Monday, 30 January 2017

Where shall we go for 'C'?

The Thief's Daughter (Choc Lit) by [Cornwall, Victoria]

This time we're staying a little closer to home and visiting a beautiful part of the United Kingdom; a place that has special memories of childhood holidays, dramatic scenery and more recently a certain Mr Aidan Turner aka Ross Poldark. Of course, I'm talking about Cornwall, an area that we love to visit as a family in our trusty camper van.
For sheer escapism, we're travelling back to the eighteenth century, a lawless time of smugglers and robbers. In Victoria Cornwall's book, she introduces us to thief taker Jack Penhale and thief's daughter Jenna, who is on the wrong side of the law. Whilst essentially a romance, the historical aspects are well researched and add another dimension to the story. With Jenna's brother Silas making demands on her to join the smugglers, there is a dilemma. Who can she trust?

Hide from the thief-taker, for if he finds you, he will take you away …
Eighteenth-century Cornwall is crippled by debt and poverty, while the gibbet casts a shadow of fear over the land. Yet, when night falls, free traders swarm onto the beaches and smuggling prospers.

Terrified by a thief-taker’s warning as a child, Jenna has resolved to be good. When her brother, Silas, asks for her help to pay his creditors, Jenna feels unable to refuse and finds herself entering the dangerous world of the smuggling trade.

Jack Penhale hunts down the smuggling gangs in revenge for his father’s death. Drawn to Jenna at a hiring fayre, they discover their lives are entangled. But as Jenna struggles to decide where her allegiances lie, the worlds of justice and crime collide, leading to danger and heartache for all concerned.


Victoria Cornwall grew up on a farm in Cornwall. She can trace her cornish roots as far back as the 18th century and it is this background and heritage which is the inspiration for her Cornish based novels.

Victoria is married, has two grown up children and a black Labrador, called Alfie. She likes to read and write historical fiction with a strong background story, but at its heart is the unmistakeable emotion, even pain, of loving someone.

Following a fulfilling twenty-five year career as a nurse, a change in profession finally allowed her the time to write. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and the Historical Novel Society.

If you have any suggestions as to where we visit next, please leave a comment with the name of a book set in a location beginning with D.

Julie Ryan is the author of the Greek Island mystery series, Jenna's Journey, Sophia's Secret and Pandora's Prophecy. You can find out more about her here

Saturday, 28 January 2017

B is for ...?

Many thanks if you're following this blog in which I aim to read my way around the world. The last book took us to the South of Spain, Andalusia in fact, but where shall we go this time?
I fancied a change of scene and then as if by magic, whilst scrolling through my unread books on Amazon, I came across a little beauty; a book that combines the past ( 1950's) and the present, set in what was a beautiful, cultural and historical middle Eastern city more likely known in the West today for the sheer devastation caused by bombing and terrorism.
Today we're off to Baghdad and the book that has taken me on this magical journey is 'The gardener of Baghdad' by Ahmad Ardalan.
I loved reading about the Baghdad of old as well as the developing romance between Ali the gardener and Mary, the daughter of the British Governor. The story is told through the eyes of Adnan, a bookseller ready to pack up his bookstore after the latest bombing when he comes across Ali's memoir. This is a book that works on many levels; first and foremost it's a romance  but it's also deeper than that embodying cultural differences, nostalgia but above all it's the story of hope. The writer not only expresses hope that true love can ultimately triumph but also that good can come from evil and that we learn from the mistakes of the past. Although saddened by the picture of modern day Baghdad that is painted, I am heartened as well by the hope of the author that one day the warring factions will stop fighting and come together to rebuild the city. It may seem far-fetched at the moment but just like the path of true love, we have to believe in the future.

The gardener of Baghdad
Two people, one city, different times; connected by a memoir. Can love exist in a city destined for decades of misery?

Adnan leads a weary existence as a bookshop owner in modern-day, war-torn Baghdad, where bombings, corruption and assault are everyday occurrences and the struggle to survive has suffocated the joy out of life for most. But when he begins to clean out his bookshop of forty years to leave his city in search of somewhere safer, he comes across the story of Ali, the Gardener of Baghdad, Adnan rediscovers through a memoir handwritten by the gardener decades ago that beauty, love and hope can still exist, even in the darkest corners of the world.

If you want to come with me on my journey around the world I'm looking for books set in a location beginning with C or D. Please leave a comment on this page with your suggestions.

Julie Ryan is the author of the Greek Island mystery series, Jenna's Journey, Sophia's Secret and Pandora's Prophecy. You can find out more about her here

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Let's start with A

A is for .....?

I've always loved travel and have enjoyed reading since a young age, so combining the two seems the perfect fit. My favourite kind of book is one in which you are transported to another place Sometimes it can be a nostalgic trip down memory lane, revisiting places from my past; other times a book can take me on an adventure to pastures new. In this blog I aim to read my way around the world alphabetically so we'll start with a book set in a country or city beginning with A and so on.

With a huge backlog of books to read, they can sometimes be overlooked by new releases. What I thought I'd do is ask people for recommendations and hopefully take you with me on my travels.
We kick the blog off today with a book set in Andalusia. This region has long been on my 'to visit' list and after reading it, I want to explore the area even more.

Covering a huge surface area in the South of Spain, Andalusia is predominantly an agricultural area and much of what we deem to be typically Spanish hails from this region. Its Moorish history is reflected in its architecture, most notably in its well known cities of Seville and Granada, two places that I have long wanted to visit. For now though I will have to make do with an account of buying a derelict farm on a piece of Andalusian soil.

If you haven't already guessed then the book I'm talking about is 'Driving over lemons' by Chris Stewart.

The title is intriguing for a start and immediately conjures up pictures of hot summer days and sleepy Spanish villages set against a backdrop of lemon groves.  No doubt the author had the same romantic picture of a life in the sun when he and his wife moved to Spain. However, his account of farming during a harsh winter, of no running water or electricity paint an entirely different picture. I think it's the struggle of daily life and the interaction with the locals that make this book so endearing.
Surrounded by a menagerie of animals, eccentric villagers, unpredictable nature, this book really captures the essence of Andalusia.

If you've read this book and enjoyed it, there are two others in the series;

A parrot in the pepper tree

and The almond blossom appreciation society

Next stop I'm looking for a book set in an area or country beginning with 'B'. Please feel free to leave a suggestion with the book title in the comments. Hopefully I'll manage to read myself around the world in 2017.

Julie Ryan is the author of the Greek Island mystery series, Jenna's Journey, Sophia's Secret and Pandora's Prophecy. You can find out more about her here