BOOK OF COLOURS by Robyn Cadwallader @robyncad #BookReview

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BOOK OF COLOURS by Robyn Cadwallader

 

GOODREADS

From Robyn Cadwallader, author of the internationally acclaimed novel The Anchoress, comes a deeply profound and moving novel of the importance of creativity and the power of connection, told through the story of the commissioning of a gorgeously decorated medieval manuscript, a Book of Hours.

London, 1321: In a small stationer’s shop in Paternoster Row, three people are drawn together around the creation of a magnificent book, an illuminated manuscript of prayers, a Book of Hours. Even though the commission seems to answer the aspirations of each one of them, their own desires and ambitions threaten its completion. As each struggles to see the book come into being, it will change everything they have understood about their place in the world. In many ways, this is a story about power – it is also a novel about the place of women in the roiling and turbulent world of the early fourteenth century; what power they have, how they wield it, and just how temporary and conditional it is.

Rich, deep, sensuous and full of life, Book of Colours is also, most movingly, a profoundly beautiful story about creativity and connection, and our instinctive need to understand our world and communicate with others through the pages of a book.

Praise for The Anchoress:

‘So beautiful, so rich, so strange, unexpected and thoughtful – also suspenseful. I loved this book.’ Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

‘Affecting … finely drawn … a considerable achievement.’ Sarah Dunant, New York Times

‘Elegant and eloquent’ Irish Mail

‘Cadwallader’s writing evokes a heightened attention to the senses: you might never read a novel so sensuous yet unconcerned with romantic love. For this alone it is worth seeking out. But also because The Anchoress achieves what every historical novel attempts: reimagining the past while opening a new window – like a squint, perhaps – to our present lives.’ Sydney Morning Herald

‘A novel of page-turning grace’ Newtown Review of Books

MY REVIEW 

“Let all of life be there in the book”

BOOK OF COLOURS by Australian author Robyn Cadwallader is set in medieval London and covers the fascinating history of some of the first book makers. Back then they were called “illuminators” or “limners” and books were beautifully illustrated prayer books. Not much is known about the limners of this time, but Cadwallader has combined a great deal of historical research and imagination to tell the story of the creation one of these intricate prayer books through the eyes of the limners who created it and the noble lady who commissioned it.

Cadwallader drew inspiration from medieval prayer books such as the one pictured below. The “Neville of Hornby Hours” was created in London around 1325-1375 and can be viewed at the British Library website. 

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Book of Hours, Use of Sarum (The ‘Neville of Hornby Hours’) 

Interspersed throughout the novel are fascinating details about how the limners of medieval times created their masterpieces. This is told through Gemma’s story. She is the  wife of John Dancaster, master illuminator, but she is just as talented as he is. She is unable to claim her work as her own due to the sexist attitudes of the times, but her skill and love of illuminating becomes evident through the book she decides to write, “The Art of Illumination” and as the story unfolds.

BOOK OF COLOURS took me a long time to read (more than a week!) but it was definitely worth the long reading time. The amount of historical information and the way all of the story lines tied in together deserved to be lingered over. At first I was a bit disappointed by the ending but after reflecting on it for a little while I think it was fitting. Medieval times were grim, even for noble families, so it feels right that there wasn’t a big happy ending for this story. 5 stars!

Thank you HarperCollins Publishers for providing me with a review copy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Robyn Cadwallader

 

Robyn Cadwallader lives among vineyards in the countryside outside Canberra. She has written poetry, short stories and a non-fiction book. Her first novel, The Anchoress, was published in Australia, the UK, the United States and France.

 

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ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac

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ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac

 

David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

I read ON THE ROAD as part of the David Bowie reading challenge #DBowieBooks. David Bowie was an avid reader and I am attempting to read my way through his 100 favourite books. Follow the links below to check out my reviews of the books I’ve read so far.

1. 1984

2. The Great Gatsby

3. The Gnostic Gospels

4. A Clockwork Orange

5. Lady Chatterley’s Lover

6. The Art of War

7. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

8. On the Road

 

Goodreads Synopsis

 

When Jack Kerouac’s On the Road first appeared in 1957, readers instantly felt the beat of a new literary rhythm. A fictionalised account of his own journeys across America with his friend Neal Cassady, Kerouac’s beatnik odyssey captured the soul of a generation and changed the landscape of American fiction for ever.

Influenced by Jack London and Thomas Wolfe, Kerouac always wanted to be a writer, but his true voice only emerged when he wrote about his own experiences in On the Road. Leaving a broken marriage behind him, Sal Paradise (Kerouac) joins Dean Moriarty (Cassady), a tearaway and former reform school boy, on a series of journeys that takes them from New York to San Francisco, then south to Mexico. Hitching rides and boarding buses, they enter a world of hobos and drifters, fruit-pickers and migrant families, small towns and wide horizons. Adrift from conventional society, they experience America in the raw: a place where living is hard, but ‘life is holy and every moment is precious’.

With its smoky, jazz-filled atmosphere and its restless, yearning spirit of adventure, On the Road left its mark on the culture of the late 20th century, influencing countless books, films and songs. Kerouac’s prose is remarkable both for its colloquial swing and for the pure lyricism inspired by the American landscape – ‘the backroads, the black-tar roads that curve among the mournful rivers like Susquehanna, Monongahela, old Potomac and Monocacy’. This Folio Society edition is illustrated with evocative photographs of Kerouac and the landscapes of 1950s America. Now acknowledged as a modern classic, On the Road remains a thrilling and poignant story of the road less travelled.

 

My 5 Star Review

 

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“And this was really the way that my whole road trip experience began, and the things that were to come are too fantastic not to tell.” – ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac

 

ON THE ROAD is widely considered a classic American novel and has inspired generations of young travellers. Jack Kerouac writes autobiographically about his travel across America from east to west and then down south to Mexico with his rag tag group of beatnik friends in the late 1940s.

Kerouac tells the story of the emerging beat generation and what it means to be beat. He captures the essence of one of the first American post-war counter-cultures through a richly descriptive stream of consciousness narrative style. The way the novel is written reminds me of the crazy kind of drunk conversations you would have at around 3 am at a house party with some guy you’ve never met before. It takes some time to get into this kind of writing style because it jumps around a lot, but I think it was the perfect choice to capture these characters in this specific time and place.

I found ON THE ROAD to be such fascinating modern classic because it so perfectly captures the spirit of the time it was written in and the culture that Kerouac and the characters who inspired the novel helped to create. Post-war America is such an interesting time to me from a sociological perspective. The idea of teenagers and leisure time were first invented during this period, and advertising was also fast becoming a huge part of our lives. The beatniks that Kerouac so passionately describes were also the foundations that inspired many counter-cultures.

About the Author

 

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Neal Cassady (inspiration for Dean Moriarty character) and Jack Kerouac

 

Jack Kerouac, original name Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac, (born March 12, 1922, Lowell, Massachusetts, U.S.—died October 21, 1969, St. Petersburg, Florida), American novelist, poet, and leader of the Beat movement whose most famous book, On the Road (1957), had broad cultural influence before it was recognized for its literary merits. On the Road captured the spirit of its time as no other work of the 20th century had since F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925).

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Giveaway Winner of WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS by Lauren Weisberger

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Thank you to everybody who entered the competition to win a copy of WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS by Lauren Weisberger by letting me know on WordPress, Facebook and Instagram their favourite way to indulge while reading. I loved finding out the ways everybody likes to read and took notes for my future reading pleasure.

I entered everybody’s name into a random name picker and the winner is…

Carolyn Ansky

who answered on Facebook that she likes to indulge in some Tea with Lemon while she reads. 

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WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS by Lauren Weisberger

#BookReview THE COLOUR OF BEE LARKHAM’S MURDER by Sarah J. Harris

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THE COLOUR OF BEE LARKHAM’S MURDER by Sarah J. Harris

 

Goodreads Blurb

Whatever happens, don’t tell anyone what you did to Bee Larkham…

Jasper is not ordinary. In fact, he would say he is extraordinary…

Synaesthesia paints the sounds of his world in a kaleidoscope of colours that no one else can see. But on Friday, he discovered a new colour – the colour of murder.

He’s sure something has happened to his neighbour, Bee Larkham, but no-one else seems to be taking it as seriously as they should be. The knife and the screams are all mixed up in his head and he’s scared that he can’t quite remember anything clearly.

But where is Bee? Why hasn’t she come home yet? Jasper must uncover the truth about that night – including his own role in what happened…

My Review 

I was hooked from the opening line of THE COLOUR OF BEE LARKHAM’S MURDER!

“Bee Larkham’s murder was ice blue crystal’s with glittery edges and jagged, silver icicles”

Jasper is an extraordinary 13 year old boy who has Synaesthesia which means that he sees the sounds as colours. It also means that he is unable to recognise faces, not even his parents or the school bullies who give him a hard time almost every day. Ever since Jasper’s mother, who also had Synaesthesia, passed away Jasper and his father have been struggling to cope.

When Bee Larkham moves into Jasper’s street he is first drawn to her because the colour he sees when she speaks is so similar to his mother and she allows him to paint the neighbourhood parakeets and the beautiful colours they make for Jasper from her bedroom window.

When Bee Larkham mysteriously disappears Jasper is certain that something terrible happened to her and he and his father had something to do with it, but nobody seems to be taking her disappearance seriously.

I found the idea of a crime/mystery novel through the eyes of a teenager with Synaesthesia a fascinating concept. Because Jasper is unable to recognise faces, he is an incredibly unreliable witness. He struggles to convince his father or the police to listen to his fears about Bee Larkham and we are left wondering right up to the end about what really happened. Sarah J. Harris has done a brilliant job of senstively writing from Jasper’s perspective. I learned a lot about Synaesthesia while enjoying the “whodunnit” and aspect of the novel.

About the Author

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Sarah J. Harris

I’m an author and freelance education journalist, writing for national newspapers.

The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder is my first adult novel and was published by HarperCollins in May 2018 and will be published by Touchstone Books in the United States in June 2018, with other countries including Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Turkey, China and the Czech Republic to follow.

I have three YA books published by Scholastic under the Jessica Cole: Model Spy series. Code Red Lipstick, Fashion Assassin and Catwalk Criminal are written under a pen name, Sarah Sky, and also published in Germany. 

I grew up in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, and studied English at Nottingham University before gaining a post-graduate diploma in journalism at Cardiff University.

I trained as a journalist at the Western Daily Press in Bristol, where my highlight was interviewing screen legend Charlton Heston and my low point was being sneezed on by a cow at a fatstock competition. 

I enjoy martial arts – I’m a black belt in karate and a green belt in kick-boxing. I live in London with my husband and two young sons.

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#BookReview THE LOST FLOWERS OF ALICE HART by Holly Ringland @hollyringland @HarperCollinsAU

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THE LOST FLOWERS OF ALICE HART by Holly Ringland

Goodreads Blurb

The most enchanting debut novel of 2018, this is an irresistible, deeply moving and romantic story of a young girl, daughter of an abusive father, who has to learn the hard way that she can break the patterns of the past, live on her own terms and find her own strength.

After her family suffers a tragedy when she is nine years old, Alice Hart is forced to leave her idyllic seaside home. She is taken in by her estranged grandmother, June, a flower farmer who raises Alice on the language of Australian native flowers, a way to say the things that are too hard to speak. But Alice also learns that there are secrets within secrets about her past. Under the watchful eye of June and The Flowers, women who run the farm, Alice grows up. But an unexpected betrayal sends her reeling, and she flees to the dramatically beautiful central Australian desert. Alice thinks she has found solace, until she falls in love with Dylan, a charismatic and ultimately dangerous man.

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a story about stories: those we inherit, those we select to define us, and those we decide to hide. It is a novel about the secrets we keep and how they haunt us, and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive. Spanning twenty years, set between the lush sugar cane fields by the sea, a native Australian flower farm, and a celestial crater in the central desert, Alice must go on a journey to discover that the most powerful story she will ever possess is her own.

My Review 

THE LOST FLOWERS OF ALICE HART is a haunting tale of family secrets, betrayal, and how the stories of the past impact the future.

Alice Hart grows up with an abusive father and downtrodden mother who still does her best to protect her daughter and teach her the language of native Australian flowers that she had learned from her mother in law. When tragedy strikes Alice is taken in by her grandmother, June. June is a flower farmer who takes in women doing it tough and caretaker of the language of flowers created by her ancestors and their family history. When Alice takes of to the Australian desert where she discovers that she is doomed to repeat the tragic history of her past unless she is able to come to terms with her own story.

I loved the language of Australian native flowers that Ringland created to tell this story. Each chapter begins with a description of a different native flower and what it means in the language created by Alice’s family. THE LOST FLOWERS OF ALICE HART is a brilliantly crafted debut novel that will definitely appeal to a wide audience.

*Thank you HarperCollins Publishers for sending me a copy to review.

About the Author

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Holly Ringland

HOLLY RINGLAND grew up barefoot and wild in her mother’s tropical garden on the east coast of Australia. Her interest in cultures and stories was sparked by a two-year journey her family took in North America when she was nine years old, living in a camper van and travelling from one national park to another. In her twenties, Holly worked for four years in a remote Indigenous community in the central Australian desert. Moving to England in 2009, Holly obtained her MA in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester. Her essays and short fiction have been published in various anthologies and literary journals. She now lives between the UK and Australia. To any question ever asked of Holly about growing up, writing has always been the answer.

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#BookReview UK2 (Project Renova #3) by Terry Tyler @TerryTyler4

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UK2 by Terry Tyler, featuring Ziggy

Goodreads Blurb

‘Two decades of social media had prepared them well for UK2.’

The pace steps up in this final instalment of the Project Renova trilogy, as the survivors’ way of life comes under threat.

Two years after the viral outbreak, representatives from UK Central arrive at Lindisfarne to tell the islanders about the shiny new city being created down south. Uk2 governor Verlander’s plan is simple: all independent communities are to be dissolved, their inhabitants to reside in approved colonies. Alas, those who relocate soon suspect that the promises of a bright tomorrow are nothing but smoke and mirrors, as great opportunities turn into broken dreams, and dangerous journeys provide the only hope of freedom.

Meanwhile, far away in the southern hemisphere, a new terror is gathering momentum…

‘I walked through that grey afternoon, past fields that nobody had tended for nearly three years, past broken down, rusty old vehicles, buildings with smashed windows. I was walking alone at the end of the world, but I was a happy man. I was free, at last.’

Although this concludes the Project Renova trilogy, there will be more books in the series. A collection of five side stories is planned, and another novel, set far into the future.

My Review

UK2 is the gripping third installment of the post-apocalyptic Project Renova series. I liked it even more that the ending left plenty of room for more stories from this world, because I am hooked!

UK2 picks up after the world is almost wiped out by a virus and most of the main characters from the beginning of the series have settled on a small remote island, Lindisfarne, in the UK. The group on Lindisfarne have long since grown accustomed to living on the island, free of electricity, social media, money, and all the trappings of modern day society. They have already weathered plenty of tragedy and have settled into their new way of life, although it is obvious they will constantly have obstacles to overcome in the future.

Doyle has quickly become disenfranchised with the new UK (UK2) which has been set up by the slimy Alex Verlander from Project Renova. It’s clear to Doyle that the people in charge don’t have the people’s best interests at heart, but he has no choice but to travel to Lindisfarne to recruit the inhabitants to come to UK2.

I loved the character development from Tipping Point to UK2. By the end of this novel it was clear that all of the main characters had undergone some serious personality changes due to the crazy experiences they’d gone through. Some had grown far stronger than they had ever been before the virus hit and others had gone completely bonkers. The use of multiple point of view chapters illustrated these character changes perfectly.

You can check out my reviews of the first two novels in the Project Renova series: Tipping Point and Lindisfarne

About the Author

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Terry Tyler

@TerryTyler4 on Twitter… I am a writer, with 17 books on Amazon. I’m obsessed with The Walking Dead and all things post apocalyptic, also love South Park, Game of Thrones, autumn and winter, history, and most books/films/TV series to do with war/battles/gangsters. I’m a vegan who falls off the wagon now and again. Live in the north east of England with my husband, who I love even more than Daryl Dixo

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#BookReview THOSE OTHER WOMEN by Nicola Moriarty @NikkiM3

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THOSE OTHER WOMEN by Nicola Moriarty featuring Zeus and Ziggy

Goodreads

From the author of The Fifth Letter comes a controversial and darkly comic story about the frustrations of being a childless woman in the modern baby-obsessed world… .

Poppy’s world has been tipped sideways: the husband who never wanted children has betrayed her with her broody best friend.

At least Annalise is on her side. Her new friend is determined to celebrate their freedom from kids, so together they create a Facebook group to meet up with like-minded women, and perhaps vent just an little about smug mummies’ privileges at work.

Meanwhile, their colleague Frankie would love a night out, away from her darlings – she’s not had one this decade and she’s heartily sick of being judged by women at the office as well as stay-at-home mums.

Then Poppy and Annalise’s group takes on a life of its own and frustrated members start confronting mums like Frankie in the real world. Cafés become battlegrounds, playgrounds become war zones and offices have never been so divided.

A rivalry that was once harmless fun is spiraling out of control.

Because one of their members is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And she has an agenda of her own . . .

My Review 

THOSE OTHER WOMEN is a funny read that explores the complexities of female friendships and rivalries.

I think any woman will find themselves nodding along to this novel at some points, but I hope they will also gain a clearer understanding of the other side.

Poppy’s husband has left her for her best friend. To add insult to injury they are having a baby together when Poppy had thought they were both happy to remain childless. She teams up with her single and child-free work friend, Annalise, to complain about how easy they think it is for mums. Their colleague, Frankie, always seems to be able to get out of work whenever she likes and there is even a local mums group on Facebook that won’t  let single women join. Poppy and Annalise start their own Facebook group for local single women, but things quickly move from companionship and the occasional vent to real-life confrontations and it becomes obvious that somebody in Poppy and Annalise’s group isn’t who she says she is.

THOSE OTHER WOMEN explores the the ways that women can so often be so harsh and judgmental towards themselves, and each other, and the ways that social media can often make these situations so much worse than they need to be.

As a childless woman in my 30s I have definitely felt very uncomfortable about that and been excluded by some women, and I would say I’ve probably unintentionally done the same to some women with kids myself. Like Moriarty demonstrates by the end of the novel, both groups have their own challenges and some bits about our lives that are also pretty fantastic. We really should be more open minded about other people’s life choices and talk to each other in person, rather than letting things fester and get blown out of proportion on social media.

I really love the research by danah boyd who explores how young people use social media for anybody who is interested in doing further reading about the methods and psychology of bullying via social media. It can often be far more insidious and hurtful than real-life bullying and danah’s research would be incredibly insightful for parents of teenagers so they can have a clearer understanding of some of the warning signs to look out for.

About the Author

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Nicola Moriarty

Nicola lives in Sydney’s north west with her husband and two small (but remarkably strong willed) daughters. In between various career changes, becoming a mum and studying at Macquarie University, she began to write. Now, she can’t seem to stop.

Her writing was once referred to as ‘inept’ by The Melbourne Age. Luckily on that same day the Brisbane Courier Mail called her work ‘accomplished, edgy and real.’ So she stopped crying into her Weetbix, picked up a pen and continued to write. She has been fueled by a desire to prove The Age wrong ever since.

These days, she writes everything from novels to football stadium announcements to VW radio ad scripts and Home Loan EDMs to the occasional Mamamia article and the odd Real Estate advert.

Her first two novels, Free-Falling and Paper Chains were published by Random House Australia in 2012 and 2013. Free-Falling was translated into Dutch and German and was awarded the title of ‘Best Australian Debut’ from Chicklit Club. Paper Chains was later picked up for publishing in the U.S. by HarperCollins and will be released there in 2019.

Her romance novella Captivation was released both as an e-book and in print as part of a collection of romance stories titled, All My Love. She has since concluded that romance writing is not her thing. She also wrote two travel themed short stories for the U.K. Sunlounger anthologies, which were Amazon bestsellers.

While completing a BA with a major in writing at Macquarie University, she was awarded the Fred Rush Convocation prize for creative writing / literary criticism in Australian literature. This achievement made her glow with pride and happily took some of the sting out of The Age’s aforementioned criticism.

In 2017, Nicola released her third novel, The Fifth Letter. Published by HarperCollins in both Australia and the U.S. and by Penguin in the U.K, it was a top ten best seller in Australia and just snuck onto the USA Today Best seller list! It was translated into German, Dutch and Hungarian. In exciting news, film rights for The Fifth Letter were also optioned by Universal Cable Productions.

Nicola’s latest novel, Those Other Women was released in Australia, the US and the UK in 2018 and was an Amazon best seller. Marian Keyes had this to say about Those Other Women, ‘I devoured it, loved it and totally escaped into it … Fun and topical.’

She has four older sisters and one older brother and she lives in constant fear of being directly compared to her two wildly successful and extraordinarily talented author sisters, Liane Moriarty and Jaclyn Moriarty. Unless of course, the comparison is something kind, perhaps along the lines of, “Liane, Jaci and Nicola are all wonderful writers. I love all of their books equally.”

Other things of note are Nicola’s lack of fine motor skills, demonstrated by her inability to thread keys onto key-rings, tie balloons, braid hair and apply eyeliner. If you have taken the time to read this far, she would very much like to send you a Freddo Frog to show her appreciation. But she probably won’t follow through, because she’ll most likely eat all the Freddo Frogs before she gets the chance to post them. Sorry, she does mean well.

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