Book Review Challenge – A Review by Angie

Today we have a review from Book Review Challenger Angie, she blogs at http://angiesworld30.wordpress.com

Rosie's Book Review Challengers 1

Angie chose The Hollow Heart by Adrienne Vaughan.

Hollow Heart - Adrienne Vaughan

Hollow Heart – Adrienne Vaughan

Here is Angie’s review.

Format: Kindle and Paperback

Genre: Contemporary Romance

This is the first book in the The Heartfelt series, about Marianne Coltrane, an award winning journalist who breaks a story regarding babies, adoption and the church. After dealing with some traumatic and sad times, she decides that it’s about time she took a sabbatical from her job to spend some time in Ireland in a little place called Innishmahon.

It’s in Innishmahon that she runs – literally into Ryan O’Gorman an actor who hates journalists and has just landed his role in one of the biggest movies in history. She has met Ryan before at a ceremony award where he became her knight in shining armour but the politeness is short lived, when she finds that he is one of the most infuriating men she has ever met.

Marianne manages to make new friends in Innishmahon and becomes best friends with Oonagh Quinn and Kathleen Macready. Along with Oonagh’s husband Padar and Father Gregory, she falls in love with Innishmahon and decides to move there for good.

Both Marianne and Ryan had escaped to Innishmahon to get a break and find themselves but what they weren’t expecting to find was true love, or is it ???

When I first started this book, I thought I was going to need my tissues at the ready, getting a lump in my throat within the first few chapters but also wanted to smile at parts as well.

As I got into the story, I found myself liking Marianne even more, especially since she was a proper journalist doing good and not a celebrity crazed stalker. I also have to say that I absolutely loved how Adrienne wrote about Monty the dog, and the things that he would probably say if he were human.

I felt so many different emotions throughout the book and don’t think there were any characters that I didn’t like, even Paul her ex-colleague needed some sympathy by the end, even if he wasn’t the friend she thought he was.

I even loved the fact that it was set in Ireland, as it is one of my favourite places having visited Cork a couple of times. I could imagine the Irish accents of the characters throughout.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am glad I chose it as part of Rosie Amber’s book review challenge. I will definitely be purchasing the next instalment of Marianne Coltrane’s adventures.

I give this book four stars.

Find a copy here on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

The Agben School by Jo Sparkes

The Agben SchoolThis is the second book in The Legend of the Gamesmen Fantasy Series. The story continues with Drail’s team The Hand of Victory arriving in Missea. Home to the great Skullan Gamesmen. With them travels Tryst, kidnapped and disguised Prince of the realm and Marra herb girl or Brista to the team. Each time the men play she brews a special elixir for them to drink to improve their skills on the playing field.
But Tryst is denied access to the palace. Everything has changed since he left over a year ago on his epourney. A journey to see the world and come home an experienced man. Rumours have spread that Truemen have murdered the Prince and that an imposter may be in his place.
Meanwhile Drail and his Gamesmen must begin at the bottom of the Gamesmen league after a humiliating start in the Gold Harbour arena. Marra is in danger and goes to the Agben school to learn more about herbs and potions. Here they discover she has a rare and natural talent and she uses her skills to help both Drail and Tryst uncover a deep and sinister plot.
This series just gets better, I really enjoyed all of Marra’s experiences at the Agben school and the games of Comet are mush easier to follow now that I’m into the second book. The story will continue in the next book.
Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Guest Author Susan Scott

 

Today our guest is Susan Scott, author of yesterday’s book In Praise Of Lilith, Eve And The Serpent In The Garden Of Eden And Other Stories. Here is a link to the post http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-5oo

Susan Scott

Let’s find out more about Susan and her writing.

* Where is your home town?

 - I live in Johannesburg South Africa.
* What inspired you to put together this collection of essays?
- 5 of them are personal, 2 are quasi academic and as you know they are deeply psychological. From my studies in clinical psychology at university and ongoing study of C.G. Jung and other in-depth psychologists and writers, I realised more and more the value of self. I wanted to show how the seemingly mundane contains the sacred within and that there is universality in this.
* Can you briefly tell the readers what you learnt from creating your secret garden?
- When I committed to this project, it was very interesting to me how it began to unfold. In my instance I said ‘yes’ to the call of the yearning of creating my own secret space and began the action of implementing it. It is like saying ‘yes’ to the psyche and then experiencing the support that comes. As I cleared weeds and brush, sticks and stones, deadwood and dug deeper to prepare the soil and space, I thought how akin this was to clearing the psyche – getting rid of deadwood that no longer serves one and making way for new life, new energy and room for other things to grow – in the psyche. The ego took a back seat while I was doing this hard, physical, yet meditative work, and I found it liberating clearing useless deadwood in my psyche which made room for new energy to emerge.
* What sort of rubbish were you finding on the beach? How did it make you feel?
- the same sort of rubbish that one finds on pavements in towns and cities and even out in the country. Broken glass, plastic bottles and bags, fishing line caught up in rocks, rusting tins, cigarette ends, bottle caps, styrofoam containers. I felt pretty despairing about this care-less, thoughtless and destructive acts of discarding unwanted, non-biodegradable trash onto erstwhile pristine beaches or anywhere else. I wondered why it is that there is so little respect for Nature and all she gives us. Why make ugly what is beautiful? Is it some sort of destructive act against our own selves, this thoughtlessness and un-caring?
* Can you tell the readers who Lilith was?
- According to the Midrash (early middle ages exposition of the Bible by Jewish scholars), she was the first wife of Adam in the Garden of Eden, made from the same dust and clay and at same time as he, therefore they were equal. She was expelled from the Garden for refusing to be subordinate to Adam. She has both divine and demonic powers. Folk lore sees her as a demon, wreaking revenge for her banishment wherever she passes. In our contemporary lives and as women she is seen as daimon, or inner wise voice.  She’s been likened to the Black Madonna. Her repression still reverberates – as does her return. She needs to be redeemed through conscious awareness of her. We each have a light and dark side in simplistic terms and much of the wounding that comes from repression inter alia needs healing in order to be as whole as possible.
* What do you believe her role was in connection to Eve?
- Lilith spent a long long time in the depths of the Red Sea lamenting her repression and exile. Anything that is repressed will re-appear. Lilith appears in disguise as the serpent, and approached Eve in the garden when she saw Eve languishing against the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (the first appearance of the opposites, central to in-depth psychology – and all of us). She offered Eve the apple, which Eve accepted. In psychological terms this can be seen as the way of rising from that undifferentiated state of unconsciousness, and into another world, albeit it a world of pain and pleasure, joy and grief, light and dark – a world of opposites, contained within us all. Our task is to find a way of uniting or finding a balance between those opposites. Lilith gave Eve the opportunity for consciousness, away from unconsciousness, blissful it may have been in Paradise. Both women said ‘no’ to injunctions, and both were consequently banished and repressed. Both were trailblazers whose trails are still deeply felt.
* Can you tell us briefly where our dreams come from?
- They come from the very person having the dream. And more specifically from the dreamer’s unconscious, that deep limitless reservoir. An ordinary event may be the hook on which the dream is hung, but they are worthy of deep consideration no matter in which way they present themselves to the dreamer. I like the saying from The Talmud: ‘An unexamined dream is like an unopened letter’.
* What made you decide to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro?
- I didn’t decide, it was decided for me. I signed a document in a wonderfully reckless moment at a birthday lunch. The hostess put a pen in my hand with a document in front of me stating the intention to climb the highest mountain in Africa the following year. My name along with hers and one or two others was at the bottom of the document. The hostess said ‘SIGN!’. So I did, little knowing …
* What were the worst/best bits of the mountain climb?
- There were so many bests. Without doubt, summitting! Actually being there at the top! Such an expansive feeling! Doing this with friends and the camaraderie among us, while each struggled in unique ways, is paradoxical in its way and is a lasting memory. The most difficult was for me coming down the mountain. For me that was unbelievably tricky. I’d forgotten that once you get up, you have to come down …
* Where can readers find out more about you?
- my website is probably the best bet. I’d love to connect with your readers. And thank you very much Rosie for this opportunity to express myself. It’s such a kind gesture to widen the field. I know we’re all very grateful.
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Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
Thank you Susan your book is full of deep and interesting topics.

Book Review Challenge Post from Teri

Today we have a Book Review Challenge Post from Teri. Teri blogs at http://teripolen.com/

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Teri chose to read “My GRL” by John W Howell

My GRL by John W Howell

My GRL by John W Howell

Here is Teri’s review

My GRL is the story of John J. Cannon, successful San Francisco lawyer, who takes a well-deserved leave of absence from his firm. He travels to a small Texas fishing town and buys a boat, unaware that his new purchase, renamed My GRL, had already been targeted by a terrorist group. John’s first inkling of a problem is when he wakes up in the hospital. He learns he was found unconscious next to the dead body of the attractive young woman who sold him the boat in the first place. John now stands between the terrorists and the success of their mission. – Goodreads.com

I’ve had this book in my TBR pile since it was released, so when I saw it was part of Rosie’s Review Challenge, I knew now was a perfect time to read it.

I wouldn’t say that I judge a book by its cover (literally), but covers are usually what first draw me to a book. This cover is very simple, with calming colors and has a serene feel to it – the opposite of the story inside, so don’t let that fool you.

When I first started this book, I wondered if this was an unfortunate case of a guy being in the wrong place at a horribly wrong time, but as the story unraveled, I learned there was definitely more to it. John Cannon was very easy to like, with his self-deprecating humor and clever survival skills. The supporting characters were all essential to the story, with no ‘fillers’ for window dressing. There was a twist near the end I didn’t see coming, always nice in any story.

In a couple of sections, I felt like too much detail was given on everyday, mundane tasks, so I skipped through those parts as they really didn’t contribute to the plot. I also noticed the wrong form of words used in a few places (repelling vs. rappelling and compliment vs. complement), something an editor should have picked up on.

This book was pretty well-paced, especially near the end, and I would recommend it to action/adventure and thriller fans. I’ll be interested to see where John Cannon’s next adventure takes him.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

In Praise Of Lilith, Eve And The Serpent In The Garden Of Eden And Other Stories by Susan Scott

In Praise Of Lilith, Eve And The Serpent In The Garden Of Eden And Other StoriesIn Praise Of Lilith, Eve And The Serpent In The Garden Of Eden And Other Stories by Susan Scott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book comes in the form of a series of essays which look deeply into author Susan Scott’s life and how she feels about herself and the power of womankind. It will take you on the highs and lows of some of the basic meanings of life and even goes beyond the veil in the world of dreams.

I particularly enjoyed the essay about Susan’s garden, finding a new treasure, nurturing the life and finding the reflection on life by clearing away the rubbish. In fact it inspired me to get up and go and clean my own house from top to bottom and then start on my own garden. And yes it felt really good afterwards.

I also liked the story about picking up rubbish on the beach. I too pick up litter and I understood where Susan was coming from in her belief that people have lost their connection to all that is nature.

The Essay about Lilith , Eve and the serpent in the garden taught me much about blame, rejection and repression and how these feelings become banished emotions within us but bubble to the surface in all sorts of illnesses unless we learn to deal with them.

There was also much to ponder and face in the essay about dreams. Looking deeply at the symbols and finding a balance in our lives. The last essay is about a momentous trip to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and we follow Susan and her fellow climbers through pain and hardship as they complete the trip and reflect on what it meant to them.

When reading this book I went though many sets of emotions, I was inspired, lost and humbled. It’s not an easy read at times, but I think it will affect each reader in a very different way.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Susan is our guest author tomorrow, do come back and find out more about her and her writing.

Spirit Warriors: The Scarring by D.E.L. Connor July 21st

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The Scarring (Spirit Warriors #2)

by D.E.L. Connor

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Booktrope

Published: July 21, 2014

Length: 244 pages

Spirit Warriors The Scarring

Blurb:

“One of us would finally end what had been started by the machayiwiw so many years ago. I would have to kill him. It was just that simple. I never thought I would want to kill anybody or anything, but maybe I never had anything worth killing for before.”

-Emmeline Rima Belrose, The Scarring (Spirit Warriors, Book 2)
In the majestic beauty of a Montana summer, Emme and her friends celebrate her near-drowning survival and their defeat of the powerful evil spirit, the machayiwiw. But even as they rejoice, things are amiss. Emme watches helplessly as her family divides, and her friends struggle to hold their relationship together. Worse yet, the love-of-her life, Charlie, announces that he will move back to the reservation, without Emme. Different nightmares take over and Emme realizes she must fight and kill—or watch those she loves be killed. Friends from the reservation reach out to Emme and show her what evil can steal from her. Emme believes that evil can never break her bond with the Spirit Warriors or the love she shares with Charlie. Or can it?
Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Although this is the second book in the Spirit Warriors series, it can be read as a stand alone novel.
Excerpt

I looked back at him. “I finally figured out that Golden Flower gifted me with the ability to talk to and control animals.” I smiled questioningly at Charlie.

 

Charlie didn’t smile back. “What else have you done?” I told Charlie about Ollie and the church and the birds. Charlie paced around me. “This is not good. The machayiwiw will notice a display like the one you did in town. You must not ever do it again in a public place where others can see you. Do you understand me?” I nodded with my head down. Charlie leaned forward and grabbed my face between his warm hands. “I have to admit that it was an awesome thing to do for Ollie, but we have to be more careful.”

 

I laid my hands over his by my face. I leaned into this chest as he slowly lowered us to the ground. We laid on the ground facing each other. I stared into his eyes lost in his world. Charlie stared back at me and as the beautiful empty world and the warm wind eavesdropped on us, we talked. I told him about Bets, and Mom and Ben, and how hurt Ollie was at the church. I told him about Jack and the preserve and Rose and the baby. We talked laying down and facing each other with our fingers intertwined until the sun started its slow climb to the edge of darkness. The sky was an incredible shade of deep purple with shades of violet blue. Even in the beauty of the sunset, I felt the desperation creep over me. I started to shake. I didn’t want to leave Charlie. I never wanted to leave Charlie. Charlie leaned closer. I could feel his breath on my cheek. He laid his gentle brown hands on my cheeks. I closed my eyes. “Let me take the pain away,” he whispered. We stood up.

 

Charlie closed his eyes and he chanted in a low voice. I listened to his voice. I closed my eyes and leaned into Charlie. I laid my head on his chest and listened to his heartbeat. I felt the desperation leave me and I was filled with a sense of peace and serenity. My breathing slowed, and my mind was filled with the beautiful times that Charlie and I had shared. We were like one in my mind, our thoughts joined and our spirits connected. It was the most incredible intense feeling. It was what I imagined making love would be like. I felt dizzy and my body felt it was on fire from the inside out. My legs gave way and I dropped to my knees. Charlie grabbed me and slowly lowered me down to the ground. “What did you do?” I asked Charlie. He stared back at me. “I showed you our love. I showed you what is worth fighting and dying for.”

As Charlie stood up, he staggered. I reached out and held his arm. “Are you okay?” Charlie put his hand over mine that rested on his arm. “Just tired. You wear me out.” He grinned broadly as I swatted his arm. “Poor me,” I told him. We held hands as we headed back to the main buildings.

 

Ollie and Jack were standing outside of the meeting room talking to Ryan and Hawke. Ryan looked up as we approached. “Hey, Em, can you come back next week? I want to run in the hills with you, and Hawke needs to start working with you on knife and lance throwing.” “Sure thing,” I told him. Hawke looked at Charlie and then at me. Charlie was leaning on the car while he talked to Jack. Charlie’s face was pale. Hawke walked the short distance to me and whispered in my ear. “Every time Charlie carries your pain, he gets weaker. Every time you feel better in Charlie’s presence, he pays the price for it. Is that what you want for him?” I shook my head “No.” I looked at my feet as Hawke said, “Don’t come back here. Walk away. His burden is too big to carry.” I shook my head. “I’m sorry I can’t do that. I just can’t. I love him too much.” Hawke shook his head and walked away.

We all walked to the car. I held Charlie’s hand as long as I could. I climbed in the back seat and Jack and Ollie sat down in the Mustang. As we drove off, I turned around and stared back at Charlie. He stood there watching us drive off.

 

An Interview with Author D.E.L. Connor

What was your favorite book growing up?
When I was old enough to read it was the Little House on the Prairie series. I must have read and reread each of them a hundred times. I honestly thought I was Laura Ingalls Wilder. Most girls my age were into dolls and while I liked dolls and playing house, my version of playing house always had a log house and a covered wagon. They are still my favorite books to read to children. Can’t you just picture yourself on a hot summer day bouncing along in the back of the covered wagon?
Who is your favorite author (living or dead)?
I have more than one. Obviously I love Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I am also a huge fan of Larry McMurray. I grew up admiring strong women writers like Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee and more recently J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyers.
What inspired you to write the Spirit Warriors series?
Actually is has been a long time coming. I wrote the short story that the Spirt Warriors evolved from in college may years ago. The professor asked me to stay after class and he told me how good it was, but unfortunately, it was too dark to be a children’s story. I put it away and went on with my career as a nurse. Finally J.K Rowling and Stephenie Meyers came out with new dark tales and the young adult market was born. The time was finally right! I finished Book 1 in two weeks. The struggle to get it published took more time, but here I am with two books in the story completed.
What character do you most identify with in Spirit Warriors: The Scarring?
Probably Lilly, I tend to be kind to a fault, and love my friends and family unconditionally. I think as a child I wished I could have been more like Bets and Emme. They are headstrong, brave and willing to fight for anything or anyone they cared about. I was shy when I was young, although no one believes that today! LOL
Can you tell us about your next project?
Why of course. I am about half way through book 3 in the series The Burning. There will be 6 books total in the series. Book 4 will be The Lamenting, Book 5 The Ensouling and then a Prequel to be named later. In between those books or after them I’m not sure which, I plan to write a new adult romance novel about loss and finding the chance to love again.

The Concealing (Spirit Warriors #1)

by D.E.L. Connor

Release Date: November 24, 2013

Length: 191 pages

Publisher: Booktrope

 

Spirit Warriors - The Concealing webready

Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Emme Belrose has it all: four best friends, a horse of her own, a hidden tepee hangout, and a blossoming romance with tall and handsome Charlie. These friends also have a secret. They can move their spirits into animal bodies: an osprey, a mustang, a grizzly, a mountain lion and a coyote.

 

But when Charlie, who has a gift for seeing the future, has a vision of Emme drowning in the icy Yellowstone River, the Spirit Warriors must train their animal bodies to kill an enemy they know is coming… but know nothing about. Suspenseful, romantic, and awash in Native American magic, Spirit Warriors captures the tragic enchantment of the American West—and confirms the power of friendship.

Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

DEL ConnorAbout the Author

Della was born in South Dakota and raised in the vastness and beauty of Montana on a farm. When she longed for the big city life, she moved to Texas where she attended college and received a PhD in nursing. When not nursing people back to health you can find Della huddled over her Mac writing the stories that have occupied her mind for so many years, or traveling with her best friends, the NOLA’s, riding bikes across the Golden Gate bridge or exploring botanical gardens. She is the proud mother of a champion triathlete, two aging dogs and 1 grand-cat. Della has admittedly confessed to her coffee addiction and swears that her two hour coffee crawl while on vacation in Seattle –was the best two hours of her life!

Twitter | Facebook | Website | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads Author Page

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Book Review Challenge – Kerry reviewed Boot Camp Bride by Lizzie Lamb

Today we have a book review from Challenger Kerry. She blogs at http://kerrysreviewsblog.wordpress.com/

Rosie's Book Review Challengers 1

She chose to review “Boot Camp Bride” by Lizzie Lamb

Boot Camp Bride by Lizzie Lamb

Boot Camp Bride by Lizzie Lamb

Here is Kerry’s review;

Bootcamp Bride is a real must-have for the beach this summer.

 

Charlee Montague, a feisty rookie reporter, desperate for her big break, is paired with experienced, and not unattractive, photographer Rafa Fonsecca-Ffinch for an assignment she cannot refuse.

 

Posing as an engaged couple, Charlee is sent to a bridal bootcamp in the Norfolk marshes to get the gossip on model Anastasia Markova and her husband-to-be, while Rafa gets some juicy snapshots.

 

Rafa makes it quite clear from the start that the engagement is purely for show and as soon as the assignment is over, so is the “engagement”.

 

Charlee has more intelligence that she is given credit for and realises early on that there is more to this story than a few photos and candid quotes from Anastasia. She is smart enough to figure out that there is something Finch isn’t telling her. Something about his past that he hasn’t quite been able to put to rest and she is determined for find out exactly what it is, even if it means putting herself in danger.

 

This novel pulls you in right from the start and the mystery and intrigue keeps you hooked and guessing right to the end. With characters you can believe in and a fast paced storyline, I

promise you, once you pick up Bootcamp Bride you will not want to put it down.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

Good Deeds Challenge – Year 2, Week 13

Welcome to my second Year of Good Deeds, a challenge I set myself during April 2013. I decided to do at least one Good Deed a day for a whole year, now I an into my second year.

New Good DeedsDuring my week I’ll also being updating you on My Kindness Challenge which I’m also doing. I read about a new challenge to make the world a better place to live in. “Speak Kind Words, Receive Kind Echoes” see the inspiration on  The Kindness blog . During my learning process I’m donating money to charity for my slip-ups to make me work harder to achieve results. I earn no money from any of my book reviews, so having little to spare should focus my mind.

This week I’ve been doing the following;

July 13th – Cricket season for the colts is heading to a dizzy end in a couple of weeks, but before then we have a lot of matches to get through. Today we were at a cup final with a nail biting end and our team sadly lost by 10 runs. Had time to pick up rubbish and replace used toilet rolls with new ones even though I was from the visiting team. I was asked by one of the readers if I had a photo of the village cricket green that sounds so typically English, where the boys play their home matches. Our own photo’s don’t do it justice but I’ve found a couple of links to images which may give you a feel. Cricket Green Cottages around the green Cottages surround the green and drivers park cars at their own risk, regularly getting hit by balls.

July 14th – My penultimate morning helping out at school for this school year. Just one more week and all the children I have been helping this year will be moving on to the next class.

July 15th – I’ve been feeling stressed and rushed and anticipating a problem. STOP I shout that is when it will all go wrong. I need to take a moment to breath and in that moment I’ve been led once again to a beautiful website which you must all visit even if you know about it. Zenhabits by Leo Babauta Now appreciate the moment and what you have and let’s all take a better step on in life.

I’m working with Rayne Hall to bring you a post about using Twitter as an author. I shall be reading a reviewing Rayne’s book Twitter for Writers for you all shortly. No groaning this can only be good for all you authors.

July 16th – A big day drafting up lots of book review posts for you all. Checked the proofs for the August issues of my book reviews pages in Fleet Life and Elvetham Heath Directory. Took on 2 more books for review, I really need to crack on with my reading. Was literally dragged away from the computer to go to a cricket match.

July 17th – Have just finished Rayne Hall’s book Twitter for Writers and cannot recommend it enough. It’s helped me spot a fake book reviewer who was most likely going to try to sell any book on e-bay or Amazon or worse that may have gone their way. I did have some nagging doubts, my kindness nearly got me into trouble, however I will be doing a bigger Good Deed by not sending this person any books.

July 18th – Left a big tip for my hairdresser who did wonders to my mop of hair. Agreed to read and review another book for an author. Working on the draft for The Romancing September Across the Word Tour. Hopefully we will be launching the tour in the next few days and looking for Romance authors who want to promote their book in September.

July 19th – My Mum came over this afternoon and I helped her with some paperwork and computer advice. She brought a “bug house” for our garden, a home for solitary bees and garden insects, which my Dad had made, plus a pot of this season’s honey. Drafted up a couple of fantastic book reviews from the book review challenge and Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Book Review Challenge – A review from Francis

Today we have a review from Book Review Challenger Francis.

Rosie's Book Review Challengers 1

Francis chose to read ” Red Clay and Roses” by S.K. Nicholls

Red Clay and Roses - S.K. Nicholls

Red Clay and Roses – S.K. Nicholls

Here is her review.

Red Clay and Roses by S.K. Nicholls

Nicholls’ novel is a story of real life events overlaid with a façade of fiction. Knowing this gives the stories an emotional impact that might not otherwise be present if one thought the author had simply ‘made it all up’. There is immediacy to the writing – as if one were turning the pages of someone’s diary.

A book, written in the way Nicholls has written Red Clay and Roses, breaks many of the conventions that readers expect when reading a novel – not necessarily a bad thing. We can all do with a shake-up now and then.

The story weaves together the life events of a small town doctor and his wife, a black family who work for them and a young woman determined to break through some barriers of oppression (opening her own business) but not others (being involved with a coloured man) – all of these stories come, in one way or another, through the voice or intervention of nurse Hannah.

The stories are overwhelmingly ones of unfilled dreams or dreams snuffed out only as they are about to be fully realized. The reader has a sense of pulling over to the side of the road to peer into a car wreck – the tragedy is quite real.

The Southern location leaps off the pages with artfully done descriptions of places and settings. Small details, like the way in which Hannah stops to wipe the red clay from her shoes onto the grass, sparkle with realism. The author has done an excellent job of conveying the type of racism that is ingrained in people’s thoughts and behaviours to such a degree that their actions appear, to them at least, to be the natural order of things.

This book does present challenges. The author admits to not taking a stand on a controversial topic that is central to the work. The result seems to be that none of the characters take a stand either and that makes the retelling less believable than it could have been.

Take the ‘good’ doctor, as he is constantly called. The man is a pivotal character in the story, yet he remains a shadow figure – the reader rarely hears his name. His actions are at times saintly, underhanded, criminal, racist, or down-right cruel. Women emerge from his at-home clinic either laughing in relief or suffering a botched procedure. Yet, Sybil, a character who has many personal experiences with the man, never expresses an opinion. Moses, the black man who has spent years in servitude to the ‘good’ doctor might come closest to actually taking a stand, though his is one of a forbearance born of oppression. Perhaps the author is hoping to convey the fact that people simply have no choice so what would be the use of getting all worked up. If so, I salute her efforts. And maybe the ‘good’ doctor must remain a shadowy figure as he operates in a world where there are no easy answers – right or wrong.

The writing of a local dialect, be it geographical or time-based (always hard to do) works in some cases – when the old black man, Moses, tells his story the atmosphere is palpable. It runs out of steam in other cases. The way in which colloquial expressions of the ‘50’s, ‘60’s and ‘70’s are used to the point of being somewhat comic and at times indecipherable to an audience unfamiliar with the times or place.

The book begins with nurse Hannah, the character who will bring the stories to the reader. But we lose sight of her as the book progresses and it becomes almost jarring when she pops back in to make a cameo appearance. When she re-emerges at the end of the book for a longish section of tying all the story threads together, the reader does not know her well enough to enter fully into the details provided about her work life.

Overall, a worthwhile read for the immediacy and powerful sense the book conveys of the racial oppression of black people in the South through a defining period of American history. A lesser but just as important theme is the way in which control of women was exercised through the denial of birth control and appropriate access to safe and affordable abortion services. These themes come together in the extreme suffering of the black women in the story.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

All profits from the book sales are now going to The Russell Home for Atypical Children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reckless Recon by Rinelle Grey

Reckless Recon (Barren Planet #3)Reckless Recon by Rinelle Grey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reckless Recon is the third book in the Barren Planet series. I made a slow start as I tried to remember what had happened in the last book, but I soon picked up the story from the reminders in the plot. A group of rebels are looking for a new planet to inhabit after leaving The Colonies because they disagreed with the strict rules implied to restrict the population growth.

Kerit volunteers to go down to the uninhabited planet to set a beacon so that a new process called terraforming can be used to make the planet habitable. However he bumps into Folly who informs him that at least 5000 people already live undetected on the planet inside a giant cave.

Seizing an opportunity to use Kerit’s shuttlecraft, Folly gets Kerit to fly her to the city of Tadig. A deserted city in ruins after a meteor strike, in search of her father. Instead they find a vicious alien and only just escape with their lives. Folly takes Kerit to meet her people but they are set in their ways and refuse to believe her about the alien. They are even more surprised by the news of 1000 people waiting in the spaceship Resolution above the planet who want to make it their new home.

I really like this series. In this book Rinelle creates a cute furry creature called a skuttle and I enjoyed the idea of the huge cave housing plants and animals and surviving on a planet with dust and acid rain. Looking forward to reading the next instalment for the space travellers.

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