Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #WomensFiction A Single Journey by Frankie McGowan

Today’s team review is from Jenny.

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading A Single Journey by Frankie McGowan

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3 1/2 Stars

The characters in this book are all completely different to one another, which makes the story interesting.  I enjoyed the way that the book begins in Berlin 1933 with a rather complex story that you need to take your time over, really get the feel of what the story is about…. its beginning.  Then it moves on to modern day Pimlico and Harriet with her jewelry stall.

This is a slow paced read; you need to concentrate on what is going on to fully digest the feel and importance of how the past merges with the present. The story was a little confusing at times for me, and I found myself reading some paragraphs over and over to realize fully what was happening in the story.  I did not like that aspect of the read.

The story itself though, is very good and has twists and turns, excitement and fear with a little romance thrown in for good measure. I think that the relationship between Harriet and Neil could have moved at a better pace and had more substance, especially in the final chapter. The author has done a lot of research to get her history and facts right for the story, that shows, and works well making the book quite compelling at times.

There is a lot going on in the book. If you were looking for a complex read, then I would recommend this, but if you want an easy read, then it would not be for you.

Book description

Harriet has begun to despair of her life.

With a failed relationship behind her, a business on the rocks and a flat that’s falling apart around her ears, she could really use some luck.

Elena Banbury, née Guseva, an elderly but imposing Russian woman who is Harriet’s neighbour and landlady, frequently entertains the punters at Harriet’s jewellery stall with tales of the palaces of St. Petersburg and the treasures of Fabergé. But Harriet sometimes feels, guiltily, that she could do without the endless errands that seem to fall to her as Elena’s friend.

Then, unexpectedly, when Elena dies, she leaves all her worldly goods to a grateful Harriet. In time, however, it becomes clear that others are shocked by Harriet’s good luck, too. Shocked… and very, very unhappy.

Challenged in court by Elena’s family who live in Berlin, Harriet is forced to give up her inheritance and long-dreamed-of plans for a new business, and start her life again. But with her reputation in tatters and the memory of Elena tainted, Harriet knows a great injustice has been done.

Against the advice of her friends, family and lawyers, Harriet sets off on her own, very singular journey to Berlin.

In the weeks that follow she meets rich and poor, the glamorous and the criminal, the honest and the secretive, and begins to see that perhaps she has something to learn from them all. Something to learn about herself, and something to learn about her priorities.

She knows she has to fight for justice. But, when she meets the scholarly, perceptive Neil, who generously tries to help Harriet in her mission, but who is struggling with a complicated marriage, she must also decide if she’ll fight for love, too.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Psychological Suspense SICK by @christawojo #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Sick by Christa Wojciechowski

SICK Part I (The Sick Series Book 1) by [Wojciechowski, Christa]

4 out of 5 stars

This is a short novella that I read in just two hours, and possibly the most peculiar book I’ve ever read.  John Branch is an impoverished aristocrat who lives in squalor with his wife, a podiatric nurse called Susan; the book is written from Susan’s first person point of view.  Throughout their marriage he has suffered one illness after another, and terrible accidents; many of his maladies baffle the doctors.  Suzie lives on frazzled nerves and chocolate bars, but they love each other, and exist in their own little world of their house and his illnesses.  Their relationship is odd in the extreme, with their baby talk, and the way she refers to him, and he acts, as if he is a child.  She is a plain woman who had little in her life before they met; he is everything to her.

At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to finish it; I wondered if English was the author’s first language as Susan talks about singing John his favourite ‘lullaby’ when he is ill, and describes him as having ‘pretty lips’; there are several other odd word choices, and I couldn’t work out if they were part of the peculiarity of the couple, or if they were just ill-chosen.  Also, a hyphen is used instead of an em dash throughout, which is confusing when the hyphen is used for two different purposes in the same sentence.  Thirdly, the book is graphic in its descriptions of blood, puss and worse; I can do gory violence, but not bodily functions/secretions.  But at the same time it’s very well-written; it’s dark, vivid and horribly depressing.  As it went on, I thought, yes, I do want to read it, but perhaps it’ll be one of those ‘3*, good but not my cup of tea’ books.

Then I got to appreciating it more and more, and I understood how clever it is.

It becomes clear that all is not what it seems in the dingy servants’ house where they live, on the estate that once belonged to John’s family, but Suzie is too tired, undernourished and concerned for John to investigate the irregularities.  When the truth about John’s illnesses comes out, the whole story is turned on its head.

So I ended up giving it 4* because I liked it ~ I would recommend it to anyone who is not squeamish and likes something a bit out of the ordinary.  And I think I might pick up the sequel at some point, too; I am most intrigued to see what happens next!

Book description

John Branch is a brilliant-minded aristocrat, bereft of his family’s wealth, ravaged by a terrible and as yet unidentified disease. Susan is a hard-working nurse at the end of her tether. Years of caring for her charming yet debilitated husband have begun to take their toll. Living in squalor, in the very shadow of a mansion that John and his family used to own, she is plagued by the intrusive groundskeeper Pete, ever-increasing bills, and the constant threat of John’s physical collapse.

John’s illness has always baffled doctors, and there are times when she wishes that he would just slip away. But John’s mind is very much alive, and she can’t help but cling onto the dream he will recover.

As pressures mount, Susan resorts to one desperate act after another to keep John alive and manage his pain, all the while haunted by a creeping sense that something isn’t right with her world…

SICK is a Gothic novel in the true sense: brimming with atmosphere and suspense, rich with style and psychological insight. This seemingly simple tale of two psyches will take you to the heart of the human condition, and show you just how twisted the relationships with those closest to us can be.

About the author

Christa (Wojo) Wojciechowski is the author of The Wrong David, The Sick Series, and is working on a series called The Sculptor of New Hope. Her characters explore existential turmoil, mental illness, and the complexity of romantic love. She uses her stories to compare the dark, carnal nature of humanity with its higher qualities of creative expression and intellectualism.

Christa currently resides in the mountains of Panama with her husband and a house full of pets. She works as a freelance digital marketer and helps thought leaders, podcasters, and fellow writers develop their marketing platforms. Christa enjoys foreign movies, yoga, wine, and rambling around in the cloud forests near her home. Most of all, she’s passionate about books and writers, and loves discussing them on social media.

Christa Wojciechowski

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Second century #Ireland My #Bookreview of Liath Luachra: The Swallowed by @ImbasInfo #TuesdayBookBlog

Liath Luachra: The Swallowed (Irish Woman Warrior, #2)Liath Luachra: The Swallowed by Brian O’Sullivan

4 stars

Liath Luachra: The Swallowed is a historical fantasy set in second century Ireland. It is book two of the Irish Woman Warrior series.

Liath is the leader of a band of warriors. They are engaged by local tribe leaders to take on dangerous tasks. This book opens with them pursuing raiders to retrieve a kidnapped woman. However, the job isn’t quite what it seems and Liath now has a blood-price on her head from an aggrieved brother.

She’s encouraged to take on a new task, and thus avoid the wrath of Dubba Carne, by going in search of missing settlers in a wild region known as the Lonely Land, a place where few willingly go as stories abound of mythical beasts and strange disappearances. Her motley band consists of warriors, a spy and a gifted seer. They eventually find a partly built settlement, but no sign of the people who built it. However, danger lurks; a dark entity sweeps through the settlement and that night they are attacked by creatures who are no ordinary wolves.

This is the second book I’ve read by this author, and I do enjoy his descriptive passages about the landscapes in this era of Ireland. Liath is a brave warrior, but although she leads a team, she’s also a loner, preferring her own company. The storyline is based loosely around Iron Age myths, and I thought the author did a good job of making the fantasy elements believable. My one complaint is that, at times, there was an overuse of adverbs at the beginning of sentences, which made the writing style a little dated.

Suitable for those who enjoy fantasy, or who have an interest in early Irish historical tales.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Ireland: Second century.

Osraighe: Ireland’s shadowy centre, a desolate region of forest, marshes and mountainous terrain where unwary travellers are ‘swallowed’ and never seen again.

Caught up in an intra-tribal conflict when her latest mission turns sour, the woman warrior Liath Luachra finds herself coerced into a new undertaking.
Dispatched to Osraighe to find a colony of missing settlers, she must lead a mismatched group of warriors, spies, and druids through a land of spectral forest, mysterious stone structures, and strange forces that contradict everything she knows of the Great Wild.

Haunted by a dead woman, struggling to hold her war-band together, Liath Luachra must confront her own internal demons while predators prowl the shadow between the trees …

Awaiting their moment to feed.

About the author

Brian O’Sullivan was born in county Cork, Ireland. On completing a degree at University College Cork, he went on to travel extensively. He is now based in New Zealand with his family but returns to Ireland on a regular basis.

Brian writes fiction that incorporates strong elements of Irish culture, language, history and mythology. These include literary short stories (The Irish Muse collection), mystery thrillers (The Beara Trilogy) and a contemporary version of the Fionn mac Cumhaill/ Fenian legends (The Fionn mac Cumhaill Series). Brian also edits and writes non-fiction through the ‘Celtic Mythology Collection’ series published by Irish Imbas Books,

Although he writes predominantly for an Irish audience, Brian’s unique style and humour has meant that his books have become firm favorites of readers all around the world.

Brian   O'Sullivan

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT @CathyRy reviews #crimefiction Brand New Friend by @k8vane

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Brand New Friend by Kate Vane

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BBC journalist/reporter Paolo Bennet was recording a report when his phone rang. The caller was Mark, an old friend from his student days, with an urgent appeal for him to come to Leeds. Scenting a story and curious, Paolo agrees. On the train journey north Paolo scours the internet for anything he can find out about Mark. He wants to find out the truth—about Mark, his handler and about who caused a fire and unexplained death on campus back in the 80s. Paolo knew Mark Benson as an animal rights activist but he has now been exposed as undercover policeman Mark Swift. Paolo is conflicted after learning the truth about Mark and is unsure about his one time friend’s motives. Nevertheless, he travels to Leeds and meets Mark, only to learn Mark’s former police handler, Sid, has been murdered.

‘Paolo had so many questions he didn’t know where to start. On the train he had started to make notes, like he was preparing for an interview, structuring questions to establish a narrative arc — the political context, how Mark got involved, why he didn’t go back.

What it felt like to betray his friends.’

The narrative alternates between Paolo’s time at university and the present and it wasn’t quite what I was expecting and that threw me a bit. I’d assumed it would be primarily a murder mystery, but that aspect was very much in the background. The story’s main focus is the characters, their pasts and present and how everything connects. That made it quite a slow starter for me and I found some of the passages were a little too dialogue heavy. Once I’d changed mindset from a murder mystery to a character driven story I was able to get into it more.

Paolo has obvious doubts about someone who had influenced him so much as a young man but the promise of a story spurs him on to chase leads and look up his old university friends. Could Mark have killed Sid? If so, why? Paolo knows now Mark is a liar but does he really believe Mark could be a killer. And what, if anything, has any of this to do with what happened on campus.

It was interesting to witness the perceptively described and played out dynamics between the diverse group of students. How the characters and their attitudes and principles, seemingly all but Mark’s, had changed in the years between university and present day. And as it happens, Mark wasn’t the only one who was sparing with the truth. Paolo started life as the more ordinary Paul Bennett. Some serious issues were tackled in the story, including animal testing and fracking, without being prejudicial either way. I would have enjoyed a little more exploration into the murder case but that’s just my personal preference. What makes this stand out are the extremely good character studies.

Book description

Friend. Liar. Killer?

BBC foreign correspondent Paolo Bennett is exiled to a London desk – and the Breakfast sofa – when he gets a call from Mark, a friend from university in eighties Leeds. Paolo knew Mark as a dedicated animal rights activist but now a news blog has exposed him as an undercover police officer. Then Mark’s former police handler is murdered.

Paolo was never a committed campaigner. He was more interested in women, bands and dreaming of a life abroad. Now he wonders if Mark’s exposure and his handler’s murder might be linked to an unexplained death on campus back when they were friends. What did he miss?

Paolo wants the truth – and the story. He chases up new leads and old friends. From benefit gigs and peace protests, to Whatsapp groups and mocktail bars, the world has changed, but Mark still seems the same.

Is Mark the spy who never went back – who liked his undercover life better than his own? Or is he lying now? Is Paolo’s friend a murderer?

About the author

I’m an author of (mostly) crime and suspense, living in Devon.

My crime novel, Brand New Friend, will be published on 5 June 2018.

I have written for BBC drama Doctors and have had short stories and articles published in various publications and anthologies, including Mslexia and Scotland on Sunday.

I mainly read crime and literary fiction with some non-fiction and am a recent convert to audiobooks.

Kate Vane

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Artefacts #Mystery Rituals Of The Dead by @JSAauthor

Today’s team review is from Chris, she blogs here http://cphilippou123.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Chris has been reading Rituals Of The Dead by Jennifer S Alderson

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Interesting mystery crafted well within the plot, with culture and themes running throughout the narrative (and just on the right side of preachy).

Zelda decides to relocate, but she becomes embroiled with a mystery surrounding some artefacts seems to spill into the present, with a team member being murdered. The questions mount and so does the tension…

The pace was good, the writing tight. The dual timeline, too, was handled well. The art, history, and suspense all blended well within the story, with no single element overcrowding the plot at the heart of the novel. The tension built well, and the ending … well, I’ll take a leaf out of the author’s book and build up the suspense… and let you find out for yourself. Recommended

*Thank you to the author for my free review copy via #RBRT.

Book description

Art history student Zelda Richardson is working at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam on an exhibition of bis poles from the Asmat region of Papua – the same area where a famous American anthropologist disappeared in 1962. When his journal is found inside one of the bis poles, Zelda is tasked with finding out more about the man’s last days and his connection to these ritual objects.

Zelda is pulled into a world of shady anthropologists, headhunters, missionaries, art collectors, and smugglers – where the only certainty is that sins of the past are never fully erased.

Join Zelda as she grapples with the anthropologist’s mysterious disappearance fifty years earlier, and a present-day murderer who will do anything to prevent her from discovering the truth.

About the author

Hi! I worked as a journalist and website developer in Seattle, Washington before trading my financial security for a backpack. After traveling extensively around Asia, Oceania, Europe and Central America, I moved to the Netherlands and earned degrees in art history and museum studies.

When not writing, I can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning my next research trip.

Jennifer S. Alderson

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Cosy Art Deco #Mystery My #Bookreview of The Silver Gun by L.A Chandlar

The Silver Gun (Art Deco Mystery #1)The Silver Gun by L.A. Chandlar

3.5 stars

The Silver Gun is an Art Deco style cosy mystery, set in New York in the 1930s.

Lane Sanders is twenty three and a personal aide to the new mayor. These are the depression years that followed the roaring twenties, leaving the city with a curious mix of soup lines and cocktail bars, and new roles for women in the workplace. Mayor LaGuardia is determined to rid the city of its corruption and the stranglehold of mobs; an unpopular and dangerous move.

In a complex plot Lane’s life is threatened, but she vows to solve, for herself, who is behind a series of attacks. With the help of a cast of lively characters, Lane becomes an adept crime investigator. The author’s love of the time shines through, with lots of detail included in the narrative. The storyline does, however, require some suspension of disbelief for a number of the scenes.

The mystery surrounding Lane is fast paced, reflecting the pace of life in New York, but I felt it got a bit lost at times under a blanket of explanations. An okay read. I think this book would appeal to those who enjoy a cosy mystery or the 1930s era.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

New York City, 1936. In the midst of the Great Depression, the Big Apple is defiantly striving toward an era infused with art, architecture, and economic progress under the dynamic Mayor La Guardia. But those in City Hall know that tumultuous times can inspire both optimism and deadly danger . . .
It s been six months since Lane Sanders was appointed Mayor Fiorella Fio La Guardia’s new personal aide, and the twenty-three-year-old is sprinting in her Mary Janes to match her bosses pace. Despite dealing with vitriol from the Tammany Hall political machine and managing endless revitalization efforts, Fio hasn’t slowed down a bit during his years in office. And luckily for Lane, his unpredictable antics are a welcome distraction from the childhood memories that haunt her dreams and the silver gun she’ll never forget.
When Lane gets attacked and threatened by an assailant tied to one of most notorious gangsters in the city, even the mayor can’t promise her safety. The corrupt city officials seem to be using Lane as a pawn against Fio for disgracing their party in the prior election. But why was the assailant wielding the exact same gun from her nightmares?
Balancing a clandestine love affair and a mounting list of suspects, Lane must figure out how the secrets of her past are connected to the city’s underground crime network before someone pulls the trigger on the most explosive revenge plot in New York history . . .”

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Horror Doctor Perry by Kirsten McKenzie @Kiwimrsmac

Today’s team review is from Judith W, she blogs here https://readandreview2016.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Doctor Perry by Kirsten McKenzie

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Doctor Perry assures elderly patients at the Rose Haven Retirement Home he can offer warmth, sympathy, and understanding. Doctor Perry is lying.

I greatly enjoyed Kirsten McKenzie’s gothic horror novel, Painted, which you can read my review for here.

The narration and writing style of Doctor Perry is clipped and meticulously detailed, creating a nice parallel for Doctor Perry’s own personality.

At first, I thought this book was like a modern-day Sweeney Todd – a concept I was completely on board with. Doctor Perry doesn’t follow this narrative trajectory however, but it is still suitably unsettling.

Doctor Perry is the best character by far; he’s mysterious, psychopathic and darkly interested in in all kinds of science.

I also liked the twin boys fostered by Doctor Perry’s wife because they’re disturbingly violent and almost ghostlike – like something from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

Similarly to Painted, there were multiple moments where a character ‘failed to notice’ something. I mentioned this in my review of Painted too; repeatedly informing the reader what the protagonist hasn’t seen. Personally, I don’t think this a dynamic way to convey information and works better in horror films and television dramas then it does in a novel.

I thought the ending was quite abrupt – I would have loved Doctor Perry to be longer, to provide further chances to develop the characters and storyline.

I enjoyed reading Doctor Perry and it was a real shame when it ended! If you like thrillers, dark science-fiction, or McKenzie’s work in general, I’m sure you will enjoy Doctor Perry too.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Book description

“The sound of the man’s screams changed pitch and Doctor Perry looked up from his notes. Ah, the cranium was shrinking…”

Under the Hippocratic Oath, a doctor swears to remember that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

Doctor Perry reassures his elderly patients he can offer warmth, sympathy, and understanding. Doctor Perry is a liar.

Doctor Perry is available to buy as a paperback or an e-book from Amazon UK or Amazon.com.

– Judith

 

#Australian #HistFic My #Bookreview of The Woolgrower’s Companion by @JoyRhoades1

The Woolgrower’s CompanionThe Woolgrower’s Companion by Joy Rhoades

3.5 stars

The Woolgrower’s Companion is set in New South Wales during 1945. Twenty-three-year-old Kate lives on her father’s homestead where they farm sheep and cattle. The book opens with them waiting at the train station for two Italian prisoners of war. They will be much needed cheap labour.

Kate’s own father fought in the first world war. His reward was his grazier’s plot of land. But times have been hard; Kate’s mother died. Whilst years of drought caused debts to build. On top of this Kate fears that her father is becoming forgetful and his behaviour is sometimes erratic.

The storyline follows the day-to-day hardships of an Australian homestead. This includes the social restrictions of the times and harsh treatment of both women and native Aboriginal people. At the heart of the book is one women’s journey from daughter to manager of a farm, at a pivotal time in history.

There were plenty examples of the carefully researched details of the era included in the narrative. These were interesting to a point. But, for me, they left little room for the deeper emotions of the characters, or layering of descriptions about the land. I thought the opening scenes of the book were really good, I felt the heat and the sun that baked the surroundings, but later I felt none of the endless dry heat and the constant dust, nor the real desperation for rain after years of drought.

Overall, an interesting setting with good historical detail, but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Kate Dowd’s mother raised her to be a lady but she must put away her white gloves and pearls to help save her family’s sheep farm in New South Wales.

It is 1945, the war drags bitterly on and it feels like the rains will never come again. All the local, able-bodied young men, including the husband Kate barely knows, have enlisted and Kate’s father is struggling with his debts and his wounds from the Great War. He borrows recklessly from the bank and enlists two Italian prisoners of war to live and work on the station.

With their own scars and their defiance, the POWs Luca and Vittorio offer an apparent threat to Kate and Daisy, the family’s young Aboriginal maid. But danger comes from surprising corners and Kate finds herself more drawn to Luca than afraid of him.

Scorned bank managers, snobbish neighbours and distant husbands expect Kate to fail and give up her home but over the course of a dry, desperate year she finds within herself reserves of strength and rebellion that she could never have expected.

The Woolgrower’s Companion is the gripping story of one woman’s fight to save her home and a passionate tribute to Australia’s landscape and its people.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #ComingOfAge Son Of A Preacher Man by @KarenMCox1932

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Son Of A Preacher Man by Karen M Cox

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It is the story, narrated in the first person, of Billy Ray Davenport, a young man with a tragedy in his past (he lost his mother to a terrible accident), whose father is a travelling preacher. He used to spend his summers travelling with him (he went to school and stayed at his aunt’s the rest of the year), but when we meet him, just before he goes to medical school, he is due to spend a few weeks with a doctor, friend of the family. He hopes to gain medical knowledge and get a taste of what his future will be like. This summer will prove momentous for Billy Ray, who will learn much more about the world, small-town society, girls, and himself than he had known until then. What he experiences there will make him question some of his strong-held beliefs and what he is truly made of.

This novel captures beautifully the everyday life in a small-town, where rumours and whispers can destroy somebody’s reputation (especially a young girl’s), where everybody knows everybody else and there is nothing private and nowhere to hide.  Marlene, the daughter of the doctor Billy Ray is working with, takes a shine to him and proves to be very spiteful, badmouthing and spreading rumours about another girl, Lizzie. Lizzie is like a modern scarlet woman, and her behaviour repels and attracts Billy Ray in equal measure, putting his beliefs about proper behaviour and relationships between men and women to the test.

Lizzie is a great character. Although she does not always behave consistently, and at times she manages to make things more difficult for herself, we get to understand her and root for her. She has had to make herself strong and mistrusts everybody for very good reasons. She is different to the rest of the characters in the novel and in Orchard Hill, and it is not surprising that Billy Ray sets his eyes on her. She is a modern woman who knows her own mind and is prepared to do whatever it takes to make her dreams come true.

Billy Ray feels very old-fashioned, perhaps even more because he falls for Lizzie, and the contrast between the opinions and behaviours of the two could not be more extreme, at least at first sight. Billy Ray is the preacher’s son of the title, and although we might be familiar with stories about the children of preachers rebelling against their strict religious upbringing (Footloose, for instance), he is a chip off the old block. I wondered if Billy Ray is not, in fact, even more morally upright and a stricter follower of the spirit of the Bible than his father is. He is a thoroughly good man (he struggles at times and is not perfect, but he is one of the genuinely good guys), and although he is young and naïve at the beginning of the story, he has the heart in the right place and tries very hard to live up to Christian moral standards. He is a thinking man and the roller-coaster of his emotions and his doubts and hesitations reflect well his age. The roles between the two main characters challenge the standard stereotypes, and we have the good and innocent young man and the experienced woman who tempts him trying to send him down the wrong path, rather than the rogue going trying to steal the virtue of an innocent young woman. Of course, things are not that simple, and the relationship between the two main characters has many nuances, ups and downs, and despite what they might think, they need each other to become better versions of themselves.

The rest of the characters are given less space (this is a coming of age story, after all, and adults are not the centre of the book, although the relationship between Billy Ray and his father is beautifully rendered) but even the characters we don’t get to know that well (the rest of Lizzie’s family, the doctor, the midwife) are convincing and engaging. There are parallels between Billy Ray and Lizzie and some of the older characters as if they embodied what would have happened to them if they hadn’t found each other. It is evident that Billy Ray is focused on telling the story of his relationship with Lizzie and the book reflects the single-mindedness of his protagonist, as the affairs of society and the world at large only rarely get mentioned.

The rhythm of the novel is paused and contemplative and it feels like the summer months felt when we were young: eternal and full of possibilities. The turn of phrase and the voices of the different characters are distinct and help recreate the Southern atmosphere, adding a vivid local feel, and some humorous touches. After the summer we follow the character’s first few years at university and we see him become a man. I don’t want to go into detail, but I can tell you I really enjoyed the ending of the book, which is in keeping with the rest of the novel.

Although religion and the character’s beliefs are very important to the story’s plot (I am not an expert, so I cannot comment if this novel would fit into the category of Christian books, or if it would be considered too daring, although there is no explicit sex and I cannot recall any serious swearing), and the main character might appear old-fashioned and not a typical young man, for me, that is one of its assets. It does not feel like a modernised recreation of the past, but as if it truly had been written by somebody who was recording the important aspects of his long-gone youth.  I recommend it to readers keen on books full of atmosphere and centred on characters and relationships that differ from the norm. It is also a great book for people looking to recreate the feeling of the late 1950s and early 60s in a Southern small town.

Book description

1959. The long, hot Southern summer gently bakes the small town of Orchard Hill. Billy Ray Davenport, aspiring physician and only son of an indomitable traveling minister, is a young man with a plan. Handsome, principled, and keenly observant, he arrives in town to lodge with a local family. He never bargained for Lizzie Quinlan—a complex, kindred spirit who is beautiful, compassionate, and scorned by the townsfolk. Could a girl with a reputation be different than she seems? With her quirky wisdom and a spine of steel hidden beneath an effortless sensuality, Lizzie is about to change Billy Ray’s life—and his heart—forever.

A realistic look at first love, told by an idealist, Son of a Preacher Man is a heartwarming coming of age tale set in a simpler time.

About the author

Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of novels accented with romance and history: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, Undeceived, and I Could Write a Book. Other published works include an ebook novella, The Journey Home, “Northanger Revisited 2015”, which appeared in Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer, “I, Darcy,” a short story in The Darcy Monologues, and “An Honest Man”, which appears in the new anthology, Dangrous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentleman Rogues.
Originally from Everett, WA, Karen now lives in Central Kentucky with her husband, where she works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter. Like Austen’s Emma, Karen has many hobbies and projects she doesn’t quite finish, but like Elizabeth Bennet, she aspires to be a great reader and an excellent walker.

Karen M. Cox

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A Biography of Story, A Brief History of Humanity by @TrishaNicholson #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Sean, he blogs here http://ebookwormssite.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Sean has been reading A Biography of Story, A Brief History of Humanity by Trisha Nicholson

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Summary:

This is a unique book, and in a good way. It is an enthralling look at us, humanity and how we tell each other stories, and takes as its main character Story itself, giving her a presence that has been with us since the dawn of our species.

Main Characters:

There are no characters as such, mainly milestones along the road of development of stories, and how deeply intertwined it is with our cultures.

Plot:

The author starts naturally at the beginning. We are given a scene of an old woman, surrounded by her audience, telling us an Aboriginal story of how the buumbuul tree became such a source of food. We can imagine that this oral tradition was how vital survival knowledge and techniques were passed down throughout generations, by people who could detect regular patterns in their environment, and wanted to pass it on.

Evidence of use of controlled fire dates back 300,000 years, and we can imagine our forebears huddled around, seeking warmth shelter and a means of understanding the world.

From this point, the author uses Story to detail the unfolding of modern humanity, showing major points of interest such as when stories were first recorded, in cuneiform on the clay tablets of Sumer, notably the great Epic of Gilgamesh (which the author does a neat job of summarising), then to the development of the fable, where animals have much knowledge and wisdom to impart to their equal partners in the world, humans.

The pace of Story picks up in tandem with the growing modernisation of the world. In Story’s company, we cross deserts and icy North seas. We hear Bedouin love stories, find out how Scheherazade saved her life and gave us 1001 Nights, and set out the foundation for Marvel comics as Snorri Sturluson gathers up the old Norse sagas and breathes life into the old gods.

How Story was used for political and religious gain is clearly shown, as we see Irish Celtic monks converting Celtic gods and heroes into Christian saints – to be fair, they were not the only culprits.

The author skilfully leads us through the emergence of printing, with interesting anecdotes and references, and the explosion as printers such as Caxton begin to print in the vernacular, and broadsheets are used to make political points.

It is not just Western developments that are covered. We are given an excellent summary of the Ramayana, written by Valmiki in around 400 BC. We jump continents from the woodcut block printing of China, to the emergence of Islam (initially open-minded and science-orientated, then succumbing to a more narrow view of the Prophet’s teachings), and eventually to the Crusades, where two cultures collided.

Story is not just told by the men. The formidable Marguerite of Navarre is profiled, and a mention is made of Aphra Behn, reputedly the first Englishwoman to earn a living from writing in the 1670’s.

However, we are now in the age of exploration and conquest, giving rise to the novel and the historical novel, epitomised by the writings of men such as Walter Scott and James Fenimore Cooper.

Finally, although Story won’t ever end, we sweep through the industrial and other revolutions, to catch up with the present, digitalised day.

What I Liked:

  • This meticulously-researched book read very easily. The narrative just flowed, and the author did an excellent job making it seamless.
  • It is structured along a timeline, but also allows you to dip in for referencing (well-compiled index!), which I think will be the long-term appeal of the book.
  • Brings life to some of the historic figures (e.g. Rabelais, Gutenberg).

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Nothing

Overall:

I found this book to be a joy to read. It is historical, and a lot of it will be familiar to anyone who is interested in history, but it gives a unique perspective, doesn’t drown the reader in superfluous facts, and reinforces how important telling each other stories is, how much a part of our DNA it is, and why books are so important. There are many, many familiar names, but also some new ones, and hopefully you will find out things that you may not have known before. Isn’t that the point of a story??

Acknowledgements:

Through Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team, I received a free copy of this book from the author, in return for an objective and unbiased review.

Book description

Trish Nicholson brings us a unique interweaving of literature and history seen through the eyes of storytellers, making a fascinating journey for general readers and students alike. From tales of the Bedouin, to Homer, Aesop and Valmiki, and from Celtic bards and Icelandic skalds to Chaucer, Rabelais, Shakespeare, Scott and Chekhov, some of the many storytellers featured will be familiar to you; others from Africa, Asia and the Pacific may be fresh discoveries.

Beginning with oral tales of our foraging ancestors, the emergence of writing, the great migrations, the age of exploration and the invention of printing through to the industrial revolution and the digital age, Nicholson brings us voices from all corners of the world. Combining this extraordinary breadth with telling myths, epics, fables, fairy tales and legends, she reveals their story-power in the comedy and tragedy of human affairs. And what of Story’s future..?

A Biography of Story, A Brief History of Humanity is our own human epic, thoroughly researched and referenced, and told with the imaginative flair of an accomplished storyteller. This is a book-lover’s book, illustrated and handsomely presented in hardback and paperback volumes designed ‘to have and to hold’.

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