Lexie Conyngham's Blog: writing, history and gardening.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

The Retreat, by Mari Reiza

Now this one I have read!

The Retreat by Mari.Reiza
 Coming of Age / Psychological Thriller 

About the Book:

An uncomfortable but fascinating ripening journey.
Ahmed has abandoned her. Nadia is gone the way Isabelle did before, her two fallen warriors. But Marie can still hear His voice clearly.
A deep call for justice takes hold in an impressionable teenage girl from a recently broken family during a religious retreat; what happens next will mark her life for years to come.
the Retreat is a story of men playing God, of hurt that doesn’t find its way out.

Find it on Amazon

About the Setting
The story moves back and forth in time and place. From Brussels during Marie's early teenage years with her mother and siblings, to Zermatt where she's sent with the nuns on a fated ski trip. Years later in London, Marie is attempting to find a job and build a life with Ahmed who she met on a plane, when she's lured to a Victorian bathhouse and meets troubled Nadia. But the book begins and ends after Marie's London years, back in her natal Bordeaux. There Marie strikes the final blow in her prodigal daughter's return of sorts.

About the Author:
Mari Reiza was born in Madrid in 1973. She has worked as an investment research writer and management consultant for twenty years in London. She studied at Oxford University and lives off Portobello Road with her husband and child.

Find Mari at:


My review:
With a rich unexpectedness of language and frequent unconventional usages, this is a book that is sometimes hard to follow with its leaps back and forth in Marie’s life. First showing us her present somewhat unlikeable self, the author then justifies her by going into Marie’s teenage years, desertion by the father she loved, moving schools, distance from her mother and sisters, and hints at something awful which Marie did to ostracise herself more completely from much of her family. The author is good at observing vile people and ordinary awkward social situations as she jumps from perspective to perspective in, for example, a gathering of teenage girls urged to look for religious messages in Dirty Dancing. The book is full of sexual references so if that’s not your kind of thing I’d suggest avoiding it. The end is shocking and you’re left wondering if you have misinterpreted the whole book.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

The Prisoner of Yakutsk, by Shreyas Bhave

~ Book Blitz ~
Prisoner of Yakutsk by Shreyas Bhave
The Subhash Chandra Bose Mystery
Final Chapter
8th to 10th February

About the Author:
What exactly happened to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose?

• In 1945, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Leader of the INA leaves Singapore to take a series of flights, and dies in Taiwan after his plane crashes near Formosa. Or so it seems.
• In 1947, Mr Mrs Singh, an illustrious army couple, both veterans of the Indian National Army, are last seen in Delhi, and then never again.
• In 1949, the plane carrying the first deputy Prime Minister of India, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, mysteriously disappears for seven hours.
• In 2012, following the fall of WikiLeaks, a female hacker of the notorious X group is on the run as most wanted by everyone from Interpol to the KGB
• In 2015, the millionaire CEO of a Fortune 500 company suddenly resigns and vanishes from the public eye.

A set of seemingly unconnected disappearances emerge to be woven into a single fabric as the answer to one leads to another… In this riveting narrative, bestselling author Shreyas Bhave, takes the reader on a thrilling adventure to solve the greatest mystery the Indian nation has known. 

Book Links:

Read an Excerpt:

At minus 5 degrees celsius, the cold is refreshing and a light hat and scarf are all that are required to keep you warm. At minus 20, the moisture in your nostrils freezes and it is difficult not to cough. At minus 35, the air is cold enough to numb exposed skin, making frostbite a constant hazard. And at minus 45 degrees, metal sticks to your cheeks and tears off chunks of flesh when you take off your sun goggles. Jay Rasbihari was not wearing any metal, just his fur coat, but the cold was such that even the plastic earphones in his ears felt painful as he tugged at them to listen to his contact from HQ. He waited for the connection to be established. The thermometer attached to his clothes showed minus 40. His ears had begun to sting. Next would be his legs. Nevertheless he stood still and waited.
                          “HQ to Jay.” His contact’s voice filled Jay’s ears. He opened his mouth to acknowledge the call but realized the cold had caused his throat to freeze. “Jay here.” He willed the words to escape his mouth. 
                       “Start the GPS on your phone so I can track you,” the voice from HQ instructed. For a moment Jay felt envious, thinking about his contact sitting somewhere in warm comfort. Such thoughts were dangerous, he knew. They sapped one’s will. He struggled to find his phone and struggled to enter the codes with his numb fingers. “I see you,” the voice from HQ confirmed. “Move forward.” Jay cursed as he lifted his leg and brought it forward. His foot sunk into the snow but he pulled it out and continued. Walking up the slope was a breathless challenge as he climbing at snail’s pace. “Okay, stop!” The voice from the HQ said once he was on the top of the small hill. Jay halted, struggling to catch his breath.
“Should be at your feet,” the voice said. The mist made it hard to see anything. Jay sank to his knees and groped. He could feel nothing but snow, all around him. “I don’t see it.”
                     “Of course you don’t.” Jay thought he heard amusement in the voice. “Mr. Jay, you’re going to have to dig.”

Book Trailer:

About the Author:
Shreyas Bhave's love for history since his childhood prompted him to write his take on the story of Asoka who was one of the towering figures in the history of India, which has been taken up as ‘The Asoka Trilogy’ by Leadstart Publishing. The first part of the trilogy called ‘The Prince of Patliputra’ has been published in January 2016 and the second part called 'Storm From Taxila' was published in 2018.

Connect with the Author:

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

A sort of new year's resolution

It's so easy, with the crime genre being so broad these days, to imagine that because you're reading some noir and some cosy and some trad that you're reading widely. With my occasional bookshop job, I've been forced to acknowledge once more that apart from the occasional excursion into fantasy, I'm very bad at leaving my nice familiar genre and reading outside. So this year (well, it being a new year resolution, for the first part of this year) I'm trying to read a non-fiction book (as opposed to dipping into many for research purposes) and a mainstream fiction book per month. And here are January's contributions.

The Sewing Machine, by Natalie Fergie.

The Sewing Machine by [Fergie, Natalie]
This was interesting straightaway (not least because I learned to sew on a model very, very close to this one), with a quite rapid movement between eras following the story of Singer sewing machines. The strands are well contrasted, though – 1911, 1950s, and present day, and for a while, despite the key sewing machines, it’s not quite clear how they are going to come together. Then it seems that the solution will be a fairly simple on, but suddenly another thread emerges and cleverly, unexpectedly, binds the whole together beautifully. A very pleasing read.

This Is Going to Hurt, by Adam Kay

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by [Kay, Adam]
Well, it did. My work lunch companion thought I was choking to death before I got to page ten, and I couldn’t read any more in public. It’s a mixture of mostly horrible and hilarious anecdotes of work in obstetrics and gynaecology – don’t read it if you’re at all squeamish – interspersed with commentary on working for the NHS by a man who has left, but who seems to have a lingering guilt at abandoning an organisation that is remarkable, with all its flaws. The episode that drove him to leave brings the book to a tragic end, tragic for a number of reasons, but it is nevertheless a rallying call to support the NHS and its clinical staff much more than we currently do.

And now despite the fact that I have plenty in my To Be Read pile, I've bought more mainstream fiction books from work and have settled in with February's one already. Non fiction might be slower.

Meanwhile the cover illustrator is gently encouraging me to complete at least one chapter of Murray 11 so that I can send it to her to show her what I need. It's sticky going! But at least it has a title - A Deficit of Bones. And it's set in Aberdeen. In winter. So all I have to do is look outside, and there's my inspiration. Please?