A BEND IN THE WILLOW by Susan Clayton-Goldner #WomensFiction #FamilySaga @Tirgearr @SusanCGoldner

A Bend in the WillowA Bend in the Willow by Susan Clayton-Goldner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Bend In The Willow is women’s fiction and is the tale of one women with two names and separate lives which ultimately mesh together.

Robin Lee Carter grew up in Willowood Kentucky. Her father was an abusive drunk who suffered post war PTSD and he was violent towards all three of his children.

By the age of seventeen, Robin’s youngest brother had tied after an unattended head injury caused by her father, her mother had died of cancer and Robin had suffered ten years of sexual abuse from her father. One evening he raped her and broke her arm in his drunkenness, then fell asleep in oil covered overalls with a lit cigarette.

Robin fled the scene of the fire which resulted, with money to start a new life and her father’s child in her belly. She tried in vain to contact her older brother for a year after the fire, then gave up.

She gave her baby away and made a new life for herself eventually marrying again and having a new child. But when her son Michael is diagnose with a rare Leukemia she must face the past to see if her family are suitable bone marrow donors.

An emotional tale for both Robin and the people whose lives she had connections with. Her adopted son, like so many children, had many questions and set backs because of his adoption and the hopes he raised of being reunited with his birth mother. Husband Ben who was devastated to find his wife had lied to him about her past. And for Robin’s brother Kyle who went into a burning house believing he needed to rescue his sister and almost losing his own life because of his heroic actions.

My favourite character was Kyle’s daughter Loralee, her angelic childhood reasoning and determination to see the good in people and to want to do her best, bound so many of the other characters together. Add this to several plot points to capture your empathy and compassion, this is a quick, enjoyable read.

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Book Description

Willowood, Kentucky 1965 – Robin Lee Carter sets a fire that kills her rapist, then disappears. She reinvents herself and is living a respectable life as Catherine Henry, married to a medical school dean in Tucson, Arizona. In 1985, when their 5-year-old son, Michael, is diagnosed with a chemotherapy-resistant leukemia, Catherine must return to Willowood, face her family and the 19-year-old son, a product of her rape, she gave up for adoption. She knows her return will lead to a murder charge, but Michael needs a bone marrow transplant. Will she find forgiveness, and is she willing to lose everything, including her life, to save her dying son? 

About the author

Susan Clayton-Goldner

Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Creative Writing Program and has been writing most of her life. Her novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-line Contest. Susan won the National Writers’ Association Novel Award twice for unpublished novels and her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Animals as Teachers and Healers, published by Ballantine Books, Our Mothers/Ourselves, by the Greenwood Publishing Group, The Hawaii Pacific Review-Best of a Decade, and New Millennium Writings. A collection of her poems, A Question of Mortality was released in 2014 by Wellstone Press. Prior to writing full time, Susan worked as the Director of Corporate Relations for University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. 

Susan shares a life in Grants Pass, Oregon with her husband, Andreas, her fictional characters, and more books than one person could count. 

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HAY BALES AND HOLLYHOCKS by Sheila Newberry @BonnierZaffre #FamilySaga #Norfolk

Hay Bales and HollyhocksHay Bales and Hollyhocks by Sheila Newberry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hay Bales and Hollyhocks is a British family saga set between the years 1938 and 1968 mainly in and around Kings Lynn, Norfolk. The prologue opens in 1968 with Rosanne and Sim, two travellers, recently met.

The book then turns back to 1938, four year old Rosy lives in the fens with her extended family. She plays with her older cousins in and around the river Ouse, but soon a baby brother arrives to change her life. During the first years of the war, the women and children move into Kings Lynn for safety while the men go to war, but when a bomb falls too closely they find new cottages on a farm.

The war brings it’s own trials and obstacles for Rosy and her family. In later years, Rosy yearns for her freedom, she spends an idyllic summer holiday boating on the river Ouse once again with her cousins, but soon her life is turned upside down again by a sibling.

This is a book packed with detailed nostalgia of the era, showing thorough knowledge and research by the author, but at times it felt a little like walking around a living museum rather than relying on the writing style, language and story content to create the atmosphere of yesteryear.

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

This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by Bonnier Zaffre Publishing

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT WILD WATER series by @JanRuthAuthor #TuesdayBookBlog

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

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Cathy has been reading The Wild Water series by Jan Ruth.

Wild Water Box Set

Wild Water begins the story of Jack Redman who works in the Cheshire branch of his family’s very successful estate agency business. To all outward appearances he has it all, the up market car, the big house, a beautiful, if high maintenance, wife and three lovely children. But Jack’s life is thrown into turmoil when Patsy, his selfish and materialistic wife, admits to an affair and leaves the family home with their younger daughter. Jack has felt something was amiss for a while but certainly wasn’t expecting the train wreck which was now his life. And things were getting worse. His father has had a health scare leaving Jack to run both the Cheshire and North Wales branches. Jack is run ragged and very unhappy. Meeting up with Anna, his first love, in Wales, when she lists her farm for sale is the only thing keeping him sane.

In Dark Water Jack and Anna seem poised on the brink of a life together, and Anna’s artistic talent is about to be recognised. But then the past rears its ugly head in the shape of Simon Banks, Patsy’s ex-lover and the father of her first child. He is unstable and a danger to everyone’s peace of mind, determined to be a part of his daughter’s life, regardless of how it impacts on the rest of the extended Redman family.

Anna is feeling overwhelmed and unsure in the aftermath of Jack’s decisions, and their lives become ever more complicated. As the strain intensifies they both make mistakes which causes uncertainty and misunderstandings between them, culminating in a disastrous incident which comes back to haunt them and add to the confusion and turmoil of their lives.

Silent Water sees Jack’s impulsiveness and, mostly unwise, ways of dealing with the ongoing crises continue to threaten his and Anna’s lives together, despite his good intentions. The spectre of Simon Banks is never far away and Jack’s future looks bleak and uncertain. Anna isn’t content to let Jack deal with everything anymore, and takes more control over her life and career. As Patsy’s misery deepens into depression she becomes more calculating than ever, causing havoc without a second thought. It’s seeming less and less likely that Jack and Anna will be able to achieve a happy ever after ending to their turbulent lives.

A story driven by characters who are all very well drawn and real, with deep and complex issues. Their lives are interwoven seamlessly and full of emotional ups and downs. Funny, loveable Jack, who I couldn’t help but sympathise with, while at the same time wanting to shake some sense into him. He cares about those people who matter to him above all else, and wants to do what he believes is best for them. More often than not though, it backfires and makes the situation even worse. Anna, likeable, independent and warm-hearted, never really got over her feelings for Jack, and seeing him again brings back long buried emotions. I was particularly moved reading the scene with Anna and Benson, the labrador. On the other side of the coin is Patsy, manipulative and selfish with no regard for others’ feelings, even her own children. She will go to any lengths to get what she wants. Lottie, and the humorous back and forth dialogue between her and Jack, is brilliant especially as she approaches puberty.

I love the North Wales setting, which Jan Ruth describes in rich and beautifully evocative detail, with a vivid and visual writing style.

An excellent plot which veers into darker territory, giving it an extra layer of tension, depth and drama. The complicated relationships between a great and diverse mix of characters, are credible and feel true to life, portrayed in such a way as to provide an opportunity to experience emotions from the individual’s point of view. The pacing is perfect, allowing the narrative to become continuously more gripping. A wonderfully compelling trilogy, told with humour, compassion and an understanding of the complexities of life and relationships. Great twist at the end too.

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

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT BITTERSWEET FLIGHT by @AnneLHarvey1 #FridayReads #FamilySaga

Today’s Team Review is from Judith, she blogs at http://judithbarrowblog.com/

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Judith has been reading Bittersweet Flight by Anne L Harvey

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My Review:

Before I begin my review I would like to say I wonder if the Blurb gives away too much of the story?

I enjoyed reading Anne Harvey’s Bittersweet Flight;  the  sequel to her début novel A Suitable Young Man. The story follows Sally Simcox as she leaves her home town of Horwich in Lancashire to move to Blackpool.

Although it can be read as a stand-alone book I would recommend reading A Suitable Young Man first.

Set in a decade I have studied and loved Bittersweet Flight begins in 1956. It is obvious from the descriptions of both the Northern industrial town and the seaside resort that the author has researched both the places and the era. There is a great sense of place throughout the story. 

Told from an omniscient narrator’s point of view we meet all the characters from the first novel and are introduced to some new ones. All add to the plot which moves smoothly and steadily throughout most of the novel. although there is an unexpected revelation towards the end which adds another layer to the book.

The reader gains more insight to Sally in Bittersweet Flight; I think she is actually portrayed as a more rounded  character in this novel as she struggles to regain control of her life. The introduction of  Phil Roberts adds a complication but I liked the way the author introduced the character and linked him to the protagonist’s back-story.

On the whole the dialogue is good and easy to follow and can be identified with each character. Although occasionally stilted it’s not enough to detract from the enjoyment of the book.

There is the minor plot-line threaded throughout the main plot, of Joyce Roberts and her secret boyfriend, Dave. Through this minor storyline we learn more of the life the protagonist has left behind and the correlation with her present situation.

Anne Harvey has a writing style that is very readable. I have no hesitation to recommending  Bittersweet Flight to any reader who enjoys a family saga

Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/26NNohJ

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/1SItZJ4

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT BITTERSWEET FLIGHT by @AnneLHarvey1 #wwwblogs #FamilySaga

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

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Terry has been reading Bittersweet Flight by Anne Harvey

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Bittersweet Flight by Anne Harvey

3.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team

This is the sequel to A Suitable Young Man, and the two thread together well; it could possibly be read as a standalone. It starts in 1956, when Sally Simcox has run away from her home in Horwich, Lancs to Blackpool, because she is pregnant.   The father is Nick, with whom she had a one night stand after having liked him for a long time; he offered to marry her out of duty, but Sally knew he loved another, so pretended she’d had a miscarriage to let him off the hook.

Once in Blackpool she meets Phil, who is in the RAF, and he helps her find a job and somewhere to live; there is an immediate attraction between them. Alas, Phil is unaware that Sally has a connection to his family—and he already has a girlfriend, Pam, who is in love with him and hopes they will marry.

It being the late 1950s, Sally has to go into a mother and baby home. I thought this bit was very interesting, mostly because it shows the difference in attitudes between then and now. When I was in my teens, having a baby out of wedlock was still seen as a fairly shameful thing, but this is the generation before, when to be an unmarried mother could ruin a girl’s life.

Running alongside the main story is that of Joyce, Phil’s young sister, which is connected to Sally’s situation.

The book is very readable, certainly enough to keep me turning the pages because I wanted to know what happened, although I found it information heavy in parts; at times the dialogue was a little unrealistic. Near the end there is a revelation of sexual deviance which examined the darker side of working class life in those days, and an explicit sex scene, the latter of which I found incompatible with the otherwise ‘clean read’ tone of the book; it kind of jumped out and made me go ‘woah, what happened there?’ Aside from this, though, I would say that the many readers of nostalgia/family dramas will enjoy this book, as it’s a basically good story, and well plotted. Sally is real and likeable, and Phil’s dilemma very believable (though I thought Pam’s character and reactions could have been developed more).   There is plenty of day to day detail about life during the 1950s, too, that will appeal to this market.

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

 

 

Living In The Shadows by @barrow_judith #FamilySaga #HistFic #Bookreview @honno #wwwblogs

Living in the ShadowsLiving in the Shadows by Judith Barrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Living in Shadows is the third book following the lives of a group of family and friends based mainly in Ashford near Manchester, England. Book one began in 1944 and this current book is 1969 involving many of the next generation.

In this book, we meet Linda Booth a young nurse on a maternity ward, dealing with new mother’s and fathers. Off duty she is a regular visitor to her Grandmother, whilst she questions her own relationship with her current boyfriend.

Victoria Schormann currently lives in Llamroth with her twin brother and her parents Mary and Peter. Mary was a nurse in a POW camp near where she lived in Ashford, after the war she moved to Wales. Peter had been a doctor and prisoner in the POW camp and after the war he came back and found Mary.

Victoria is bored and spoilt and decides to run away from home with a boy she met at a music concert. Seth is a hippie and runs a commune in the Manchester area, but Victoria finds the new lifestyle is more than she bargained for.

Mary’s sister and one of her brothers still live in the Ashford area with their respective families, and while Mary’s son Richard attends interviews at the University they all have their own challenges to face. Changes in what is socially accepted are harder for some to agree with, but they find themselves all drawn together when a dark figure from the past comes back and threatens the future.

This book can be read alone but I believe it would have more meaning to be read in sequence. I haven’t read the second book and I struggled to place names and family relationships. This meant I didn’t always follow the storyline as well as I expected. The book contained some good historical details and the themes were relevant to their day.

This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by the author via Honno Press

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

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Rosie’s Avid Readers #RBRT Daughters Of The Mersey by Anne Baker

Rosie's Avid Readers

Rosie’s Avid readers are people who like reading and have a book to tell us about, they are the voice of a friend who says ” I just read this book….”

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Avid reader’s thoughts

A well written story of Second World War. Family life in Liverpool even down to growing vegetables to help the Spartan diet. Very moving and informative.

Book description

With the scars of World War I still fresh, the Dransfield family face further challenges…When Steven Dransfield loses his fortune in the Depression, his wife Leonie is forced to save the family from ruin. But Steve resents the success of her dressmaking business and, trapped in a loveless marriage, Leonie is drawn into the arms of another man. Just as their children, Milo and June, begin to spread their wings, Leonie finds herself pregnant, but her duty lies with her family and when Amy is born she unites them all. Then with the outbreak of World War II and danger looming in Liverpool, Amy is evacuated to Wales, and, as the bombs start to drop, lives are lost and hearts are broken and the Dransfields must learn to support one another through the heartache that lies ahead…

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

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Karen reviews Kings and Queens by Terry Tyler

Today’s book review is from Karen, she blogs at http://mytrainofthoughtson.wordpress.com/

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Karen chose to read and review Kings and Queens by Terry Tyler

Kings and Queens - Terry Tyler

Kings and Queens – Terry Tyler

The book introduces you to Harry Lanchester, second born of a property development dynasty. When his older brother Alex comes to hazard, he is destined to become the future leader of the company.

With Kings and Queens, Terry Tyler has created a rather intriguing story of a family with interesting parallels to Henry VIII and his wives. Kings and Queens is an entertaining and gripping read with all too real characters. Terry Tyler carefully lets her characters evolve – a true art. I was drawn into the story right away, feeling like a close observer. I didn’t really like Harry – and I feel good about it: He is masterly portrayed as a despicable person – at least from my point of view. All other characters equally real with all their virtues and/or flaws. Kings and Queens is a great read for family saga and drama fans, readers who like parallels to history.

This is definitely not my usual genre. Despite that, I consider this a book to read again.

Recommended!

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

Rosie’s book review Team #RBRT Jessie reviews Wild Water by Jan Ruth

Today’s book review comes from team member Jessie, she blogs at http://behindthewillows.com

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Jessie chose to read and review Wild Water by Jan Ruth

It is always sad to read a tale of adultery, divorce and families torn in two, but Wild Water is heart-breaking.

And it’s the husband, Jack, who extends this book beyond the general, wife leaves husband, depression and right into heartbreak territory. He makes a joke, and you want to give him a sad pathetic kind of smile because he’s trying so hard. He loses his temper and makes another poor decision and while you can see the train wreck coming, your gut sort of aches for him anyway.  He helps his family along and you want to give him a hug because he’s managing to think of others even as he’s falling apart in all the ways a man can. Even when his childhood sweetheart arrives on the scene it’s hard not to cringe knowing that that this guy can’t possibly not screw something up.

Would I recommend it? This isn’t a light hearted romp in the hay romance, nor is it a drama with deep wells of prose.  This is something different, a blend of the two, that might have gone awry except for the emotion that Jan Ruth endows Jack with. Jack carries the story and while feeling as though I’ve given myself a sympathy ulcer while reading isn’t always the most enjoyable feeling, it’s undeniably a sign of an author who knows people. And what are books about, if not people?

This honest review was given in return for a free copy of the book from its author.

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

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

The Good EarthThe Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a best seller in 1931/32 and has been made into a film. The author was the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938. Treated as a classic book it deals with life in rural China before the revolution. It shows the levels of respect given to individuals in this society. The book begins with the wedding preparations of a poor farmer and ends with his final return to the earth that he loved. In between is a story of family life around the precious earth.

Find the book here on Amazon

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