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Monday, June 06, 2016

Two Reviews and a Question

300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson is set in Faro, the southernmost district in Portugal, which boasts 300 days of sun each year.  Jo, a journalist recently made redundant, enrolls in a language school in Faro to learn Portuguese. With little else on her mind but escaping from a relationship that is no longer satisfying, Jo meets Nathan Emberlin, who has a laid back confidence and an interest in everyone and everything.

Nathan, however, has not come to Faro simply to learn the language; he has a puzzle he is trying to solve, and knowing that Jo has a journalistic background, asks how she would go about uncovering the information he needs.

Nathan's investigation into an old child-abduction case intrigues the journalist in Jo, and she joins him in his search for answers.

The answers may lie in a far more distant past than at first expected, and Jo is advised to read The Alliance, a novel that involves refugees from WWII who arrive in Portugal, officially a neutral country but with fascist ties and plenty of Nazis.  A parallel story emerges that will, eventually, explain something about circumstances in the present.  (While interesting, some of the sections from the novel within the novel slow down the pacing.)

Someone does not want the distant or more recent past revealed, and Nathan and Jo's investigation turns threatening.

The consequences of the past, suspense, complex characters, and a captivating setting--I'm certainly interested in reading more by this author.

NetGalley/Lawsome Books

Suspense/Mystery.  May 16, 2016.  Print length:  384 pages.

Oh, how I love good historical fiction!  And Gentleman Captain provides a suspenseful historical tale filled with adventure.  Set a few years after Oliver Cromwell's death, Charles II  navigates the uneasy peace that lies between the Roundheads who supported Cromwell and the Royalists who support the monarchy. The novel covers something I'd never really thought about--the transition involved in the Restoration.  Old wounds are still raw, offenses are not yet forgiven, and politics are definitely divergent; efforts are being made to unite England, but the path is precarious and deciding who to trust is difficult.

Historically, there are some interesting details about the navy and its traditional operation (gentlemen captains with no experience is only one element, lovers of naval history will be more than satisfied with the details of naval operation), but the novel is also an adventure in which Matthew Quenton, a young inexperienced captain (who lost his last ship) is commissioned to accompany another ship captained by a former Roundhead to investigate and foil an attempt at conspiracy in Scotland.  

Fortunately for Matthew, he is accompanied by the man who saved his life when his last ship hit the rocks and sank.  Matthew and Kit Farrell have a deal:  Kit will teach Matthew seamanship and Matthew will teach Kit to read.  One of the most enjoyable elements of the novel is Davies' ability to bring to life so many secondary characters, always a feat to be admired.

The beginning was a little slow, but when the ships set sail, a fascinating tale begins.  Great plotting, compelling characters, and lots of action kept me engrossed.  And yes, I loved the couple of mentions of Samuel Pepys, naval administrator and diarist!

The novel was originally published in 2009, so I'm delighted to learn I can look forward to more of Matthew Quinton's adventures without a long wait.

J.D. Davies is a British historian and writes both fiction and nonfiction.

NetGalley/Endeavor Press

Historical Fiction/Adventure.  2009, 2016.  Print length:  341 pages.

Have you ever written a letter to an author?  
I'm considering working up the courage to do so, 
but I'm not there yet.

James Preller, an author of children's books, visits schools and receives a lot of fan mail, and he makes an effort to reply to the children who write to him in such a generous and humorous way!  

I was writing a post about letters and thank you notes on my other blog, and Mr. Preller gave me permission to use one of the letters he received and his reply.  You can check it out here.  A wonderful way to encourage kids write letters and what an experience if the author actually writes back!


  1. 300 Days of Sun sounds like a great summer read. I want to live somewhere that boasts 300 sunny days a year! Too bad I don't speak Portuguese. :)

    1. :) Faro really is supposed to be a fascinating area, both the municipality and the district!

  2. I have read The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson and liked it if you are looking for something else by her!

    1. I'm adding The Lantern to my list. Thanks, Kelly.

  3. 300 Days of Sun sounds like an interesting read; with the intricate plot, setting and all.

    I'd once written an email to a YA author telling her how much I loved her book. She surprised me with a thank-you reply. Though a short note it still made my day. :-)

    1. :) I'm working up the courage to write a favorite author. The comments on my other blog from people who have written celebrities surprised me! I'm curious about which author you wrote.... ;O

  4. The author is Morgan Matson and her book "Amy & Roger's Epic Detour". :-)

    1. Thanks, Melody! I'll add that one to my list!

  5. I have found that to be true more often than not--that the pacing in a novel slows down when there is a story within a story. The trick is to keep me from getting bored. :-) It sounds like Lawrenson is able to do that.

    Gentleman Captain sounds interesting. Now that you mention it, I haven't read much about the transition involved in the Restoration either. I can see why it'd make for an interesting read.

    Yes! I've written letters to authors before. Do you mean by e-mail or snail mail, or both? I've done both. I once wrote a really long letter to author Don Pendleton who wrote an action series my dad and I both read. I was about 14 or 15 at the time, I think. He responded with a very nice long letter back. I think I have it somewhere. He was very encouraging, and the letter meant a lot to me. I also wrote a letter to Anne Perry once and received a nice card back. I've also e-mailed Anne Perry--and she e-mailed back. This was all before my blogging days. I've had quite a bit of interaction with authors via e-mail and Twitter since I began blogging. Them responding to a positive review I wrote or my reaching out to tell them how much I liked their book. It's much easier to do today than it once was, that's for sure!

    In terms of "celebrities", Mouse drew a picture for Cinderella, I think it was, and we mailed it. She received a postcard from her (well, probably someone with Disney, anyway) in reply. Mouse, of course, was very happy. :-) I wrote to Nancy Reagan when she was the First Lady and got an obvious cookie cutter back, but I was so proud. Haha

    1. I've had contact with email and twitter, but have never written a letter to an author. How cool that you have and have received replies! I suppose most famous people receive so much mail that they need someone to help keep up with responses, but even with a cookie cutter reply, I'd be happy. :)

  6. 300 Days of Sun sounds like a good read. I'd probably pick it up for the setting alone. :-)

    I've never written a letter to an author, though I occasionally tweet them. *LOL* Sign of the times. I think the author would be euphoric.

    1. 300 Days of Sun was interesting and learning a little about Faro was a large part of the attraction!

      I agree, I think most authors would be delighted with a letter, especially debut authors who would really appreciate encouragement. :)