Saturday, August 12, 2017

I am in a happy place - at a farm overlooking mountains, the sun is shining and all is well. I am relaxed and this is much needed downtime and a chance to catch up with me blog and tell you what I have been reading and also what bookclub are enjoying.
I last told you of my enjoyment of The Tea Planters Daughter by Janet Macleod which was a bargain from Amazon Kindle - well I found two more in the series and enjoyed them both, The Tea Planters Bride and The Girl from the Tea Garden. All set in both the UK and India in a time of gentle living, fine manners and family feuds. Very entertaining and really good stories. I love tea but I had to move on!
From Bookclub I have read A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline who wrote Orphan Train which I really enjoyed.
 This book was well researched and brilliantly written - a technical masterpiece .... but it just didn't captivate me.  The story was inspired by a painting by an American artist Andrew Wyeth called 'Christina's World' and captures the life of a young woman who suffered from a degenerative illness and it is set in a farmhouse in Cushing Maine. Its a working farm and her family all work hard barely to keep themselves. A bright girl - Christina is forced to leave school to help out at home - with no electricity or running water - life is harsh and her disability makes it harsher. She is pitied by family and neighbours and she hates this. Her life is changed when a group of friends bring a young man home for the holidays and she dares to believe that he loves her and she falls in love with him - however his family will not let it be and the truth is that he doesn't fight very hard to let her go. she faces a harsh future alone with her much older brother to bring in money they rent a room to an artist and she becomes his muse. The artist spends the next decade or so staying with them each summer and she becomes the model for his famous painting which evokes a sense of mystery and curiosity in all who view it.

I enjoyed Circling the Sun by Paula Maclain. In fact I loved this book - and 'flew' through it in three days as I knew nothing about Beryl Markham - the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic but found her a fascinating subject for a biography. She was raised by her father in Kenya and the book details her family life, lovers and marriages.  The book details life in Colonial Kenya and the eccentric people that were attracted by the prospect of farming and fortunes to be made. It has made me want to read her actual biography.

.
Bookclub have also enjoyed "Big Little Lies" by Liane Moriarty - I bought this book as the book I had ordered for my bookclub buy arrived in Singapore a day after I left so I had to make a quick choice and I had read that Nicole Kidman and Reece Wetherspoon were so impressed with this novel that they bought the rights immediately and made it into a series. I haven't read it but Shakespeare's Sisters say its gripping and unputdownable! I binge watched the series on a long haul flight and the storyline kept me guessing to the very last five minutes so I guess the book keeps its secret right to the end. You don't even know who the victim is never mind the murderer until the last  minute!
This is what an Amazon reviewer had to say about it - "I rarely write reviews, but I have to for this book. It is just too good. It is not a mystery. You know someone dies. It is not a crime novel. It is a novel about women and people. There are three main characters, all mothers with kindergarten children in the same school. They are all so different, but so vividly portrayed in all their goodness and their flaws. You wish you knew them. The scene where the death actually occurs is so wonderfully written that I had to read it twice. Sounds odd, doesn't it, but you will understand when you read it. The book is so clever and so witty."


The next two books were recommendations from my niece and both were enjoyable although set worlds apart in different centuries. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante is a modern masterpiece from one of Italy's most acclaimed authors. It a rich and intense story of two friends Elena and Lila set in the 1950s in a poor and vibrant neighbourhood on the outskirts of Naples where they journey from infant hood through the complications of puberty and ultimately marriage. Lila is the brighter of the two and the most streetwise but circumstances force her to abandon her education but she still coaches Elena to excellence at school where her ambition is to have her words published. They hero worship a man from the village who achieved the unthinkable by having a book of poetry published. They imagine him living a rich and expensive life until he returns and rekindles a dark secret known by some in the village. Beautiful descriptions and great insight into the vulnerability of youth.


The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry on the other hand, is set in Britain in the 1890s is about life, beliefs and love, science and religion, secrets and mystery. It reminded me of Remarkable Creatures by Tracey Chivalier both novels are set in a time of Victorian passion for collecting fossils along the Essex coast and their heroines strong women choosing to live differently enjoying the 'manish' pursuit of ammonites. Great characters and a love story with many twists and turns - It is a worthy winner of Britain's Best Book of the Year.


Last but not least my best read 'The Girl from Simons Bay' by Barbara Mutch. Just one of those books that you don't want to end. Local is lekker and this books tells the story of a seashell and a sealed letter that form a tenuous connection to a forbidden wartime romance.  1937 and Simons Town is a vibrant and diverse community with a Royal Navy port at the towns heart. Louise Ahrendts daughter of a shipbuilder nurtures her dream of becoming a nurse in a world of unwritten and unspoken rules about colour. She has the talent and the courage to make it a reality. At the outbreak of the 2nd WW Louise crosses paths with a man she longs to be with despite all the obstacles and conflict that life throws at them. A really beautiful story - My only complaint was that it ended!

Also read 'In Order to Live' by Yeonmi Park - a harrowing story of a young girls escape from North Korea.

and

Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Coombson - a light read with an interesting twist by this author who always weaves interracial relationships into her stories.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bon Voyage!

I travel a lot - I like to travel and see new places. I think my recent reading reflects this as I have read about a Coffee Shop in Kabul while on a plane to Singapore - I have read about the Quality of Silence in a environmental mystery while on the plane to South Africa. I have enjoyed the romance of being a Tea Planters Daughter in India while staying in the Cape and the joys on board The Little Paris Bookshop set on a barge in France from my garden in Port Elizabeth. But I will start with a grand novel written in the 80s set in Singapore before and during the Japanese occupation, which I read in Singapore!
"The Malay words for red earth are tana merah and I deem this to be the perfect name for a house which will, I hope, be home to our family for generations to come."

Dexter is an old family name in Singapore - Grandpa Jack arrived int eh late 1800s and built a huge financial empire out of real estate rubber and tin, Tanamera begins in 1830 and is focused  around  grandson John and his love affair with Julie - a half Chinese daughter of wealthy neighbours - but interrelations are out of the question and they prepare to face a future without each other. The war comes and things change dramatically for the colonial life in Singapore and for the Dexters. This sweeping epic was great to read while in Singapore as many of the streets and buildings remain. I was interested to understand the history of Singapore and its peoples and how they experienced life during the Japanese occupation. Its an old book and it was made into a TV series and I can see why - the story brings history alive on its pages and i loved it and left Singapore richer for reading it!




Deborah Rodriguez has captured the nuances of daily life of the  people of Kabul in a remarkable coffee shop in the middle of Afghanistan. Thrown together by circumstances, bonded by secrets and united in friendship it is a charming story of Sunny and the love of her life - her coffee shop! It's pitched as a cup of friendship but I found this cuppa too sweet for my liking - after a promising start with Yazmina - orphaned daughter from rural Afghanistan - being abducted and sold into a sordid life of human trafficking - I thought I had another Kite Runner in my hands but sadly it didn't do it for me. Having said that, most of my bookclub loved this book  and it comes well recommended from Amazon and Good Reads. i  felt it had the potential to be  darker, stronger and slightly bitter - the way I enjoy my coffee - less cappuccino and more espresso!


The Little Paris Bookshop - From the Jacket...........
Monsieur Perdu can prescribe the perfect book for a broken heart. But can he fix his own?
 
Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives. I enjoyed it - a light easy read - well written - great characters and set in France - pure escapism!




The Quality of Silence is a page turner set in Alaska and tells the story of a wife who refuses to believe that her husband has been killed in an explosion and fire at a gas mining settlement in the midst of the frozen Tundra. She sets off to find him with their deaf daughter Ruby and finds herself being stalked by a menacing vehicle hellbent on preventing them. Its a story of industrial espionage and you really don't know who is on whose side until the final pages. Its a story for today - I loved the topic and the gutsy heroine and the beautifully captured language of a small girl who has never heard the words. Great read! 




I took a chance with The Tea Planters Daughter - I liked the jacket and it popped up in my Amazon feed so I bought it for 99p. I enjoyed it and just downloaded the sequel- The Tea Planters Bride- another 99p investment! Set in India and then in Newcastle, it really reminded me of those dramatic Catherine Cookson novels which were addictive reading in the 80s. A strong female heroine - a wicked family and a tall dark handsome man in pursuit - all the right ingredients for an enjoyable 'soapie'. It was a great holiday read and I love novels set in India - I seem to be on an Indian treasure hunt at the moment as I enjoyed the British TV series Indian Summers and am currently enjoying the BBC documentary of The Real Marigold Hotel. Viceroy is a film I am looking forward to seeing too ........and tonight I had curry for supper so things are hotting up! 


So you see - you can travel the world from your armchair - Bon Voyage!



Friday, November 25, 2016

Local is lekker

I love finding a new author and when they are local then that's even better. Most of the books we read are set in the States or the UK or penned by authors from there and its so lovely to read words that are unique to your country and that are set in places you have travelled to. In fact I make a point of reading books set in the country I am holidaying in - I read Wilbur Smiths "The River God" in Egypt and Christie's "Death on the Nile", I read a thriller called, Mud, Muck and Dead Things by Anne Granger in the Cotswold's and Eucalyptus by Murray Bail in Melbourne.

So I found myself tucked up in bed with Tannie Maria and her Recipes for Love and Murder on a guest farm in the Karoo last month. A debut novel by Sally Andrews - I devoured every morsel.
It's set in Ladysmith in the Karoo and tells the story of aunty or 'Tannie' Maria who works in the small newspaper office as a food columnist. Her life changes when the editor is told to scrap her column for an advice column - you remember those interesting problem pages written by 'agony aunts' - then you get the picture. Tannie Maria loves food and decides that her delicious boer kos (farm food) can cure any problem and so she dispenses advice and recipes! She ends up in the middle of a murder investigation. You cannot help but relate to this character - everyone has an aunty like this in their lives and she is delightful. The book is a real page turner full of suspense and funny at the same time and there are real recipes that you want to try out too!
In  quick succession came Tanie Maria and the Satanic Mechanic and I expected to be disappointed but I am loving it. Not reading it in the Karoo but my mind is so there when I open the book. The second book features many of her characters from the first one and you get to know them and her better as a completely new mystery unfolds. Keep them coming Sally - our bookclub is loving them!

I seem to be in a rural roll as bookclub also enjoying a book called "The Trouble with Goats and Sheep' but this one is set in the UK and all the action takes place not in a rural town but in an industrial street. Mrs Creasy is missing as as the English summer holidays stretch endlessly ahead, ten year old Grace and Tilly become junior detectives determined to find out what happened to her. The neighbours are harbouring a secret from a decade ago and as the real police investigations into Mrs Creasy;s disappearance proceed, they become increasingly worried about what skeletons may pop out of the cupboard! Its a lightish summer read written in a naive style (which I personally don't much enjoy) but the story is sound and the characters dark and interesting, and if you grew up in England in the 60s and 70s then you will enjoy a trip down memory lane as I did.
Its a real feast for sequels and series and Lucinda Riley's 3rd book is out "The Shadow Sister" in the Seven Sister series.
Its sitting on my Kindle waiting for me so I can only go by reviews read here. It promises to be as good as the previous two in the series and I know I will love it as its set in Cumbria and in an antique bookshop in London - by all accounts the mysterious housekeeper, Flora's, story is entwined in this book too.
I have started another Lucinda Riley book, The Italian Girl (I hadn't realised she had written so many), but Tannie Maria and a bed in the Karoo with a crocheted coverlet beckoned me so I have yet to go back to it!
Not a book but a film - The Girl on the Train was released last month and was an excellent adaptation of Paula Hawkin's book. Its not often that the film lives up to the expectations created by the word but happily this one did.
If you are looking for other reading ideas for your down time in December then Good Reads https://www.goodreads.com have some great ideas on their site.

Please Please share your bookclub's favourite books by commenting here. Its difficult to choose sometimes and books are so expensive - its a costly mistake to make buying a dud!

Bookclub Christmas parties are in preparation all over the place and ours is Christmas by the Sea this year! Enjoy yours ...........

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A good book, a comfy chair and plenty of quiet time is a great combination!

It a long time since I have had time to sit and read quietly for hours but Vs illness and isolation have meant that he just wants a presence at his bedside and not necessarily conversation, and there being a lazy boy recliner in there, I have been able to read and read and read some more. After months of snatching a chapter before bed or a few pages in a break,  I had forgotten the pleasure of reading a book almost in one sitting and getting completely lost in a story. Bliss!
What I have enjoyed......
I am currently reading YEAR of WONDERS by Geraldine Brook. Bookclub loved her novel PEOPLE of the BOOK and I stumbled across this earlier novel by chance. Its a wonderful read (and very cheap on Amazon Kindle)
The novel is set in an English village in the year 1666 - the year of the Great Plague of London. Plague is carried to their village through a bolt of cloth and as every household is affected, Anna, the main character, emerges as unlikely heroine and healer. As the plague sweeps through the village bringing death to each household the villages turn from prayers to murderous witch hunting. As Anna struggles to survive and grow - a year of catastrophe becomes a year of wonders! It is based on the true story of the village of Eyam and is wonderfully researched and written in the style of the day. I am loving each page and can barely wait for my hours in the lazyboy tomorrow when I know the year of wonders will come to an end!

Before this I read two 'big' books. Each with over 600 pages which I would never tackle mid year normally but again - the blessing of an isolation ward and a comfy chair have made this possible, For author, Lucinder Riley, this is a seven book project and having read the first two book I am looking forward to number three! Each book is set to tell the story of seven sisters adopted as babies in unusual circumstances by their wealthy 'father' a mysterious man they know as Pa Salt. The first book THE SEVEN SISTERS starts with them gathered at their home on the shores of Lake Geneva as they mourn his death and each one of them is left geographical coordinates and a letter with clues to their identity. The first sister Maia traces her birthplace to South America and a crumbling mansion in Rio ......and so unravels the fascinating history of her biological family. As this novel ends so it links to the second sister, Ally -THE STORM SISTER - who is a talented yachtswoman and realises she stumbled across her fathers burial at sea - not knowing that is what was happening when she encounters his yacht moored off the coast and before she has had the news of his death. Ally's clues to her birthplace see her abandoning her ocean racing career to explore the icy beauty of Norway and Grieg's Peer Gynt suite to explore her other gift - her musical talent - and her links to a talented and yet unknown young singer and another compelling story unfolds.
When I heard Maggie O Farrel had a new book out I pre-ordered it and just on time it appeared on my Kindle like magic. She is one of my favourite authors and I have read everything she has written and have never been disappointed. Her latest novel, THIS MUST BE THE PLACE, is her finest yet and is that rare literary beast - technically dazzling and deeply moving.It leaps effortlessly across continents, relationships and time frames and at its centre is a story about people who are lost, flawed and troubled as they struggle to connect with those that they love. The main character is Daniel Sullivan, an Irish American linguistics lecturer, who at the start of the book is living with his reclusive, ex movie star wife, Claudette in the isolated Donegal countryside. He is on the way to his fathers 90th birthday when he hears something on the radio which mentions the fate of an old girlfriend from decades ago and this sends him careering across continents and into his past - a quest that threatens his marriage and his sanity and the very threads that hold his life together. The story is woven like an intricate tapestry and one cannot help but be impressed by the authors use of perspective, grammatical tense and style as each chapter is narrated by a different charachter and their point of view. Brilliant is the only word to describe her writing and ability to hold the reader in her hand.

I have also enjoyed ORPHAN NUMBER 8 by Kim Van Alkemade, a fasinatng story inspired by true events, of a woman who must choose between revenge and mercy when encountering the woman who subjected her to dangerous medical experiments when she was in a Jewish New York orphanage some years before. The book also contains actual photographs and records of the orphanage run by the Jewish church in New York during the depression which makes the story more believable and the choice more real. Excellent read!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

We lose ourselves in books and we find ourselves in there too!

2016 and a whole new year of books await. December and January, being the main holiday season here, lends itself to relaxation and reading - whether on the beach or while travelling. I have had a good holiday and enjoyed losing myself in stories and worlds created by books and I never fail to find a little piece of myself in there too!

The Collected Works of AJ Fikry
This is set within an isolated community living on an island - here lives AJ Fikry a traditional bookstore owner, widowed and as isolated as the island. One day a baby is left in his store bearing  note asking that he looks after her and ensure she is brought up surrounded by books -  and his life changes forever. The book also gives insight to the cut throat world of publishing and of reading and how books connect people. Fikry says that you learn all you need to know about a person by asking them one question, "What is your favourite book?" It;s a lovely moving story spanning two decades and you really want to know what happens to A J Fikry, his 'daughter' and the characters in the community that are woven into the story. An enjoyable read by Gabrielle Zavin.


A God in Ruins
Kate Atkinson's dazzling and complex novel Life After Life outsold every book in the UK last year apart from Gone Girl and Dan Brown's Inferno. A God in Ruins tells the story from the viewpoint of one character, Teddy, a young man who signs up as a bomber pilot in 1939 and who is shot down and declared missing presumed dead. Astonishingly he turns up in 1945 having spent the last year of the war in a prisoner of war camp. The novel is wonderfully researched and gives great insight in to what it must have been like to be a pilot in the second world war and given that 90% of them didn't survive the war - Teddy is most surprised to emerge alive and well. He returns to civilian life and marries his childhood sweetheart, Nancy, and loves her in a robust and dependable way. He settles for a career as a school teacher and a journalist and a life of ordinariness, A God in Ruins was particularly poignant for me as my own father was a Lancaster pilot during the war and his family were RAF through and through - my grandfather having been awarded the DFC and the DCO for bravery in his magnificent flying machine in WW1. We witness Teddy ageing, becoming widowed and being at the mercy of his difficult daughter Viola in his old age and your heart bleeds for him and the many others like him who gave their everything for Queen and country but were cast aside in civilian life. A fascinating story, brilliantly written by one of the greatest authors of our time.

Up against the Night

Justin Cartright is a Africa author living in London and I have enjoyed his previous books. His work is well written and he has the rarest of talents of being able to write serious fiction which encompasses the strangeness and comedy of life. The main character, Frank, is a descendant of Piet Rietief who was murdered by the Zulu King. Frank is about to visit South Africa with his lover Nellie and his daughter is arriving from the States where she has been in rehab. Franks Afrikaner cousin is becoming disillusioned and desperate about his life in South Africa with the undercurrents of violence and racial tension. As the story unfolds against a backdrop of Table Mountain and the winelands, the mystery around his daughter's holiday guest, the chaotic and volatile life of his Afrikaner cousin combined with the gentle love he has for Nellie all entwine to create a fascinating story. Up Against the Night is a brilliant and subtle novel about South Africa and its beautiful landscape, its violent past and its uncertain future.


Summer at the Lake by Erica James
A perfect beach or holiday read - not all challenging, perfectly relaxing and yet a story interesting enough to want to pick it up and start reading. Lake Como - romantic, enchanting and beautiful and for Floriana its is where the love of her life is marrying another woman and she has been invited to the wedding. For Esme its where she fell in love for the first time over 60 years ago to a man destined to become a priest. Their unlikely friendship takes them there with Adam who is in danger of burying himself in his work since his girlfriend left him. Will Lake Como weave her magic and heal all three of these characters. The answer is ............read the book and find out! I recently read The Dandelion years, the latest book by the same author and found it just as delightfully relaxing!


All the Light we Cannot See.
A real bookclub favourite and winner of the Pulitzer Prize 2014. A beautifully told story about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as they both try to survive WW2. Doerr skillfully weaves the stories of Marie Laure, the blind daughter of a museum curator who has built her a detailed model of the city they live in to help her navigate her way through it, and Werner, a German orphan with an extraordinary talent for radios that throws him into the Nazi regime of the Hilter Youth Academy and into battle at a young age. Their lives converge when the Nazis are searching for a most valuable and dangerous jewel that was in the museum collection and Werner is sent to the small town in France where they believe it is hidden. It's a sad and deeply moving story of lost youth, cruelties of war and the ways which people valiantly survive against the odds and  try to be good to one another. It took ten years to write and I believe each sentence is a masterpiece!


So a really great literally end to 2015 and my bookpile is waiting for 2016 - I have just started Lisa Genova's new book Inside the O'Brians and looking forward to getting lost again!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Before the Rains Come and more

Spring is almost here and I know for sure that when I get to Book Club this month there will have been a spring clean of our book bags. You just can't heave them all around so we are quite ruthless and the books that you bought when it was your turn to choose, get returned to you and some find the way into the Walmer Library, as donations. My attendance at book club is a bit sporadic with my travelling these but here is what I hear the ladies are enjoying:-

Leaving Before the Rains Come

Another book by one of our favourite authors was very welcome! Alexander Fuller's 'Don't lets go to the Dogs Tonight' and 'Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness' were memoirs of her childhood in Rhodesia and her eccentric mother. This book tells how she met Charlie Ross, an American adventurer in Africa whom she marries and has three children. They are attracted by their differences and their  marriage unravels over two continents when those differences become the reason not to be together, I really enjoy her writing, her use of language, her humour and admire the interesting life she has lived and I cant wait to get my hands on this.
Interestingly enough no one seems to talk about her second novel 'Scribbling the Cat' which I loved. Perhaps the topic is not as popular as it tells the story of a veteran of the Rhodesian bush war. I believe anything by Alexander Fuller will be a fantastic read.


I am Pilgrim


I remember the 70s and 80s when books where big, thick, epic stories usually family sagas set over generations. These days we don't have time to wade through all those pages any more so I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes is not for the faint hearted. Nearly 700 three pages long, its a spy thriller kicked off by a gruesome murder scene and its driven by the stories of a large number of interlocking and interweaving lives of the man Pilgrim and the narrator and man who is on a mission to catch him before he destroys the world. The plot twists and turns like a python in a sack and this fast paced turn pager is an astonishing debut novel which I believe will be on the big screen in no time. A second book is already due for release in May next year. Definitely on the popular list in our book club.


Life After Life

This is my best read this year. If I was forced to choose one author as my favourite, Kate Atkinson would be the one. I loved her 'Behind the Scenes in the Museum' and became to slave to her next book after each release. Her latest novel is her most ambitious to date and tells the story of the Todd family and in particular Ursula who is born during a snowstorm in England in 1911, and dies before she can take her first breath. In 1911 during a snowstorm Ursula is born again and this time lives and dies several times throughout her life. Complex I know, but its a story of 'what ifs' a little like the movie sliding doors which has multiple stories within stories all leading to different endings. Its challenging but addictive and so well written - a masterpiece really! The main part of the book is set during the war years, both first and second, and her characters brought to life as if they are relations of yours. It's a long time since I have wanted to get home so I can read and this book does that - I couldn't wait to spend time with Ursula and the Todds and find out what happens to them. Again there is a sequel - out now - which tells the story of her much loved brother, Teddy a fighter bomber pilot. This will be my holiday read as I visit England next month and as my dad and grandfather were RAF pilots I am really looking forward to it.

A Spool of Blue Thread

Anne Tyler is a popular choice with book club and her books are quiet observations of family life and relationships. This one is no different - its the story of three generations of Whitshanks and a family gathering to discuss what is to be done about Abby and Red, who are getting older and what is to happen to their beloved family home. Its a gentle book to climb into bed with a night but none the less beautifully written and a compelling tale that we can all relate to. I was reading it at the airport in Zimbabwe and an American tourist came to ask if I was enjoying it,  as Anne Tyler is one of her favourites - we spoke about books, reading and book clubs, families, Africa, travelling and the world in general  for over an hour while waiting to board, A book can really bring people together - if I had been reading it on Kindle I would not have had that interesting conversation!

Its book club on Tuesday and I am looking forward to catching up and hearing what else is being enjoyed. I will try not to leave my blog entry so long next time. Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Bookclub catch up and books for Everyone!

Back home after after a spell in Natal and some travelling and we had such a lovely bookclub last week with lots to talk about.....and even books!
It was my turn to buy books this month and I left it a little late to research and order the best reviews books online so I resorted to a visit to the local bookstore and took 2 of their recommendations plus two random choices. I was horrified at the price of books here in SA (am so used to downloading onto my Kindle) or ordering from Amazon. Anyway I bought Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins; Esther's House

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

As fast as an express train and compulsively readable - this kept me awake late into the night!
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their patio. As lonely as she is she begins to  feel as if she knows them and creates names for them.  Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. 


Esther's House by Carol Campbell

I haven't read this yet but I love a local read and this title made me think of The Housemaids Daughter that bookclub so enjoyed,
Random Struik tell us,"Esther Gelderblom has been waiting for a house for twenty years. In the bitter Oudtshoorn winter she and her friend Katjie queue to ask when their names will finally appear on the government’s list of housing recipients. Esther dreams of a home for her daughter Liedjie, who plays the keyboard for the Bless Me Jesus church, and for her husband, Neville, who will then get his life in order. But corruption is rife as housing officials manipulate the list for favours. When Katjie’s shack burns down, the two women take matters into their own hands, occupying two empty houses and setting in motion events that will compromise everything they hold dear. 
Esther’s House is a story of greed, power, and the fight for what is right when good people are pushed too far.

The School of Life Cookery School by Nicky Pellegrino

In a remote Sicilian mountain town, four women arrive at a cookery school, each at a turning point in their lives. Moll is a foodie and an exhausted working mum on the holiday of a lifetime, Tricia a top lawyer is taking a break from the demands of her job and family. Valerie, consumed by grief  following the death of her partner, is trying to figure out how to live without him, And recently divorced Poppy has come to Sicily to learn about the place that her grandfather was born before emigrating to Australia, Luca Amore runs the school, using recipes passed down to him by generations of Amore women and he expects this course to be much like the others - but as sparks fly, friendships are made, secrets shared and nothing will ever be the same again. 
I haven't sampled this but it looks a nice holiday read and with Easter around the corner I though it was a good buy, Also the cover looked delicious!

My second random selection is The Widow's Confession by Sophia Tobin. Its a thriller set in Broadstairs in 1851 and was inspired by a painting of Ramsgate seaside exhibited in 1854. What can I say - it just looked readable and I hope that bookclub will enjoy it!

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

 I am currently reading this and thoroughly enjoying it. Most of bookclub have read it and I got a last minute request to look for the sequel "The Rosie Effect" which was my 5th book purchase. If its as good as the first book - its a winner. The Rosie Project is laugh out loud funny! 
Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.  Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

So they are our reads this month. I also enjoyed Mrs Hemmingway by Naomi Wood whilst travelling and while in Singapore I started to read Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan which is still waiting to be finished on my Kindle. 

Happy Reading everyone - nothing like settling down at night with a good book and Easter Chocolates!