Book Review of Castles in the Air by Alison Ripley Cubitt and Molly Ripley

CITAAn eight-year-old child witnesses her mother’s secret, and knows that from that moment life will never be the same.

After Molly, her mother, dies. Alison uses her legacy to make a film about Molly’s relationship with a man she had known since she was a teenager. What hold did this man have over her mother? And what other secrets was her mother hiding?

Castles in the Air follows the life of Molly Ripley through the eyes of her daughter Alison. From Molly’s childhood in colonial Hong Kong and Malaya; wartime adventures as a rookie office girl in the far east outpost of Bletchley Park then as a young nurse in the city; tangled romance and marriage… to her challenging middle-age when demons from the past seem set to overwhelm her.

 

Extract:

One reason Don and Cissy had been against sending Molly to school so far away was that they spent their working lives listening to and intercepting messages sent by the Japanese naval fleet. Privy to this classfied information, they were convinced that a war with Japan was inevitable. In December 1941, just as Molly was sitting her School Certificate, the school girls heard some ominous news on the radio:
We were all greatly encouraged when we heard of the arrival of the mighty battleship, Prince of Wales and cruiser Repulse and all thought they would soon ‘sort out’ the Japanese. Then we heard on the news that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbour on December 2nd 1941, thus drawing the Americans into the conflict – to be followed by air raids on Singapore. Most of the children not taking School Certificate had been sent back to their homes.
December 2nd was, in fact, the date that Prince of Wales and Repulse arrived at the Singapore Naval Base with great fanfare. The attack on Pearl Harbour took place 7th December, 8th December in Malaya, at the same time as the first Japanese bombing raid on Singapore. It was 4am in Singapore when Don and Ciss were woken by the air raid sirens. Their worst fears had come to pass. Their darling Molly was hundreds of miles away. All they could do was pray she would get home safely, but as a former Royal Marine, Don would have known only too well what perfect cover a remote jungle region could provide for an advancing Japanese land invasion.

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My Top 10 Reads of 2015

As this is my last post of 2015, I thought I’d use it to share my top ten reads of the year. I’ve chosen one to receive a Special Mention and one is my Top Recommended Book of the Year. So, in no particular order:

 

1 CCooksonTo Be a Lady: The Story of Catherine Cookson
by Cliff Goodwin.

Book Description:
A biography of the bestselling author and northern cultural icon, Catherine Cookson. Following her story from her birth as illegitimate daughter of a South Shields woman who became an alcoholic in later life, through her career as a laundry worker, to her current star status, this work features interviews with the subject and original research, and reveals a great deal of fresh information.

Catherine Cookson is one of my favourite authors. I’ve read many of her books and own many of the film adaptations on DVD. The depth of detail in the research is amazing and it was nice to have snippets of interviews with Catherine throughout this book. I read it in April and you can find my 5* review here on Goodreads.

 

his kidnappers shoesHis Kidnapper’s Shoes by Maggie James

Book Description:
Daniel Bateman is one angry man. He’s just discovered a devastating truth; the woman who calls herself his mother is really his kidnapper. Snatched from his birth family when he was four years old, Daniel’s always been tormented with vague memories from his former life. When he is confronted with a second shattering revelation, his life falls apart; booze and casual sex help numb the pain.

Daniel knows one thing for sure. He’ll never be able to forgive his kidnapper. Never. Because of her, he’s been denied his dream of becoming an artist. More importantly, he’d have grown up with a mother he could love instead of one he can barely tolerate. And the shadow of his controlling stepfather wouldn’t have darkened his life.

Furious, his life in pieces, Daniel needs the answer to just one question. Why did Laura Bateman kidnap him?

He’s not sure he’ll ever find out. The woman now under arrest for his kidnap twenty-two years ago isn’t talking. Laura Bateman doesn’t believe a crime has been committed; to her, stealing Daniel seemed her only option at the time. Until she receives Daniel’s forgiveness, something he’s sworn she’ll never get, Laura’s staying silent as to what really happened all those years ago.

There’s a saying that you have to walk a mile in someone’s shoes before judging them. Will Daniel ever be ready to step into Laura Bateman’s shoes?

A tense novel of psychological suspense, His Kidnapper’s Shoes weaves one man’s quest for his identity with one woman’s need to heal her troubled past.

This is the first of four stand alone full length novels written by Maggie James. I read it in early April and then went on to read Maggie’s other three novels. If you are a fan of tense psychological suspense and complex characters, then I’d recommend this book. It got 5* from me and you can read my review of it on Goodreads

 

1faithpeterjamesFaith by Peter James

Book Description:
Ross Ransome is at the top of his profession; one of the most successful, and certainly one of the richest, plastic surgeons in the business. Such a man would expect his wife to be perfect – and why not? After all, he has spent enough hours in surgery to get her that way.

But when his wife falls ill she turns her back on conventional medicine, and her arid marriage, and seeks help from the world of alternative medicine and a charismatic therapist who promises not just medical salvation.

For Ransome, this is the ultimate betrayal. It defies logic, and Ross Ransome is a profoundly logical man. Logically, he can see no reason why any man should have his wife when he can’t. It’s all completely rational…

I am a fan of Peter James novels and this one didn’t disappoint. If you like your antagonist to have a little back story where you can find out why he’s like he is, then you’ll enjoy unraveling the ‘logic’ of Ross in this book. I read Faith in May and my 5* review is here.

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My Top 5 Films Adapted from Books

This week I thought I’d talk about the best film adaptations from books. My top 5 are all books that I’ve read and enjoyed, and films that I think have have done justice to those books. I’ve chosen a range of genres and age ranges. Have you read the same books and watched the same films as me? Here are my choices:

Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

Shawshank cover

The Shawshank Redemption was published in a collection of novellas by Stephen King called Different Seasons. Titled Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, it was made into a film in 1994 staring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins as two prisoners trying to survive the corrupt prison system whilst planning to escape against all the odds.

Although a novella, the film is one of the longest adaptations of a King story. It is one of my favourite films because of how well suited the actors are to their roles and how it doesn’t stray away from the original, utterly compelling story.

 

 

Tilly Trotter by Catherine Cookson

Tilly Trotter dvd

Tilly Trotter is the first in a series of books about the life and struggles of Tilly. She has been brought up by her grandparents and is thought to be a witch by the village locals. This first book focuses on her early life and is what the film is based on.

Catherine Cookson is one of my favourite authors, and this adaption of the book was superb. I enjoyed watching the story come to life and was really pleased that it stayed true to the book and didn’t add any extras for a more ‘dramatic effect’.  Continue reading

Fiction in Cumbria

After living in Oxfordshire my whole live, Royal Navy service apart, I’m now about to move to Cumbria on the North West coast of England. The change of scene has got me thinking about the fiction that has been, and still is being, created in the area I’m moving to.

cumbria_map

 

One of the most famous authors to have lived in Cumbria was poet William Wordsworth (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850) .William Wordsworth He was born in a village called Cockermouth and then later lived in Grasmere with his wife and children. His most famous collection of poems (The Prelude) wasn’t published until after his death by his wife, Mary. At the time, very little was thought of these poems, but since then they have been considered some of his best work. Visitors to the area can go to both the house he was born in, and the cottage he lived in as an adult. Continue reading

Fiction in Oxfordshire

Oxfordshire is an English county which is full of fiction. It is also where my upcoming novel, The Revelation Room, is set. I’d like to share with you some examples of other authors and fiction based in Oxfordshire:

Authors from Oxfordshire:

Authors-from-Oxforshire-image

– Agatha Christie is famous for Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.

– C. S. Lewis wrote The Chronicles of Narnia.

– J. R. R. Tolkien is famous for the Lord of The Rings trilogy.

– Philip Pullman is well known for His Dark Materials.

– Griselda Heppel writes children’s fiction including Ante’s Inferno.

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