels since her first 'The Choir' was published in 1989 and always found her novels to be light and entertaining, 'Aga Sagas' used to be the popular term for them. In fact it is a few years since I last read one though I still have a few reclining on my bookshelves, so I took a couple with me on my recent travels and then released them via Bookcrossing afterwards.  Although the term 'Aga Saga' is not heard much nowadays it does still seem to describe her writing about contemporary relationships. Actually 'Second Honeymoon' felt very dated to me, but that was my own fault for not reading when it was first published! I might then have found the problems Edie Boyd had struggling with empty nest syndrome a more appealing read.



Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:


Ben is, at last, leaving home. At twenty-two, he's the youngest of the family. His mother, Edie, an actress, is distraught. His father, Russell, a theatrical agent, is rather hoping to get his wife back. His brother, Matthew, is struggling in a relationship in which he achieves and earns less than his girlfriend. And his sister, Rosa, is wrestling with debt and the end of a turbulent love affair.

Author Profile:








Joanna Trollope was born on 9 December 1943 in her grandfather's rectory in Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, England, daughter of Rosemary Hodson and Arthur George Cecil Trollope. She is the eldest of three siblings. She is a fifth-generation niece of the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope and is a cousin of the writer and broadcaster James Trollope. She was educated at Reigate County School for Girls followed by St Hugh's College, Oxford. On 14 May 1966, she married the banker David Roger William Potter, they had two daughters, Antonia and Louise. In 1983 they divorced, two years later, she married the television dramatist Ian Curteis, they divorced in 2001.

From 1965 to 1967, she worked at the Foreign Office. From 1967 to 1979, she was employed in a number of teaching posts before she became a writer full-time in 1980. In 1996 she was awarded the OBE for services to literature.She now lives alone in London.

A fuller Biography can be found on her website.


Photographs and biographical information courtesy of the following sites.


Author Profile - Goodreads   Amazon - Joanna Trollope    Wikipedia - Joanna Trollope   

   Facebook - Joanna Trollope  Official Author Website

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald





Hardback:   376 pages.                                                                                               
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Chatto and Windus 2015
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: The strange woman standing on Hope's main street was so ordinary it was almost scandalous.
Favourite Quote: "For as long as she could remember, she had thought that autumn air went well with books, that the two both somehow belonged with blankets, comfortable armchairs and big cups of coffee or tea"
Review Quote: "This is a story about community, about being needed and about belonging... A warm, cosy, compassionate read" (Independent)
My Opinion: My latest book club read and I was disappointed to find it just an ok read. I know at least one of the other members of the group was loving it, but it just did not hit the spot with me. There are certain aspects I enjoyed such as the fact that the main action as such, takes place in an independent bookstore, plus the fact that it is a story full of compassion. Of course I love books, but I just did not get the point of including quite so many within this novel, actually spoilt it for me, though maybe I just missed the point as I seem to be in the minority. The Independent reviewer was I think spot on with their opinion "This is a story about community, about being needed and about belonging... A warm, cosy, compassionate read" just needed less books mentioned!

Full List of Titles Mentioned in the Book:

There are at least 79 titles and if you are interested the list can be found on Goodreads


Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

The International Bestseller

Warning: once you let books into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…

This is a book about books. All sorts of books, from Little Women and Harry Potter to Jodi Picoult and Jane Austen, from to Stieg Larsson to Joyce Carol Oates to Proust. It’s about the joy and pleasure of books, about learning from and escaping into them, and possibly even hiding behind them. It’s about whether or not books are better than real life.

It’s also a book about a Swedish girl called Sara, her elderly American penfriend Amy and what happens when you land a very different kind of bookshop in the middle of a town so broken it’s almost beyond repair.

Or is it?

The Readers of Broken Wheel has touches of 84 Charing Cross Road, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Chocolat, but adds an off-beat originality and intelligence all its own.


Author Profile

Katarina Bivald grew up working part-time in a bookshop. Today she lives outside of Stockholm, Sweden, with her sister and as many bookshelves she can get by her. She is currently trying to persuade her sister that having a shelf for winter jackets and shoes is completely unnecessary. There should be enough space for a book shelf or two instead. Limited success so far. Apparently, her sister is also stubbornly refusing to even discuss using the bathroom to store books.

Katarina Bivald sometimes claims that she still hasn't decided whether she prefer books or people but, as we all know, people are a non-starter. Even if you do like them, they're better in books. Only possible problem: reading a great book and having no one to recommend it to.


Photograph and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads - Author Profile     Amazon Author Page      Katarina Bivald - Official Website

Penguin - Katarina Bivald      Twitter Profile


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys



Hardback: 366 pages                                                                                                  
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Publisher: Doubleday March 2017
Source: Lovereading Reader Review Panel Member
First Sentence: Sandwiched between two policeman, the woman descends the gangplank of the ship.
Review Quote: "A sumptuous and thrilling read which reminded me of Daphne du Maurier. It captivates you in its spell right until the end. I loved it." (KATE HAMER, author of THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT)
My Opinion: Rachel Rhys is the pen name of the already successful Tammy Cohen, author of psychological suspense novels.  There is no doubt in my mind that her debut novel as a mystery writer will also be successful. The idea for the story comes from a memoir that she found whilst browsing her mother's bookcases, written by a late friend during a voyage from Tilbury to Sydney. The memoir chronicles in meticulous detail everything about this voyage, so all the ingredients that make a novel a pleasure to read are present, including a different from the norm location as most of the story is set onboard an ocean liner, just prior to the start of WWII. The reader gets to emerge themselves in ship board life, along  with protagonists, Lily Shepherd and the other passengers leaving the UK in hope of  a better life in Australia. Life aboard ship turns out to be an eye opener as Lily and the other steerage passengers get to socialise with first class passengers, that in real life they would probably have worked for! The unworldly atmosphere and somewhat claustrophobic life on the long journey is a perfect setting for this murder mystery though personally that was almost less important than the wonderful journey travelled in this engaging read.  

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.

But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.


By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.


Author Profile




RACHEL RHYS is the pen-name Tammy Cohen a successful psychological suspense author. A Dangerous Crossing is her debut under this name and is inspired by a real life account of a 1930s ocean voyage. A Dangerous Crossing is due to be published around the world. Rachel Rhys lives in North London with her family.

Autobiographical paragraphs below in the author's own words are courtesy of  the  Official Author Website.

I was born in Ibadan, Nigeria where my anthropologist father happened to be doing fieldwork at the time. Sabbatical years in far-flung places were a feature of my childhood and I attended school in both Sierra Leone and California. Otherwise, I mostly grew up in the suburbs of London where my adolescence was spent either in the local library or waiting for the last tube home.
After taking an American Studies degree at Manchester University I taught English in Madrid. While working as a secretary back in London, I started writing features and hand-delivering them to the magazine publishing house around the corner. The day the first one got accepted, I packed in my job and declared myself a freelance journalist, which is basically what I remained for the next twenty years, writing features for national magazines and newspapers, such as Marie Claire, The Times and The Telegraph, and then moving on to non fiction books. My dream was always to write fiction but it wasn’t until I was forty-seven that I finally conquered the self doubt and my first novel, The Mistress’s Revenge was published.
These days I live in North London with my partner and three (nearly) grown children and one very badly behaved dog. Together with my family I spent four happy years living in Spain from 2004 to 2008 and I live in fear of people finding this out and asking me something in Spanish at which I remain shamefully inept.
My first novel, The Mistress’s Revenge, was followed by three more contemporary fiction titles under the name Tamar Cohen – The War of the Wives, Someone Else’s Wedding and The Broken. In November 2014, my first crime novel, Dying For Christmas was published under the name Tammy Cohen, followed by First One Missing a year later. My third crime novel, When She Was Bad, is due for publication in April 2016. I am a member of the Killer Women collective of London-based female UK crime writers.


 Information courtesy of the following sites.

Rachel Rhys - Amazon Author Page   Tammy Cohen - Amazon Author Page  

Facebook Profile    Twitter - Tammy Cohen    Tammy Cohen - Official Website