Monthly Archives: September 2015

Snowblind (Dark Iceland) by Ragnar Jónasson

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Snow Blind

Snowblind (Dark Iceland) by Ragnar Jónasson

 

Review Date: 28 September 2015

Author: Ragnar Jónasson

Release Date: 15 June 2015

Publishers: Orenda Books

ISBN –10: 1910633038

ISBN – 13: 978-1910633038

300pp

Available in Paperback, Kindle and audio

 

The Last Word Review

From the lands of fire and ice comes a new name in crime writing one you will hear a lot more from

 

Ragnar Jónasson is a new name in the crime writing genre and I urge anyone who is a fan of Nordic crime noir to rush out and get yourself a copy of Snowblind this you will want to add to your collection. It is really that good.

Set among the snow covered mountains of Iceland the long dark freezing winter were the sun has set beyond the mountains and the days and nights are long and bitterly cold. In the Northwest of Iceland is a small fishing town of Siglufjördur sadly for this community the highs of the herring days are long gone now the small town has become a close knit community where almost everyone knows each other.

When you add to this town a killer on the loose you know you are going to get a tense gripping crime novel add to this a young and raw police recruit Ari Thór Arason who has moved from the Icelandic capital Reykjavik to this small fishing town and now a murder has landed on his watch.

Ari Thór is a man who has his own personal issues to deal with he lost both parents who he never come to terms with, add to this the fact that he never consulted with Kristin his girlfriend over the job move he is also a failed student, so for Ari Thór life has been somewhat difficult. When he arrives to take up his new post police sergeant Tómas tells him ‘nothing ever happens around here’ I must admit when I read that you just knew something bad was going to happen. Great line. It is not long before he is questioning his motives for moving, he feels along, and an outsider and is missing his girlfriend. But as the days pass for Ari Thór his love life takes on a new twist when he meets Ugla one of the local drama society members, which only adds to his confused state of mind over his girlfriend he left behind.

Then things start to happen as the story starts to takes twists and turns with every chapter. We start to read of a woman who has a brutal intruder in her home, and then another woman is left bleeding to death in the snow and then the local famous elderly writer is found dead at the bottom of his stairs. This all adds up to an incredible thriller that you will struggle to put down and will leave you wanting more.

I loved the setting of Siglufjördur and its dark snow covered mountains, you almost want to read this wrapped up as you can feel the cold through Jónasson’s writing. The lead character of Ari Thór is one of confused young man not only confused with his relationships but not yet come to terms with his past, this is a young police officer I feel we are going to learn more about in forthcoming series of novels. This is laying the groundwork for something even more special soon.

So from the land of fire and ice come Snowblind and I am delighted to recommend this to you, be quick though as the next instalment is due out later this year. And I for one cannot wait. Snowblind is translated into English by Quentin Bates.

Thank you to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Book publishers for a review copy in return for an honest review.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Meet the Author

Ragnar Jónasson

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Ragnar Jónasson (www.ragnarjonasson.com) is the Icelandic writer of the Dark Iceland crime series set in Northern Iceland. Snow Blind (2015) is the first book in the Dark Iceland series. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, and works as a lawyer in Reykjavik. He is also a teacher at Reykjavik University Law School and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated fourteen of Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. Ragnar is the co-founder of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir, and has appeard on panels at Crimefest in Bristol, Left Coast Crime in the USA, Bloody Scotland in Stirling and Iceland Noir in Iceland. Ragnar’s short story Death of a Sunflower was published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine January 2014 issue, the first story in the magazine by an Icelandic author. His second Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine story, A Letter to Santa, was published in the January 2015 issue. Ragnar’s short story Party of Two was published in the Crime Writers’ Association 2014 anthology Guilty Parties, edited by Martin Edwards. Ragnar lives in Reykjavik with his wife and daughters.

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Landfalls by Naomi J. Williams

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Landfalls

Landfalls by Naomi J. Williams

Review Date: 20 September 2015

Author: Naomi J. Williams

Release Date: 22 October 2015

Publishers: Little, Brown Book Group

ISBN –10: 1408705761

ISBN – 13: 1408705766

336pp

Available in Hardback, Kindle and audio

 

The Last Word Review

Naomi with her stunning debut book Landfalls achieves literary genius status. A nautical story to be treasured

Landfalls is a joy to behold a treasure of a debut novel that has been painstakingly researched a joy to read.

The story is set around two ships Astrolabe and Boussole that set sail from France in 1785 on an expedition to seek out new lands in a World that was still to be fully discovered seek out new lands, and confirm passages and routes that had previously been mapped out but also seek out new scientific discoveries in animal and plant discoveries that would put France ahead in the race to discover new lands and the spoils that would come.

The story that Williams tells is a fictional based story that is based on the true adventures of both ships and their crew and at the same time managed to tell the story and brings to life the adventures of those involved. With Captains Jean-Francois de Galaup de Lapérouse and Paul-Antoine-Marie Fleuriot, Viscount de Langlein charge of the expedition both ships have managed to secure the very latest navigational equipment that was at the time state of the art on board you had the servants, botanists, geologists and physicists this was to be a ‘no expense spared expedition’ the epic voyage was to end in tragedy.

I must congratulate William’s on the way she has told the story of the voyage, mostly narrated but also you get personal insight from various members of the crew told through letters and personal accounts of the experiences on board ship and exploring new civilisations.

As the ships and crew made stops in places such as Chile, Alaska, where they were seen as ‘Snow Men in winged war canoes’, California, Monterey, Macau and far eastern Russia. I found William’s narrative of how the European explorers interpreted the natives of each of the lands the drama of the voyage I found unrelenting not just with discoveries but with the personalities involved and the infighting that went on.

There is so much detail in Landfalls that you feel you can almost taste the salty sea and feel the wind in your face as you become part of the expedition.

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Landfalls US cover

While in Russia the translator Barthélemy de Lesseps leaves the ship to head to Paris with reports of the expedition via the frozen lands of Siberia.

This is an incredible story told with such humanity that brings together both the voyage of both ships but also the people involved as well the natives that the where encountered during the 4 years at sea.

Imagine the sights and sounds as well as the new discoveries in the animal world and scientific discoveries that where encountered. This was an age of discovery but at the same time expeditions such as these come with tales of tragedy and sadly this story is no different. Heart-break is something that goes hand in hand on journey that are undertaken and you read of friends losing friends. There is humour in the story and William’s manages to encapsulate the characters so well and their individual personalities. If you love tales of adventure and exploration then this Landfalls is a book that I am more than happy to recommend. A book that will be treasured and read and re-read over time and time again. I will for sure.

Thank you to Little, Brown and Poppy Stimpson for the advanced review copy.

Nigel Balchin double header book review

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Darkness Falls from the Air

Darkness Falls from the Air by Nigel Balchin

 

Review Date: 18 September 2015

Author: Nigel Balchin

Release Date: 10 September 2015

First published: 1942

Publishers: W&N Publishers

ISBN –10: 1474601189

ISBN – 13: 1474601184

240pp

Available in Hardback, Kindle and Paperback

 

The Last Word Review

One of the all-time classic writers, up there with the best of his generation

 

It is not very often that I get the chance to review re-issued classics so I must say thank you to W&N Publishers for sending me copies of two of Nigel Balchin’s classics.

The first book Darkness Falls from the Air was first published in 1942 and is set in London during the blitz at first hand as the bombs where still falling at the time Nigel Balchin was writing this novel. It is centred on Bill Sarratt who is a civil servant and his failing marriage to Marcia to Stephen who can only be described as a bit of a cad and literary poseur, and there is more to this when you add Stephen’s wife Peggy into the mix. All sounds very messy at a time when people never knew wheat tomorrow was going to bring.

Bill is struggling with the utter bureaucracy that he feels is hampering the war effort and is constantly fighting this and his superiors to bring change, this is a daily battle he faces as well as the air raids that bring death and destruction to London and other parts of the UK. Balchin’s inside knowledge at this time makes this even more of an interesting read as the strict censorship that was in place during the war years and makes the reader surprised that he managed to write a novel detailing the ‘failings’ of Whitehall bureaucrats. The fact the Bill is also somewhat complicit in the failings of his marriage, yet with relevant parties regularly meeting to discuss what is going on, as the book progresses it is inevitable that eventually this would bubble to the surface and in the end it does. Sadly the ending is a tragic one I had a sense that it was heading that way. The one aspect that I found interesting through this is of how London’s social scene carried on while the bombs fell, I for one would donning my tin hat and running the air raid shelter, but some sought solace in the local pubs and clubs and some ventured out to witness the bombs falling. I am not sure that a book like this could have been written years later as this really was a first-hand account as the bombs rained down on London.

RECOMMENDED

The Small Back Room

The Small Back Room by Nigel Balchin

 

Review Date: 18 September 2015

Author: Nigel Balchin

Release Date: 10 September 2015

First Published: 1943 (Screenplay: 1949)

Publishers: W&N Publishers

ISBN –10: 0297871021

ISBN – 13: 0297871026

240pp

Available in Hardback, Kindle and Paperback

The Last Word Review

Balchin was a writer that many have not heard of, but his stories are told like no other

The Small Back Room was first published in 1943 and even managed to hit the silver screen in 1949 staring such names as Jack Hawkins, Sid James and even the band leader Ted Heath appeared.

Set in World War weapons Scientist Sammy Rice, is one of the team of ‘Back Room boys’ looking at and testing new weapons to help the war effort. Sammy has a severe disability and is somewhat disillusioned with his lot it seriously hampers his professional life and more and more his personal life with Susan who he refuses to Marry.

Sammy has to deal with the complexities of his daily professional life surrounded by boffins, designers and the pointless internal politics that goes with this profession, and not to mention the military upper echelons oh and there is a war to win.

The Germans has designed a pretty nasty new weapon an anti-personnel mine that explodes when approached killing anyone who approaches it. The ending to The Small Back Room is nail biting stuff as Sammy comes face to face with one of the deadly anti-personnel mines and has the job of defusing it, this part of the book I could not leave, the accounts is just gripping and Sammy has defuse the weapon, something that is incredibly difficult with his disability and how he manages the situation. It is a thrilling end to a book that I would happily recommend The Small Back Room to anyone who enjoys this genre. It is worth it for the end game of the book. A classic from Nigel Balchin.

RECOMMENDED

 Meet the Author

Nigel Balchin

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He was born Nigel Marlin Balchin in Potterne, Wiltshire, to William and Ada Balchin. He was educated at Dauntsey’s School andPeterhouse, Cambridge, where he took a scholarship and became a Prizeman in Natural Sciences. He then worked for the National Institute of Industrial Psychology between 1930 and 1935, becoming a consultant to JS Rowntree & Sons, where he was intimately involved in the design and marketing of Black Magic chocolates. And, he claimed, responsible for the success of the Aero and Kit Kat brands.

He wrote for Punch magazine, published as Mark Spade, and also wrote novels under his own name. During World War II he was a civil servant at the Ministry of Food, and then a successful scientific adviser, rising to the rank of brigadier.

In 1956, he moved abroad to write screenplays in Hollywood and elsewhere, but was increasingly troubled by alcoholism, and returned to England in 1962. He died in 1970 at a nursing home in Hampstead, London, and is buried on the edge of the north path in Hampstead Cemetery in north London. His gravestone is small, but distinctive, having the form of an open book.

As a screenwriter he worked on an early draft of Cleopatra but is principally remembered for The Man Who Never Was, for which he won the 1956 BAFTA Award for Best British Screenplay, and Mandy, the story of a deaf child. He also wrote the screenplay for The Singer Not the Song.

The Man Booker Prize 2015 – The Shortlist

The Man Booker Prize 2015 – The Shortlist

So finally the wait is over and we now have the confirmed shortlist for the Man Booker Prize 2015. The final six authors and the books that will battle it out to win the Man Booker Prize 2015.

Shortlist 2015

1, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. Published by One World Publications.

2. Satin Island by Tom McCarthy. Published by Jonathan Cape.

3. The Fishermen by Chigozie Obiama. Published by One.

4. The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeer Sahota. Published by Picador.

5. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler.

6. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara Published by Picador.

From the longlist we have lost some really good books that could so easily have found their way onto the shortlist.

We say goodbye to.

  • Did You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg
  • Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy
  • The Green Road by Anne Enright
  • Lila by Marilynne Robinson
  • The Chimes by Anna Smaill
  • The Illuminations by Andrew O’Hagan
  • The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami

The shortlist was announced on Tuesday 15 September by the Man Booker panel of judges. So many excellent books failed to make the shortlist among them The Chimes by Anna Smaill and The Green Road by Anne Enright both would have made good challengers had they made it onto the shortlist.

Make a date of Tuesday 13 October when the final decision is made and the winner will be announced. All six books on the shortlist are all excellent candidates in their own right and the winner will be eagerly anticipated. It could be a close call with three or four coming close to winning. But in the end my feeling along with many others is that A Little Life by Hanya Yanaghara will come through as the winner. It is my choice and my book of 2015 and even now I still keep thinking of this outstanding novel that still manages to divide opinion between those that love the book and those that could not handle the storyline. It is that sort of book. If you have not read A Little Life then go and buy a copy and see why I and many others think this really is THE book of 2015.

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I would of course welcome your thoughts on the final selection for the shortlist, do you agree with the panel, what would be your final six? and your winner? Well come 13 October we will all find out for sure.

Happy reading.

Little Girl Gone by Alexandra Burt

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Little Girl Gone by Alexandra Burt

 

Review Date: 12 September 2015

Author: Alexandra Burt

Release Date: 24 September 2015

Publishers: Avon Books

ISBN –10: 0008133166

ISBN – 13: 0008133160

400pp

Available in Paperback and Kindle

 

The Last Word Review 

Exciting psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page

 

The story opens with Estelle Paradise waking up in hospital battered, bruised and missing an ear, you know this is going to be a roller-coaster of a thriller and that is exactly what Little Girl Gone by Alexandra Burt brings to the reader.

Estelle is pulled from a car wreck and is suffering from amnesia she cannot recall what happened though the one thing she does know is that her baby daughter is missing. But she has not reported the crime to the police. So what exactly has happened baby Mia Connor?

Do not be confused with the best-selling Gone Girl but this is just as gripping with many twists and turns everyone connected is seen as a potential suspect. It transpires that baby Mia was not only taken from their apartment but everything connected to Mia has also gone, as if erasing the fact she ever existed. We learn the Estelle is living along while her husband Jack is in Chicago working as a lawyer. Is Estelle coping at being a young mother and Mia’s constant crying is slowly getting to Estelle she also feels that Jack has little understanding of her problems. To put it mildly their marriage is somewhat shaky. Jack has an attitude of ‘just get on with it’ Then waking one day to find baby Mia has gone and with it all trace she ever existed. So the accusations start to fly and now she is under suspicion. There is no trace of baby Mia and now Estelle is under suspicion and is facing trial for killing her baby, can she recall what happened? Why does she keep thinking of seeing Mia covered in blood?

The story of Jack and Estelle comes with flashbacks to when they first met and the time Mia was born and the struggles on adjusting to parenthood. Slowly but surely as we progress with the story Estelle begins to recover her memory.

Little Girl Gone starts brilliantly and gives promise to the reader of what is to come with many twists and turns and we slowly start to uncover the terrible truth of what happened to Mia Connor. The main-part of the story is really quite believable with hidden messages of post-natal depression, paranoia, relationships, failing marriage. I really thought all of these where to play a major part in the end game of this exciting novel. But getting inside the mind of Estelle Paradise is part of the journey here, and this is makes the story gripping.

So to sum up Little Girl Gone, did she do it? Well you only have to wait until 24 September when it is published.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

 

Meet the Author

Alexandra Burt

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Alexandra was born in Germany. After her college graduation she moved to Texas and, while pursuing literary translations, she decided to tell her own stories. After three years of writing classes her short fiction appeared in the Freedom Fiction Journal, All Things Girl, MUSED Literary Review, and Heater Crime Fiction Magazine.

She is a member of Sisters In Crime, an organization promoting the advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers.

She live in Texas with her husband, her daughter, and two Labradors. Little Girl Gone is her first novel.

My Everything by Katie Marsh

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My Everything by Katie Marsh

 

Review Date: 10 September 2015

Author: Katie Marsh

Release Date: 27 August 2015

Publishers: Hodder & Stoughton

ISBN –10: 1473613639

ISBN – 13: 978-1473613638

400pp

Available in Paperback and Kindle

 

The Last Word Review

An exceptional heart-warming debut novel with a message of hope and love. A beautifully written novel

 

I had already heard good things about My Everything by Katie Marsh so when this landed on my desk I wanted to read the book there and then. Finally I have and it is a beautifully written thoughtful novel.

Marsh writes with such tenderness about a subject that she has painstakingly researched and put together a novel that you will find very difficult to put down. The ultimate page turning novel packed full of emotion but at the same time uplifting.

On the day Hannah has decided that this will be the day that she ends her marriage to Tom by telling him she is leaving him, something terrible happens that will change their lives forever.

Tom is a workaholic and seems to spend more time in the office that at home, and when he at home Tom is forever criticizing Hannah and after another drunken late night row, Hannah has made up her mind she is going to leave Tom and get away, but she will need to decide when that will be.

Hannah wakes up to find Tom not in bed but lying on the bedroom floor, she thinks he is drunk after another drunken late night, but Tom is not drunk he is paralysed on the floor. The Paramedics are called and later in hospital it is confirmed that Tom has had a stroke at the age of only 32. Hannah’s plans to tell Tom she is leaving all falls apart and she is riddled with guilt, what does she do now? What is to become of their lives, their marriage? All she wants to do now is look after her husband in sickness and in health after that was their marriage vows on their wedding day just a few years before.

Their story is mixed with flashbacks to the past and the present. Hannah’s dreams are now shattered and now the pair have to try and rebuild their lives, truth is can they, does Hannah want to stay or is it time for them both to move on, what will everyone think if she now left Tom after his stroke. There is guilt in this story.

I loved the characters in this story especially Tom’s errant Sister who at first you take an instant dislike. Note I said at first. But all their friends bring something to the story that adds to its depth and warmth.

My Everything is a s story that reminds us of how fragile our lives are, what we have and hold so precocious and sometimes we take for granted can change at an instant and with that our lives can change forever.

So do Tom and Hannah make it together you will need to get yourself a copy of My Everything and settle down to a read you will not forget.

 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Meet the Author

Katie Marsh

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Katie lives in South west London with my husband and daughter, who are locked in an ongoing turf war with my ever-expanding book collection. As well as writing novels I work in healthcare, and my first book was inspired by the bravery of the patients I met while working in stroke services. It’s called ‘My Everything’ and is about a young woman – Hannah – whose husband Tom has a stroke on the day she’s going to leave him. I really hope you enjoy it.

When I’m not working or writing my next book (currently a large pile of Post-its), I spend a lot of time in local parks trying and failing to keep up with my daughter’s scooter. I love mojitos, afternoon cinema trips, stealing my husband’s toast, karaoke (in my head I AM Cher) and adding cheese to absolutely all of my meals. My Everything is Katie’s debut novel and was published by Hodder on 27 August 2015.

Silenced by Anne Randall

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Silenced by Anne Randall

Review Date: 9 September 2015

Author: Ann Randall

Release Date: 3 September 2015

Publishers: Constable

ISBN –10: 1472112334

ISBN – 13: 1472112330

368pp

Available in Hardback and Kindle

 

The Last Word Review

Gritty, tense crime thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end

Silenced by Anne Randall is the second in the series of the Wheeler and Ross crime novels, the first book Riven was penned under the name of A.J. McCreanor and had rave reviews this will received by her fans in the same light.

There is an escaped prisoner on the loose, this is no ordinary prisoner, a notorious killer is at large he was sent down for burying his victim alive. Now Wheeler and Ross are on the case. The killer is at large and on the run in the city of Glasgow.

Let me set the scene, its cold, wet, there is snow and thunder crashing overhead, this is a part of Glasgow that is described so well by Anne Randall. Will Wheeler and Ross find their escaped killer before it is too late?

The daughter of the victim has stayed quiet since her Mums murder, now she has gone missing, also someone is targeting homeless people and a body of a homeless person is found in an alleyway.

Time is running out and Wheeler and Ross need to find the killer before he strikes again. More bodies of homeless people are found, is there a motive here? Is there another killer on the loose, and where is Fiona Henderson?

This is a no holds barred tense thriller that shows a city with double standards for those in need. There is a fair amount of gritty language that gives Silenced that rawness that can only be found in this type of crime thriller it sets the tone and the scene.

This is a novel that will have the pulses racing and will keep you up late at night wanting to know what happened next.

Lovers of great crime novels should make their way to their nearest book shop and grab a copy and be prepared for some late nights.

Recommended.

Meet the Author

Ann Randall

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Anne Randall was born in Glasgow and after university taught English in various secondary schools in inner Glasgow. In 2011 she won first prize for crime fiction writing at the Wells Literature Festival. Anne now lives in Glastonbury with her husband, two cats and one dog. Silenced is her second novel. Riven was penned under the name A.J. McCreanor.

Silenced blog tour banner

How would you like to win a copy of Silenced by Anne Randall. Head over to my Twitter page @Thelastword1962 and all you have to do is Re-Tweet and follow the ‘pinned’ message by Midnight tonight and I will pick a lucky winner early Thursday morning and the winner will be notified. * Please note UK and Eire only and the book will be sent direct from the publishers.  

Life in B&W by Jim Lee

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Life in B&W by Jim Lee

 

Review Date: 4 September 2015

Author: Jim Lee

Release Date: 31 August 2015

Publishers: Quartet Books

ISBN –10: 0704373890

ISBN – 13: 978-0704373891

296pp

Available in Hardback

 

The Last Word Review

One of the great fashion photographers of our generation and an inspiration to the next

If you ask anyone to name some of the great photographers during the 1960’s and 70’s and the names of Patrick Litchfield and David Bailey would be mentioned but also would be mentioned would be Jim Lee, one of the true greats of fashion photography during this time.

Quartet Books have just released the autobiography of the famous photographer that helped inspire a generation but also the next generation of fashion photographers. For someone like me who has had a very keen interest in photography since childhood and would study all forms of the art I always knew of Jim Lee so that chance to be given the opportunity to review Life in B&W was a moment I will not forget.

The book has so much detail from his early memories of his parents to right to present day and packed with some of his finest work for anyone interested in fashion photography and the work behind the lens of one of the true greats and not just in photography but as a film director.

Looking back at Jim Lee’s early life it was no ordinary life. A father who ended up working for MI5. Studying at an art School for a year changed Lee’s life, he was destined for something other than a desk clerk, at the age of 17 Jim waved goodbye to family and friends and set sail on the Oriana to make Australia his home. At the outbreak of the Vietnam War Lee escaped being called to serve in the army thanks to his father and returned to England.

He wanted to become a film director but destiny was calling and ended up in fashion photography. Lee’s work was important as he made the women in the shoots as important as the clothes they was wearing his work is different from his peers but that is what makes Lee’s work stand out from the crowd he would say his work was iconic and stood out from others.

Lee had four children from his second marriage and a son from his first marriage, sadly Orlando was killed in a car accident at the age of just 13. Then there is the story of a fake obituary after Lee suffered a heart-attack. All in all Life in B&W is a glorious memoir of one of the iconic photographers and lovers of his work will cherish this book and photographs and stories held with the pages.

RECOMMENDED

 

Meet the Author

Jim Lee

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Jim Lee (born 20 November 1945) is a London-based photographer and film director. A fashion photographer for magazines during the late sixties and seventies, he worked closely with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour in London and New York on fashion and advertising shoots. He switched to film directing in the late seventies, creating hundreds of television commercials as well as working on several full-length feature films. His earlier photographs form part of the permanent collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, with additional photographs in the archives of The Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow.  A book of his life’s work entitled Jim Lee / Arrested was launched in May 2012 alongside an exhibition of photographs from the book at Somerset House, London. Lee’s work is regularly exhibited at art galleries around the world, and he continues to collaborate on imaginative campaigns, in addition to developing his own creative projects.

The First Thing You See by Gregoire Delacourt

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The First Thing You See by Gregoire Delacourt

Review Date: 1 September 2015

Author: Gregoire Delacourt

Release Date: 10 September 2015

Publishers: W&N Publishers

ISBN –10: 0297871021

ISBN – 13: 0297871026

240pp

Available in Hardback, Kindle and audio

The Last Word Review

Gorgeous novel about two troubled souls who are not all they seem, both seeking happiness. A tender love story. Just try putting this one down

First released in 2013 in France following on from his best-selling The List of My Desires. Now translated into English is going to become his latest best-seller.

Delacourt’s latest novel follows a young mechanic Arthur Dreyfuss who lives a quiet simple life in the village of Long, France.

Arthur’s life seems to follow a routine with little chance of finding his true love. One evening there is a knock on the door and when Arthur opens it is a life changing moment. There standing in front of him is Scarlett Johansson the famous Hollywood actress. But all is not as it seems she is an imposter and her real name is Jeanine Foucamprez,

At first Jeanine plays the part so very well and Arthur falls for this and also for Scarlett and her ample breasts, to the point he becomes infatuated with them,  but soon sees beyond this and to the real person.  What we have here in The First Thing You See is a very tender love story. With some witty and humorous moments.

The thing about the Jeanine is that she has led a very different life to that of the famous Hollywood actress and little by little she lets her guard down. Arthur falls for the actress but little by little then falls for the real woman in Jeanine Foucamprez and the real person on the inside.

Jeanine has led a troubled life an object of desire for men as they see her as a sex object and women are just jealous of her looks. I really felt for Jeanine as all she wanted a normal life and just to be loved for who she really is not what people just see. You have to look inside to find the real person. For the first time she has found that in Arthur he cute and as much as he has desires for her he makes no moves until she is ready.

As you read through The First Thing You See, there are little hints as to what is to come for both characters, I liked the way Delacourt used narration in his latest offering it really does bring out the storyline.

The author has used various massages through the story about who we are and does happiness really last. As to Arthur and Jeanine I am not going to give away the remaining part of the story. You will have to read that for yourself.

This is a short story that can be read in a day and is the perfect Sunday read in bed with a pot of coffee and warm Croissants.

There is a twist to this book, the real Scarlett Johansson took offence to her name being used in the book and sued for fraudulent and illicit use of her name as well as claims about her personal life and wanted an injunction placed on the book. That aspect of the case failed. Though a number of lines from the original version have been omitted. Interesting thought is that if the book was first released in the states, no court case would have been allowed under the First Amendment rule.

This is beautiful tender love story and is really worth the read it is hard not to fall for both flawed leading characters and their search for love and happiness.

I would like to thank Sam Eades and Weidenfeld & Nicolson for a review copy.

RECOMMENDED

 

Meet the Author

Gregoire Delacourt

GregoireDelacourt

Grégoire Delacourt was born in Valenciennes in 1960. His first novel, L’ÉCRIVAIN DE LA FAMILLE, was published in 2011 and won five literary prizes, including the PRIX MARCEL PAGNOL and the PRIX RIVE GAUCHE. He is the author of THE LIST OF MY DESIRES, a runaway No.1 bestseller in France, with rights sold in 27 countries.

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