Congratulations To The Winners Of The #RBRT 2017 Book Awards #TuesdayBookBlog

It is the end of another busy year of book reviewing for my team.

So I now have great pleasure in announcing the winners of our #RBRT 2017 Book Wards

Fantasy / Scifi

Winner: Do You Realize? by Kevin Kuhn 

33883976

George is a middle-management, middle-class, middle-aged guy who hates his job and struggles to stay connected to his wife and teenage children. Most guys might end up with a steamy affair and a flashy car for their midlife crisis, but George gets a quirky, philosophical physics professor named Shiloh. Trapped with this mysterious misfit on his morning commuter train, George is dragged into awkward conversations about love, fear, music, and the meaning of life. Shiloh asks George to beta-test an app he wrote for the new Apple Watch–and with a free watch included, how could he say no?
When tragedy strikes, throwing George out of his uncomfortable comfort zone, he learns that Shiloh’s app lets him journey through alternate versions of his past. As challenges mount in his own reality, George must make a decision that will change him–and possibly the entire multiverse–forever.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

2nd place: Chimera Catalyst by Susan Kuchinksas 

35997178

When Finder is hired to locate charismatic, green-haired Miraluna Rose, it seems like an easy job. Crack into corporate databases, brew up some biologics to enhance his thinking, and get the job done with the help of the Parrot, a bird/dog chimera with the finest traits of both species.

The search takes Finder and the Parrot to the sun-broiled streets of Laxangeles, the canals of Seattle and the weirdly mutated vegetation of the Area. It turns out that it’s not a simple missing-person case after all.

Finder discovers that ReMe, a corporation providing medical cloning services, is illegally breeding human/animal chimeras. ReMe is selling these exotically beautiful female creatures, branded as ArcoTypes, as playthings to the wealthy and ruthless.

Miraluna Rose is its finest creation, but she has other ideas. She’s holed up at Refuge, a haven for runaway ArcoTypes, where she’s planning a future of freedom for her sisters.

To help the ArcoTypes fight ReMe, Finder and the Parrot will need the help of a couple of sympathetic AIs, the CEO of the world’s largest advertising company and a posse of highly modded, celebrity-crazed media kids.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

Finalists: Tokoyo, The Samurai’s Daughter by Faith L. Justice, Voyager by Carl Rackman & Clay Tongue by Nicholas Conley

General Contemporary Fiction

Winner: The Beauty Of The Fall by Rich Marcello 

32711997

Dan Underlight, a divorced, workaholic technology executive, suffers lingering grief over the death of his ten-year-old son, Zack. When Dan’s longtime friend and boss, Olivia Whitmore, fires Dan from RadioRadio, the company that he helped create, he crashes and isolates himself.

Willow, a poet and domestic violence survivor, helps Dan regain his footing. With her support, Dan ventures on a pilgrimage of sorts, visiting Fortune 500 companies to flesh out a software start-up idea. When Dan returns home with a fully formed vision, he recruits the help of three former RadioRadio colleagues and starts Conversationworks, a company he believes will be at the vanguard of social change.

Guided by Dan’s generative leadership, Conversationworks enjoys some early successes, but its existence is soon threatened on multiple fronts. Will Dan survive the ensuing corporate battles and realize the potential of his company? Or will he be defeated by his enemies and consumed by his grief?

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

2nd place: A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice by Mark Barry 

34729645

“I swore that I would never go home,
but in the end, I had no choice.
I had to confront what happened.
And them too.
It was going be icky. And totally scary.”
Carol Prentice left Wheatley Fields to attend university in Manchester and not once did she return in four years. Her beloved father visited her whenever he could, but then he passed away and it was up to her to sort his affairs.
She could have done this from a distance, but a woman can run to the far corners of the earth, but, in the end, she can never escape herself
She had to come home: There was no other choice.
Taking a job at a bookshop for the duration, she befriends Steve – an older man who looks like a wizard and who knows everything in the world.
Carol quickly encounters the demons that forced her to leave in the first place – including Toby, the raffish local villain, with whom she shares the most horrifying of secrets and whose very existence means evil and mayhem for everyone around. Especially the lovable Steve.
Carol finds herself in the middle of a war between the two men:
A war which can only have one victor.
Soon, she wishes she had never come home.
But by then it was too late.
Much too late.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Finalists: Donkey Boy and Other Stories by Mary Smith, Whispers In The Alders by H. A. Callum & The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat

Historical Fiction

Winner: I Could Write A Book by Karen M. Cox 

36077444

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever and rich…”
Thus began Jane Austen’s classic, a light and lively tale set in an English village two hundred years ago. Yet every era has its share of Emmas: young women trying to find themselves in their own corners of the world.
I Could Write a Book is the story of a self-proclaimed modern woman: Emma Katherine Woodhouse, a 1970s co-ed whose life is pleasant, ordered, and predictable, if a bit confining.
Her friend George Knightley is a man of the world who has come home to fulfill his destiny: run his father’s thriving law practice and oversee the sprawling Donwell Farms, his family legacy in Central Kentucky horse country.
Since childhood, George’s and Emma’s lives have meshed and separated time and again. But now they’re adults with grown-up challenges and obligations. As Emma orchestrates life in quaint Highbury, George becomes less amused with her antics and struggles with a growing attraction to the young woman she’s become.
Rich with humor, poignancy, and the camaraderie of life in a small, Southern town, I Could Write a Book is a coming of age romance with side helpings of self-discovery, friendship, and finding true love in the most unlikely places.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

2nd place: Irex by Carl Rackman 

32300312

In the harsh winter of December 1889, the sailing vessel Irex leaves Scotland bound for Rio de Janeiro. She carries three thousand tons of pig iron and just three passengers for what should be a routine voyage. But Captain Will Hutton discovers that one of his passengers hides a horrifying secret.
When the Irex is wrecked off the Isle of Wight six weeks later, it falls to the county coroner, Frederick Blake, to begin to unravel the events that overtook the doomed ship — but he soon finds that powerful forces within the British Establishment are working to thwart him. Locked in a race against time and the sinister agents sent to impede him, he gradually discovers that nothing aboard the Irex is what it first seemed…
Irex is an atmospheric mystery, set in a rich Victorian world, packed with intrigue, twists and colourful characters — the spellbinding first novel by Carl Rackman.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Finalists; Ghost Variations by Jessica Duchen, Blood Rose Angel by Liza Perrat & A Tincture Of Secrets And Lies by William Savage

Mystery / Thriller

Winner: Blessed Mayhem by Sue Coletta 

35843554

A chance encounter …a deadly predicament …a lethal decision.
The infamous Mr. Mayhem is not your average serial killer. Reminiscent of the beloved Hannibal Lecter, minus his thirst for flesh—because eating humans is just plain rude—Mr. Mayhem storms on the scene with style, grace, elegance, and a zest for life unlike any other. Impeccable manners also help. He may commit murder, but there’s no reason to be impolite about it.
Accompanied by his loyal crow companions, Poe, Allan, and Edgar, his crimes strike fear in the hearts and minds of folks across Massachusetts’ North Shore. When Shawnee Daniels—cat burglar extraordinaire and forensic hacker for the police—meets Mayhem in the dark, she piques his curiosity. Sadly for her, she leaves behind an item best left undiscovered. Or is it serendipity by design?
Color him curious, but he yearns to examine the psychology behind her life choices, tough girl routine, witty banter, and unique double-life. In a different time and place they may even become friends. But unfortunately, their predicament defines the risk.
The stakes are too high to stop now.
For reasons authorities cannot fathom, these seemingly unrelated murders will go down in history as the most impressive killing regime of all time. His coup de grace, if you will. Even if it means permanently erasing Ms. Daniels from the equation. All the pieces are there if the authorities look hard enough. The question is, will they? The only new wrinkle is Shawnee Daniels, and she may be his toughest opponent yet …if she’s clever enough to play the game.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

2nd place: The Lover’s Portrait by Jennifer S. Alderson 

30000039

When a Dutch art dealer hides the stock from his gallery – rather than turn it over to his Nazi blackmailer – he pays with his life, leaving a treasure trove of modern masterpieces buried somewhere in Amsterdam, presumably lost forever. That is, until American art history student Zelda Richardson sticks her nose in.
After studying for a year in the Netherlands, Zelda scores an internship at the prestigious Amsterdam Historical Museum, where she works on an exhibition of paintings and sculptures once stolen by the Nazis, lying unclaimed in Dutch museum depots almost seventy years later.
When two women claim the same painting, the portrait of a young girl entitled Irises, Zelda is tasked with investigating the painting’s history and soon finds evidence that one of the two women must be lying about her past. Before she can figure out which one and why, Zelda learns about the Dutch art dealer’s concealed collection. And that Irises is the key to finding it.
Her discoveries make her a target of someone willing to steal – and even kill – to find the missing paintings. As the list of suspects grows, Zelda realizes she has to track down the lost collection and unmask a killer if she wants to survive.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

Finalists: The Unrivalled Transcendence Of Willem J Gyle by J.D. Dixon, Ryan Kaine: On The Rocks by Kerry J. Donovan & The Unraveling Of Brendan Meeks by Brian Cohn

Non Fiction

Winner: Warnings Unheeded by Andy Brown 

31843168

The true story of two separate mass-casualty incidents that occurred within days of each other at a US Air Force base. Using the words of the people who lived and died during the tragedies, the book provides an in-depth look at the before, during and after of an avoidable “active shooter” incident and a preventable fatal plane crash.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

2nd place: Fractured Memories by Emily Page 

34408526

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.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

Finalist: Gone: Catastrophe In Paradise by O.J. Modjeska

Romance

Winner: White Lies by Ellie Holmes 

35491349

From the author of The Flower Seller
A WET NIGHT, A CAR CRASH,
THREE LIVES ARE CHANGED FOREVER…
Sam Davenport is a woman who lives her life by the rules. When her husband Neil breaks those rules too many times, she is left wondering not only if he is still the man for her but also if it’s time to break a few rules of her own.
Actions, however, have consequences as Sam soon discovers when what starts out as an innocent white lie threatens to send her world spiralling out of control.
White Lies is a warm, engaging read about love, deceit, betrayal and hope.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

2nd place: Dear Internet: It’s Me, Avery by Jennifer Ammoscato 

35065019

“Oh, don’t judge me, people. We all do it.
Don’t try to tell me that you’ve never checked that weird mole on your thigh on WebMD. Or how to fold meringue on Epicurious. And, there’s no way that I’m the only one who clears her search history after looking up how to give a great bl— (Um, that last one’s not important.)”
When newspaper reporter Avery Fowler discovers her husband is having an affair, the online help site HowTo.com is where she turns to navigate this challenging stage of her life.
If the Internet is Avery’s information god, then HowTo.com is her Holy Grail. Its live chat option is like having a virtual life coach for the low, low price of $14.95 a month:
Add into the mix a new boss whose managerial style calls to mind the Wicked Bitch Witch of the West—or the Anti-Christ—and the poor girl needs all the help she can get! The stakes rise and hilarity ensues as our heroine struggles to take control of her personal life and topple her boss after she learns Victoria’s guilty secret.
With Clementine (virtually) in tow, our heroine tackles such tricky situations as dating after divorce, sex once nothing points north anymore, and how to cover attempted murder scenes (despite a paralyzing fear of blood) as the new and improved Avery Fowler 2.0.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Finalists: The Betrayal by Anne Allen, By Light Of Hidden Candles by Daniella Levy & Watercolours In The Rain by Jo Lambert

Huge congratulations to all the authors who made the finals and to everyone who took the time to vote.

#RBRT Review Team

The Rosie’s Book Review Team (#RBRT) awards. VOTE NOW for your 2017 favourite.

The Rosie’s Book Review Team (#RBRT) awards are back! 

Now in their third year, I’m delighted to open the public vote.  The books were chosen from the hundreds submitted to our team for review in 2017.   My team of reviewers were asked to nominate their favourites; here are those that made the final cut.

You may vote for one book in each category.  Please only vote for books that you honestly feel deserve an award, in accordance with the authenticity of my team’s reviews.

Voting closes on December 15th and the results will be announced  on Tuesday December 19th.

Meanwhile, huge congratulations to all the finalists!

Fantasy /Scifi

General Contemporary Fiction

Historical

Mystery / Thriller

Non-Fiction

Romance

 

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice by Mark Barry @GreenWizard62

Today’s team review is from Anita, she blogs at http://jenanita01.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Anita has been reading, A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice by Mark Barry

34729645

My Review

The main character, Carol Prentice, made quite an impression right from the start with her dark clothes, hair and Doc Marten boots. She had come back to her family’s hometown after the death of her father, determined to sort her life out, and this involves a plan and a secret.

What does make someone choose one path over another and the hardest one at that?

A totally unpredictable and powerful story of what starts out as Carol’s revenge, but ends up being for someone else too. She came back home, knowing she would run into all kinds of bad memories, so what she intended to do had to be very important.

Some of the words Carol used confused me, but I am probably too old to understand the parlance of the young these days, but it did manage to help create a harsh rawness to the drama.

The other character I really liked was Steve, the bookshop owner. Steve is a thoroughly likeable older man and the perfect foil for Carol, giving the story another dimension. I did think it might have been better if Steve was younger, but maybe it worked better because he wasn’t, for there was enough going on without romance in the mix.

This is a gritty, well-planned story of revenge, every detail brings you slowly to the necessary showdown, but you won’t be ready for it. I know I wasn’t!

I didn’t want to enjoy this book quite so much, what with its nasty threads and even nastier people, but despite it all, there is redemption at the end and that for me, was well worth the read…

Book Description

“I swore that I would never go home,
but in the end, I had no choice.
I had to confront what happened.
And them too.
It was going be icky. And totally scary.”

Carol Prentice left Wheatley Fields to attend university in Manchester and not once did she return in four years. Her beloved father visited her whenever he could, but then he passed away and it was up to her to sort his affairs.

She could have done this from a distance, but a woman can run to the far corners of the earth, but, in the end, she can never escape herself.

She had to come home: There was no other choice.
Taking a job at a bookshop for the duration, she befriends Steve – an older man who looks like a wizard and who knows everything in the world.
Carol quickly encounters the demons that forced her to leave in the first place – including Toby, the raffish local villain, with whom she shares the most horrifying of secrets and whose very existence means evil and mayhem for everyone around. Especially the lovable Steve.
Carol finds herself in the middle of a war between the two men:
A war which can only have one victor.
Soon, she wishes she had never come home.
But by then it was too late.
Much too late.

About the author

71TBZXHeEjL._SY200_

Mark Barry is a multi-genre writer and novelist. His work includes the minor cult hit Ultra Violence about football hooligans at a small Midlands football club and Carla, a quirky, dark, acclaimed romance with shades of Wuthering Heights.

He is the co-designer of the innovative Brilliant Books project aimed at engaging the many, many reluctant readers amongst young people.

He has one son, Matt, on the brink of University, with whom he shares a passion for Notts County Football Club. Fast food, comics, music, reading, his friends on the Independent scene, and horse racing keep him interested and he detests the English Premier League, selfish, narcissistic people and bullies of all kinds.

He is based in Nottingham and Southwell, UK, the scene of most of his fiction.

 

“I swore that I would never go home,
but in the end, I had no choice.
I had to confront what happened.
And them too.
It was going be icky. And totally scary.”

Carol Prentice left Wheatley Fields to attend university in Manchester and not once did she return in four years. Her beloved father visited her whenever he could, but then he passed away and it was up to her to sort his affairs.

She could have done this from a distance, but a woman can run to the far corners of the earth, but, in the end, she can never escape herself.

She had to come home: There was no other choice.
Taking a job at a bookshop for the duration, she befriends Steve – an older man who looks like a wizard and who knows everything in the world.
Carol quickly encounters the demons that forced her to leave in the first place – including Toby, the raffish local villain, with whom she shares the most horrifying of secrets and whose very existence means evil and mayhem for everyone around. Especially the lovable Steve.
Carol finds herself in the middle of a war between the two men:
A war which can only have one victor.
Soon, she wishes she had never come home.
But by then it was too late.
Much too late.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice by Mark Barry @GreenWizard62

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice by Mark Barry

34729645

When Carol Prentice left her home town of Wheatley Fields for Manchester University she had no plans to return. Her father’s death precipitates a change in her and the subsequent return to Wheatley Fields, along with the resolve to address those intimated demons which have blighted her life and made her believe herself to be less than. She had A Plan.

After successfully applying for a job at a local bookstore, Carol and Steve, the manager, become firm friends. It’s an unlikely friendship, but they are both compelling characters, well defined with depth and relatability, even as we see their flaws. Steve, despite his previous failures and tendency to drink too much, becomes Carol’s source of strength, the foundation on which she can build, her rock.

However, it’s not very long before Carol’s demons appear and events are set in motion which spiral into disaster. Whatever happened to Carol prior to her leaving Wheatley Fields has defined her life up to date and is the catalyst that drives everything towards a riveting, and touching, conclusion.

Carol is a complex character, hiding behind a Goth exterior, emotionally damaged and with her feelings under such strict control, she perceives and registers rather than feels. The narrative is written informally in the first person from Carol’s point of view, giving a comprehensive insight into her psyche, and how deeply past events impacted on her. Although her subjective views could cast doubt on her credibility as a narrator, it doesn’t detract from believability and the vividness of her observations. Carol is real, fully developed, so much so that I felt like a spectator and completely forgot this was a man writing from a young woman’s perspective, it was so convincing.

This is the totally unpredictable and powerful story of a dramatic revenge planned down to the last detail. As more of the story is revealed, the more intriguing it becomes. How does Toby fit into Carol’s story and why is he so antagonistic? The disclosure, and learning the meaning behind the shiny coin, is appalling.

Mark Barry is a gifted storyteller with a knack for making this reader feel she’s been put though an emotional wringer (in a good way) every time. The writing is real, gritty and sometimes violent, but always eminently readable. Engaging characters are vividly portrayed and display a realistic range of emotions and reactions. Loved the Carla reference and the small but significant cameo of the author.

Book Description

“I swore that I would never go home,  but in the end, I had no choice.  I had to confront what happened.  And them too.  It was going be icky. And totally scary.” Carol Prentice left Wheatley Fields to attend university in Manchester and not once did she return in four years. Her beloved father visited her whenever he could, but then he passed away and it was up to her to sort his affairs.  She could have done this from a distance, but a woman can run to the far corners of the earth, but, in the end, she can never escape herself She had to come home: There was no other choice. Taking a job at a bookshop for the duration, she befriends Steve – an older man who looks like a wizard and who knows everything in the world.  Carol quickly encounters the demons that forced her to leave in the first place – including Toby, the raffish local villain, with whom she shares the most horrifying of secrets and whose very existence means evil and mayhem for everyone around. Especially the lovable Steve.  Carol finds herself in the middle of a war between the two men:  A war which can only have one victor.  Soon, she wishes she had never come home.  But by then it was too late.  Much too late.

Biography

Mark Barry

Bio: Mark Barry is a multi-genre writer and novelist. His work includes the minor cult hit Ultra Violence about football hooligans at a small Midlands football club and Carla, a quirky, dark, acclaimed romance with shades of Wuthering Heights.  He is the co-designer of the innovative Brilliant Books project aimed at engaging the many, many reluctant readers amongst young people… He has one son, Matt, on the brink of University, with whom he shares a passion for Notts County Football Club.  Fast food, comics, music, reading, his friends on the Independent scene, and horse racing keep him interested and he detests the English Premier League, selfish, narcissistic people and bullies of all kinds.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s Review Team #RBRT A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice by Mark Barry @GreenWizard62 #Thriller

Today’s team review is from Jenny Reeve,

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice by Mark Barry.

34729645

Review by Jenny Reeve

I give this book 4.5 stars

A Shiny Coin for Carol Prentice by Mark Barry

#Fiction

Carol Prentice returns to her hometown after the death of her father. She has to face the demons that have plagued her for years, and she has a ‘Plan’. Her stepbrother and his friends had better watch their backs!

Carol finds work in a local bookshop, here she meets Steve. I enjoyed the relationship between Carol and Steve, I feel for Carol and how she is a reluctant to tell him how she feels…. really feels. I simply wanted to shout at her to ‘Tell him go on, do it. Age does not matter”. Mark Barry writes with thought throughout the book, but even more so when he portrays Carol’s love for Steve. Especially at the end of the book, the writing tugged at my heart and pulled at each and every string. Devotion and pure love.

The words used to describe Carol’s fashion sense and her items of clothing is very good, and easy to visualize. I can truly imagine Carol wearing the Black wedding dress and the regalia that she likes so much. When it gets to the point that she peels off the layers to reveal what is underneath is amazingly written and well thought out.

Her stepbrother Toby and his friends make for a captivating read. The way that they behaved in the past and in the present is appalling and they deserve everything that Carol is plotting. I desperately wanted to find out what her ‘plan’ was and I felt that Mark Barry dragged this out a little too long, or maybe it was just my impatience at needing to know the plan and the outcome. Carol talks about ‘the plan’ a lot, but the reader has to wait till near the very end of the book to find out exactly what it is. But, it is worth the wait, so persevere with this and you will not be disappointed.

One thing I did not like was the use of the words ‘Unawsome’ and ‘like’. I understand that they are part of who Carol is and her style, but they were used too much.

This is a very good read though and a book that I enjoyed enough to recommend and read again.

Book Description

“I swore that I would never go home,  but in the end, I had no choice.  I had to confront what happened.  And them too.  It was going be icky. And totally scary.” Carol Prentice left Wheatley Fields to attend university in Manchester and not once did she return in four years. Her beloved father visited her whenever he could, but then he passed away and it was up to her to sort his affairs.  She could have done this from a distance, but a woman can run to the far corners of the earth, but, in the end, she can never escape herself She had to come home: There was no other choice. Taking a job at a bookshop for the duration, she befriends Steve – an older man who looks like a wizard and who knows everything in the world.  Carol quickly encounters the demons that forced her to leave in the first place – including Toby, the raffish local villain, with whom she shares the most horrifying of secrets and whose very existence means evil and mayhem for everyone around. Especially the lovable Steve.  Carol finds herself in the middle of a war between the two men:  A war which can only have one victor.  Soon, she wishes she had never come home.  But by then it was too late.  Much too late.

Biography

Mark Barry

Bio: Mark Barry is a multi-genre writer and novelist. His work includes the minor cult hit Ultra Violence about football hooligans at a small Midlands football club and Carla, a quirky, dark, acclaimed romance with shades of Wuthering Heights.  He is the co-designer of the innovative Brilliant Books project aimed at engaging the many, many reluctant readers amongst young people… He has one son, Matt, on the brink of University, with whom he shares a passion for Notts County Football Club.  Fast food, comics, music, reading, his friends on the Independent scene, and horse racing keep him interested and he detests the English Premier League, selfish, narcissistic people and bullies of all kinds.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

#Last Day To Vote We’ve been nominated for a Best Book Blogger in the 2017 BloggersBash awards and we need your votes. Please vote here (Best Book Blogger)

Thank you.

http://sachablack.co.uk/2017/05/18/2017-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-voting-open-bloggersbash-bloggersbash/

Rosie’s Team #RBRT A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice by Mark Barry @GreenWizard62 #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been reading A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice by Mark Barry

34729645


gold starMy Review: 5 out of 5 stars for A Shiny Coin for Carol Prentice by Mark Barry

According to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Narcissus was a youth of such surpassing beauty that he spurned admirers, including the infatuated nymph Echo. His only love was given to his beautiful face, causing the heartbroken Echo to fade away until only her voice was left. But the impossibility of his reflection ever returning his passion eventually led to Narcissus’ destruction, and he wasted away as well.

Carol admits that she may well be an unreliable narrator—”I was probably lying to myself, even then.” But even so, her descriptions of everything from her fabulous vintage/goth outfits to the English spring weather help to set the scene. “For late spring, it was cool, and rainy, an unbroken, ironed graphite sheet above, a breeze pregnant with moisture.” Forget your gamboling lambs and fluffy clouds—this is the England we all know. Her words paint what should be a picture-perfect English village, the kind the BBC loves to film, full of wealthy, beautiful people. But she shows it from the inside out, a Stepford landscape of assumed right and privilege.But when her father dies unexpectedly, Carol feels compelled to return home. She develops The Plan, a mysterious idea that will allow her revenge on those who hurt her in the past. Carol takes a job in a bookstore managed by Steve, a middle-aged intellectual who becomes first her friend and then her ally in the war which appears to start over a mispriced comic book. As the disagreement between Carol’s old adversary Toby and her new friend Steve escalates into all out war, she realizes two things. First, Toby is probably speaking the truth when he tells Carol, “I can no more stop now than a runaway train can stop itself plummeting over the cliff.” And second, the war is not, and never has been, about the price of a comic book. Instead, it’s something that their parents started.  “It may have been a war that would never end until the circle was squared.”

Even a terrific writer like Mark Berry does, very occasionally, get it wrong. I can’t believe that Carol—either in her deliberately acquired bubblehead voice or as her ironic intelligence shines through—would ever speak a sentence with “women nowadays.”  (“…women nowadays didn’t care about personalities…”) Still, the description that follows is pretty awesome and Carol-like “It was all about looks for them, especially around the town, a narcissistic jamboree fashioned from miles of silvered glass, endless selfies and constant self-reflection.” But wait! So it isn’t just Toby who is Narcissus? Apparently, the whole town is enchanted by their own reflection, and thus they all need to be punished.

Of course, the face of the war and targeting of Steve means the visible enemy on the battlefield actually IS Toby. “…his narcissus face, his reflection in the pool.” Carol realizes that she’s allowed Toby to make her disappear. “I had begun to realize something: my recent life had been all about Toby since that night.” She’s spent four years as a shade who can only repeat what those around her say. But now she needs to wake up. To extract her revenge, Carol needs to be seen.

Carol’s response is to become her old neighbors’ polar opposite. Her blonde hair is religiously dyed as black as possible. Instead of designer tweeds, she wears vintage gothic and biker boots. And instead of their “…cut glass, foppish, ultimately English accent, as smooth as silk and as creamy as expensive soap…”, she deliberately fills her sentences with the jarring one-size-fits-all negative “unawesome” and the incessant brain-fart “like”.

Within Carol’s first-person narration, unreliable as it is, we only meet her ideas about who the other characters really are. Because she needs him to be so, for example, Carol makes Steve—failed writer and musician, frequent drunk, and manager of a used bookshop that could never have survived without the charitable foundation backing it—into her “rock”, the one person she’s allowed to see her as more than a ghost. Even when Steve and her friend Pippa try to hold up other examples of people who’ve had experiences more horrific than hers, Carol ignores any hints that her own past doesn’t make her a special snowflake. After telling about being gang-raped as a teen, Pippa cautions, “Don’t pity me. Just understand. Don’t walk around the bloody world thinking it’s all about little you.”

There have been works of literature where the writing itself provided healing and closure. Long Day’s Journey Into Night was Eugene O’Neil’s attempt to explain the breakdown of his dysfunctional family. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez reveals the forbidden historical reality of the United Fruit Company’s murderous legacy through fictional fantasy. A Shiny Coin for Carol Prentice isn’t one of those stories. Steve has tried writing, and it didn’t work. The author himself, Mark Barry, shows up in a book cameo, tells a somewhat irrelevant anecdote, and wanders off. An unimpressed Carol observes, “We could have used the extra pair of hands.”

Mark Barry, the writer character, had failed Carol. Steve’s lectures about writing failed too, especially when he talked about shades of grey among villains. Toby already knows this truth, that the sides and the outcomes are black and white, no shades of gray in between. Steve doesn’t know, so he can’t win. Carol doesn’t want to know, but in order to win, she becomes someone who believes. That’s the polarization that the concept of War allows, the absolution for any action they may take. “Like, whatever we do to guys as bad as these, they will deserve. There’s going to be no guilt or, like, beating ourselves up afterwards.”

Because she’s made Steve into her rock, because she’s allowed him to SEE her, Carol believes she can communicate with him. Just one person in her universe. But that means she has to accept responsibility for what happens to Steve. If it’s all because of her, then it has to mean everything. Both Toby and Carol are beautiful, but they are still just the reflections of a horrible cycle started by their parents, the truest forms of Narcissus incapable of love. When she unleashes The Plan, Carol needs to make them all SEE her at last, even if only across a battlefield.

But the War isn’t over. Sure, our unreliable narrator Carol intends to declare victory, change her name, and get on with her life. But she’s still trapped, waiting for approval she can never get. Not from her father who’s dead, not from Toby’s father who’s on the other side of the war, and not from Steve, who might never be the rock she needs. Instead Carol has to take victory where she can get it. Toby must become the Old Carol—”Reclusive, friendless and shunned.”  The rest must become a love story. But it’s not so much a love story as a story about how to rewrite history and call it love.

At the end, Carol muses about what writing can and can’t do. Without the war in which he is collateral damage, Carol tells Steve he would “…still be listening to Pink Floyd at night on your sofa with your feet up reading your Martin Amis and all those brilliant writers who don’t give a poo about story because for you, and for them, it’s all about writing as art.”

A Shiny Coin for Carol Prentice is another Mark Barry masterpiece. All the epic themes—love, hatred, war, betrayal, greed, heroism, tragedy, victory, and loss—play out on a small stage in human scale. The beautiful, flawed characters from the tragic Narcissus legend are doomed to play out their mistakes as their reflected images become their realities. Five stars aren’t enough.

Book Description

Carol Prentice left Wheatley Fields to attend university in Manchester and not once did she return in four years. Her beloved father visited her whenever he could, but then he passed away and it was up to her to sort his affairs.

She could have done this from a distance, but a woman can run to the far corners of the earth, but, in the end, she can never escape herself.

She had to come home: There was no other choice.

Taking a job at a bookshop for the duration, she befriends Steve – an older man who looks like a wizard and who knows everything in the world.

Carol quickly encounters the demons that forced her to leave in the first place – including Toby, the raffish local villain, with whom she shares the most horrifying of secrets and whose very existence means evil and mayhem for everyone around. Especially the lovable Steve.

Carol finds herself in the middle of a war between the two men:
A war which can only have one victor.

Soon, she wishes she had never come home.
But by then it was too late.
Much too late.

About the author

Mark Barry is a multi-genre writer and novelist. His work includes the minor cult hit Ultra Violence about football hooligans at a small Midlands football club and Carla, a quirky, dark, acclaimed romance with shades of Wuthering Heights.
He is the co-designer of the innovative Brilliant Books project aimed at engaging the many, many reluctant readers amongst young people.
He has one son, Matt, on the brink of University, with whom he shares a passion for Notts County Football Club. Fast food, comics, music, reading, his friends on the Independent scene, and horse racing keep him interested and he detests the English Premier League, selfish, narcissistic people and bullies of all kinds.
He is based in Nottingham and Southwell, UK, the scene of most of his fiction.n Mark Barry’s retelling of the story, Carol Prentice left her home and her father four years earlier to attend University, but actually to escape from the devastating events of her past, and especially from the deceptively beautiful Toby. The only way she’s been able to cope was to disappear, to focus both physically and emotionally on appearances and details rather than on feeling…anything. “I sometimes think they murdered me and I am a ghost.”

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

#HotNews We’ve been nominated for a Best Book Blogger in the 2017 BloggersBash awards and we need your votes. Please vote here (Best Book Blogger)

Thank you.

http://sachablack.co.uk/2017/05/18/2017-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-voting-open-bloggersbash-bloggersbash/

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice by Mark Barry @GreenWizard62

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice by Mark Barry

34729645

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I was provided with an ARC copy of the novel I freely chose to review.

Although I had heard about the author and read quite a few reviews of his previous books, this is the first of his novels I have read so I can’t compare it to his previous work. I know from his comments in the book that it links to another one of his novels, Carla (I won’t mention how, first, because I haven’t read the other novel, so I can’t comment on how well or badly that works, and second, because I’m going to try very hard not to reveal any spoilers) but I can put at rest the minds of all readers who are in the same circumstances as me. This book can be read as a stand-alone, although I suspect you’ll feel as curious as I am about Carla once you finish reading this novel.

This novel is narrated in the first person by the eponymous Carol Prentice of the title. And yes, we get to know what the shiny coin means, but again, I’m not going to tell you. She’s a young woman; she’s just finished her degree at Manchester University and has to go back to her hometown because her father has passed away. She had avoided the town for several years (for good reasons as you’ll learn when you read the book) but she comes back to renovate the house and because the time has finally arrived to put her plan into practice. Of course, we don’t get to know about the plan until much later in the novel, but we have some hints throughout. She gets a job at a bookshop (so there are some interesting discussions about literature, mostly initiated by her boss, Steve, who is a connoisseur, not only of books but also of ales and many other things) and it’s not long before ghosts from her past come knocking. What at first appears to be a snotty and spoilt young man’s tantrum turns into a black hole sucking in everything and everybody. Almost.

The novel has some meta-fictional aspects. I’ve already mentioned the conversations about literature, psychology concepts (like the halo effect, perceptual closure), Steve was an author years ago back but did not make it and has strong opinions about popular literature and bestsellers (if you love James Patterson or Fifty Shades, look away now), and the author of this novel, Mark Barry, also makes a cameo appearance in it. As I said before, I haven’t read any of his other works but from some of the reviews, I get the sense that he has appeared in some others. He does not have a big part, and it reminded me of Hitchcock’s appearances in his movies (although Barry’s is a bit more significant than that).

As the novel is narrated in the first-person, we get a close look into the functioning of Carol’s mind and we get to know her better than other characters. She seems to focus a lot of her attention on how people smell (and it’s not always pleasant), what clothes they wear, and how they look. She has some annoying speech habits. There are plenty of ‘like’, ‘I so’, ‘totally’… Those appear not only when she’s talking to others but also when she’s thinking, despite the fact that she’s fairly articulate and perceptive in other ways. It might be funny for some readers and perhaps somewhat annoying for others, but it keeps her real and the story will hook everybody in and will make you keep reading no matter what. Carol says quite a few times that she cannot feel, that she observes things but does not feel them, and when we’ve gone over half the novel she eventually tells Steve why. I had my suspicions but the truth is worse. From her description of the events (that of course, I won’t reveal either) it becomes clear that she was experiencing them she tried to focus on anything but what was happening. She concentrated and observed objects, smells, décor, and it seems her current focus on describing things is a defence mechanism to keep events and people at bay, a way of remaining in control of what is happening as she felt powerless at the time. After her confession to Steve, the floodgates open and she starts feeling again, including acknowledging her complex feelings for Steve, that is difficult to know if they are projected from her need to have support as he becomes some sort of a father figure, or are genuine. She herself is not so sure.

Steve is the other character we get to know in detail, although of course always from Carol’s point of view and this is biased. She likes him from the beginning and he seems a genuinely nice man, much older than her, who’s tried many things and seems to have settled into a quiet life. He is not one for talking much about his feelings (he talks about everything else, though) and he is a recognisable and multi-dimensional character, with a strong sense of moral, that gets caught in a situation not of his making, but doesn’t seem willing or able to extricate himself from it.

Other than Carol and Steve, there aren’t many characters we get to know through the novel. There’s Toby, the baddy, a handsome and rich young man and a bully who believes rules and laws don’t apply to him; there’s also his father, and some other characters that only appear briefly (like the chief of police) but they aren’t as well developed. They only play a minor part in the drama and don’t hold that much of the narrator’s attention. By contrast, the town becomes quite a recognisable character in its own right, with its social mores, its politics and its royalty (so to speak).

The novel is written in a very colloquial way as pertains to the character narrating it (I’ve already mentioned the characteristics of Carol’s language) and there are plenty of references and words very local that might be a bit obscure to readers from outside the UK (or even the region) but that is part of what makes it so distinctive and vivid.

The novel offers quite a few surprises and reveals them slowly. I think most readers will have a variety of hypothesis about what’s going to happen, what the baddies will do next and what the plan is. I’m not sure many people will guess right and is an interesting and effective twist. This is a novel of revenge and just deserts that highlights the fact that there is always a price to pay. We might feel we need to exact revenge to be at peace but things are never quite as easy. With regards to what sets off what Carol describes as ‘the war’ it is pretty banal but, as she acknowledges, it’s not really about that and unfortunately other people get in the middle and end up becoming ‘collateral damage’. It did make me think of Hannah Arendt and her concept of ‘the banality of evil’. In this case not only about the evil person but about what sets it all off. It does not take much for some people to ruin a person’s life, just because they can… I’ve already mentioned the ending but I wanted to add that the ending is also a beginning.

I know I’ve been a bit cryptic about this novel but I had to be. I recommend it to those who like stories with psychologically complex characters, where the how is as important as the what, and to readers who’re looking for an author with a distinctive voice and style. (There is some violence, some talk about sex and disturbing content but none of it is extremely explicit or gore. It is more what we feel at the time of reading it than what is on the page.)

Book Description

“I swore that I would never go home,  but in the end, I had no choice.  I had to confront what happened.  And them too.  It was going be icky. And totally scary.” Carol Prentice left Wheatley Fields to attend university in Manchester and not once did she return in four years. Her beloved father visited her whenever he could, but then he passed away and it was up to her to sort his affairs.  She could have done this from a distance, but a woman can run to the far corners of the earth, but, in the end, she can never escape herself She had to come home: There was no other choice. Taking a job at a bookshop for the duration, she befriends Steve – an older man who looks like a wizard and who knows everything in the world.  Carol quickly encounters the demons that forced her to leave in the first place – including Toby, the raffish local villain, with whom she shares the most horrifying of secrets and whose very existence means evil and mayhem for everyone around. Especially the lovable Steve.  Carol finds herself in the middle of a war between the two men:  A war which can only have one victor.  Soon, she wishes she had never come home.  But by then it was too late.  Much too late.

Biography

Mark Barry

Bio: Mark Barry is a multi-genre writer and novelist. His work includes the minor cult hit Ultra Violence about football hooligans at a small Midlands football club and Carla, a quirky, dark, acclaimed romance with shades of Wuthering Heights.  He is the co-designer of the innovative Brilliant Books project aimed at engaging the many, many reluctant readers amongst young people… He has one son, Matt, on the brink of University, with whom he shares a passion for Notts County Football Club.  Fast food, comics, music, reading, his friends on the Independent scene, and horse racing keep him interested and he detests the English Premier League, selfish, narcissistic people and bullies of all kinds.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

#HotNews We’ve been nominated for a Best Book Blogger in the 2017 BloggersBash awards and we need your votes. Please vote here (Best Book Blogger)

Thank you.

http://sachablack.co.uk/2017/05/18/2017-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-voting-open-bloggersbash-bloggersbash/