If You Like #Contemporary Reads, then I can recommend these….#amreading #FridayReads

If you like contemporary reads, then I can recommend these…….

21446981When Alice McCleish’s gardener Brian unearths an object of great archaeological significance deep under the compost heap it is not only Alice and her burgeoning friendship with Margaret Allerton, retired Professor of Anthropology, that are affected: the family, friends and neighbours of Alice, who people the narrative, are also touched by subsequent events. Alice and Margaret find themselves questioning long-held beliefs about the material and spiritual world that surrounds them; and both women find their lives transformed unalterably by their newfound companionship. Serendipity puts Alice’s nearest neighbour, the troubled Violet Turnbull, in touch with the enigmatic Avian Tyler, whose mystical ‘gift’ offers Violet a promise of liberation. All the while an echoing voice from long, long ago hints at the history of the locality dominated by the standing stone circle that bestrides the skyline above the small community of Duddo, while charting the harrowing story that reveals the provenance of the artefacts found beneath the compost heap. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

25246158When widowed novelist Louise Gregory’s life is turned upside down, can she regain her peaceful home, and regain her trust in a man she thought she new?

Louise Gregory is happy enough living alone with her pets at rambling Lavender House in the New Forest, but her life is suddenly disrupted by an unexpected financial crisis and the appearance on her doorstep of her daughter Penny, with her two young children in tow. Thereafter Louise’s life turns upside down: a passer-by, Jack, knocks her off her bike but then comes to her rescue by offering to pay over the odds if she lets him stay; her sister Jane is suffering a mid-life crisis; Penny’s strong-minded mother-in-law, Maggie, arrives; and her home, once a haven of peace and quiet, descends into an hilarious, clamorous B&B. Despite herself, Louise is attracted to Jack, but, just as quickly as he had arrived, he disappears. Confused and irritated by her dysfunctional family and the feelings Jack has aroused, Lavender House stands as the only constant in Louise’s life, but then her peace is shattered once again. How can she trust a man she thought she knew? With characters who leap off the page and grab your heart, this story will leave you smiling.   Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

17762716Alicia, a young American expat, marries Colombian Jorge Carvallo and they settle on his family’s remote coffee finca (farm) in the Andes. Educated as a biologist, she revels in the surrounding cloud-forest. However, following an idyllic year, calamities strike one after another and their marriage begins to unravel. Jorge leaves as a volcanic eruption nearly destroys the coffee crop and the threat of guerrillas and drug-lords looms; but headstrong Alicia refuses to budge and stays to salvage the coffee. A woman without a country in a man’s world, the initially naive Alicia survives by her wit and determination. A passionate affair ensues with Peter, a rugged geologist. She also forms a tight friendship with Carmen, the barefoot woman who has worked for the Carvallo family most of her life. Despite being separated by class and nationality, these two single mothers forge a strong bond. The intricate web of events climaxes when Alicia finds herself in a life-threatening situation, ultimately forcing her to come to terms with herself and the unconventional life she has adopted.” Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

22540142When beautiful Julietta meets aloof, handsome photographer Bastian, she immediately feels butterflies in her stomach.

But Bastian has a secret: Since birth, he has suffered from a very rare skin disorder that makes him exceptionally prone to injury. His life is riddled with pain and rejection; his thoughts are dominated by self-doubt and mistrust.

Julie wants to help him shake loose his inhibitions and open up to her, but can she reach deep enough to truly understand his suffering? Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

 

22654675Sometimes you can go home again. Dave Burke cannot forget his past. Nor can he forgive himself for the tragedy that cost him everything he ever loved, a tragedy he may have prevented. Now, two years later, strange things are happening, things that suggest there may be hope for him after all. The power of love. Is it strong enough to conquer time itself? Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

15811526A magical debut about an enchanted house that offers refuge to women in their time of need

Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.

She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included George Eliot and Beatrix Potter, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers—literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds—and maybe even save her life. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

WINNER and Runner-Up of the Contemporary 2015 Book Award

Winner Contemporary

The 2015 Golden Rose Book Award for Contemporary

Went to Mark Barry and his book The Night Porter

Mark Barry Night Porter

Meet Mark

Mark Barry, author of Hollywood Shakedown, the highly acclaimed Carla and the top selling Ultra-Violence, is a writer and publisher based in Nottingham and Southwell. He writes extensively on a variety of topics including, horseracing, football, personality disorders and human relationships, but most recently, he writes about life in Nottingham and monitors closely its ever changing face.

Mark has been interviewed on several Radio chat shows where he has given readings of his work. His writing has been featured in the national press, and he has also been interviewed on television.

Mark resides in Southwell, Nottinghamshire and has one son, Matthew.

Catch up with Mark on Twitter @GreenWizard62

Book Description

Set in a hotel, in November, in the fictional town of Wheatley Fields, (based on Southwell, near Nottinghamshire, deep in Sherwood Forest).

Four writers, all nominated for an upcoming awards ceremony, come to stay.

One mega successful romance author, a top US thriller writer who sells in seven figures, a beautiful young YA tyro on the brink of world wide stardom…

…and a degenerate, nasty, bitter, jealous, trollish, drunken (but brilliant), self-published contemporary fiction author.

The Night Porter is instructed by a secretive and powerful awards committee to look after their EVERY need, to ensure they make it through the two weeks to attend the ceremony. At the same time as keeping an eye on their wishes, antics, fights, relationships and never-ending ego explosions. And trying desperately to avoid getting involved himself.

It’s a comedy drama about writers (and Night Porters!) with twists and turns, nooks and crannies, shadows and mirrors.

I don’t think you will see an Indie published book like this anywhere in Cyberspace.
Probably not a tradpubbed one either.

It casts a sometimes shadowy light on modern publishing, the writing business – and the people in it. Writers who like to read about writers and writing will enjoy the book as will readers who enjoy innovative, clever and multi-layered fiction.

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

The Silver Award went to

Terry Tyler and her book Last Child

Terry and Last Child

Meet Terry

Terry Tyler is fascinated by the psychology behind personal relationships, which is why she writes character-driven contemporary dramas. From the rock star aspirations of the lighthearted ‘Dream On’ and ‘Full Circle’, to the dark and complex psychological web of her latest publication, ‘The House of York’, it’s all about the characters, though she loves manufacturing unguessable plot twists, too. Watch out for ‘Bestseller’, a novella about three writers, due out around March.

She has a blog on which she writes about anything from observations about social networking trends, to self-publishing hazards, to anything else that comes into her head, and is currently running a feature about writers and astrology. The link: http://www.terrytyler59.blogspot.co.uk/ . This year she started a new book review blog; on this you can find her own reading choices and those she reads as part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team. She loves Twitter (TerryTyler4) and can also be found on Goodreads and Facebook.

Terry lives in the north east of England with her husband; when she is not writing she escapes into Netflix and history books/documentaries, or floats around the house spraying Guerlain perfume, listening to old jazz and blues and pretending she’s in ‘Boardwalk Empire’.

Catch up with Terry on Twitter @TerryTyler4

Book Description

LAST CHILD is the sequel to Kings and Queens, Terry Tyler’s modern take on the story of Henry VIII and his six wives.

Harry Lanchester is gone, his legacy passed on to his children:

Thirteen year old JASPER, who views the directors of Lanchester Estates as Harry Potter characters, and finds out that teenage love affairs are no fairytale.

ISABELLA, the eldest daughter; lonely and looking for love, she returns from a holiday in Spain with more than just a suntan.

Impulsive, independent ERIN, the girl of Transport manager Rob Dudley’s dreams, whose priority is not a husband and family, but the continuation of her father’s work.

You will also meet the ambitious Jim Dudley, ex-nanny Hannah Cleveley, Rob’s long suffering wife Amy, and Raine Grey, whose nine days as PR manager for Lanchester Estates have a devastating effect on her life.

LAST CHILD takes the drama, passion and intrigue of Kings and Queens into the present day, with echoes from the past ~ and a glimpse or two into the future…

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

Final congratulations to all the Contemporary nominees.

Sue Hewitt with THE CUNNING WOMAN’S CUP

Laura Wilkinson with PUBLIC BATTLES, PRIVATE WARS

Tonia Parronchi with THE SONG OF THE CYPRESS

Dena Haggerty with JACK GETS HIS MAN

 

 

Rosie’s Coffee Break – When a book makes you think more about…..The Duddo Stones #MondayBlogs

How often do you read a book and it makes you think more about one of the book subjects or storylines and it has your brain cells all fired up with questions and curiosity?

Coffee Break

When I read The Cunning Women’s Cup, much of the storyline was written about the Duddo stones.

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I was interested to find out more and one day visit them. The Duddo stones are found in Northumberland, Uk, only 4 miles from the Scottish border. Only 5 of the original 7 stones remain, they are believed to be around 4000 years old. Some of the stones have “cup” marks on them. Mystery surrounds these stones which are also known locally as “The Singing Stones”. Deep grooves in the stones and the harsh winds may well produce eerie sounds thought to be singing.

What book have you read recently which inspired you to do more research?

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT The Cunning Woman’s Cup by Sue Hewitt @sue9631 #wwwblogs

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

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Liz chose to read and review The Cunning Woman’s Cup by Sue Hewitt

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The Cunning Woman’s Cup by Sue Hewitt

 

In The Cunning Woman’s Cup, echoes from long ago reverberate in the lives of a small community in Northumberland. The tragic life of Mordwand of the Brigantes is briefly told in episodes at the beginning of each chapter. Events from her life impinge into the modern day lives of the other characters in the narrative and help to clarify the spiritual dimension which they experience.

 

Alice McCleish is a widow, sharing her cottage with her dog Nipper near to the farm of Wyllie and Violet Turnbull, who sadly lost their sons many years before. Alice’s perspective on life is expanded when she makes friends with Margaret Allerton, a professor of anthropology, who is walking in the area. In turn, through meeting Alice, Margaret discovers an empathy for others which she was unaware of in the past.

 

As the story evolves we meet Alice’s son, Michael, a successful but dissatisfied accountant and his irritating wife Penny. We encounter their clever daughter Marsha and practical son Dexter and soon the whole family make life-changing decisions.

 

All these events are triggered by a discovery in Alice’s garden which brings a group of archaeologists to the area, challenging Alice and others in the village to reappraise their beliefs. A new character, Avian Tyler, comes into their lives. She is attuned to the undercurrents engendered from the stone circle which dominates the skyline on Wyllie’s farm and she senses the pain and suffering hidden in the people she meets.

 

The dominantly female cast of characters in the novel undergo changes in their attitudes and lifestyle. For most, this is life-enhancing but there is also suffering. This book shows the love of a family and fellowship of friendship in a mystical setting but it also expresses the trials of modern life and the need for adaptation to the rhythms of our environment.

 

I found myself reading the book slowly so as to get to know the characters properly. With this knowledge the storyline is very rewarding even though Mordwand’s tale is distressing and I wasn’t able to fathom Avian properly. It makes a refreshing read in our hectic modern world.

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

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT The Cunning Woman’s Cup by Sue Hewitt @sue9631 #bookreview

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

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Cathy chose to read and review The Cunning Woman’s Cup by Sue Hewitt

The Cunning Woman's Cup Sue Hewitt

The Cunning Woman’s Cup Sue Hewitt

The book opens with a haunting flashback to a period in pre Romanic Britain where we meet Mordwand of the Brigantes (the cunning woman), who survived being aborted and was raised by a wolfhound. After the hound died Mordwand became ‘the eyes and ears’ of the healer who aborted her, and learned what she could from the old woman until old age took her as well, and Mordwand found herself alone once more. Short, intriguing and sometimes distressing passages from her life begin each chapter and I love how these chart the significance of certain items, as well as the history of the stones.

Alice McCleish’s cottage stands by the stone circle near the village of Duddo in Northumberland, where she’s lived alone but for her dog, Nipper, since her husband, Callum, passed on. While out with Nipper one day Alice meets retired Professor Margaret Allerton, who is on a walking holiday. The two ladies form an instant bond, even though to all outward appearances they have little in common and lead completely different lives. Nevertheless their meeting is the start of a lasting and close friendship, which is demonstrated in part by the exchange of lovely letters between the two of them.

Alice is a mainstay in the close community of Duddo, and has lived in her cottage for more than forty years, she and Callum having bought it from Callum’s boss, farmer Wyllie Turnbull. Wyllie and his wife, Violet, are both suffering in their different ways from the pain and sorrow of a past tragedy.

The mystical standing stone circle is a catalyst in the story, events and tragedies over the years playing out from echoes of the distant past. The arrival of Avian Taylor, a psychic and healer who can sometimes hear those echoes, helps where she can and in doing so raises questions of long-held beliefs in some of the residents of Duddo. At the same time Avian opens up new avenues of acceptance. An ancient artifact (the cup of the title) is unearthed by Alice’s gardener, by Brian, and brings more characters into play in the form of an archaeological dig. There are several connecting storylines, which could have been overwhelming, but each is built expertly into the narrative creating a multi layered and exceptionally skilful debut novel which flows smoothly and fluently.

Sue Hewitt also very cleverly weaves issues into the story which relate to the present day. Most notably with Alice’s son, Michael and his wife, Penny, revealing how people can be drawn into living to work, rather than the reverse, without realising the rewards are sometimes empty and meaningless, the old values, community and neighbours who care, not as outdated as they might once have seemed. The nature and persona of the characters is explored and developed through easy, believable dialogue and their reactions to the world around them. Struggles with grief, loss and the differing systems of belief, all round out and individualise each person. The setting is fabulous and described so vividly. The cover, which I absolutely love, evokes the atmosphere of the book. I’m fascinated by stone circles and have seen a few but not the Duddo stones, so perhaps a trip to Northumberland is in my future.

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

September Magazine #bookreviews @FleetLife

This month we have book reviews in http://www.fleetlife.org.uk

September FL

Go to the online magazine, click on online directory and once loaded find the reviews on page 28

This month’s featured books are;

The Cunning Woman’s Cup by Sue Hewitt

Both Sides Of Love by Kimberley Wenzler

The Last Gatekeeper by Katy Haye

The Lives Between Us by Theresa Rizzo

Lovers At Heart by Melissa Foster

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT The Cunning Woman’s Cup by Sue Hewitt @sue9631 #bookreview

Today’s team review comes from E.L. Lindley, she blogs at http://www.lindleyreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

Rosie's Book Review team 1

E.L. chose to read and review The Cunning Woman’s Cup by Sue Hewitt

21446981

The Cunning Woman’s Cup is such a rich and layered read, I hardly know where to start. In any other hands, the complex structure and stories within stories might have lacked cohesion but Sue Hewitt asserts herself from the onset as a writer who is in complete control of her craft. I was in her thrall from the very first page.

 

The story, on the surface, is a simple one – the tale of two elderly women, Alice and Margaret, who meet by chance and forge an enduring friendship. The story ripples out from the two women, however, and incorporates other stories of people whose lives interconnect with theirs. The story is set mainly in the village of Duddo in Northumberland, where a stone circle overlooks the village, lending a mysterious and spiritual atmosphere. The ‘cup’ of the title is unearthed which leads to the past impinging on the present and setting in motion dramatic changes.

 

Alice and Margaret are polar opposites. Alice has been widowed after a long and happy marriage and has spent her life caring for others. She is a traditional woman and fears ideas that challenge her Christian way of life. Margaret, by contrast, is an independent, spiky retired professor, who never married, choosing instead to travel extensively. One of the most enjoyable and life affirming aspects of the novel is the fact that Alice is in her late 60s and Margaret in her 80s but they still live full and exciting lives. There is not even a whiff of a stereotypical elderly person in this book, Hewitt’s senior citizens are all full of passion and zest for life.

 

The novel concerns itself with both spiritual and everyday issues. Alice’s traditional views are shaken by the arrival in the village of Avian, a psychic healer. Many people in Duddo, including Alice’s late husband hold pagan beliefs, celebrating the land and nature as represented by the stone circle. I found Hewitt’s exploration of grief and the afterlife to be particularly poignant.

 

At the same time, Hewitt highlights many modern dilemmas, not least the way in which elderly people can often be ignored and lonely. She also depicts the differences between rural and city life and how seeming success can bring hollow rewards as people try to buy happiness. We also see how young people can become lost without guidance and purpose. Hewitt touches on several very relevant social issues in a way that is both realistic and moving.

 

The structure of the novel is very interesting and clearly demonstrates Hewitt’s skill as a writer. Each chapter begins with a first person account from Mordwand, an ancient Celt who is the ‘Cunning Woman’ of the title. She survives being aborted and abandoned before being taken in by the old medicine woman who performed the abortion. Ironically, she then takes over from the woman as an abortionist and healer. Mordwand’s angry spirit lives on amongst the stones with terrible consequences for one family in particular. After the short account from Mordwand, Hewitt switches to 3rd person narrative, which allows her to develop all of the characters in her novel equally. In addition to this, some of the story is also told via letters sent between Alice and Margaret.

 

I loved this novel and found myself totally immersed in the life of Duddo, so much so I felt almost bereft when I finished it. It is a warm, deceptively cosy read which snakes its way into the reader’s heart, raising some provocative philosophical questions.

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

 

 

Book reviews in magazines I write for in August #bookreviews

The following books made it to Fleet Life magazine this month.

FL Aug 15

For the online edition go to http://www.fleetlife.org.uk load the online directory and turn to page 28.

The Family Trap by Joanne Phillips

Rise Of The Enemy by Rob Sinclair

Old Town Nights by Linda Lee Williams

Swamp Ghosts by Marcia Meara

Country Affairs by Zara Stonely

The next set of books made it into the August edition of The Elvetham Heath Directory,

EHD Aug 15

The online edition can be found at http://www.ehd.org.uk load the online directory and turn to page 22

Big Men’s Boots by Emily Barraso

The Cunning Woman’s Cup by Sue Hewitt

Will O’ The Wisp by C. S Boyack

Dream On by Terry Tyler

From Lime Street To Yirgacheffe by Robert Leigh

The Cunning Woman’s Cup by Susan Hewitt #bookreview #DuddoStones @sue9631

The Cunning Woman's CupThe Cunning Woman’s Cup by Sue Hewitt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Cunning Woman’s Cup is a contemporary piece of fiction woven around ancient standing stones and family dramas. It is set in Duddo, Northumberland near the Scottish border.

There is an ancient stone circle at Duddo made of 5 megaliths. We are introduced to Mordwand of the Brigantes a healing woman burned at the stake. Her story threads throughout the book in a series of small flashbacks.

Alice McCleish lives with Nipper, her dog, close to the standing stones. The small community is close and supportive of each other and Alice is one of the backbones of village life. She meets Margaret Allerton whilst out walking and they begin a friendship which will give them both a new lease of life.

I loved the way the author built this story introducing new layers and new characters once I’d got a good picture and feel for the place. Alice employs Brian Rigden to help restore her garden to the splendour it once was when her husband Callum was alive. Callum was a man at one with the land and the spirits which watched over them, while Alice was a true believer in God and his church. They agreed to disagree on spiritual matters.

It’s Brian who discovers an ancient cup whilst digging in the garden and the rare find warrants a full archaeological dig. The cup’s discovery starts off a whole series of changing events, Violet Turnbull has not left the house for nearly 30 years. An Agrophobic until she talks to Maisie one of the young students from the dig. With help from Maisie’s Aunt, Violet takes her own destiny onto her hands.

There’s so much more I’d love to tell you about the book, but I’d give too much away. I thought it was an inspiring read, I was off baking my own bread and yearning to make some lemon curd, but more importantly I was researching more about Duddo stones and I’d never thought much about the new business which takes over Henge Farm, but now I’m mulling it over as a sensible option to our human needs.

This book left me with questions, got me thinking, sent shivers down my spine, had me laughing and crying and although I knew it must end, I really didn’t want it to, I’d found a new friend, now I’m just off for a spiritual walk to the stones and then I’ll settle down for coffee cake and tea with Alice and Nipper.

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

View all my reviews on Goodreads