Tag Archives: Marie-Louise Jensen

Some travelling thoughts

It’s travel time again. A quick dash north, and an equally quick one back. Or I hope it will be. I suppose I have jinxed the trains by saying/thinking this.

My bag isn’t full of things this time, so much as simply being a bag. OK, there are a couple of new reads for Daughter; Eleanor Updale and Marie-Louise Jensen. But I am primarily bringing the bag that ‘someone’ was unable to take last time. I’m the bag lady.

But you know, back in my childhood, who’d have thought you’d be able to sit looking at a small machine on your desk or kitchen table, checking if your train is running to time? (Or running at all.) On the other hand, back then who’d have thought there would be a need to? Trains ran. Often on time.

And, isn’t it slightly weird that I can slip the complete works of Sir Walter Scott and Rudyard Kipling, as well as the King James Bible into my pocket? The trains might run late, or encounter the wrong kind of snow, but that’s a lot of reading in one pocket. Trollope, Twain, Wilde. And so much else. (Don’t worry; I won’t Kiple or Scott too much. I’ve got other books I need to read. Even one ‘real’ book.)

I was excited to see that Sophie Hannah is doing an event in Dundee this evening. I’ll be close, but not close enough. After her event I’ll be freezing on the platform at Dundee, while she is no doubt warm in a hotel somewhere.

Too far away for Barry Hutchison’s launch of The Book of Doom in Aberdeen. Also tonight. It feels funny to be closer than usual, but still too far away. Maybe I should move to Scotland? There are things going on here.

Train to Scotland

(Decided I was allowed to borrow this photo, on account of bag lady duties, and the fact that the bag contains Lent buns, even if they are late Lent buns.)

Smuggler’s Kiss

Hands up anyone who hasn’t secretly wanted to find themselves on a pirate ship, in the company of a desirable male, young or otherwise! I obviously mean this in the romantic, fictional way, that has nothing to do with a smuggler’s reality, which is a lot less attractive. (Or so I imagine.)

Marie-Louise Jensen, Smuggler's Kiss

It might be a set type of plot, but it’s one that I have enjoyed from long forgotten books via MM Kaye’s Trade Wind, and on to Marie-Louise Jensen’s Smuggler’s Kiss. I’m very grateful to Marie-Louise, because she is taking care of this historical romance writing that I didn’t see enough of for far too long. She writes the sort of books I’d have written, if I’d been able to.

Smuggler’s Kiss starts with young Isabelle who feels compelled to do something pretty desperate, but who ends up being rescued by a group of smugglers, out smuggling. Luckily they don’t throw her overboard again, and so her new life as a smuggler begins.

Isabelle meets the annoying, but kind and handsome Will, who also appears not to be your typical smuggler. He helps Isabelle as she gets involved with the smuggler’s work, and she in turn assists her new shipmates with what little she is able to do. She is very spoiled, so it’s not all smooth sailing.

The trouble with being a smuggler is that it’s illegal and people are always out to get you. So it is for this crew, and for Will and Isabelle, as well. She learns a few lessons, but so do the smugglers. And finally they, and the reader, find out why they have been particularly unlucky.

It’s quite a useful lesson in history (though I’m not sure exactly when this is set…), and as I hinted before, it is romantic, in just the right way.

Bring me more smuggler romances!

Bookwitch bites #73

How about we go totally miscellaneous today? I feel all higgledy piggledy, completely lacking in plans and any greater pictures.

This lovely pirate photo appeared before me only yesterday. It’s really Marie-Louise Jensen behind that mask, and I gather the handsome young assistant pirate is her son. I wholeheartedly approve of people who make full use of their children, and junior is to be admired for agreeing to be dressed up. The event was for Marie-Louise’s new book, aptly titled The Girl in the Mask.

Marie-Louise Jensen

In fact, authors who dress up to ‘go to work’ in support of their work are to be admired. Normal people just have normal clothes to fret over. Have you even considered what it must feel like to get on the bus dressed like a pirate?

Stephen Davies (of Ouagadougou fame, if you recall?) also has a new book out, which is anything but masked, seeing as it’s called Goggle-Eyed Goats. I’ve not read it, and am very intrigued about Stephen’s comment re polygamy. That’s  not your typical topic for a young child’s book, but no doubt reading it will reveal all. Sort of.

I am busy missing book events here. Friday night saw Joan Bakewell at the Stockport Plaza, launching yet another new book. It’s an adult novel, so I know nothing. The reason I heard about the event was that Mrs Pendolino mentioned that her father, being childhood pals with the beautiful Joan, was wanting to go along and renew the friendship. I hope he had a good time.

And I probably won’t be going to Formby. At least not this Thursday evening, because it’s a long way and it will be dark. But I do want to. I have been meaning to visit Tony Higginson’s bookshop, and the weeks and months are simply slipping by. The fact that I won’t be there is no reason for the rest of you not going, so do pop along if Formby is within your reach.

Tony is offering a Night of Crime, for a mere £3, at six o’clock on Thursday 15th March. The ‘criminals’ are two favourites of mine, Kate Ellis and Martin Edwards, who both write crime novels, and they do it much closer to home than Formby, so perhaps I should ask them round for tea instead of haring across Lancashire in the dark.

Actually, once you start looking for events (not) to go to, there is no end of them. Although I am not totally ruling out Stephen Booth, another fairly local crime writer, at the library in Dukinfield on Wednesday. That’s at ten in the morning, so will require getting out of bed. I know they all do, but not as early.

I’ll think about it. I am always more willing the further away it is in time…

The second day

Here we are again. How did you get on yesterday? Did you have to queue for the toilets? No, I didn’t, either. Nor did I wear Lucy Coats’s pyjamas all day. (Not even part of the day, I’ll have you know.)

What did I do? I watched Mary Hoffman and Anne Rooney drink coffee. (It’s the personal touch that makes festivals such fun.) I watched Lucy Coats reading to three dogs.

And Sam Mills was interviewed by Tyger Drew (whoever he might be), and then she interviewed him back. I’m unsure of what Sam said to make Tyger want to poke his eye out, but there you are.

Tyger Drew and Sam Mills, ABBA festival

I entered competitions to win things. I never do, but then I seem to own most of the books on offer, so I’m best to let others, more needy than myself, win.

And here’s today’s programme for the ABBA online blog festival.

ABBA festival Sunday

I’ve got all my books ready to be signed today. It has to work!

And at least they aren’t starting too frightfully early. I might make it down to the kitchen for 10.30.

Sigrun’s Secret

Appropriately enough I was reading most of Sigrun’s Secret on the train to and from a (former) seamen’s church where I met up with a suitable mix of ex-Vikings, and even encountered an Icelandic Father Christmas. That fits in quite well with half-Danish Marie-Louise Jensen’s latest book, the sequel to Daughter of Fire and Ice.

Sigrun’s Secret starts off in Iceland, where the first book ended, only twenty years later. It could easily become one of those Norse sagas, and there is plenty of romance in this dangerous and violent tale. But what’s so clever is that Marie-Louise sneaks in history lessons wherever she can. Like the Thing. That’s Thing, not thing, and it’s an Icelandic way of governing and deciding on things. In Things.

OK, maybe leave that pun alone now.

So, we learn about the dreadful behaviour of the Vikings, plundering and raping their way through Europe. The poor Saxons, with their lacking personal hygiene. At least the Norse habit was for a bath every week. I think. It’s interesting for the reader to travel to places like Jarlshof and Jorvik and see them as they were then, not as today’s tourist attractions.

The past of Thora and Bjorn catches up with them, and causes the family’s lives to change, and not all for the better. Sigrun has been trained by her mother to be a healer like her, although she lacks in confidence. The sudden change in their lives has a different effect on Sigrun than it does her older brother Asgrim, but both of them have to deal with what they find out.

Sigrun’s Secret may be a historical romance, but it should also work well encouraging modern girls to trust in themselves and to develop in a way that’s right for them. Very inspiring.

Bookwitch bites #38

January brings not just bad weather and the opportunity to send Offsprings everywhere back to school, but paperbacks galore. Or it seems that way. Candy Gourlay’s Tall Story is out in soft version, with the same cover except for the changes. Jon Mayhew’s Mortlock is also out there somewhere, but I’ve just heard the rumours. Not actually seen it. Marcus Sedgwick’s Ghosts and Gadgets have likewise been paperbacked. Hair raising cover.

If you don’t like paperbacks there is always the Kindle. Philip Ardagh was back on morning television this week again, to talk about Kindling. It was very early, and all he did after travelling across Kent (or whoever it was he crossed well before dawn – who is she?) was sit there on the sofa and say that he doesn’t want a Kindle. Luckily they had a JKR lookalike to tell people all the techy details about bookless reading.

There are new books out there, too. Marie-Louise Jensen’s Sigrun’s Secret has arrived, and I’m in the midst of reading. A more contentious ‘new’ book is Huckleberry Finn without the n-word. A pc world is a much better world, or so some people believe.

You can clean up too much. At university I read Under Milk Wood. An English friend made a joke about reading the placename backwards and how I’d see an interesting word. I read and I read and saw nothing terribly fun at all. You try backwardsing on Llaregyb. I had been sold a sanitised version! B*gger.

How I Live Now is about to become a film, at long last. Possibly. Probably.

And finally, Anne Cassidy, Keren David, Linda Strachan and Gillian Philip have clubbed together to become Crime Central. I will return to them soon, but have to reflect a little on what is meant by crime. Books for oldies still seem to be more about solving the crime. These ladies are more into committing the crime, which is an admirable way to go about things. True role models. ; )

Daughter of Fire and Ice

I believe I’ve said that too many books about Iceland bring me out in a rash. By that I mean too much stuff about old gods and fairies and the like. I have no objection to a good old-fashioned historical romance. And that’s what Marie-Louise Jensen has written.

There are gods in Daughter of Fire and Ice. But only in the way of being prayed to in times of distress, which is fine. Set in Viking times, Thora escapes Norway on a ship bound for Iceland. She does so in the company of a rather goodlooking slave who’s just murdered the man who intended to force Thora to marry him.

This is all right, as Thora is both a healer and a seer, and she has seen the two of them heading off for a new life in Iceland. Although, not all the things she sees happen or are totally right, so has she been wrong about this?

Things don’t all go according to plan, with quite a few spanners thrown in. And did you know that Norway and Iceland are full of rather unpleasant people? Apparently, some disagreements can only be solved by one party dying, which is not nice. And if you don’t die from disagreement, the plague – or even a plain flu – will get you.

The Norwegian settlers have never come across volcanoes, and they find Iceland cold and barren. Will they even survive their first winter?

If you like romance, this is for you. And I do.