The Last Honey Trap by Louise Lee

Last honeytrap

I’m delighted to be sharing some quotations from ‘The Last Honey Trap’ by Louise Lee.

Florence Love is a beautiful, sassy private eye who can give as good as she gets!

Check out Florence Love’s Top 5 One Liners from ‘The Last HoneyTrap’.

1. Subservience is as erotic as tinnitus.

2. Happiness is a crock of shit, a biochemical figment of the imagination

3. Nobody should be duped into living a lie, whatever that lie may be

4. Body language is subliminal and extremely hard to fake unless you’re a Royal marine or a psychopath.

5. When you feel really bad never speak – it’s a selfish biological mechanism undertaken to appease your own guilt.

And, if you haven’t worked out how Florence Love operates yet – a cheeky extra one (from book 2):

Never puke on an assassin’s gun, it irritates them no end.

You can see my review of ‘The Last Honey Trap’ in my June archives too. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

You might like to see what else Louise Lee has revealed about Florence Love on the other bloggers’ sites.

Louise Lee

‘The Last Honeytrap’ is published by Headline and is available from all good bookshops

Amazon UK

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Honeytrap-Florence-Love/dp/1472224426/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1435212521&sr=1-1&keywords=the+last+honeytrap

Amazon US

http://www.amazon.com/Last-Honeytrap-Florence-Love/dp/1472224426/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1435212617&sr=1-1&keywords=the+last+honeytrap

The Dress by Kate Kerrigan

The dress

I am very grateful to http://www.lovereading.co.uk @lovereadinguk for an Advanced Reader Copy of ‘The Dress’ by Kate Kerrigan. It is published by Head of Zeus on 27th August 2015.

Lily Fitzpatrick is a vintage fashion blogger who finds a reference to Joy, an American beauty and socialite, who commissioned a dress that it was said could never be matched again. Lily sets out to discover more about the dress and about the woman who has the same surname, Fitzpatrick. This leads Lily to creating a dress of her own during which process she learns the true meaning of love and friendship.

The plot is extremely clever and fast paced, weaving past and present together highly effectively and bringing to life the rich times of American 1950s very evocatively. There is also a very clear sense of Irish landscape and pride. I preferred the New York settings as they held an evocative glamour that was unfamiliar to me. As the plot develops, there are comparisons and differences between the roles of women which I also enjoyed.

I found Kate Kerrigan’s ‘The Dress’ thoroughly entertaining, not least because it gave me an insight into a world I couldn’t possibly inhabit – that of haut couture.

I thought Frank was slightly disappointing as a character,because he seemed so rash in some of his actions, but I really empathised with Joy, finding her brittle, sad and deserving of happiness.

I thought ‘The Dress’ would make a perfect holiday read and would appeal to those who also enjoy books by Emma Hannigan and Sheila O’Flannagan.

Other reviews are available here.

Curious Animal

A little while ago via twitter @curious_animal I discovered a fantastic Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/curiousanimal?fref=ts where I entered a competition to win a book as part of their birthday celebrations.

I hadn’t discovered Curious Animal before, but it is a website devoted to photography, adventure, travel (cycling, hiking…), music, books and big issues from around the world. There are images, reviews, interviews and articles with something for everyone with an interest in life.

I was delighted when I heard I had won a prize in their birthday give away. Today, my amazing prize arrived.

It is the most gorgeous hardbacked wildlife photography book ‘The Centre Cannot Hold’ by David Gulden.

the centre

As Susan Minot tells us in the Foreword, David Gulden has spent more than ten years getting this book right and it is indeed perfection. From a baby chameleon no bigger than a finger tip to a charging rhino, each photograph illustrates nature in all its glory. There is no flinching either from the reality of nature in tooth and claw.

Dedicated to David Gulden’s father and in memory of Bobby Model, ‘The Centre Cannot Hold’ is a stunning book and a fantastic prize. I can’t thank Curious Animal enough for bringing this book into our lives. All we need to do now is try to emulate David Gulden’s photographs on our next wildlife trip.

The Centre Cannot Hold is available here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Centre-Cannot-Hold-David-Gulden/dp/0983270287/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434971320&sr=1-2&keywords=the+centre+cannot+hold

Thicker Than Soup by Kathryn Joyce

Thicker than soup

I was fortunate to meet Kathy Joyce at a local book signing where she kindly gave me a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review. ‘Thicker Than Soup’ is published by Troubador on 28th June 2015.

‘Thicker Than Soup’ follows the lives of Sally and John as they struggle to juggle careers and their relationship through the difficult times of Thatcher’s 1980’s Britain. Events lead them physically and emotionally into their pasts to try to discover who they really are.

‘Thicker Than Soup’ is a really interesting debut novel. Kathy Joyce gives the reader an incredible insight, particularly into life in Pakistan and she weaves an engaging story. I’m certain the author’s own experiences have added a real depth to her descriptions and it is the small details like ‘piles of shiny peppers’ that create a strong visual image.

‘Thicker Than Soup’ is written with compassion as, in a twisting plot, Kathy Joyce explores adoption, abandonment, redundancy, culture, race, HIV and the basic human need for love. The reader is moved as they read. There are immense themes here. I couldn’t decide if I found the end of the novel profoundly sad or profoundly optimistic and I think that’s part of the success of the writing – the sense that life isn’t straight forward and that we sometimes make choices that reverberate a long way into the future.

Initially, I didn’t particularly warm to John, despite the fact that the novel opens with him being wronged by Sally, but as I came to know about his background and to understand his insecurities I found him much more engaging and deserving of empathy.

Alongside highly competent story telling, an aspect that really brought the novel alive for me was the reference to food. Chapters are headed by dishes and I became increasingly hungry as I read! When or if you’ve read the novel you’ll understand why I have the overwhelming urge for a slice of banana cake!

Book Launch of Song of the Sea Maid by Rebecca Mascull

Song of the sea maidThis is such a gorgeous book (see my review lower down this blog), that when the opportunity arose to attend the launch of ‘Song of the Sea Maid’ by Rebecca Mascull in Lincoln’s Waterstones, I jumped at the chance.

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Waterstones was packed with Rebecca’s friends, family, fellow authors, bloggers and fans. Rebecca made sure she spoke to everyone individually, making them feel welcome and important and showing what a lovely person she is. She’d even made cakes that represented the book’s gorgeous cover to go with the other drinks and nibbles.

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Francine Toon, Assistant Editor at Hodder and Stoughton, began the launch before handing over to Rebecca who gave her thanks to all those who had helped to bring ‘Song of the Sea Maid’ to publication. Rebecca then treated us to a reading from the beginning of the novel.

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We also heard to a beautiful song written and performed by Amy Naylor which had been inspired by her reading of the book.

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It was a really lovely event and although I stayed until the official end time, there was still an enormous queue of people waiting to have their books signed with personal messages from Rebecca.

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I envied those who haven’t read ‘Song of the Sea Maid’ yet as they are in for an amazing experience. It was also lovely to meet Rebecca’s rightly very proud Mum.

‘Song of the Sea Maid’ is available in all good bookshops and on Amazon.

A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman

A year of marvellous ways

My enormous thanks to Bookbridgr,Tinder Press and Katie Bradburn at Headline for my review copy of Sarah Winman’s ‘A Year of Marvellous Ways’ which was published in hardback on 18th June 2015.

‘A Year of Marvellous Ways’ is, quite simply, a book of marvellous writing.

Mavellous Ways is an 89 year old woman waiting for something. Francis Drake (and he’s heard all the jokes) is a young man devastated by both world and personal events in the Second World War. When he arrives a broken man near Marvellous’ home in his attempt to deliver a letter from a dying soldier, both he and Marvellous find something they didn’t entirely know they were looking for.

It is difficult to express what a gorgeous book this is. Both magical and mystical, the exploration of grief and longing is completely absorbing so that I felt subsumed into the story rather than reading it. It is fortunate that it is divided into short chapters as I found I’d almost been holding my breath as I read and I needed time to recover from the depth of emotion before reading on. Sarah Winman conveys intense grief, loneliness, sorrow and love. Her writing is utterly moving. I found that I made comparisons with the best of Dylan Thomas’ writing when I read her prose.

The reduced palette of characters is wonderful. Marvellous in particular is such a strong presence that I didn’t just like her, I almost wanted to BE her. She teaches life lessons and we discover that love doesn’t have boundaries and isn’t constrained by horizons.

‘A Year of Marvellous Ways’ is one of those stories I shall return to when I need a book to reaffirm the best in life. In the mean time, I’m off for a sloe gin, but you’ll have to read the book to find out why!

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks

Many thanks to Nikki Barrow at Sceptre and Bookbridgr for my review copy of David Mitchell’s ‘The Bone Clocks’. It is out in paperback on 18th June 2015.

Following the central character Holly Sykes, ‘The Bone Clocks’ is a vast tale spanning from 1984 to 2043. After an argument with her mother, Holly runs away from home and so begins a story that tracks her life as it is mysteriously linked to a small band of beings attempting to rid the world of a soul decanting foe.

It is impossible to categorise ‘The Bone Clocks’. I don’t usually enjoy fantasy fiction and there is a good proportion in this novel, but what makes it so much better than merely a fantasy tale is the skill with which Mitchell weaves fantasy elements into the real world so that they are utterly convincing. So too are the characters, and readers can identify totally with Holly Sykes. Her responses to the action of the book mirror those of the reader so that we are almost part of the story, receiving the same shocks and jolts along the way.

There are massive themes explored here – from loyalty to evil, climate change to murder, love to life-threatening illness and all are woven together in a manner that I found captivating almost in spite of myself. I loved the structure of the six separate sections which could almost be read as stand alone short stories.

‘The Bone Clocks’ is not like reading an ordinary novel. I found it more of an experience than a read. My mind was assaulted by humour, empathy, shock and fear and just as I felt I had a grasp on the plot, another twist would send my understanding spiralling in a different direction with a different narrator pulling me along. David Mitchell is an extraordinary writer.

If I had any criticism at all it would be that occasionally I felt some of the cultural references were a little self conscious but they added so much context and colour to the novel I understand their inclusion.

I’d defy anyone reading ‘The Bone Clocks’ by David Mitchell not to be amazed by his skill as a storyteller. I can’t wait until his next novel ‘Slade House’ is out in October.