February 2017

Thank goodness January is over. The Sunny Coast seems to have been enveloped in a continuous heatwave with no relief in sight. What has happened to our rainy season?

I am still recuperating from surgery, so there is not much activity to report on this month but it has given me the opportunity to catch up on some serious reading. How great it is to sit and read for long periods and not feel guilty that work is calling. So this month will be about books I have read and what I recommend. There will be no formal book reviews – just a hint of what the story is about which may or may not intrigue you sufficiently to check it out for yourself. Let’s face it Google can give you a far more balanced point of view with more than one person happy to post their thoughts. So, let’s begin.

Simmering Season – Jenn J McLeod.

This was the second book by an Australian writer that I have read in a short period of time. The characters were well developed and interacted comfortably. The setting of Calingarry Crossing rang very true of so many country towns that I found myself wondering which town she had based it on and wanted to go and visit.

It is a story of family dramas and relationships and grabs interest right from the beginning and although a little long at 460 pages, it was a book I could not put down. My heart told me what the ending was going to be – I had to see if I was right.

Although I found some scenes were a trifle repetitive there were a couple of incidents that I would have liked to see expanded further. All in all it was a good read and I will be looking for more by this author.

Genre – Women’s Fiction/Romance - 7/10

Conclave – Robert Harris.

Having enjoyed two other books by this English author The Ghost Writer and An Officer and a Spy, I decided to give his latest novel a try despite the title being a little off-putting (for me at least). Conclave is about that unique Roman Catholic system of electing a new Pope. As the blurb says: ‘The Pope is dead. Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election. They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals.’

That was sufficient to make me take a chance and I was not disappointed. As a non-Catholic I found it an informative and enjoyable read and had the conclusion firmly decided but Harris provided a surprise ending to really make the reader think.

Genre – Religion/Mystery/Thriller. 7/10

The Lavender Keeper – Fiona McIntosh.

For something completely different I turned to another author who is new to me. Having ordered her latest book from the library and finding myself 57th on the list of reserves I decided to begin with this earlier one to test the waters.

In complete contrast to my previous reads this story is set in France and England during the period of World War II. The descriptions of the locations and conditions during this time have been written with an understanding that only a great deal of hands on research can bring.

This is another 460 page book and it is rare that I can read a book without having to turn back a few pages to remind myself what has happened earlier, but so skillful is this writer that the characters and story stayed with me right from the beginning and I was glad that I had plenty of time to sink deep into this story, it was hard to put down. From the lavender fields of Provence to the streets of wartime Paris, The Lavender Keeper is an extraordinary, moving story of action and adventure, heartbreak and passion. I look forward to finding the sequel.

Genre: Historical Romance/ WWII Adventure 9/10

Finally, because I was getting annoyed with myself for finding no inspiration at all for my own writing, and having admired the way The Lavender Keeper was written, I found this one by the same author at our local library and decided to give it a try. What did I have to lose? It struck a chord with me and at last my creative instincts were stirred. So much so I have ordered my own copy from my local bookshop. For those who follow my blog and are also writers – I highly recommend this one. Once in a while I think it is good to read something about our craft – whatever it might be – to refresh our thinking and to gain a new insight into how successful people achieve their results. I don’t know that a blockbuster will result from reading this one, but it certainly inspired me to get going on the research for my next project.

A 10/10 from me.

Back next month.

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