19 Aug 2014

THE SHADOW YEAR

THE SHADOW YEAR by HANNAH RICHELL.

SOURCE: The sixth and final book won celebrating the blogoversary of Lindsay over at THE LITTLE READER LIBRARY

THE BOOK {According to the back cover}: 1980. On a hot summer's day five friends stumble upon an abandoned cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. Isolated and run-down, it offers a retreat, somewhere they can escape from the world. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise .....

Three decades later, Lila arrives at the remote cottage. Bruised from a tragic accident and with her marriage in crisis, she finds renovating the tumbledown house gives her a renewed sense of purpose. But why did the cottage's previous inhabitants leave their belongings behind? And why can't she shake the feeling that someone is watching her?

FIRST SENTENCE {Prologue}: It is the smallest details that come to her: the damp grass underfoot threaded with buttercups, the air humming with insects, the snap of her nightdress catching in the breeze.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 130}: And if the logs weren't there that very first visit, how on earth had they got there since? It's almost, she realises, as if someone has left them for her ..... as if someone has been expecting her.

MY THOUGHTS: Eight months and 81 books into 2014 this has to be one of my favourite reads. 

In many ways similar to her debut novel, Secrets Of The Tides in that in this, her second novel, she once again moves from one decade to another exploring the themes of jealousy, love, loss and the power of secrets to great effect.

Interweaving what is essentially two stories (one set during the 80's, the other three decades later) at the centre of which is an isolated cottage, the author does an amazing job of building the suspense layer upon layer (my how she reels the reader in), of developing the complex body of characters, in what is a novel of intrigue and great emotional intensity.

What I actually enjoyed most about this exquisitely written book was the characterisation. Wonderfully written, without giving anything away, I loved the way the author explored how a charismatic young man's dream became an obsession as what started as a 'social experiment' takes increasingly ominous turns.

One of those novels I'll wax lyrical about for a long time to come. I have high hopes for Hannah Richell's next novel.


Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper. All original content on http://pettywitter.blogspot.co.uk/ is created by the website owner, including but not limited to text, design, code, images, photographs and videos are considered to be the Intellectual Property of the website owner, whether copyrighted or not, and are protected by DMCA Protection Services using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Title 17 Chapter 512 (c)(3). Reproduction or re-publication of this content is prohibited without permission.

18 Aug 2014

AND NOW FOR AN UN- FROG -ETTABLE POST.

In what is surely a unique ceremony the people of Dubrugarh, Assam, watched 
six hour wedding ceremony which saw ...... two FROGS joined in matrimony in the belief that the ritual would bring rainfall during dry spells. FULL ARTICLE

Generally considered a harbringer of good luck as far as wet weather is concerned. Whilst European folklore has it that if a frog is heard croaking outside rain is guaranteed in the Vedic traditions they are seen as deities that chant by croaking for rain in times of drought.

Hmm, I wonder what other myths/celebrations/old wives tales involve frogs?

Believed by my nana to be a remedy for warts (thank goodness she never got to try her theory out, that she used a wet matchstick head instead - incidentally this didn't work any more than I suspect the frog would have done). I seem to remember her telling me that it used to be believed that carrying a dessicated frog in a pouch around your neck was said to prevent epilepsy. That putting a live frog in your mouth (talk about having a frog in the throat) would alleviate thrush or, worse still for those with certain lung conditions, a live frog swallowed would cure tuberculosis and whooping cough.

Often connected with rebirth - in ancient Egypt the frog was most commonly associated with Heket/Heqet, goddess of fertility and protectress of childbirth, in the Greco-Roman tradition as a symbol of Aphrodite (goddess of love and beauty). Also associated with death. One European myth claimed that frogs housed the souls of dead children and thus it was bad luck to kill one whilst an ancient Asian tradition claimed the frog opened the way to communication between the living and the spirit realm giving the deceased the ability to continue speaking with the living.


Youngest daughter of the king,
Open up the door for me,
Don't you know what yesterday,
You said to me down by the well?
Youngest daughter of the king,
Open up the door for me.
- The Frog King, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm


In literature often depicted in stories of transformation (Japanese folklore told of a woman transformed into a frog as punishment for murdering her husband). In tales like 'The Frog Prince', 'The Frog King/Iron Heinrich', 'The Prince Who Married A Frog', etc in which a prince is transformed into a frog, his only hope being a spoiled princess who must see past his exterior ugliness in order to see the beauty within and thus change him back to his former self.




Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper. All original content on http://pettywitter.blogspot.co.uk/ is created by the website owner, including but not limited to text, design, code, images, photographs and videos are considered to be the Intellectual Property of the website owner, whether copyrighted or not, and are protected by DMCA Protection Services using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Title 17 Chapter 512 (c)(3). Reproduction or re-publication of this content is prohibited without permission.


14 Aug 2014

THE BURNT HOUSE & COLD CASE.

THE BURNT HOUSE and COLD CASE (published as The Mercedes Coffin in the US)  by FAYE KELLERMAN.

Books 16 and 17 in the Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series. Whilst each of the books deals with a separate case I strongly recommend that they be read in order (I read the previous books pre-Pen and Paper) as as well as the crimes themselves the books predictably follow family life in the Decker/Lazarus household, the earlier ones in particular dealing with Peter's journey into orthodox Judaism after he discovers his birth parents were Jewish.


SOURCE: Purchased from amazon.co.uk


THE BOOK: Details here.

FIRST SENTENCE {Prologue}: At eight-fifteen in the morning on a balmy Los Angeles winter's day, a 282 Lucent Industry Aircraft, better known as WestAir flight 1324, took off from Burbank Airport holding forty-seven commuters.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 234}: Oliver held up his mobile. "I just called your cell, Mr. Dresden." He pointed to the pink case. "That baby isn't ringing, but your pocket is."

MY THOUGHTS: With two cases to solve, one of which could have happened any time over the previous thirty years, as is nearly always the case with Faye Kellerman's books The Burnt House is an intelligent, multi-layered crime thriller with the unique addition of a religious aspect in which the author goes to great pains to illuminate the ins-and- outs of every day orthodox life though in this case the domestic (a huge part of the series appeal to me) was not quite as prevalent as in previous books.

Gripped from beginning to end. I thought the 'was she actually dead and if so whodunit' aspect riveting, the advances in some of the forensic procedures depicted particularly fascinating.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
SOURCE: Ex-library stock.

THE BOOK: Details here.

FIRST SENTENCE {Chapter 1}: Twenty-five years ago, they were called nerds.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS {Page 160}:He went into Banks's place, squatted and swabbed a small blotch on the baseboard of the kitchen. The Q-tip turned blue.

MY THOUGHTS: Not one of the authors best offerings it has to be said (a rating of three stars for me usually signifies average but OK, in this instance it represents a poor average). If this had been the first book in the series I had read whilst I'm sure I would have enjoyed it I'm not convinced I would have gone out of my way to read any of the other books.

Despite the synopsis of the English edition of the book which states that Decker 'enlists the help of his daughter, Hollywood detective Cindy, as well as Rina, his wife' the book lacks any real impact from Rina Lazarus (this aspect of the books having lessened the further into the series you get) it was however the confusing, somewhat damp squib of an ending that left me thinking I'd missed something essential that really let the novel down.



Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper. All original content on http://pettywitter.blogspot.co.uk/ is created by the website owner, including but not limited to text, design, code, images, photographs and videos are considered to be the Intellectual Property of the website owner, whether copyrighted or not, and are protected by DMCA Protection Services using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Title 17 Chapter 512 (c)(3). Reproduction or re-publication of this content is prohibited without permission.

12 Aug 2014

CIDER WITH ROSIE.

CIDER WITH ROSIE by LAURIE LEE.

SOURCE: Bought with a book voucher.

THE BOOK {According to the back cover}: Cider with Rosie is a wonderfully vivid memoir of childhood in a remote Cotswold village, a village before electricity or cars, a timeless place on the verge of change. Growing up amongst the fields and woods and characters of the place, Laurie Lee depicts a world that is both immediate and real and belongs to a now-distant past.

FIRST SENTENCE {First Light}: I was set down from the carrier's cart at the age of three, and there with a sense of bewilderment and terror my life in the village began.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 80}: When I finally became King (I used to think) I would command a parade of grandmas, and drill them, and march them up and down - rank upon rank of hobbling boots, nodding bonnets, flying shawls, and furious chewing faces.

MY THOUGHTS: At last a 'classic' that I did quite enjoy. I say quite enjoy as I'm afraid the somewhat relaxed descriptions of incest and under-age sex (albeit seemingly consenting unlike later events) though told in a very matter of fact and hardly what you'd call explicit didn't sit well with me.

A memoir, the first in a trilogy, of Cotswold village life at the end of World War II, a life that as the author explains ended alongside his childhood with the advent of motor vehicles clanking down the rural lanes. Cider With Rosie is very much a coming of a age story, a series of 'themed' recollections which covers all aspects of Lee's life from schooling, family and celebrations.

A nostalgic read which despite the water-logged cottage walls, almost constant hunger, and deaths/murder/suicide is told with such fondness as to make it sound idyllic, I was drawn into the lives of these people in a way I never expected.  


Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper. All original content on http://pettywitter.blogspot.co.uk/ is created by the website owner, including but not limited to text, design, code, images, photographs and videos are considered to be the Intellectual Property of the website owner, whether copyrighted or not, and are protected by DMCA Protection Services using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Title 17 Chapter 512 (c)(3). Reproduction or re-publication of this content is prohibited without permission.

11 Aug 2014

OVERLORD: THE RISE OF ZENOBIA #1.

OVERLORD: THE RISE OF ZENOBIA #1 by JD SMITH.

SOURCE: Received for review from the author.

ABOUT THE BOOK {According to the back cover}: My name is Zabdas: once a slave; now a warrior, grandfather and servant. I call Syria home. I shall tell you the story of my Zenobia: Warrior Queen of Palmyra, Protector of the East, Conqueror of Desert Lands …

The Roman Empire is close to collapse. Odenathus of Palmyra holds the Syrian frontier and its vital trade routes against Persian invasion. A client king in a forgotten land, starved of reinforcements, Odenathus calls upon an old friend, Julius, to face an older enemy: the Tanukh.

Julius believes Syria should break free of Rome and declare independence. But his daughter’s beliefs are stronger still. Zenobia is determined to realise her father’s dream.

And turn traitor to Rome ...

FIRST SENTENCE {Prologue: Zabdas- 290 AD- Present Day}: Clouds of sand billow across the road into Palmyra.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 73}: Silks hung from racks: blues, greens, yellows, reds, golds; every colour in between. Bottles of coloured oils and potions swung from wooden pegs, clinking, swaying, jostling to the city rhythm.

MY THOUGHTS: A big fan of this genre. If there's one thing I like more than historical fiction its historical fiction based on actual people/events and, even better still, historical fiction with a strong female lead and in Overload: The Rise Of Zenobia #1 you get all this.

Set in the third century AD and told mainly from the perspective of Zabdas, a slave come warrior, who narrates the story of Zenobia (a warrior Queen who like the perhaps better known Boudicca/Boadicea also took on the might of the Roman Empire) to his granddaughter. Whilst the narrative does jump around between time and place its not an issue.   

Full of the politics of the time (I loved the depiction of a teetering Roman Empire on the verge of collapse) and with everything from the people and places to the sights and smells vividly described this is a very well written book. Penned by an author who obviously knows her stuff, the facts are all there and yet woven into the story in such a clever way that it never feels heavy going.

My only disappointment? Whilst I appreciate that this is only part one in a series (part 2, The Fate Of An Emperor, is due for release this autumn) and therefore there is time for character development, given that Overlord was a short read of only 219 pages I personally would have preferred to see a more fleshed out Zenobia and, wonderful though they were, slightly less descriptions.




Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper. All original content on http://pettywitter.blogspot.co.uk/ is created by the website owner, including but not limited to text, design, code, images, photographs and videos are considered to be the Intellectual Property of the website owner, whether copyrighted or not, and are protected by DMCA Protection Services using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Title 17 Chapter 512 (c)(3). Reproduction or re-publication of this content is prohibited without permission.
Disclaimer: Read and reviewed on behalf of the author. I was merely asked for my honest opinion, no financial compensation was asked for nor given.