Thursday 1 October 2015

What Did I Read on my Holiday?

 I've just returned from a relaxing week on the beautiful island of Paxos, just off the coast of Corfu in the Ionian island group. This was our second visit, we visited three years ago and stayed in a cottage in Loggos. This time we had our base in a self-catering studio in the village of Lakka.

Paxos is a tiny island, just eight miles long, and is the perfect place to get away from it all. It has quite a cosmopolitan feel to it due to the many visiting yachts in the harbours.

I love people watching, and sitting on the harbour front with a glass of wine, watching the beautiful people in the very expensive yachts is a great way to pass an evening.
Our studio was in the Hotel Basta, and was typically Greek, very basic, but clean and comfortable. There is a gorgeous pool on the roof of the Hotel which is accessed by some steep stairs, but luckily there is also a pool bar, so a nice cold beer is ready and waiting when you make the climb!
Of course I read lots whilst I was there. I have a little rule about my holiday reading, I only take books that have been waiting on my shelf for ages. I never take books that I've agreed to review and rarely take new releases.  

This year I made some great choices:

A Perfect Heritage by Penny Vincenzi
Published by Headline, February 2015

I've read everything that Penny Vincenzi has written.  Her first book, Old Sins was published way back in 1989. I fell in love with her writing then and have never looked back.
Penny Vincenzi writes huge books, the paperback version of A Perfect Heritage is almost 1000 pages, but it's a joy to read.  Bursting with glamour and scandal, this story features the story of the House of Farrell - an upmarket cosmetics company that has been trading since 1953.
Times are changing in the industry and new blood is needed to ensure that the company survives. A Perfect Heritage is the story of Athina Farrell - the legendary company founder and her battle with Bianca Bailey, the woman who arrives to bring the House of Farrell up to date.
Full of wonderfully created characters, with an expertly told back story, this really was the perfect way to start my holiday. 

Want You Dead by Peter James
Published in paperback by Pan Macmillan, October 2014
Want You Dead is the tenth in the Inspector Roy Grace series from Peter James. This series has become something of a holiday tradition for me, in fact I've only read this series whilst on holiday. So, two holidays per year means two books in the Inspector Grace series.
I really do enjoy this series. I like Grace and I love the Brighton setting. Reading a series like this is almost like meeting up with old friends, as we get to know a little bit more about Grace and his colleagues.  The story in Want You Dead features obsession.  A young woman, Red Westwood is being terrified by an ex-boyfriend. He's a guy who really isn't who he said he was and he is determined that if he can't have her, then nobody can.
Full of the usual Peter James thrills and twists and turns, I was riveted by the plot, but also intrigued by the continuing personal story about Grace and his own love life. There are some shocks in this one, especially for Grace's police team.  A great read, I'm looking forward to number eleven, but that's for next June, in Corfu!. 

The Twins by Saskia Sarginson
Published in paperback by Piatkus, August 2013
I had heard great things about this book, quite a few of my friends had recommended it to me. I have no idea why it took me so long to get around to reading this as I absolutely loved it.  I was gripped from page one and found it really difficult to put down.
The story is full of suspense and the characters of Isolate and Viola are magnificent.  Their present day stories are just as convincing as their background tales. The writing is incredibly haunting, and the description of the young twins life living in the forest with their hippy mother is excellent.  I especially loved the ending, my favourite kind of conclusion; open and left up to the reader to imagine.
I'm delighted that I have a copy of Saskia Sarginson's latest novel on my shelf and certainly won't be leaving this one there for as long.

What Women Want by Fanny Blake
Published in paperback by Harper, April 2011
Somehow, I have missed out on Fanny Blake's books in the past, but recently read With A Friend Like You which was published in August of this year. I enjoyed it so much that I went out and bought a copy of What Women Want, her first novel.
I love how Fanny Blake gets under the skin of her characters, making them appear so real. Her female stars are women of a certain age; with a few greying hairs, a spare tyre around the middle and a wealth of experience. They are real women. They are women who I can identify with and she creates wonderful plots for them.
What Women Want features Bea, Kate and Ellen. Three women who have been there for each other through thick and thin. Through betrayal and divorce, through sadness and bereavement, through the trials of parenting and the career difficulties.
Fanny Blake writes with charm and wit, the story is engaging and true to life and the characters are very special - the reader really begins to care about them, to root for them and to wish them well.
Another fabulous read, I enjoyed it so much and look forward to catching up with more from Fanny Blake. 

A Night on the Orient Express by Veronica Henry
Published in paperback by Orion, July 2013
Veronica Henry had a special talent in creating settings that are so evocative, the reader is transported to places that are wonderfully special, accompanied by characters who are interesting and colourful.
An eclectic group of people are all setting out for a night on the Orient Express. There's Imogen who is travelling to Venice to collect a mysterious birthday parcel. Riley, the photographer who realises that he is not invincible after all, and is determined to make sure that his one true love will be by his side for ever. Archie and Emma are there by chance, neither of them are sure what to expect, but both of them are in for a life-changing night. Stephanie is travelling with her lover Simon and his two grown up children, a baptism of fire as their new stepmother, with all the problems and family squabbles that are bound to happen.
Alongside the modern day story is the story of Imogen's grandmother Adele. A beautifully told tale of decadence and intrigue, of glamour and deceit. 
A Night on the Orient Express was the perfect read to end my holiday with, I was swept along with all of the wonderfully drawn passengers to an exotic location.

So, I had some fabulous reads whilst I was away. I love the fact that I can spend hours reading when I'm away, with no worries about work, or what to cook for tea, or whether I have to do the ironing.
I love the fact that Martin and I can go out for coffee, or a glass of wine and sit in the sunshine and read our books (or iPad for him!).  Holiday reading is the very best kind of reading!


1 comment:

  1. What a great selection Anne, the pictures are lovely too. We have never visited that area of the world, yet. As you may have noticed I tend to travel to the few places I have already visited but hope to branch out as I get older.