Archives for category: Book reviews

Terry Tyler, author and reviewer extraordinaire, visits Rosie’s blog with a perfectly timed post about authors who can’t take a reviewers opinion and turn nasty.

Today I’m hosting a post written by Terry Tyler which I feel strongly about as well. #Bookblogger bashing: in the end, you’re only hurting yourself. I’ve read a few posts lately ab…

Source: #Bookblogger bashing: in the end, you’re only hurting yourself #MondayBlogs | Rosie Amber

Thanks so much to Christoph Fischer, a great writer and blogger, and a book reviewer extraordinaire, for reviewing my latest book on his blog. Please, visit his post and leave a comment if you like!

“Escaping Psychiatry 2. The Case of the Swapped Bodies” by Olga Núñez Miret was a real treat and almost a surprise. I like Olga’s sharp and psychologically charged writing the bes…

Source: Review: “Escaping Psychiatry 2. The Case of the Swapped Bodies” by Olga Núñez Miret | writerchristophfischer

Hi all:

With Christmas just a few days away, I’m trying to share as many of the reviews I have pending before the end of the year as I can, to make sure you have enough to read over the holidays. Also, I have to warn you I’m planning on having some reshuffling, maintenance and hopefully improvements (and a bit of a move) in the blog over the next few days. I hope I won’t disappear completely, but one never knows… If I do it’s most likely a technical problem rather than anything else… (she said, holding on tight).

After all that, time to share reviews. Today I’m revisiting two writers whose work I really enjoyed the first time around, so I repeated. Here they are.

First, S. R. Mallery with Unexpected Gifts:

Unexpected gifts 3

First, the description:

A TRUE AMERICAN FAMILY SAGA: Can we learn from our ancestors? Do our relatives’ behaviors help shape our own?
In “Unexpected Gifts” that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, heading for addictions and forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys, linking yesteryear with modern life until finally, by understanding her ancestors’ hardships and faults, she gains enough clarity to make some right choices.

Here, my review:

Unexpected Gifts by Sarah Mallery. The power of stories and the value of remembering the past.

Having read Mallery’s book of stories Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads I was looking forward to reading her novel. And although not unexpected, it definitely was a gift. The story of Sonia, a young woman studying psychology, in a complicated relationship with the lead singer of a band, and plagued by rituals and other symptoms of OCD, her story frames the novel and provides a conduit for telling many other stories. Through her we get to know her parents, and when her mother suggests she might find direction and some useful ideas by checking the attic and the family boxes that have accumulated there, each box goes on to reveal something about her family members and helps her discover more about herself.

The book is beautifully written, with vivid descriptions of places and people, that in a few sentences transport the reader to the recent (and less recent) past) and to locations and situations that spread from the new to the old world and from America to Bulgaria, via Vietnam. The structure of the novel is clever and works well in progressively unveiling Sonia’s heritage. Every time she reaches a conclusion about one of her ancestors, the next bit of information or evidence contained in the box corresponding to that person makes her reconsider and reach a better understanding (if not always a kinder opinion) about their lives. The box within a box or the Russian wooden dolls that must be opened up or peeled back to discover what hides inside (that are also mentioned in the novel) work well as a metaphor or visual representation for the structure of the novel.

The stories will affect or touch people differently, but they are all interesting and revisit crucial historical events and periods, adding a personal perspective. We have Vietnam War veterans, the hippy movement, European emigrants arriving in Ellis Island, American Suffragettes, Racial Conflict and Race Riots, the McCarthy era Communist witch hunt, Dance Marathons and the Depression Era, and romances that seem to be fated to end up badly. By exploring the past, Sonia seeks a way of understanding her behaviour and of breaking up patterns that result in sadness and unhappiness. I don’t want to reveal too much, but can add I enjoyed the ending that brought closure and a nice conclusion to the novel.

I recommend Unexpected Gifts to anybody who enjoys a good novel, with a solid historical background and strong characters, especially to people who prefer variety and many different stories. As the book is structured I think it will also appeal to readers of short stories and of anthologies of different styles of writing, as it provides multiple voices and many narrations in one single volume. Another great achievement for the author.

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YWGATTU/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00YWGATTU/

Here the link to her author page (and don’t forget to follow her):

http://www.amazon.com/S.-R.-Mallery/e/B00CIUW3W8/

And G. Elizabeth Kretchmer’s Women on the Brink.

Women on the Brink by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

Women on the Brink by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

The description:

Women on the Brink is a stunning collection of loosely linked stories in which women aged thirteen to ninety must face the unwelcome realities of their lives. Sometimes gritty, sometimes humorous, and always compassionate, G. Elizabeth Kretchmer’s prose takes the reader on a compelling ride alongside these ordinary women as they wrestle with family relationships, self-esteem, socioeconomic status, maternal obligations, and need for independence.

In “Skydancer,” a young mother resents her newborn baby. In “Float Away,” an at-risk teen is desperate to find a new home. A minister’s wife struggles with secrets in “Liar’s Game.” A despondent housewife longs for purpose in “Alligator Poetry.” The protagonist in “Tasting Freedom” wrestles with decisions about her aging mother’s care. And in “From Here to Cafayate,” a woman refuses to give up on the perpetually flawed relationship she has shared with her sister for nearly ninety years.

Each story is enhanced by one of fourteen original poems contributed by talented poets specifically for this collection and its themes. Although the stories stand alone, they are further strengthened by the relationships among the various characters throughout the collection. Readers of Ms. Kretchmer’s first novel, The Damnable Legacy, will also delight to find that some of the characters from that novel have reappeared here.

The women in this collection may or may not be the type you’d invite over for lunch. Some of them are tough. Some aren’t all that likeable. Some might not see the world the way you do. But they’re compelling in their own right as they reflect women in today’s world—women who have come along a difficult path—and as they courageously take control of their lives.

My review:

Women on the Brink by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer. The World if Full of Possibilities if you Dare.

I was offered a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I read and reviewed Kretchmer’s novel ‘The Damnable Legacy of a Minister’s Wife’ this summer and was fascinated not only by the story (the Alaskan setting also helped) but also by the complex characterisation and the psychological insights. When I was offered a copy of ‘Women on the Brink’ I didn’t hesitate.

The book combines short stories by Kretchmer with poems that are interpretations of themes, feelings or sensations related to the stories that follow. The title perfectly reflects the nature of those stories. The women in them are at different stages of their lives, from teenagers trying to find themselves, to elderly women escaping a retirement home, but they all find themselves at a point when they question their lives as they are and what they are going to do next.

I enjoyed the different settings and characters, the writing style, easy to read and varied, adapting well to the different stories —some more introspective, some more comedic— and also the open-endedness of them. In ‘Bridge Out’ the main character, who after retirement decides to become a trucker, mentions ‘Thelma and Louise’ and like that movie, the stories show women going their own way, and these are many different ways. Perhaps piloting their own plane, going away to help in a disaster zone, confronting their past… And we never see them crash. Because one of the messages of this collection is that the world is full of possibilities if you only dare.

For those who have read the author’s previous novel there are some familiar characters, and there are also characters mentioned in several stories and who appear in more than one, hinting at the interconnectedness between all of our lives.

Although I wouldn’t say my circumstances are exactly those of any of the women in the stories, I identified with the feelings and the emotions described, I cheered (worriedly) for the ‘Girls Against Perfection’, and I thoroughly enjoyed the transformation of Margee in ‘Coco Palms’, from obedient wife to avenging warrior.

I would quite happily have read more about any of the characters in the stories, and confess I could see quite a few of them turned into much longer works (I loved the light touch in ‘Accelerant’ and Maureen, the perhaps not-as-confused-as-she-seems grandmother, is a fabulous character). Despite their length, the author creates fully-fledged characters and situations in each one of the stories, condensing descriptions and sharpening her prose, with not a word spare.

The poems complement beautifully the book and provide an effective and lyrical link between them.

I recommend it to all readers, those who enjoy short fiction and poetry, and also those who don’t read short stories, because we should challenge ourselves and they might be pleasantly surprised.

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1513702351/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1513702351/

The link to the Author’s page (and don’t forget to follow!)

http://www.amazon.com/G.-Elizabeth-Kretchmer/e/B00L2T253I/

Thanks to S.R. Mallery and to G. Elizabeth Kretchmer for their novels, thanks to all of you for reading, and you know what to do, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Hi all:
I know I’ve been telling you for a while that I had reviews pending to share, and I thought as you might have a bit of time to read over the holidays (ha!) I’d bring you some before the year ends. (Doesn’t time fly!)
Here two books that although very different share fabulous plots, strong female characters and a good deal of ‘magic’, ‘secrets’ and very unexpected things. Both writers are also great bloggers and I’m sure will keep coming back.
First:

Alchemy by Ailsa Abraham

Alchemy by Ailsa Abraham

Alchemy by Ailsa Abraham. Sometimes perfect solutions bring unexpected problems.

Ailsa Abraham’s novel Alchemy starts with a premise that would be the perfect ending for many novels, in appearance promising an idyllic utopian future for all. With a mysterious thriller-like beginning, a discovery that for once falls in the right hands, and a deal too good for all governments to ignore, one wonders where the story will go from there. Fascinating and enlightened characters appear and then quickly get to work, and new characters, whose relationship to the previous ones is not always evident at first, make an entry.

There is magic related to Pagan religious practice, and we follow two young children, a boy and a girl, as they discover their faith and are trained to reach the highest ranks. Do not worry if you’re not very versed in the different pagan practices and groups, as Adrian, a Professor in Ancient Religious Studies and once born (not magical) and his girlfriend, Helen, a thriller writer, serve as a point of contact and questioning guides into the ins and outs of the new world religious order. And if you thought everything seemed too nice to be true, there’s evil at work and dangerous alliances that put humanity at risk. A pair of unlikely hero and heroine will have to step forward and pay the price.

If you think fights over fuel and religious wars are responsible for all that’s wrong in our world, read this book and you might think again. Alchemy is a novel that combines a plot interesting from an ethical and philosophical point of view, with a good story and fascinating characters that I hope will be further developed in other books in the series. And if you like a good romantic story of impossible love, Riga and Iamo are far more interesting than Romeo and Juliette. (And two of the most intriguing characters I’ve met in recent times).

If you have an open mind and like to explore big questions whilst being transported to worlds both familiar and completely alien to ours, you should read this book. If you love adventures that go beyond the usual, don’t miss it. If you love beautifully written books with great characters, this one is for you too. In summary, if you have a bit of imagination and enjoy reading, give it a go. I am looking forward to reviewing Shaman’s Drum soon.

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I3A4HCQ/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00I3A4HCQ/

Paper:

http://www.amazon.com/Alchemy-Ailsa-Abraham/dp/1909841501/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alchemy-Ailsa-Abraham/dp/1909841501/

Here, her Amazon page so you can keep up with her news. And don’t forget to follow!

http://www.amazon.com/Ailsa-Abraham/e/B00AYKUBQ4/

And her blog:

http://ailsaabraham.com/

And:

Bad Moon by Anita Dawes

Bad Moon by Anita Dawes (and Jaye Marie, her sister, as they are a team)

Bad Moon by Anita Dawes. Blood Ties and an Unforgiving Fate.

Bad Moon is narrated in the first person by Annie, a young girl who lives happily with her family: mother (Ruby), father (Jed), and older brother (Nathan). She adores her father, although her mother’s behaviour is far from exemplary (she regularly invites other men to her home and that results in incidents with her husband, who takes it out on the men and seem remarkably tolerant of his wife’s behaviour). At first, Annie is worried that she might end up becoming a woman like her mother when she grows up and thinks it is all due to her mother’s family (her father says that her mother was born under a ‘bad moon’ and she comes from ‘the Hills’ where people seem to have their own morality and rules of behaviour). The inhabitants of the Hills seem to be directly related to those of The Hills Have Eyes or the banjo players in Deliverance. What Annie doesn’t know is that things are worse than she ever could imagine. She has lived all her life in a world of lies and secrets. She is convinced she must learn the truth to avoid history repeating itself and is prepared to go to any lengths to achieve that. The costs are high indeed.

Annie does not have much formal schooling (she decides to leave school when she realises things aren’t as they should) but she is extremely articulate, and some of the descriptions of the landscape surrounding her home, of her experiences and dreams, her mystical feelings on visiting the caves previously inhabited by a Native-American tribe, and her reflections are beautiful and lyrical. We might disagree with some of her decisions but it is difficult not to admire her determination. She never tries to be liked or makes excuses for her own behaviour (she might blame others at times, but despite not being a believer or having much in the way of role models, she does question her actions and tries to make things better), and she is neither all good nor all bad. It’s a testimony to the skill of the author that although Annie’s head is not a pleasant place to be in, we can’t help but wish she’ll succeed and live to see another day.

With themes including incest, rape, infanticide, murder, cannibalism, paedophilia and plenty of violence, this is not a gentle novel or an easy read. There is sex and violence, although these are not graphically rendered, but anybody with a modicum of imagination will be left with many powerful images difficult to forget. The strong intuition of the main character, the roles of fate, blood and family history and the communities portrayed turn this book into a tragedy where instead of kings and gods we have as protagonists a family in the outskirts of society and outside of history. (The historical period of the story and the outside society are not described in detail and this adds to the sense of claustrophobia an entrapment.)

If Annie is a heroine, a tragic hero or an anti-hero is open to interpretation and I haven’t decided yet. I’m not sure I’d like to meet her in real life, but I know I’d like to read more about her.

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Moon-Anita-Dawes-ebook/dp/B009BK3AYS/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bad-Moon-Anita-Dawes-ebook/dp/B009BK3AYS/

Paper:

http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Moon-Anita-Dawes/dp/1326330179/

 

Here is her Amazon page to keep up with her news. And don’t forget to follow!:

http://www.amazon.com/Anita-Dawes/e/B0034NUE10/

And her (and sister Jaye Marie’s) blogs:

http://jenanita01.com/

http://anitajaydawes.blogspot.co.uk/

Thanks to the authors for two great books, thanks to you all for reading, and don’t forget to share, like, comment, and CLICK! And Keep Reading!

Hi all:

Today I bring you a book I reviewed as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team

Murder at the Lighthouse. An Exham on Sea Mystery by Frances Evesham

Murder at the Lighthouse. An Exham on Sea Mystery by Frances Evesham

Love cozy crime, murder mysteries, clever animals and cake? Don’t miss Murder at the Lighthouse, a short animal mystery set in Exham on Sea, a typical English seaside town in Somerset.


Amateur female sleuth Libby Forest arrives in the small town after years in a disastrous marriage, to build a new life making cakes and chocolates in Exham on Sea. She finds a body under the lighthouse and discovers her own talent for solving mysteries, helped by Bear, an enormous Carpathian Sheepdog, and Fuzzy, an aloof marmalade cat.
Everyone knows the dead woman under the lighthouse, but no one seems to know why she died. What brought the folk-rock star back to Exham on Sea after so many years? Who  wanted her dead? Does the key to her murder lie in the town, or far away across the Atlantic? Libby joins forces with secretive Max Ramshore and risks the wrath of the townspeople as she puts together the pieces of the jigsaw to solve the mystery of Susie Bennett’s death.
Pit your wits against Exham’s female sleuth and solve the mystery.
The first short read in the series, set in the coastal resort of Exham on Sea, Murder at the Lighthouse introduces a cast of local characters, including Mandy the teenage Goth, Frank Wolf the baker at Wolf’s the Bread and Detective Sergeant Joe Ramshore, Max’s estranged son. The green fields, rolling hills and sandy beaches of the West Country provide the perfect setting for crime, intrigue and mystery.
For lovers of Agatha Christie novels, Midsomer Murders, lovable pets and cake, the series offers a continuing supply of quick crime stories to read in one sitting, as Libby solves a mixture of intriguing mysteries and uncovers the secrets of the small town’s past. Download the first in the series now. The second story is on its way…

LinkmyBook.to/murderatthelighthouse

And here, my review:

I am reviewing this book as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team. Thanks to Rosie and to the author for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first book I’ve read by the author although I had come across a number of excellent reviews of some of her other books and I was intrigued by this novella that promised an easy and entertaining read. And it does deliver it.

The description recommends the book to those who love Agatha Christie’s novels or Midsomer Murders and it is right, although the characters, especially Libby, are less formulaic that some of the standard fare in the genre, whilst living up to the expectations of those used to reading cozy mysteries.

There is a ‘gentle’ small town teeming with secrets, a female protagonist who is a new arrival, with a traumatic past and many plans (that include baking, cookery books and chocolates), a troubled teenager, a cat, a couple of dogs, an attractive and mysterious man, and of course, a murder, well, two. The protagonist, who has defied friends’ opinions to move and start a new life, is determined not to let anybody else take her for granted, and that seems to be one of her reasons for not letting go of the case, despite the police’s lack of interest in the two bodies she finds (that initially are thought to have suffered accidents).

For me one of the strengths of the book are the main characters, that are drawn in good detail but always allowing for further discoveries to be made, although I thought that some of the secondary ones (both some of the ladies in the historical society and others who are involved in the case) were quickly dispatched with, and the reader needs to be careful not to get them confused or miss them completely.

I also enjoyed the depiction of the town, as seen from an outsider’s perspective, which allows the reader to discover the ins and outs of everybody’s personal lives and relationships at the same time as Libby (although sometimes she keeps things up her sleeve, as is to be expected in the genre).

Albeit short, the novella’s plot is interesting and will keep you guessing from the beginning, the characters might seem immediately recognisable but appearances might be deceptive, and the book has a great sense of place and community. Being a cozy mystery, it’s not heavy on the procedural or forensic side of things, and as the person solving the mystery is an amateur, the reader has to try and follow her reasoning and the clues. I must confess I didn’t manage to solve the case. It was perhaps my quick reading, but I wasn’t sure all the clues were evident enough to allow other readers to solve the case, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment.

Murder at the Lighthouse is a light and entertaining read (but don’t be fooled, you need to keep your wits about you!) that opens a series introducing characters that I wanted to get to know better, in a charming setting that hides many secrets. Beware if you’re hungry, as the comments about the main character’s experiments in baking might make you reach for something sweet!

If you want to check more of the author’s books, here is the link:

http://amzn.to/1RvmX7F

Thanks so much to the author and to Rosie for organising this great review team, thanks to all of you for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment, CLICK, and don’t forget to write a review if you read a book!

Hi all:

I was going through my recent reviews and realised that  I had accumulated even more than I remembered, so I decided that perhaps I could share more than one at a time. Why these two novels together? Well, they are very different, so I thought they might appeal to very different readers, but I found both very compelling. I hope you find them as interesting as I did.

Eros. The Aegean Chronicles by Yelle Hughes

Eros. The Aegean Chronicles by Yelle Hughes

First, Eros. The Aegean Chronicles 2 by Yelle Hughes.

I know the writer from a writer’s group (ASMSG) and she’s always generously sharing everybody else’s content. She also designs her own covers and is always supportive of other’s efforts. She’s fascinated by Greek mythology and I read the first book in her series, Triton (you can check that review, here) at a particularly challenging time in my life and it made it more bearable. One of my favourite characters from that book was Erok (Eros but he’d changed his name. You’ll have to read the book to know more), and I’d been intrigued as to what had happened to the character since. So… I could not resist.

First, the description of the book:

Sindi Carrington is on a mission: Find a prop to pose with her young clients. She discovers a black and white tiger in the thrift shop that is absolutely perfect. So perfect, Sindi practically steals him out of the bin. Obsessed with her new find, she takes him home for herself instead of using him as a model in her studio.

Centuries ago, Erok Karlakos, the former God of Love, runs away from his baby cherub image to become a warrior of Greece. A tragic relationship and his mother’s incessant whining was the catalyst for his revolt. Caught and captured in an undignified way, disqualifies the immortal from taking on the title, “damsel in distress”. After he meets the quirky photographer, he has no complaints. Yet, there’s something familiar about this mortal, though he can’t quite put his finger on it. Erok needs to escape and finally meet Sindi face to face.

After one failed marriage, will he be able to trust Sindi won’t try to stab him if he reveals his true identity? Will she freak when she finds out he is a god? Alternatively, will he to pay the price of losing another true love? Does Sindi have what it takes to keep her man…warts and all? On the other hand, will she fall into the same pattern of mistrust? The Fates will test her. She hopes she passes this time.

P.S.

A head’s up; this is an adult book with some erotic content for grown folks.

Just because we’re older, doesn’t mean we don’t like to have fun.

Now, my review:

Eros. The Aegean Chronicles 2 by Yelle Hughes. Greek Gods Close and Personal and Romance in a Grand Scale

I read Triton, the first book in Yelle Hughes’s Aegean Chronicles some time ago and I enjoyed it enormously. I read it at a point in my life when I was going through hard times (illness in the family) and I found it very therapeutic as it took my mind off things. And the second book is worthy of the series. The mixture of fantasy, Greek mythology, fun characters, conspiracy, adventures, and fabulous locations ticks all the necessary boxes to ensure all around entertainment. There is erotica too. Erotica is not a genre I read often or I favour, so I wouldn’t dare to comment on how well this book compares to others in that aspect, although I must admit there is a scene in Eros’s house (although he prefers to be called Erok) that I found intensely beautiful. I’ll only tell you that wings are involved.

In the first novel in the series we met three Greek gods who come into contact with three women in Columbus, Ari, Sindy and Gail. What follows when the Gods set eyes on the women (and in some cases spend time with them, unwillingly or not) is only the beginning of the stories told in the series, as Greek gods are notably similar to human, and we have stories of resentment, revenge, envy, and conspiracies ahoy. In this novel we discover what had happened to Erok when he went missing, and how he reencounters his true love. Ms. Hughes gives us not only a hot romance (one of the most romantic stories I’ve read in recent times) but also chuckles, excitement, fights and tales of friendship and eternal bonds. There are many unexplained things and stories left to tell at the end of this novel that will keep us coming back for more, but on its own it is a memorable and satisfying read.

http://www.amazon.com/Eros-Aegean-Chronicles-Yelle-Hughes/dp/1514176084/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Eros-Aegean-Chronicles-Yelle-Hughes/dp/1514176084/

The Damnable Legacy by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

The Damnable Legacy by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

Second, The Damnable Legacy by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

I had not heard of the author before, but was contacted by somebody working for Booktrope (it’s an interesting concept and I admit to being intrigued by it to the point of submitting a book I’d written long ago. So far I haven’t heard anything, and to be honest I’d be surprised if I did, but…) who’d read some of my reviews and thought I might like this book (it’s not surprising I have a long list of books to read). When I read what it was about I couldn’t resist. And having heard from the author since, I have another one of her books (quite different), in my list to read. I’ll keep you posted. But first, a description, so you’ll see why I was intrigued.

Lynn Van Swol still regrets the decision she made thirty years ago to place her daughter for adoption so she could climb the highest mountains of the world. Frankie Rizzoni is the troubled biological granddaughter Lynn has never known. And Beth Mahoney is a minister’s wife with terminal cancer and the only one who knows the relationship between the two. She designs a plan upon her deathbed to bring Lynn and Frankie together, but now, narrating from the afterlife, she must helplessly watch as her legacy threatens to unravel. The Damnable Legacy is a story about both love and survival, exploring the importance of attachment, place, and faith, and asking how far we should go to achieve our goals -and at what cost.

Here, my review.

The Damnable Legacy by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer. Climbing to the top and discovering a few home truths.

I was offered a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Although I don’t have a bucket list as such, on my list of things to do and places to visit, Alaska is pretty high up. As much as I love a good adventure and great plots, I’m always game for books that dig deep into characters’ psyches and are full of people being tested and revealing their strengths and weaknesses. A novel that promised complex characters and an expedition climbing Mount Delani ticked all the boxes for me. And I’m happy to say it delivered. And how!

The narrator of The Damnable Legacy is Beth. In some ways the novel is a standard (if there is such a thing) first-person narration. Only Beth happens to be dead, and what she narrates is, rather than her life, that of the people she has left behind and she cares about, or those who have somehow become embroiled in her plans for her husband, Ryan, and Frankie, the granddaughter of a friend also deceased. Beth made her husband promise he’d climb Delani and organised his trip as part of her ploy to ensure his wellbeing and that of Frankie.

Beth is not a ghost as we usually understand them. She does not appear to the living, to her upmost frustration at times, as she’d like to intervene, to be able to question or warn, but she can’t. This is not a novel in the vein of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, either. Beth doesn’t even know where she is now, but she thinks she might be in hell, condemned to be the spectator of things she set in motion, but that don’t always go according to her plans and that she has no control over. She is an enhanced spectator, and through her we see what happens to different characters, and she can tell us what they feel, but not, what they really think or what they plan to do next. Her reactions might guide or mirror ours, although sometimes they don’t, because she has a personal investment in the matter, and what she sees makes her reflect on her actions and her beliefs about herself.

Although thanks to Beth we have access to some privileged information, we have to interpret people’s actions based on the clues we are given, and on observations that are not neutral or always enlightened. We might disagree with her at times, but we are drawn into the action and the lives of these characters, and we get reminded that things aren’t always as they seem to be, that appearances might be deceptive, and that we must learn to question not only other people’s motives but also our own.

All the characters are complex, many of them are dealing with loss of one kind or another, and some are more likeable than others (Ryan, Marisa, some of the people Frankie meets on her way), some grow and change over time (Brad, Jack and Frankie), and some are difficult to fully understand or empathise with, but engaging and fascinating in spite (or because) of that, like Lyn.

I’m not a professional climber, but the organising of the climb to Delani, the dynamics between the members of the expedition, the omens, the difficulties they face, and the descriptions of the process and the landscape, rang true and are vividly and beautifully written. Frankie’s search for Ryan, that parallels that expedition, is interspersed in the narration and she also encounters many difficulties although of a different nature. There is closure to the adventure part of both stories, but what the future holds for some of the main characters is left open to the reader’s imagination. For me, at least, the novel ends in a hopeful note.

A novel that made me think, feel and marvel. I recommend it to readers who enjoy stories with a heart, in beautiful settings, with an interesting adventure background, and complex and challenging characters.

I look forward to reading more novels by the author.

http://www.amazon.com/Damnable-Legacy-G-Elizabeth-Kretchmer-ebook/dp/B012LJ8QEO/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Damnable-Legacy-G-Elizabeth-Kretchmer-ebook/dp/B012LJ8QEO/

As you see, two very different offerings today. Thanks to Yelle and G. Elizabeth for their books, thanks to all of you for reading, and you know, like, share, comment, and CLICK!

Hi all:

First, a word of warning. I’ve been having all kinds of computer trouble (I’ll tell you about it later) and I hope to be able to get it fixed during the week, but if you don’t see me replying to the comments straight away, that could be the reason. (I try and programme a few posts in advance to keep things going in case of unexpected things happening. Oh, and doesn’t life love randomness!)

As you know I was away from the internet for a while and I used the time to read. I’ll try and catch up with the reviews in the next few weeks (and might do a roundup for Christmas).

Today I bring you a review of a book by Hans Hirschi I’ve read two of his books before and participated in blog tours for some of his books (and have another one coming up next month). So I knew I was in for a treat.

The Opera House by Hans Hirschi

The Opera House by Hans Hirschi

The Opera House by Hans Hirschi. Creating the Family You Deserve.

This novel deals with some serious and important themes we all come across at some point in our lives, some more directly than others: grief, homelessness, family relationships, love, spiritual and religious beliefs, prejudice (sexual, social…), paedophilia, young runaways…but it is not an issue novel where the characters are just mouthpieces for different points of view or an attempt at indoctrinating the reader. It is a novel where the reader gets inside the skin of a series of complex characters and experiences strong emotions with them . We might share their points of view or not and the world they live in might be far from our daily existence but the author manages to get us completely enthralled by the events life keeps throwing at the protagonists and we can’t help but feel for them.

Raphael experiences the loss of his teenage son to a cruel illness, and full of guilt for not being able to reassure him about the afterlife, he lets his life sink, falling into depression and losing his partner, his job and his voice in the company he created, and his earthly possessions. He meets a boy slightly older than his son at the cemetery, Brian, who is homeless like him and whose life is a disaster waiting to happen. Through him, he meets Michael, a children’s social worker. There is hope and Raphael works hard to rebuild his life and create a new family but there are also many difficulties on the way, and the happy moments are interspersed with disappointments and drawbacks. The lives of all the characters in the story are touched by their interactions with each other, and in this drama, nobody is truly evil (with the exception of one of Brian’s johns) and most are trying to do their best. The third person narration that follows the different characters and allows the reader to see things from their point of view works well; it avoids becoming too intrusive whilst offering insight into the motivations and emotions of the main players.

I was very intrigued by the character of Angela, the nurse, who plays the part of the fairy godmother/guardian angel, always appearing at the most difficult moments, with vital information, support and advice. I’d be curious to know what other readers thought about her.

The title of the novel comes from Raphael’s job as an architect, and the impact his experience of homelessness has on his creativity and his design of the next big project for the city, the opera house, that serves as backdrop to the action. Although I don’t know how well the practicalities of the design of the opera house proposed in the novel would work, I admit to loving the concept and the idea.

As a word of warning, there are some erotic scenes (not the most explicit I’ve read by far, and fairly brief, one with violence towards a minor). Ah, and emotions ride high. I’d advise readers to be prepared, especially if they tend to get emotional when reading, and have tissues at hand.

If you like novels about relationships that explore serious issues, with complex characters you’ll get to care about, I recommend it. This is the third novel I’ve read by Hans Hirschi and it won’t be the last one.

Links:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B014JYNF9U/

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B014JYNF9U/

Don’t forget to sign on to my mailing list. I have some surprises on store!

http://eepurl.com/bAUc0v

Thanks to Hans Hirschi for his novel, thanks to you all for reading, and you know, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Hi all:

I was very intrigued by the description of this book when I read it in Net Galley, and despite my long list of books waiting to be read, I could not resist. It did not disappoint (I’ve seen it in the Guardian List of the Non-Booker prize books), although it is not an easy read.

But first, a bit about the book:

Rawblood by Catriona Ward

Rawblood by Catriona Ward

She comes in the night.
She looks into your eyes. 
One by one, she has taken us all.

For generations they have died young.
Now Iris and her father are the last of the Villarca line.
Their disease confines them to their lonely mansion on Dartmoor; their disease means they must die alone.
But Iris breaks her promise to hide from the world. She dares to fall in love.
And only then do they understand the true horror of the Villarca curse.

Editorial Reviews

Review

From Victorian ghost story to anti-war polemic and back again: I raged, wept and hid under the bed covers. As full of science as it is the supernatural, this is a hauntingly brilliant virtuoso performance. — Emma Healey author of ELIZABETH IS MISSING Gloriously dark and claustrophobic, Rawblood is a haunting gothic novel of intelligence and complexity. It has many echoes of the classics but is entirely its own book. Essie Fox, author of THE SOMNAMBULIST

About the Author

Catriona Ward was born in Washington DC and grew up in the US, Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen and Morocco. She now lives in London where she works as a writer and researcher for Bianca Jagger’s human rights foundation. Rawblood is her first novel. @Catrionaward.

The book was due to be published on the 24th of September, so if there haven’t been any problems, it should be available by the time you read this review.

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00U67GLR8/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00U67GLR8/

Now, my review:

Thanks to Net Galley and Orion for giving me a free early copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Rawblood is a challenging novel (it’s not an easy read) and a novel difficult to define. The story of a ghost, or a haunted house, the Rawblood of the title, has elements of the gothic horror tale. The house itself, the characters, the Victorian era some of the stories are set in, the setting, even the style of writing. But there’s much more than that.

The story is told from many characters points of views, in different styles as pertains to the characters. We have a young girl who narrates the story in the first person, as she grows up. We have the diary of a young man, a doctor, who observes and takes notes of everything as if it was an experiment (and there is something of the mad scientist locked up in the cellar also), there is a woman with magic powers (a witch) who also tells us her story, in a stream-of-consciousness style. There is a sick woman and her companion; they both go to Italy and become embroiled in the story too. There is a young man who’s lost a leg in WWI and is trying to find his bearings. There are not only multiple characters and protagonists, but also different eras. Although the readers senses they must be all related somehow to the family cursed, the Villarcas (if that is what is happening), the connections don’t become clear until the very end. And most of the book we spend wondering who is who and what their role is in the story.

It is a haunting book, not only because of the nature of the story, but because of the beauty and lyricism of the language, and the strong emotions of all the characters who get touched by the ghost (for lack of a better name). The mysterious she of the story has an intense hold on everybody she comes in contact with, no matter how cynical or sceptical they might be to begin with.

The pace of the novel varies depending on the fragment we’re reading, and as I said, so does the style. The language, with many archaic words, is not for easy consumption, and it shows a care an attention to detail not common these days.

Perhaps if I could change anything, I wonder about the ending (not the explanation behind the ghost. I think that’s perfect) and the re-rehearsing of much of what has happened before again from the point of view of the ghost. But then, perhaps that’s right too, as it makes the point stronger.

I wouldn’t say this is a book for everybody, but it is a gem for readers with a taste for the extraordinary, time, patience, and a love of literature. I’m sure we’ll hear more about Catriona Ward.

Thanks to Net Galley, Orion and of course, Catriona Ward for her novel, thank you all for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Hi all. Or rather, goodbye for a little bit.

This Thursday I’m leaving to join my mother and then we’ll be travelling together to the little hamlet where my father was born, Paradaseca, Ourense (I did check in the internet but there isn’t a lot about the place, apart from the fact that a pair of twins from there seem to have seen a UFO a few years back. Anyway…). We are taking my father’s ashes back home, visiting relatives and sorting a few things out. We don’t have a land line there and it seems that even mobile reception is poor (it’s a fairly hilly region, and the hamlet is very nearby the only sky resort in that part of the country, so mountains don’t help matters), so I don’t expect to be able to connect to the internet regularly.

I considered sharing some old posts, or trying to programme new posts in advance but I didn’t have much time to do that, and I love to check the comments and answer, so no good from that perspective. What I’ve decided to do is to share a few of the reviews I hadn’t had time to share with you, and I’ll leave them programmed. I’ve also shared some that you might not have seen in Lit World Interviews, although I know many of you are regular visitors.

I’ll be away for a few weeks (not sure how long as it depends on how long it takes so sort everything) but I hope to be back early in September. Sorry I won’t be able to visit your blogs and comment, but I didn’t want you to worry if I disappeared.

If I manage to get a connection I might send a surprise post sharing whatever is happening and pics, as the place is beautiful and I haven’t been there for over 20 years. I’ll make sure I keep reading and writing, if I have time, and I hope to come back refreshed.

Do take care. I’ll miss you all.

Ah, and let’s not forget the review. You know I review books for BTS e-magazine (link on the side bar) and although I can’t share the same review, sometimes I recommend you the books I’ve come across whilst there. With this book, I had  whale of a time, so much so that I decided to write another review so you could enjoy it.

The book is:

Where Eagles Cry by Dee Ann Palmer. Wild California, handsome men, gorgeous horses and a daring heroine

Where Eagles Cry by Dee Ann Palmer

Where Eagles Cry by Dee Ann Palmer

First, the description of the book:

Jilted by love in 1834, Cara Lindsay sails from Boston to Mexico’s rugged California to begin a new life with a favorite aunt. Heartbroken to learn her aunt has died, she takes a companionship position to the wife of Don Miguel Navarro, the tough and irresistible owner of a major inland rancho. Prior to her arrival, Miguel’s wife had suffered a permanent brain injury in a suspicious fall, and the lonely ranchero’s heart opens to Cara’s kindness and beauty like parched earth to rain. Yet love may break Cara’s heart again, for she would never be any man’s mistress. Until ships sail for Boston months away, she’s trapped in the midst of danger and an impossible love. When the bells ring and the eagle cries, will she be the next to die?

Now my review:

This is a great novel for lovers of historical fiction and romance. Set in the California under Mexican rule (just lost to Spain and in a period of historical turmoil) the descriptions of life at the time are detailed but never boring. The story is seen from the eyes of Cara, a young American woman who has suffered several losses and is at a loose end.

She ends up taking a position in the Navarro ranch, looking after the wife of Miguel, el jefe. The book has been compared to Jane Eyre, as Desira, la patrona, suffered a serious accident, lost her child and has been left brain damaged; although she is not locked in the attic (Miguel is much nicer than Rochester, although Cara is not always sure about his intentions). We see the story from Cara’s point of view. Her poor understanding of Spanish and her total naiveté with regards to the world and California in particular, create many misunderstandings. There are secrets, mysteries, plots to kill, Native-American raids, mountain lions, love rivals, wild horses and barely contained passion.

The plot is complex enough to keep everybody guessing, the intrigue is well maintained, and Cara, the main character, is strong and determined (most of the time) although in keeping with the customs of the period. She doubts herself and has her moments of weakness, but she’s a very likeable and loveable character.

There are also strong secondary characters and the ending is satisfying. It’s a solid romantic historical adventure novel and a very enjoyable one. You won’t regret giving it a go.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BUCJGCU/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BUCJGCU/

Thanks so much for reading, and you know, like, share, comment and CLICK! Bye! Missing you already! See you soon!

Hi all:

As you know, I love books and I review books. I recently joined a team of reviewers I’d been following with interest for some time, Rosie’s Book Review Team (see the logo at the bottom of the page). They are a fabulous team and Rosie is a great team leader.

I was very intrigued by Vanessa Matthews’s The Doctor’s Daughter and you’ll soon see why. First let me tell you a bit about the author.

Author Vanessa Matthews

Author Vanessa Matthews

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Vanessa’s debut poetry collection ‘Melodies of my Other Life’ was published by indie press Winter Goose Publishing in 2013. Since then she has been featured in several poetry publications, has won two poetry contests and has developed her fiction writing skills through training with the Arvon Foundation and mentorship from The Literary Consultancy. The Doctor’s Daughter is her first novel. When she is not writing fiction, Vanessa works as a freelance copy writer and marketing consultant. She lives in the South West of England with her husband and four children.

You can find out more about Vanessa Matthews, here:

SOCIAL MEDIA –

Facebook.com/vanessamatthewswriter

Twitter @VanessaMatthews

Goodreads.com/goodreadscomVanessa_Matthews

Instagram.com/vanessamatthewswriter

Pinterest.com/nessamatthews
And now, the novel:

The Doctor's Daughter by Vanessa Matthews

The Doctor’s Daughter by Vanessa Matthews

THE DOCTOR’S DAUGHTER. A prominent psychiatrist’s daughter realises insanity can be found much closer to home when she unlocks secrets from the past that threaten to destroy her future. 

It’s 1927, women have the right to vote and morals are slackening, but 23 year old Marta Rosenblit is not a typical woman of her time. She has little connection with her elder sisters, her mother has been detained in an asylum since Marta was born and she has spent her life being shaped as her father Arnold’s protégé. She is lost, unsure of who she is and who she wants to be. Primarily set in Vienna, this dark tale follows her journey of self-discovery as she tries to step out of her father’s shadow and find her identity in a man’s world. Her father’s friend Dr Leopold Kaposi is keen to help her make her name, but his interest is not purely professional and his motivations pose greater risks that she could possibly know. Marta’s chance encounter in a café leads to a new friendship with young medical graduate Elise Saloman, but it soon turns out that Elise has some secrets of her own. When Marta’s shock discovery about her family story coincides with her mother’s apparent suicide, Marta can’t take anymore. None of the people she has grown to love and trust are who they seem. Her professional plans unravel, her relationships are in tatters and her sanity is on the line – and one person is behind it all.

Here is my review (WARNING: It’s a long one. I’ve tried not to share any spoilers.)

I am a psychiatrist, and when I read the plot of this book I could not resist. A book set in Vienna about the early times of psychiatry, and a woman, the daughter of a psychiatrist, trying to develop her own ideas and become independent from her father’s overbearing influence. I had to read it.

The book is fascinating and very well-written. I suspect that somebody without my background might enjoy the story more for what it is, and not try and overanalyse it or overdiagnose it. Arnold Rosenblit’s theories are suspiciously reminiscent of Sigmund Freud’s. And of course, he also had a daughter, Anna, who dedicated her life to study and develop child-psychology. I’ve read some of Freud’s works, but I haven’t read that much about his life, although from what I’ve seen, his relationship with his daughter was much more congenial than the one Arnold (a man difficult to like, although the description of his relationship with his wife is quite touching) had with Marta, the daughter of the title.

The book is written in the third person and mostly narrated through Marta’s point of view, although there are chapters from her friend Elise’s perspective, her father’s, and Leopold’s, a physician and long-time friend of the family.

Marta is a very complex character, and one I found difficult to simply empathise with and not to try and diagnose. Her mother was locked up in a psychiatric asylum when she was very young and she became the subject of her father’s observation. The father tried to keep her as isolated as possible from his other daughters, but the oldest daughter looked after her, even if minimally, and they were all in the same house. (It made me think of the scenario of the film Peeping Tom, although Arnold does not seem to have been openly and intentionally cruel.) She appears naïve and inexperienced, at least in how to behave socially and in her role and feelings as a woman, but she is a doctor, a psychiatrist, attends and organises her father’s talks and lectures, and teaches outside, therefore she’s exposed to society and has always been. This is not somebody who has truly grown up in isolation, although she has missed a guiding female figure in her life and the close emotional attachment.

She has her own psychological theories and ideas, but finds it difficult to make her father listen to her. She has very low self-esteem, self-harms and has been doing so for a long time, and when she enters a relationship with a man, she’s completely clueless as to standards of behaviour or how to interpret this man’s attentions (a much older man than her, but somebody with influence and who promises to help her). Although she was not brought up by her mother, I wondered how realistic some of her behaviours would be for a woman of her social class at that period. However, the novel does paint the fine society of the time as a close set-up with a very dark undercurrent, with drugs and alcohol being consumed abundantly, and adventurous sexual behaviours being fairly common, and perhaps Marta is reflexion of such contradictions. On the surface, very controlled (the superego), but with strong and dark passions underneath (the unconscious).

Eloise, the friend she casually meets (or so it seems at the time), is a formidable character, determined, strong-willed, and resourceful, prepared to fight the good fight for women in a society of men. It’s very easy to root for her.

There is a classical villain, that you might suspect or not from early on, but who eventually is exposed as being a psychopathic criminal. The difficulty I had with this character was that I never found him attractive enough or clever enough to justify the amount of power he had over everybody. He is narcissistic and manipulative but even he at some point acknowledges that he uses people but has no great contributions or ideas of his own. It is perhaps because we’re privy to Marta’s thoughts and we see behaviours most people wouldn’t see that we don’t fall for him, but later on he’s revealed to have behaved similarly with quite a few people, especially women, and for me, it was difficult to understand why they would all fall for him. Marta is a damaged individual and he takes advantage of it, but what about the other women? And the rest of society? Leaving that aside (it might be a personal thing with me), he’s definitely somebody you’ll love to hate. (I’m trying not to spoil the plot for readers, although the description of the books gives quite a few clues).

The ending, despite terrible things happening and much heartache, is a joy. Considering what has gone on before, everything turns very quickly, and it’s difficult to imagine that in real life psychological healing would be quite so complete and perhaps so smooth. But it is a fairy tale ending, and although a dark tale, one of sisterhood triumphant.

A word of warning, the book can prove a tough read, as some pretty dark things take place, and there are some cringe-inducing moments. It is not an easy read, but it will challenge you and make you think. And that’s not a bad thing.

I was offered a copy by the author in exchange for an honest review.

And now, the links:

Kindle edition £2.54 http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00Y165LRQ?*Version*=1&*entries*=0  (UK link but available worldwide)

Here the link in Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Vanessa-Matthews/e/B00JESTBAO/

Paperback edition £7.99 https://completelynovel.com/books/the-doctors-daughter–1 (A paperback edition will also be available on Amazon within 2-6 weeks but is available now on CompletelyNovel.)

Thanks so much to Vanessa Matthews for her thought inspiring book, thanks to Rosie Amber for co-ordinating and organising this wonderful team, and you know what to do, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Ah, and as you know, the second book in my series Angelic Business 2. Shapes of Greg is due to be published very soon (15th July). I’ll be telling you more next week, but in the meantime, I thought I’d leave you a new video:

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There are 11,507 stories in Haddonfield; this is one of them.

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