Sunday, 25 November 2012

A Rich Full Death by Michael Dibdin

A Rich Full DeathA Rich Full Death by Michael Dibdin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Michael Dibdin remains one of my favorite authors even though I sometimes find his plots and characterizations frustrating. Dibdin’s was a career cut too short. Whenever I see a Dibdin book out in e-book format, I order it. I know that whatever else I find, it will be literately and beautifully written. I’ve waded happily through his wonderful Aurelio Zen series. The Zen character is uneven, but the prose is so masterful that one doesn’t care. Dibdin’s descriptive passages are second to none.

So when I ordered “A Rich Full Death”, I had high expectations. This book is such a departure from everything of Dibdin’s I’ve read, that at one point I went back to make sure it was actually Dibdin I was reading.
A Rich Full Death is set in Florence in the mid-eighteen hundreds and is told entirely through letters to “My Dear Prescott” from “Booth”. The “Booth” in question is pictured as a fairly young man, one living in Florence on an allowance from his father, enjoying the small enclave of ex-pat British who made Florence their home, among them and a principal character in the story, poet Robert Browning. To all lovers of Browning I say immediately, you must read this book for its fascinating re-creation of the famous poet, which often uses his own words as dialogue.

A Rich Full Death is a mystery story. In the lush setting of Florence and the surrounding countryside, Dibdin takes us through Dante’s circles of hell. It is a fascinating and surprising story, with the title making sense only in the last few pages. I had to read the last chapter twice to fully understand just what Dibdin had done. It is, to say the least, a surprising ending.

This is thinking man’s or woman’s book. It is redolent of the artistic and literary Italy of the times. I recommend it highly but it is not for everyone. I suspect Dibdin wrote it mainly for himself. And he probably had a grand time doing so.


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I currently have three novels and one short story. I hope you will add them to your reading list and let me know if you enjoy them.

 • Abigails Christmas (short story) ~ An enchanting tale of love and romance, with a magical touch of fantasy.
Abigail's Christmas is a holiday story about Abigail who goes looking for a tree on Christmas Eve, and ends up with the man of her dreams in a sleigh in the Rockies --- with a wedding in the offing! Is it real?  Is she dreaming?  Or is it just Christmas magic?

 • The Memory of Roses ~ The enduring love story of two generations of the McQuaid family unfolds on the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu. It is a tale complete with beautiful and passionate women, handsome and fiery men, and an intriguing mystery.

 • Delighting In Your Company ~ Delighting In Your Company is a paranormal romance set on an exotic Caribbean island, featuring a handsome ghost and an adventurous heroine who travels back in time to solve a mystery!

 • Sonata ~ Sayuri McAllister has just arrived home to Vancouver to find a robbery has taken place at her family home, and it is being investigated by her old flame;
 ~ Alyssa James who she barely knows, is about to become her new stepmother; ~ and Alyssa’s brother, Hugh James, is a charming Irishman who is intent on bedding and wedding Sayuri. It’s a confusing and difficult time for Sayuri, especially when dangerous accidents happen to her father and herself – or are they accidents?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Book Review - A Dangerous Fortune

A Dangerous FortuneA Dangerous Fortune by Ken Follett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the author of the great historical drama, Pillars of the Earth, this story of two banking families in London in the late eighteen hundreds is a brilliantly drawn tale of suspense and murder, filled with characters who live and breathe. We care about what happens to the people in this book, we root for the heroes and boo the villains. In A Dangerous Fortune, as in all Follett’s books, he has masterfully recreated the period in which it is set, bringing us fully into the social, political and societal mores of the time and making the effect of these on his characters both realistic and poignant. A highly recommended read

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I currently have four published fiction novels. I hope you get a chance to read and enjoy them:

 • Abigails Christmas ~ A holiday fantasy about a Abigail who goes looking for a tree on Christmas Eve, and ends up with the man of her dreams in a sleigh in the Rockies --- with a wedding in the offing!

 • The Memory of Roses ~ The enduring love story of two generations of the McQuaid family unfolds on the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu. It is a tale complete with beautiful and passionate women, handsome and fiery men, and an intriguing mystery.

 • Delighting In Your Company ~ Delighting In Your Company is a paranormal romance set on an exotic Caribbean island, featuring a handsome ghost and an adventurous heroine who travels back in time to solve a mystery!

 • Sonata ~ Sayuri McAllister has just arrived home to Vancouver to find a robbery has taken place at her family home, and it is being investigated by her old flame; Alyssa James who she barely knows, is about to become her new stepmother; and Alyssa’s brother, Hugh James, a charming Irishman who is intent on bedding and wedding Sayuri. It’s a confusing and difficult time for Sayuri, especially when dangerous accidents happen to her father and herself – or are they accidents?

Friday, 16 November 2012

On Character Studies - Michael Donovan

We all use different approaches in writing. What works for one author doesn’t necessarily work for another. For me it is vitally important to know the people about whom I’m writing before I put the first lines of any story to paper.
That’s not to say that characters never change during the course of a story. Often the story is about the change in a particular character from the beginning of the novel to the end. But it’s important to make the need for this change evident to the reader. It’s necessary to establish firmly who the character is at the beginning before showing the gradual changes to that character.
 
Having said that, the hero in Sonata Michael Donovan, is not a character who changes much in the course on the book. He starts out a decent, intelligent, lovable guy, and he ends up a decent, intelligent, lovable guy. But through those absolutely consistent character traits, he causes change to those around him.
Here is the character study I wrote on my hero, Michael Donovan, in my new novel, Sonata.

Clint Eastwood as Michael Donovan
lMichael Donovan—hero.  Thirty-one. A detective with the Vancouver police. Father and grandfather were policemen. Good looking in a hard tough way. Lots of muscles. Tall, capable, all business. Serious about his work. Appearance—think the young Clint Eastwood. Muscles like iron. Broad shoulders, slim waist, taut abdomen. Sandy hair that defies taming even though kept short, sharp green eyes, rugged face. Not handsome, but certainly attractive and very masculine. Off duty dresses very casually. Jeans, running shoes, etc. Former hockey-jock. 

Michael’s hobby is cooking. He worked his way through university in restaurant kitchens, and took courses at the Vancouver Culinary Arts School. Michael’s cooking ability plays an important part in his seduction of Sayuri McAlister’s (my Japanese-Canadian heroine, a professional cellist).

He was Sayuri’s sweetheart in high school, where she was two years below him.  Their relationship ended badly when his adolescent hormones too obviously reacted to the twelfth grade femme fatal. They haven’t seen each other since-- (twelve years ago). They reconnect when he is assigned to investigate a break-in at Sayuri’s father’s house just as Sayuri returns home from Paris.

 On his off-work hours Michael works on a sailboat that he keeps moored at Secret Cove. He whistles melodiously as he works. Picks up melodies he hears Sayuri practicing. He has a huge dog named Buttercup, a Malamute, St. Bernard, wolf cross, who is afraid of her own shadow. He rescued her, a shivering, malnourished puppy, in the course of a drug bust. 

 Michael has an efficiency apartment in Vancouver on Sixth and Granville, and a small house in Secret Cove on the Sunshine Coast that he inherited from his grandparents, while Sayuri, the woman he loves, comes from a different world. Her father owns a major tech company (think Blackberry) and she lives in a mansion in Point Grey. The difference in their financial and social status looms large in Michael’s eyes. He sees it as an insurmountable problem. Furthermore everyone in the McAllister household, including Sayuri’s father and his new fiancĂ© and the couple who have worked for them for years and raised Sayuri after her mother’s death, must be considered a suspect in a multi-million dollar jewelry robbery that appears to have been an inside job.
How can Michael hope to win Sayuri in the face of these obstacles?


Below is a short excerpt.  Michael has just persuaded Sayuri to have dinner with him.


Sayuri McAllister
Michael stopped the car before a gate to the underground parking garage of a high-rise condo building on Fourth Avenue. The gate swung up in response to his keycard.
“Where are we? I thought you were taking me to dinner.”
“I am. I’m taking you to dinner at my place.”
“I see. I suppose that’s all right, as long as you don’t think that I’m on the menu.”
Michael burst out laughing. “I wouldn’t presume…”
Sayuri laughed with him. “You can’t have changed that much Michael. Of course you’d presume if you thought you could get away with it. And I hope you can cook, because I certainly can’t.”
“Cooking is among my many and varied talents. You’ll never have to cook if you just stick with me.”
“That’s a very good thing, because if our survival depended on my cooking we’d starve. When other girls…”
“And boys,” Michael interjected.
“When other girls and boys were learning how to cook, I was practicing cello.”
Michael pulled his car into a numbered parking space and came around to Sayuri’s side of the car to open the door for her.
“Mmm. A man who can cook and who helps his dinner companion out of the car. Are you sure you’re for real, Michael Donavan?”

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COMING NOVEMBER 2012 -- The latest romantic thriller from Blair McDowell.

SONATA is the story of the beautiful and talented Sayuri McAllister who returns to her home in Vancouver after a five year absence to discover her father’s house has been broken into and much of her deceased mother’s valuable jewelry is missing. Michael Donovan, Sayuri’s old high school flame and now a detective with the Vancouver Police Department, is the officer in charge of the case. To her surprise Sayuri feels a great attraction for him even after all these years. Does Michael feel the same way? Shortly after the robbery, Sayuri’s father marries Alyssa James, a woman Sayuri had never met and to her surprise the mansion is soon also home to Alyssa’s brother. Hugh James is a devastatingly handsome Irishman who immediately begins a campaign to bed and wed the delicious and wealthy Sayuri. Accidents begin to happen. Or are they accidents? Nothing is as it seems. Michael distrusts Hugh James and fears that Sayuri’s life may be in danger.


Purchase Blair McDowell's books today by clicking on the covers below.  You can then select the vendor of your choice.




The Memory of Roses Delighting In Your Company;   Sonata by Blair McDowell
                                                                                        
Find Blair:
Blog:            http://blairmcdowellauthor.blogspot.ca/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5807790.Blair_McDowell
Email:         info@blairmcdowell.com



Wednesday, 7 November 2012

My Review - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This comes under the heading of “I borrowed this book but now I’ve bought it because it’s so good I want to own it and read it again!” It has been translated into half a dozen languages and has enjoyed a huge success in spite of an almost total lack of media hype. It’s a simple story, simply told mostly through letters, of the years when the English Island of Guernsey was militarily occupied by the Germans during World War II. There is a contemporary romance as well. A young woman goes to Guernsey to follow the letters she has uncovered, and two love stories, one old, one new ensue. It is a touching book. The woman who started writing it died of cancer before she could see it to print. A friend took over the project and completed it, hence the two author’s names.

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I currently have four published fiction novels including Sonata. I hope you get a chance to read and enjoy them:

 • Abigails Christmas ~ A holiday fantasy about a Abigail who goes looking for a tree on Christmas Eve, and ends up with the man of her dreams in a sleigh in the Rockies --- with a wedding in the offing!

 • The Memory of Roses ~ The enduring love story of two generations of the McQuaid family unfolds on the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu. It is a tale complete with beautiful and passionate women, handsome and fiery men, and an intriguing mystery.

 • Delighting In Your Company ~ Delighting In Your Company is a paranormal romance set on an exotic Caribbean island, featuring a handsome ghost and an adventurous heroine who travels back in time to solve a mystery!

 • Sonata ~ Sayuri McAllister has just arrived home to Vancouver to find a robbery has taken place at her family home, and it is being investigated by her old flame; Alyssa James who she barely knows, is about to become her new stepmother; and Alyssa’s brother, Hugh James, a charming Irishman who is intent on bedding and wedding Sayuri. It’s a confusing and difficult time for Sayuri, especially when dangerous accidents happen to her father and herself – or are they accidents?

Monday, 5 November 2012

Sonata - The latest Romantic Mystery from Blair McDowell

A jewel heist… 
When renowned concert artist, Sayuri McAllister, returns to the west coast of Canada after an absence of five years, she discovers her family home has been a broken into and jewelry worth two million dollars is missing. Michael Donovan, Sayuri’s old high school flame, now a detective with the Vancouver Police Department, is the officer in charge of the case.

What chance can he have… 
Michael takes one look at Sayuri and falls in love with her all over again. But they parted in anger years ago and Sayuri is no longer the innocent girl he once knew. What chance can there be for a Vancouver cop with someone as famous as Sayuri McAllister? Especially when that cop is investigating her family and friends? 

An unexpected marriage… 
Then Sayuri’s widowed father, Sean, marries Alyssa James, a woman Sayuri has never even met. The three live uneasily together in the Point Grey mansion until the unexpected arrival of Alyssa’s brother, Hugh James, a devastatingly handsome, charming Irishman who immediately begins a campaign to bed and wed the delicious and wealthy Sayuri. 

Things take a dangerous turn… 
Accidents begin to happen. Or are they accidents? Nothing is as it seems. Michael distrusts Hugh James and fears that Sayuri’s life may be in danger. 

To Purchase Ebook: http://www.blairmcdowell.com/Sonata.html 

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I currently have four published fiction novels including Sonata. I hope you get a chance to read and enjoy them:

 • Abigails Christmas ~ A holiday fantasy about a Abigail who goes looking for a tree on Christmas Eve, and ends up with the man of her dreams in a sleigh in the Rockies --- with a wedding in the offing!

 • The Memory of Roses ~ The enduring love story of two generations of the McQuaid family unfolds on the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu. It is a tale complete with beautiful and passionate women, handsome and fiery men, and an intriguing mystery.

 • Delighting In Your Company ~ Delighting In Your Company is a paranormal romance set on an exotic Caribbean island, featuring a handsome ghost and an adventurous heroine who travels back in time to solve a mystery!

 • Sonata ~ Det. Michael Donovan is in love with the exotic and talented Sayuri McAllister but fears her life may be in danger. Sayuri has just arrived home to Vancouver to find a robbery at her family home; Alyssa James, her new step-mother she barely knows; and Alyssa’s brother, Hugh James, a charming Irishman intent on bedding and wedding Sayuri. It’s a confusing and difficult time for Sayuri, especially when dangerous accidents happen to her father and herself – or are they accidents?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Whole Lotta TroubleWhole Lotta Trouble by Stephanie Bond
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A light humorous book. Good beach read.

A man dies and three very different women discover he was married to them all. After the initial squabbling about who was really his wife and who gets what from his estate, the women bond to solve a mutual problem. The book comes to a satisfying end and we are left with happy thoughts. To say this book is light reading is an understatement. If you let go of it while reading it may levitate. Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining read.


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Medusa (Aurelio Zen, #9)Medusa by Michael Dibdin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dibdin wrote six books featuring Detective Aurelio Zen, A Rome policeman. His main character is portrayed as flawed and human, buffeted by the often conflicting demands of his superior officer and the Minister of Justice. He walks a narrow line between the two, somehow remaining reasonable honest and reasonably effective, not always intentionally. He is a very likable character.

Medusa is my favorite among these books. The plot is convoluted and has as many twists and turns as the snakes on Medusa’s head, hence the classical allusion of the title. But this is not the reason I recommend this book. Simply put, it contains some of the most beautiful, most evocative writing I’ve read in recent years. The opening scene places us in a dense fog in Milan. The setting is described so beautifully one can almost see and feel the damp of it. We experience it through the eyes of a character who is not long to be with us, one who is followed by death. It is an eerie and effective opening to an interesting and compelling book. A highly recommended read.


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Thursday, 1 November 2012

Willful BehaviorWillful Behavior by Donna Leon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I consider Donna Leon to be one of the most literate writers of the past twenty years. During that time she has put out twenty books, all of which feature Comissario, Guido Brunetti, of the Venice police, and his family, wife, Paula, and children, Chiara and Raffi. The characters in these books become well-known and loved to Leon’s legion followers in the many languages into which her books have been translated. Her writing style is highly literate, her stories engaging and current. She appears to take her subject matter from the latest newspapers, but her setting is always Venice, a city she lives in and draws with accuracy and love.
In Willful Behavior we follow Brunetti’s investigation into the death of a young female university student. The tendrils of the plot creep deep into history; into art theft during the second world war. As always with Leon’s books there is dialogue concerning politics, religion, history and society in general. These are the thinking person’s detective stories.


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