Disaster’s Children by Emma Sloley

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The draw of this book was the apocalyptic theme, doomsday preppers and how a society could function outside the traditional norm.  You are drawn into the small society and gradually realize they just aren’t likable.

The group is made up of professionals such as doctors, journalists and architects – also those with farming knowledge and apparently many of those from a wealthy station in life.  The isolated life these people lead could be described as a gated community (think very large scale) where you must apply for membership.  They drink wine and eat Brie as they meet on various subjects.

There is a journalist who reports news to them as he goes on the Internet; all others aren’t restricted from web surfing but they just don’t indulge. Marlo is a central character – a 25 year-old who has been sheltered from life.  You just can’t warm to anyone in the story and honestly, I almost bailed on the book.  Once a new character was brought in (he applied, was turned down and then showed up) it gets a tad more interesting.  Overall, this didn’t engage me enough to seek out more of the author’s work.

More on the author Emma Sloley Here.

This book is my sixth book for the Aussie Author Challenge.

This book was published November 5, 2019.
Much thanks to Netgalley for the complimentary copy of this book.

Sliding Doors by Peter Howitt

4D1DC633-AD62-4BC4-9DD4-183DE41205E3 The premise of this book intrigued me with the “what if” scenarios.    One little thing can change the path and outcome of your day….. maybe your life as well.

Helen is a PR executive living and working in London. On her way home from work she is rushing for the subway when a child steps in her path, causing her to slow down enough where she misses the train. The sliding door closes before she can board. 

She hails a taxi and eventually makes it home much later. It should be noted Helen has left work early.  This is important. Unbeknownst to Helen, her boyfriend has a woman in their apartment while she is working and so, by delaying her arrival she doesn’t catch Gerry and Lydia together.

Now, same scenario with Helen rushing for the train but she makes it and gets on board. A handsome man named James, who works at her building and spoke to her earlier, sits by Helen and engages her in conversation. 

As she made it on the train she does arrive at home early and catches Gerry with his girlfriend in their bedroom. This sets Helen on a different path as she leaves Gerry and goes to stay with her/friend Anna.

What I didn’t know when I purchased this book was the format.  It’s written as a play with the set and locale information so you may  visualize the scenes as they unfold.  When the two stories of Helen change it`s noted by the author using a different and bolder font for one story line. It sounds confusing but once I started reading it I could keep track.

This was made into a movie and stars Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah.  Having read the book I’m glad I did not watch the movie first as I wouldn’t have read the book.  I will also state that the end of one of Helen’s  stories had me about to toss the book across the room. 

I think about things like this on the way to work.  If you decide to take a later flight or a different way to work the outcomes may be identical ……but those different variables may place you in an accident or late or who knows what.  

The scenes were vividly described and you get a little tour of London while reading. Evidently the movie has you fully immersed in the London scenery.  But I doubt I’d watch it now.

Sharing with Joy for her British Isles Friday event.

Ghost Signs by Frank Mastropolo

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If you ever wondered about some old faded murals on buildings and the history behind them, this is a book that will interest you.

Ghost Signs is a  heaping helping of gorgeous old building signs and a history lesson about New York’s fledgling businesses.  It was interesting to read about Wall  Dog painters from the 1920 era when safety precautions took a backseat. I placed a link in for current painters called Wall Dogs.

There is a triangular marker embedded in the sidewalk to mark it as part of the Hess property estate.  In 1910 there was a five story building called the Voorhis, owned by David Hess. It was seized by the city as eminent domain to place a subway through the area.  During a review of surveys it was determined there was one triangular portion hat still belonged to the Hess Estate. This ,marker was placed to show it was never intended to for public purposes.

Did you know Gold Medal Flour was originally named Washburn Crosby’s Superlative Flour? In 1880 their first entry into an international millers’ competition won a gold medal.

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There are more stories to share but it’s fun reading, educational too, learning how immigrants started small businesses, some of which became international.

Publication date is November 28, 2019. non-Fiction and Travel genre.

Much thanks to NetGalley for the advanced copy.

The Legacy of Mr. Jarvis by Jude Hayland

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It’s been rehashed in the book descriptor but I have to outline the plot.  A young girl named Mary Foster is unexpectantly uprooted from her childhood home in London and moved to to a seaside home far away.  She comes home one day and the movers are packing things up.  Her parents didn’t give her any warning.  Imagine that….I would be extremely upset to lose my friends and suburban life without warning, that is from the point of view of a twelve year old.

The perspective jumps to Mary as an adult, taking care of her aging father and her mother who now has Alzheimer’s. Things her mother remembers sparks Mary to research her past a bit.  It’s funny how some things we don’t understand as a child make perfect sense when you are an adult.

It’s a point of reference from the grown up experiences and how we remember something that suddenly fits like a puzzle.  The “Oh, that’s what that meant!” kinda thing.

Without spoilers I can say the end leaves you to make up your own mind how life proceeds for Mary. Two clear and distinct choices are presented by Mary, taking her life in the direction she chooses.  Which one did she pick?  Hmmmm….The author depicts a normal group of characters with everyday flaws and problems.  

Much thanks to NetGalley for the complimentary copy of this book. I was not compensated for the review.  Would I read more by Jude Hayland?  Absolutely.

This book was published October 8, 2019.

Sharing with Joy for her British Isles Friday event.

The Year of the Dog by Vincent Musi

The Year of the Dog is a beautiful book. It’s one I will keep on the coffee table and can recommend it as a Christmas gift for any dog lover. Gorgeous photos with accompanying stories about each dog.

Vincent Musi is a National Geographic photographer who was frequently in challenging situations photographing tigers, lions and other wildlife in the field.  When he decided to suspend travel to be with his family for a year he took up a challenge of opening a studio exclusively for dog portraits.

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This heavy and lovely book is the result.  The photo below reminds me of our old chow Sally.  I wanted to share at least one dog profile so you could see one of the photos and format.

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Again, if you are a dog lover you’ll love looking through this book and reading about each animal.

*This was a complimentary copy from LibraryThing and I was not compensated for my review.  Thank you LibraryThing and Chronicle Books.

I Found You by Lisa Jewell

foundThe setting is Ridinghouse Bay in northern England. We have multiple story lines overlapping which eventually merge. One story is about Alice Lake, single mother of three.

By her own admittance she isn’t a good mother. She sees a man sitting in the rain staring out to sea near her home and eventually walks up to him, gives him an old coat, a cup of hot tea and checks on him. The man is in a fugue state and can’t remember anything about his life, not his name or where he’s from. From other reviews I see some people didn’t like Alice and I can see some of their point of view. She’s a kind person and a loving person but she’s a bit too bohemian for motherhood. Giving this stranger a place to sleep in her guest “shed” is kindly yet you wonder is she putting her children at risk? Who is this guy? The loving exchanges with her children, feeding a troupe of her teenage son’s friends and taking in stray dogs….and people…..she is basically a very good person.

The second story line is set in 1993, over twenty years prior to the Alice Lake and the memory-lapse-guy story. The Ross family stays at Rabbit Cottage every year, located on Ridinghouse Bay. The two teenagers, Gray and Kristy, aren’t as enthused about going now that they are older. Typical teens, right? Enter a mysterious handsome 19 year-old who takes a rather creepy interest in 15 year-old Kristy. The parents don’t notice it but older brother Gray certainly does and feels very protective. This story ramps up quickly.

Last but not least we have a Ukraine bride named Lily, living in London with her English husband Carl Montose. They’ve only been married a few weeks and suddenly he is missing.  He flat out disappears and Lily discovers she knew nothing about his life. The police get involved as it’s a missing persons case and some startling facts are revealed about Carl Montose.  Could he be the memory impaired fellow staying in Alice’s shed? For what it’s worth, I did not care for Lily.  Too brusque.

What I especially liked were the mini cliffhangers. The end of the chapters had you wanting more but as you turn the page, you move on to one of the other stories. This is the third book I have read by Lisa Jewell and have become a fan. Of the three novels this was my least favorite but I did like it.   On hold at the library is Jewell’s book The House We Grew Up In and I am looking forward to that one.

There is a bit of food mentioned yet it’s not a foodie book by any means.  Cream teas, cucumber sandwiches, beet and horseradish tea sandwiches, roasted beef with root vegetables, sausages and mash, pizza, steak, bagels and peanut butter and cake.

Alice fed the throng of teen boys sausages and mash.  While that was tempting I went with a roasted chicken meal.  Alice roasted beef and root vegetables and I opted for poultry. Lovely meal to share over a glass of wine and lots of chatter.

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Original recipe post may be found HERE at Squirrel Head Manor.

Sharing with Joy for her British Isles Friday event.

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

watchingThe beginning
A murder has taken place. There is a clear suspect based on evidence at the scene.  One of the things I loved is the author didn’t use a pronoun so you don’t know if the victim is male or female.  Not until near the very end!  There are alternating perspectives from several characters; these cloud the waters when you are formulating  theories about the interwoven scenarios.

This touches on so many issues from a school girl crush on a handsome teacher, a newly married couple who are at odds about having a baby, bullying, a mentally ill neighbor which you really feel for and a brilliant teenage boy who is expert at watching people and keeping detailed journals on activities. 

As a mystery/ thriller fan and reader I was pleased this wasn’t a slam dunk for me. Was I surprised about the ending? You betcha.

This is the second novel I have read by Lisa Jewell and it’s most certainly not the last. I enjoyed her latest book, The Family Upstairs, and certainly enjoyed this one.  Up next for me is Jewell’s novel I Found You

Sharing with Joy for her British Isles Friday event.