Sealskin by Su Bristow @SuBristow #Magical Realism #Selkies @OrendaBooks #BookReview #FridayReads

  • Author: Su Bristow
  • Performed by Angus King
  • Released: February 2017 by Audible Studios
  • Category: Fantasy, Fiction, Romance

Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous, and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives—not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. 

Based on the selkie myths, this is a wonderfully original debut novel. An extraordinary tale with dark undercurrents, it’s about the power of love, magic, forgiveness and conversely violence, loss and atonement. It explores the meaning of community, the story giving the impression of being set in times gone by, which combined with the complexities of living in a small fishing village, intensifies the atmosphere. When life could be extremely harsh, villagers didn’t stray far from home and weather and sea dictated their way of life. 

Donald Macfarlane has been bullied and teased for most of his life and, as a result, has grown up self-conscious and introverted. An incapacitating skin condition doesn’t help and makes fishing difficult. He keeps himself isolated from the rest of the small fishing village where he lives a lonely life with his mother, Bridie. Out one night, seeing to the crab pots, Donald witnesses something spectacular and his impulsive and forceful reactions have far reaching consequences for himself and everyone around him. He has to live with the repercussions of his actions even as he tries to atone for his wrongdoing. And although the initial fault lies with Donald, it was compounded by his mother’s intervention. The story is, at heart, the retelling of a selkie legend brought to life with a diverse and complex cast of characters amid the wild and rugged backdrop of a rural Scottish landscape.

There was not a whisper of wind tonight, and no sound from the sea at all. As he walked along the strand to where his rowboat was drawn up, the waves were lapping at his boots, just stroking the shoreline, hushing it like a woman soothing her child.

The boat was silvered all over with tiny frost-flowers, sparkling in the moonlight. Donald paused, unwilling to lay hands on it, to spoil its perfection, to mar the utter stillness of the night by dragging it over the shingle and rowing out from the shore. Almost, at times like this, he could love the sea. But there were jobs that had to be done, and the tide was turning. He bent to the task.

The setting is described wonderfully, with evocative and vivid imagery, beautiful prose and in depth characterisations. So much so that I was there, witnessing the story unfolding. The perception and understanding of human nature seems very intuitive. Donald especially, grows and changes beyond recognition. From an insular and ineffectual youth who does something terrible in a moment of madness,  to someone who learns the true meaning of love, understanding others and the torment of loss. His personal development is due entirely to Mairhi and he loves her completely. 

Very much a character driven tale with Mairhi, Donald and Bridie at the forefront, although the rest of the cast have an important part to play. Mairhi is an enchanting character, delicate, other worldly and fully innocent. She is initially much mistrusted as an incomer by the village residents who are hardy, down to earth souls. They begin to realise she has a special, magical quality which benefits the community, although not everyone understands or makes her unconditionally welcome, even as their lives are transformed. Bridie is the stalwart member of the family, but her decision to play a part in controlling Mairhi’s fate won’t let her rest and she becomes tormented by remorse.

Despite beginning with an act of violence (according to legend if a selkie’s skin is taken and hidden from her, she is in the man’s power and forced to become his wife) this is a beautiful, captivating and haunting book which was an (emotional) pleasure to listen to. Su Bristow’s writing is superb and captured my imagination from the start. It’s a book I won’t forget in a hurry. 

Angus King has a lovely Scottish lilt which was perfect for the narration. He did a brilliant job, I’ll be looking out for more of his work.

Book links ~ Amazon UK || Amazon US

About Su Bristow

Su Bristow is a consultant medical herbalist by day. She’s the author of two books on herbal medicine: The Herbal Medicine Chest and The Herb Handbook; and two on relationship skills: The Courage to Love and Falling in Love, Staying in Love, co-written with psychotherapist, Malcolm Stern. Her published fiction includes ‘Troll Steps’ (in the anthology, Barcelona to Bihar), and ‘Changes’ which came second in the 2010 Creative Writing Matters flash fiction competition. Sealskin is set in the Hebrides, and it’s a reworking of the Scottish and Nordic legend of the selkies, or seals who can turn into people. It won the Exeter Novel Prize 2013. Her writing has been described as ‘magical realism; Angela Carter meets Eowyn Ivey’.

Website || Twitter || Facebook

#ThrowBackThursday ~ Night Road by Kristin Hannah #Books #AmReading

I’ve seen this meme around a few times. Began by Renee at It’s Book Talk, the idea is to choose a book that’s been in your to be read pile for over 12 months. Either a favourite book or one that keeps getting lost in the ever growing stack waiting to be read.

My choice is Night Road by Kristin Hannah. It’s been on the shelf for some time. I’ve read Kristin Hannah before and really enjoyed her books, not sure why this keeps getting pushed back.  Continue reading

Clay Tongue: A Novelette by Nicholas Conley #RBRT @NicholasConley1 #TuesdayBookBlog #Fantasy

  • Author: Nicholas Conley
  • Published: November 2016 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Fantasy, Contemporary, Book Review

Katie Mirowitz is a small little girl with an even smaller little voice. She possesses a deep love for her grandfather, who suffers from aphasia after a bad stroke cuts loose the part of his brain that processes verbal language.

Clay Tongue is a moving story of a little girl’s belief, determination and courage. Young Katie Mirowitz is a quiet, shy child, except when she’s with her Grandfather. Katie loves talking to him, even now when he can’t form coherent words anymore after his stroke, they always manage to communicate one way or another. But Grandfather is keeping a secret, Katie saw him trying to hide his journal. The knowledge gives her an unfamiliar, and not altogether comfortable, feeling in her heart.  Continue reading

Someone Else’s Skin (DI Marnie Rome #1) by Sarah Hilary @sarah_hilary

  • Author: Sarah Hilary
  • Published: February 2014 by Headline
  • Category: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Police Procedural, Fiction, Book Review

Introducing D.I. Marnie Rome, this powerful novel that will enthral fans of Val McDermid and Mo Hayder.

Called to a women’s refuge to take a routine witness statement, D.I. Marnie Rome instead walks in on an attempted murder.

Detective Inspector Marnie Rome focuses on her job, leaving little room for anything else. She knows first hand what it’s like to deal with a terrible and violent loss. Five years ago her parents were horrifically murdered by her foster brother. The resulting emotions are what drive her. Her colleagues know of her past and how hard she fought back, but few know the real Marnie. Continue reading

Secrets of the Heart (Heartfelt Series #3) by Adrienne Vaughan @adrienneauthor #SundayBlogShare

  • Author: Adrienne Vaughan
  • Published: November 2014 by New Romantics Press
  • Category: Romance, Drama, Review

Finally free to be together on the remote Irish isle of Innishmahon, campaigning journalist Marianne Coltrane and her movie star partner, Ryan O’Gorman are looking forward to life away from the bright lights of Hollywood and the constant pursuit of the paparazzi.

Secrets of the Heart is the final instalment of the Heartfelt series. Marianne Coltrane’s birth parents, reunited after years apart, have finally tied the knot and she couldn’t be happier. The fabulously flamboyant Kathleen MacReady and Brian Maguire are in Dublin on honeymoon after a lovely wedding day. Continue reading

Taming the Highlander (Scottish Relic Trilogy #2) by May McGoldrick @MacmillanAudio #HistFic #FridayReads

Innes Munro has the ability to “read” a person’s past simply by touching them, but her gift comes with a heavy price: her freedom. Forced to stay at desolate Castle Girnigoe, Innes never expects to be drawn to the wounded warrior who haunts its dark passages and challenges her at every turn.

Fifty years previously four small pieces of a stone relic, the Wheel of Lugh, were brought to Scotland. Each fragment held a special gift but together, the four pieces would hold a terrible power if they were to fall into the wrong hands. The bearers of the tablets had sworn an oath, to travel to the farthest reaches of Scotland to keep the pieces of the relic separate. Continue reading

Strawberry Sky (Midnight Sky #3) by @JanRuthAuthor Contemporary #Drama #TuesdayBookBlog

  • Author: Jan Ruth
  • Published: April 2017 by Celtic Connections
  • Category: Contemporary, Drama, Fiction

A rosy future seems certain but Laura has some tough decisions to make.

Maggie is devastated by her daughter’s plans, but Jess is determined to remove the past from her life no matter the upset it will cause. James is no longer running from his past, but a multitude of unresolved issues are set to catch up with Laura.

Although the Carneddau ponies have shared ancestry with the Welsh Section A pony, they exhibit genetic signatures demonstrating that the population has been isolated for at least several hundred years…

The third in the Midnight Sky trilogy, Strawberry Sky continues James and Laura’s story. Despite the terrible life changing accident James suffered several months previously, things are at last looking up for the two of them, despite Laura’s overwhelming desire to be a mother. Work is progressing on the house and the business is expanding, with the addition of a  young, orphaned Carneddau strawberry roan and a newcomer to the team with whom Laura develops an affinity. Continue reading

The Red Cobra by Rob Sinclair @RSinclairAuthor #Thriller reviewed for #RBRT

  • Author: Rob Sinclair
  • Published: April 2017 by Bloodhound Books
  • Category: Crime, Thriller, Suspense

Carl Logan dedicated nearly twenty years of his life to the Joint Intelligence Agency. Now living in a secret location, under the new identify of James Ryker, he wants nothing more than to be left alone, the chance to start a new life away from chaos, violence, destruction and deceit.

James Ryker may have relaxed slightly after twelve months of living in a secret location with Lisa, his girlfriend, since leaving behind the violent life of a secret agent. But fate, in the guise of Peter Winter his ex-boss, was having none of it. He wants Ryker to look into the unexplained murder of Kim Walker. Her fingerprints match those of someone from Ryker’s past who has supposedly been dead for years. The female assassin known as the Red Cobra. Anna Abayev. His former lover and adversary. Continue reading

#SpringReads ~ Spotlight on The Learn by Tony Halker #HistoricalFiction @Authoright #SundayBlogShare

 

Blending reality, history and legend, about a time when women were considered as important as men, taking power in an oral society that worships the Goddess. A whole Celtic Druid world is laid out before us, incorporating beliefs, technology and the natural environment.

A Celtic boy, a beach scavenger, is pledged to the Learn, a life of endurance, a path to become sworn Druid: scholar and warrior.  Young women and men progress, becoming Priests and Druidii. Friendship, affection, passion and care develop as novices mature, confidence emerging.
Seasonal battles of winter and summer bring rich festivals when seeds of men are taken by women in pleasure to prove fertility. Small damaged, hurt peoples on the margins of Celtic society blend in and out of vision. Continue reading

#Interview & #Extract ~ Miles of Files by Michael J Sahno @MikeSahno #FridayReads #Humour #Thriller

Welcome, Mike. First of all, please introduce yourself and tell us what you like to do when not writing.

I began writing at a very early age, and eventually went on to study English and American literature in the university setting. I got a Master of Arts in English from Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY at the age of 24, and went on to become a full-time professional writer in 2001. When I’m not writing, I love to get into the other areas of the arts: concerts, visual arts, and so on. To to stay healthy, I run and work out. 

What was your inspiration for Miles of Files?

In Miles of Files, a young man find out that his boss is stealing from the company retirement plan, but not in a traditional embezzlement: he’s actually created these fake employee files, to make it look like he’s paying out benefits to former employees. The germ of the story is based loosely on an experience of my own: I once worked for a company that “froze” the company retirement plan for a year, so no one could take funds out or even put funds in. That was an unnerving experience. Continue reading