Sunday, 24 April 2016

Discover 'the truth about melody browne' by Lisa Jewell

the truth about melody browne by Lisa Jewell is a gripping story about Melody Browne who can't remember anything before her ninth birthday when her house burnt down, taking with it all her memories of her childhood. She's now thirty-three, single, and with a son who's approaching his eighteenth birthday. One evening, Ben, a man who she met on a bus, takes her to a hypnotist's show and when she's hypnotised, she begins to remember fragments of her childhood.
The story moves backwards and forwards in time as Melody pieces together the pieces of her life and tries to make sense of what happened.
As in the house we grew up in which I reviewed here last year, Lisa Jewell skilfully makes all the characters and the settings, in London, Broadstairs and Canterbury, believable.  And what a lot of characters there are, as Melody begins to meet them and unravel her past.
I can't go into her story too much here for fear of giving too much away. All I can say is to settle yourself down in a comfy chair with a drink of your choice and enjoy it!

Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Blue by Lucy Clarke - A Tense and Suspenseful Novel with the Exotic Backdrop of the Pacific Ocean

I loved The Sea Sisters and A Single Breath both by Lucy Clarke.
In the first, set in Bali, Katie is trying to unravel the truth about her sister's death, and in the second, Eva is finding out about the life of Jackson, her husband who's drowned, back where he used to live in Tasmania. You can read my reviews here and here. Therefore, as I liked them so much, I couldn't wait to read The Blue, set on a boat of that name sailing from the Philippines via Palau to New Zealand.
As in Lucy Clarke's first two books, The Blue starts off with a death. This time it's one of the travellers on the boat, whose body is floating in the sea.
The first two books explored the relationships between sisters and between husband and wife; this one explores and tests the lifelong friendship between Lana and Kitty.
It's told from Lana's point of view: 'Then' and 'Now', using the past and present tenses to easily identify when the action is taking place. It also beautifully encapsulates the wide ocean, and the confines of the small yacht with the six wanderers/adventurers on board; some sailing to something, some sailing away.
The crew are: Aaron, from New Zealand, who owns the boat; Denny also from New Zealand; the Canadian girl, Shell; Heinrich, the German; Joseph, the loner whom they'd picked up on Christmas Eve after they'd found him sleeping rough on a beach; and Lana and Kitty who'd decided to come to the Philippines on the spin of a globe.
There is obviously the mystery to solve of the drowned person, but also the reasons why each crew member is sailing and the complex relationships between each one which affect the outcome of the story.
I loved this tense and suspenseful novel with the exotic backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.
Lucy is now working on her, as yet untitled, fourth book which is due for release in Spring 2017, I can't wait!

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby - An Entertaining Account of Life Behind a BBC Sitcom in the Sixties

Have you ever watched those classic sitcoms from the 1960s: To Death Us Do Part, Steptoe and Son, Hancock's Half Hour? Or from America, I Love Lucy, and wondered about the lives of the stars and writers behind them?
Funny Girl by Nick Hornby is set against the backdrop of the BBC and tells the tale of Barbara Parker who within minutes of being crowned Miss Blackpool, is handing over her tiara and leaving for London. Her favourite television star is Lucille Ball, and she dreams of being just like her.
After some unsuccessful auditions, Barbara's agent, Brian, helps her by giving her a Voice Improvement Programme record so she doesn't sound so northern, and suggests she changes her name to Sophie Straw. 'Rather like Sandie Shaw', he explains.
Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance - I loved that show too!
After more disastrous auditions, he gives her the script for a new Comedy Playhouse production, called Wedded Bliss? (Yes, it really does have a question mark.) It's written by the fictitious Tony Holmes and Bill Gardiner who, together with junior producer, Dennis Maxwell-Bishop, have had a very successful radio comedy show, starring Clive Richardson who is to star in their new TV show. But when Sophie says she doesn't think Wedded Bliss? is very funny, they decide to write a new show starring her as Barbara from Blackpool and Clive as Jim who works at Number 10. The new show would have it all: the North/South divide; the class system; politics; relationships; and a new star in the shape of the ex-beauty queen from Blackpool! Oh, and much to Clive's disgust, it's to be called Barbara (and Jim)!
The book is an entertaining account about life at the BBC in the Sixties, which also contains some fascinating black and white photos of the stars and writers of the time. I can thoroughly recommend it.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Follow The Road to Little Dribbling with Bill Bryson and Bill Turnbull!

Over the years, I've enjoyed Bill Bryson's books set in Britain, America and Australia, so I was excited to see this new one: The Road to Little DribblingIts subtitle is More Notes From A Small Island, referring to the book he wrote twenty years ago about a trip around the country that he's adopted as his own.
He starts off writing in his distinctive style about how he got hit on the head by a parking barrier in Deauville, France, and in the days that followed as he got over it, started to wonder which English town was on the other side of the channel; it was Bognor Regis. This led him to decide to travel 'The Bryson Line' from Bognor to Cape Wrath to see what had changed since his trip in the 1990s.
The Bryson Line is merely a guide as he wanders from east to west, visiting places that take his fancy, all the way giving us many pieces of interesting information. For example, did you know that England has five different kinds of counties, or that Bryson lived next door to Ringo Starr for six months without even knowing it? But, I think, as he travels about the country, he gets more frustrated with the way things are going downhill, especially as he was President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England from 2007 to 2012, and at the beginning of the book, is about to take the test to become a British citizen!
One weird thing happened on the morning of the 24th February. I'd just been reading about Bill Bryson's visit to Kinder Scout in the Lake District, the scene of The Mass Trespass in 1932 in which workers from Manchester and Sheffield walked over the moors in defiance of the Duke of Devonshire who had closed the land to them for his grouse shooting, and which led to the first National Park, when I turned on BBC Breakfast to find another famous Bill: Bill Turnbull, actually in the Peak District, talking about The Mass Trespass itself. I couldn't believe it!
The Road to Little Dribbling is an entertaining read, packed full of information, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Which is your favourite Bill Bryson book?