Georgia has been reading The Forever House by Linda Acaster
Carrie and her husband, Jason, renovate houses that other people make into homes. But this property Carrie wanted to make into their forever home rather than sell it on. Sadly, Jason died early on in the renovations but rather than sell up Carrie carries on doing all the work herself.
The opening of this book is rather taken up with the task of removing wallpaper which is made more interesting by what is revealed underneath. It is this that becomes an obsession for Carrie. One she is determined to see right through to the bitter end.
I enjoyed the characters in this book, particularly Louise, Carrie’s sister-in-law, who has her own issues, and I thought the relationships were well done. I found Carrie’s leaps to certain conclusions sometimes rather quick but otherwise thought the plot came together well and I did like the outcome. The story was also very well-written and flowed throughout. Recommended for those who like a well-told tale.
A chilling discovery. A sense of foreboding. They say I’m obsessing. I’m not.
Resisting family pressure to sell the too-big house Carrie and her late husband began to renovate, she is determined to carry through their shared project to prove she can manage alone.
And she can, until a discovery beneath old wallpaper chills her to the bone.
As her need to know more becomes all-consuming, Carrie’s family fears she’s tipping into irretrievable obsession. Can she be dissuaded, or must she take that final step?
Georgia has been reading Cauliflowers Through the Catflap: and Other Tales From a Solitary Lockdown by Cassandra Campbell-Kemp
I took Cauliflowers Through the Catflap on holiday with me and read it in one day. Cassandra Campbell-Kemp is a 65-year-old single woman who has mobility issues and was definitely in the high-risk category health wise when C-19 struck. Campbell-Kemp is also fiercely independent, unconventional, delightfully eccentric and clairvoyant. Being so meant she had two prescient nightmares at the end of 2019 and when their content stuck with her, she realised she had ‘foreseen’ something of what was coming.
And so, she began to prepare.
I found all the detail about her research and subsequent purchases fascinating as she became, to me anyway, the ultimate prepper. The amount of stuff she bought was amazing.
I liked Cassandra, a lot. She is clearly popular as she connects with others online and has huge support from her wonderful friend, Andy. I think we’d get on as she reminds me of my step-grandmother who is similar in nature, although just turned 90.
I found myself slightly envious of the opportunity Cassandra was afforded by lockdown when I was frantically preparing what I could while still working and dealing with the grim task of writing resilience and contingency plans for all my clients in the event of my death. At the time I envied those furloughed and with nothing else to do but work out to Joe Wickes, make banana bread and watch endless box sets.
Cassandra did have one companion throughout, her super cat, Felix. And what a wonderful friend he was, and is, to her. She is also a woman to be much admired. And not just for her ability to speak several languages. Her can-do attitude, adventurous nature and problem-solving abilities have meant that she has done a terrific job of protecting herself and staying alive, mostly because she couldn’t bear for Felix to be frightened and alone if she died. A woman after my own heart indeed.
Cassandra also happens to be eloquent in her writing. This book is an engaging read about one woman’s life through the lockdowns and her discoveries about herself and those around her. Highly recommended.
In November 2019 Cassandra had a terrifying nightmare about a small Chinese demon spewing a deadly poison. In early January 2020 she had a subsequent and similarly disturbing dream in which she found herself in an empty and deserted Italian castle, furnished solely with a single ventilator tent. Forewarned by these dreams and feeling that something really bad was going to happen, she threw herself into a frenzy of logistical planning, laboriously turning her spare bedroom into a store cupboard stuffed to the rafters with many (rigorously disinfected) containers full of sensible, nutritious, long-life and probably disgusting dehydrated foods, ready to face whatever The Fates had in store. On the 3rd March 2020, notwithstanding the dithering of the British Government, Cassandra unequivocally shut herself away, refusing to open the door to anyone and using a newly-acquired pink megaphone with which to communicate with the outside world. Almost a year later she is still locked away! This is the story of a solitary Lockdown – a story of bloody-minded self-preservation replete with moments of anxiety, resignation and sadness but also with joy, hilarity and above all dogged determination. Cassandra – a single and somewhat immobile woman in her mid 60’s – struggles with myriad new challenges as she watches the world change from within her self-imposed fortress.
Georgia has been reading Black Rock by David Odle.
Black Rock launches you into the action right from the start with a family on a road trip needing to find a rest area and unfortunately choosing the small town of Black Rock. One Officer Jack Snider is introduced at this point. Fifteen years later he is Sheriff Jack Snider and as the story starts to unfold, he slowly realises the events of fifteen years before are starting to repeat themselves.
Pastor Thomas Loggins meets with Benjamin Clark believing him to be someone in need of spiritual help but is left not knowing what Benjamin is, or how he knows the things he does. Thomas is also given a terrible decision to make. A decision that someone in the town has had to make before.
Black Rock is atmospheric, gripping and very well written. It also has terrifically well-drawn characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the read and highly recommend it to all who like the darker stuff and don’t mind a bit of gore.
We all possess secrets. We lock them away. We bury them into the deep recesses of our mind. We go about our day and pretend they aren’t there.
That’s exactly what Thomas Loggins was doing. Going about his days. The head pastor of a small church in a small town. A family man, with a loving wife and a wonderful daughter.
Until one day, that all changed. It began as a typical meeting with a new member of the congregation. But Thomas soon realized this was anything but typical. This man knew things. Things that nobody should know. And he was making impossible demands.
Thomas’s simple life in the quaint town of Black Rock crashes into life or death when the stranger utters, “I know your secrets, pastor, and it’s time to pay the price…”
Georgia has been reading My Corfu Love Story by Effrosyni Moschoudi
It has been a while since I felt the Mediterranean sun on my skin and I have to say that was partly behind my decision to choose this book. I hoped it would be filled with wonderful descriptions that would give me a taste of Corfu, and I was not disappointed.
The love shines out from this short book. Spyri’s love for her grandmother (what a wonderful relationship they had), love for Corfu and the village of Moraitika, love for the food and of course love for the love interest, Markos.
There is also a super note from the author at the end with links to take you to discover more about Moraitika and Messonghi, as well as a family recipe.
Effrosyni Moschoudi is Greek and her love for all things Greek shines out from every page of this most enjoyable short read which I recommend to anyone who wants a break in the sunshine.
Spyri forever lives in the past, haunted by old memories. This summer, she meets a man she once loved, and he is about to change everything…
Spyri, a half-Greek restauranteur in her early thirties, is back on the island of Corfu, staying in her grandmother’s village home for a few days to decompress from her busy life in London. Her nostalgia for the good old summer days hit her upon her return. When she hears that Markos, the one she never forgot, is staying at the village, she becomes excited.
Sparks begin to fly when they meet, but Markos has his own hurts of the past to deal with…
Georgia has been reading Break From Nuala by Harriet Steel.
I’ve seen this series of books (this is the eleventh) around for a few years now but hadn’t got round to trying one for myself. What a mistake that was! As soon as I started reading, I knew I was going to enjoy it. Don’t you just love it when a book makes you feel that.
While the author is well into this series you don’t have to start at the beginning as each story is a standalone. Also, the author has provided a helpful, and short, list of characters who appear regularly in the Inspector de Silva Mysteries. In this case none of these characters appeared, as Shanti De Silva and his wife, Jane, were on holiday but they were referred to so the short bios of each was useful.
Shanti and Jane have gone on holiday to Galle, Ceylon in the autumn of 1940 and stay at a hotel called Cinnamon Lodge. Naturally the other guests provide a super cast of characters.
When Shanti goes out for a late-night walk, he is warned a leopard has been seen nearby and then one of the nightwatchmen is killed by an animal. Shortly after, celebrity, Elodie Renaud, and her entourage who are staying in one of the guest bungalows, are struck down by a mysterious illness. Then the charming Helen Morris is reported missing and despite searches no trace of her is found.
Now, while you can take a policeman on holiday, you can’t take the policeman out of the, er, policeman, and Shanti can’t help but make some discreet investigations. None of which go down well with the local police chief.
This was a delight to read. Beautifully paced I enjoyed watching the mystery unravel as de Silva worked his way to the final whodunit. Readers of Marple and Poirot will love this series as will anyone who enjoys a well told tale.
It is autumn 1940, and Inspector de Silva and his wife Jane are looking forward to a well-earned holiday. But their hopes of a relaxing break in the picturesque city of Galle beside the Indian Ocean are dashed when death, mysterious illnesses, and a missing guest cast a gloomy shadow. As they’re drawn into the investigation, the mystery deepens. Is there a villain amongst their fellow guests or further afield? The search for answers will lead them into great danger that has repercussions far beyond the island of Ceylon.
You know that feeling you get when you open a new book, not knowing what to expect, and you read the first few lines and know you’re in for a terrific ride? That is exactly the feeling I got when I reached the end of the first paragraph of Jenks. A smile already on my face.
Jenks is a killer for hire. He has a profile on the dark web and carries out assignments for an unknown organisation called The Department, which is so undercover it isn’t linked to any legitimate agency. This makes everything deniable.
With his home life in the gentle seaside town of Whitstable, his on-going house renovation and pastime of birdwatching, Jenks is incredibly likeable. From his turquoise eyes and sense of humour to his casual flirtation with a local waitress that he knows can’t go anywhere you know he’s a decent man and are affected when he is jolted back to the life he gave up to be the necessity he’s described as.
Jenks naturally has a special skillset that he’s extremely accomplished at and there is graphic violence in this book.
Although this type of character and the activity he undertakes is not particularly new, think James Bond, Ethan Hunt or Jason Bourne, I found this story and Jenks refreshing. The writing is very good and flowed well. There is a lot of detail about how things happened or worked but I didn’t mind that at all. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting this new hero, I hope there is a sequel on the way and I highly recommend Jenks to everyone who likes a thrilling tale.
In a nutshell.. Ruthless freelance professional assassin Jenks is hired by ultra-top secret government agency – responsible for the dirtiest of work – to kill a rogue CIA analyst and prevent a super Wikileaks-like Russian backed dissemination of catastrophic above Top Secret explosive revelations, capable of overturning the world order.
Using the most ingenious of spycraft, the chameleon like Jenks has no option but to let the crime play out until the very end. With the action taking place between Soho, London and Virginia, USA, Jenks hurtles towards the ultimate confrontation and sacrifice – his pedal to the metal race to uncover the truth will leave you gasping.
Georgia has been reading If She Wakes by Erik Therme
I didn’t realise when I chose this book that it was a sequel. I wouldn’t usually read the second book without reading the first, but found this one works as a standalone story.
However, here is a lot of information given in the prologue and chapter one to bring the reader up to speed. For me this level of exposition slowed down the opening. I probably didn’t take in the detail as well as I should have done as I prefer it drip fed; pertinent details given at relevant points in the story. Once past that though the story flowed.
Tess is in a car accident with her sister-in-law, Torrie, who ends up in a coma, but not before saying a few things that make little sense to Tess. Tess and her husband, Josh, take in Levi, Torrie’s son, which brings its own emotional difficulties as they lost their child in book one.
A woman turns up claiming to be Torrie’s sister and before long another sister arrives which is confusing as Torrie had told Tess and Josh she had no family. The other problem is that they both want Levi.
This is a perfectly well told story but lacks a little of the suspense element that makes a book a real page-turner for me. I think maybe it was just over wordy in places which slowed the pace. However, I did like the way it ended. There is no cliff-hanger here but there is an epilogue which leads very well into the next in the series. Recommended, but start with book 1.
Who do you trust when everyone is lying?
My name is Tess Parker.
Two days ago, I was in a car accident with my sister-in-law, Torrie. Before she slipped into a coma, she asked my husband and me to care for her four-month-old son, Levi.
Yesterday, a woman claiming to be Torrie’s estranged sister knocked on our door. But Torrie has no siblings . . . or so she said. She and my brother were only together a short time before he left, and Torrie has clearly been keeping secrets.
Today, another of Torrie’s “sisters” has come to town. Both say the other is lying about who they are.
Georgia has been reading Sugar And Snails by Anne Goodwin
This story is about Diana who made a monumental decision aged just fifteen and, now aged forty-five, I felt that while that moment changed everything for her, she has still been living in some sort of hiatus for the last thirty years. Existing, rather than living, I suppose, as she wasn’t comfortable sharing who she was, not even with the closest of her friends, let alone with the new man in her life, Simon.
Diana is a psychology lecturer so there is some psychology in the book but it’s well explained, and interesting. I also enjoyed the structure of this story with alternate sections revealing the story of Diana’s childhood. This was so well written there was no chance of getting confused and I found it kept the interest level high, and the pages turning, because you wanted to find out what exactly had happened in Egypt all those years ago.
The depictions of Diana’s family were very well done too. The parents, who I initially thought rather uncaring, were actually, understandably, confused and at a loss as to what to do with their child. Her father, particularly, clearly haunted by what had happened to his friend when they were in the forces together, and later on. His guilt plain to see.
This story covers a highly controversial topic sensitively and the author writes these words at the end of the book, ‘I hope you find my words worthy of your time’. I most certainly did and I highly recommend this most excellent read.
At fifteen, she made a life-changing decision. Thirty years on, it’s time to make another.
When Diana escaped her misfit childhood, she thought she’d chosen the easier path. But the past lingers on, etched beneath her skin, and life won’t be worth living if her secret gets out.
As an adult, she’s kept other people at a distance… until Simon sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, the city that transformed her life. She’ll lose Simon if she doesn’t join him. She’ll lose herself if she does.
Sugar and Snails charts Diana’s unusual journey, revealing the scars from her fight to be true to herself. A triumphant mid-life coming-of-age story about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.
Georgia has been reading Black Entry by Regis P Sheehan
Black Entry is a fictionalised account of Project Tiger, the CIA’s clandestine efforts to penetrate North Vietnam with indigenous (largely South Vietnamese) agent teams in the early 1960s.
There is a main character by the name of Jay Laird, nicknamed Jayhawk by his friends, and there’s a small cast of other characters around him but the real core of this book is all about Project Tiger. Laird was expecting to have a steady job safely behind a desk as his first posting, however due to a last minute personnel change he finds himself sending teams into the hostile lands of North Vietnam then waiting to see if they are ever heard from again. They are frequently not but even if they are their intelligence is often treated with suspicion and as though it’s been compromised.
As with the military there are plenty of acronyms in this book but fear not as they are explained, with reminders, along the way. Although fictionalised this feels very much like a factual account of this mission and I think it will interest anyone who enjoys reading about this period of history or military fiction in general.
Georgia has been reading Creation by Bjørn Larssen
This book tells the tale of Odin waking up along with his two brothers, Vili and Vé, to find themselves Gods in a place that as yet has nothing. It should be a terrific opportunity to create loads of cool stuff, you’d think. However, Odin, and his brothers, have no idea what they are doing and come up with random things such as celery and mosquitoes instead. (I mean, who would ever choose to invent either of those!)
When Odin does manage to create something useful, a cow. They have no idea how to get milk out of it and the cow doesn’t hang around for long.
Creation is a short book and a pacey read. I enjoyed the humour and Larssen’s writing throughout and look forward to seeing what comes next.
In the beginning there was confusion.
Ever woken up being a God, but not knowing how to God properly? Your brothers keep creating mosquitoes and celery and other, more threatening weapons. What can your ultimate answer be – the one that will make you THE All-Father and them, at best, the All-Those-Uncles-We-Don’t-Talk-About?