books monthly june 2017

This month's pick of the new Adult Fiction titles...

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Bruno Vincent: Five Forget Mother's Day

Published by Quercus Books 23rd February 2017

 

Enid Blyton's books are beloved the world over and The Famous Five have been the perennial favourite of her fans. Now, in this new series of Enid Blyton for Grown-Ups, George, Dick, Anne, Julian and Timmy are keen to show Aunt Fanny how much she means to them. Join Julian, George, Dick, Anne and Timmy the dog as they try to celebrate Mother's Day with Aunt Fanny. George has past form in forgetting - not least her mum's birthday and Christmas presents - so tensions are running high even for the charged normality of their mother/daughter bond. But things go from bad to worse when Fanny comes to stay, with relations strained almost to breaking point. Can the Five save the day, and will Uncle Quentin get involved?

 

Fans of Enid Blyton and the Famous Five won't mind being entertained in this highly amusing and very adult fashion, I'm sure! The story is a delight and the conversations are spot on.

 

Bruno Vincent: Five Lose Dad in the Garden Centre

Published by Quercus Books 18th May 2017

 

Join Julian, George, Dick, Anne and Timmy the dog as they celebrate Father's Day by taking Uncle Quentin to the local garden centre to chose a new garden shed in which to conduct his experiments. But what promised to be a relaxed outing turns into a nightmare when Quentin disappears into thin air. He surely cannot have gone far . . .

 

"Where the effing eff is my effing father!" is the line that most sticks in my memory from this absolutely superb slice of grown-up Famous Five - these books are superb, and written with the same warmth and humour you'd expect in an original Famous Five. Sheer delight!

 

 

 

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Winston Graham: Poldark Book 5 The Black Moon

Published by Pan 1st June 2017

 

The Black Moon is the enthralling fifth novel in Winston Graham's sweeping series of Cornwall, Poldark. Cornwall 1794. The birth of a son to Elizabeth and George Warleggan serves only to accentuate the rift between the Poldark and Warleggan families. And when Morwenna Chynoweth, now governess to Elizabeth’s eldest son, grows to love Drake Carne, Demelza’s brother, the enduring rivalry between George and Ross finds a new focus for bitter enmity and conflict. The Black Moon is followed by the sixth book in the Poldark series, The Four Swans.

 

This most handsome book, along with Book Six in the series, The Four Swans, literally arrived at the last minute - I couldn't bear to leave them until July but I haven't yet had time to read them, so the reviews will have to wait until the July issue, when they will probably still be my books of the month. The third series of Poldark is due to be shown on BBC1 in June, so the publication of Books 5 and  could not be more timely. The photography on the front covers is probably the best I have ever seen on paperback books, really high definition, eye-catching, simply superb! I am happy to say I have plenty to read right now, and I look forward to sharing my thoughts on these two new blockbusters with you in a month's time, by which time, of course, they'll be available to purchase, and you won't need me to tell you just how good they are!

 

The Four Swans is the masterful sixth novel in Winston Graham's sweeping series of Cornwall, Poldark. Cornwall 1795-1797. Although Ross Poldark – now something of a war hero – seems secure in his hard-won prosperity, a new dilemma faces him in the sudden infatuation of a young naval officer for his wife Demelza. All four women – the four swans – whose lives touch Ross’s, face a crisis in these years. For his wife Demelza, his old love Elizabeth, his friend’s new wife Caroline and for the unhappy Morwenna Chynoweth these are times of stress and conflict. Published by Pan 1st June 2017

 

 

 

Simone Van Der Vlugt: Midnight Blue

Published by HarperFiction 4th May 2017

 

Amsterdam 1654: a dangerous secret threatens to destroy a young widow’s new life. Following the sudden death of her husband, twenty-five year old Catrin leaves her small village and takes a job as housekeeper to the successful Van Nulandt merchant family. Amsterdam is a city at the peak of its powers: science and art are flourishing in the Golden Age and Dutch ships bring back exotic riches from the Far East. When a figure from her past threatens her new life, Catrin flees to Delft. There, her painting talent earns her a chance as a pottery painter. Slowly, the workshop begins to develop a new type of pottery to rival the coveted Chinese porcelain – and Delft Blue is born. But when tragedy strikes, Catrin has a hard choice to make. Rich and engrossing, Midnight Blue is perfect for fans of Tulip Fever and Girl with a Pearl Earring.

 

The Intriguing and fascinating account of the creation of one of the world's most iconic designs...

 

Juliet Castle: The Silent Partner and Other Stories of Truth

Published by Matador 28th April 2017

 

In this intimate arrangement of emotive short stories, Juliet Castle presents provocative thoughts that challenge the reader's perspective. Collectively, the stories reveal a deeper understanding of life initially veiled from view. Juliet's stories portray how the mystery of life is attempting to reach you deep within. They compel the reader to wonder. What is it you are incessantly experiencing through your life's encounters? What are the forces at work? Who is your Silent Partner? Juliet attempts to reveal the answers to these questions by encouraging the reader to step forward and to see the forces acting behind life's play. The Silent Partner is a creative literary work that contains many short stories with varying content, context, and style, as well as artistically drawn images. Each of the short stories is intended to lead towards a discovery and has the underlying theme of 'the Silent Partner' to connect the individual story to the collection as a whole. Inspired by Shakespeare, the storybooks of Aesop's Fables, and the Brother's Grimm, The Silent Partner and Other Stories of Truth plays on words and uses symbolism with poetic placement and style that lends itself towards an enjoyable, yet provoking read. It could be placed alongside Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and Paul Coelho in the category of Spirituality.

 

This is an absolute must-read amalgam of sometimes quirky, sometimes thought-provoking short stories.

Judith Thomson: The Orange Autumn

Published by Matador 28th April 2017

 

England is once more a divided nation... It is 1688 and James ll is on the throne of England. But James is not popular – and he is a Catholic. The situation is dangerously volatile. Although Duke of Monmouth’s rebellion has failed, with bloody consequences, there are still many who desire to replace James with a Protestant monarch. Among these are Philip Devalle, who has been James’ open enemy in the past, and Philip’s brother-in-law. Giles Fairfield, who fought in Monmouth’s doomed uprising. Neither will prosper in a country ruled by King James. However, there is an alternative. For Philip, virtually a prisoner on his estate, and Giles, an exile from his native land, it would mean taking great risks. Failure would be disastrous for them both…but success could bring great rewards!

 

Historical novel that's reminiscent of the good old days of Jean Plaidy. A thrilling backdrop, stunning characters...

Maeve Haran: An Italian Holiday

Published by Pan 15th June 2017

 

Sunshine, warmth, lemon blossom . . . Springtime in glorious Southern Italy can go to your head. Especially if you are escaping an overbearing husband, the embarrassingly public loss of your company, an interfering mother who still tries to run your life or the pain of a husband's affair with a girl young enough to be his daughter. As the Italian sun ripens the lemons in the groves that tumble down the hillsides and the Mediterranean dazzles beneath them, assertive Angela, extrovert Sylvie, unconfident Claire and mousy Monica find burgeoning friendship and begin to blossom in quite unexpected ways. Packed with memorable characters - from the acid-tongued Grand Old Man of Modern Art who lives next door - to the aspiring gigolo who thinks nothing of a forty year age gap, Maeve Haran's new novel is a witty and entertaining reminder of why going a little mad in the sun can sometimes be exactly what you need.

 

It's a sign of the times that the smash-hit Durrells TV show has warmed us to the idea of Mediterranean holidays - Maeve's story is sublime, full of warmth, humour, personality and relationships that resonate in this rather harsh time in which we live. This is pure escapism, but it's entirely possible that it could all happen, which makes it even better! Superb.

Timothy Raine: Winter's Leap

Published by The Book Guild 28th March 2017

 

Winter's Leap is about the events in the day of a young man, Tommy, with mild cerebral palsy. It s a window into his mind and thoughts as the day unfolds and a tragic event befalls him. There is humour, warmth and sadness combined with the need for identity within a family unit to make sense of Tommy's world. We share his deepest concerns and observations about life during his daily routine and the longing for his father, who he has never known.

 

Anyone with the courage to write about someone with a mental illness in this way has my full admiration. Ground-breaking and absorbing.

 

Louise Walters: A Life Between Us

Published by Matador 28th April 2017

 

Tina Thornton's twin sister Meg died in a childhood accident, but for almost forty years Tina has secretly blamed herself for her sister's death. During a visit to her aging Uncle Edward and his sister Lucia, who both harbour dark secrets of their own, Tina makes a discovery that forces her to finally question her memories of the day her sister died. Who, if anyone, did kill Meg? As Tina finds the courage to face the past, she unravels the tangled family mysteries of her estranged parents, her beautiful French Aunt Simone, the fading, compassionate Uncle Edward, and above all, the cold, bitter Aunt Lucia, whose spectral presence casts a long shadow over them all. A Life Between Us is a beautifully evocative story of a family torn apart at the seams, which will appeal to readers who enjoy family sagas and modern-day mysteries.

 

Reminded me, in a way, of The Lovely Bones. A bit creepy, and Uncle Edward and Lucia are brilliant characters. This could have gone on the crime and thrillers page, but the psychological aspects outweigh the crime elements. A super read.

 

Caroline Newark: The Fair Maid of Kent

Published by Matador 28th March 2017

 

It is 1341 and Joan of Kent, the fourteen-year-old cousin of the King of England, is poised on the brink of marriage with the Earl of Salisbury's son. While plans are made for the king's continuing war against France, the families gather to celebrate the wedding. But the bride is in tears. For unknown to everyone, Joan has a secret and it is one so scandalous, so unspeakably shocking, that discovery could destroy this glorious marriage and place the lives of those Joan loves in danger. From the glittering court of Edward III to the lonely border fortress of Wark, to the bleak marshlands before the walls of Calais, Joan must tread a careful path balanced between truth and deception, where love is an illusion and one false move could spell disaster. When tragedy strikes at the heart of the royal family Joan finds herself facing a foe more deadly than a violent husband. Imprisoned in her chamber and with her fate resting in the hands of the Pope's tribunal in Avignon, there is nothing she can do but pray. The Fair Maid of Kent is the story of an enduring love in a dangerous world where a man may not be all he seems and your most powerful enemy is the one you cannot see. Inspired by the writings of Philippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel, and based on the life of Joan, the first Princess of Wales (and Caroline's seventeen times great-grandmother), The Fair Maid of Kent will appeal to fans of historical fiction.

 

Brilliant historical fiction from Caroline - highly reminiscent of the very best work of Jean Plaidy...

 

Jude Hayland: Counting The Ways

Published by Matador 28th April 2017

 

Grace Barnes, living in her subterranean one-room flat at the nether end of Earl's Court, feels out of tune with striving, self-seeking 1980's London. Meeting Archie Copeland, she is gratified to have found a man who shares her obsession for reading and seems more fascinated by Shelley than shifting share prices. In Oxford, Hester, Grace's mother, considers her estranged marriage to Fergus, who left her thirty years before to go and live on a remote Welsh hillside in pursuit of self-sufficiency. His subsequent appearance at Grace and Archie's quiet wedding is a surprise and she finds it hard to quantify her feelings about him. Soon, Grace is troubled by a distance in Archie, and a tendency to covert actions even though his faithfulness appears absolute. Moving to the countryside seems to offer relief, but the recession of the late 1980s impacts upon them both professionally and Grace is aware of a growing inadequacy in communication between the two of them as they struggle to talk openly. A spontaneous holiday on the Mediterranean island of Kronos provides a respite for them both and they begin to consider a permanent move away, but then Archie suddenly disappears. In the wake of this, Grace uncovers a trail of debts and increasing evidence of his duplicity. Remaining on Kronos, finding a job and friendship, Grace determines to find Archie. Hester is anxious to help, while Fergus is unexpectedly forthright in his attempts to assist. Archie, meanwhile, is forced to confront years of self-delusion. In the shadow of Archie's absence, Grace, Fergus and Hester find themselves facing the truth of their fractured relationships and considering how, so often, it has been the unspoken words rather than those uttered that have contributed towards conflict and separation. Counting the Ways explores the fears that shadow our lives - failure, loss, regret and mortality - and will appeal to fans of contemporary fiction. It also makes an ideal book group read.

 

This is the kind of story you might stumble across on the inside pages of one of the Sunday papers, well told by Jude Hayland, and you can't help but feel sorry for Grace as the events of her married life unfold.

 

J J Baloch: Whiter Than White

Published by Matador 15th April 2017

 

Written by seasoned police officer and accomplished writer, J. J. Baloch, Whiter Than White is the story of Hoor, an ordinary woman caught up in the throes of extraordinary circumstances. Hoor fosters her faith and cultivates confidence in her own destiny, protecting her womanhood with the tenacity of a wounded mother lion against the system that engulfs her world. Whiter Than White details Hoor’s journey from growing up in a hostile system in Pakistan and rising to the precipice of greatness and fame as the story unfolds. 

Whiter Than White is unique in its approach to the telling of Hoor’s story. While detailing her personal journey, J J. Baloch comprehensively addresses the different issues of women in sub-continental set-ups, specifically Pakistan. Drawing on the mistreatment of women and women’s rights, this novel sheds light on a society that considers women a symbol of misfortune, where they are arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned and sentenced without being involved in any violation of the law, and where they are presented as sexual tools for the pleasure of men, discriminated against on the basis of their gender. 

This novel touches on the sensitive systems of society and state, which are designed to perpetuate the status quo of male dominance, orthodoxy, discriminations, biases, intolerance, extremism and hatred against women. J. J. Baloch’s experience working in the police, specifically relating to crimes against women, adds a layer of authenticity to his writing that will be enjoyed by those who enjoy feminist literature and who are looking to deepen their understanding of women’s rights in other societies.

 

Pakistani society is totally different to what we know in the western world. J J Baloch's novel reveals a hierarchy and structure that is quite alien to our own - something of an eye opener for me..

S Lynn Scott: Elizabeth, William and Me...

Published by Matador 28th May 2017

S. Lynn Scott's debut novel is a funny, moving and very original tale that takes the reader on a rollicking adventure through modern England - accompanied by the Virgin Queen and William Shakespeare. Ally is living an ordinary life until Elizabeth and William come to stay. Exactly why Elizabeth Tudor should choose her pantry to appear in, or why the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon should show up later in her bath is a bit of a mystery, not to mention a dreadful inconvenience, but the crotchety Elizabeth has a mission and she is used to getting her own way. Ally too, needs to recover something that has been lost, and perhaps Elizabeth and William will be the means by which she will find it. Elizabeth, William...and Me takes a wry look at modern life through the eyes of two of history's most famous personalities. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heart-breaking, the trio's quest takes them from middle England to the cold streets of London, from a shelter for the homeless to the home of the very highest in the land; and from grief to acceptance. Drawing from S. Lynn Scott's knowledge of Elizabethan England and her experience of directing Shakespeare productions, Elizabeth, William...and Me is an accessible and imaginative novel that will appeal to both fans and non-fans of Shakespeare, as well as readers who enjoy humorous fiction - with unexpected twists. ..

 

Fascinating... Elizabeth is Queen Elizabeth 1st,William is William Shakespeare, and "me" is Ally - a fly on the wall romp through Elizabethan England... Hugely entertaining!

 


 

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