Rosie’s Good Read Collections: Modern Contemporary Themes

Welcome to “Rosie’s Good read Collections”, I’ve put together the books I’ve read into subject headings that I think the books belong to, for you to browse.

16090310When the police have been seen at school on the second day of term, fighting breaks out amongst parents and gossip about individuals threatens to spiral out of control, can Mrs Hardy, the Headmistress at Moortulk Primary keep control for another school year? Sophie Grey lands a self-made job where she is in a prime position to hunt out the inside story. Is this an idyllic English school? Goodreads,,, My Book!

18460826Karen Kavanagh has spent her life feeling like the runt of the family. Her two elder sisters, domestic goddess Ava and salon owner Saskia, are mini versions of their mother, a gorgeous Danish beauty. Karen has inherited her father’s droopy, dull brown hair and long nose – pitted against two Scandinavian sauna babes, she feels like Cinderella in reverse. Danny Alvarez doesn’t see her like that. He thinks she’s wonderful. Lots of women want Danny, but Danny just wants Karen.
He pursues her with the devotion of a stalker – but she pushes him away. Then she realises what she’s done…
Set in Norfolk, Terry Tyler’s sixth novel, “What It Takes”, is a story of insecurity, jealousy, sibling rivalry, love and loss, and the games people play in the search for love – because if you love someone with all your heart you’ll do what it takes to make them yours. Goodreads,,, My Review:

3407741Another warm, wise and witty offering from Sunday Times bestseller Trisha Ashley. James is everything Tish has ever wanted in a husband – she’s married a man who even her mother approves of. He’s handsome, dependable, and will make an excellent father – unlike Tish’s first love, the disreputable Fergal. Her teenage sweetheart abandoned her for a music career and now lives a typical celebrity lifestyle. Fergal broke her heart – James helped mend it.
Now, they’ve bought a cottage in the country. The next step – kids and a lifetime of domestic bliss. Well, that’s the plan. And even if James has a slight tendency to view the village pub as a second home, their relationship is still in pretty good shape after seven years of marriage. So why is marriage to Mr Right making her long for Mr Wrong? Goodreads,,, This book would also fit into the romance genre. My Review:

18008061Anyone who’s dabbled with internet dating has a story to tell, but few can tell them with as much wit and honesty as Julie McDowall. Her online dating blog became an instant sensation on when she charted her bizarre and hilarious experiences in search of the perfect man. Or at least a man who wasn’t a total freak. Or, failing that, a freak who was freaky in the right ways…
Now for the first time CASTING THE NET – VOLUME 1 presents the unexpurgated true story of her on-going quest for love, including all the material deemed unfit for a family newspaper. Join the eloquent and intrepid McDowall as she tackles The Janny, The Accountant, The Comedian, Foxy Doctor, the inimitable Shug — and her ultimate nemesis, The Clown. Goodreads,,, My Review:

17792066You know the Dugans.  They’re that scrappy family that lives down the street.  Their yard is overgrown, they don’t pick up after their dog, their five children run free – leaving chaos in their wake – and the father hasn’t earned a cent in years.  The wife holds them together on her income alone.  You wouldn’t want them for neighbors – but from a distance, their quite entertaining. Of course, alcohol is an issue.  You can tell from the empty bottles lying under the bush out front.  You can hardly blame the wife for leaving one day.  Without her at the helm, the rest carry on the best they can.  Their strong sense of family keeps them going.  They help each other, and in some cases, rescue each other.  They struggle for a better life.  While they never follow the rules, or completely conquer adversity, they stare it down, meet their challenges, and earn some much needed respect.   They might even make you proud. Set in the Finger Lakes region of upstate  New York, the twelve linked stories in Our Love Could Light The World depict a dysfunctional family that’s messy and rude, cruel and kind, and loyal to the end. Goodreads,,, My Review:

18071472‘The first thing you have to know about me is that I have no voice.’ This is the story of a curious girl, and the threads of a life she’s determined to unravel. Mouse de Bruin is under siege. Without a voice since the age of six, she is trying to work things out about the world. She and her mother have moved into a
rented Pennine farmhouse in which reminders of the man who lived there previously, William Crosby, lie all around her. Fighting to hold the outside world at bay, Mouse becomes increasingly drawn to William, a man who seems to have been haunted by secrets. As Mouse’s investigations lead her towards some of the people who knew him, she unearths a collection of letters about William’s experience as a young officer in the chaotic final weeks of the war. But why, as Mouse begins to uncover the mysteries of William’s past life, is she so keen to eliminate all traces of her own? Goodreads,,, My Review:

17240425When Sam, Jackie and Anna successfully campaign to save their children’s school lollipop lady, they are asked by a TV reporter if they fancy standing in the general election. It is, of course, a crazy idea: Sam’s youngest son has an incurable disease, Jackie is desperate for another child and her mum is struggling with Alzheimers, Anna’s teenagers – and marriage – are in danger of going off the rails. But sometimes the craziest ideas turn out to be the best. And just think what they could do if they got to run the country…Goodreads,,, My Review:

16170937Make a Joyful Noise is the sparkling tale of a choir preparing for a very special Christmas performance of “Belshazzar’s Feast”. We meet a host of characters who are mercilessly sent up by the author: Lucy the staggeringly trusting young music teacher, Tristan the lecherous and vain anti-hero, Miss Greymitt the ageing and slightly confused choir pianist, Claire the shameless and scheming temptress, and singers with nothing but resonance between their ears. Just as all does not run smoothly for King Belshazzar in Walton’s music, so the characters in the novel suffer from hopeless yearnings, romantic misunderstandings and the unfortunate consequences of their own misguided actions. All is sharply and wittily observed in a delightful mix of romance, music and humour. Goodreads,, This book could also fit in the romance genre. My Review:

16371619A boy, Halkeno, waits in a small orphanage in Beira, Mozambique for someone to find him. A successful Iowa businessman realizes there’s a space in his life and goes off searching to fill it. Amazingly, the boy and the man meet and life is very happy for a time. But they never see the tragedy moving toward them and suddenly Halkeno is on his own again. This story of fathers and sons spans four generations and three continents. It answers the question, “when we lose our fathers, do we ever find them again?” and shows that true love lives forever. Goodreads,,, This book could also be in historical, but I’m more comfortable putting it here. My Review:

17125479What do you do when your family’s dream becomes a nightmare? Combining the skill of Jodi Picoult with the warmth of Anita Shreve, Charity Norman explores – with heart-thumping tension – a fresh start which goes very badly wrong. In the quiet of a New Zealand winter’s night, a rescue helicopter is sent to airlift a five-year-old boy with severe internal injuries. He’s fallen from the upstairs veranda of an isolated farmhouse, and his condition is critical. At first, Finn’s fall looks like a horrible accident; after all, he’s prone to sleepwalking. Only his frantic mother, Martha McNamara, knows how it happened. And she isn’t telling. Not yet. Maybe not ever.
Tragedy isn’t what the McNamara family expected when they moved to New Zealand. For Martha, it was an escape. For her artist husband Kit, it was a dream. For their small twin boys, it was an adventure. For sixteen-year-old Sacha, it was the start of a nightmare. They end up on the isolated east coast of the North Island, seemingly in the middle of a New Zealand tourism campaign. But their peaceful idyll is soon shattered as the choices Sacha makes lead the family down a path which threatens to destroy them all. Martha finds herself facing a series of impossible decisions, each with devastating consequences for her family. Goodreads,,, My Review:

Guest Author Anne Leigh Parrish

Today’s guest author is Anne Leigh Parrish, please join me in welcoming Anne to the blog.

Anne Leigh Parrish, 1

I read her book “Our Love Could Light the World” a few weeks ago, here is a reminder of the review;

Our Love Could Light The World by Anne Leigh Parrish

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book because I have been disappointed by some short story books in the past. The author uses each story to draw the reader in to an American family living in the New York finger lakes area. Each story looks at a member of the household or a family member connected with them and the reader watches them grow as the years pass. It’s very realistic and soul searching as everyone searches for the ultimate happiness.

Find Anne at; Our Love Could Light The World

See “Our Love Could Light the World” on and

Let’s go and meet Anne;

Where is your home town?

Ithaca, New York.  This is a small town of about 30,000 people located on the southern end of Lake Cayuga.  As the crow flies, it lies about forty miles north of the Pennsylvania State border, and is about a three and a half hour car trip to New York City.  It’s home to two institutions of higher learning, Cornell University, where my father was a Professor Emeritus of English, and also Ithaca College.  Like so many small towns in upstate New York – upstate refers to the rest of the state outside the immediate environs of New York City and the lower Hudson Valley – it struggles economically.  However, with the recent election of a young, driven mayor, lots of money is being generated by “brain trust” businesses like software companies and high tech consulting firms.

How long did it take to write “Our love could light the World”?

Just about six months.  And may I say that they were a wonderful six months!  I had a great deal of fun bringing this wild family to life.

Is the book based on any personal experience or an issue that you feel strongly about?

The one idea I really feel strongly about is redemption – the belief that people can understand their flaws, and, in an ideal scenario, improve their lives.  That improvement isn’t always possible, however.  Bad luck and a weak character often prove to be  tough obstacles to overcome.  I’m also fascinated by family dynamics, how people play off of one another, are defined by one another, succeed or fail based on how much support – or antagonism – they encounter.

I’m from the UK and although I’ve been to the States several times I’m not quite sure where the New York Finger Lakes area is, can you tell us where we can find them and what they are?

If you look at a map of New York State, you’ll see in the centre five long lakes that run north to south.  Their shape is reminiscent of fingers.  These were formed by the retreating ice sheet thousands of years ago.  The region is good farm country, generally poor, but is becoming well known for wineries in the last few years.

In your book we meet the Dugan family and you describe them as scrappy and dysfunctional, they sadly represent many people’s lives. Do you think that they are yet another casualty of the search for the Ultimate “American dream”?

The American Dream is, and only ever was possible with an active, healthy, mixed economy.  More about that in the answer to the next question on your list.  Regarding the Dugan’s, they’re victims, as I mentioned, of bad luck – the father’s disability – and weak character, his drinking.  The eldest daughter, Angie, improves her lot through education and hard work.  Potter’s sister, Patty, who lives in Montana, also does well for herself.  So, to be clear, I wouldn’t say that when they falter it’s because the American Dream failed them, but because they failed themselves.

How would you describe in your own words the true American Dream? Do you think it is a phrase best left in the past, or do people still strive to achieve it today?

The America Dream, simply put, means that anyone can start with nothing and make his fortune.  Here’s the rub.  The American dream depends on a government that understands its role in promoting growth and stability.  The Tea Party wing of the Republican Party has undermined this understanding.  It has waged war on the underclass by stripping federal benefits and subsides that created and sustained a safety net for the most economically vulnerable, and offered programs for middle-class families to get ahead, like Federally guaranteed college student loans.  This Tea Party focusses on stripping the American government of its spending power, claiming that federal deficits are threatening the future well-being of society.  It doesn’t take a genius to quickly see that the Tea Party favours programs that help the already-wealthy.  This has resulted in an ever-growing income disparity in America.  The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and those in the middle get stuck pretty much where they are.  A dream takes planning and policy to become reality.  We’ve lost that here.

There is a deep message about love through your book, how can your book teach others to live their lives?

Well, I return once again to the idea of redemption.  Self-awareness is very important.  One must develop an objective point-of-view, to the extent possible, about one’s behaviour and motivations.  It’s not easy.  But if you understand yourself, and what makes you tick, as it were, you can better see inside another person and what drives them.  Sometimes that view isn’t very compelling.  Sometimes you find out that someone is just as big a jerk as you suspected.  But quite often you find that they’re just like you – struggling to survive and move ahead.

Was writing your book as a series of short stories easy or did it provide its own problems with linking them all together?

What I had to make sure of was that the characters were consistent throughout the book.  They needed to be the same person at the end that they were in the beginning.  What I mean, is their root character and psychology had to carry forward.  People don’t change their characters much over time, though their behaviour can change a great deal.


Which was your favourite character in the book and why? 

Lavinia, the disgruntled, disaffected mother is my favourite.  She’s a straight-shooter.  She doesn’t feel sorry for other people, including her own children, but she doesn’t feel sorry for herself, either.  And she’s honest with herself about how she got where she is and why.

Are you writing anything else at the moment?  I’ve just completed a novel called Acts of Concealment.  It’s about four generations of women, and their experience with faith.  I avoid any discussion of doctrine – this book is about the effect religion has on people, how people lose and rediscover their devotion to God, the philosophical questions that go along with being both intelligent and faithful.  Other than that, I’m writing short stories, as always.

Thank you Anne for agreeing to come on the blog today and talk about your book.

Our Love Could Light The World by Anne Leigh Parrish

Our Love Could Light The WorldOur Love Could Light The World by Anne Leigh Parrish

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book because I have been disappointed by some short story books in the past. The author uses each story to draw the reader in to an American family living in the New York finger lakes area. Each story looks at a member of the household or a family member connected with them and the reader watches them grow as the years pass. It’s very realistic and soul searching as everyone searches for the ultimate happiness.

Find Anne at;

View all my reviews