Top Reads of 2016 #Books #AmReading #TuesdayBookBlog

It’s that time again! This year has gone so quickly and it’s been filled with really great reads. Narrowing down favourites is a difficult task but here they are. As always, they’ll be either 4.5* or 5* and clicking on the cover will take you to Amazon UK. 

28111823Dead Is Dead ~ Thriller

Private investigator Jack Bertolino, previously an inspector with the NYPD, is employed as technical advisor, consulting on a movie being made of his last case. His job includes protection for the female star, who is being targeted by a disturbed, out of control stalker. Susan Blake is beautiful, haunted by a past that she can’t lay to rest.

During filming there’s an actual shooting several blocks away, which results in the accidental and tragic death of little Maria Sanchez and also that of known drug dealer, Tomas Vegas. Cruz Feinberg, the technical wizard in Jack’s company, knows the Sanchez family and asks Jack to make some enquiries. As Jack’s investigation progresses the Dirk brothers’ names pop up too often for Jack’s liking and his ingrained cop’s instinct is on high alert.  Continue reading

Celtic Connections ~ Literary Event at #Conwy Library @JanRuthAuthor @GillyHamer #Books #wwwblogs

Conwy library recently hosted two local authors, Jan Ruth and Gillian Hamer.

gilly-and-jan-flyer-web Continue reading

The Wild Water Series by @JanRuthAuthor ~ Reviewed for #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog ~ Family #Saga

  • Wild Water Box SetAuthor: Jan Ruth
  • Published: May 2016 by Celtic Connections
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction
  • five-stars

The tragedy and comedy that is Jack’s life; secrets, lies, long lost loves and family ties.

Wild Water begins the story of Jack Redman who works in the Cheshire branch of his family’s very successful estate agency business. To all outward appearances he has it all, the up market car, the big house, a beautiful, if high maintenance, wife and three lovely children. But Jack’s life is thrown into turmoil when Patsy, his selfish and materialistic wife, admits to an affair and leaves the family home with their younger daughter. Jack has felt something was amiss for a while but certainly wasn’t expecting the train wreck which was now his life. And things were getting worse. His father has had a health scare leaving Jack to run both the Cheshire and North Wales branches. Jack is run ragged and very unhappy. Meeting up with Anna, his first love, in Wales, when she lists her farm for sale is the only thing keeping him sane. 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

More Favourite Opening Lines #Books #amreading #SundayBlogShare

It’s all on twelve months since I first wrote about my favourite opening lines, so I reckon I’ve read enough books to warrant another selection. So in no particular order, here they are. Clicking on the book title will take you to my review if you’d like more info.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

15932273Mabel had known there would be silence. That was the point, after all. No infants cooing or wailing. No neighbour children playfully hollering down the lane. No pad of small feet on wooden stairs worn smooth by generations, or clackety-clack of toys along the kitchen floor. All those sounds of her failure and regret would be left behind, and in their place there would be silence.

Lowcountry Punch by Boo Walker

21863524The Miami I knew wasn’t all G-strings and mojitos. We were undercover, working our way up the stairs of a parking garage in the Latin Quarter, minutes from a cocaine exchange, with no backup. We’d been trying to get to whoever was up there for two weeks and needed to make arrests. I’d be damned if we were going to let them walk away just because there hadn’t been a chance to call it in. Continue reading

Palomino Sky (Midnight Sky Series: 2) @JanRuthAuthor #RBRT #Contemporary Family #Drama

  • Palomino Sky Cover LARGE EBOOKAuthor: Jan Ruth
  • January 2016 by Celtic Connections
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction, Drama
  • five-stars

A golden promise for the future in a lonely palomino mare, but life deals a cruel hand for James and Laura.
James is still running from the past after the loss of his wife, and a devastating accident forces him to face his final demons, but at what cost? Laura is forced deeper into his rural world – a life she once despised – but discovers empathy and hope in the palomino mare she calls Song.
Repercussions abound for Maggie too, when the full extent of her daughter’s dangerous liaison comes to light, leaving the entire family in turmoil. Will James and Laura ever find a golden future, or has life dealt too vicious a blow?

Palomino Sky is the sequel to the wonderful Midnight Sky, where we first meet Laura and James and their siblings, and are drawn into their complicated family lives. James and Laura, both recovering from momentous and traumatic life events, are finding solace in each other, although they are not helped by Laura’s wilful and temperamental teenage niece causing no end of trouble.  Continue reading

Silver Rain

  • Silver Rain Cover LARGE EBOOKAuthor: Jan Ruth
  • Published: April 2015 by Accent Press
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
  • five-stars

Black sheep meets good shepherd – can black and white become silver, or just a dangerous grey? 
Alastair Black has revealed a secret to his wife in a last ditch attempt to save his marriage. A return to his childhood family home at Chathill Farm is his only respite, although he is far from welcomed back by brother George. 
Kate, recently widowed and increasingly put upon by her daughter, sister, and mother, feels her life is over at fifty – until she meets Alastair. He’s everything she isn’t, but he’s a troubled soul with a dark past. When his famous mother leaves an unexpected inheritance, Kate is caught up in the unravelling of his life as Al comes to terms with who he really is.

Alistair Black, fifty, divorced and homeless since the house he and his ex-wife had shared has been sold, is rapidly sinking into a state of despair. His only option is to descend on his brother and sister-in-law at the their farmhouse, Chathill, where he grew up. Chathill is actually half his by right even though the brothers are not related by blood. Al and George have been estranged for the last fifteen years and Al’s edited explanation of why sealed the demise of his marriage. So, along with his two dogs, Butter and Marge, and Jo, his new girlfriend, in a camper van stuffed with all his worldly goods, he sets off for North Wales. Continue reading

White Horizon

  • White Horizon Cover LARGE EBOOKAuthor: Jan Ruth
  • Published: November 2013 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction
  • four-half-stars

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A dramatic story of forgiveness, family and friendship; set in the Welsh Mountains of Snowdonia.

My thanks to Jan Ruth for sending me a copy as part of Rosie Amber’s book review team.

Daniel and Tina decide to cement their on-off relationship of twenty-five years with a marriage ceremony in the town they grew up in, near Snowdonia in North Wales. They start their married life living in the hotel Daniel is renovating but things between the newly weds begin to crumble after just a few months. Tina is keeping an overwhelming secret and doing her best to deal with it in the only way she feels she can. By pushing Daniel away, partly to prove she can cope on her own because she never has had to. Daniel has always been there for her. 

Their old school friends, who haven’t seen each other for years, Victoria and Linda and their respective husbands, Max and Mike, are drawn into the resulting fall out which will affect not only those involved but their families as well.

Linda and Victoria are experiencing their own marital problems and all three couples find themselves in difficult circumstances and with friendships at breaking point. Their lives can never again be the same and each of them will face a future they couldn’t have imagined. The terrible culmination of Victoria and Max’s relationship breakdown is horrifying and dramatic, resulting in destruction and death which devastates everyone in the community.

Outwardly, everything in Victoria’s life was pretty good, but her comfortable life was flawed, so flawed. She stole a quick sideways look at Linda and felt nostalgic for something she’d lost along the way, something honest and ordinary. And it made no sense that Linda actually only lived a couple of miles away, and yet only a wave across the supermarket car park had passed between them for years, separated by their social strata. Did that make her a snob like her mother? Is that how people saw her?

The dynamics between the couples and their interwoven stories are written so well it’s impossible not to have a vivid picture of them, and be drawn in as they are ever more deeply involved in the developing story. Jan Ruth just seems to be able to get right inside the characters and make them totally real and believable, with well-developed and credible personalities. Their problems and emotions are handled sensitively and with honesty during the major life changes that affect them all. Serious issues, including spousal abuse and debilitating illness, are dealt with tactfully.

A really good mix of characters, Daniel stood out for me and Victoria, who was the most damaged by her awful experiences. Great writing and precise attention to details – such an enjoyable read. The scenic descriptions are beautiful and bring the area to life adding an extra element to the story. Mainly, though, this is about how the strength of love and forgiveness, having friends and family win out in the end.  

Home For Christmas

  • HomeforChristmasAuthor: Jan Ruth
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Published: October 2014 by Celtic Connections
  • Category: Contemporary
  • four-half-stars

An emotive trio of stories with festive themes from the Welsh Mountains of Snowdonia.

A collection of three ‘long short stories’ from Jan Ruth are the perfect seasonal read. 

Rudolph the Brown Nosed Reindeer

Rick’s Christmas gets off to a dismal start. His live in girlfriend leaves for a job in Florida and Rick has to make the trip to a remote cottage in Wales for a corporate Christmas event. Rick meets his personal assistant in the flesh for the first time. Will Pauline be the answer to his lonely festive season?

How would he survive this? Two nights trapped with work colleagues he mostly despised or did his utmost to avoid……a depressing blend of training and team building; they’d even managed to slip in the yearly personal development interview on the afternoon they arrived.

Jim’s Christmas Carol

Jim wants to call a halt to his extra marital affair but the lady in question is having none of it. The story is told from multiple perspectives and the Christmas gathering at Jim’s house is not at all what he expected or wanted which undoubtedly gives him a Christmas to remember for all the wrong reasons. An original and humorous tale told with satire and a dash of the paranormal.

“What’s happening then, on Christmas Day,” she said. “Will I get to see you?”

“Oh, you know, the usual. The High Priestess will knock herself out making a Christmas to remember. I’ll be sucked in, hanging sparkly balls and laying the fire, decanting the port.”

Home For Christmas

Pip is home for the holidays after another failed romance and what could be worse than being home alone. Her parents are in Spain for the winter but the villagers are curiosity personified. Lies fall from her lips almost of their own accord and take on a life of their own. A fun and entertaining romance.

“Hello, Daffyd. Er, yes, house sitting.”

“Boyfriend on his way?”

“He’s had to attend a very important business meeting conference. Overseas. Urgently, at the last minute,” she added, hoping Father Christmas wasn’t listening.

Three delightfully entertaining and completely different takes on Christmas, with an underlying flavour of romance, and definitely not your average festive stories. For all they’re effectively short stories, there is a really good storyline in each one and the writing is so concisely descriptive it’s easy to visualise the scenarios. I love how the stories play out and the fact they’re set against the wonderful backdrop of Snowdonia. 

Midnight Sky

  • Midnight Sky Cover LARGE EBOOKAuthor: Jan Ruth
  • Published: October 2013 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
  • four-half-stars

 

How can we harness the future if the past will not set us free? An emotive story of love, loss and letting go. Opposites attract? Laura Brown, interior designer and James Morgan-Jones, horse whisperer – and Midnight Sky, a beautiful but damaged steeplechaser. Laura seems to have it all, glamorous job, charming boyfriend. Her sister, Maggie, struggles with money, difficult children and an unresponsive husband. She envies her sister’s life, but are things as idyllic as they seem? She might be a farmer’s daughter but Laura is doing her best to deny her roots, even deny her true feelings. Until she meets James, but James is very married, and very much in love, to a wife who died two years ago. They both have issues to face from their past, but will it bring them together, or push them apart?

Many thanks to Jan Ruth for sending me an e-copy as part of Rosie Amber’s book review team.

James is a widower and, in the two years since his wife’s sudden death, has built an impenetrable wall around himself and is in a very dark place emotionally. He runs an equestrian centre with his sister, Liz, and finds it hard to anything much else other bury himself in work until he, literally, drops with fatigue.

Laura and her lover, Simon, run a property development and interior design company and are working and living together. Laura and Simon had an affair while Simon was still married, and his bitter and resentful wife seems to be permanently in the picture. Consequently things are not going too well and when Laura suffers a harrowing trauma her relationship goes from bad to worse.

Maggie, Laura’s sister, is having seemingly insurmountable problems of her own, money worries, her insensitive husband and her pretty but offensive teenage daughter. Her younger daughter, Ellie, has mild autism which is helped by her riding lessons with James, but Maggie doesn’t know how much longer she’ll be able to afford them. On top of all that she’s waging a losing battle with her weight.

“This is Laura Brown of Dragon Designs,” Liz said, firmly. “Laura, this is my brother, James.”

Laura scrambled to her feet. “Hi,” she said, offering her hand. It seemed an age before he accepted. It was a reassuringly firm grip, but he couldn’t have cared less who she was or what she had to say. He had very dark, green eyes, like seaweed or olives. They were sad eyes, she remembered thinking later.

All the involved story threads are woven together beautifully and, one way or another, the colourful array of characters manage to bring out the best qualities in each other. Midnight Sky encompasses such a lot, emotional highs and lows, relationships, heartache and not to mention a good dose of teenage angst. The story is set mainly in Snowdonia, which is described in evocative detail, giving a vivid sense of place.

Jan Ruth’s writing flows easily and the story is captivating and poignant. The complete mixture of emotions are conveyed with such realism and sensitivity I couldn’t help but empathise. James, suffering so much torment and yet so patient and gentle with his horses, especially the damaged, untrusting Midnight Sky, and the children he takes for specialist teaching. He is a complicated and compelling man. Laura and Maggie are both facing critical and life changing situations and learning how to deal with them.

All the characters are genuine and credible and penned sympathetically. I was drawn completely into their lives almost without realising it. Very nearly a fly on the wall. I loved it!

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This book is reviewed for Rosie Amber‘s book review team and is based on a digital copy from the author. This does not affect my opinion or the content of my review.

About the author

JanRuthJan Ruth was born in Bowden, Cheshire, and moved to North Wales in 1998, although she has always maintained a strong connection with the area from a much earlier age. Her feel for the Welsh landscape is evident in all of her books.

Jan started writing at primary school, winning prizes for poetry and short stories. Her first novel attracted a London agent, but failed to find the right niche with a publisher because it didn’t fall into a specific category-not quite light enough for romance but not literary fiction either, sitting somewhere between these two genres. Her second novel, again snapped up by a London agent; suffered the same fate. Undeterred, Jan has continued to write, believing her market is out there.

Jan writes contemporary women’s fiction. Love stories with strong, identifiable characters, about family life and relationships.

Jan can be found on Facebook, Twitter and her website