Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT The Planck Factor by @debbimack #TechnoThriller

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs here http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading The Planck Factor by Debbi Mack

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My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and thank Rosie Amber and the author for providing me with an ARC copy of this book that I freely decided to review.

This thriller (technothriller according to Amazon) tells a complex story, or rather, tells several not so complex stories in a format that can make readers’ minds spin. A thriller about a student who decides, on a dare, to write a genre book (a thriller) and whose life becomes itself another thriller, one that seems to mix spies, conspiracies, terrorism, the possibility of the end of the world, and it all relates to quantum physics. (Or, as she describes it in the book: “…a suspense story with a hint of science fiction and a touch of espionage at its heart.”) The parallelisms between the story of Jessica Evans (the protagonist) and that of her fictional character, Alexis, become more convoluted and puzzling as the book progresses and the astounding coincidences will ring some alarm bells until we get to the end and… It is a bit difficult to talk about the book in depth without giving away any spoilers, but I’ll try my hardest.

This book will be particularly interesting for writers, not only because of its storytelling technique (talk about metafiction) but also because of the way the main protagonist (a concept difficult to define but Jessica is the one who occupies the most pages in the book and her story is told in the first person) keeps talking (and typing) about books and writing. No matter how difficult and tough things get, she has to keep writing, as it helps her think and it also seems to have a therapeutic effect on her. It is full of insider jokes and comments familiar to all of us who write and read about writing, as it mentions and pokes fun at rules (“Show, don’t tell. Weave in backstory. Truisms, guides, rules, pointers—call them what you will… And adverbs. Never use an adverb.”) and also follows and at the same time subverts genre rules (we have a reluctant heroine, well, two, varied MacGuffins and red herrings, mysteries, secrets, traitors and unexpected villains… and, oh yes, that final twist).

Each one of the chapters starts with the name of the person whose point of view that chapter is told about —apart from Alexis’s story, told in the third person, written in different typography, and usually clearly introduced, there are chapters from the point of view of two men who follow Jessica, so we know more than her, another rule to maintain suspense, and also from the point of view of somebody called Kevin, who sounds pretty suspicious— and apart from Jessica’s, all the rest are in the third person, so although the structure is somewhat complex and the stories have similarities and a certain degree of crossover, there is signposting, although one needs to pay attention. Overall, the book’s structure brought to my mind Heart of Darkness (where several frames envelop the main story) or the Cabinet of Dr Caligary (although it is less dark than either of those).

As you read the story, you’ll probably wonder about things that might not fit in, plot holes, or events that will make you wonder (the usual trope of the amateur who finds information much easier than several highly specialised government agencies is taken to its extremes, and some of the characteristics of the writing can be amusing or annoying at times, although, whose story are we reading?) but the ending will make you reconsider the whole thing. (I noticed how the characters never walked, they: “slid out”, “shimmied out”, “pounded”, “bounded down the steps”, “clamored down”…) As for the final twist, I suspected it, but I had read several reviews by other members of the team and kept a watchful eye on the proceedings. I don’t think it will be evident to anybody reading the story totally afresh.

The novel is too short for us to get more than a passing understanding and connection with the main character, especially as a big part of it is devoted to her fictional novel, (although the first person helps) and there are so many twists, secrets and agents and double-agents that we do not truly know any of the secondary characters well enough to care. Action takes precedence over psychological depth and although we might wonder about alliances, betrayals and truths and lies, there are no complex motivations or traumas at play.

Due to the nature of the mystery, the novel will also be of interest to those who enjoy stories with a scientific background, particularly Physics (although I don’t know enough about quantum physics to comment on its accuracy). A detailed knowledge of the subject is not necessary to follow the book but I suspect it will be particularly amusing to those who have a better understanding of the theory behind it. (The author does not claim expertise and thanks those who helped her with the research in her acknowledgements). The book also touches on serious subjects, including moral and ethical issues behind scientific research and the responsibility of individuals versus that of the state regarding public safety. But do not let that put you off. The book is a short, fast and action-driven story that requires a good attention span and will be particularly enjoyed by writers and readers who enjoy complex, puzzle-like mysteries, or more accurately, those who like stories that are like Russian dolls or Chinese boxes.

I enjoyed this book that is clever and knowing, and I’d recommend in particular to readers who are also writers or enjoy books about writers, to those who like conspiracies, spies and mysteries, especially those with a backstory of science and physics, and to people who prefer plot-driven books and who love Hitchcock, Highsmith and Murder She Wrote.

Book Description

On a dare, grad student Jessica Evans writes a thriller, creating a nightmare scenario based upon the theory that the speed of light is not a constant—one that has a dark application. Her protagonist (the fiancé of a scientist killed in a car crash) is pursued by those who want to use the theory to create the world’s most powerful weapon.
Jessica’s research into the science stirs up concern from an extremist group intending to use it for evil. Before long, Jessica’s life mimics that of her protagonist, as she runs from terrorist conspirators who suspect she may try to stop them from causing a major disaster. As the clock ticks down, Jessica must put the pieces together and avert a global catastrophe.

About the author

Debbi Mack

Debbi Mack is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sam McRae Mystery Series. She’s also published one young novel. In addition, she’s a Derringer-nominated short story writer, whose work has been published in various anthologies.

Debbi is also a screenwriter and aspiring indie filmmaker. Her first screenplay, The Enemy Within, made the Second Round in the 2014 Austin Film Festival screenplay contest and semifinals in the 2016 Scriptapalooza contest.

A former attorney, Debbi has also worked as a journalist, librarian, and freelance writer/researcher. She enjoys walking, cats, travel, movies and espresso.

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Her Last Breath by @TracyBuchanan #Suspense Family Saga #BookReview @AvonBooksUK

Her Last BreathHer Last Breath by Tracy Buchanan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Her Last Breath is a suspense thriller and revolves around Estelle, a nutritionist who is about to launch her first book.

The book opens with a prologue from 1994 which contains a social worker’s report for seven year old Estelle, recommending the child’s removal from her drug addicted parents.

A little over twenty years later, Estelle is preparing to launch a book focusing on healthy ‘pure’ recipes. Her rags to riches story has risen via social media and a blogging series, where she helped a friend with diabetes improve her health with diet changes. Then, in a heady rise to fame, she was asked to be the nutritionist for the GB Rio Olympic rowing team; her success kept flowing.

During an interview with a reporter, renowned for routing out dark secrets, Estelle is asked about her years in the care system. Uncomfortable about her past, this is only the start of trouble for her, as ancient secrets are brought to the surface and she doesn’t know who to trust.

This is a well written story, with plenty of red herrings for those who like to guess the outcome as they read along. There are enough twists and turns to have me changing my mind several times about the identity of one particularly sinister character. The Lilysands coastal setting, with its sub-plot about coastal landslides, is believable as is the small town atmosphere, where everyone knows everyone else’s business.

I did feel that Estelle’s character was sometimes unrealistically childlike, with constant arguing and storming off from encounters, and, particularly, rushing from too many important responsibilities. I would have warmed to her more if she had been portrayed with more mature thoughts and responses. There was also a bit of rather clichéd DIY sleuthing about a childhood friend’s suicide which left me confused at the big reveal. I would define this book as a family saga with suspenseful elements rather than an edge of your seat high-end thriller.

For fans of Tracy Buchanan and readers who like gentler suspense. Contains some violence.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

A fifteen-year-old girl has gone missing. They say Poppy O’Farrell has run away from her celebrity parents, and the media is in a frenzy. But none of this has anything to do with successful lifestyle blogger Estelle Forster . . . So why would someone send her a picture of the missing girl – and a note, claiming to know Estelle’s secrets?

One small photograph will push Estelle’s pristine life to the brink of disaster. To find out who is threatening her, Estelle must return to her coastal hometown and the shameful past she thought was long behind her.

Estelle knows there’s more to Poppy’s disappearance than teenage rebellion. A dangerous game is being played, and the answers lie in the impenetrable community she once called her own.

But how will anyone believe her, if she can’t tell them the truth?

Her Last Breath is an addictive, twisting and emotionally powerful book that will have you hooked until the very last page.

About the author

Tracy Buchanan

Tracy Buchanan is a full-time author who lives in Buckinghamshire in the UK with her husband, their little girl and their puppy, Bronte. Tracy travelled extensively while working as a travel magazine editor, sating the wanderlust she developed while listening to her Sri Lankan grandparents’ childhood stories – the same wanderlust that now inspires her writing.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The Sleeping Serpent by Luna Saint Claire @Compelled_Books

Today’s team review is from Jenny.

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading The Sleeping Serpent by Luna Saint Claire

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Review by Jenny Reeve

I give this book 4 stars

The Sleeping Serpent by Luna Saint Claire

Fiction

It took me a little while to get into the story. I felt that the feel and pace was somewhat slow to start with, but, once the characters began to unfold and their lives started to unravel before me, I relaxed more into the style of the authors writing and began to enjoy it more.

Not knowing much about yoga styles and its effects myself, a lot of the descriptive dialogue and explanations were hard to imagine and understand, but I tried and took it slowly trying to involve myself completely in the way that Kundalini yoga works and feels.  I think it helps to get to grips with the story if you know something about yoga.

Luna loves her husband Tyler, but feels she needs more in her life….but what is missing, why does she feel so lost? All the women in the story fall completely for Nico Romero. I cannot believe that these women come back time and time again after the way that this yoga guru treats them all, even if he is devastatingly beautiful and a sex god.  He definitely has issues, these are apparent quite soon into the story. Nico quickly turns from a likeable, charming, sexy man who is expert in his field, to nasty, manipulative and violent person at times.  Quite disturbing too, the way that he ‘cords’ his victims is compelling to say the least.

A lot of the book is erotically written and very descriptive sexually, so you will need to be quite open to reading this style.

I would recommend the book, especially if you are into your yoga and can really understand all the ‘ins and outs’ of what it all means.  It will keep you reading, you feel that strong urge to find out what happens and need to keep picking it up and read ‘just hat little more’.

I would have given the book 5 stars if I understood all the texts on yoga and its history.

Book Description

Whether by free will or fate, Luna’s encounter with Nico provokes a storm that shatters her perceptions of identity, duty, morality, and self-worth. The storm didn’t blow in from the outside. She was the storm. Its turbulence within her, forcing her to confront the darkness, uncovers her secrets and her pain.

Luna Saint Claire has a loving husband and an enviable career as a Hollywood costume designer. Still, something is gnawing at her. Bored with her conventional and circumscribed existence, she feels herself becoming invisible. When she meets Nico Romero, a charismatic yoga guru, his attentions awaken her passions and desires. Dangerous, but not in a way that frightens her, he makes her feel as if anything is possible. Infatuated, she becomes entangled in Nico’s life as he uses his mesmerizing sexuality to manipulate everyone around him in his pursuit of women, wealth, and celebrity.

Immensely erotic and psychologically captivating, The Sleeping Serpent is the compelling story of a woman’s obsession with a spellbinding guru and the struggle to reclaim her life. At its heart, it is a painfully beautiful exposition of unconditional love that causes us to question what we truly want.

About the author

Luna Saint Claire is a costume designer and author residing in Los Angeles with her husband, a philosophy professor. She loves blues rock and Indie music, often setting her Pandora station to Damien Rice. Her personal style can best be described as eclectic bohemian. Though she now enjoys running and yoga, she spent years of her youth in the ballet studio. Her part Native American heritage informs her work as a designer and influences her storytelling.

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The Sleeping Serpent – a Compelled Novel

 

 

 

Cinderella and the Duke (the Beauchamp Betrothals #1) by @JaniceGPreston @HarlequinBooks

Cinderella and the Duke (The Beauchamp Betrothals #1)Cinderella and the Duke by Janice Preston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Four point five stars.

Cinderella And The Duke is a Regency romance from Mills & Boon / Harlequin. The book is set in 1812, with dual locations of Buckinghamshire and London.

Thirty year old Rosalind Allen has complicated family relations. She has run away, with her crippled brother, to the safety of a house on the Foxbourne Manor estate, and sent her step-sister, Nell, to London to prepare for her first social season, hopefully in time to find a husband before Nell’s obnoxious guardian, Sir Peter Tadlow, can marry her off in a deal to pay off his gambling debts. Forever the ‘poor relatives’, Ros and Freddie lack the social standing to prevent Tadlow taking advantage of his guardian role.

Ros meets Antony Lascelles, the new owner of neighbouring Halsdon Manor, and Leo Beauchamp, the widowed Duke of Cheriton, who is visiting his cousin with friends who wish to buy horses from Ros’ family friend and landlord.

To protect herself and her siblings, Ros calls herself Mrs Pryce and makes it known that she is a widow. Leo too, prefers some anonymity whilst in the shires, using the name of one of his lesser titles. This way he hopes to prevent endless introductions to marriageable young ladies.

Ros and Leo meet at first by accident and then again when they rescue a young runaway child. Ros becomes quite attached to the child, who becomes an excuse for the pair to continue meeting and their friendship grows.

Messages from London have both Ros and Leo urgently heading to the capital. Ros must take the place of Nell’s chaperone for the season and Leo must attend to his family. But when they meet in society, long kept secrets come to the fore. Will they be able to trust each other? Will the gap in their social standing keep them apart?

A very well written story which I enjoyed, both settings worked well and the characters were easy to fall in love with. I enjoyed the part played by Hector the Wolfhound too. Definitely a book I would recommend for readers of this genre.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

Falling for a duke in disguise!

Never welcomed into society circles, Rosalind Allen gave up her marriage prospects long ago–life has taught her she’ll only get hurt. So she’s shocked when an encounter with a mysterious stranger makes her long to reconsider…

Little does Rosalind know that her mystery man is Leo Beauchamp, Duke of Cheriton, traveling in disguise to evade the ladies of the ton! Impoverished Rosalind is the first woman to captivate Leo–but can he persuade this wary Cinderella to trust him with her heart?

About the author

Janice Preston

I grew up in Wembley, North London, with a love of reading, writing stories and animals. After leaving school at eighteen, I moved to Devon and any thoughts of writing became lost in the hectic rush of life as a farmer’s wife, with two children and many animals to care for. When my children left home for university, I discovered a love of history and of the Regency period in particular and began to write seriously for the first time since my teens.
Real life then got in the way and I didn’t write again until 2009. I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association in 2012 and my first Regency romance was accepted for publication by Harlequin Mills & Boon in late 2013.
I now live in the West Midlands with my second husband and two cats and I continue to write Regency romances for Harlequin Mills & Boon.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT The Last Meridian by @HefferonJoe #Noir #Crime

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here http://betweenthelinesbookblog.com

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading The Last Meridian by Joe Hefferon

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Lynn Killian left Chicago in 1948. She wanted a new life in a new place with a new name. With no particular plan in mind she headed west. Who she left behind would never really leave her. She would always wonder.

Fast forward sixteen years and Jimmy Filkins, a reporter captivated and preoccupied by the thought of his ongoing project. A story he desperately wants to write based on his interviews with Nina Ferrer, interior designer to Hollywood’s elite. Nina’s story, as she recounts it to Filkins, begins with murder and a telegram. That telegram changes her life forever. Her now teenaged son, who she left behind in Chicago all those years ago is in desperate trouble. The events set in motion culminated with Nina being incarcerated and the interviews with Filkins taking place in what was known locally as the LA County lock up.

Alongside Nina’s account and the flashbacks leading to her present situation, are the activities of several other key players and how they all converge. Nina’s husband, Arturo, and his shady contact, Morris Canfield. CS, the private investigator hired by Nina to help Steven, the boy accused of murder and, of course, Jimmy Filkins. Recounting the previous months helps Nina to come to terms with what her life has become.

Initially the structure threw me a little. Not sure why because I normally quite like flashbacks driving a story. Maybe because the sections were mostly short, the timeline seemed disjointed and I wasn’t able to engage enough. Anyway, I reread the first 10% or so and it became much clearer and easier to follow. The narrative continued to swing back and forth between past and present, timelines and characters, but I’m glad to say it wasn’t confusing any longer. I was more at ease with the writing style and could settle in to the story.

The setting is 1960s Hollywood and, along with the associated superficiality, the time and place is evident. Once I was over that first hurdle I enjoyed the story and the way Nina’s background unfolded. Her desperation to vindicate her son served to open her eyes to the people around her, who she thought she could trust, and made her realise how futile her life had become. Perhaps it could also become her salvation.

Nina grew on me, she’s strong and forthright. The supporting characters are also well-rounded. The prose tends towards the lyrical (if that’s the right word), with snappy dialogue, which seems in keeping with the narrative.

 

Book Description

A telegram sets off a chain of events that destroys five lives, throwing Hollywood insider Nina Ferrer’s life into turmoil. The infant boy she gave up for adoption in Chicago sixteen years earlier has been arrested for murder. A plea from the boy’s adoptive mother pushes her to act, but Nina has a big problem—she never told her husband about the boy.

Nina must come to terms with her guilt, while accepting the reality of her fragile life and her cheating husband, who’s embroiled in another deadly plot. As her life unravels, the boy’s fate grows ominous. Set against the backdrop of the Hollywood heyday of the early 1960s, the quick-witted, smart-talking Nina, a designer for the well-heeled of Los Angeles, hires a private detective to uncover the facts about what happened back in Chicago, and save her boy. Maybe… just maybe… he can save her, too.

Or perhaps Nina will have to save herself, the most frightening prospect of all. To do that, she must cross The Last Meridian, the place beyond which life as she knows it will no longer exist.

About the author

Joe Hefferon

Retired law enforcement. Enjoying the process of creating a second career as a writer

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That Darkest Place by @MarciaMeara Romantic #Suspense book #3 Riverbend series set in #Florida

That Darkest Place: Riverbend Book 3That Darkest Place: Riverbend Book 3 by Marcia Meara
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

That Darkest Place is book #3 of The Riverbend romantic suspense series set in Florida. It is the story of Forrest and Jackson Painter, and continues from where we left off in book #2, Finding Hunter.

Jackson is the eldest brother of three, and the book opens with a hospital scene. Left with severe memory loss and an amputated leg, it will take a long time for Jackson to recover.

Forrest is the brother who keeps the family together, and runs the family hardware store. He’s supportive to Hunter, from Book #2, in the past—now he needs Hunter’s support as they pull Jackson through his rehabilitation.

As the book title suggests, this novel deals with its characters’ psychologically darkest moments. I thought the author did a great job describing Jackson—his roller-coaster of recovery followed by deep periods of depression. We see the picture from his point of view and from Forrest’s, who becomes his prime carer once he comes home. Both go through periods of guilt, doubt and discomfort, but with the help of family and counsellors they make progress.

The sinister element built the tension well and I didn’t guess the person behind the threats. This series also has an element of romance in each book and the author writes the intimate scenes with grace and care, using enough description for the reader to use their imagination without it being explicit, so will suit readers who prefer their romance with lower heat levels.

I enjoy this author’s writing style and shall look forward to her next book.

View all my reviews On Goodreads

Book Description

“There are dark places in every heart, in every head. Some you turn away from. Some you light a candle within. But there is one place so black, it consumes all light. It will pull you in and swallow you whole. You don’t leave your brother stranded in that darkest place.”
~Hunter Painter~

The new year is a chance for new beginnings—usually hopeful, positive ones. But when Jackson Painter plows his car into a tree shortly after midnight on January 1, his new beginnings are tragic. His brothers, Forrest and Hunter, take up a grim bedside vigil at the hospital, waiting for Jackson to regain consciousness and anxious over how he’ll take the news that he’s lost a leg and his fiancée is dead. After all, the accident was all his fault.

As the shocking truth emerges, one thing becomes obvious—Jackson will need unconditional love and support from both of his brothers if he is to survive.

Just as he begins the long road to recovery, danger, in the form of a sinister, unsigned note, plunges him back into bleak despair. Scrawled in blood red letters, the accusation—and the threat—is clear. “MURDERER!”

Will the long, harrowing ordeal that lies ahead draw the Painter brothers closer together, or drive them apart forever?

Suspenseful and often heartbreaking, this small-town tale is a testimonial to the redemptive power of love and paints a story filled with humor, romance, and fierce family loyalty.

About the author

Marcia Meara

Marcia Meara is a native Floridian, living in the Orlando area with her husband of 30 years, two silly little dachshunds and four big, lazy cats. She’s fond of reading, gardening, hiking, canoeing, painting, and writing, not necessarily in that order.

At age 69, Marcia wrote “Wake-Robin Ridge,” her first novel, and “Summer Magic: Poems of Life and Love.” Nine months later, she published her second novel, “Swamp Ghosts,” set alongside the wild and scenic rivers of central Florida. Since then, she’s published, “A Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2”, “Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2,” and is hard at work on “Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3.”

Marcia also has work published in five poetry anthologies published by Silver Birch Press: Silver, Green, Summer, Noir Erasure Poetry, and the May Poetry Anthology.

Her philosophy? It’s never too late to follow your dream. Just take that first step, and never look back.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Fractured Memories by @EmilyPageArt23 #Dementia #Memoir

Today’s team review is from Brittany, she blogs here https://brittthereader.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Brittany has been reading Fractured Memories by Emily Page

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My rating: 4 stars out of 5

Fractured Memories: Because Demented People Need Love Too by Emily Page is a profoundly raw account of one family’s experience of caring for a father with frontotemporal dementia (FTD).  The story is told from the perspective of an adult daughter (the author) who is caring for her father along with her husband and her mother. The book has three parts.  This first part of the book is much like a traditional memoir, with the author’s experience recounted in a narrative.  The second part of the book reads a bit like a series of journal entries, raw and largely unedited recounts of caring for her father.  The author is an artist, and the third part of the book is a series of paintings she created out of her caregiving experience.

The author’s love for her father is the greatest testament of this book.  Yes, the author becomes angry, emotionally frayed and anxiety-ridden in the seven years she cared for her father, and sometimes those emotions are even directed at her father.  But she never walks from the situation. Underneath all the difficult emotion was an abundantly present love of a daughter. The first chapter recounts her father’s life before his diagnosis. It’s a beautiful celebration of his life before dementia, including his sense of humor, his extraordinary passion for trains and music, and his time as a First Lieutenant in the Vietnam War.

Frontotemporal dementia is described as disease of a thousand goodbyes, like slowly losing the person you love in stages.  The author writes:

“When I got home, I, of course, got online and started researching the disease. What I saw was not good. Asshole internet, which so very often lies, refused to lie to me that night. The symptoms all matched: odd social behavior (disinhibition), inability to make changes or follow complicated instructions, heightened emotion, depression. Treatment was aimed at managing symptoms, not slowing or stopping the disease. There were no medications for that. Prognosis: death two to ten years after diagnosis, probably from pneumonia after aspirating food because of muscle failure. Two to ten years. Two to ten years. Two to ten years.”

This book leveled me.  I openly wept several times while reading it, especially in the second part of the book that read like a series of mostly unedited journal entries. I learned a great deal about the impact dementia has on a family. I also learned a great deal about how to advocate for someone living with this terrible disease.

The writing style is casual, and portions of the book read like an email from a friend.   It took a while for me to adjust to the casual style. I very much enjoyed the artwork throughout the book.  The author uses images of elephants to portray herself, her father, and dementia itself because “an elephant never forgets” and “An elephant’s faithful 100 percent.”  The book ends with a list of songs, a playlist of the music that was mentioned throughout the book and has a special meaning or memory tied to the author and her father.  Fractures Memories is a must read for anyone who loves or cares for anyone living with dementia.

Book Description

In 2009, Emily Page’s father was diagnosed at the age of 65 with frontotemporal dementia, a form of dementia that strikes earlier and progresses more quickly than Alzheimer’s, and for which there is no treatment to slow the progression of the disease. Being so young, Page hadn’t had much experience with dementia, but she began documenting, in writing and art, her family’s heartbreaking and hilarious experiences.
As a professional artist, she had often turned to art as a self-prescribed therapy to help deal with life’s trials. This battle was no different. She utilized the elephant as a symbol for dementia, and incorporated sheet music into the paintings because her dad had been a jazz musician. Eventually, Page created 40 paintings that are included in the book. She also began blogging about the range of issues that arose daily as the disease progressed, documenting everything from her own fear of getting dementia, to her dad’s transition to diapers (and the various places he opted to drop his drawers and just “go”), to combatting his compulsions like the need to “clean” the cars with steel wool, to an exploration of how he might have gotten the disease, to finding the right dementia care facility, to the best ways to make him giggle. Page approached the disease from the fresh viewpoint of a younger caregiver. As her blog following grew, so did the suggestions from readers that she turn the blog into a book. After hearing too many horror stories about traditional publishing contracts, she decided to self-publish. She ran a fundraising campaign for her book, Fractured Memories, and presold over 500 copies in less than a month.
“My dad was my best friend. He embraced the ridiculous, looked for the good in people, and mentored and helped people whenever he could. Following his diagnosis, when people asked how he was doing, he’d answer, ‘Not bad for a demented guy.’ He looked for the light hiding amidst the pain. He chose to be very open about what he was going through in the hopes that it would help other people cope with their own diagnosis or a loved one’s diagnosis. Writing this book seemed a fitting way to honor that legacy.”
Page doesn’t shy away from the ugly, raw emotion of life with dementia, but she also looks for the laughter where it can be found. Rest assured, you will love her father as much as she does when the book is done, and perhaps gain some insight about how to cope with your own loved one’s dementia or how to support a caregiver.

About the author

Emily Page

Emily Page is a professional artist and part-time writer. Working out of Raleigh, NC, Page spends most of her time elbow deep in paint, but comes up for air periodically to share her art and thoughts on her blog. She translated her ridiculous musings about her family’s journey through her father’s dementia into a book, Fractured Memories: Because Demented People Need Love, Too.

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Among Friends: Travels In Cuba by Heather Murray #Travel #Memoir #Cuba #wwwblogs

Among Friends: Travels in CubaAmong Friends: Travels in Cuba by Heather Murray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Among Friends is a non-fiction travel memoir about Heather Murray’s love for the island of Cuba. Heather is a Canadian, teaching English in Switzerland. She has reached out to Julian, who lectures in medical English in Cuba. In 2009 Heather takes her first trip to Cuba as a speaker at an Anglo conference in Havana. Due to the political situation, travel arrangement are complex, but as a Canadian she is seen more favourably than, say, a resident from other western countries, because Canada has made material donations to Cuba.

Julian meets Heather in Havana, becoming her tour guide; this allows her to immerse herself in the everyday life of Cuban people. There are two forms of money: a local currency for Cubans and a different one for everyone else. Cubans have access to subsidised shops, restaurants and travel; however, this is reflected in their very low wages. Additionally, there are vast shortages of paper, drinking water, transport, electricity and certain foods.

At the conference Heather is expected to pay to be a speaker and pay for her end of conference dinner. At first she is indignant; she has already paid for her airfare and accommodation, but Julian explains that without money from foreigners, the conference would not exist. Lots of delegates are keen to befriend Heather, but she is disappointed that no one invites her to their home or their place of work for a visit. Julian, once again, explains that with so many shortages these contacts hope Heather can send them items like, paper, books and other resources they need, or even invite them to visit Switzerland, whilst they are ashamed to invite her to where they work and live. He reminds Heather that few Cubans can leave their country, whereas for something like an academic invite, they may be granted permission.

Heather returns to Cuba several more times, each time witnessing changes. One big change was when Eusebio Leal began to restore areas to attract tourists, thus bringing in much needed foreign money to Cuba.

One interesting time was the death of Venzuela’s president, Hugo Chavez. Cuba announced three days of national mourning for someone outside their own country. This was because, in the past, Venezuela sent oil and money to Cuba, now Cuba feared for the future. I was also very impressed by the vast empathy from Cubans, to others. Many Cubans volunteer all over the world in medical aid agencies; particularly helping the poor and distressed in Latin America and Africa. This may be one way they can legitimately leave Cuba.

I found I learnt a lot about the history of this country and the everyday hardships its people face. There are no pictures in the book, but these can be found on Heather’s website. This is a long book; however, I would recommend it to those interested in the story of native people from this Caribbean island.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

Among Friends: Travels in Cuba is a lively account of one person’s discovery of Cuba and Cubans over a decade-long series of visits. Murray falls in love with the country but never stops asking questions as her radius of exploration widens.

With an eye for the telling details of daily life, Murray first savors the mixture of timeless beauty and decrepitude that defines Havana and then sets out for provinces to the west and east of the capital. We get to know Julian, her Cuban guide and friend; Magdalena, protective landlady and outspoken critic of the Castro regime; Ernesto, taxi driver and mountain guide, as well as a multitude of naIve North American tourists, Cuban English teachers, variously motivated tourist guides, octogenarian salsa dancers and perspiring bicitaxi drivers. Besides probing the Cuban psyche and describing its hardships, Murray’s explorations also highlight the unique scenery of Cuba, from the elegant center of old Havana to the mogotes of the Vinales valley, and from the pristine beaches of the northern keys to historic Trinidad and Cienfuegos and the Escambray mountains with their lakes, waterfalls and jungles. The book is accompanied by a website full of illustrative photographs and a travel blog (travelsincuba.weebly.com).

A humorous and candid portrait of Cuba as it emerges from over half a century of privation and isolation, this book will appeal to armchair travelers, long-time Cuba fans and those who have yet to discover the island.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Revengers by David Valdes Greenwood @dvgtweets #YA #Suspense

Today’s Team review is from Olga, she blogs here http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Revengers by David Valdes Greenwood

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My review:

Thanks to Rosie Amber (from Rosie’s Book Review Team) and to the author for providing me with an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

Revengers is the first in the YA Revengers Series, and it is the first work by the author, David Valdes Greenwood, better known for his non-fiction books and his plays, I have read. This is a revenge story with a supernatural twist. If that is not unusual (we all know revenge stories orchestrated by evil or sometimes simply very angry spirits), both the details and the characters are.

Those who love mythology, in particular, Greek (and Roman) mythology, will probably appreciate the thematic link to the Furies, ancient vengeful deities whose roles and interpretation changed over time. Because, the book tells the story of three adolescents who’ve experienced terrible losses at different ages (Marc, a Harvard dropout, only a year ago, whilst Justin and Ama were much younger) and who, for different reasons, have had to grieve alone. They’ve been experiencing terrifying nightmares since the events, that they witnessed, and suddenly, these nightmares become more real than before. A strange and scary female figure tells them to go to Salem and leaves them a journal. They feel compelled to obey Rebecca, the fury/spirit behind their nightmares whose story we learn later (and who had good reasons to seek revenge).

The story is told in the third person, mostly alternating the points of view of the three main characters (although also briefly from the victims and other characters with small parts in the story, including the Rebecca herself), who, although don’t know each other at the beginning, end up becoming an ersatz family. They are as diverse as they could be (ethnically: African-American and Dominican blood, Chinese, old Massachusetts stock, sexually: Marc is gay and Ama and Justin haven’t had much time to think about such things so far; they also have different interests, studies and their economic and family circumstances are miles apart) but have to form a team to be able to fulfil the rules and get rid of their nightmares forever. Although killing somebody is not an easy task, they don’t realise how complicated things can get until later, when secrets and half-told truths come to light. The rules they are given, that seem to be clear-cut and not leave any room for ambiguity, aren’t so clear when one scratches beyond the surface, and there is no such a thing as getting off scotch-free.

The Salem of the story (I cannot comment on how much it resembles the real location, although for me it is more of a paranormal backdrop to the story than a real place, and it reminded me a bit of Demon Road where an alternative order and lifestyle existed side by side with normal life, without anybody other than those involved being aware of it) is full of secrets, tragedy, lessons not learned and people trying to maintain the status quo while pretending everything is fine. Although it might appear like business to Halloween Tourists, to those in the know, witches are the least of their problems.

The three main characters have distinctive personalities and are realistically portrayed (Ama is quite suspicious, Justin can be quick to act, Marc is a bit of a softy) and they are all flawed, and not all that likeable at the beginning of the story but make a good team and learn to appreciate and accept their differences and skills. For me, one of the most appealing aspects of the book (apart from the suspense and the mystery) is the strong bond that develops between the three adolescents who at that point didn’t have a close connection or intimate friends who knew their secrets, shared their concerns and cared for them. I particularly liked Ama, who although is tough and determined, is also the character who often hesitates and questions the morality of their actions and who will go to any extent to try and keep everybody safe. And that is why in the end… (Don’t worry, no spoilers).

The book is compellingly written, with enough imagery and description to feel the changes in weather and scenery (that are all in tune with their experiences and the action providing visual and sensory emphasis to the events), without becoming cumbersome. The interactions between the adolescents and with other characters ring true and help build their characters more convincingly. There is plenty of action, it has many scary moments and the suspense builds up from the start (as we have a time-frame and the clock is ticking continuously, with the tension increasing towards the end of the story).  The inclusion of the point of view of some of the victims makes the story more morally ambiguous and complex. This is not just a revenge story with a few paranormal scary touches. It will make readers (and who hasn’t thought about getting revenge on somebody at some point) think twice about justice and revenge. Although the ending (no, no spoilers) opens up the series to the next book, do not worry about unfinished businesses or annoying cliff-hangers. This is not a story divided into several books where you never get any resolution. So you won’t feel disappointed because of a lack of ending (you might have preferred a different ending, but that’s a completely different matter).

I recommend this novel to readers of YA stories who love suspense, paranormal subjects, mythology and strong and diverse protagonists. Especially those looking for a new series with a kick-ass female protagonist. The author has promised to keep me informed when he publishes the next books in the series, so I’ll keep you posted.

Book Description

A great revenge story, with a fabulous paranormal presence and the start of series that promises many more adventures and frights. (Olga’s thoughts)

How far would you go to make things right? Ama, Mark, and Justin are about to find out. All three have each witnessed a murder that went unpunished, and they’ve lived broken lives ever since. In recent months, their dreams have been haunted by someone who understands their pain: a Fury who survived the witch hunts of Old Salem. Three days before Halloween, she enters their dreams and summons them to be Revengers, just as she has done for a new trio of teens every year for centuries. If they abide by her seemingly simple set of rules, she promises supernatural protection while they avenge their losses. One catch: exacting revenge means becoming killers themselves. And they don’t have much time to wrestle with the moral dilemma, as the Fury’s protection will end on the Day of the Dead. When they agree—setting in motion three bloody acts of vengeance—things begin to spiral out of control and they come to understand they are pawns in an ancient game. As the Fury toys with them, they race against the clock, hoping to live more than just a few more days…

About the author

David Valdes Greenwood is the author of Revengers, The Rhinestone Sisterhood, Homo Domesticus and A Little Fruitcake. As an award-winning playwright, his work has been staged coast to coast and in the UK. A former freelance journalist, Valdes Greenwood is best known for his Boston Globe columns. Currently, he details life as a parent as a Huffington Post blogger.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Where There’s Smoke by @CathyCole66 #TuesdaybookBlog

Today’s second team review is from Georgia, she blogs here http://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading Where There’s Smoke by Cathy Cole

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I received a copy of this novel as part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team and in exchange for my honest review, so here it is.

Where There’s Smoke is a story about Jo Woods, a firefighter who, after stirring up trouble for the authorities in her previous town, has been banished to the backwater of Mourne Lough. She is a survivor but the guilt she carries with her is more than just survivor guilt. When it becomes clear the killer has struck again, she starts making waves, much to the displeasure of her seniors, and the killer. Before long she is the target and the pressure is on to reveal the killer’s identity before he/she strikes again.

I do like reading a good mystery but I’m not usually someone who spends their time trying to work out who the baddie is. Generally, I’m quite happy being absorbed in the tale and enjoying the writing. However, I found myself trying to guess who the killer was in this read putting myself very much in Jo’s shoes. The author does a very good job of presenting various options for who might be behind the horrific killings and attacks that take place throughout this story and keeps up the suspense. I had my suspicions but they were only confirmed just as the reveal came.

We get to see the killer’s side of the story, as parts are told from his/her point of view, which is a bit creepy, particularly with his/her desire to ‘free the little birds’. There was no introduction to these parts though which threw me a little until I adjusted to who was speaking.

For a romantic suspense the emphasis was definitely on the suspense with only a light touch of romance introduced. I really liked Jo Woods and certainly hope that after everything she has been through she gets to enjoy more of the romance side in the future.

This book is based on firefighting and firefighters and there was just enough detail to make me confident in the author’s knowledge without there being an overload of technical fire stuff that could have made me switch off. Very well written, it was solid throughout, and a very well put together debut novel. Highly recommended.

I’ve given this novel 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars on Amazon.

Book Description

Firefighter Jo Woods is struggling to hold onto her job and her sanity. Banished to the backwater town of Mourne Lough, she vows to stop making waves, admit her family’s death was an accident, and that the guilt she feels is plain old survivor guilt.
Then she finds the roses and everything changes.
The killer hasn’t stopped. He’s here. In the same town. Stalking her. And once again, no one believes her.
After seven years of avoiding family and friends, Jo is alone and friendless in a strange town. In order to survive and, more importantly, bring the killer to justice, she must overcome her fears and embrace her new life. And she must do it quickly, because the killer has his sights set on her and he’s willing to kill anyone who gets in his way.
Enter Ian “Coop” Cooper, who sets Jo’s pulse fluttering and her antenna into overdrive. Does she dare trust him?
One thing Jo is clear about: this killer destroyed her life once before. No way is she going to let him do it again–no matter what it takes.

About the author

Cathy Cole

Cathy Cole lives in Northern Ireland with her husband, two sons, and Dexter, a dog who thinks he’s her third son.
Cathy loves to write short stories and novels. Her first short won a national award and was broadcast on local radio. Her next took second place in the University of Winchester “Reaching Out” competition. You’ll also find her work in the 2009 and 2010 A Writers’ Christmas—anthologies published for charity. Her latest short story success was with Bridge House Publishing’s Crime After Crime anthology, released December 2012
Spurred by the success of her short stories, Cathy turned to writing novels. Her debut novel Where There’s Smoke—published by Fireborn Publishing—was inspired by the bravery of firefighters everywhere, but especially by those who gave so much on 9-11. Cathy has drawn directly upon her family’s experience in the fire brigade in order to bring realism to her story.
At the moment, Cathy is hard at work on her next novel The Hungry Ghost.

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