Beach Reads Blog Tour 2015 Day 8 #Beachbooks @GeorgiaRoseBook

Week 2 and we are well into a holiday mood, with our reading.

Georgia Rose Author Photo

Today’s guest on the Beach Reads 2015 Blog Tour is Georgia Rose

Beach Read Postcard

Beach Reads Blog Tour

I’d like to thank Rosie for inviting me on this tour. I imagine this is what it feels like to be chosen to go on Desert Island Discs and as it’s likely to be the closest I ever get to that I’m treating it the same and much like the choices there these have been hard to make – I didn’t think about that when I eagerly said yes! As an author Rosie has said that I can choose one of my own to promote but in an effort not to do an Elisabeth Schwartzkopf from the Roy Plomley era I shall not, though I will add that I do believe mine would make great beach reads and you can find out everything you need to know about them at Georgia Rose Books

Right onto the easy bit first, my ideal holiday destination. We stumbled upon the delights of Gozo a few years ago and have gone there ever since, not to the same villa or the same village mind, we’re not that predictable! Gozo is the tiny island off Malta, and with no airport of its own it’s reached by ferry, which starts the unwinding process. It’s the place I’d run to if, for some reason, I suddenly had to leave England…well you never know do you 😉 I’m not a great traveller but on Gozo I feel safe. The people are friendly, they actually like the British. They drive on the left and have the same telephone and post boxes as us, there are blue lanterns outside their police stations and being there puts me at ease.

So, onto my choices and I’ve had to go about making these in different ways as it has been so difficult. In the end I’ve chosen a book I’ve read before that I’d recommend, one from an author whose other work I have enjoyed, one I’ve had on my TBR list for ages but just haven’t got to from an author whose writing is new to me, an audio book chosen on recommendation and because of the narration and finally a book that from all I hear about it will be a good, fun read and is again from an author whose work I am yet to sample.

Beach Reads Drift Wood

A book I would only read (listen to!) on holiday…Time Was: Time and Again Book 1 by Nora Roberts – Audio

Time Was Time and Again Book 1 Audio

I don’t get time to listen to audio books at home and I like the thought of having one to listen to whilst travelling or during those times on a sun bed when I’m completely relaxed and even holding up a kindle seems too arduous – I know #firstworldproblems…shaming. Anyway following reading a great post by Cathy on the Between The Lines Book Blog I’ve been inspired to try Time Was: Time and Again Book 1 by Nora Roberts.

This is from a genre I don’t usually read as it’s a time travel romance and in more ways than one as the book was originally published about 25 years ago.

The blurb reads – ‘Stranded in the present, time traveler Caleb Hornblower’s biggest problem isn’t returning to the twenty-third century – but falling head over heels for the beguiling Liberty Stone, who shows him a love more powerful than time itself. Though Caleb knows he belongs in the future, how can he leave the past, and Liberty, behind?’

What intrigues me most though, and the reason this is on my list, is that Cathy told me that listening to Luke Daniels (the narrator) is like listening to a play with a full cast and I’m looking forward to that.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

A book from my favourite genre…Carla by Mark Barry – Kindle

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This was the first book by Mark Barry I read and it is a great introduction to his work and it was whilst I was on holiday last year. It’s psychologically dark, a harrowing romance and I loved it – these are all words which sum up my favourite type of reading matter, along with thriller. It’s the sort of book that leaves you breathless at the end…staring at the wall and I didn’t read anything more that day, I couldn’t, I knew nothing else would come close. I have the paperback but this is fine to read on the kindle though a word to the wise if you are planning on getting Barry’s The Night Porter (and I would if I were you) try to get it in the paperback – there are footnotes you see, to add to the pleasure.

The blurb for Carla:-

John Dexter has problems. Real problems. We’re talking episodes in psychiatric hospitals, and then some. Woe betide any woman he falls in love with. But he’s no mad stalker. He knows himself, understand his own motives and behavioural patterns all too well. The problem is, he can’t stop himself. Then he meets Carla. Twenty-two years his junior, with family problems of her own. CARLA is a novel of obsession, love and loss, exploring very real mental health problems. It centres around an average flat and an average pub in an average English town, but its originality, realism and edgy humour has earned it a certain ‘cult’ status in some internet circles.’

I only have to read the first page of this book and I am drawn right back in there, it is ripe for rereading!

Amazon UK

Amazon US

A book I’ve been meaning to read for ages…One Way Fare (Null City Book 1) by Barb Taub – Kindle

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I have read the other two Null City books, Don’t Touch and Tales from Null City, and have wanted to tackle the first one for a while. These books are from a genre I wouldn’t usually choose, urban fantasy, but I’ve challenged myself to read many things since publishing and my eyes have been opened…as they say. Barb Taub is a terrifically engaging writer and her quick wit shines through in her stories so I’m sure I will be as absorbed by her first one as I have been by the others.

The blurb:-

A thrilling chase through time and space, Null City is only a Metro ride away, littered with slick rock stars, stoic warriors, and Nephilim – the descendants of angels. Superpowers suck. If you just want to live a normal life, Null City is only a Metro ride away. After one day there, imps become baristas, and hellhounds become poodles. Demons settle down, become parents, join the PTA, and worry about their taxes. Null City is the only sanctuary for Gaby Parker and Leila Rice, two young women confronting cataclysmic forces waging an unseen war between Heaven and Hell. Gaby and her younger brother and sister are already targets in the war that cost their parents’ lives. Should they forsake the powers that complete their souls and flee to Null City? Meanwhile, Leila has inherited a French chateau, a mysterious legacy, and a prophecy that she will end the world. Gaby and Leila become catalysts for the founding and survival of Null City. It just would have been nice if someone told them the angels were all on the other side.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

A book that I believe I could truly escape with is…Diamonds and Dust by Carol Hedges – Paperback

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Like so many others when I pack for a holiday my books go in first. In these days of having a kindle packing is easier but I always take my ‘just in case’ paperback. I’m fearful of something going wrong with the kindle or of me not being able to lie near enough to the plug socket it is currently being charged at so I need a back up.

Now I’ve only heard good things about this book, about the writing, about its authenticity and I do love a good murder. I’m also not very good at choosing books set in the past yet always enjoy them when I do so what’s not to love here?

The blurb:-

When a horrific murder takes place on a dark night in 1860’s London, it changes two women for ever. New light is cast upon past lives they thought they knew so well, and suddenly their futures become intertwined. The death of her uncle will leave eighteen-year-old Josephine King an orphan, an heiress and the owner of a priceless diamond, The Eye of the Khan. For Lilith Marks, a chance finally arises to end her life as a highly paid prostitute and to prove herself as a serious businesswoman. Set against the backdrop of the great gas-lit city, the two women are drawn together in their quest to discover just who killed the man they both loved. Diamonds & Dust is a page-whizzing narrative, with an intricate and absorbing plot that entices you through the teeming streets of Victorian London. If Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle all washed up on a desert island, they might have come up with something like this.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

For my fun read, because from everything I’ve read it will be, I choose…Bootcamp Bride by Lizzie Lamb – Kindle

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A few years ago I tried to read Emma by Jane Austen on a sun bed, what a mistake. I have learnt that holidays are not the time for trying to get into a book where the height of excitement involves a letter arriving in a village…at least not for me.

So as I’m not keen on fluffy romances or anything too lightweight I think this will hit the spot nicely – romance, suspense and danger, humorously told – what more could you want.

Take an up-for-anything reporter. Add a world-weary photo-journalist. Put them together . . . light the blue touch paper and stand well back! Posing as a bride-to-be, Charlee Montague goes undercover at a boot camp for brides in order to photograph supermodel Anastasia Markova. At Charlee’s side and posing as her fiancé, is Rafael Ffinch award winning photographer and survivor of a kidnap attempt in Columbia. He’s in no mood to cut inexperienced Charlee any slack and has made it plain that once the investigation is over, their partnership – and fake engagement – will be terminated, too. Soon Charlee has more questions than answers. What’s the real reason behind Ffinch’s interest in the boot camp? How is it connected to his kidnap in Columbia? In setting out to uncover the truth, Charlee puts herself in danger … As the investigation draws to a close, she wonders if she’ll be able to hand back the engagement ring and walk away from Rafa without a backward glance.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Many thanks again Rosie for asking me on this tour, there are so many books I could have chosen and will indeed be carrying with me on my upcoming holiday but I hope that for the purposes of this tour I have chosen wisely J

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Judith reviews Carla by Mark Barry @GreenWizard62 #wwwblogs

Today’s review is from team member Judith, she blogs at http://judithbarrowblog.com/

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Judith chose to read and review Carla by Mark Barry

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I found this a difficult read. Not because the writing was poor, to the contrary; it is excellent in many ways, but because I found the story both compulsive yet disturbing.

Usually, when reading a book to review I read it twice, once just to take in the story and again to discover what works for me. I try to avoid spoilers, saying only if the different components of the story, the characters, the dialogue, the setting etc., work as far as I’m concerned, and why.

But Carla is problematic for me. Mark Barry really gets into the mind of John Dexter, a middle-aged man who struggles with the knowledge of who and what he is; a man with a severe personality disorder who has lived most of his life either in mental health care or in prison. Yet who has, in a way, been cushioned from the realities of the outside world by the wealth of his father.  The challenge when reading the book is that it is a monologue and everything, therefore, is seen and related through the eyes of the protagonist, who is, to say the least, an unreliable narrator. There is no room for the reader to try, or even want, to envisage the setting, the action, in any other way than how he tells us.

The tone of the dialogue is conversational, even casual as John relates the stories of his past actions, and of events he was involved in, directly to the reader, many of which are chilling and disconcerting. And this sinister foundation of his life, and his self-knowledge, is reinforced, I think, by the short terse sentences that break up the longer narrative, especially with the juxtaposition of the internal dialogue where we learn of the chaos of his emotions and thought processes; his history of recurring thoughts of suicide. There are two sentences that particularly stood out for me. “ Borderlines like me? Way too much emotion.”. Says it all!

But the strange thing is that, as the reader, I emphasised with this character even whilst being repelled by him.

The title of the book, Carla, is taken from the character with whom the protagonist is obsessed and it is this fixation on Carla, a young, pretty woman, that is the pivot around which the plot and the decline of  John Dexter revolves. Yet it is with her, within this situation, that the protagonist discovers that he can relate to someone else; can empathise, can  truly care. Perhaps this could have been his redemption. Perhaps …

The foreshadowing of the inevitable result is drip fed throughout the story. The denouement however, was a shock.

And it is at this point that I’ll leave it. Suffice it to say, I think Mark Barry is a good author and  I would like  to recommend this book.

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

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT E.L reviews Carla by Mark Barry @GreenWizard62

Today’s review is from E.L Lindley she blogs at http://lindleyreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

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E.L. chose to read and review Carla by Mark Barry.

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Carla is a compulsive, unrelenting novel in which Mark Barry gives a human face to mental illness. It is the story of John Dexter, a 42 year old man with a personality disorder so extreme he is unable to live independently. Most of his adult life has been spent in prison, mental health facilities or being financially supported by his wealthy father.

However, the novel is about so much more than that and I suspect that every reader probably takes away something different after reading it. In the novel, John describes one of his fellow patients, a woman with a seriously disfigured face, and reflects how when people look into it it’s like a mirror, revealing more about them than the woman herself and I dare say the same might be said of John. For me, it’s a novel about redemption and a man being finally able to accept who he is.

Mark Barry is more than a weaver of stories; he is a master craftsman who makes brave choices not only with his subject matter but in his choice of language and the way he plays with our expectations of style and form. From the outset the tone is chatty and light, in direct contrast with John’s thoughts and feelings. Barry ensures that we connect with John, creating a dialogue between us that then challenges us to distance ourselves from him as he reveals the full extent of his ‘madness’.

As John’s tale unfolds, Barry never lets us forget who is in charge as he drip feeds us John’s back story, playfully switching between narrative and exposition. We are given glimpses of John’s past with references to explosive episodes and their consequences so that, even when he tries to show restraint in difficult situations, we are primed and ready when he eventually loses it in a spectacularly dramatic fashion.

John’s disorder is one where he develops obsessive feelings towards women and we get to witness his torment in his relationship with Carla. Carla is a woman young enough to be his daughter, who evokes a protective instinct in John that proves to be his salvation. His need to protect someone becomes greater than his need for affirmation and love.

John’s relationship with Carla is not his whole story; it’s simply a slice of a life that has been defined by unhappiness and pain. It is, for John, however, a life changing period and possibly the most precious time of his life – “A life in just over ten weeks.” Regardless of the outcome of the novel (which I won’t reveal) John’s story is never going to be a happy one. Barry foreshadows the tragedy that John carries around with him by recurrent references to suicide. For example, John has spent each morning and evening since the age of 15 contemplating ways to commit suicide. For me, one of the most poignant lines in the novel comes when John asks us, “Can you imagine a life where you never wake up feeling well?”

Carla is not an easy read but it is an important one and it forces us to face the reality of mental illness. Barry takes us on a tour of the mental health system with its reliance on drugs, talk therapy and the more invasive ECT whilst tenderly offering us a glimpse of characters like Leroy, a murderer for whom there is no chance of rehabilitation. Barry gives us no answers but, by giving us John, he invites us to acknowledge that maybe, given the right set of circumstances, we are all just one step away from madness.

As John loses his heart to Carla, he cautions us to fear for her safety but, ironically it is John himself who garners our sympathy. A man who, as a little boy, was left so traumatised by his mother’s abandonment of him and his subsequent brutal experience of public school, his personality fractured in a way that he can never recover from. It is John’s self-awareness that is his saviour. It allows us to forgive him all his failings and allows him to finally accept himself for who he is.

Carla is a novel that will leave you feeling battered and bruised but ultimately in a better place for having read it. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Alison reviews Carla by Mark Barry

Today we have a review from team member Alison, she blogs at http://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

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Alison chose to read and review Carla by Mark Barry

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Carla by Mark Barry

This intriguing novel tells the story of John Dexter, a man with severe mental health issues. John falls in love far too easily and far too quickly, his feelings too intense both for him and for the women who find themselves at the receiving end of his affections. John is a complex character; the glimpses we are given of his past account for his thirst for reciprocated attention and add a real depth to the novel. The first person viewpoint draws you in, and you find yourself alternately rooting for John and then feeling so frustrated by him that you want to reach into the book and shake him – all the while knowing that it isn’t his fault and that he can’t help himself.

John has Borderline Personality Disorder – a disorder that causes sufferers to have difficulty forming and maintaining healthy relationships, with an extremely heightened fear of abandonment. This aspect was handled very sensitively but realistically. John is well aware of his issues, but this self-awareness doesn’t mean he has control, and part of the skill of the writing is that it conveys so well John’s own frustration at his inability to change how he knows things will end, while putting the reader through those same frustrations. His pursuit of young student and barmaid Carla is alternately touching and terrifying.

The narrative is, on the whole, believable and compelling and Mark Barry can definitely write and write well. However, there were a couple of issues with the book that prevented me from loving it.

It might sound pedantic to some, but the author consistently capitalises the ‘he’ or ‘she’ following a closing speech mark after question marks and exclamation marks as in:

“Who?” She replied.

“Can you have a look at those stats for me?” She asked optimistically.

Trivial? Possibly, but for me this became distracting, detracting from the text and spoiling my enjoyment of the novel. For me at least, attention to detail is vital.

I also felt that a couple of scenes weren’t realistic – I won’t go into too much detail for fear of spoiling the plot, but I didn’t really understand John dressing as a woman for the open day. I can understand that his disorder might have driven him to do this, but would he really have got away with it? I also felt the final scenes at Carla’s house were rushed and could have used more detail.

Does this mean the book is bad? No, on the contrary, this is a very good book. Does this prevent me from recommending it? Not at all, I absolutely recommend it. But these things are enough to prevent me giving ‘Carla’ five stars, which is a shame.

Four out of five stars.

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

 

 

 

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Cathy reviews Carla by Mark Barry

Today’s book review comes from team member Cathy, she blogs at http://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com

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Cathy chose to read and review Carla by Mark Barry

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An extraordinary story, fascinatingly and honestly narrated by John Dexter, forty-two years old and from a wealthy background. John has a history of mental illness, or more precisely Borderline Personality Disorder, and has been in and out of psychiatric care for years. The most recent being ‘three years of intense psychotherapy’ with the associated medications, some of which were experimental. Now he’s living alone in a flat funded by his father who, rather than hands on help, prefers to throw money at John and hope for the best. And taking into account John’s mother left when he was at an impressionable age his self abandonment issues begin to seem a little more understandable.

On a visit to one of the local pubs John meets, Carla, the young barmaid and he is immediately lost. John knows the scenario well and he also knows his behaviour is illogical but is powerless to stop. During the course of the narrative he explains in detail how he’s unable to cope rationally and emotionally with his feelings and the inevitably of his doomed relationships.

With Carla, John is able to curb his more extreme inclinations, and to his surprise Carla seems to like him. They share an interest in the environment and take walks together. Their developing friendship brings unwelcome consequences by throwing other characters into the mix and showing Carla to be a more complex character than at first thought.

John’s story is a very individual one, reflective and disturbing, told with no holds barred and in great detail. The writing is brilliant. A raw journey inside the mind of the protagonist and his analysis of the disorder that’s influenced and blighted his life. The daily struggle he faces is heart breaking and described beautifully with a wry humour that charms. It’s a compelling, tragic and sometimes immensely brutal story, with an ending I was not expecting and one that will stay with me for quite some time, I think.

5 out of 5 stars

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