Books/book review/fiction/crime fiction

Shorn of their trees – an environmental disaster

Gray Mountain Book Cover Gray Mountain
John Grisham
crime, thriller, mytsery, legal
Hodder Paperbacks; 01 edition (2 July 2015)

Donovan Gray is ruthless and fearless. Just the kind of lawyer you need, deep in small-town Appalachia.

Samantha Kofer is a world away from her former life at New York's biggest law firm. If she is going to survive in coal country, she needs to start learning fast.

Because as Donovan knows only too well, the mountains have their own laws. And standing up for the truth means putting your life on the line . .

A very apposite read as Trump trumpets about jobs for Coal – Make Coal Great Again! Which is the last thing of course that environmentalists want to happen, especially if retrieving that said coal means strip mining off forests and taking the top of mountains!

Coal is one of the worst air pollutants (see London Smog) and burning it and mining it is a sure way to ill-health and eventually death for the miner – my husband’s grandfather was a coal-miner.

The lack of legislation still, in the US, about health insurance, working conditions and environmental responsibilities makes me very glad I don’t live there. And this novel is a telling tale that reminds us why not to go and live in the Appalachians.

So not a fun read, but a worthy read and one that reminds us that the technological revolution has brought misery to many as well as life improvements to others, and that we humans are raping our planet’s riches and destroying our life giving eco-systems.

Rant over.

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A TV appearance comes to the rescue

What Happens in France Book Cover What Happens in France
Carol Wyer
contemporary fiction, romance, humour
28th January 2018

Bryony Masters has been looking for her long-lost sister, Hannah, for years, but when their
father has a stroke her search takes on new urgency. So when primetime game show, What
Happens in France, puts a call-out for new contestants, Bryony spots the ultimate public
platform to find her reality TV-obsessed sister, and finally reunite their family.
With the help of handsome teammate Lewis, it’s not long before she’s on a private jet
heading for the stunning beauty of rural France. With a social media star dog, a high
maintenance quiz host and a cast of truly unique characters, Bryony and Lewis have their
work cut out for them to stay on the show and in the public eye.
Yet as the audience grows and the grand prize beckons they find that the search that
brought them together may just fulfil more than one heart’s wish…
This heartwarming romantic comedy of friendship, family and laugh-out-loud
adventures is perfect for fans of Kirsty Greenwood, Colleen Coleman and Marian

A light fun read especially for those who might consider going on a quiz show – the answer is don’t!

A novel quiz show and one that might actually work in real life is undertaken by our all star cast – including a Professor who thinks he is the bees knees and an Instagram star of a pug. Actually, the pug belongs to a male ballet dancer and has a very strong following – as so many people like to see dogs dressed up. I’m not sure what that says about their owners. But do recall our daughter would dress our cat up when she was a toddler and persuade her to ride in a pram. Very long suffering that cat!

Enjoyable but not intense and the ending is much as expected – happy of course.

Note for Editor – check dates and facts – how many grandchildren? When did they start filming? What did she teach?

Small inconsistencies that irritate.

About the author

Carol Wyer is an award-winning author and stand up comedian. In 2017 she stepped away from writing comedy to the “dark side” and embarked on writing a series of thrillers which became best-sellers and have been translated into several languages. She won the 2015 People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction, and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published alongside journalism in many magazines.

Fun Facts about Carol Wyer
1. How many game shows has Carol Wyer been on, on Television?
Answer: Three! The Tipping Point with Ben Shephard, Masterpieces with Alan Titchmarsh and Decimate with Shane Richie.
2. True or False: Was Carol Wyer once paralysed from the waist down?
Answer: True. At the age of 21, a simple procedure left Carol paralysed for three months.
3. What other careers has Carol Wyer had, besides bestselling author?
Answer: A language teacher, a personal trainer and a stand-up comedienne
4. Which famous comedian is Carol related to?
Answer: Ernie Wise, of Morecambe and Wise fame
5. Name five crazy hobbies Carol Wyer has?
Answer: Scuba-diving, zorbing, swimming with sharks, belly dancing and quad biking up mountains

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Want to ski? And meet a Billionaire?

Dreaming of Christmas Book Cover Dreaming of Christmas
TA Williams
holidays, romantic comedy
Canelo Escape
(27 Aug. 2018)

It’s the dream Christmas: snow, mountains… and, er, an ex-boyfriend. But can Zoe still find love in the Alps?

Dumped on Christmas Eve by her long-term boyfriend, it's been a rough year for Zoe Lumsley. But then she gets an invitation she can’t refuse: an all expenses paid skiing holiday with old university friends.

The bad news: her ex, Grant, will be there with his new girlfriend. But so will her former flatmate Billy, the organiser, and in the meantime he’s done rather well for himself. As Christmas in the Alps approaches, it'll be great to see the old gang. Some more than others...

Perfect for readers of Tilly Tenant, Holly Martin and Philippa Ashley, this is the perfect magical Christmas getaway from the bestselling T.A. Williams.

So there was this group of house mates at university, and 10 years on much has happened. So much so that the proverbial nerd has become a successful entrepreneur and has now asked them all for a holiday in Austria.

Not to miss out on an all expenses paid trip to a snowy ski resort, they all accept and romantic shenanigans – of sorts – ensue.

The nerd is no longer and has a beautiful girl on his arm – but…

A sweet, gentle and predictable romance set against a snowy background with lots of skiing and a ball.

Don’t expect suspense but enjoy the warmth!

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How Deadly is Chocolate?

Death by Chocolate Book Cover Death by Chocolate
bk 1 of 7
Sally Berneathy
female sleuths, murder, mystery, cooking
Sally Berneathy
(1 Aug. 2013)

Maybe it isn’t the chocolate itself, but the chocolatier? Or actually it may be the amount of chocolate you eat – especially if all you drink is full sugared coke!

I realise that this is all in the cause of humour, but I did think that the amount of chocolate eaten and drunk with full sugared coke was a recipe for disaster – fat and diabetes and heart attacks, not to mention cavities! And giving babies/toddlers full fruit juice is also bad for their baby teeth! Not to mention giving them a taste for sweet things to drink. They should drink water and milk until over 1 at the very least.

And then there is the love of speed – and fast driving. Interesting though that having speeding tickets doesn’t disqualify you from driving unlike in the UK where the minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and 3 penalty points added to your licence. You can be disqualified from driving if you build up 12 or more penalty points within a period of 3 years 

All the above taken into account, I enjoyed the 7 books in this series – I read them in a book set, one after the other, which at the moment is my default setting on series it seems!

I loved Fred. He is clearly ex-spy/FBI or private assassin – for the Mob? An on-going mystery which made for a great background character.

It is clear that this is the murder capital of the US – rather like MidSummer’s Murder Mysteries villages. Pity Kansas City stats on crime…

I loved the humour, light writing style and Lindsay as a character and will not try out any recipes as offered in the books, but if you fancy some chocolate cakes I thought the ingredients would be novel and tasty. And as for her cat – King Henry -please, a psychic cat who knows to hate her weasel of an ex… absolute joy.

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Light up those deep Northern villages

The Christmas Lights Book Cover The Christmas Lights
Christmas books by this author
Karen Swan
contemporary fiction, romance, suspense
Pan Books

Set on the scenic fjords of Norway, The Christmas Lights by bestselling author Karen Swan is a moving Christmas tale of love and heartbreak. December 2018, and free-spirited influencers Bo Loxley and her partner Zac are living a life of wanderlust, travelling the globe and sharing their adventures with their millions of fans. Booked to spend Christmas in the Norwegian fjords, they set up home in a remote farm owned by enigmatic mountain guide Anders and his fierce grandmother Signy. Surrounded by snowy peaks and frozen falls, everything should be perfect. But the camera can lie and with every new post, the 'perfect' life Zac and Bo are portraying is diverging from the truth. Something Bo can't explain is wrong at the very heart of their lives and Anders is the only person who'll listen. June 1936, and fourteen-year old Signy is sent with her sister and village friends to the summer pastures to work as milkmaids, protecting the herd that will sustain the farm through the long, winter months. But miles from home and away from the safety of their families, threat begins to lurk in friendly faces . . . The mountains keep secrets - Signy knows this better than anyone - and as Bo's life begins to spiral she is forced, like the old woman before her, to question who is friend and who is foe.

This is a story with a moral for people who live by their instagram feeds – living a life defined and paid for, by social media exposure, can be more of a ‘drudge’ and be more limiting, than working in an office. you may think you are living a free life, but in fact you are not – you are bought and paid for by your advertisers. And in this story, this proves to be only to true for the couple that thought that they were giving into their wander lusting and living free of the consumer/money driven world.

We read the disturbing story of the couple who whilst scuba diving off Samoa, mountain climbing in Norway and all their many other adventures, yet  they were always ‘on’, on an adventure, that was being photographed and videoed for the their followers. Being a digital influencer was not a job with many hours off. and where they went and where they stayed was always with an eye to how they could improve their ratings and followers.

To counter this, with a story set on the same mountains but in 1936. This part of Norway is rather remote especially in 1936. roads hadn’t yet reached across and through the mountains and the modern conveniences of skidoos and helicopters were not yet available. 

So the village still abided by pagan customs mixed with Christian and old ways of farming. And i was a little concerned that, if the village was that remote, wasn’t there a good chance of too much in-breeding?

I found myself getting more and more engrossed by both storylines as the book progressed. Initially, it was difficult to see where the two interlinked and some elements remained unresolved as the book ended – but we can always hope for the happiest of endings of course.

I was concerned about a couple of things – okay they improved the story but even here in England no-one goes up a mountain, especially in winter, without a winter pack – including hot drinks, silver blankets for accidents and extra layers surely? At least that”s what our rescue guys always tell us. Yet in Chapter 9 we have an experienced guide doing just that.

Having been to Gereinger myself, I enjoyed re-visiting, in my memory the fjord and its waterfalls and the little orchards down by the water’s edge. And having spoken to natives, know just how easy it is to get cut-off there by snow in the winter – and funnily enough – to match the story – I arrived there on the cusp of pneumonia but with the antibiotics having just kicked in by 24 hours…!

For me it’s a 4.5 – rounded up.

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