FUR COAT & NO KNICKERS by Adrienne Vaughan @adrienneauthor #Shortstories and #Poem collection

Fur Coat & No Knickers: An acclaimed collection of short stories and poems by award-winning author Adrienne VaughanFur Coat & No Knickers: An acclaimed collection of short stories and poems by award-winning author Adrienne Vaughan by Adrienne Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fur Coat & No Knickers is a collection of short stories and poems.

The book is made up of twelve short stories and sixteen poems; tales and adventures from a wide selection of everyday lives of people, families and friends. It is often said that other people’s complex relationships make your own problems fade away, so this is a good book to escape into even for a short time.

I enjoyed the stories, some of my favourites were; Fur coat and No knickers, A seed of Doubt and A visit at Christmas. From the poems I especially enjoyed A Pink Day.

Another good example of story telling from this popular author.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

A mixture of thrilling, gripping and heart-warming short stories for a cosy fireside read anytime, anyplace. Fur Coat & No Knickers will introduce you to an impoverished heiress desperate to keep up appearances; a bitter and broken-hearted widow whose wilful terrier leads her to romance; an ageing theatrical masquerading as a highly-paid carer and a woman whose husband has maintained a secret family throughout their married life! These are just some of the fascinating and unforgettable characters in this fabulous new collection by award-winning author Adrienne Vaughan.

About the author

Adrienne Vaughan

Adrienne Vaughan has been making up stories since she could speak; primarily to entertain her sister Reta, who from a very early age never allowed a plot or character to be repeated – tough audience. As soon as she could pick up a pen, she started writing them down. It was no surprise she wanted to be a journalist; ideally the editor of a glossy music and fashion magazine, so she could meet and marry a pop star – some of that came true – and in common with so many, still holds the burning ambition to be a ‘Bond Girl’! She now runs a busy PR practice and writes poems, short stories and ideas for books, in her spare time. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a founder member of the indie publishing group The New Romantics4. Adrienne lives in Leicestershire with her husband, two cocker spaniels and a retired dressage horse called Marco.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT MANIPULATED LIVES by @HALeuschel #Shortstories #fridayreads

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs at https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Manipulated Lives by H.A Leuschel

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Sometimes a book’s title and cover can deter you from opening the first page. You suspect it will be rewarding but you are worried that the experience might be distressing. But opening Manipulated Lives gives instant gratification. From the first paragraph of the first novella “The Narcissist” I was involved with the feelings of the protagonist, lying trapped in a hospital bed. It is difficult to avoid spoilers when describing this book, but what is plain is that, “Nothing is but what is not.” The author manipulates her readers.

The manipulation of another, by a character in each story, is not creative. It is abusive and is fuelled by selfishness and a need to control, but the study of how charm and deception can entrap a victim is intriguing and believable. At times, we too feel empathy for the manipulators, even though they are incapable of considering others. In the story of “Tess and Tattoos” we come to realise the complexity in the back life of a lonely old lady and in “The Spell” we begin to understand why an intelligent, talented young woman can become entangled in the lives of a busy, single father and his loveable son.
The novella, “Runaway Girl” is perhaps the most fulfilling to read. It is easy to identify with Lisa, from the point of view of her mother, her teacher or one’s own teenage years. You feel a sense of impending doom, as her life starts to fall apart and yet the story ends with such promise. The final story of “The Perfect Child” will remind any reader of mothers they have encountered or children they remember. Putting children on a pedestal has become the norm in modern society but what calamities are we laying up for ourselves by this action and who is happy? Neither parent nor child.

These novellas are beautifully written, carefully revealing characters and situations through a variety of viewpoints. H A Leuschel is a writer to watch. Her understanding of human psychology, cause and consequence, make her stories credible and fascinating.

Book Description

Five stories – Five Lives. 
Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance? 
Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim. 
In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Next, there is Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself and finally Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth. 

About the author

H.A. Leuschel

Helene Andrea Leuschel was born and raised in Belgium to German parents. She gained a Licentiate in Journalism, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. Helene moved to the Algarve in 2009 with her husband and two children, working as a freelance TV producer and teaching yoga. She recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. Manipulated Lives is Helene’s first work of fiction.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT MANIPULATED LIVES by @HALeuschel #Shortstories #fridayreads

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

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Manipulated Lives by H A Leushel

My review:

This is an absorbing compilation of short stories that give a thought-provoking insight to human behaviour. Manipulators, those people who will do anything, try any tactic, to exploit those who they are involved with, who they sometimes purport to love, are all around. Manipulated Lives is a cleverly written book showing the diversity of this behaviour.

As I read each one I found myself becoming both angry at the manipulator and aggravated by the character who was being manipulated; why couldn’t the latter see what was happening?  Afterwards I realised that for me to become so absorbed proved the skillfulness of H.E  Leuschel’s writing.  The normality of the situations that the characters are set in lend to the credibility of every story; it’s so easy to relate to them; to sit back and think’ yes, I’ve met someone like that’. Or even, ‘have I ever acted in any way like that?’ Scary!

Every character is rounded and believable. There are strengths and weaknesses revealed in them all; they are multi layered, true to all human vulnerability. My initial (yet fleeting) sympathy for who proved to be the antagonist in The Narcissist is a prime example. Even incapacitated, helpless in his sick bed, there is no remorse, no enlightenment to his behaviour. Yet in another story, My Perfect Child, I was uneasy from the very start.

H.E  Leuschel’s writing style is compact and evenly paced.  The inner dialogue is excellent,  revealing so much of human nature that I sometimes had to sit  back to think about a scene, a situation, an observation.

To trust in another leaves anyone open to vulnerability, to being controlled. To be the recipient of that trust could, and often does, result in the ability to control. It’s a disturbing thought and one that is highlighted in Manipulated Lives.

To my mind there isn’t a story in this anthology that will leave the reader unmoved. It truly is a compelling read.

Links to buy:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2hHLAly

Amazon.com:http://amzn.to/2gUhAmi

Book Description

Five stories – Five Lives.
Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?
Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.
In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.

About the author

H.A. Leuschel

Helene Andrea Leuschel was born and raised in Belgium to German parents. She gained a Licentiate in Journalism, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. Helene moved to the Algarve in 2009 with her husband and two children, working as a freelance TV producer and teaching yoga. She recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. Manipulated Lives is Helene’s first work of fiction.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT MANIPULATED LIVES by @HALeuschel #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Manipulated Lives by Helen Leuschel

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This is a unique concept for me – a collection of stories based around a particular personality type. The stories are all diverse, depicting the different, elaborate and sometimes dark methods parents, children or peers use to manipulate each other for their own gains and/or agenda, shown from the perspective of the manipulator and also from the manipulated.

Manipulated Lives is the stories of those people and how the darker aspects of human nature change and damage their lives, and also the consequences for the manipulators. The eventual coming to terms with the psychological slant affects them each in different ways, some stories having more of an impact than others but each giving pause for thought.

There’s enough conveyed in the narratives for the reader to build a picture of the characters. They’re given depth and interest, and their circumstances give rise to a host of emotions. Depicted realistically, each story shows the different ways people can be manipulated, whether through naiveté, loving too much or weakness. Anyone is susceptible.

I enjoyed all the stories but my favourites are ‘Tess and Tattoos’ and ‘Runaway Girl’. All of them are written extremely well and appropriately for the particular characters. Tess’s unfolding story is very touching, a compelling and lonely old lady who lost everything, reliving parts of her life to a sympathetic listener.

‘She was heartbroken each time she looked around her four walls. In the not too distant future, her relatives would all board a plane and travel thousands of kilometres, however, not in order to chat and spend time with her, but so that they could lower her urn into the hard Scottish ground.’

Holly in “Runaway Girl’ is a teenager saving every penny she can for a train ticket out of the life she sees as so restricting, desperately wanting her freedom and independence.

‘She had kept the cash hidden in a small black plastic bag inside her mattress. She was the only person who knew of a hole in the side of it. It was the only safe place in this entire two-bedroom flat she shared with her siblings and parents.’

From the controlling husband and father to the longed for and ultimately spoiled son, each story in this collection is unique, convincing and authentic. An inside look at vividly portrayed disastrous, fascinating and sometimes frightening relationships.

Book Description

Five stories – Five Lives. 
Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance? 
Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim. 
In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Next, there is Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself and finally Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth. 

About the author

H.A. Leuschel

Helene Andrea Leuschel was born and raised in Belgium to German parents. She gained a Licentiate in Journalism, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. Helene moved to the Algarve in 2009 with her husband and two children, working as a freelance TV producer and teaching yoga. She recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. Manipulated Lives is Helene’s first work of fiction.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Goodreads | Twitter

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT WHAT TIM KNOWS by Wendy Janes @wendyproof

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading What Tim Knows, and other stories 

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 Wendy Janes Getting to know the characters, a feeling at a time.

A gallery-owner’s quest for beauty; a dancer in danger; a new mother struggling to cope with her baby; a sculptor’s search for inspiration; a teenager longing to live in the perfect family; a young boy lost and confused by the rules of life that everyone else seems to understand. Six stand-alone short stories, spanning five decades. Each capturing a significant moment in the life of a different character. Separate lives linked in subtle ways.

I received an ARC copy of this book and I voluntarily decided to write a review.

I had read some of Wendy Janes’s articles about editing and I was aware of her novel ‘What Jennifer Knows’ although I had not read it. So I came to this book feeling quite curious. I had read some of the reviews, both of the novel and of this book and they were all positive, and after reading it, I can say deservedly so.

The author explains that these “stories” are scenes and background information she had written when preparing her novel, but later they did not seem to fit in with it and she did not include them but thought readers might enjoy them in their own right. Not having read the novel, I can confirm they can be read independently, although I got the feeling that perhaps some of them would be enjoyed more fully by readers who were already familiar with the story, as they would offer further insight into well-loved characters.

They stories are not typical of other short-story collections that I’ve read in the past. Although self-contained, they don’t necessarily tell a ground-breaking story, and have no sting in the tail (we might perceive one, but this is up to the reader, rather than because of an imposed twist in the action). It’s easy to work out as we read that there are connections between the characters, as many of them appear repeatedly in the stories, playing different parts (a bit like in the Seven Ages of Man by Shakespeare), but if something is distinctive about them is that they are beautifully observed. Written in the third person but from different points of view, these are clearly different people with different interests and attitudes, men and women, children and adults, and they vary from the very personal to the professional. If I had to pick up some favourites, without a doubt ‘The Never Ending Day’ (I’ve never had a baby but as a psychiatrist I’ve worked with mothers who became very depressed following the birth of their child and I recognise the themes and the description of her feelings), ‘The Perfect Family’ (where Blythe reminded me of myself, as an only child who always thought that to have a bigger family must be fun) and ‘What Tim Knows’ that is a very successful peep at how an autistic boy sees the world.

I hope to read more of the author’s work and I can recommend these stories if you want to make your own mind up about how you might feel about reading her longer fiction.

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

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT SANDLANDS by @rosy_thornton 16 linked #shortstories

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

#RBRT Review Team

Karen has been reading Sandlands by Rosy Thornton

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My Opinion

This book introduces you to the Sandlands – the landscape of the Suffolk coast. 16 charming – and linked – short stories invite you to Blaxhall and its surrounding area.

With Sandlands, Rosy Thornton has created a charming collection of short stories with a good measure of folklore. It is a very enjoyable and varied read, drawing you in as you learn more about coastal Suffolk and its inhabitants. Rosy Thornton paints a clear picture of the characters and landscape while the story evolves. The characters are of sufficient depth, believable with their flaws and virtues; the author’s care for each of them shows. As for the locations, I had a clear vision of the landscape – without having been there myself. The stories are very nicely woven and have a wonderful flow. This calm way of story telling exquisitely matches the stories.

This is a book for you if you like folklore, linked short stories, believable characters, and enjoy excellent writing.

Recommended!

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

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE EXPERIMENTAL NOTEBOOK II by @Virgilante #Shortstories

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Experimental Notebook II by C.S Boyack

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The Experimental Notebook II by C S Boyack

4 out of 5 stars

A selection of ‘speculative fiction’ short stories. I’ve never been quite sure exactly what speculative fiction is, and presumed it to be writing whatever you want regardless of what ‘the rules’ say or what is currently in fashion or an accepted genre.  I think all writing should be like that anyway, so I imagined these stories would work for me; also, I’d read good reports of C S Boyack.

I’ll start by saying that he’s an artful and intelligent writer with bags of talent.  As is always the case with short story collections, some of them are weaker than others, and some are extremely good.  My favourites were Magpies, Practical Geology and The Parade Wave, all of which are on the extremely dark and slightly comedic side, and will merit a second read.  Others, such as a vampire one, didn’t interest me so much, and with some of them I felt they were lacking a denouement; I’d come to the end and think, ‘and?’.  Sometimes, the dialogue was a bit information heavy and unrealistic; there are other ways of setting the scene other than have one person express to another exactly where they are and why (like they wouldn’t already know that) ~ BUT: in each one the writing is great, I couldn’t fault that, and this made them all enjoyable to read.

A solid 4*; I’d definitely read more by this guy.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com available free from Kindle Unlimited

 

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT WHAT TIM KNOWS by @wendyproof #shortstories

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs at https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Liz has been reading What Tim Knows by Wendy Janes

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What Tim Knows by Wendy Janes

 The short stories in this book are connected to significant moments in the lives of a group of people who feature in Wendy Janes’ novel What Jennifer Knows. There is no need to have read the novel first but it certainly gave an added dimension to me.

The first story, Beauty, describes the paramount need for beauty to surround Rollo, an Art Gallery owner. When he parts company with one of his exhibitors, the “empty plinths,” are reduced, “to totem poles with no message,” so it is essential that he finds beauty elsewhere. Never-Ending Day struck a chord with me as it reminded me so well of those awful first weeks, as a new mother, when you realise that you know nothing about babies and that you are making a terrible mess of trying to care for this one. Similarly, Perfect Family made me aware of the contrast between my home life as an only child and that of lively families with several siblings which seemed to have such fun together.

What Tim Knows contrasts completely with What Jennifer Knows. Jennifer knew too much, but Tim knows too little, or at least his comprehension of the world is very different to that of the people who surround him. Having taught children on the autistic spectrum, I have been caught out by my inability to state exactly what is a fact and am aware that there are no greys for many. I love the way this story puts us inside Tim’s head and shows us what an inexplicable world we live in!

A refreshing look at life through a wide variety of characters.

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

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT SANDLANDS by @rosy_thornton #SundayBlogShare

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

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Judith has been reading Sandlands by Rosy Thornton

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My Review:

What can I say about this book! I loved it; devoured it in one sitting.

And the cover!  The image of the ethereal  barn owl; the staring,  seemingly unblinking, eye is, for me, a metaphor for the author’s depth of  study, of research and knowledge of her subject.

Sandlands encompasses sixteen short stories that are based around the Sussex landscape, traditions, the different seasons,human nature and nature itself

Rosy Thornton has an empathetic writing style. Her portrayal of all the diverse characters shows an instinctive knowledge of human emotions and reactions to various situations. Each anecdote is an excellent observation of people,  fascinating in so many different ways, and each is satisfyingly complete

 There are lots of entwining themes; of quiet humour, time shifts, mystery and ancient history, folklore, superstitions, life and death, nature and even sometimes, a subtle personification of nature  and animals (see below).

 The stories are told variously through first person and third person point of view; individual voices so different that it’s possible to envisage them… and certainly for the reader to empathise and react to every story in  many different emotional ways.

But what struck me most as I savoured these tales was the beautiful poetic prose, the rhythmic flow of the narrative, the extensive and unique use of words,the syntax and the way Rosy Thornton ‘strings’ those words together. Let me show you what I mean. This is just one example. I could have dipped into this book anywhere but this sequence is taken from The Witch Bottle

“A soft, plosive pop, inaudible beyond the confines of the bottle, released the first gauzy wisp of smoke and with it a smouldering, acrid odour, Fire burn and cauldron bubble. Then came the flame. Bluish and tentative at first, it began to lap along a ridge of fabric, but quickly grew bolder, darkening to purple and rich red, then leapt, hungry and orange, to lick inside the glass. Finally it found a crack, the way to the outside air and life-giving oxygen– where, invigorated, it bucked and swayed its wild banshee dance, until it met the threads of Persian wool.

Fire burn…!”

Wonderful stuff!!

 You just have to read these stories. I thoroughly recommend Sandlands.

 Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2be4vC8

 Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2aG7Q1p

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT WHAT TIM KNOWS by @Wendyproof #Shortstories #fridayreads

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

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Jenny has been reading What Tim Knows by Wendy Janes

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By Jenny Worstall Author on 25 July 2016

Format: Kindle Edition

Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber’s Review Team.
This wonderful collection of short stories takes six characters from Wendy Janes’ novel ‘What Jennifer Knows’ and gives each of them a canvas to themselves. The stories link back cleverly to the novel and give further insights into the characters’ lives and behaviour. Jennifer, the heroine of ‘What Jennifer Knows’, appears in every story at different points in her life. Even though the stories are entwined with the novel, they can be read as a standalone volume with great enjoyment too. The fifth story, ‘The Perfect Family’, explores the shifting loyalties and cruelties of childhood friendship and how a child’s perception of her parents can change in a crisis. The emotional gem, for me, is ‘What Tim Knows’. Wendy Janes has a real understanding of what it feels like for a child to be different and how this affects the behaviour and feelings of others too. The closing scene between Tim and his mother Blythe is truly heart-wrenching. I have no hesitation in recommending this fantastic collection and hope it will send new readers in search of the novel it is so much part of.

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