Archives for category: Book reviews

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:

Hi all:

As  you know I read and review books and share the reviews in a variety of places. I recently read the first novel in the new series by Charlaine Harris, a well loved author, and thought I’d bring you my impressions.

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

The #1 New York Times bestselling author who created Sookie Stackhouse and her world of Bon Temps, Louisiana, “is back with a vengeance” (Tangled Web) with this first book in an all-new trilogy—and inviting readers to an even darker place on the map… 

Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).

INCLUDES AN EXCERPT FROM THE NEXT NOVEL IN THE SERIES, THE DAY SHIFT

http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Crossroad-Texas-Charlaine-Harris-ebook/dp/B00I089VSQ/

Here is my review:

I have read a few novels by Charlaine Harris before. Some from the Sookie Stackhouse collection but also a couple more, and I was intrigued by this novel that announces the beginning of another series.

Midnight is a semi-ghost town where Manfred, a young man who has psychic powers and works as an internet and phone psychic (although most of his advice has nothing to do with his real abilities) arrives at the beginning of his novel. His arrival serves as an introduction for the readers as well and the first chapter is mostly descriptive of the town and its inhabitants. Apart from being a quiet place, it appears that by tacit agreement, people in Midnight follow a policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell”. Some characters seem to have their secrets closer to the surface than others, but my impression is that as the series develops we’ll learn many mysterious things from most (if not all) the characters.

A murder is discovered (during the first, and probably the last, annual picnic of Midnight) and the investigation and complications that ensue result in an unravelling of many of the secrets that had been so well kept until then.

I found the cast of characters promising (the reverend with his Pet Cemetery, Fiji and her, oh so very special cat, Bobo, Olivia and Lemuel…), the setting interesting enough, and the central story itself intriguing and I did not guess the outcome. The style is deceptively easy, and the omniscient third person narrator that takes on different characters’ point of view in turn, helps us empathise and get to know some of them better (although, of course, not all of them). There are paranormal elements, a vampire and his human girlfriend who make a deadly couple (but good friends of their friends), magic, bizarre pawn shops, white supremacist groups, lies, Halloween parties, wholesome meals, justice of sorts, and a moral/ethical question that will make you think and ponder your position.

Midnight Crossroad  is an engaging and easy read that has good rhythm and comes to a satisfying conclusion although leaves enough answered questions to keep you coming back. I’m not sure I’d move there, but for sure I’ll keep on reading.

When preparing this post I realised the second book on the series is available on pre-order and due to be published in May, so I leave you some information and the link here too:

Day Shift by Charlaine Harris

Day Shift by Charlaine Harris

Day Shift (Midnight Texas) 

Welcome to Midnight, Texas.

It’s a quiet little town, perched at the junction between Davy Road and Witch Light Road, and it’s easy to miss. With its boarded-up windows, single traffic light and sleepy air, there’s nothing special about Midnight . . . which is exactly how the residents like it.

So when the news comes that a new owner plans to renovate the run-down, abandoned old hotel in town, it’s not met with pleasure. Who would want to come to Midnight, with its handful of shops, the Home Cookin diner, and quiet residents – and why?

But there are bigger problems in the air. When Manfred Bernado, the newest resident in town, is swept up in a deadly investigation suddenly the hotel and its residents are the least of the towns concern. The police, lawyers and journalists are all headed to Midnight, and it’s the worst possible moment . . .

http://www.amazon.com/Shift-Midnight-Texas-Charlaine-Harris-ebook/dp/B00QFMNSWE/

Thanks very much for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment, and of course, feel free to CLICK!

I must explain the background to this post. I saw that author Hans Hirschi (whom I had met through Twitter and Triberr) was seeking blogs for a blog tour just around Christmas time last year. Having heard about the book and being keen on reading it, I thought the tour would give me the perfect excuse (if I needed one). I signed in (the process was via a Google form. I must confess I don’t like them very much as I’m never sure they’ve gone. With the majority of blog tours I get an e-mail with the possible blog tours, I reply and I receive an answer directly from the organiser. That allows me to contact back if I haven’t heard anything in a while, but with the forms you have nobody to contact. End of my rant about Google forms.). I did tell the writer that I had signed for the tour, but never received anything from the tour organiser and assumed they must have had too many offers. When later the author told me he hadn’t seen my post I explained that I never received the book for review or the information. I suspect I must have entered the wrong e-mail address but…So, better late than never I decided to read the book and have included the rest of the material in the original tour in this post. (Thanks Hans and sorry again).

First, the post as it was meant to be:

 

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Enjoy Happy Geek Media’s debut virtual tour of The Fallen Angels of Karnataka

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The-Fallen-Angels-of-Karnataka-2The Fallen Angels of Karnataka by:

Hans M. Hirschi

Published by:

Yaree AB

Genres: Romance, Contemporary, LGBT, Social Awareness, Literary, Travel

264 pages

Release Date: September 15, 2014

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In an isolated mountain town in Norway, Haakon dreams of traveling the world, pursuing adventure, seeing great cities, finding love. His very first trip to London with friends from university offers much promise, yet soon after tragedy strikes. Still young, and mourning the loss of his lover, Haakon is not ready to give up on his dream, so when a rich Englishman offers him the chance to join him on a tour of the world, Haakon takes it, daring to believe that his dream is finally coming true…but at what price?

The Fallen Angels of Karnataka is a novel filled with adventure, life’s hard-learned lessons, loss, despicable evil, and finally, love and redemption. See what others are saying about The Fallen Angels of Karnataka on the author’s media page here.

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AMAZON/NOOK/ADLIBRIS/ELIB/BOKUS/YAREE

The Fallen Angels of Karnataka is discounted to $5.99 right now, so grab a copy. The novel will not disappoint!

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Author Hans M. Hirschi

Hans M Hirschi (b. 1967) has been writing stories ever since he was a child. Adulthood and the demands of corporate life efficiently put an end to his fictional writing for over twenty years.

A global executive in training and channel development, Hans has traveled the world and had previously published non-fictional titles.

The birth of his son and the subsequent parental leave provided him with the opportunity to unleash his creative writing once again. With little influence over his brain’s creative workings, he indulges it, going with the flow.

A deeply rooted passion for, faith in a better world, in love, tolerance and diversity are a red thread throughout both his creative and non-fictional work. His novels might best be described as “literary romance, engaging characters and relevant stories that won’t leave you untouched, but hopeful.”

Hans is a proud member of the Swedish Writers’ Union, the Writers’ Center in Sweden and serves as chair of the Swedish Federation of Self- & Independent Publishers.

The-Fallen-Angels-of-Karnataka-Tour

 

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I have removed the links to the giveaway and the tour as those are not live any longer. Sorry again about that!

Now, my review:

The Fallen Angels of Karnataka by Hans M. Hirschi. A dark fairy-tale treating a terrifying but all too real and difficult subject.

The Fallen Angels of Karnataka is a novel that reminded me of a variety of genres. It’s a bildungsroman. Haakon, the protagonist, is a young man from a small Norwegian farm, naïve and not knowledgeable in the ways of life. The book shows us the process of his sexual awakening, how he discovers he is gay, his first experiences, his first rejection and heartbreak, his first love, and his first loss.

At a time when he’s lost everything and he’s been given what he thinks is a death sentence, an Englishman steps in, Charles, and makes him an offer that seems too good to be true. (Yes, we know all about it, but…) Haakon has always dreamt of travelling, and Charles offers him a dream contract to be his travelling companion, acting as a fairy godmother (or godfather) of sorts. He solves all the problems (including finding him medication for his newly diagnosed HIV infection) and does not seem to want anything back other than company and organisational skills. Of course, things aren’t quite as they seem, and the fairy tale turns much seedier and darker later in the book.

We follow Haakon and Charles in their travels, and the book could have become a travelogue. But although the novel provides beautiful vignettes and interesting observations and reflections about the places visited, their travel is described more in terms of an emotional and spiritual experience than a guide book. The journey our hero embarks on allows the readers to follow how the character grows, loses his —at times terribly annoying, at least to me— naïveté and manages to find not only a partner (gorgeous, good and who has suffered too, one of the fallen angels of the title), but also a worthy mission.

Hans Hirschi tackles a difficult subject in this book. One of the most difficult subjects. Paedophilia. The fallen angels of the book title are not really fallen, but rather dragged down by adults who either aid and abate others or are themselves abusers. The author shines a light on some of the least tasteful aspects of an already difficult to deal with topic, by highlighting the plight of children who are abused because they are seen as dispensable. We’ve all heard of sexual tourism and this is an extreme example of it. Although the topic is distasteful and something that plenty of readers would much rather not read about, the author manages to build credible characters that do not completely lose their humanity, even though some of their behaviours might be abhorrent. Haakon acts, in a way, as a foil and reflects the attitude of most readers, who would find it difficult to reconcile how somebody who seems so kind, educated, sophisticated and helpful could also abuse children. It is also a cautionary tale that reminds us appearances can be very deceptive.

The ending is positive, in keeping with the fairy-tale aspect of it, and although not perfect, the hero’s journey shares on universal themes and shows character development and a well-constructed plot and structure. We can’t help but hope that in real life all these kids will find a place and there will be no more fallen angels.

The book is beautifully written and the omniscient narrator allows us to see and understand things from different characters’ point of view (mainly Haakon’s but not exclusively). That helps up share in his experiences but at times puts us in a very uncomfortable position, being party to thoughts or desires and impulses of deeply flawed characters.

I would recommend this book to readers who dare to explore darker subjects. It will be quite a ride but the rewards will be plenty. I don’t know if the writer has thought about revisiting any of the characters again, but I for one would love to hear more of Mahender’s story (hard as it would be). And I will put other works by the author in my list of future reads.

Thanks to the author for kindly allowing me to take part, even if well past the date, on the tour, thanks to all of you for reading, and please, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Hi all:

As you know I bring you guest authors and new books on Fridays. When I saw this book tour advertised just before Valentine’s I thought it was meant to be. And here it is…I leave you with Hanna Fielding and her novel ‘Echoes of Love‘. Romance and Venice, what else could you want? But if you want more, I also include my review and there’s a great giveaway.
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Hannah Fielding bio

Hannah Fielding is a novelist, a dreamer, a traveller, a mother, a wife and an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: she writes full time, splitting her time between her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.

Her first novel, Burning Embers, is a vivid, evocative love story set against the backdrop of tempestuous and wild Kenya of the 1970s, reviewed by one newspaper as ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’. Her new novel, The Echoes of Love, is a story of passion, betrayal and intrigue set in the romantic and mysterious city of Venice and the beautiful landscape of Tuscany.

 

Social media links

Website: www.hannahfielding.net
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/fieldinghannah
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fieldinghannah
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5333898.Hannah_Fielding

 

Buy links

Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Echoes-Love-Hannah-Fielding-ebook/dp/B00H3S3FFO/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1386249349&sr=8-1

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Echoes-Love-Hannah-Fielding/dp/0992671833/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1386249426

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-echoes-of-love-hannah-fielding/1117405658?ean=9780992671839

 

Book trailer

Book excerpt 

The clock struck midnight just as Venetia went past the grand eighteenth-century mirror hanging over the mantelpiece in the hall. Instinctively she looked into it and her heart skipped a beat. In the firelight she noticed that he was there again, an almost illusory figure, leaning against the wall at the far end of the shadowy room, steady eyes intense, watching her from behind his black mask. An illusory figure indeed, because when Venetia turned around he was gone.

Venetia shivered. Nanny Horren’s voice resounded through her head, reminding her of the strange Celtic superstitions that the Scottish governess used to tell her. One in particular came to mind. ‘Turn off the light and look into the mirror by firelight at midnight on Shrove Tuesday,’ the old woman would whisper to the impressionable and imaginative teenage Venetia, ‘and if you see a face reflected behind your own, it’ll be the face of the love of your life, the man you will marry someday.’

Was this what had just happened to Venetia? Was this stranger the love of her life?

Rubbish, she remonstrated, laughing uneasily into her own eyes, you’re mad! Haven’t you learnt your lesson? Venetia had indulged in such fantasies several years ago and had only managed to get hurt. Now, she knew better. Still, she did not move away. Venetia leant closer to the mirror that reflected her pale, startled face in the flickering light, as tremors of the warm feelings of yester love suddenly flooded her being. For a few moments she seemed to lose all sense of where she was and felt as though she stood inside a globe, watching the wheel of time turning back ten years.

Gareth Jordan Carter. ‘Judd’. It was a diminutive of Jordan, chosen by Venetia who hated the name Gareth and didn’t care much for the name Jordan either. Judd had been her first love, and as far as Venetia was concerned, her last. She had been young and innocent then; only eighteen. Today, at twenty-eight, she liked to think she was a woman of the world, who would not allow herself to be trapped by the treacherous illusions of passion, however appealing they might seem. She had paid a high price for her naivety and impetuosity.

Venetia tried to shake herself clear of those haunting phantasms and her thoughts ambled back to the masked stranger – well, almost a stranger.

Their brief encounter had occurred the evening of the first night of Il Carnevale di Venezia, ten days before Shrove Tuesday …

***

It was nearly seven-thirty and the shops were beginning to shut down for the night. The wind that had blown all day had dropped, and a slight haze veiled the trees, as if gauze had been hung in front of everything that was more than a few feet away. The damp air was soaked with silence.

Venetia tightened the belt of her coat around her slim waist and lifted the fur collar snugly about her neck. The sound of her footsteps echoed off the pavement as she hurried towards the Rialto Bridge from Piazza San Marco, a solitary figure in an almost deserted street. She was on her way to catch thevaporetto water bus, which would drop her off at Palazzo Mendicoli where she had an apartment. A few huddled pedestrians could be seen on the opposite pavement, and there was not much traffic on the great inky stretch of water of the Grand Canal.

Suddenly Venetia saw two figures spring out in front of her from the surrounding darkness. They were enveloped in carnevale cloaks, with no visible faces, only a spooky blackness where they should have been. A hand materialised from under the all-encompassing wrap of one of the sinister creatures and grabbed at her bag. Chilled to the bone, Venetia tried to scream but the sound froze in her throat. Struggling, she hung onto the leather pouch which was looped over her shoulder and across her front as she tried to lift her knee to kick him in the groin, but her aggressors were prepared. An arm was thrown around her throat from the back and the second figure produced a knife.

Just as he was going to slash at the strap of her bag, an imposing silhouette emerged from nowhere and with startling speed its owner swung at Venetia’s attacker with his fist, knocking him off balance. With a grunt of pain the man fell backwards, tripping over his accomplice who gave a curse, and they both tumbled to the ground. Then, picking themselves up in a flash, they took to their heels and fled into the hazy gloom.

Va tutto bene, are you alright?’ The stranger’s light baritone voice broke through Venetia’s disoriented awareness, and he looked down anxiously into her large amber eyes.

‘Yes, yes, I think so,’ she panted, her hands going to her throat.

‘Are you hurt at all?’

‘No, no just a little shaken, thank you.’

‘You’re shivering. You’ve had a bad shock and you need a warm drink. Come. There’s a caffeteria that serves the best hot chocolate in Venice, just a few steps from here. It’ll do you good.’ Without waiting for a response, he took Venetia’s arm and led the way down the narrow street.

Venetia’s knees felt like jelly and her teeth were chattering. ‘Thanks,’ she murmured, still trying to catch her breath, her heart pounding, and let herself be guided by her tall, broad-shouldered rescuer, who seemed to have taken the situation into his hands.

Thus does Fate cast her thunderbolts into our lives, letting them fall with a feather-like touch, dulling our senses to the storm they would cause should we realise their devastating powers.

They sat in silence at a table in a far-off corner of the crowded caffeteria. There was too much noise to talk and Venetia was exhausted, so she concentrated on appraising the man sitting opposite her as she listened to the music playing: Mina’s nostalgic 1960 love song, ‘Il Cielo in una Stanza’, the unashamedly romantic hit that was so Italian, and which was therefore still frequently played as a classic all over the country.

Venetia’s guardian angel looked more like Lucifer than a celestial being, with his tempestuous blue eyes, curiously bright against the warm tan of his skin, which slanted a fraction upwards under heavy, dark brows when he smiled. They were staring intently at her now with an emotion which puzzled her, and for a few seconds she found herself helplessly staring back into them. It was like gazing into shimmering water.

Strong, masculine features graced his nut-brown face beneath a thick crop of raven-black hair, sleek and shining, swept back from a wide forehead. He wasn’t good-looking in the classical sense, his face was too craggy for that immediate impact, but he was a striking man who emanated controlled power, someone used to making decisions who would not be swayed by any argument or sentiment; a hard man. Still, his steeliness was tempered by the enigmatic curve that lifted the corners of his generous mouth into a promise of laughter; this, coupled with the deep cleft in the centre of his chin, gave him a roguish expression that Venetia found appealing.

The waiter brought over a cup of hot chocolate, a double espresso and a plate of biscotti which he said were offered con i complimenti della casa. Her rescuer was obviously a regular customer.

Venetia took a few sips of the thick, warm brew. She felt herself revive as it trickled down her throat, becoming a warm glow in her stomach which reflected on her cheeks.

The stranger smiled at her. ‘Feeling better?’

She nodded. ‘Thank you, you’ve been so very kind.’

His smile broadened. ‘You are welcome, signorina. It is always a pleasure to come to the rescue of a beautiful lady. My name is Paolo Barone, at your service.’

Venetia had been working in Italy for over three years as an architect cum interior designer in her godmother’s architect firm, and was used to the gallant ways and the charm of Italian men. She found their smooth repartee refreshing, and sometimes even amusing, but never took them too seriously. Paolo Barone was different. Maybe it was because she was in shock and felt vulnerable, but nevertheless her heart warmed to this man, who, although not that young, was still in his prime – middle to late thirties perhaps – and she relaxed. Still, even though the circumstances in this case were unusual, Venetia was not used to accepting invitations from strangers, so she deliberately made no conversation; and to her surprise neither did he.

As she raised the warm cup to her lips with both hands, she was aware of him looking at her directly with unabashed interest. Was he trying to decipher her, she wondered? Relieved that the hot drink’s effect on her cheeks was hiding the slight confusion she felt beneath, she sipped a little too quickly and cooled her lip with the tip of her tongue. Then realising what she had done, she glanced up to see his expression deepen into something else, which made her instantly lower her eyes.

When she had finished her chocolate, Paolo smiled at her. ‘Andiamo? Shall we go?’ he asked, cocking his head to one side and looking at Venetia with curiosity.

Sparkling hazel eyes flecked with gold smiled back at him through long black lashes that somehow did not belong with her chestnut hair. ‘Yes. Thank you for the hot chocolate. It is really the best chocolate I’ve had in Venice.’

He helped her with her coat, lifting her glorious long locks over the fur collar. At five foot seven inches, Venetia was tall but as he faced her and began buttoning the garment himself, she noticed again how he towered over her. His hands were strong and masculine; she had a curious sensation of warm familiarity, as though he had performed this act with her several times before. Yet mingled with that feeling came one of embarrassment; his touch seemed a rather intimate gesture instead of the impersonal indifference of a stranger, and she drew away with a little nervous laugh.

‘Thank you, that won’t be necessary.’

He held her gaze intently for a moment, as if surprised at what she had said, and she looked down again, for some reason unable to meet those midnight-blue eyes and their burning intensity. Then he smiled and held the door open.

‘By the way, I don’t know your name,’ Paolo said as they stepped out into the misty night and began walking towards the Grand Canal.

‘Venetia. Venetia Aston-Montagu.’

He quirked a black eyebrow. ‘A very romantic name, Venetia, like our beautiful city. But you’re not Italian? You speak Italian like a native.’

She laughed. ‘Thank you for the compliment. No, I’m actually English, but I was named by my godmother, who is Venetian. She was my mother’s best friend and she insisted I learn Italian.’

‘So you’re on holiday here?’

‘No, I live here.’

‘Nearby?’

‘No, in the Dorsoduro district. I need to catch the vaporetto, as the entrance to the building where I live is on the Grand Canal.’

‘My launch is moored across the street. Dorsoduro is on my way. It would be a pleasure for me to drop you off.’

‘No, thank you. You’ve already been very kind.’

‘It’s late and snow has been forecast for tonight. The vaporetto is bound to be almost empty. I wouldn’t want you to come to any harm, signorina. I will give you a lift.’ He spoke quietly with an air of command, his hand coming up to her elbow, but she avoided it hastily.

It was very tempting to accept, but Venetia would not let herself. This stranger was a little too attentive, she thought, and though she had been grateful for his kind invitation to a hot chocolate when she was in distress, and could still recall the feel of his hands buttoning up her coat, she was not in the habit of being picked up by men.

‘No really, thank you very much. I’m used to travelling by vaporetto. It’s quite safe.’

Paolo did not insist, and for the rest of the way they walked in silence through the narrow, tortuous alleys, Venetia conscious of his nearness in every fibre of her being.

It was bitterly cold. The wind was whistling and a bank of threatening cloud hung over Venice like a white cloak. As they arrived at the waterbus stop, a few snowflakes started to come down. A couple of gondolas, their great steel blades looming dangerously out of the soft velvety mist, glided by swiftly over the gently lapping waters.

‘Are you sure you don’t want to change your mind? It looks as though there’ll be a blizzard and the vaporetto may be delayed.’ He looked at her with a polite, but guarded smile and she felt a momentary pang of regret at her determination to escape him.

Paolo’s pride was spared a new refusal as they heard the croaky purr of thevaporetto announcing its lazy approach.

‘Here comes my bus,’ Venetia said cheerfully. ‘I’ll be home in no time.’

The boat appeared and presently drew up at the small station, bumping the landing stage as it did so.

‘Thanks again for all your help, signore,’ she went on, smiling as she held out her small, perfectly manicured hand to say goodbye. The young man took it in his own, which was large and warm, and held it a trifle longer than would be usual. Venetia stood there with waves of heat passing over her, her senses suddenly heightened at this contact. She abruptly withdrew her hand.

His blue hawk eyes gazed down at her, intent though unfathomable, and he paused uncertainly. ‘Will you dine with me tomorrow night?’ he uttered in a low voice.

It would be exciting to dine with Paolo, she thought, but you must run from him, urged the echo of an insistent voice within her; this man has the power to hurt you.

‘I’m so sorry,’ she replied stiffly. ‘I’m afraid I’m busy.’

‘That’s a pity.’ He sounded as if he meant it, but did not insist, leaving her feeling curiously disappointed. He held out his hand again, silently, and she took it, also without a word. There was nothing lax or vague in his firm grasp. Like many people, Venetia was swift to gauge character by the quality of a handclasp and had known many apparently vigorous men whose fingers were like limp fish. Once more, she was aware that Paolo’s large, sensitive hands held a strength and vitality that stirred her deeply.

She hurried onto the vaporetto, suddenly eager to flee, but as the waterbus pulled away from the quay, she watched him go up the stairs and disappear into the snow-white night with a strange sinking of the heart, wondering if she would ever see him again.

 

 

What the reviewers are saying

‘The book makes the reader want to visit Italy, as the descriptions of the sights and sounds evoked such beautiful images.’ – Associated Press

‘A very well written, and different kind of romance… an exceptionally riveting romance… I would certainly recommend this to fans of the intelligent and suspenseful romance.’ – Amazon review

‘Classic romance fiction… with all the right “s” ingredients – seduction, shall-we/shan’t-we, secrets, steaminess.’ – Amazon review

‘A haunting, poignant romance… immerses you in a truly heartwarming and stirring tale of deep passion, love, forgiveness, and healing.’ – Book Bag Lady

‘A beautifully crafted book, the echoes of which will remain with you for a long time.’ – Amazon review

‘I absolutely adored the depth of the love story… It reads like a film, indeed I can totally imagine it as a Baz Luhrman epic with glorious costumes and elaborate settings.’ – Books with Bunny

 

Message from the author

I first visited Venice as a young child. Then, as now, I was wide-eyed and enchanted by the beauty of the city. I distinctly remember standing in the main square, the Piazza St Marco, gazing up at the stunning architecture of Saint Mark’s Basilica, and feeling I had somehow entered another world – a fairytale world. Then I looked down, at the square itself, which was overrun by hordes of pigeons. There was nothing beautiful about those birds. They were quite spoiling the place. And it struck me then that Venice is a city of two faces: that which the tourists flock to admire, that makes the city the capital of romance, that breathes new life into the imagination and leaves a permanent, inspirational impression. And the other side, the darker side, that which is concealed in what Erica Jong called ‘the city of mirrors, the city of mirages’.

When I returned to the city as an adult, I became quite fascinated by the concept of Venice – what it means to be Venetian; what the city really is beneath the layers of history and grandeur and legend.  Frida Giannini wrote ‘Venice never quite seems real, but rather an ornate film set suspended on the water.’ I understand this quote – there is something fairytale about the place, and with that comes some reluctance, perhaps, to see the realism beyond.

Venice so captured my imagination that I knew some day I would write a romance novel set in this most elegant and fascinating of cities. But it had to be the right story to fit the place. For me, that meant a story that reflected the two faces of Venice – the mask she wears, and the true form beneath.

I very much hope that readers will enjoy my new novel, and will fall in love with its romantic Italian setting, as I did.

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Here my review:

Echoes of Love by Hanna Fielding. A luscious and passionate Italian romance with a touch of suspense.

As much as I enjoy taking part in blog tours I don’t always participate, even when I’m interested in the books, because of constraints with regards to time for reviewing. But when I received the information for this blog tour I was in the mood for a read that would take me away and wrap me in a story. A romantic story.

Romance is not my first choice for genre but I enjoy reading it, although more recently my preference has been for contemporaneous, light and humorous takes on the matter, and chick-lit. ‘Echoes of Love’ isn’t that kind of book. The story of Venezia, an English young woman whose godmother is Italian (and therefore her name), and Paolo, the man he meets in Italy and feels irresistible attracted to from the very beginning, is a story of star-crossed love, fate, damaged and wounded lovers, in the setting of Italy (mostly Venice, but also parts of Tuscany and Sardinia). There is also an element of intrigue that I must confess I guessed from very early on in the story, but was curious as to how the writer would build into the story. It is one of these books where readers and those around the main characters have more insight and can see more clearly what is going on than the couple at the centre of the action, and where the “will they, won’t they” tension is a driving force for the narrative.

The author surrounds the story with luscious and detailed descriptions of everything, from architecture and interior design, clothing, characters’ looks, to food and landscape. I’m not usually a big fan of descriptions and prefer to leave some space to imagination, but I enjoyed the use of quotations, settings and the local stories and customs that illustrate the characters’ journey. Sardinia in particular, although only occupies a short part of the story, is beautifully depicted, and it seems visiting it during Easter would be a great experience.

The story is well-written, it picks up the pace in the last third of the book, all details of the plot are important (there are no clues given for no reason). We get to follow the inner thoughts of the main characters, although not only them but also many of the secondary characters seem ruled more by their passions than by their heads. Their very luxurious life-styles and lack of “real-life” problems (they have high flying professions, drive Ferraris and Porsches, and money is never a consideration), require a degree of suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader but also give the story the dream/wish-fulfilment quality that is one of the attractions of the genre.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a story rich in details, that will make you feel as if you’re sharing the total experience and getting under the skin of characters that live a life of luxury surrounded by beauty, and you fancy a romance in Italy with a touch of darkness and intrigue, this is your book.

Thanks so much for reading and if you’ve enjoyed, please like, share, comment, and of course, CLICK!

Hi all:

As you know, on Fridays I normally bring you new books and guest authors. Today I bring you a very recent book, the fourth in a series, by an author who’s been a guest in a few occasions, Martie Preller (whose alter ego/character/co-author in this series is called Mary Meddlemore, a very apt name). I’ve read all the books in the series and her collection of short-stories The Seventh Sheep (that you can get free by visiting her blog) that I love.  You can read more about Martie later on, although I can tell you that she is a very well-known author of children and Young Adult stories in South Africa (in Afrikaans) and this is your chance to get to know her work. Don’t miss it! And now, this is her latest book:

 

Interconnected by Mary Meddlemore/Martie Preller

Interconnected by Mary Meddlemore/Martie Preller

Interconnected (The Story Dimension Series Book 4) 

Christina is a postgraduate literary student in the United Kingdom. A freelance photographer contacts her and promises fame and fortune if she does a modelling shoot at newly discovered ancient ruins in Africa. She has no modelling experience whatsoever, but Bjorni assures her that a fresh new face is just what they are looking for. She suspects that it is some kind of hoax, but agrees, because, if it is genuine, it may indeed be the opportunity of a lifetime. They land at Cape Town airport, and her life explodes in unimaginable possibilities which change her life forever.
The book celebrates the power of stories and the difference one single human being can make. We are all heroes, if we give what we can.

http://www.amazon.com/Interconnected-Story-Dimension-Book-4-ebook/dp/B00QFNX0YO/

Editorial Reviews

From the Author

“The idea of 10 dimensions might sound exciting, but they would cause real problems if you forget where you parked your car.” Stephen Hawking in The Grand Design
I have read quite a few of Hawking’s books and understood almost half of what I read, I think, but I found his books fascinating and thought-provoking.
What if there is a . . .  Story Dimension?
The Story Dimension is, of course, the place where “characters” live their life stories, just as we live ours on earth.
What if one of the characters found her way to our earth and people thought she was just another person? It has happened! Mary Meddlemore is living proof of that.
How did Mary manage to do that?
If it wasn’t for Amy, who was in distress and saw what most people do not see (though it is there), Mary would never have known that she lived in the Story Dimension and neither would we have known that there is a place called the Story Dimension.
This pivotal happening in Amy’s life is documented in ENTERING. (BOOK ONE)
The way in which Amy’s story influenced Mary’s story is documented in FOREVER AFTER – A DIMENSIONAL LOVE STORY. (BOOK THREE)
One thing leads to the other thing (as it happens daily to us too) and Mary arrives on earth and starts living an “earth” life. (You have to if you live on earth!) Mary interacts with people and this gives rise to . . . more stories!
Mary was horrified by what had happened to her friend Nina from the Story Dimension, This is documented in IN THE REIGN OF THE ILEV. (BOOK TWO) and when Mary comes to live on earth, she experiences that Nina has not exaggerated — power abuse in all its variations is rampant on earth. Mary is shocked and decides that something has to be done.
What Mary does, is documented in FOREVER AFTER – A DIMENSIONAL LOVE STORY. (BOOK THREE)
As everything that happens, has consequences, Mary’s actions had consequences. INTERCONNECTED (BOOK FOUR) documents the dramatic consequences of Mary’s  interference!

From the Back Cover

MARTIE PRELLER – AWARD-WINNING SOUTH AFRICAN AUTHOR – WRITING AS “MARY MEDDLEMORE” TOO
What if we were all only characters in somebody else’s book?
I think crazy thoughts like that and try to keep away from people who want to label me, because I think labels are meant for tins of peas on a shelf in a shop.
I started reading when I was six and devoured book after book. I was enchanted with all the different worlds I discovered and the “characters” in books seemed much more real than the “real” people around me. They had thoughts and feelings, were sometimes disturbed and anxious etc., while it seemed to me as if “real” people seemed to almost “cardboard” or two-dimensional people. I was so happy to have found people like me in stories!
I love stories. I love the way a story tells the “whole” story, with a clear-cut beginning and an ending. Life is a very confusing place and it seems to get more confusing every day!
My name is Martie Preller (Martie is a local variant of Martha!) I am a well-known and award-winning South African author of many books published by main stream publishers. I grew up in a medium sized town, where my father was a professor and my mother a teacher. The town is well-known for its enormous oak trees and I was in perpetual movement on my bicycle under those trees: visiting friends, the library and the bioscope! The seasons are still visually imprinted in my mind as being deep-green and full of shadows, brownish-yellow that crumpled under your feet, bare, black, stark branches and new green in September.
I majored in Latin and English, acquired a Teacher’s Diploma and much later an Honors Degree in Psychology. I taught Latin and English for three years. I got married and was divorced after almost twenty years. Mismatch!
I have three lovely grownup children, an extra daughter and four super delightful grandchildren.I only started writing at about forty because I was too scared to try. A friend (Thank you, Susan!) eventually “tricked’ me into writing a play, which was a huge success and then I was unblocked (!) and the books started coming.
My 37th book has just been published and the next one is due before the end of the year. I gave thirteen Story Workshops. I wrote a Children’s Story Series in a local monthly women’s magazine for 13 years; I worked on a TV series for children with Katinka Heyns, famous local Director and Film Producer, but unfortunately the Broadcaster ran into financial turbulence …. Oh well. At least it was tremendous fun! (The Seventh Sheep and the other True Tales are reworkings of some of the scripts) … I have been very busy.
A book that sells 3000+ copies is regarded as a bestseller locally, and I’m happy to say that most of my books have been much more than just bestsellers. My Babalela – Series (three Picture Books … fourth one coming in November 2013) has sold more than 70 000 copies and still going strong  (Babalela means “little one” in Sesotho – one of our indigenous languages)
I have published eleven Picture Books, twelve Middle Grade Books, eleven Young Adult Books, two Writing Manuals and a Reading Series for little ones consisting of 60+ little stories. I also received eleven local awards for my Picture Books, Middle Grade Books and Young Adult Books over the years.
Then Mary Meddlemore pitched up …I’m used to dealing with characters – you just shut up and let them tell their stories. If you don’t, you are in deep trouble, otherwise known as writer’s block.
But Mary is … well, Mary! She insisted on being the author of the books too. I agreed. It was fine by me! No problem! I’m having an adventure with Mary! New and advanced technologies have made the world “small” and I can publish new stories in a different way on Amazon etc. and the social media make it possible to connect to people all over the world! I love it!
Stories can literally fly and come and nest on your kindle or other e-reading device in a few minutes! And as I have been a fanatical reader long before I became an author, it gives me the greatest of pleasure adding more stories to the wealth of available stories.
I live near Cape Town, one of the most beautiful places on earth and I love the place and its people.

Although times are turbulent, I always feel that we all live in the cradle of mankind and we will make it work.
There is a more info on my work on my website, though you will have to make intelligent use of Google Translate.(http://martiepreller.co.za)

(September 2013)

Here is my personal review of Interconnected:

I’ve had the pleasure of reading the previous three books in the Story Dimension Series (and also the stories in The Seventh Sheep) even before it had taken full shape. The connections are now quite clear but I would find it difficult to comment on how easy it will be to read this book in isolation from the other three (Entering, In the Reign of the Ilev, and Forever After, A Dimensional Love Story) although I suspect this novel would be a wonderful flight of fancy and a puzzle on its own right.

If I had to highlight a theme that runs through the series it is the importance and the power of stories and how they can conjure up feelings, bring people together, and change people’s lives.

Interconnected has two distinct parts with the same protagonist but not quite. A young woman called Christina in nowadays South Africa taking part in a photo shoot that ends up being only an excuse for…mysterious happenings is the main character in part one. How does she relate to the girl by the same name in the second part, who is living in a post-apocalyptic society, and trying to find a place to rebuild a civilisation? I’m not going to tell you. You’ll have to read it to find out.

Mary Meddlemore, the character who plays a very important part in Forever After, and alter ego of award-winning South African writer Martie Preller, weaves poetic language, philosophical musings and ethical questions into a tale that challenges our understanding of narrative, reality and authorship.

A young woman trying to find her true identity; the same (?) young woman trying to build a new civilization by reading stories, preserving books and liberating Lady Liberty. This is a book of magic and wonders, and does not fit easily in any genres. Full of unique characters, mystical events and layer upon layer of stories and interpretations, Interconnected proclaims the deep connection between all human beings, the beauty of language and the way we create meaning through narration. If you have plenty of imagination and love books and stories, I recommend you go exploring the Story Dimension Series.

Mary Meddlemore and Martie Preller

Mary Meddlemore and Martie Preller

 

Author page:

Mary Meddlemore’s/Martie Preller’s page:

http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Meddlemore/e/B009IAJQ26/

And check her awesome blog (and you can see her awesome videos and freebies):

https://marymeddlemore1.wordpress.com/

 

Thanks to Martie/Mary for visiting my blog, thanks to you all for reading, and you know what to do: like, share, comment, and of course, CLICK!

Hi all:

As you know it’s been Easter and again I managed to catch up with some reading and I bring you the reviews of two books I’ve finished reading very recently. Both are by female authors I know (at least in the social media dimension) and in both cases I’d read a previous work by the author and really enjoyed it. I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed this time either.

Please, check the books out. They’re both fabulous. If you prefer horror, I recommend Regina’s book; if you love imagination, fairy tales and unusual stories, read Mary’s. Actually, read both. You’ll thank me for it.

I’ve also had time (I’m afraid) to experiment with videos, so I leave you a link to a video where I talk about my novel The Man Who Never Was. Come on, you know you want to watch it!

And don’t forget to click on the links!

Regina's tales of horror

Regina Puckett’s Short Tales of Horror

I can start by saying I loved this book. I love horror movies and I love to read horror novels and stories, so this one was right up my alley. The stories are different enough to suit most tastes, from monsters, to ghosts, from slashers to dolls (clowns even, horror of horror!). After reading `Mine‘ that I found scary and unsettling, I knew I was in for a good ride. I know from Ms. Puckett (I follow her on Twitter and she’s a great follow) that she has now written and published the continuation, `Ours‘ and I’m looking forward to it. As I’ve said the stories are varied but I noticed that many have female protagonists (might be perpetrators and/or victims) and men tend to suffer sometimes the female rage, sometimes pay the price for not taking women’s concerns seriously. Some of the stories are pure horror in the best tradition (like `Mine’ or `Inheritance‘), but others like `Pieces‘ are horrific and tragic whilst touching on really serious issues (domestic violence). And what about `Will Work for Food‘ and its dark (humorous?) comment on the crisis? I won’t talk about the stories in detail as I don’t want to spoil the surprises but can thoroughly recommend the book to everybody who likes horror and does not scare easy (unless you like to be scared, of course!). I have read one of the author’s romances and also really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to her new works. And the ones I haven’t read yet.

http://www.amazon.com/Regina-Pucketts-Short-Horror-ebook/dp/B0097H1QZ0/

51jk4AGTx7L._AA160_

Forever After. A Dimensional Love Story by Mary Meddlemore

All power to stories and imagination

‘Forever After’ is ‘a dimensional love story’ as the title indicates. It does not fit in well with any standard genres. It has romance, but a very special kind, it has fantasy (and even dragons, but that’s in the story within the story), has an ecological theme, is a fairy tale, a parable…More than anything, ‘Forever After’ is a triumph of imagination.

Mary Meddlemore is the name of the main character in the novel, and that proves how powerful a grip over the author’s imagination she obtained, that she insisted on writing the story herself. There is a story dimension in the novel, and a reality dimension, and we discover that although Mary lives in the reality dimension (the reality of the novel) she belongs in the story dimension. The fact that she has a little lamb (love Miss Lamb) and that neither she nor her lamb ever grow older should have been a clue. As her name indicates she meddles, trying to bring together two people who are made to love each other but unfortunately live in different dimensions. Andrew and Jenny can’t believe Mary’s explanations but…

The main characters are endearing, lovable and original. A boy with a dragon suit who grows into a lawyer defending good causes. A girl who managed to save a town with the help of a teacher (I also love Hannah) and a dragon (Abibus). And Mary…And Miss Lamb, of course. But even character with small parts are unforgettable: The Flower warrior, the Dragon Crier, Hannah, even the waiter at the restaurant obsessed with ‘The Suit’ and providing perfect sugar cubes…Charlie Kaufman would feel quite at home with this story that like many of his scripts explores the boundaries between reality and fiction and celebrates the power of stories and imagination. Like in ‘Enchanted’ fairy tales and reality mix with wonderful results.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. Anybody who loves books, writing and stories will like this book. On the other hand if you think that reality is superior to fiction and material things more important than imagination, maybe you won’t.

I have read the author’s collection of short stories ‘The Seventh Sheep’ and adored it. I follow her blog (http://marymeddlemore1.wordpress.com) and I am aware that she’s working on a sequel of Forever. I can’t wait and in the meantime plan to read ‘In the Reign of the Ilev’ too.

http://www.amazon.com/Forever-After-Dimensional-Story-ebook/dp/B009HXI30A/

GO ON, CLICK!

And, miss at your peril. Here I’m talking about The Man Who Never Was. Have a laugh!

http://youtu.be/51H6QzATtb0

Thank you for reading!

As you know I usually tend to write about…well, writing, on Tuesdays’ posts. I had an ‘interesting’ week last week (I got stranded in Charles de Gaulle airport due to the snow and ended up spending most of two days there. I didn’t sleep there thanks to my friend Iman and her family, and the RER [train line], but otherwise…). The change of plans gave me time to finish reading some books I had pending and I’ve done a number of reviews. I thought I’d post them here too, all together, for your enjoyment. I’ve also included the translation of the review of a book in Spanish ‘La llave del éxito’. They are all five star reviews, but very different books. I’ve also included links and hope you feel interested enough to have a look at them. And on Friday I have a guest author: Nicole Fergusson…Really looking forward to her post.

Don’t forget to click!

41ULOcmgGmL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_[1]

Nic Taylor’s A Plague of Dissent

‘Be Scared, Be Very Scared’

Don’t let the title of my review put you off. No, Nic Taylor’s A Plague of Dissent is not a horror book (although I love horror books). At least not a horror genre book. What the title refers to is the slow realisation – whilst reading the novel – that it is not only topical and the socio/historical events described very close to the bone, but the fictional elements are more than plausible. Although one might have a different opinion as to some of the premises (who organises the terrorist attacks and their reasons, for example), the actual details and planning of it sound incredibly convincing and the more horrifying for it.

The author is well versed in British current affairs and he uses them to create a multilayered background to his fictional (? we hope) story. Recent big news items (phone hacking scandal and enquiry, riots, allegations of child pornography, coalition government…) are not only part of the setting of the novel but become an integral part of the plot, and they are seamlessly woven together to create a complex and realistic tapestry. I live in the UK and must say some of the incidents and situations made me chuckle.

The novel is extremely well plotted and even minor incidents that at first sight might appear insignificant are eventually relevant and their significance revealed. A woman accidentally ran over by a car, a man caught up in the riots and injured, a rugby training session…everything falls into place like a well-oiled machine.

We get to know the main characters gradually, and they reveal themselves to be not only likeable, but also true heroes. Adam is a fantastic protagonist, who goes from being maligned by the media; in an attempt at revenge by a jealous husband, to risking his life to save…well, everybody. His brother, Dan, Ron, his friend and special agent, Isobel, his love interest, the few honest detectives and policemen, are all real people you can relate to but make a larger than life cast who can take on any situation. You would want them by your side in a moment of crisis.

‘A Plague’ is cinematic in its style, moving with ease from sweeping takes that quickly provide a general view of the national and international situation and the consequences of the events narrated, to minute takes of details such as weaponry, computer files and medication. The pace accelerates and you become gripped by the events, at once thrilled and worried as to what would happen if it were real. Would there be enough honest members of the police, and concerned citizens (like Adam and friends) to halt such a terrorist ploy?

I don’t want to give away too many of the details of the novel as not to spoil the many surprises, but I won’t hesitate in recommending it to anybody who enjoys well plotted thrillers, conspiracy theory based stories, current affairs (not only British but international), spy novels…In summary, anybody who loves a good book. I was pleased to read that Nic Taylor is planning to follow ‘A Plague’ with at least two more novels. I for one can’t wait.

Here is the link to the book in Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/A-Plague-Of-Dissent-ebook/dp/B00BRI7YMQ/

51mJh+pUTqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_[1]

A Year of Book Marketing Part 1. Marketing Your Book One Day At A Time by Heather Hart.

I was familiar with Mrs. Hart’s work from some of the publications she has co-authored like ‘Book Marketing 101: Marketing Your Book on a Shoestring’ and the writers’ group of same name in LinkedIn. I asked for a copy of her book when I read her reply to another author who was after novel ways of marketing his book, and a bit tired of ‘same-old, same-old’. She kindly offered me a free copy in exchange for a review and I’m pleased to be able to respond in kind.

The idea behind the book is that it can be used (after reading the first three chapters that contain general advice on marketing, particularly useful to the novice writer) as a daily prompt/calendar, that instead of only having quotations for the day, contains an idea or marketing prompt for each day. The idea is explored in some detail and follows a quotation. Some of the quotations were familiar already (not less useful because of that), some less so, but all were at once reflective and encouraging. The clear message (if it can be simplified into one) is: work hard, consistently, focus on what works for you and you enjoy, but don’t be afraid to try new things. And Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I’m fairly new to self-publishing and marketing, although I have been trying my hand at it for a few months. I found reading Ms. Hart’s book that I’d tried some of the ideas suggested, some would not be workable for me at the moment (I’ve only published e-books so far and some of the ideas require a physical book), and some…Well, I should try. I’ve left notes to myself, and even before I read the whole book I checked the appendix and started listing my book on some of the free sites I hadn’t tried yet.

Ms. Hart’s style is easy to follow, engaging, and I particularly liked her sharing her own experiences and insights, including things she did not feel comfortable doing, and her less than successful efforts. I also liked the pace of the book, the encouragement it offers, and its emphasis on having a long-term plan, checking what one is doing and trying to maximise that, rather than frantically trying everything at once.

I read the whole book at once, rather than using it as it is intended (and that’s a limitation of my review), but will definitely be taking her advice at heart and trying some of the ideas I hadn’t considered (and some I’ve been thinking about but haven’t quite got around to…).

In conclusion I would recommend it to anybody who is into the publishing business, no matter the genre, and who feels they could benefit from encouragement and not heavy-handed expertise. And I will be looking forward to part 2.

Click on the link to buy it in Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Year-Book-Marketing-Part-ebook/dp/B00AVGUSVO/

31W3rXsIZML._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-49,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_[1]

Naked in New York. A Memoir by Emmy Winning Writer Alan Cooke

Naked in New York is one of those books that we might never have come across unless circumstances conspired to bring them to our attention, but once they do we feel fortunate because they enrich our lives.

Although I love poetry (or some poetry at least) I don’t regularly read it. I came across the author’s YouTube video where he reads an excerpt of this book (that at that point was not yet published) in Facebook. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoVOnxcdJjg

Alan Cooke is an actor, writer (poet), filmmaker, and hearing him read ‘Naked in New York’ is an experience that I can recommend wholeheartedly. It’s mesmerising, emotional and ravishing. (His audiobook is available in his website).

The memoir describes the five years the author spent in New York, shortly after the 9/11 attack. He is not only an observer but also a participant that immerses himself in the city, its people, and its atmosphere that had been hardly shaken by the incident, an open wound that has left an indelible scar. His is not a story of the American Dream come true (at times quite the opposite), but even if it was just a necessary condition to get to write this book, it would have been more than worth it.

I have had the advantage of listening to a copy of the audiobook read by the author. It has made me stop on my tracks more than once, left me speechless because of the beauty of a sentence or a moment, made me sad at times (like when he reflects upon 9/11 or on the fate of the less fortunate inhabitants of the city), made me smile (a small gesture noted, a deep shared moment with a stranger, the bird having a bath and smiling), and made me reflect and think back to moments and experiences I could identify with. I might have thought it, but he says it much better.

Naked in New York is beautiful, heartfelt, insightful, self-reflective, personal and universal at the same time. It is truly human. I can’t think of anybody who would not like this book, and I would be worried about anybody who does not. Please read it and tell others about it. There isn’t enough beauty around. We must promote it.

Click on the link to buy the book it on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Naked-In-New-York-ebook/dp/B00BMCWR88/

Click on the webpage to buy the audiobook:

http://www.wildirishpoet.com

marketing_grande[1]

The Key to Success. Be noticed in Amazon: Marketing for writers by Armando Rodera

I am a writer and started to publish e-books a few months ago. From that moment on (although now I know I should have started well before that, but we can always learn something new) I’ve been reading a fair amount about book marketing. I have watched podcasts, I have read how to guides, books, YouTube videos, I have taken part in groups and discussions…What I mean is this is not the first book I read about it.

What makes Armando Rodera’s book different to all the others? (Because I can assure you it’s very different). Although the majority of these book have personal examples to share about what worked or did not work for the person writing the book in their efforts at marketing, The Key to Success is something other than just a marketing book, it is the story (or as we’ve heard so often these days the ‘journey’) of the path that Mr Rodera has followed since he discovered his vocation and love for writing up to now when he’s a world renown author.

The author offers advice, but it’s based on personal experience, rather than on strategies, plans and boring formulae that might or might not apply to the personal circumstances and taste of each reader. It is a publishing business’s (independent publishing mostly) guide , but one of this annotated guides, where one pauses to read about the typical dishes of the area, the customs and habits of the people, and the folklore of the region. It’s a guide for the traveller of discerning taste and good palate.

Another thing that makes the book exceptional (in my opinion the most important one) is the sheer quality of the writing. The majority of the marketing books I’ve read are written in a fairly simple and practical way, and that’s it. The Key to Success is different. When I was reading it there came a moment when I was no longer focused on the advice and I just concentrated on the pleasure of reading the book. I can assure you that any person who reads the book and has not read any of the author’s novels will feel compelled to read them.

Read The Key to Success. Use the good advice, but most of all, enjoy the prose and style of Armando Rodera. I believe this is the real key to his success.

Click to buy it (in Spanish) here:

http://www.amazon.com/LLAVE-%C3%89XITO-Spanish-Edition-ebook/dp/B00ARJUSFQ/

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to CLICK. I’m checking!

Some of you might know, many must suspect, but I love books. More recently, since I started publishing myself I became interested in the work of of ‘indie authors’. Authors who have published independently of publishing companies and in general have a ‘Do it Yourself’ attitude towards the business, being involved in all areas, not only writing the book, but proofreading, editing, formating, designing or choosing covers, and also, marketing and trying to ensure that their books reach an audience. Many of us meet in social media, support each others’ efforts, provide advice for each other, encouragements, suggestions, and we also read some of our fellow authors’ books. Nic Taylor is a member of one such group of authors and so am I. He posted the beginning of his book ‘A Plague of Dissent’ in his Facebook page and asked for comments and we got chatting. He sent me a copy of his book and although due to time constraints it took me a while to get aroudn to reading it, I finally made it and it was worth my while. Now in a new revised and improve edition, with new cover, don’t forget to click on the link and check the book!

Nic Taylor’s A Plague of Dissent

‘Be Scared, Be Very Scared’

Don’t let the title of my review put you off. No, Nic Taylor’s A Plague of Dissent is not a horror book (although I love horror books). At least not a horror genre book. What the title refers to is the slow realisation – whilst reading the novel – that it is not only topical and the socio/historical events described very close to the bone, but the fictional elements are more than plausible. Although one might have a different opinion as to some of the premises (who organises the terrorist attacks and their reasons, for example), the actual details and planning of it sound incredibly convincing and the more horrifying for it.

The author is well versed in British current affairs and he uses them to create a multilayered background to his fictional (? we hope) story. Recent big news items (phone hacking scandal and enquiry, riots, allegations of child pornography, coalition government…) are not only background setting of the novel but become an integral part of the plot, and they are seamlessly woven together to create a complex and realistic tapestry. I live in the UK and must say some of the incidents and situations made me chuckle.

The novel is extremely well plotted and even minor incidents that at first sight might appear insignificant are eventually relevant and their significance revealed. A woman accidentally run over by a car, a man caught up in the riots and injured, a rugby training session…everything falls into place like a well-oiled machine.

We get to know the main characters gradually, and they reveal themselves to be not only likeable, but also true heroes. Adam is a fantastic protagonist, who goes from being maligned by the media; in an attempt at revenge by a jealous husband, to risking his life to save…well, everybody. His brother, Dan, Ron, his friend and special agent, Isobel, his love interest, the few honest detectives and policemen, are all real people you can relate to but make a larger than life cast who can take on any situation. You would want them by your side in a moment of crisis.

‘A Plague’ is cinematic in its style, moving with ease from sweeping takes that quickly provide a general view of the national and international situation and the consequences of the events narrated, to minute takes of details such as weaponry, computer files and medication. The pace accelerates and you become gripped by the events, at once thrilled and worried as to what would happen if it were real. Would there be enough honest members of the police, and concerned citizens (like Adam and friends) to halt such a terrorist ploy?

I don’t want to give away too many of the details of the novel as not to spoil the many surprises, but I won’t hesitate in recommending it to anybody who enjoys well plotted thrillers, conspiracy theory based stories, current affairs (not only British but international), spy novels…In summary, anybody who loves a good book. I was pleased to read that Nic Taylor is planning to follow ‘A Plague’ with at least two more novels. I for one can’t wait.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to click on the links:

To buy in Smashwords, in a variety of formats:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/293433

Or in Amazon if you have a Kindle or a Kindle app (free to download):

http://www.amazon.com/A-Plague-Of-Dissent-ebook/dp/B00BRI7YMQ/

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