About Judith Barrow

Pattern of Shadows was my first novel, the sequel, Changing Patterns was published in May 2013. The last of the trilogy, Living in the Shadows was published July 2015. In August 2017, the prequel to the trilogy, A Hundred Tiny Threads,was published. In March 2010, The Memory was published by Honno, a contemporary family saga. I also have an eBook, Silent Trauma, a fiction built on fact novel, published as an eBook. I have an MA in Creative Writing, B.A. (Hons.) in Literature, and a Diploma in Drama and Script Writing. I've had short stories, poems, plays, reviews and articles published throughout the British Isles, notably in several Honno anthologies. I am also a Creative Writing tutor and run workshops on all genres and available for talks and workshops.My blogs are on my website: https://judithbarrowblog.com/ where I review mainly for #RBRT. and also interview other authors. My personal posts are on, https://www.judithbarrow-author.co.uk/ . It would be great if you could check me out there. When I'm not writing or teaching creative writing I spend time researching for my writing, painting or walking the Pembrokeshire coastline

Horseshoe Nails and other consequences — Thorne Moore

2020 is drawing to an end and not before time. Things will change. Once we have finished wiping out our elderly, infirm and vulnerable by being stupid over Christmas, vaccines will be administered and Covid 19 will recede. Hope is on the horizon and so is the great unknown. Time to reprise my post from […]

Horseshoe Nails and other consequences — Thorne Moore

Shell Shock – Legacy of the Trenches #WW1

Image courtesy of the Mirror

The First World War ended with the deaths of a generation of young men. But the devastation of the  conflict didn’t end with that last blast of a howitzer. Thousands of soldiers went home still re-living their horrific experiences of the battlefields for many years. Their lives were damaged by shell shock, a condition many had suffered from during their military service. And, throughout Britain, doctors were baffled by this unknown illness. Soldiers were returning from the trenches paralysed, blind, deaf. Some were unable to speak. Many had bouts of dizziness, hysteria, anxiety, Families reported that their returned husbands, sons, brothers, were often unable to sleep. And, if they did, had horrendous nightmares that resulted in depression, refusal to eat, erratic behaviour.  Many so-called lunatic asylums and private mental institutions were assigned as hospitals for mental diseases and war neurosis.

Many men felt shame; often they  were unable to return to military duty and on their return home, they were viewed as being emotionally weak or cowards. Bewildered by the changes seen in shell shocked soldiers, people had little sympathy; there was little understanding for them. Even worse,  many families felt only the disgrace and humiliation that one of their own had been charged with desertion and executed by a firing squad of their fellow soldiers. It would be many decades before they would be given posthumous pardons.

Soldier being bombarded
Image courtesy of BBC.co.uk Inside Out Extra

In the first years of the war, shell shock was assumed to be a physical injury to the nervous system, a result of soldiers facing heavy bombardment from exploding shells. Victims were at the mercy of the armed forces’ medical officers. Determined to ‘cure’ the soldier, the treatments given by them were cruel and humiliating: extreme physical instruction, shaming and severe discipline in front of their fellow soldiers, solitary confinement, electric shock treatment.

By the second year of the war almost half of the casualties in fighting regions were victims of the condition and military hospitals were unable to cope; the unexpected numbers of soldiers suffering from the condition meant that there was a drastic shortage of beds. And medical staff discovered that many men suffered the symptoms of shell shock without having even been in the front lines. More so, it was noticed that many officers, desperate to hide their emotions and to set an example for their men, became psychotic, suffering from some of the worst symptoms of shell shock..

But it wasn’t until 1917 that the condition of shell shock was identified by a Medical Officer called Charles Myers as combat stress, today also known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

So, the thousands of soldiers who went home still re-living their horrific experiences of the battlefields had a name for the condition they were living with. Many had lost their ability to walk or, speak. Some regressed to a baby-like state. It seemed there was no expectation of recovery.

But then one man, an army major and general physician, Arthur Hurst, despite much cynicism and opposition established a hospital at Seale Hayne, Newton Abbott, Devon. (now part of Plymouth University). The men who arrived there, ostensibly destroyed by their horrendous experiences of war were given hope.

Community spirit: On the wards at Seale Hayne hospital men were encouraged to write and to produce a magazine with a gossip column called Ward Whispers
Image courtesy of the Daily Mail

Hurst’s innovative method had never been witnessed before. Psychiatrists who, after the disorder was identified towards the end of the war, were adamant that a process of mental rehabilitation was needed; that the shell-shocked soldier was trying to cope with harrowing experiences by repressing any memories. They thought that the symptoms revealed involuntary detachment from events lived through and the man could only be cured by the traditional method of reviving memories, a process that could require a number of psychiatric therapy sessions.

Arthur Hurst
Image courtesy of BBC.co.uk Inside Out Extra

As a general physician, Arthur Hurst believed that there was a simpler treatment;  that humane understanding and sympathetic persuasion was the way to into the ex-soldiers’ awareness of the new life now around them.  He thought that during a terrifying bombardment, a soldier might experience tremor, be unable to move or speak. So, sometimes, the power of suggestion could cause the symptoms to survive once that intense reaction had passed. The cure, as far as he was concerned was the re-education of the mind and his methods  were what was needed to resolve the lingering symptoms of the trauma endured.

He used hypnosis and patience, giving them work to do on the land around Seale Hayne; a revolutionary occupational therapy. The tranquillity of the Devon countryside, the encouragement given to the men was thought to be a place where the men could get over their hysteria. They were urged to use inventive and resourceful ways to work.

Soldiers working in field
Image courtesy of BBC.co.uk Inside Out Extra

Then, In a ground-breaking move, he ordered the reconstruction of the battlefields of Flanders on Dartmoor even encouraged his patients to shoot. to help the men relive and come to terms with their experiences.

Hurst also believed it important for the men to express themselves creatively and persuaded some to write and publish a magazine with a gossip column called Ward Whispers.

Nurses and patients
Image courtesy of BBC.co.uk Inside Out Extra

He made the only film in existence about how shell shock victims were treated in Britain. This gives an insight into his treatments. Though upsetting initially to watch, they also reveal the dramatic recovery Arthur Hurst’s methods produced. It was indeed pioneering and gives a mark of respect to the men who survived the terrors of the First World War. Arthur Hurst proved his methods were truly effective but I have been unable to find any studies of what happened to any of the men who had therapy at Seale Hayne. However I did find this fascinating programme on Radio Four’s Homefront: https://bbc.in/36SmD1J.

THE HEART STONE IS CURRENTLY ON NETGALLEY:

https://www.netgalley.co.uk/catalog/?text=the+heart+stone

The Heart Stone

Excerpt:

Slowly, without a word, Arthur stood up and allowed himself to be led down the field…

Arthur:

“I wipe my face with my sleeve, relieved I haven’t blurted it all out.  I know I never will now; it’s my secret, my shame.

I’m hoping the shooting has stopped. Even if it hasn’t, I’ll be ready for it; it won’t throw me back into the darkness again.

Of course, as soon as I close my eyes, I’m back there.”

Links:

https://judithbarrowblog.com/

https://twitter.com/judithbarrow77

https://www.facebook.com/judith.barrow.3

https://www.honno.co.uk/authors/b/judith-barrow/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

judith barrow

My Review of Pretty Evil New England -True Stories of Violent Vixens and Murderous Matriarchs by Sue Coletta. #Review #TuesdayBookBlogs #RBRT

Pretty Evil New England: True Stories of Violent Vixens and Murderous Matriarchs by [Sue Coletta]

I received a copy of Pretty Evil New England as member of Rose Amber’s Review Team in return for an honest review. I must thank Sue’s publishers, Globe Pequot Press, for sending me a paperback copy of the book.

Book Description:

For four centuries, New England has been a cradle of crime and murder—from the Salem witch trials to the modern-day mafia. Nineteenth century New England was the hunting ground of five female serial killers: Jane Toppan, Lydia Sherman, Nellie Webb, Harriet E. Nason, and Sarah Jane Robinson.

Female killers are often portrayed as caricatures: Black Widows, Angels of Death, or Femme Fatales. But the real stories of these women are much more complex. In Pretty Evil New England, true crime author Sue Coletta tells the story of these five women, from broken childhoods, to first brushes with death, and she examines the overwhelming urges that propelled these women to take the lives of a combined total of more than one-hundred innocent victims. The murders, investigations, trials, and ultimate verdicts will stun and surprise readers as they live vicariously through the killers and the would-be victims that lived to tell their stories.

My Review:

It’s been a while since I read a non fiction book. Whilst I generally enjoy the genre, it’s usually more to gain knowledge on a certain subject, to read about a particular topic or person. And then move on.

Sue Coletta‘s Pretty Evil New England is a book that will stay in my mind for a long time. I should say at this point, although I never give spoilers when reviewing fiction, I have, below, given some details of each of the five women, the murders and the resulta of the trials

It is obvious from the beginning that the author has researched these stories extensively. Her attention to detail is remarkable. Not only in that she brings these women to life for the reader, not only in that are their crimes are revealed, but the background story of each one gives an insight to the way their characters were formed. Which, in a way, gives the reasons, why it was almost inevitable, that they. became murderers.

The author gives a voice to each of the woman. It’s quite chilling to hear the way they saw the world and their victims. The reasons they say why they chose their victims are varied; suffice it to say, it only shows how evil they were.

The book is divided into five sections, dealing with each woman: Jane Toppan, truly frightening in the caring facade she presented to society for so long. Wicked in her careless reasoning for the deeds she carried out – for the way she discarded the deaths of some. Reading between the lines of the author’s writing, I thought Lydia Sherman was a a sociopath with little empathy for those around her. Again, a woman with veneer of compassion in public life that hides her true vicious character. Nellie Webb was a conundrum; well educated and religious, she stood trial as a poisoner but was not convicted ( though many doubted her innocence) Afterwards, together with her husband, she vanished. Her grave was never found. Sarah Jane Robinson, in debt and desperate for the payment from insurance policies, nevertheless, gave the appearance of a compassionate woman.who gathered her own and others’ families around her but she was a woman who claimed to have dreams of loved ones dying. And then they did. After the trial, she lived the rest of her life in solitary confinement. Harriet Nason was a solitary person by choice, viewed by many in the community with distrust. Although shown through the author’s research to be almost certainly the murderer of four people, she was found not guilty.

For me, Sue Coletta’s writing style keeps the reader enthralled. Her attention to detail is impeccable; she presents the court transcripts, newspaper articles, the interviews with the women against the background of the era at the time, and reveals the society they lived in.

I must give a mention to the illustrations and photographs. Excellently portrayed and placed to add a grim reality to the text.

And I loved the cover.

This is a non fiction book that will fascinate any reader who loves both fictional and real life crime. Thoroughly recommended.

About the Author:

Sue Coletta

Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Feedspot and Expertido.org named her Murder Blog as one of the “Best 100 Crime Blogs on the Net” (Murder Blog sits at #5). Sue also blogs at the Kill Zone, a multi-award-winning writing blog.

Sue lives in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and writes two serial killer thriller series published by Tirgearr Publishing. She also writes true crime for Globe Pequot, the trade division of Rowman & Littlefield Group.Coletta is a proud member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the Kill Zone, an award-winning writing blog where she posts every other Monday.

#RBRT Review Team

Believe It Or Not: paranormal fiction

Thorne Moore

When my father left the air force at the end of World War II with a bit of money in his pocket, he spent some of it on a complete set of the latest edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. I still have it, well worn, with some of the 24 spines barely legible any more. It was my introduction to the idea of research in my early youth. Just to prove its date, one interesting entry reads “Hitler, Adolf (1889 — )”

So, seeming to change the subject entirely…

My novel Shadows, while being a domestic noir novel like all my others, also contains an element of the supernatural. A very small element: I was not writing “Occult Horror”, as it was listed on Amazon at first. I grew up with Dennis Wheatley as well as the Encyclopaedia Britannica, but I don’t really want to mimic him…

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Believe It Or Not: paranormal fiction

Thorne Moore

When my father left the air force at the end of World War II with a bit of money in his pocket, he spent some of it on a complete set of the latest edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. I still have it, well worn, with some of the 24 spines barely legible any more. It was my introduction to the idea of research in my early youth. Just to prove its date, one interesting entry reads “Hitler, Adolf (1889 — )”

So, seeming to change the subject entirely…

My novel Shadows, while being a domestic noir novel like all my others, also contains an element of the supernatural. A very small element: I was not writing “Occult Horror”, as it was listed on Amazon at first. I grew up with Dennis Wheatley as well as the Encyclopaedia Britannica, but I don’t really want to mimic him…

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Sealed with a Kiss: The End

Thorne Moore

I often have difficulty knowing how to start a book, even when I have the whole story clear in my mind. But it can be even more difficult knowing when to stop.

Don’t spoil the impact of the natural ending by drifting on into slow sludge. Sorry, Shakespeare, but you should really have stopped when Hamlet dies. Good night, sweet prince,. and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. Having Fortinbras blunder in to wrap things up was a big mistake.

The Handmaid’s Tale is a brilliant example of a story that ends with questions unanswered. What happens next to Offred? Is she sent off to her doom or to salvation. But Margaret Atwood couldn’t resist adding an epilogue, exploring further. And then she had to write another book because readers kept asking what happened.

I was delighted, when I first read The Lord of the Rings as a…

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Sealed with a Kiss: The End

Thorne Moore

I often have difficulty knowing how to start a book, even when I have the whole story clear in my mind. But it can be even more difficult knowing when to stop.

Don’t spoil the impact of the natural ending by drifting on into slow sludge. Sorry, Shakespeare, but you should really have stopped when Hamlet dies. Good night, sweet prince,. and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. Having Fortinbras blunder in to wrap things up was a big mistake.

The Handmaid’s Tale is a brilliant example of a story that ends with questions unanswered. What happens next to Offred? Is she sent off to her doom or to salvation. But Margaret Atwood couldn’t resist adding an epilogue, exploring further. And then she had to write another book because readers kept asking what happened.

I was delighted, when I first read The Lord of the Rings as a…

View original post 530 more words

Drawing a Likeness: describing characters

Another great post from Thorne Moore.

Thorne Moore

How much detail do you give in describing a character’s appearance? Do you convey with precision the shape of their nose, their eyes, their lips, their hair, the quality of their skin, the size of their waist, or do you leave it vague? I have read and enjoyed cinematic book in which every detail is described so precisely that all readers would conjure up an identical image of each character. Personally, though, I lean towards keeping it very very vague.

I am inspired in this by various sources. Firstly, my Latin teacher at school who was much like Mary Beard in her enthusiasm for the subject. She thought Latin should be a spoken language and wanted us to read Virgil’s Aeneid as an exciting novel. Unfortunately, she left to have a baby and was replaced by a hapless peripatetic teacher with the result that the whole class failed their Latin…

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Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC Frank Reviews THE MEMORY by @judithbarrow77

With many thanks to Frank: https://franklparker.com/about/ for his honest and valuable review.

Rosie Amber

Today’s review comes from Frank. You can find out more about Frank here https://franklparker.com/about/

Frank has been reading The Memory by Judith Barrow

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When I selected this book for review Rosie pointed out that it was a book that leans “heavily towards women’s fiction”. Now that I have read the book I understand what she means by that. I still think that it is a mistake to categorise readers in this way. I understand the importance of categorising books by genre. That helps potential readers decide whether a book is one they would enjoy. But most readers surely read across genres: they might choose romantic fiction one week, a mystery the next week and a thriller a week later. When you describe a book as “women’s fiction” you are not so much categorising the book as the reader.

To the extent that this book is about a woman’s life it…

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The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – #Aromatherapy -Versatile Lavender – Skin care, headaches, insomnia, first aid and fleas

Such a useful post from Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the repeat of the 2018 series about essential oils and aromatherapy and I hope those new to the blog will enjoy.

Twenty-two years ago I ran a health food shop and diet advisory centre here in Ireland and we sold essential oils for aromatherapy. I thought that I should learn more about it and took a course on the subject. I am looking forward to sharing this relaxing therapy with you.

What is Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses essential oils which have been extracted from specific sweet smelling plants for therapeutic massage. They are blended with specialised carrier oils to ensure that they are used in a diluted form and are easily absorbed by the skin. The oils can also be used to add these therapeutic aromas to our environment as well with the use of burners.

Last time I covered the exotic essential oil Frankincense and its uses to…

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Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – YAParanormal A.J. Alexander, #FamilyDrama Judith Barrow, #Urbanfantasy Anita Dawes

Thrilled be in Sally’s Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair today, and in the company of two other authors whose books look very tempting.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the Christmas Book Fair where I will be featuring all the authors currently on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.

I am going to be choosing authors at random so that there is a variety of genres in each post to offer as many gift ideas as possible.

The first author with books for Teens and Young Adults is A.J.Alexanderwith the paranormal fantasy Sundance: 2nd book of ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series

About the book

Sundance is a promising young Warrior Angel, the first in centuries to join the Divine Army. With the help of one of the most powerful Archangels, her skill and talent develop, allowing her to master some of the most difficult tasks that face her kind.Sundance, under the supervision of the ‘Council of Twelve’ seeks to prove that she deserves her unusual gifts in the eternal fight between good and evil. Follow…

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Wildflower Graves: (Detective Ellie Reeves Book 2 by Rita Herron #TuesdayBookBlog

Wildflower Graves: A totally gripping mystery thriller (Detective Ellie Reeves Book 2) by [Rita Herron]

Book Description

The darkness closed around her. She tried to clear her vision, but there was no light, no noise, nothing. Only the emptiness, the echoing sound of being alone. Fear pulsed through her. The man had come out of nowhere. Who was he? Blinking away tears of frustration, in the pitch black she felt the floor and walls surrounding her. Cold. Steel. Bars.

Detective Ellie Reeves heads into the wilds of the Appalachian Mountains when she wants to get lost––to forget the whispers chasing her and the past that keeps her up at night. She’s sick of having to prove herself to her small town.

But hiking in the endless miles of woods isn’t the escape she was hoping for. One night, as dusk falls, a gust of wind blows some petals on to Ellie’s path. Following the trail, she finds a golden-haired young woman dead on a bed of daffodils, with a note: Monday’s child is fair of face.

When Ellie emerges from the forest, there is a message on her phone. Someone has sent her a picture of her colleague, Officer Shondra Eastwood, with the words: Can you find her, Detective Reeves? Ellie is racked with guilt––while she was busy hiding from life a killer was on the loose, and he has taken her beloved friend.

The wilderness, and its shadows, are the perfect hunting ground for a criminal––but what does the sinister nursery rhyme mean? It soon becomes clear when another dead woman, Tuesday’s Child, is found.

Ellie is up against a serial killer who will claim a victim for every day of the week, and in the next twenty-four hours there will be another body. As this ruthless murderer closes in on her, can she save more innocent women––and Shondra––from his clutches? Or will he get to Ellie first?

My Review:

I realised as soon as I was into the first chapter that I was reading the sequel of a previous book. The characters are already formed and interact well with one another, showing previous relationships and a backstory. And this is okay, there is enough spoken dialogue and internal dialogue that explains both the action and the denouement of the first book.

I liked the story, it is a good plot with an even pace, and enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. And I did like the author’s narrative writing style.

There were only a couple of things that disappointed me: the dialogue sometimes (and it is only sometimes) is written in a ‘telling style’, as though as an explanation to the reader. And, although the outdoor settings are evocative, occasionally there is unnecessary repetition. The initial descriptions are excellently written, but then there are extra clauses that aren’t needed and so slow down the action.

However, this doesn’t happen in the sections which describe theCold. Steel. Bars.the last place the victims know. ( I try not to give spoilers in my reviews – it’s a little difficult here) Suffice it to say, these well written settings are both sinister and chilling to read.

I found the explanation of the symbolism of wild flowers and nature fascinating; it’s obvious the author has researched this extensively and has cleverly interwoven them with the story.

All in all, I enjoyed the read and have no reservations in recommending this book to readers of crime fiction.

Many thanks to the author, Bookouture and NetGalley, for the copy of Wildflower Graves, in return for an honest review.

MarySmith’sPlace ~ Writing under lockdown

Mary Smith's Place

I’m excited to be a contributor in a new anthology which provides a unique record of life in my Galloway, my own wee part of Scotland, during the first 12 weeks of lockdown.

Writedown: Lockdown in the Galloway Glens at the Time of Covid brings together the work of 22 writers, each with a Galloway connection. It is a collection of prose and poetry, hopefulness, hopelessness, anger, humour and quiet endurance in which the writers tell the story of a community dealing with life in unprecedented times.

The idea behind the project came from author Margaret Elphinstone, when her writing classes could no longer meet. Inspired by the Mass Observation project which encouraged ordinary people to keep wartime diaries, she invited anyone interested to contribute – 22 of us did.

Margaret said: “In times of trouble people want to be together but with lockdown people had to isolate, sometimes…

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Smorgasbord Health Column – Feeling sluggish and fatigued? Dehydration or the wrong fluids!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I have posted on dehydration before and it is very important that at all ages we take in sufficient fluids. Babies and the elderly dehydrate very quickly and this is dangerous. Currently many of us are in lock down with restricted access to the fresh air and exercise. Those of us heading into winter are now putting our central heating on which does create additional fluid loss.

However, there are times when drinking too much water, particularly in recovery from an illness when food has not been consumed, can have a negative impact on the body and your health.

In this post I am going to look at both sides of the coin to show you how important it is to take in the right fluids.

Dehydration.

Recently I noticed that there were a few articles by the experts in the field of nutrition on the subject of hydration. What…

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Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up -8th -14th November 2020 – 40th Celebrations, Brad Mehldau, Relationships, Vichyssoise, Aromatherapy, Reviews and Funnies

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the round up of posts that you might have missed this week on Smorgasbord.

I hope you are staying safe wherever you are. Hurricanes, Covid, Civil Unrest and Political upheavals have been the focus of the headlines this week and in the global scope of events, the celebration of our 40th Wedding Anniversary tomorrow pales into insignificance.

However, for us it is an important milestone, and despite best laid plans of a wonderful villa and pool in Malta with my two sisters, and a weekend away when that was cancelled, we are going to celebrate in style at home with just the two of us.  Which is okay, in fact more than okay.

On our trip to Ireland to meet David’s Family November 1st 1980

A few days before the wedding

Our whirlwind romance

  • September 16th 1980 David arrived as a guest at the hotel I was assistant…

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