Book Connections

British Authors I Have Enjoyed

Once I read pretty much all British authors.  However now, not so much. As I prefer contemporary fiction first here are some present contemporary authors I read. Tracy Rees is more historical but that’s my second go to in reading. Probably a ratio of 1:5 is about right! Although come to think of it Jojo Moyes writes both.
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Jenny Colgan

I’ve probably read the most by this author. I enjoy her upbeat fun books, often with some theme that is more serious. Her series are good and this one set down in the south of England with a pet puffin is fun. This is #4 in the series.

Jojo Moyes. I haven’t read all her books and must pick out another one to read. I see I have a couple of her older ones on my bookshelf. My second Jojo Moyes book and I enjoyed it in spite of the serious nature of the underlying choice that Will makes. I liked how Will and Lou interacted and the difference they made in each others’ lives. I liked the chapters from three other characters’ points of view. I would have liked one or two from Wills, but I guess that might have given away too much too soon. I’ve read the three in this series.

Tracy Rees I have two of hers.  Amy Snow by Tracy Rees is a debut novel that enthralled me from start to finish. It is set in England in early Victorian times, and while in one sense it merely covers a matter of months, it also goes back in time, so that we the reader are slowly fed all the details. This allows the mystery of the story to unfurl. A little soap drama in flavour but still a good read.

I have read another one by her the second book she wrote. I have the third sitting on my shelf – a dual time line one I think.The Hourglass. Another one I need to pick up.

book coverSarah Morgan. Another author I have read a lot of books by her. Family for Beginners – Wonderful heartwarming and uplifting family. Characters so delightful, family, friendship, trials, secrets, fears and so much more. Wisdom too!  I haven’t read all her books and think I have one or two already on my Kindle. Plus of course she’ll have something new out before long.

book coverBeth O’Leary I have read two by this author and I see another one in the shops that I will get at some point from the library. The Road Trip.

At first I couldn’t get into this book. Thought I didn’t like how it was structured. Then… I was hooked. Loved this warm hearted – quirky, flat sharing note-making friendship. And more.


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Florence Grace. Tracy Rees

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Published: Quercus and Hachette NZ
Date: 28th June 2016
Format: ARC Paperback
Pages: 538
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Thanks to Hachette NZ
4.5 stars                   Add to Goodreads

Florrie Buckley is an orphan, living on the wind-blasted moors of Cornwall. It’s a hard existence but Florrie is content; she runs wild in the mysterious landscape. She thinks her destiny is set in stone.

But when Florrie is fourteen, she inherits a never-imagined secret. She is related to a wealthy and notorious London family, the Graces. Overnight, Florrie’s life changes and she moves from country to city, from poverty to wealth.<

Cut off from everyone she has ever known, Florrie struggles to learn the rules of this strange new world. And then she must try to fathom her destructive pull towards the enigmatic and troubled Turlington Grace, a man with many dark secrets of his own.

My thoughts banner
Following on the heels of last year’s Amy Snow,  Tracy Rees has written Florence Grace. I really enjoyed Amy Snow, although given a choice I do believe this is the one I would want to reread in the future.  Florence – the heroine of the story is a spirited young woman, she takes the knocks that come her way and remains standing – in herself.
We first meet her in Cornwall, the place she loves. Already she has learned about love and friendship from her Nan, her teacher and the wise old woman Rilla. When she is scooped up and taken to London she is totally out of her depth. Isn’t it a dream to finally find you belong to a rich family? Well, it depends on what they are like! This one – ruled by an iron fist of a wily old patriarch,  it is rather a dark place. And the city is so foreign to Florence with her love of being outdoors and in nature.
She is treated quite cruelly really and yet… is not broken. She makes a friend with a young woman – Rebecca who while being a great friend has some wisdom that Florence thinks about and acts on. She also befriends one of the family who is totally disregarded by the rest of the family, relates well to Sanderson one of her cousins and falls in love with Turlington her other cousin. However Turlington is a dark character, deeply wounded by his past and perhaps in spite of loving and being loved is somehow incapable of redemption. Together they befriend a young boy – Jacob, someone who has a wounded past as well. What will become of him?
The story underlined the importance of life and that it is what we make of it. Each of us is important, yet we have that amazing ability to choose how we live it. We can be dragged down or … we can stand  with spirit and live this amazing life fully. Each character makes those choices and many of them were heart warming. Kindness never goes amiss.
I loved the descriptions of nature, Tracy Rees has a gift for bringing the countryside alive and as well taking me away to Victorian England with the riches and poverty of that time. It was totally worth reading and I know one day I will want to return and pick it up again.
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Amy Snow by Tracy Rees

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Amy Snow
Tracy Rees
Published: Quercus
Date: 9th June 2015
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 534
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: Thanks to Hachette NZ
Add to Goodreads

Abandoned on a bank of snow as a baby, Amy is taken to nearby Hatville Court.  But the masters and servants of the grand estate prove cold and unwelcoming. Amy’s only friend and ally is the sparkling heiress Aurelia Vennaway. So when Aurelia tragically dies young, Amy is devastated.  But Aurelia leaves Amy one last gift.

A bundle of letters with a coded key.  A treasure hunt that only Amy can follow. A life changing discovering awaits… if only she can unlock the secret.

My thoughts banner
Amy Snow by Tracy Rees is a debut novel that enthralled me from start to finish.  It is set in England in early Victorian times, and while in one sense it merely covers a matter of months, it also goes back in time, so that we the reader are slowly fed all the details.  This allows the mystery of the story to unfurl.
Aurelia Vennaway when she is a young girl of eight, discovers a baby blue with cold in the snow, yet still alive.  And so begins the life of Amy Snow. Where she came from, who she is nobody seems to know – or at any rate are not prepared to reveal.  Apart from the prologue and epiplogue the story is recounted by Amy.  She grew up in the Vennaway home, cared for by the cook and young gardener, despised by Lady Vennaway and forbidden to be seen anywhere by the family.  Amy’s life is cold and lonely.  However Aurelia befriends her and as they both grow they bond and grow in friendship and love.  When Aurelia dies Amy is cast out, a young woman of about seventeen years thrust out into a world she is unprepared for.
Yet Amy is not totally abandoned, even in death Aurelia reaches out to Amy through letters that are to guide her along a journey of self discovery and the revelation of secrets that surprise.  The letters are not straight forward, some of them are like a cryptic crossword that Amy must break the code of so that she can take the next step in the quest.  At times this aggravates her, she almost gives up annoyed with Aurelia, yet she perseveres to the end.
Along the way she meets all kinds of characters, mostly kind and compassionate and a few not so much.  All are colourful and add vitality and interesting detail to the story.  As Amy meets each one, her heart is warmed with what has been so lacking in her life so far, she is also challenged by some of those she meets and learns to stand on her own two feet and speak her mind.  All the while she struggles with who she is, who controls her and what are her own choices along the way.  
I really enjoyed this book, I liked Amy and felt for her in so many ways.  I was delighted with her spirit of loyalty and willingness to go on an adventure that she did not know where it would finally end and how.  I loved how the book underlined certain values that the main characters were insistent about and that they based their choices on.
Tracy Rees has written a well crafted and intriguing mystery, with characters that will long endure in my memory.  A big thumbs up for her first published book – I certainly hope she has another as equally readable in the wings.
4.5 stars
Read a little about Tracey Rees and the competition she won with Richard and Judy, which led to this book being chosen and published.