Archives for posts with tag: G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

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 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!

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