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Lanzarote: book by book




I returned from a fab 1/2 term break to Lanzarote yesterday where a great time was had by all. Now, like all writers I know I’m meant to write each day for after all writing isn’t so much a job or indeed a hobby as much as a way of life. I packed a couple of notebooks but I also ensured my Kindle, both of them was stocked to the brim with reads. As you may have guessed I didn’t write a word but I did read an array of delightful books that I’d like to share with you.

Reading like writing can’t be viewed in isolation but in the context of where and what the reader is up to at the time. What’s the mood of today? Am I on a road trip or having a beach day? Do I want romance, murder or both? Above are the books I read, not bad for seven days…

Have you ever been to Lanzarote? It perhaps gets a bad press most days when it doesnt deserve it. What with The Canaries being shown as the Mecca of Stag parties and high rise developments Lanzarote is surely the jewel in the crown with the influence of César Manrique. It’s only a four and 1/2 hour flight from Gatwick, so just time for a couple of reads.



I flew through the second in this series by best selling short story and now novel writing Sheila Norton and eagerly await book number three. Sam, pregnant and now single escapes to Hope Green only to find herself in hot water when she accepts a job with grumpy local vet. There’s romance, animals and a bit of intrigue all wrapped up with strong plotting and effortless writing.


I spent a summer in this part of the world and have a soft spot for all things French. Rosie decides to hang up her yachting gear and set up Cafe Fleur with the help of her best friend but all is not plain sailing with handsome hotelier next door and ex boyfriend turning up to interfere. Escapism at its best with enough plot to keep my mind off the ‘cabin crew ready for landing.’

We dropped off the bags in our apartment and raced across the road to the beach on that first day. It was 26 degrees in the shade and a dip was just the thing after all that travelling. That’s the thing with Kindles. Lying on the sand with nothing to do really isn’t my thing but I don’t have to be bored. I wanted something a little meatier so picked up The Breakdown, the follow-up to BA Paris’s recent runaway success.



So this kind of book isn’t normally my thing. I haven’t read Behind closed doors and in a way I raised an eyebrow at even downloading it but, nevertheless it was on my Kindle and I did say I wanted something meatier. Well I was dragged kicking and screaming, well not quite but the tale of a girl driving down a lonely stretch of wood had me nearly gnawing at the side of the towel. Good story, strong plot reminiscent of those thrillers in the early Sixties where everything isn’t quite as it first seems.

Ranchero Texas is Lanzarote’s zoo but a zoo with a difference. Have you ever had a vulture with a six foot wing span fly so near overhead as to nearly scrape along the top of your forehead? What about talking to the dolphins or being hugged by a sealion? I didn’t take my Kindle. I didn’t need my Kindle.

We did hire a car this time and followed Cezar’s trail stopping off at Costa Teguise for a swim with the tamer than tame fish. This is where I turned the first page of Relativity and found myself stepping into another universe.



There are some books, not many that long outlive the last page turned and this was one of them. I’m a sucker for happy Ever After’s and I knew instinctively that this was a book I’d find an uncomfortable read. But sometimes those are the best books to read. Set in Australia it tells the tale of a 12 year old boy, a genius, a bullied genius and his relationship with his parents. Clever, uncomfortable. Unforgettable.

Playa Chica is a little beach tucked away from the Old Port where we spent a lot of time. It’s an idyllic setting with the volcanic mountains stretching out from the horizon for as far as the eye can see. I devoured 3 books under their shadow.


If The Breakdown was a difficult read for me Rattle was impossible. I have to admit, of the books I chose it was the one I most regretted as it was outside my comfort zone being at it dealt with child abduction, a topic I normally wouldn’t read out of choice. That aside I can see that I’m sure to be in the minority as it was cleverly put together with very good characterisations. The people inhabiting the story just fizzed out of the pages.


The problem with reading a book like The Rosie Project is that, once the benchmark has been set as one of my top ten personal favourite books of all time it’s always going to pale in comparison. This is a well written book telling Adam’s tale of a life full of regret, a life he didn’t even realise wasn’t living up to his expectations until an old flame got in touch.  A good enjoyable read but not The Rosie Project.



I have to admit this was a bit of a winger for me as books written in an epistolary style aren’t really my thing. This added to the fact it’s set in the Forties and therefore immediately was going to remind me of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, bearing in mind I just happen to live there… I think you’ll see where I’m going with this. So I was prepared not to like it. I didn’t like it – I loved it! A cross between Dad’s Army and the aforesaid Guernsey T&PPS this was beach reading at its best with lots going on and the letters, diary entries true to their writers both in style and content. There’s lots of plot and, after chapter two only a hurricane would have made me put the book down.

Evenings in Lanzarote are a mixed bag. There’s bars aplenty with cheap booze (not that we could drink it being as we are well behaved parents), just as there are restaurants all over the place. I have a family of card sharks when I don’t really play so, to while away a few spare minutes I always have my Kindle and am known to sneakily read from time to time.


This isn’t a book I really wanted to read. It’s been lingering for a while but the watch that I never wear suddenly ticked to a place where I couldn’t let it linger any longer. It tells the account of happily married Antoine and Helene and their little 17 month old boy, that is until the terrorise attack in Paris. It’s a true account written by Antoine over the few days following Helene’s tragic murder and is heart wrenching in the extreme. I’m glad I didn’t let it linger any longer…

My holiday was over yesterday, or it would have been if I hadn’t started another book on the journey back, a book I’ve only just finished.


I don’t know about you but when I’m travelling I need something good to get me past all the rubbish that goes on all around me. Passengers arguing about having to pay double when they asked for a second teabag. Someone opposite arguing with the air hostess for touching their bag. Some people! I started A man with one of those faces and the plane fell away. Written by Irish comedian and set in my home town (Dublin) it’s an hilarious read. Set in a hospice it starts with one of the nurses getting one of the ‘professional visitors ‘ or ‘granny whisperers’ to visit one last patient, a patient who subsequently tries to kill him before dying himself. I’ve had the book glued to my side ever since – have you heard me laughing?

Well that’s the end of my hols but not my memories, both of a lovely holiday and some great words…



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Book Number Seven

img_1610What with book number six now at a well known publisher along with book number five ( Englishwoman in… Trilogy) I’m back in the hot seat with book number 7.

Why do I say this?

Well book number 7 is actually Book number 5! Confused? I don’t blame you as no one’s more confused than I am.

I started this Irish set stand alone romance /tragedy in May last year when I was off sick for the first time ever. I was on drugs up to my eyeballs for sciatica and the words on the page were very dark, too dark for me to cope with. I don’t mind my readers having tears streaming down their faces but when typing, damp eyes do tend to obscure the keys somewhat. So instead of struggling on I put it aside and wrote something lighter, or lighter for me – Englishwoman in Paris, inspired by next door’s scaffolder who just happened to be in my field of vision 😉. I’m trying not to obsess too much about having a book under consideration, because each successive book in my mind is better than the last so one day…

So while I wait with bated breath for news of my book babies I’m ignoring the  follow up to Englishwoman in Manhattan for now. Instead I’ve a whole pile of TBR’s to catch up on not to mention book reviews and of course book number 7. I’m worried it may have been the pain killers typing now I’m booting up my laptop with a clear head but only time will tell. I’m only 10,000 words in so still lots to do.