Irex by Carl Rackman ~ based on fact #BookReview for #RBRT @CarlRackman #Histfic #FridayReads

  • 51gv4vgjy-lAuthor: Carl Rackman
  • Published: September 2016 by Rackman Books
  • Category: Historical, Fiction, Drama
  • five-stars

In the harsh winter of December 1889, the sailing vessel Irex leaves Scotland bound for Rio de Janeiro. She carries three thousand tons of pig iron and just three passengers for what should be a routine voyage. But Captain Will Hutton discovers that one of his passengers hides a horrifying secret.

First of all, I have to say it’s hard to believe this is a debut novel. It’s so good and the quality of the writing is excellent throughout. The story is based in history, the ship, a couple of the main crew members, reason for the wreck and the attempts at rescue, are all fact. Carl Rackman has woven an incredibly imaginative and compelling tale around that tragic event. Continue reading

Ghost Variations: The Strangest Detective Story in Music by Jessica Duchen #RBRT @jessicaduchen #bookreview #FridayReads

  • 32053103Author: Jessica Duchen
  • Kindle Edition
  • Category: Historical, Fiction
  • five-stars

London, 1933. Dabbling in the once-fashionable “glass game” – a Ouija board – the famous Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Arányi is amazed to receive a message supposedly from the spirit of the great composer Robert Schumann, asking her to find and play his long-suppressed violin concerto.

Ghost Variations is created from real people and true events which occurred during their lives; history dramatised into a rich and enchanting narrative.

Jelly d’Arányi, the central character, is a renowned Hungarian violinist, living in 1930s London with her sister, Adila and her family. Jelly has been the muse for several famous composers and is dedicated to her music, to the exclusion of her personal life, especially since she lost the man she loved at the Battle of the Somme during WWI. The sisters have lived in London since Jelly was sixteen and now as she approaches her fortieth birthday, Jelly is aware she is (unfairly) considered past her prime as a musician.  Continue reading

Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart #YA #Audiobook # Review @DanGemeinhart

Jonathan Grisby is the newest arrival at the Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys–an ancient, crumbling fortress of gray stone rising up from the ocean. It is dark, damp, and dismal. And it is just the place Jonathan figures he deserves.

When twelve year old Jonathan Grisby arrives at Slabhenge, hungry, cold and tormented, he faces at least ten weeks in the forbidding and Dickensian-like reform school. Run by The Admiral and his staff, who take pleasure from making life as difficult and uncomfortable as possible for the unfortunates who have been sent there. Slabhenge has had several incarnations, including a facility for the mentally ill, but to the boys it seems more like a prison with it’s many corridors, staircases and stone-walled, dank rooms. Continue reading

The Replacement Chronicles by Harper Swan #TuesdayBookBlog #Prehistoric #HistFic @harperswan1 #RBRT

  • 33539455Author: Harper Swan
  • Published: December 2016 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Prehistorical Fiction
  • five-stars

Two Lives… separated by millennia but nevertheless linked irrevocably. 

What possible link could Mark Hayek, an introverted twenty-first century research scientist, have to Raven, a young healer who lived during the late Pleistocene? It has everything to do with an injured Neanderthal man taken captive by Raven’s band while he and his brothers were hunting bison. 

I read the first of the Replacement Chronicles, Raven’s Choice, in early 2015 and loved it. As that is included in this omnibus, I’ll add my thoughts from the previous review.

Mark Heyek from the Parkinson’s Institute is a research scientist working in the field of genetics. Having sent a saliva sample to Genetics and Me, Inc. for further research into Parkinson’s disease, and as lead collaborator, he is invited to attend a meeting. What follows is an amazing fictional, although based on scientific knowledge, look back at the genetics that make up modern man. Continue reading

First Light by Bill Rancic & Barbara Keel #AudiobookReview A Story of Survival @BillRancic #SundayBlogShare

A father from Chicago takes a road trip to the city of Whitehorse, in Yukon Territory, with his wife and son. During the car ride, they reveal to the boy their harrowing experience surviving a horrific plane crash in the wilderness ten years before, which is how the boy, in fact, came to be born.

When the invitation arrived to attend a ceremony about to be held in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, honouring the victims and survivors of the plane crash that almost cost the lives of his family, he decided it was time. His son deserved to know what happened to his parents. The trip will take several days by car, neither he nor Kerry would get on a plane again. They can use the time to tell Jackson the whole story. Continue reading

The Hollow Heart (The Heartfelt Series #1) by Adrienne Vaughan @adrienneauthor #Drama #Romance

  • 16301205Author: Adrienne Vaughan
  • Published: October 2012 by Adrienne Vaughn
  • Category: Romance, Drama, Contemporary
  • four-half-stars

Marianne Coltrane is a feisty, award-winning journalist who is far from lucky in love. Taking herself off to the wilds of the west of Ireland to recuperate, she literally runs into Ryan O’Gorman, the most conceited, infuriating man in the world. 

We first meet Marianne Coltrane, investigative journalist for the Chesterfield Chronicle, as she confronts Sister Mary May about the illegal sale and adoption of children from the women’s refuge she runs. Marianne’s work and resulting article earns her a nomination for Journalist of the Year. Continue reading

Battle of Wills by Anne Fine ~ Contemporary #Fiction #Sisters @CEndeavourPress

  • 32327349Author: Anne Fine
  • Published: October 2016 by Endeavour Press
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction
  • four-stars

Fair’s fair. Or is it…?

Megan and Tory have never seen eye to eye.

They may be born of the same mother, but that’s where the common ground ends.

Sisters Megan and Tory are polar opposites. Megan, the elder, and her husband are successful business owners, live in an immaculate house and have two ideal daughters in private school. Megan chases perfection in all things, unlike her sister who has a very laid back attitude to life and bringing up her own children. Tory and Barry’s house leaves a lot to be desired, in Megan’s view. As far as Tory is concerned yoga, pilates and pampering are way ahead of housekeeping. Continue reading

La Petite Boulain (Above all Others; The Lady Anne #1) reviewed for #RBRT #Historical #Tudor

  • 29507218Author: G. Lawrence
  • Published: March 2016 by G. Lawrence
  • Category: Historical 
  • four-half-stars

May 1536, London… a fallen queen sits waiting in the Tower of London, condemned to death by her husband. As Death looms before her, Anne Boleyn, second queen of Henry VIII looks back on her life…from the very beginning. Daughter of a courtier, servant to queens… she rose higher than any thought possible, and fell lower than any could imagine. 

The story begins in the Tower of London where Anne Boleyn awaits her fate, contemplating those who died in the manner that now lies ahead for her. In return for HenryVIII’s promise of protection for her daughter, Anne signs her life away, admitting to all she is falsely accused of. Sleepless, determined not to panic and to die with dignity, Anne lets her thoughts wander back to her happy and carefree childhood at Hever Castle. Continue reading

Guest Post by Tina Sugarman #author of Horse Flesh *Blog Tour*

I’m very pleased to welcome Tina on the last day of her blog tour, as she talks about her ongoing passion for horses.

MY LOVE OF HORSES

My love affair with horses began before I can remember.  At 18 months, I was too young for pony rides, but the gypsies lent me a horse to lead up and down the beach with the dictum “Tina must have horses”.  Right then and there I must have been hooked!  A few years later an elderly mare named Jemma taught me how to ride.  Though she lived in a field my parents owned, she belonged to someone else.  I had to mostly make do with riding schools and because I knew how to ride, I was always given the naughty ponies, the ones who skied, bucked and ran away.  I soon learned to fall off gracefully, a skill which came in very handy!  Summers on the Isle of Wight were better.  They were spent happily riding with a troupe of local children who, much to my envy, were allowed to wear t-shirts and jeans, while I was trussed up in jodhpurs and a riding jacket.  But that didn’t spoil the fun of trekking across the island, until we reached a deserted beach and could let our ponies gallop beside the water. Continue reading

A Reason To Live (Marty Singer #1) by Matthew Iden @CrimeRighter ~ Crime fiction #bookreview

  • 14121045Author: Matthew Iden
  • Published: Reissued September 2015 by Thomas & Mercer
  • Category: Crime, Thriller, Suspense
  • four-half-stars

In the late nineties, a bad cop killed a good woman and DC Homicide detective Marty Singer watched the murderer walk out of the courtroom a free man. 

It’s a case that retired detective Marty Singer has never been able to put out of his mind completely – the murder of Brenda Lane by Michael Wheeler. Wheeler was a police officer with the same force as Marty and the crime left Brenda’s young daughter an orphan. Wheeler was found not guilty, even though his story didn’t add up. 

Twelve years later, Marty is feeling weary and apathetic having been diagnosed with cancer, which precipitated his retirement. He is about to begin chemotherapy treatment when Brenda’s daughter, Amanda, who was twelve years old at the time of her mother’s murder, seeks him out. She believes Michael Wheeler is back and is targeting her. Continue reading

#FridayBookShare ~ Beijing Red by Alex Ryan @ShelleyWilson72

#FridayBookShare ~ an excellent idea created by Shelley Wilson. The weekend is a good time to look for new books and this meme might just point us towards some great new reading ideas.

FridayBookShare

Anyone can join in. Just answer the following F.R.I.D.A.Y. questions based on the book you’re either currently reading or have just finished reading. Use the hashtag #FridayBookShare and remember to tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72)  Continue reading

#FridayBookShare ~ The Wild Water Series by @JanRuthAuthor @ShelleyWilson72

#FridayBookShare ~ an excellent idea created by Shelley Wilson. The weekend is a good time to look for new books and this meme might just point us towards some great new reading ideas.

FridayBookShare Continue reading

The Exclusives by Rebecca Thornton ~ ‘No-one Can hurt you more than a friend’ #bookreview @twenty7books

  • ExclusivesAuthor: Rebecca Thornton
  • Published: December 2015 by Twenty7 Books
  • Category: Young Adult Fiction
  • three-half-stars

In 1996, Josephine Grey and Freya Seymour are best friends and on the brink of great success. Both are students at the elite private school Greenwood Hall and Josephine, the daughter of the advisor to the Prime Minister, is heading for everything she has ever worked for: Head Girl, Oxford, the demons of her mother finally abated once and for all.

I first became aware of this book when Shelley Wilson chose it for her #FridayFiveChallenge. Most people, including myself, voted it a buy, so I was happy to accept a review copy offered by the publisher.  Continue reading

Baby Girl (Memory House Collection #4) by @BetteLeeCrosby ~ Contemporary #Fiction

  • 28498856Author: Bette Lee Crosby
  • Published: March 2016 by Bent Pine Publishing
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction
  • four-half-stars

Baby Girl is a mother’s story. It’s about the greatest sacrifice a mother can make when she wants only the best for her child. It’s about falling in and out of love, of losing and finding one’s self. It’s about the perilous journey from passionate young love to happy true love and understanding the differences between the two.

The day Ryan Carter and his mother moved into the old Ballinger place on Spruce Street was the day Cheryl Ann Ferguson’s life began to change. She and Ryan became firm friends. Apart from the father who loved her dearly, he was her only ally. Her mother was a cold, unloving woman, who only seemed capable of negativity, complaining about anything and everything and putting people down. The year her father died changed everything for Cheryl Ann. She felt so alone and the final straw was her mother’s refusal to let her go to college. She left home with Ryan after the graduation her mother failed to attend. Continue reading

The Calling of the Raven

  • 22401396Author: Jenny Lloyd
  • Published: June 2014 by lulu.com
  • Category: Historical Fiction
  • five-stars

The Calling of the Raven is the sequel to the acclaimed novel, Leap the Wild Water, and continues Megan’s quest for acceptance, autonomy, and unconditional love. Megan is resolved to tell Eli of the affair she had before they married and of her illegitimate daughter, Fortune, which her brother, Morgan, and Mam stole from her to save the family from shame. Before Megan has a chance to tell Eli, her plans are scuppered by a chance meeting with her old lover; the ne’er-do-well, Iago. Megan’s life again takes a turn for the worse and there seems to be no mending the damage Iago has caused. 

This is the incredible sequel to Leap The Wild Water. I loved the first book and this one is just as compelling and moving. Megan, keeping her secret, has married Eli Jenkins but decides to tell him after Morgan brings Fortune home. Before she can say anything Eli finds out in worst possible way. His fury knows no bounds and Megan doesn’t recognise the man she married. The housekeeper, Gwen, hands in her notice leaving Megan to manage the farm alone. Megan’s life becomes a terrible ordeal as she is subjected to cruel taunts and torment by Eli and the new dairy maid, Branwen. By their behaviour towards each other it’s obvious to Megan that Eli and Branwen are not strangers. Continue reading

The Visitant ~ A Venetian Ghost Story

  • Audiobook ReviewTheVisitant
  • Author: Megan Chance
  • Performed by Julia Whelan
  • Published: September 2015 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
  • four-stars

After she nearly ruins her family with a terrible misstep, Elena Spira is sent to Venice to escape disgrace and to atone by caring for the ailing Samuel Farber. But the crumbling and decaying Ca’ Basilio palazzo, where Samuel is ensconced, holds tragic secrets, and little does Elena know how profoundly they will impact her. Soon she begins to sense that she is being watched by something. And when Samuel begins to have hallucinations that make him violent and unpredictable, she can’t deny she’s in mortal danger.

Elena Spira is sent to Venice by her father to nurse Samuel Farber, a man from a wealthy family, who was badly beaten while in Rome. He is the guest of his good friend, Nero Basilio, who owns the Casa Basilio, while he recuperates. He also has epilepsy, which Elena is under instruction to keep secret from all at the Casa. In those days the condition was misunderstood and deemed to have it’s roots in insanity. Continue reading

Living In The Shadows

  • Layout 1Author: Judith Barrow
  • Published: July 2015 by Honno Welsh Women’s Press
  • Category: Historical Fiction
  • five-stars

It’s 1969 and Mary Schormann is living quietly in Wales with her ex-POW husband, Peter, and her teenage twins, Richard and Victoria.
Her niece, Linda Booth, is a nurse – following in Mary’s footsteps – and works in the maternity ward of her local hospital in Lancashire.
At the end of a long night shift, a bullying new father visits the maternity ward and brings back Linda’s darkest nightmares, her terror of being locked in. Who is this man, and why does he scare her so?
There are secrets dating back to the war that still haunt the family, and finding out what lies at their root might be the only way Linda can escape their murderous consequences.

The third and final part of the trilogy picks up the story in the late 1960’s and concentrates on the next generation. Peter and Mary Schormann are still living in Wales with their teenage twins, Richard and Victoria. Richard has gone into medicine, taking after his father, and not letting his hearing problems hinder his career or his life. He is staying with his aunt and uncle in Ashford while he attends interviews for the university hospital in Manchester. He’s rescued from a potentially dangerous situation by Karen Worth who proves to be a catalyst in the story. Continue reading

The Highlander ~ Rise of the Aztecs #1

  • HighlanderAuthor: Zoe Saadia
  • Kindle Edition
  • Category: Historical, Fiction
  • five-stars

Born in the Highlands, Kuini thought his life was simple. You hunt and you fight, defending your towns against the raids of the Lowlanders and then raiding their lands in turn. His father was the Warriors’ Leader, and he wanted to be just like him. 

Yet, Texcoco, the mighty Capital of the Lowlands, seemed incredibly beautiful, sparkling, its pyramids magnificent. A friendship with the Lowlander boy, the First Son of the Texcoco Emperor, seemed harmless in the beginning. They were just boys, and their clandestine meetings were always fun, providing great entertainment. 

However, on the day Kuini agrees to finally enter the magnificent city, it would all change. He expected to get into trouble, but he could not foresee the extent of the trouble and, worst of all, he did not expect to uncover hidden secrets concerning his own family.

The Rise of the Aztecs follows on from the pre Aztec series and the story picks up in 1409 with two boys from vastly differing backgrounds. Coyotl, a Lowlander, first son of the Emperor and Kuini, a Highlander and son of the War Leader from Huexotzinco. The boys meet by chance on Coyotl’s favourite hill which overlooks his altepetl, Texcoco, the capital of the Acolhua people. A growing friendship develops, both expressing interest in the other’s customs and culture. The story is told from each of their perspectives as they begin meeting in secret.  Continue reading

The Loft ~ Memory House Collection #2

  • TheLoftAuthor: Bette Lee Crosby
  • Published: September 2015 by Bent Pine Publishing
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction
  • five-stars

50 YEARS OF MEMORIES ARE HIDDEN IN THE WALLS OF THE LOFT…
Annie only needs to find one… the one that will save Oliver’s life.
On the day of their wedding, Annie saw nothing but happiness ahead, but when an accident calls her back to Memory House, her world is changed forever. Ophelia Browne, the woman who taught Annie to find the memories in a forgotten object, is leaving the house and she’s leaving all those powerful memories behind.
After only three nights in the loft, Annie must now find the single most meaningful memory in Oliver’s mind. If she finds it in time, she can save his life, if she doesn’t…well that’s something she can’t afford to think about.

Annie Cross’s life changed completely a year ago. The change began the day she found Memory House Bed and Breakfast and met Ophelia Browne. Annie thought Ophelia was just a sweet old lady who had a way with herbs and wonderfully scented and seemingly magical potpourri. But Ophelia taught Annie things she never would have believed. And now she was marrying Oliver, in the same church where Ophelia married her late husband, Edward, as a direct result of finding memories in forgotten objects. The minute Annie touched the old bicycle, and began working on sprucing it up, the memories started with an echo of a boy’s laughter. That’s what lead her to Ethan Allen Doyle and from there to his son, Oliver. 

You can tell me seven ways from Sunday there’s no such thing as magic, and you might be right. But since I’ve allowed my heart to believe in the things Ophelia taught me, my life is filled with the magic of love and happiness.

Alone again in Memory House after Annie and Oliver’s marriage, Ophelia decides to drive to church. What happens next changes her life and her outlook. Annie loves Ophelia as if she were her own mother. She and Oliver move back into Memory House in order to look after Ophelia when she’s well enough to come home. While spending time in a rehabilitation centre Ophelia comes to a decision after making new friends and seeing the promise of a new life. A life lived in the present instead of the past. Continue reading

Friday Five Challenge ~ Buy or Pass ~ Emerald Buddha by Russell Blake

Rosie Amber’s Friday Five Challenge, involves taking only five minutes to choose a book cover which appeals instantly. So take a few minutes, grab yourself a coffee…..and have a browse.

39959-20150508

In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions from small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

My Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book, and any other details.

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?

Feeling a little lazy this week, I looked at Amazon’s recommendations and this cover stood out for me… Continue reading

A Cottage In The Country

  • ACottageintheCountryAuthor: Linn B Halton
  • Published: July 2015 by Harper Impulse
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction
  • four-stars

What do you do when your best friend has an affair with the man to whom you’ve been married for twenty-five years? The father of your two children and the person you trusted with your heart? Not to mention the best years of your life …
Well, you pack your bags, grab half of the equity in the house you’ve both lovingly restored and run away to an idyllic little cottage in the country.
I suppose not having the cottage surveyed was the first mistake—buying with your heart, and not your head, isn’t the wisest move. The second was moving in six days before Christmas, the day the heavens decided to open and the rain just kept on coming.

This review is based on an ARC from the author. This does not alter my opinion or the content of my review. Continue reading

Future Perfect

  • FuturePerfectAuthor: Katrina Mountfort
  • Published: September 2014 by Elsewhen Press
  • Category: Young Adult, Dystopian
  • five-stars

The Blueprint trilogy takes us to a future in which men and women are almost identical, and personal relationships are forbidden. Following a bio-terrorist attack, the population now lives within comfortable Citidomes. MindValues advocate acceptance and non-attachment. The BodyPerfect cult encourages a tall thin androgynous appearance, and looks are everything.

A dark undercurrent runs through this story; the enforcement of conformity through fear, the fostering of distorted and damaging attitudes towards forbidden love, manipulation of appearance and even the definition of beauty, will appeal to both an adult and young adult audience.

It’s the latter half of the 22nd century and the population of the UK, now known as State 11, live in Citidomes, controlled environments in which everyone is encouraged to look, think and act in a certain way. The inhabitants are dominated by Mind Values which suppress negative emotions to facilitate a peaceful but subjugated existence. Emotional attachments and regular relationships are prevented. Accommodation comprises four resmates to each unit with no outward signs of friendships, people are just interested in how many connections they can acquire. Body perfection is encouraged and anyone not conforming to the standard is belittled and looked down upon. The residents of the Citidomes are controlled by fear of viruses and severe, degrading punishments by the correction enforcers. Continue reading

Inkker Hauser ~ Part 2: Literastein

  • InkkerAuthor: Phil Conquest
  • Kindle Edition
  • Category: Fiction, Dark Comedy
  • five-stars

Having spent a pleasant day preparing to harness his muse and strolling around his local neighbourhood committing acts of literary vandalism, our hero contemplates his research into such matters as he prepares for his date with the gorgeous Tylissa. 
The date does not work out as he had hoped. In fact, the whole night turns into a disaster of spectacular proportions, but the worst surprise of all waits for him on his return home….

Part two of the story of Inkker Hauser, Literastein, follows straight on from Rum Hijack and takes place over the course of a day. After stocking up on groceries and booze, Inkker decides he needs new clothes for his date that evening and proceeds to buy several shirts and a couple of trouser suits which would also, he thought, further his intellectual self-image. After delivering a tirade of abuse at his Twitter timeline and logging in to his account to change his name to Inkker Hauser, he has an idea and takes a trip into town. 

I popped the lid off the pen and turned to the title page just inside the book. An inch or so below the title, in large letters, as neatly as I could under the circumstances, I wrote: #InkkerHauser. I put the lid on the pen quickly, closed the book, got up and returned it to the shelf. A wave of exhilaration shot through me.

Being privy to Inkker’s inner monologue and observations is fairly intense, his thoughts are quite extreme but that only makes him a more captivating protagonist, maybe in part because he’s a loner, mostly scorned by others, has a fragile grip on reality and he’s hurting. The weirdness and eccentricities are increasing. And he must be slowly killing himself with amount of alcohol he consumes.

Well lubricated before his date after several afternoon drinks in the pub, and more at home watching the video documentary of the Kursk submarine disaster, the evening was destined to be a major disaster. Inkker still firmly believes he will write the literary masterpiece he believes himself capable of, if he could just write that first elusive sentence. The more he drinks, the more he tries to impress Tylissa, the more outrageous and unpredictable his behaviour and dialogue become.  His despair as the evening goes downhill with increasing speed is tangible. And when he gets home, to top it all off, he learns he has a new neighbour. This information, coupled with the events of the last few hours, sends him into a tailspin and causes quite a meltdown. 

As with Rum Hijack, this is a very out of the ordinary, well written, dark, entertaining and humorous instalment in the tortuous life of our protagonist. I could pull out any number of great quotes, but the one that sticks in my mind is Inkker’s belief that there is a ‘space reserved for me in the car park of the literary kingdom.’

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

About the author

PhilConquestPhil comes from southern England and now lives in the US. He is a radical, innovative, avant-garde writer whose prose attracts readers every time it is encountered. His influences are many but he has been compared favourably with Rimbaud, Bukowski and Dosteovesky for his dark and earthy tales of outsiders on the edge.

Inkker Hauser Part 1: Rum Hijack, his debut on Amazon, is the darkly comic tale of a frustrated and slightly insane would-be writer who begins taking out his “writers’ block” on the local community. Inkker Hauser Part 2 is the follow-up and contains a hysterical, surreal and agonising karaoke sequence, which will probably never be equalled.

Rum Hijack was recently included in a list of the top 50 Best Indie books of the year in 2014.

Phil’s other main interests are music and basketball – and is a fan of the Chicago Bulls. His Bukowskiesque blog, Motel Literastein, about an Englishman living on the fringes of society and sanity in a motel in Philadelphia, is controversial, confrontational and cathartic, but never dull, beautifully written and well worth following.

He will probably never return home.

Author links ~ GoodreadsTwitterWebsite

Morning Star

  • morningstarAuthor: Randy Mixter
  • Published: November 2012 by CreateSpaceIndependent Publishing
  • Category: YA, Fiction, Paranormal.
  • five-stars

A Child. A Horse. A Miracle.

Eight year old Dannie Walker is fighting for her life. Her doctors have told her father she has an incurable disease. All hope is lost. Or is it?

Mysterious and majestic, Morning Star appears in spectacular fashion, sailing over the barbed wire fence as Nate Walker is checking the perimeter of his horse ranch for any damage, and gallops on towards his house. 

Dannie Walker is in hospital, a very sick girl, without apparent hope of recovery. Dannie has a vivid dream one night about a horse and desperately wants to go home. She isn’t the only one having dreams, her father has his own ghosts he needs to lay to rest.

The horse raised its head and their eyes met and in those dark eyes she could see everything; all the good, all the hopes, all the dreams. And she felt a voice more than heard it. A voice she had never heard before but still seemed familiar. A voice that began in her head before it spread throughout her body. A voice that brought her peace and joy.

Mix these elements together with a loving family, a magical horse and a legend about a blue flower and you have a heart warming and captivating story of miracles and mysticism, love, loss and hope. Things Randy Mixter writes about extremely well. 

I love the introduction about the legend of the Morning Star, a dark blue rose-like flower, explaining how it’s been extinct for many hundreds of years and opinion is divided about the truth of the plant’s existence. 

Morning Star was thought to be discovered and worshipped by the Maya empire on or about 900 AD, if their hieroglyphics were any indication. The Maya culture believed the flower had mystical powers while in full bloom.

I believe this novella would appeal to younger readers, just the right length, as well as older ones that want to escape for a couple of hours into a wonderfully descriptive world of mystery and enchantment, which makes anything seem possible, and with a touch of the paranormal. A great story.

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

The Spring Of Kasper Meier ~ Review and Competition

  • TheSpringofKasperMeierAuthor: Ben Fergusson
  • Published: January 2015 by Abacus
  • Category: Historical, Fiction
  • four-stars

The war is over, but Berlin is a desolate sea of rubble. There is a shortage of everything: food, clothing, tobacco. The local population is scrabbling to get by. Kasper Meier is one of these Germans, and his solution is to trade on the black market to feed himself and his elderly father. He can find anything that people need, for the right price. Even other people.

Many thanks to Emily Burns at LittleBrown and Co for sending me a copy for review.

Set in Berlin in post war 1946, with everything in extremely short supply, Kasper Meier trades information and deals in goods for the black market in order to keep himself and his elderly, sick father alive. He lives in one room in a half bombed out building where he secretes anything and everything that might be even remotely saleable. Kasper is despised for being homosexual, still illegal at the time, and tries to be as inconspicuous as possible. But when he is visited by one of the rubble women, Eva, a young girl who wants help finding information about a British pilot, he is drawn into a deadly web of intrigue.

‘I need someone’s help and no one will help me. I’ve got ways of paying for it, but still no one wants to take it on and you’re my last hope. What I’m saying is that I’ll make you a deal. You help me and I’ll pay you – simple as that. It’s no big issue for you. And if the payment isn’t enough of an incentive I promise not to….Well, you know – report you and Herr Neustadt.’

Kasper clucked his tongue  and scratched the side of his nose. ‘Blackmail is a very ugly business, Fräulein Hirsch.’

Berlin is a devastated, rubble strewn and dangerous city where the inhabitants struggle to survive, living by their wits. Some work clearing the rubble, others trade their bodies. Corruption is rife, lawlessness prevalent and soldiers thought guilt of rape are being found murdered. 

Frau Beckmann, a shadowy and elusive figure, who seems to control many of the girls, including Eva Hirsch, knows Kasper’s secret and is blackmailing him into finding the information she seeks. Despite fearing for his own life, Kasper feels afraid and sorry for Eva, and determines to find out what he can about Frau Beckmann and what her hold over the girls is. The more Kasper digs, the more sinister things appear. Nothing is as it seems and Kasper is drawn ever deeper into Beckmann’s machinations and the ensuing menace.

Initially, Kasper Meier seems to be a cold, unlikable and austere character, the description of a tall, lanky and bony man with an unsettling thickness of his straight, white hair, that despite brushing and trimming, stuck up in heavy tufts, yellowing slightly at the fringe, where the smoke from his cigarette curled up after staining the parts of his fingers that weren’t already blackened.’  Not to mention ‘his right eye, which was milky white and immobile. What had once been a shining black pupil, surrounded by a bright green iris, was now a faded blue stain beneath a smooth misty blue layer, like cooked egg white.’

As the story progresses however, the complexity and compassion of Kasper’s character begins to emerge, along with insights into the suffering and horror of his past life. There are ever deeper glimpses of the sad, hurting and kind-hearted man underneath the veneer. This is an intensely graphic and atmospheric account of life in a very bleak and war-torn Berlin, the desolation, the desperation and hopelessness of half-starved people who will do whatever it takes to survive, extremely apparent in Ben Fergusson’s very descriptive writing. 

Being slightly critical, I did feel the story was perhaps a little too drawn out and quite hard to follow in the first part of the book, and overall could maybe have done with slightly fewer than it’s almost 400 pages. After that, though, the pace and storyline pick up and with it the tension and emotion. There’s no compromise in the harrowing depiction of life and atrocities of a city destroyed and its people broken by war. It’s a very moving story, quite compelling, encompassing what must have been a huge amount of extensive historical research.

BenFergussonAbout the author

Ben Fergusson is a writer, editor and translator. Born in Southampton in 1980, he studied English Literature at Warwick University and Modern Languages at Bristol University, and has worked for ten years as an editor and publisher in the art world.

His short fiction has appeared in publications in both the UK and the US and has won and been shortlisted for a range of prizes, including the 2010 Bridport Prize. From 2009-2010 he edited the literary journal Chroma and since 2013 has been the editor of the short story magazine Oval Short Fiction. Currently based in London, his first novel, The Spring of Kasper Meier, was written during a four-year period living and working in Berlin.

Ben can also be found on Twitter

Please click on the book cover to be taken to Amazon UK, the book may also be purchased from Amazon US

Competition

The Spring of Kasper Meier is a gripping thriller set in a surreal and terrifying post-war Berlin, where nothing is quite what it seems. To celebrate publication of Ben Fergusson’s unforgettable debut, Little, Brown are running a ‘treasure hunt’ on twitter – with a prize of a weekend in Berlin up for grabs, as well as copies of the book.

The hunt starts on Monday 12th January, and runs all of this week. To take part in the hunt, you need to find four items that are featured in the book. Every day this week, a new item will be hidden on one these brilliant blogs:

Monday – www.workshyfop.blogspot.co.uk

Wednesday – www.betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Thursday – www.booksmonthly.co.uk

Friday – www.wondrousreads.com

Just find the picture of the item, save it, then tweet it with the #KasperMeier. We’ll pick five winners every day to get a free copy, and then one winner will be chosen at the end of the week for the weekend in Berlin!

PB KM visual 2 for Cathy

HeartSong ~ Excerpt and Interview with Desiree Williams

To celebrate the release of the paperback edition of HeartSong we have the cover images, an excerpt and an interview with the author, Desiree Williams.

The book may be purchased from  Amazon USAmazon UK and CreateSpace

Ebooks are also available at B&N, Smashwords and iBooks
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Excerpt from HeartSong

Laelynn prepared herself for whatever was to come. She attempted to concentrate on her breathing, but pain radiated through her chest at each attempt to breathe. Shallow breaths were all she could muster. The Varkadons were engrossed in their meal, paying her no attention. Laelynn prayed Dustan and Alanna appeared soon before she became dessert.
Laelynn jerked, almost screamed, when the campfire burst out into a flaming whirlwind. It grew and rolled into the air, forming a towering mass of orange and red flames. Tongues of fire leaped at the Varkadons encamped around it. The grass capes that once aided them were their downfall as their armor went up in flames. Laelynn watched the scene unfold as many succumbed to the raging fire storm. The stench of charred flesh permeated the air. Bile rose into her mouth at the odor. Few had been successful to remove the grass-covered armor. Laelynn marveled as she took inventory. The attack took out half the soldiers.
The ground quaked beneath her tree. Abruptly, it cracked and groaned, forcing the tree to whip around. The act brought Laelynn face to face with a piercing set of green eyes. The girl before her looked lethal.
The woman—Laelynn assumed she must be Alanna, the girl the voice mentioned–used her sword to cut Laelynn’s binds. Her legs were too weak to hold her up, and she dropped to the ground the moment she was freed. 

Alanna sheathed her sword and put a shoulder under Laelynn’s arm. Together the two hobbled behind a large, thick tree. Alanna let out low bird-like whistles. Seconds later Laelynn heard a heart rattling howl that vibrated through her. Screams accompanied it.
“What was that?” Laelynn whispered to her rescuer.
“That was Dustan,” Alanna whispered, then offered her a calming grin. “I’m Alanna. I’m going to set you up in this tree to keep you a safe distance away. I’ll retrieve you once the remaining Varkadons are overcome.”
Without another word, a rush of wind surrounded them. The mighty wind carried both girls effortlessly into the tree. Alanna set her down and assessed her injuries. Compassion flooded the girl’s emerald eyes.
“I’ll heal you once we’re a safe distance away from here. However, I have to leave you for just a moment to assist Dustan. Please don’t be scared. You’re safe now.” Alanna jumped down, leaving her in the tree to watch the event unfold.
Laelynn gaped in amazement at what she saw below. An incredibly large wolf thrashed a Varkadon soldier back and forth. Laelynn couldn’t remember seeing a wolf that large before. She compared it to a horse, solid black in color. With a flick of its jaw, the wolf sent the soldier flying haphazardly into the air. The Varkadons left standing formed a semicircle, pushing him back toward the growing fire.
Laelynn saw no possible way for the wolf to escape as the soldiers corralled it closer to the ravenous flames. She knew it was all her fault. How could live with herself if she had to watch another die in their plight to help her? At that moment, it looked up at her, then winked. Since when did a wolf wink?

 

I’m very pleased to welcome Desiree to BetweenTheLines 

About Desiree: 

Author Bio PhotoDesiree Williams is a dreamer by day and chocoholic by night. She lives in the beautiful state of Kentucky with her husband and daughter, where she juggles life as a wannabe supermom. Desiree is a lover of food and avoider of dirty dishes. She delights in making people laugh and strives to bring hope and love with her wherever she goes.

You can find out more about Desiree and her books at http://www.desireewilliamsbooks.blogspot.co.uk, also on her Facebook page and Goodreads

Good to have you here, Desiree.

Tell us a little about yourself, what you do when not writing?

I’m a crazy madwoman trying to keep up with life. =) I juggle a family (husband and daughter), a church family, a job, self-publishing, and all the fun that goes in between. Sometimes I kick back and watch all the balls floating in the air, knowing there are times when I have absolutely no control over them.

What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses as a writer?

My greatest strength would be my determination. I love what I do and I strive to give it my all. And in regards to weaknesses … no one ever likes to admit their faults, but for you, I will. I tend to be a passive individual in life, so unfortunately that runs over into my writing. Thankfully I enlisted an amazing content editor and beta reader to help me kick out those passive moments.

What is your least favourite part of the writing process?

I can be impatient at times (another fault, yikes!), so when I have a great thought or scene playing in my head I get frustrated that my fingers won’t type as fast as I’m demanding them to.

Do you work to an outline or wherever the characters take you?

A little bit of both. I pinpoint on my story board the key points: where I’m going, what scenes are critical, and how I want it to end. But then I let my imagination get me to each point by dreaming in the moment. I put myself in the character’s shoes and journey with them.

What are you reading at the moment?

Betrayals in Spring, the third instalment of The Last Year Series by Trisha Leigh.

This is your first book, how was the whole process for you?

Amazing doesn’t even describe my life right now! =) Looking back I’m amazed at the courage it takes to really step out and publish something that you create from your heart. And I hate bragging on myself, but I seriously jumped out of a major comfort zone to do this. So worth it! Self-publishing is a lot of work, and there are some nail-biting moments, but you rise above all that. Nothing worth achieving ever came easy.

What’s on your bucket list?

Three things on my bucket list would be … 1) I would love to be a well-known, bestselling author one day. 2) Travel to a foreign country (which might be hard since I’m afraid to fly). 3) Remind everyone that they’re loved. That one might seem silly, but you wouldn’t believe the number of people out there don’t think they are loved. I for one, want to remind them that they’re loved and they’re valued.

That’s lovely..and quite sad because it’s true.

What do you fear the most?

Spiders! I hate those creepy, crawly, gross creatures. I once lived in a trailer that I swore was invested with new species. Quick story – one day I saw a wolf spider (so the size of my fist) in the hall but I was too afraid to step on it. So I hovered a text-book over it, dropped it, and successfully destroyed my enemy. But then I was too afraid to clean it up and left it there for my brother. Gut covered text-book and all.

An actor or book character you have/or have had a crush on

Okay, so I thought about this question wondering if I would brave answering it, knowing my husband could learn of my secret crush. But then I figured out I had more secret book crushes then I realized and knew I had bigger problems. HA! I picked out two: Costin from the Grey Wolf Series by Quinn Loftis, and Lucas from The River of Time Series by Lisa Bergren. I love a guy that can make me laugh. But I must say, my handsome hubby is still number one in my heart. =)

Thanks for having me!! I had so much fun with your questions!

Thank you, Desiree, for a great interview!

Spare Change (The Wyattsville Series)

  • sparechange-1400px-copy-2Author: Bette Lee Crosby
  • Published: November 2013 by Bent Pine Publishing
  • Category: Historical Fiction
  • four-half-stars

Olivia Westerly is the only person Ethan Allen can trust, and he’s not too sure he can trust her. She’s got no love of children and a truckload of superstitions–one of them is the belief that eleven is the unluckiest number on earth. Olivia avoided marriage for almost forty years. But when Charlie Doyle happened along, he was simply too wonderful to resist. Now she’s a widow with an eleven-year-old boy claiming to be her grandson.

 

Set in the 1950s Spare Change is a story from differing viewpoints. Olivia Westerly is quite happy being independent and living on her own, working at the telephone exchange. With no desire to get married, much less have children, her life continues comfortably in the same way it has for years. Until, that is, she meets Charlie Doyle. It doesn’t take long for Charlie to woo her and almost before she knows what’s happened they are married and Olivia is happier than she ever thought possible. But Charlie dies on their honeymoon and Olivia is inconsolable.

Ethan Allen is eleven years old living with his parents on a farm. His mama, Susannah, is flighty and totally undomesticated, she just wants to go to New York City to be a singer, it’s all she talks about. But Ethan’s daddy, Benjamin, has no intention of allowing it. Between the fighting, making up and general disregard from his parents Ethan does’t have much of a childhood or upbringing. When horrific and violent events occur he runs to the only person he can think of, the grandfather he has never met.

This is a gritty and, at times, tragic story with very distinctive, well-formed and colourful characters that will surely pull the reader into their lives. It was easy to get involved in the story and sympathise with the characters, especially Ethan. He is very credible given his life up to that point and the developing relationship between him and Olivia is touching.

I like the way the characters are all woven together to create an engaging story with humour, sadness, some violence but also hope and trust. The first person perspectives at the beginning of each chapter is a nice touch, like eavesdropping on that character’s thoughts.

There’s an unmistakable theme of good versus evil running through with a thread of Christianity, not in a preachy way, showing the best and worst of human nature. The epilogue may not appeal to all readers but for me it rounds the story off nicely.

tt10407952fltt   Amazon US  Amazon UK

Heart Song ~ Cover Reveal

I’m very pleased to be able to share the lovely cover for Desiree Williams’ debut Young Adult Fantasy/Fiction novel, Heart Song, book one of the Heart Song series.

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In Aldonnia, the evil of Varkadon overflows its borders. War ravages the lands…

For as long as eighteen year-old Alanna can remember she’s lived in hiding, sealed off from the outside world. Despite a future built around a steadfast rule of seclusion, Alanna dreams of the impossible. Of a life outside of her parents’ cabin. A life with more for company than just birds and woodland creatures. A life she knows deep down is impossible for someone with gifts like hers.
That all changes the day Alanna finds a man floating face down in a stream. Despite her parents’ warnings, Alanna pulls the injured man out of the water and heals him with her elemental talents. Just another good deed. Until the man wakes and Alanna realizes so much more has happened than simply a life saved. The healing she performed on the stranger bound her soul to Jerric, the prince of Aldonnia.
Alanna’s heart wants to keep the prince, but duty and destiny intervene. Alanna’s world is rocked as her parents are lost. Left in the care of family she didn’t know, Alanna learns more than she wanted to about the evil threatening the lands. There is much more behind her parents’ drive to protect. Alanna learns her gifts were bestowed in order to fulfill a greater purpose. A greater calling. One her enemies seek to destroy at all cost.
Alanna’s choice is clear. To either ignore her destiny and remain hidden, or boldly fight to keep what sings to her heart.

 

 

 

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Author Bio PhotoDesiree Williams is a dreamer by day and chocoholic by night. She lives in the beautiful state of Kentucky with her husband and daughter, where she juggles life as a wannabe supermom. Desiree is a lover of food and avoider of dirty dishes. She delights in making people laugh and strives to bring hope and love with her wherever she goes. 

You can find out more about Desiree and her books at www.desireewilliamsbooks.blogspot.co.uk, also on her Facebook page and Goodreads

 

Desiree is offering a fabulous giveaway, to enter just click the Rafflecopter link. Awaiting the winner is a bracelet, $10 Amazon gift card and a $10 Starbucks gift card all wrapped up in a lovely little book box.

Cover Reveal Giveaway Image

 

The Impossible Knife of Memory ~ the audiobook

 

Hayley Kincain has an interesting take on her peers, they’re either freaks or zombies. She’s spent the majority of her teenage years travelling  around the country navigating for her truck driving dad. Now they’re living in her grandmother’s old house in their home town and Hayley has started high school which proves to be a challenge for her. She copes by being aloof, hiding her pain as best she can and not letting herself get close to anyone…until she meets Finn.

Her father, Andy, has an altogether different way of coping with his problems. He’s dealing, or actually not dealing, with the aftermath of his military service in Iraq and Afghanistan with drink and drugs. It’s left to Hayley to look out for him and try to keep his unpredictable behaviour under control. They are both ravaged by Andy’s PTSD and it’s only getting worse. How much longer can Hayley manage.

Thoughts

Written from Hayley’s point of view, she has a pithy and unique perspective due in no small part to her unconventional upbringing. Her mother died when she was very young and after several years in her grandmother’s care she became close to her dad’s partner who eventually left. Deep down Hayley is hurting and insecure.

Her father’s flashbacks add poignancy and give an insight into the concept of PTSD. It’s so hard to grasp the enormity of the lasting effects this has. Both Hayley and her father have their demons to deal with and neither are coping well.

The situations and characters are complex and realistic, very well-developed. It’s an exceptionally moving and compelling story of a family broken beyond bearing and although it makes difficult listening at times it’s incredibly well written. There’s no miraculously  happy ending here but there is hope.

Performance

The more I listen to Julia Whelan the more I like her narrations. She’s the perfect voice for Hayley and makes the strong, smart yet vulnerable character stand out.

Luke Daniels’ narration of Andy’s flashback sections, although few and far between, convey the distressing emotion and absolute horror, the feelings and experiences of war and Andy’s appalling memories of the things he’s witnessed that now torment him.

Buy at Amazon UK and Amazon US