Tag Archives: travel

Guest post: The Best Things I Discovered About Sardinia by Rosanna Ley

10 Mar

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Rosanna Ley’s new novel, The Little Theatre By The Sea, today. Rosanna is the bestselling author of novels including Return to Mandalay and The Villa and Last Dance in Havana. I love Rosanna’s books and the wonderful places she takes me to in them. In this new release, we visit Sardinia and Rosanna joins me today to talk about her favourite things about Sardinia. Welcome Rosanna!

rosanna leyThe Best Things I Discovered about Sardinia

  • Top of the list has got to be the stunning beaches. Some of them are ‘secret’ beaches as in little rocky coves which can be pretty isolated or maybe only accessible by sea. The clarity of the water here is second to none. My favourite beach – destined to be secret no longer – was at Cala Domestica on the West coast accessed by driving through the mountains past now-deserted mining villages. Take a turning down to the sea, park on the grass, cross a boardwalk, pick your way along a rocky trail a bit like a goat track and go through a tunnelled archway – to discover a keyhole cove invisible from both land and sea. It’s amazing…
  • Myrtle. Yes – I’m talking about the plant. In Sardinia, myrtle is part of the ‘maquis’ which cloaks the hills and valleys along with juniper and tamarisk. It has deep green leaves and fragrant white flowers and is sacred to Venus, goddess of love and so tends to make an appearance at Sardinian weddings. (Ideal for a writer of romantic fiction). Even more vital, it is used to make a delicious Sardinian liqueur known as mirto. (You can spot myrtle on the cover of Little Theatre by the Sea).
  • Delicious Food. I love Italian food but Sardinia goes one step further – and it’s in the right direction. Some of my favourites were:  burrida (a spicy fish soup), spaghetti con bottarga (with mullet roe) and malloreddus (a gnocchi style pasta cooked with saffron in tomato sauce). I also loved fregola – an unusual pasta similar to cous-cous, often served with clams. And as for the lobster… Take me back there – now!
  • Bosa. I’ve chosen Bosa as my favourite town in Sardinia because it’s historic and pretty and because I used it as the main inspiration for my fictional town of Deriu. The things I loved most about Bosa were the mediaeval cobbled streets, the gorgeous pastel-painted houses and the colourful markets. But there was so much more – the Castello dei Malaspino, the river Temo, the marina, the restaurants… Bosa was founded by the Phoenicians and its artisan traditions of gold-filigree jewellery and lace-making live on.
  • The frescoes. Italian frescoes are often still so vibrant that it’s hard to believe how old they really are. My favourites were in the fourteenth century Nostra Signora di Regnos Altos chapel in the ruins of the castle at the top of the hill in Bosa. Restoration in the 1970s has brought to light these most stunning cycle of Catalan school frescoes – unexpected, vivid and truly beautiful to behold.
  • The amphitheatre at Nora. Sardinia is one of the most ancient lands in Europe and for a flavour of its history, my favourite site would be the Roman city of Nora in the south west, built on a spit of land jutting out to sea. It’s the location which makes it magical, but you can still see the Roman baths decorated with white, black and ochre tesserae mosaics, a theatre dating from the second century AD, paved Roman roads and even the original sewage system. Guaranteed to take your breath away.
  • Flamingos! Who would expect to see flamingos in Sardinia..? I love these elegant birds and fortunately, they have taken to nesting in the wild in the marshes of the Sinis peninsula near Oristano and down on the south coast near Cagliari. An unexpected and delightful treat.
  • Costa del Sud. This 25 kilometre coastal drive from Chia to Teulada in Southern Sardinia is off the beaten track and a complete joy. What a road… It winds beside steep cliffs and snakes past hidden beaches and then the view opens out in glorious technicolour to display an entire stretch of the magnificent coastline. Which is what Sardinia is all about really…

Thank you Rosanna – I’m adding Sardinia to my list of ‘must visit’ places!

The Little Theatre by the Sea is out now in hardback, ebook and audio formats from Quercus.

little-theatre-front-coverFaye has just completed her degree in interior design when she finds herself jobless and boyfriend-less. While debating what to do next she receives a surprise phone call from her old college friend Charlotte who now lives in Sardinia and is married to Italian hotelier, Fabio.

When Charlotte suggests that Faye relocate for a month to house-sit, Faye wonders if a summer break in sunny Sardinia might be the perfect way to recharge her batteries and think about her future. But then Charlotte tells Faye that there’s something more behind the sudden invitation: her friends Marisa and Alessandro are looking for a designer to renovate a crumbling old theatre they own in the scenic village of Deriu. The idea certainly sounds appealing to Faye, but little does she know what she’s letting herself in for if she accepts this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity . . .

Find out more about Rosanna and her writing at: http://www.rosannaley.com

Ten Books to Travel With – Summer 2015

22 Jun

Whether you are jetting off to somewhere exotic or enjoying a staycation this summer there are lots of lovely books to take you on adventures around the World. Here are my top ten books to travel with this summer. I’ve listed them in release date order and highlighted the locations so you can easily decide where to visit next!

the sunriseThe Sunrise by Victoria Hislop (Cyprus) Out now from Headline

I really enjoyed this excellent new novel from Victoria Hislop and it’s my favourite of her books since The Island. Victoria expertly mixes love, ambition and family drama against a backdrop of violence and unrest based on true events – the result is a novel that you won’t forget!

In the summer of 1972, Famagusta in Cyprus is the most desirable resort in the Mediterranean, a city bathed in the glow of good fortune. An ambitious couple open the island’s most spectacular hotel, where Greek and Turkish Cypriots work in harmony. Two neighbouring families, the Georgious and the Özkans, are among many who moved to Famagusta to escape the years of unrest and ethnic violence elsewhere on the island. But beneath the city’s façade of glamour and success, tension is building.

When a Greek coup plunges the island into chaos, Cyprus faces a disastrous conflict. Turkey invades to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority, and Famagusta is shelled. Forty thousand people seize their most precious possessions and flee from the advancing soldiers. In the deserted city, just two families remain. This is their story.

 

The Little Paris Book Shop by Nina George (Paris and Provence, France) Out now LITTLE PARIS BOOK SHOPfrom Abacus

This is a must read for book lovers  – a beautiful novel that examines the power of books and reading to change lives. I loved Jean Perdu’s ‘literary apothecary’ and wished I could pay it a visit! With a quirky cast and a love story with a difference, this is an excellent book to escape with this summer.

On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop; or rather a ‘literary apothecary’, for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers.

The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself. He has nursed a broken heart ever since the night, twenty-one years ago, when the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read. His memories and his love have been gathering dust – until now. The arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour in his eccentric apartment building on Rue Montagnard inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.

 

summertimeSummertime by Vanessa La Faye (Florida, USA) Out now from Orion

A gripping historical fiction debut that swept me up from the first pages and didn’t let go. No surprise that this novel is one of Richard and Judy’s Summer Book Club picks. Read my interview with Vanessa to find out more!

In the small town of Heron Key, where the relationships are as tangled as the mangrove roots in the swamp, everyone is preparing for the 4th of July barbecue, unaware that their world is about to change for ever. Missy, maid to the Kincaid family, feels she has wasted her life pining for Henry, who went to fight on the battlefields of France. Now he has returned with a group of other desperate, destitute veterans, unsure of his future, ashamed of his past.

When a white woman is found beaten nearly to death, suspicion falls on Henry. As the tensions rise, the barometer starts to plummet. But nothing can prepare them for what is coming. For far out over the Atlantic, the greatest storm ever to strike North America is heading their way…

 

The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club by Marlena de Blasi (Umbria, Italy) Out umbrian thursdaynow from Hutchinson

I was constantly hungry whilst reading this lovely book – it is packed full of mouthwatering descriptions of food and also includes wonderful recipes. This is a true story and I enjoyed getting to know each of the women as they cooked and ate and discussed their lives. With beautiful descriptions of both food and scenery, I really did feel transported to Italy as I read.

Pull up a chair for the true story of the Umbrian Thursday night supper club.

Every week on a Thursday evening, a group of four Italian rural women gather in a derelict stone house in the hills above Italy’s Orvieto. There – along with their friend, Marlena – they cook together, sit down to a beautiful supper, drink their beloved local wines, and talk.

Here, surrounded by candle light, good food and friendship, Miranda, Ninucia, Paolina and Gilda tell their life stories of loves lost and found, of ageing and abandonment, of mafia grudges and family feuds, and of cherished ingredients and recipes whose secrets have been passed down through the generations. Around this table, these five friends share their food and all that life has offered them – the good and the bad.

sunlit nightThe Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein (Norway) Out now from Bloomsbury)

A quirky and very enjoyable fiction debut from Rebecca Dinerstein. As well as being beautifully described, this novel is a captivating look at the nature of families and love.

Shortly after her college graduation, Frances flees a painful breakup and her claustrophobic childhood home in Manhattan, which has become more airless in the aftermath of two family announcements: her parents’ divorce and her younger sister’s engagement. She seeks refuge at a Norwegian artist colony that’s offered her a painting apprenticeship. Unfortunately, she finds only one artist living there: Alf, an enigmatic middle-aged descendant of the Sami reindeer hunters who specialises in the colour yellow.

Yasha, an eighteen-year-old Russian immigrant raised in a bakery in Brighton Beach, is kneading bread in the shop’s window when he sees his mother for the first time in a decade. As he gains a selfish and unreliable parent, he loses his beloved father. He must carry out his father’s last wish to be buried ‘at the top of the world’ and reconcile with the charismatic woman who abandoned them both.

And so Frances’s and Yasha’s paths intersect in Lofoten, a string of five islands ninety-five miles above the Arctic Circle. Their unlikely connection and growing romance fortifies them against the turmoil of their distant homes, and teaches them that to be alone is not always to be lonely, and that love and independence are not mutually exclusive.

heavenly italien ice creamThe Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop by Abby Clements (Amalfi Coast, Italy) Released on 2nd July by Simon and Schuster

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of Abby Clements’ previous novels so am really looking forward to reading this one!

Anna and her husband Matteo are ready to embark a delicious Italian adventure. After a year and a half running their ice cream shop on Brighton beach and raising their baby Isabella, Matteo is starting to miss Italy. A shared passion for ices means it’s easy to settle on a new business idea – they’ll open a shop in the town’s cobbled square, a short walk from the sparkling blue sea. For a while, life is sweet; but then Matteo’s overbearing family get involved…

Anna’s younger sister Imogen feels like things are finally coming together – she’s living with boyfriend Finn in a beach house in Brighton, and her photography is taking off. Then her career stalls, and the lure of Capri – and a man from her past – prove difficult to resist.

Join Anna and Imogen and share a summer on the Amalfi Coast that you’ll never forget.

 

Enchanted August by Brenda Bowen (Maine, New England, USA) Released on 2nd enchanted augustJuly by Vintage)

I saw the cover for this book on Twitter earlier in the week and had to find out more. Once I’d read the blurb this book went straight on my summer reading wish list – it sounds like a great read.

Everyone needs a place like Hopewell Cottage – a romantic holiday rental on a small, sunny island.

For Rose and Lottie, it’s a refuge from the frenzy of the school gates.

For Beverly, it’s a chance to say goodbye to two lost loves.

And for disgraced movie star Caroline, it offers the anonymity she craves.

But on tiny Little Lost Island, with its cocktail parties, tennis matches and Ladies’ Association for Beautification, will they really find the answers to their very modern problems?


the blueThe Blue by Lucy Clarke (The Philippines) Released on 30th July by HarperCollins 

I’m such a big fan of Lucy Clarke’s books! Having loved The Sea Sisters and A Single Breath I can’t wait to read The Blue!

They had found paradise.
What would they do to keep it?

With a quick spin of the globe, Kitty and Lana escape their grey reality and journey to the Philippines. There they discover The Blue – a beautiful yacht, with a wandering crew.

They spend day after languorous day exploring the pristine white beaches and swimming beneath the stars, and Lanadrifts further away from the long-buried secrets of home.

But the tide turns when death creeps quietly on deck.

A dangerous swell of mistrust and lies threatens to bring the crew’s adventures to an end – but some won’t let paradise go…whatever the price.

The Sea Between Us – Emylia Hall (Cornwall and beyond!) Released on 27th Augustsea between us by Headline

Having recently been on a brilliant holiday to Cornwall, I stumbled upon this book while I was looking for novels set there. I’ve not read any of Emylia’s books before but this sounds like an excellent place to start and I love the gorgeous cover!

In a remote Cornish cove, on one of the last days of summer, Robyn Swinton is drowning. She is saved – just – by local boy Jago Winters, and it is a moment that will change both of them forever.

Over the next seven years, Robyn and Jago’s paths lead them in different directions, to city streets and foreign shores. Will the bond forged that day Jago dragged Robyn in from the sea be strong enough to bring them back to one another, or has life already pulled them too far apart?

tea planters wifeThe Tea Planters Wife by Dinah Jeffries (Ceylon – now Sri Lanka) Released on 3rd September by Penguin

Another beautiful cover and intriguing premise from Dinah Jeffries whose excellent debut The Separation came out last year. I can’t wait to escape with it!

Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper steps off a steamer in Ceylon full of optimism, eager to join her new husband. But the man who greets her at the tea plantation is not the same one she fell in love with in London.

Distant and brooding, Laurence spends long days wrapped up in his work, leaving his young bride to explore the plantation alone. It’s a place filled with clues to the past – locked doors, a yellowed wedding dress in a dusty trunk, an overgrown grave hidden in the grounds, far too small for an adult…

Gwen soon falls pregnant and her husband is overjoyed, but she has little time to celebrate. In the delivery room the new mother is faced with a terrible choice, one she knows no one in her upper class set will understand – least of all Laurence. Forced to bury a secret at the heart of her marriage, Gwen is more isolated than ever. When the time comes, how will her husband ever understand what she has done?

The Tea Planter’s Wife is a story of guilt, betrayal and untold secrets vividly and entrancingly set in colonial era Ceylon.

Where are your literary travels going to take you this summer? I’d love to hear your recommendations.

Guest post: My top five sights to see in Spain by Sheila O’Flanagan

13 Mar

Today I’m delighted to welcome one of my favourite authors to One More Page – the lovely Sheila O’Flanagan. Sheila has always loved telling stories, and after working in banking and finance for a number of years, she decided it was time to fulfil a dream and give writing her own book a go. So she sat down, stuck ‘Chapter One’ at the top of a page, and got started. Sheila is now the author of more than fifteen bestselling titles. Sheila’s latest novel, If You Were Me is set partly in Seville and in celebration of the paperback release Sheila is sharing her top five places to visit in Spain with us today.

sheila o flanaganThe Alhambra Palace, Granada

This is one of the top sights to see in the world, let alone Spain. It is a perfect Moorish palace,  with stunning courtyards and mosaics. The Alhambra was constructed in the 14th century and was the stronghold of the Nasrid dynasty in Andalucia, until its conquest by Ferdinand and Isabella in the 15th century. It was designed with beauty and light in mind and I can’t help thinking what a shock it must have been for Ferdinand and Isabella’s daughter, Catherine of Aragon, who had spent some of her childhood there to arrive in Tudor England and have to live in a cold, damp palace!

The Giralda Tower, Seville

The tower was originally built as a Moorish minaret but with the end of Moorish dominance in the region, the mosque was converted into a church. Subsequently the current cathedral was built on the site and the tower used as the bell tower. The history is interesting but the views of the city are spectacular. And, quite honestly, the entire city of Seville is one of the most vibrant, exciting and romantic cities you’ll ever visit so the tower is just an excuse to get you there!

The Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

One of the iconic sights of Barcelona is this Gaudi designed church. Construction begun in 1882 and Gaudi become involved the following year, but by the time he died 44 years later it was still only about a quarter finished. Construction is still ongoing – apparently the completion date is now 2026 so you’ve plenty of time. Meantime, while you’re in Barcelona, a cocktail at the rooftop bar of the hotel Duquesa de Cordona near the marina is a lovely way to while away the evening.

The City of Toledo

Toledo is a walled city located on a mountain about 50kms outside Madrid. It was at various times Muslim, Jewish and Christian, as well as a stronghold for the Spanish monarchy, and those cultural influences can be seen everywhere today. Every street feels like a stroll through history, although thankfully there are plenty of open air bars and restaurants to make you realise that you are in a living, breathing place. It’s famous for its steel – this is the place to buy steak knives or swords (though obviously only if you’re not on a hand luggage trip!). There are lots of cute little street corner bars as well as some very chic ones, like Bu Terraza, with great views.

if you were meThe Paradores of Spain

OK, so this is not a particular sight but I’m recommending that if you want to visit some fantastic locations full of history and culture, you should think about staying in some of the Paradores. These are usually ancient buildings such as monasteries and castles which have been sympathetically converted into hotels. You can get some great deals on them with offers such as a 5 night pass which will allow you to stay in any combination of Parador that you like. There are Paradores in all of the cities above, as well as loads more (check out Hondarribia for a really old castle!)

You can see pictures of some of the places I’ve mentioned on my Pinterest page, as they also feature in my books: https://www.pinterest.com/sheilaoflanagan/

The Paradores website is here: http://www.parador.es (click the ‘Español’ button at the top right to scroll down for an English version)

If You Were Me is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Headline.

Find out more about Sheila and her writing at: http://www.sheilaoflanagan.com/  and do check out the other stops on Sheila’s blog tour.

Guest post: My writing hotspots by Tracy Buchanan

4 Jul

I’m delighted to welcome debut author Tracy Buchanan to One More Page today on the latest stop of her blog tour for The Atlas of Us. Tracy is a journalist and web producer whose years of travelling have inspired her writing. She lives in Milton Keynes with her partner and dog. You can find out more about Tracy, her inspirations and writing on her gorgeous website at: http://www.tracybuchanan.co.uk 

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Whenever I discover a new place, characters and plot ideas inevitably burst to life in my head and before I know it, I’m scribbling away (yeah, the hubby adores that in the middle of a holiday!). Here are some of the settings that have inspired my writing past, present and future…

Past:

It feels strange referring to The Atlas of Us as my past as it’s very much my present and future too. But I’m referring to those first heady days when I started writing it.

My husband and I decided to get away from it all by staying in a gorgeous cottage overlooking the Heddon Valley on the edge of Exmoor National Park. Brooks bubbling over pebbles; lush green valleys; wild tangles of bushes and purple heather and an angry frothing sea. Perfect writing fodder.

The moment that sparked the idea for The Atlas of Us came outside a local pub where I saw a farmer standing outside with his skulking dog. He turned towards us, his dark hair lifting in the breeze, and that was it: Milo, one of the main characters in The Atlas of Us, sprung instantly to life in my head. I hurried back to our cottage and started writing. Ten weeks later I had a first draft!

Present:

I’m currently working on my next novel, another story that takes the reader around the world… but this time beneath the sea too.

A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to spend ten days in the beautiful Maldivian island of Kuramathi. By day, I swam over colourful coral with sharks, stingray and turtles for company. Then by night, I walked barefoot on baby powder sand, watching the sun set from the tip of the shark tooth-shaped island I was staying on.

As I snorkelled one day, I came across shards of ashen coral like tiny bones on the seabed. I discovered later they were the remains of coral destroyed by the 2004 tsunami. Did you know corals are actually living, breathing marine animals? This made it even more heartrending, especially considering the subject matter of The Atlas of Us.

It also made me think about how beauty can belie deeply damaged layers, and that led me to the plot for the novel I’m working on now.

TBuchanan_North_OMP

Tracy standing with one of the ‘Allendale Chimneys’ in the background, sadly no Heathcliff in sight.

Future:

Every time I’m writing a novel, the characters for another novel start whispering in my ear. The idea for yet another novel actually started whispering a year or so ago when I visited Allendale in Northumberland.

W.H. Auden once wrote of the area: “Derelict shafts, abandoned washing floors, decayed water wheels, solitary chimneys sticking up in the middle of nowhere … they had a melancholy fascination, and a quiet isolation.”

The ‘Allendale Chimneys’, which stand tall and stark atop the Pennines, embody this. I reached them by walking along flues built to channel fumes from a lead smelt mill. Now overgrown with wild flowers and grass, it made for a savage but beautiful journey.

When we got to the chimneys, I stood surveying the scenery around me, the Pennines stretching out lazily in the distance, knots of green land dotted here and there with grey stone. It made me think of one of my favourite quotes from Wuthering Heights:

‘My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees — my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath — a source of little visible delight, but necessary.’

I came awaThe atlas of us pb fonty from the north thinking of beautiful but damaged people, the idea for a new character coming to me.

What places inspire you? Let me know by leaving a comment. 

Thank you Tracy.

The Atlas of Us is out now as an ebook (just 99p!) and will be released in paperback on 31st July.

Please do check out the other stops on The Atas of Us blog tour and look out for my review soon!

 

Book news: The Atlas of Us by Tracy Buchanan

25 Apr

I’m delighted to take part in the cover reveal for this beautiful book today. As a reader who loves books about travel, Tracy Buchanan’s debut sounds like just my sort of book!

This is a story about mothers and daughters, lovers and secrets, and relationships that change everything. It’s about being true to yourself, following your heart, facing up to your mistakes and moving on. The Atlas of Us takes you on a moving and involving journey, from Cornwall to Thailand, to Australia, Finland, Serbia and San Francisco and through the most special and tragic moments of lives lived to the full. It’s about family, loss, resilience, reconciliation and hope…

How far would you go for the one you love the most?

When Louise Fenton flies to Thailand to find her mother, Nora, after the Boxing Day tsunami, she fears the worst when the only trace she can find is her mother’s distinctive bag. In the bag is a beautifully crafted atlas owned by travel journalist Claire Shreve, with her notes and mementos slipped in-between the pages. The journal tells the story of Claire’s struggle to find her place in the world following a life-altering revelation, and a tumultuous love affair.

Louise treks across Thailand’s scarred landscape, exploring Claire’s atlas to try to make sense of the connection between this woman and the mother she is so desperate to find.

As devastated people are beginning to put their lives back together, Louise uncovers the secrets that nearly destroyed Claire and the man she loved – the same secrets her mother has been guarding all these years …

The Atlas of Us will be released in July by Avon – add it to your wish list now!

Find out more about Tracy Buchanan and her writing at: http://www.tracybuchanan.co.uk/

Book review: A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke

31 Mar

The deeper the water, the darker the secrets

There were so many times I thought about telling you the truth, Eva. What stopped me was always the same thing…

When Eva’s husband Jackson tragically drowns, she longs to meet his estranged family. The journey takes her to Jackson’s brother’s doorstep on a remote Tasmanian island. As strange details about her husband’s past begin to emerge, memories of the man she married start slipping through her fingers like sand, as everything she ever knew and loved about him is thrown into question. Now she’s no longer sure whether it was Jackson she fell in love with – or someone else entirely…

The truth is, it was all a lie . . .

Lucy Clarke has done it again! The Sea Sisters was one of my favourite books of last year and A Single Breath is, dare I say it, even better!  This is a brilliantly paced book and hooked me as a reader immediately as Eva’s husband Jackson sets out for an early morning fishing trip and is tragically swept out to sea. As Eva tries to come to terms with her loss she clings to the memories of her short time with Jackson. Desperate to feel close to Jackson again, Eva decides to travel to Australia and meet the family and friends that Jackson grew up with.

Eva knows that Jackson’s relationship with his father and brother is strained but little could prepare her for the cold welcome that she receives. As with her previous novel, Lucy Clarke mixes, travel, adventure and beautiful locations with an emotional journey for her lead character and an absolutely gripping mystery storyline that has numerous twists. As Eva pries into Jackson’s past some shocking secrets are revealed and she begins to question everything about the man she fell in love with and her own judgement.

What starts as Eva’s journey of self discovery quickly becomes entangled in Jackson’s brother Saul’s own emotional journey as the two try to make sense of the actions of the man they both loved. Lucy Clarke really gets inside the mind of her characters and I felt a lot of sympathy for Eva even when she was pushing away her friends and family but it was Saul who really captured my attention in this book. He initially comes across as a bitter loner, we soon find out that there’s much more to him and I really enjoyed the development of his character during the book. I also loved the way Lucy explored the complex relationship between the brothers and also with their father.

One of the things that draws me so much to Lucy’s writing is her obvious love of both travel and the sea. Both elements are again present in this book and despite the emotional storyline, the darker themes are offset by beautiful descriptions of  Tasmania and  Wattleboon (the fictional setting for the book) and of the ocean and freediving. Once again I found myself wishing I could pack my bags and travel to a far flung beach as I read!

With not just one but several big reveals and twists, A Single Breath continued to surprise me right to the end of the story and I didn’t want the book to end. This is a very readable book and I found myself flying through it but it’s also a book that will make you think. With it’s gripping storyline,  secrets and romance, A Single Breath is my favourite book of the year so far and I highly recommend you add it to your reading list!

5/5

A Single Breath is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Lucy Clarke and her writing at: http://www.lucy-clarke.com/

Look out for my stop on Lucy’s blog tour later this week and please do check out the other stops on the tour!

I’d like to thank Harper for providing a review copy of this book.

Book review: The Sea Sisters by Lucy Clarke

12 Jul

Two sisters, one life-changing journey…

There are some currents in the relationship between sisters that run so dark and so deep, it’s better for the people swimming on the surface never to know what’s beneath . . .

Katie’s carefully structured world is shattered by the news that her headstrong younger sister, Mia, has been found dead in Bali – and the police claim it was suicide.

With only the entries of Mia’s travel journal as her guide, Katie retraces the last few months of her sister’s life, and – page by page, country by country – begins to uncover the mystery surrounding her death.

What she discovers changes everything. But will her search for the truth push their sisterly bond – and Katie – to breaking point?

I don’t know where to begin saying how much I enjoyed this book. It captured my love of the sea and the wonderful feeling of freedom and adventure that comes from exploring new places. It made me want to pack my bags and travel to somewhere sunny and far away. It made me determined that I will one day learn to surf and it made me a thoroughly happy bookworm to read such a well crafted and gripping story.

The book opens with Katie being told the news that her sister, Mia has died. What follows is a bitter-sweet read that tracks Mia’s journey around the world in flashbacks as Katie follows in her footsteps in an attempt to understand what happened. I thought the format of the story was excellent, moving between past and present to tell the story but also to allow me as a reader to get to know Mia and Katie in depth.  The two sisters are very different; Katie the sensible organised older sister to free spirited and impetuous Mia and I enjoyed reading their reactions to the same places an people. Through Mia’s travel journal, Katie takes the same journey and the revelations it brings were surprising and at times dramatic building a complex picture of family relationships.

Having grown up by the sea and missed it since I moved to London I felt an instant connection to the character of Mia who feels stifled by London and her sister but I could also see a lot of myself in Katie and I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much. Together with the mystery of the events surrounding Mia’s death, I was gripped by the ups and downs of both girls’ lives. There are some dramatic twists to the story and right up and until the reveal in the very last pages I couldn’t guess what had led to Mia’s death.

Lucy Clarke has got sibling relationships spot on and although she captures the relationship between the two sisters brilliantly there is a much wider theme of siblings and family in general in The Sea Sisters that made me reflect on my own relationships with my brother and parents. Clarke shows the ripple effect through a life of incidents from childhood very well and I found her characters fascinating; particularly Noah and his brother Jez as they cope with their own tragedies in different ways.

Filled with exotic locations, intricate and complex relationships and hinging on the mystery of what really happened to Mia, I can’t recommend this book enough for readers looking for a gripping story this summer and I can’t wait to read more from Lucy Clarke.

5/5

The Sea Sisters is out now in paperback an ebook formats.

Find out more about Lucy and her writing at: http://www.lucy-clarke.com/

May 2013 new releases – hot picks

3 May

May is officially the hardest month yet to narrow down all the amazing-sounding books being published for my hot picks. There’s a deluge of books out on the 9th and I want to read them all and again towards the end of the month a lovely pile of new releases but here are the ones I’m hoping to read soon!

My Life in Black and White by Kim Izzo (Hodder , 9th May)

I really enjoyed Kim Izzo’s debut novel, The Jane Austen Marriage Manual and I love the sound of this book – it’s described as ‘A time-travel romantic-comedy set within the shadowy world of film noir.’ 

See to it you can take a slap as easy as a kiss. That is if you want to get anywhere in this world and not be anybody’s fool.

Clara Bishop feels life has served her up far too many slaps and not nearly enough kisses. When she is suddenly jilted by her philandering husband, she follows him to London, determined she must win him back.

Armed only with a suitcase of vintage clothing inherited from her grandmother, a former film noir actress, Clara discovers that the clothes really do make the woman. Dressed to kill, she adopts a new femme fatale persona: confident, sexy and set on revenge.

But on the road to retaliation, Clara discovers an unfinished film script that sheds light on her grandmother’s mysterious death years before. As Clara’s life is transported into a living, breathing film from the fifties, she discovers not only the secrets of her grandmother’s past, but the chance to write her own ending too . . .

The Sea Sisters by Lucy Clarke (Harper,  9th May) 

I’ve been hearing lots of good things about this one and I like the combination of mystery and travel.

Two sisters, one life-changing journey…

There are some currents in the relationship between sisters that run so dark and so deep, it’s better for the people swimming on the surface never to know what’s beneath . . .

Katie’s carefully structured world is shattered by the news that her headstrong younger sister, Mia, has been found dead in Bali – and the police claim it was suicide.

With only the entries of Mia’s travel journal as her guide, Katie retraces the last few months of her sister’s life, and – page by page, country by country – begins to uncover the mystery surrounding her death.

What she discovers changes everything. But will her search for the truth push their sisterly bond – and Katie – to breaking point?

Follow me Down by Tanya Byrne (Headline, 9th May)

Tanya Byrne’s debut, Heart-Shaped Bruise had rave reviews so I’m looking forward to trying her new book.

When sixteen-year-old Adamma Okomma, a Nigerian diplomat’s daughter, arrives at exclusive Crofton College in Wiltshire, she is immediately drawn to beautiful, tempestuous, unpredictable Scarlett Chiltern. Adamma and Scarlett become inseparable – until they fall for the same guy. Soon the battle lines are drawn and Adamma is shunned by Scarlett and her privileged peers. But then Scarlett goes missing and everything takes a darker turn. Adamma always knew that Scarlett had her secrets, but some secrets are too big to keep and this one will change all of their lives for ever.

The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden (Century, 9th May) 

Marlen Suyapa Bodden is a lawyer and drew on her knowledge of modern and historical slavery, human trafficking, and human rights abuses to write her debut The Wedding Gift. This sounds like gripping historical fiction!

What if, on your sister’s wedding day, you were given to her – as her slave?

When wealthy plantation owner Cornelius Allen marries off his daughter Clarissa, he presents her with a wedding gift: a young slave woman called Sarah.

The two girls have grown up together but their lives could not have been more different. Clarissa is white and is used to a life of privilege and ease. Sarah is black and is used to a life of slavery and hard work.

Forbidden by law to leave the plantation, Sarah longs to be free – in mind and in body.

But when she decides her future lies away from Clarissa, she sets in motion a series of events that will have devastating consequences for them both.

Chaplin and Company by Maeve Fellows (Jonathan Cape, 16th May)

I absolutely love the cover for this book and it sounds like a different and exciting read!

Introducing … Odeline Milk, a strange young lady from the suburbs. A young lady with an obsession – you can guess what it is by the way she dresses: white collarless shirt, a waistcoat and billowing black trousers, the bowler hat. She’s on her way to London, to make her name as a great mime artist. She hopes. And typical Odeline, she’s arriving prepared. With the small inheritance left her by her mother, she’s bought herself a home, an old canal boat. What she doesn’t know yet is that for some the city’s canals have an appeal of their own. They are below the eyeline, a sort of halfworld, a good place to hide for a community of curious outsiders, all with their own stories to tell, stories which might help a certain young lady to think differently about life. Because there’s a lot Odeline doesn’t know.

The Things We Never Said by Susan Elliot Wright (Simon and Schuster, 23rd May)

With a quote from Veronica Henry on the front and comparisons to Maggie O’Farrell, I’m really looking forward to this book.

In 1964 Maggie wakes to find herself in a psychiatric ward, not knowing who she is or why she has been committed. She slowly begins to have memories of a storm and of a man called Jack and slowly the pieces of the past begin to come together…In 2008 Jonathan is struggling to put his differences with his parents aside to tell them he and his wife are expecting a baby, when a detective arrives to question him about crimes committed long ago…And as these two tales interweave, the secrets of the past, long kept hidden, start to come to light in unexpected and sometimes startling ways. The Things We Never Said is a powerful novel about fatherhood and motherhood; nature and nurture; cruelty and kindness; and mental breakdown. Written in beautiful, compelling prose, it is by turns revealing, witty and moving.

The Affair by Gill Paul (Avon, 23rd May)

Gill Paul’s novel about Titanic, Women and Children First, was one of my books of the year for 2012 so I’m really looking forward to her second novel. Bargain hunters – this one is only 99p to pre-order on Kindle at the moment!

An absorbing and gripping novel that goes behind the scenes of the 1963 movie Cleopatra…

Rome 1961. As the camera rolls on the film set of Cleopatra, the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton love affair is about to capture the world’s attention.

When Diana Bailey arrives on set to begin work as a historical advisor, tensions are running high. The film is in financial crisis and a media storm is brewing over the Taylor-Burton relationship.

As Diana adjusts to a new life away from her troubled marriage, she strikes up a close friendship with Helen, a young make-up artist, and seeks solace in Ernesto, a charismatic member of the film crew. But Helen is harbouring a dark secret of her own, one that will affect Diana in more ways than she could ever imagine…

An enthralling story of love and passion, set against the backdrop of one of the most iconic films ever made.

Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher (Penguin, 23rd May)

This cover is just gorgeous and I’m predicting Giovanna’s debut will be a huge hit!

Sophie May has a secret.

One that she’s successfully kept for years. It’s meant that she’s had to give up her dreams of going to university and travelling the world to stay in her little village, living with her mum and working in the local teashop.

But then she meets the gorgeous Billy – an actor with ambitions to make it to the top. And when they fall in love, Sophie is whisked away from the comfort of her life into Billy’s glamorous – but ruthless – world.

Their relationship throws Sophie right into the spotlight after years of shying away from attention. Can she handle the constant scrutiny that comes with being with Billy? And most of all, is she ready for her secret heartbreak to be discovered and shared with the nation?

The River of No Return by Bee Ridgeway (Penguin 23rd May)

I don’t seem to be able to get enough of time travel books at the moment and this one sounds like a brilliant historical romance.

‘Time is like a river. It always flows in one direction.’

What if everything you thought was certain was not?

1812: On a lonely battlefield in Spain, Lord Nicholas Falcott, Marquess of Blackdown, is about to die …. But, the next moment, he inexplicably jumps forward in time, nearly two hundred years – very much alive. Taken under the wing of a mysterious organisation, The Guild, he receives everything he could ever need under the following conditions:

He can’t go back.

He can’t go home.

He must tell no one.

Accepting his fate, Nicholas begins a life of luxury as a twenty-first century New York socialite, living happily thus for the next ten years. But, when an exquisite wax sealed envelope brings a summons from the Alderwoman of The Guild, Nicholas is forced to confront his nineteenth century past.

Back in 1815, Julia Percy’s world has fallen apart. Her enigmatic grandfather, the Earl of Darchester, has died and left her with a closely guarded secret, one she is only now discovering – the manipulation of time. In terrible danger from unknown enemies, Julia flees her home to the sanctuary of neighbouring Falcott House. In this strange place Julia and a recently returned Nicholas are drawn to each other and together they realise how little Julia knew about her beloved grandfather and begin to understand his ominous last words…

‘Pretend.’

What are you looking forward to reading in May?

Book review: It Happened in Venice by Molly Hopkins

1 Sep

(From the publisher’s website) Evie has a handsome fiancé who loves her unconditionally, and a fantastic job that takes her to fashionable Dublin, in-vogue Marrakech, cool Amsterdam and romantic Paris. But at home Evie is driven to despair: her fiancé hates her job and her flatmate hates her fiancé. And when an unexpected event strikes the epicentre of her happiness, Evie is driven to gin and tonic. If she doesn’t sort herself out, her liver and her bank manager will hate her.

So when she’s offered a luxury trip to the sensual city of Venice, with its shifting silver canals and rose and vanilla hued architecture, Evie jumps at the chance. Four days in the city of light and love is exactly what she needs. The sumptuous Grand Hotel, the gondolas, the wine, the Italian men . . . But within hours of Evie’s arrival, her life is poised to change for ever. Not even Evie herself could’ve predicted what would happen in Venice . . .

It Happened in Venice is the second book in the It Happened … series which follows tour guide Evie Dexter on her adventures around Europe (and occasionally further afield). My introduction to Molly Hopkins came through her standalone short story It Happened at Bootcamp featuring Evie from the series, earlier in the summer. I really enjoyed Molly’s warm and witty writing and Evie’s take on the world so I was chuffed when this novel arrived in the post and although it’s the second book in a series, it stands perfectly well as a novel in its own right.

It Happened in Venice actually starts in Barbados as Evie and her fiancé Rob jet off for a luxurious holiday. Rob seems to want to fast track Evie into a surburban housewife existence which presents Evie with a dilemma as she doesn’t really want to sell her flat or give up her job as a tour guide but she does want to keep things on track with Rob. I have to admit, I wasn’t very keen on Rob and had Evie been a weaker character, I might have had issues with this book. But Evie generally does what she wants in her own true style and as the book progresses the dynamic between them becomes very interesting with some really surprising twists!

Evie is a fun character and finds herself in a series of funny, embarrasing and difficult situations. Some are her own doing; some, like the trip member who had declined then turned up anyway forcing Evie into an uneasy room-sharing situation with her boss are just Evie’s bad luck but whatever the reason, the majority of the situaltions Evie finds herself in are funny. Hopkins writes with a wicked sense of humour and I imagine she had great fun deciding what difficult situation to throw at Evie next. There is a serious side to the novel and the ups and downs that Evie faces take her on an emotional roller coaster but even in the darker moments Hopkins’ wry sense of humour kept the mood light.

The action keeps coming as do the countries, within the first hundred pages we’d visited Barbados, Marrakech and Ireland. With Paris, Amsterdam and of course Venice also on the list, I’m issuing a warning – this book seriously made me want to book a city break! Despite the title, Evie doesn’t actually get to Venice until the latter part of the novel and this is where the story really took off for me. I loved the romance of Venice and the effect it had on Evie too.

There is a fun and full supporting cast in It Happened in Venice. I enjoyed the banter between Evie and her flatmate Lulu and Lulu’s adventures into broadcasting made me laugh out loud. Lulu could be guaranteed to make me smile whatever the situation. I also liked the character of John, a mega-rich business man that Evie develops a friendship with over the course of the book. Hopkins kept me guessing as to how their relationship would play out and it added an interesting sub-plot to the story.

I thought the ending to It Happened in Venice was fab and I’m already looking forward to seeing what happens to Evie next. This is a light-hearted and funny read and an ideal book to take with you on your late summer holiday (or any holiday!) or just to escape into for a little while.

4/5

It Happened in Venice is out now and I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me a review copy.

You can find out more about Molly Hopkins and her books at: http://www.mollyhopkins.co.uk/

Guest post: Researching 'Eden's Garden' by Juliet Greenwood

27 Aug

I’m delighted to welcome Juliet Greenwood to One More Page today with a guest post about her research for her latest novel, Eden’s Garden. Eden’s Garden is an historical time-slip with a mystery at its heart, set partly now and partly in the Victorian era and based in London, Wales and Cornwall. It was the Welsh Books Council’s ‘Welsh Book of the Month’ in May and I’m very much looking forward to reading it. Welcome Juliet!

I loved doing my research for ‘Eden’s Garden’. It combined my passion for gardens and for women’s history. Oh, and with an absolute necessity to take myself off in a camper van and explore the coastline of Cornwall once more!

‘Eden’s Garden’ is a time-slip, set partly now and partly in Victorian times. At the heart of the novel is a forgotten Victorian garden, so much of my research meant visiting gardens that dated from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The original inspiration actually came from a garden I had been driving past regularly for most of my life, but only discovered a few years ago.

Juliet in Brondanw

Brondanw Gardens, in Southern Snowdonia, was the family home of Clough Williams Ellis who created nearbyPortmeirion. It lies halfway between my home in North Wales and where my family live. It’s small, but with Portmeirion’s quirkiness, and a real atmosphere, especially the wilderness gardens which have a slightly lost and forlorn feeling about them. I visited many other gardens –  such as Erddig near Wrexham and Bodnant gardens in the Conwy Valley  – for ideas, but Brondanw was the one I came back to.

The garden in Plas Eden in the book is one that has been created out of love. In Brondanw there is a real sense of someone with a deep love of plants, of people, of the dramatic mountain landscape, and of a sheer joy in life itself. It’s the feeling you get in Portmeirion, but on a much more intimate scale. That’s what I wanted to capture for Plas Eden; not so much the physicality as the atmosphere.  I still love going back to visit Brondanw in all its seasons. In a funny sort of way it now feels as if it has become part of me.

Camping above St Ives

And Cornwall? That was wonderful. A real adventure. I took off in an ancient mini-campervan, just me and my dog and the SatNav exploring the southern Cornish coastline from St Austell to St Ives, and then up the north Cornish Coast to Devon and Ilfracombe.

For the Victorian strand of the book, I had been researching the lives of women from a time when we had few rights and very little freedom: a time when you were the property of your father, then your husband, with no legal existence of your own. Finding the Cornish locations for my Victorian heroine made me appreciate my own life as never before. For those two weeks I was utterly self-reliant and in control. Even the SatNav had to obey me (eventually) when I chose the picturesque rather than the practical route!

Emily the Camper Van

When I was planning the trip, I never thought that wandering down to Coverack on the Lizard for fish and chips, or simply sitting in my van above St Ives watching the sun set, would be a part of my research. But it was. It made me realise that it’s so easy to take freedom for granted. Just the simple ability to decide where you are going the next day, let alone the entire direction of your life. Tha

 

nks to all my research for ‘Eden’s Garden’, I will never, ever take that freedom for granted again.

Thank you Juliet for a lovely post and beautiful pictures.


Eden’s Garden is out now in paperback and Kindle format ( bargain hunters – the Kindle copy is just 99p/$1.55 at the moment!)

You can find out more about Juliet and Eden’s Garden at: http://www.julietgreenwood.co.uk/ and on her blog at: http://julietgreenwoodauthor.wordpress.com/