My Review of Watercolours in the Rain by Jo Lambert for #RBRT

 

Jo Lambert

I gave Watercolours in the Rain 4* out of 5*

I received Watercolours in the Rain from the author as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team and for an honest review.

Back Page Blurb:

WATERCOLOURS IN THE RAIN

What happens to the future when past and present collide?

JESS:  Six years ago Jess’s relationship with Talún Hansen was torn apart by one night of deception. He disappeared from Lynbrook village and she headed for university vowing never to let anyone break her heart again. Currently teaching in Oxford, Jess returns from holiday to an unexpected phone call and life changing news which eventually sees her returning home.

Talún: Six years on Talún Hawkeswood, as he is now known, is heir to his grandfather’s Norfolk farming empire. When he hears of trouble in the village due to Lynbrook Hall being put up for sale, going back is the last thing on his mind. But staying away is not an option either, not when someone he owes so much to is about to lose their home and their livelihood.

LILY: Splitting with her husband after her son Josh’s birth, Lily now works as part of an estate agency sales team.  She has always held onto her dream of finding a wealthy husband and a life of self-indulgence. When the sale of an important property brings her face to face with Talún, she realises despite the risks involved, the night they spent together six years ago could be the key to making those dreams come true.

As Jess, Talún and Lily return to Lynbrook and the truth about what happened that summer is gradually revealed, Talún finds himself in an impossible situation. Still in love with Jess he is tied into a trade off with Lily: his name and the lifestyle she craves in exchange for his son. And when a child is involved there is only one choice he can make…

My Review:

Although I hadn’t read  Summer Moved On (The South Devon Duo Book 1) Jo Lambert’s first book in the series, I had no trouble following the story and discovering the personalities of the characters involved. (It wasn’t until I began this review that I read the blurb and realised how much Watercolours in the Rain  can indeed be a stand-alone novel.) Any past action from the previous book was subtly and cleverly inserted; either into the dialogue, brought out through memories, or the descriptions of the settings, or how the characters have evolved..

I don’t give spoilers away in my reviews so I’d just like to say why I so liked this novel.

First of all  Watercolours in the Rain   is written in a style that I love; different points of view presented by each of the characters. In this case,  Jess, Lily  and Talún, all with their own voice There is no doubt whose dialogue it is and as the  story progresses the characters are given greater depth; leaving it to the reader who to have empathy with… and who to detest. And, believe me, there are one or two really detestable characters that I became angry with. (being so involved that I still feel some emotion, whatever it is, when I’ve put the book down,  is always a good sign that I’m reading a brilliant story) .

Both the internal and the spoken dialogue is realistic and, as I say above, distinctive to each character.

 The characters are rounded and believable without unnecessary detail of how each looks; this is drip -fed throughout the book..

 The descriptions give a great sense of place.

I thought the plot line both clever and, sometimes, surprising.I liked the author’s style of writing; so easy to read and yet constantly throwing up tantalising twists and turns. 

 And, best of all, it’s a good story. I hope to read more from Jo Lambert. 

So, as you may gather, I would thoroughly recommend   Watercolours in the Rain  

 Buying links:

Amazon.co.uk:http://amzn.to/2j6DcfF

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

 

 

 

 

My Review of The Rose Trail by Alex Martin

the-rose-trail

 

The Blurb:

Is it chance that brings Fay and Persephone together?
Or is it the restless and malevolent spirit who stalks them both?
Once rivals, they must now unite if they are to survive the mysterious trail of roses they are forced to follow into a dangerous, war torn past.

The Rose Trail is a time slip novel set in both the present day and during the English Civil War. The complex story weaves through both eras with a supernatural thread.

My Review:

Way back in 2015, I interviewed Alex Martin after I’d read her first books:  http://bit.ly/2iVUaxK. And then again in 2016,  http://bit.ly/2itOdaz   (when she was part of the Tenby book fair: now evolved into the Narberth Book Fair: (http://bit.ly/2iiW8HW ). I have enjoyed all her work and I must admit  I was looking forward to reading The Rose Trail, expecting the same genre.

 It’s not! But the strong writing style that makes this author’s book instantly recognisable is there throughout. And just as fascinating. This is a story that moves through two time zones, starting off in the present day and then woven into the period of the English Civil War. It’s dark, haunting and riveting and moves a a good steady place with the occasional revelation that shocks the reader.

As usual Alex Martin has researched well; the settings, the descriptions give an evocative sense of place

The characters are well rounded and believable. Fay could be a protagonist that elicits pity, yet her courage and fortitude soon become evident. And Percy; for me it was dislike on sight but then an unwilling sympathy. Until, I admitted to myself that she was actually a decent person. See? I’m talking about them as thought they’re real. Which, to me is a sign of empathetic writing. And the two brothers, Will and Ralph in the juxtaposed historical story become just as believable with the wrangling in both their political and personal lives.  

The dialogue, both as spoken and as internal thoughts, of all the characters reads naturally. There are no irritating lines where I wasn’t sure who was speaking.

If there was one small constructive criticism I’d have it would be with some of  those parts of the book that deal with the civil war combat scenes. I found myself skipping through them.  Though I have to confess, some of the dark ‘ghostly’ scenes, I stopped to re-read again. perhaps this says more about me as a reader than anything else! 

So, as with all the other books that Alex Martin has written, I really enjoyed The Rose Trail and have no hesitation in recommending this novel.

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2iWoRTE

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Review of The Devil You Know by Terry Tyler

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The Blurb:

Every serial killer is someone’s friend, spouse, lover or child….

Young women are being murdered in the Lincolnshire town of Lyndford, where five people fear someone close to them might be the monster the police are searching for.
One of them is right.

Juliet sees an expert’s profile of the average serial killer and realises that her abusive husband, Paul, ticks all the boxes.

Maisie thinks her mum’s new boyfriend seems too good to be true. Is she the only person who can see through Gary’s friendly, sensitive façade?

Tamsin is besotted with her office crush, Jake. Then love turns to suspicion…

Steve is used to his childhood friend, Dan, being a loud mouthed Lothario with little respect for the truth. But is a new influence in his life leading him down a more sinister path?

Dorothy’s beloved son, Orlando, is keeping a secret from her—a chilling discovery forces her to confront her worst fears.

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is a character-driven psychological drama that will keep you guessing until the very end.

My Review:

I love Terry Tyler’s novels; the plots, the characters, her style of writing. And so I was really looking forward to reading her latest book. I wasn’t disappointed.

 Anyone who has read my reviews of this author’s books will know how much I admire her writing. Just as a reminder I’ve added a couple of links. For her novel,  You Wish: http://bit.ly/2eHQhwJ. and then for Best Seller: A Tale Of Three Writers:   http://bit.ly/2fWh7Db.

Although THE DEVIL YOU KNOW takes us, as readers, away from her usual cross-genre work into a domestic  psychological, it is, as the blurb says, character driven; one of Tyler’s greatest strengths. This alongside her dialogue, both internal and spoken. Not to mention her great descriptions that always give such a sense of place.

Yes, I am a fan of her writing. As a creative writing tutor, as well as an author myself, I read both subjectively and objectively. The latter sometimes spoils my enjoyment of a book, especially if there are also editing and proofreading errors. I’ve yet to be disappointed in any of  this author’s novels. If you haven’t already, I suggest you give one of her novels a go. Why not begin by reading THE DEVIL YOU KNOW? You won’t be disappointed and I thoroughly recommend it.

Find The Devil You Know at:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2fUGSkT

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2eAImD5

My Review of Who Killed Vivien Morse (DCI Hatherall Book 4) by Diana J Febry for #RBRT

vivien

 

I gave  Who Killed Vivien Morse? by Diana J Febry  4 out of 5*

The Blurb:

Vivien Morse, a young social worker is discovered battered to death in Silver Lady Woods. Everyone assumes she was attacked by her estranged husband until her supervisor disappears. The connection appears to be Vivien’s last client. A damaged and disturbed girl who believes a bundle of rags is her lost baby and never leaves the family farm while she awaits the return of her lover.

The matter is confused by the arrival of a stranger to the area clearly searching for something or someone and an escaped convict with connections to the area.

DCI Hatherall has to separate fact from fantasy to discover who did kill Vivien Morse.

My Review:

I hadn’t read any of Diana J Febry’s work before so wasn’t sure what to expect. I have read the later books in a series before and been confused by the characters involved but  Who Killed Vivien Morse? (the fourth book of the protagonist, DCI Peter Hatherall  series) can be read as a stand alone book without any difficulty.

 I loved this author’s style of writing which, by the way, is certainly not revealed in the Blurb. I expected a purely crime driven story. In the Blurb there is no mention of the dark humour, the small twists of idiosyncrasy in the characters, especially in Peter Hatherall and Fiona Williams, the short, witty descriptions of them and their dialogue. 

The narrative meanders through many ‘red herrings’ to keep the reader guessing and entertained while meeting all the characters; all well rounded, most with complicated backgrounds and relationships (that are drip-fed throughout the story – no information dumping here!) All interesting, all have a part to play in the narrative.

The dialogue is so well written that it is easy to tell who is speaking without any dialogue tags and, alongside the thought-provoking, more significant interchanges, is peppered with wry, dry humour. I loved some of the earlier conversations between  Peter Hatherall and Fiona Williams.

 Set in a typical rural English; the victim,  Vivien Morse,a young social worker, is found murdered in a place called Silver Lady Woods, Febry’s descriptions are brief but succinct; just enough to give a flavour of the place. 

But there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a fast-moving  murder mystery; there is a serious thread running throughout that the investigation has to succeed before another murder is committed. Certainly kept me on my toes. (and I always guessed wrong) 

All in all Who Killed Vivien Morse?  by Diana J Febry is a book I recommend.

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2dnWom0

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2efb49z

My Review of The Hog, the Shrew and the Hullabaloo (A Harry & Lil Story) by Julia Copus (Author), Eunyoung Seo (Illustrator)

 

hog an hullabuloo

 

It was night in the village – a still, dark night –
and Harry the Hog was sleeping tight.
In her house at the foot of Piggyback Hill,
also asleep, was Candy Stripe Lil.
The second Harry and Lil story from acclaimed Faber poet Julia Copus, who has recently turned her hand to picture books for the first time! The tale of a hog – and his friend Candy Stripe Lil – kept awake by mysterious noises in the night is sure to delight adults and children alike.

 My Review:

I reviewed the first Harry & Lil of this series with my granddaughter, Seren, a wise six year old. Being without my fellow reviewer I need to look at this lovely picture story book with adult eyes and hope that, when she next visit she agrees with what I write. I’m fairly sure I’m on the right track as we did read it just before she left 

I can really only reiterate much of my comments that I made in our review of Hog in the Fog: A Harry & Lil Story:  http://bit.ly/2bAVZS9

But I do need to add how much we enjoyed the way the illustrations are often set out in descending order on the page with small rhyming phrases. For example, just before Harry goes to sleep he does his exercises “two hog-jumps, three sit-ups, four blinks of the eye” 

 Lovely!!

In fact the way the words and the illustration work together, placed on the pages, is perfect as far as Seren and I were concerned.

This is a story that combines the questions that Harry and Lil explore when kept awake by mysterious noises in the night, yet hints at the answers throughout – right up to the brilliant end.

Picture story books are very close to poetry in many ways. One of the most important things is that they  both are intended to be read aloud. So fluency is essential. If the format is meant to be regular in  rhythm, then each line must have the same amount of syllables.  Rhyming is necessary, whether slant/ near rhymes, sight rhymes or exact rhymes. The Hog, the Shrew and the Hullabaloo has all these qualities.

Turning the pages to see what happens next seems to be important for children in picture story books. So, often there are connecting or repeating words or phrases  “And/But /So.” Or sometimes those three little dots – the ellipses.  Like Hog in the Fog, The Hog, the Shrew and the Hullabaloo   does this kind of connection of each page in spades.

And last but certainly not least… the illustrations. These are amongst the best I’ve seen in a picture book. (and I’ve been reading picture story books for a loooooong time) I’d go so far as the say they are exquisite drawings.

Seren has just phoned and I’ve read this review out to her. She’s in full agreement with me but has asked me to reiterate that she is six and she recommends The Hog, the Shrew and the Hullabaloo  for younger children, not her age group. I didn’t say anything but I think this series of “Harry & Lil ” stories are a joy for anyone of any age to read!

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2bjkVgh

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2aZZw8w

My Review of Hog in the Fog: A Harry & Lil Story by Julia Copus (Author), Eunyoung Seo (Illustrator)

hog fog

I read this with my six year old granddaughter, Seren, and we gave this 5* (Because we weren’t allowed to give it any more)

The Blurb:

The tale of a hog in the fog.

This is the story of Candy Stripe Lil
and Harry the Hog who lived over the hill.

…and a foggy March day, roundabout three,
when Lil had invited Harry for tea.

Lil is expecting Harry the Hog for tea, but there’s a swirling fog outside and Harry is nowhere to be seen.

Lil sets off to find her friend. Luckily she meets Deer, Sheep and Crow along the way, who all join in the hunt to find the hog in the fog.

A heartwarming rhyming adventure story about friendship, teamwork and teatime!

My review: ( Following instructions from Seren who read it with me at weekend)

First, Seren’s opinion

‘I like the clock telling the time when Lil has to wait for Hog.’ (So do I, a clever way of introducing telling the time to a child)

‘Lil has a lovely face.’ (In fact all the animals have ‘lovely faces’)

 ‘I like the horns on the deer.’ (the antlers on the deer are decorated with flowers and butterflies, the sheep has a blue bow around her neck, the crow a red hat, Lil a striped bonnet – charming little details)

‘They all see bits of Hog, don’t they?’ (They do; on each of their pages, the sheep sees the back of Hog, the deer sees his ears, the crow sees his tale. – the repetition of the three animals/ the three images they each see, is very clever)

‘I like the sounds they make.’ ( ” Pittery Pattery, tippety tappety , munch crunch,   tac tac tac, qwaa-aak…”     (What’s not to like? Funny, sounds to read aloud  again and again)

‘I like they found him, I was getting a bit worried.’ (Ah, a happy ending… just right)

‘And I like the funny food they have for tea.’ (Yep, she would!!… “…chocolate- chip beetles, slug- flavoured chip, dragonflies tongues, frothy muck- shake and cuttlefish cake.” Say no more!)

Picture story books are very close to poetry in many ways. One of the most important things is that they  both are intended to be read aloud. So fluency is essential. If the format is meant to be regular in  rhythm, then each line must have the same amount of syllables.  Rhyming is necessary, whether slant/ near rhymes, sight rhymes or exact rhymes. Hog in the Fog has all these qualities.

Turning the pages to see what happens next seems to be important for children in picture story books. So, often there are connecting or repeating words or phrases  “And/But /So.” Or sometimes those three little dots – the ellipses.  Hog in the Fog does this kind of connection of each page in spades.

And last but certainly not least… the illustrations. These are amongst the best I’ve seen in a picture book. (and I’ve been reading picture story books for a loooooong time) I’d go so far as the say they are exquisite drawings.

But obviously the last word goes to Seren. Before she left I had a warning. ‘Please don’t use big posh words, Nanna, just say I liked it… for a young little girl or boy.’  Okay. She liked it… and so did I.

 I thoroughly recommend  Hog in the Fog.

Buying links:

Amazon.co .uk:http://amzn.to/2auAPnq 

Amazon.com:http://amzn.to/2b8slCe 

Faber and Faber: http://bit.ly/2aVp8m6

My Review of A Most Reluctant Princess by Jean M Cogdell for #RBRT

 

 

This  book was given to me,  as a member of #RBRT,  by the author in return for a fair review.

I gave A Most Reluctant Princess 4* out of 5*

The Blurb:

How can she be a princess if her daddy’s not a king? What will she be when she grows up? Written in simple rhyme, this story is filled with sweet illustrations of a “little princess” with a big imagination and a lot of questions. Little girls who love playing dress up will enjoy hearing how one “little princess” discovers a world of possibilities.

 My review:

I read this book with my six year old granddaughter who  is sitting with me to make sure I write what she says (her words.)

 Okay, here goes. Seren enjoyed this book very much. She likes the pictures (illustrations) and  she loves the story. She likes the idea that she can be anything she wants to be when she is bigger. (which is what her mummy says to her) . And she runs to the door when Daddy (or Mummy, she adds) comes home from work.

My thoughts (she’s gone now, satisfied I’ve written the right words):

I too loved the illustrations,(which are excellent and tell a story in themselves) and I liked the premise of this picture story book, though, in this format,  obviously written for an American readership. (would be an idea to alter a few words for a UK readership and publish in the UK? – just a thought)

 Picture story books are very close to poetry in many ways. One of the most important is that they  both are intended to be read aloud. So fluency is essential. If the format is meant to be regular in  rhythm, then each line must have the same amount of syllables. If not then the tendency is to stumble over the lines, which spoils the flow. In A Most Reluctant Princess, not every verse/ page works. Most do, but one or two don’t   (I’m thinking of the second  “bakery” page here in particular – and the second “Doctor” page)

 And, occasionally the rhyming isn’t quite there.

Turning the pages to see what happens next seems to be important for children in picture story books. So , often there are connecting words ” And/But /So.”Or often those three little dots – the ellipses. Not being any in  A Most Reluctant Princess,I  felt the story to be  a little disjointed.

But these  last few paragraphs are obviously an  adult point of view.   And, to be fair, I should say I teach creative writing and picture story books are an included genre.

So, as a last word, I  will leave it to the expert, who has just bounced back into the room. ‘ A Most Reluctant Princess is a lovely story with lovely pictures. And will you make me a crown, Nanna?’

Buying links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/29v9Nbb

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/29v9xcj

 

My Review of Silenced Justice: A Josh Williams Novel (Volume 2) by by Joe Broadmeadow for #RBRT

 

silenced justice

I received Silenced Justice  from the  author and as a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team  #RBRT in exchange for an honest review.

I gave Silenced Justice 3* out of 5*

The Blurb

Because without Truth, there is no Justice!

Silenced Justice. The compelling new novel of corruption, greed, and the search for the truth

Lieutenant Josh Williams is back in this latest thriller from Joe Broadmeadow, Silenced Justice.
When his former boss, retired Lieutenant Chris Hamlin, asks him to reopen an old case, Josh uncovers the shocking truth behind an innocent man’s death in prison. In 1972, Darnell Grey, accused of a series of rapes and a homicide, is beaten to death in the prison while awaiting trial.
As a black man accused of crimes against white women, a justice system intent on vengeance uses all its resources to secure his imprisonment.  Evidence of his innocence is ignored, witnesses manipulated, and the truth locked away, putting him into a racially volatile prison system. With his death, his memory and the case against him fades into the past.
Determined to bring the matter to light, the deeper Josh looks into the case, the more dangerous it becomes for him and those he loves.  Discovering a darker, more sinister conspiracy in play, Josh risks everything to uncover the truth.
A truth that unveils hollowness and corruption at the very core of government and our Justice System.A Must Read Police Thriller A black man, framed for crimes he didn’t commit, is brutally murdered in prison and those responsible let him die along with the truth.  Silenced Justice takes you into the behind the scenes world of the Justice system and those that use it for their own purpose.  If you care about the truth, if you care about Justice, you need to read this book.

 My Review:

I felt I needed to  review  Silenced Justice  in a different way than I normally do for various reasons.

it’s a complicated novel of political corruption, Russian Mafia and money laundering but it’s a book that has been obviously researched in detail (whether from the author’s own experiences or from actual investigation.) Complicated but cleverly woven together

I actually struggled to follow a lot of the story at the beginning because I spent too much time going back and forth trying to find who the many characters were and how they fitted in. I soon realised that it would have been better if I had read the first of Joe Broadmeadow’s Lieutenant Josh Williams novels  before tackling this one.

As it is there is a lot of the back story condensed into blocks of the narrator ‘telling’ the reader what has happened in the past, or how the system works within certain departments. And, often, I skimmed over those sections.

The opening narration of one incident in the story is interesting and full of tension. I believed the central plot would be the solving of an historical racist arrest of a black man, charged illegally with rape and murder, deliberately put into the general population of a prison and beaten to death before given the chance of a fair trial.  But this proved to be a subplot, the means to an end in that it led into the main story; a plot with many twists and turns. Nevertheless  the story flows quickly, though mainly through dialogue.

And the main drawback for me was the dialogue.  In the flashbacks (and occasionally in the present day sections of the book) the author gives the characters the traits and attitudes of certain government official and police departments  in the nineteen seventies. That works to a certain degree and isn’t the problem.  What was my difficulty  was that most of the time, I didn’t think the dialogue differentiated the characters.  The theme that runs through all the dialogue is sarcasm, cynical jeering and one expletive that is part of all the characters’ conversations, discussions and negotiations.  I really don’t care if there is swearing in a book if it fits the character but they all used the same one and it became boring.  I realise that the author intended to portray badinage and wit between colleagues. It just didn’t work for me in that they all sounded the same. 

And I would have liked a little more description to give a sense of place.

 When I finished my review and needed to add the blurb I did read some of the reviews for Silenced Justice. It’s had some extremely good reviews and has obviously been enjoyed by many readers.  

Buying Links:
 
Amazon. co .uk: http://amzn.to/29ECQtD

Today With Lisa Shambrook

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of months.

So far I’ve interrogated interviewed Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh , Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr , Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci, Wendy Steele http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i  and Kathy MIles:  http://bit.ly/1twN3Bg , Carol Lovekin: http://bit.ly/1V4Yupr  and Colin R  Parsons: http://bit.ly/1tvBc5G:  And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq  Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing the rest of the authors and I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance. There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of http://showboat.tv/ who, as usual, will be filming the event.

Today I’m delighted to introduce inspirational author, Lisa Shambrook, who recently has launched a lovely new book.

Lisa-2015-author-photo-Square-900kb (1)

 

Hi, Lisa, so good to have you here today to talk abouit your work.

 Hi Judith, Good to be here.

Please explain how you came to be a writer, what inspired you to write your book (s) and how long it took.

 

Writing, along with reading and art, was always part of my life. When I was young I wanted to be an author and illustrator, but my words came faster and stronger than my art, and writing became my passion.

It was after reading the first Harry Potter book that I thought I could do this for real, and with the birth of my youngest sixteen years ago I began to write. Within a decade I had a fantasy trilogy and one and a half more books written. After querying I realised the books were woefully inadequate and I set about learning and improving my craft. A few years of education and flash fiction really honed my words and skills, and I set about writing a new series. In 2013, 14 and 15 I released The Hope Within novels, very different from my first forays into writing, but they have been well received and taught me much.

What facets of your life, both personal and professional, are woven into your book, if any?

Beneath the Rainbow (A Hope Within Novel Book 1)

Beneath the Old Oak (A Hope Within Novel Book 2)Beneath the Distant Star (A Hope Within Novel Book 3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hope Within books: ‘Beneath the Rainbow’, ‘Beneath the Old Oak’, and ‘Beneath the Distant Star’ have dealt with difficult subjects. These books cover grief, depression, self-harm, anger issues and bullying. It’s heavy stuff, but essential to understand the human condition. I have suffered anxiety and depression for most of my life and so the themes have been woven easily into the books with compassion and empathy. I am also a big dreamer and my imagination soars. The main theme of Beneath the Rainbow is living life to the full and reaching for those so called impossible dreams. The book’s tagline reads “It’s those silly dreams that keep us alive.” And sometimes they really do. Reach for those distant stars!

Are you like any of the characters (and how so)?

I am very much like both Meg, and her mum Martha, in ‘Beneath the Old Oak’. Meg suffers anxiety and a desire to be there for her mum, but just isn’t able to cope with her mother’s deep depression. Having been clinically depressed and a regular self-harmer I am well qualified to write about them and their effects. I am an advocate for mental health awareness and blog regularly about mental health issues alongside positivity and reaching for your dreams.

When did you decide to write in your chosen genre(s)

The Hope Within novels are contemporary and fit well into the Young Adult genre, but I have had lovely feedback and reviews from all ages and genders. I don’t think I decided to write for a particular genre at first, ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ doesn’t fit clearly, but the subsequent books do, and I feel comfortable with the YA placing. I am currently working on a Post-Apocalyptic/Fantasy series set in Wales, far, far in the future, which will be aimed at the YA market, and the wonderful thing about YA is that we’re all young at heart, so the genre is very accessible to all.

Describe where you do most of your writing. What would I see if I was sitting beside you?

I write in my living room on my laptop on my sofa with my German Shepherd close by. Though, amusingly, if I write a sad scene and weep, she wanders over and rests her head on my lap. She’s as empathetic as I am! One day when my children have left home, I plan to take over one of their bedrooms and write at a desk overlooking the garden, though I might end up procrastinating as I stare out into the wilds…

What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?

The best is allowing my imagination free reign. I write to escape. The worst is finding time. Right now both my parents are fragile and ill, and need a lot of my time, so finding those moments to write are precious. I used to love sitting and writing all day, but currently, that’s just not possible.

Tell us one odd thing about you and one really mundane thing.

Let’s go mundane first – I’m an introvert, a lot of writers are, we like to hide away and we value our own company. And the odd thing – my children joke that I’m a squirrel as I seek out acorn cups and hazelnut shells. There is a reason. I suffer anxiety and panic, and I use these cups and hollowed shells as anchors and stims. I’ve written about it on my blog as they also work as a preventative for self-harm too. When panic rises and I feel the urge to run or escape, particularly in social situations, I smooth my thumb across the acorn cup or hazelnut shell and it calms me. I carry a multitude of them, in all my pockets, and it makes my family smile.

Lastly, what are you up to right now?

I am currently releasing a Post-Apocalyptic collection with a wonderful group of authors. It began when my family did a post-apocalyptic family photoshoot and one of my daughter’s pictures garnered a lot of attention. My writing community wanted to write for her character, so we gave her a name, and a world, and something to fight for. Then we instructed those involved to write for their own characters, but somewhere in their stories they had to meet Ghabrie, our main character. The stories are amazing and the book very different to usual collaborations and anthologies out there. You get a full length epic book with stories by fourteen very different authors, which all tie together in the most unexpected ways. It’s available now in Lulu and will soon be available on Amazon too. Look out for ‘Human 76’.

Human 76 - An Unprecendted collection of Post Apocalyptic  Stories - Ghabrie

My Links: Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/LisaShambrookAuthor

Twitter: twitter.com/LisaShambrook

Blog: www.thelastkrystallos.wordpress.com

Website: www.lisashambrook.com

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B005AV9M8K/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=Lisa+Shambrook

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LisaShambrook

Human 76 Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/Human76

My Review of Darkroom by Mary Maddox for #RBRT

 

Darkroom by [Maddox, Mary]

 

I received the book from the author for an honest review as a member of #RBRT

 I gave Darkroom by Mary Maddox 4* out of 5*

The Blurb:

Talented but unstable photographer Day Randall has been living rent-free in Kelly Durrell’s Colorado condo for eight months. Day needs someone to keep an eye on her. Kelly needs someone to draw her out of her stable but not spectacular life. The arrangement works for both of them.

Then Kelly comes home one day to find Day gone. There’s no note, no phone call. Day’s car is still parked out front, but her room is starkly, suspiciously spotless.

No one seems to care. The police certainly aren’t interested in a missing bipolar artist, but Kelly knows something is wrong. Day wouldn’t just leave.

Alone, Kelly traces Day’s last steps through shadowy back rooms of Boulder nightclubs and to a remote mountain estate, where the wealthy protect themselves behind electric fences and armed guards. Along the way, she uncovers a sinister underworld lying just below the mountain snow, and a group of powerful people who will do anything to protect the secrets hidden in Day’s enigmatic photographs.

If she trusts the wrong person, Kelly herself will be the next to disappear.

 

My Review

Mary Maddox’  Darkroom is a murder mystery set in the mountains of Boulder, Colorado in  winter. This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I enjoyed it, not only for the story but also for the style of writing; fast paced, clear and detailed; taking the reader along through plot’s many and intricate twists and turns. Some  sections of the action were a little easy to predict but this didn’t take anything away from the novel–in fact it gave me a great deal of satisfaction when I guessed correctly; A “I knew it!” moment.  Predict

There are a lot of characters in the story, so much so that, in the early parts, I had to keep flicking back to see who was who and where they fitted in. But once absorbed in the book everyone fell into place. I particularly like how the characters, even the minor ones, are so well drawn, so rounded. There are a few exceptions who are portrayed as completely unlikable, flat characters who don’t change throughout. But mostly, as in real life, the characters all have good and bad sides to them. All cross the boundaries with their actions at one point or another.

The descriptions of the settings, from the interior of Cascade, the club where much of the action takes place, to the portrayal of the harsh, snow-drifted mountains, fields and streams are exceptionally good. And I need to add here that the descriptive narrative of the action in the story is equally good and easy to envisage.

The story is told from the third person points of view of the protagonist, Kelly, and Animal (otherwise known as Beau), a bouncer from the club. The voices are distinctive and the dialogue throughout is well written.

Darkroom is a novel I would read again and probably get more out of the second time around; because I suspect there are nuances to the plot that I probably missed. I was so keen find out what happened next I read it quicker than I normally do.

 I would recommend Mary Maddox as an author to discover. I recommend Darkroom for anyone who likes a thrilling murder mystery

 

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/1Ur1H2v

Amazon .com: http://amzn.to/1Oh9WSp

My Review of The Flower Seller by Ellie Holmes for #RBRT

tjhe flower seller

 I received this book from the author as as a member of #RBRT in return for a fair review.

I gave The Flower Seller 4 * out of 5 *

The Blurb: (Oh, does it reveal far too much!!)

An impressive début novel from Ellie Holmes, The Flower Seller is an engaging and romantic tale of love, deceit, betrayal and hope.

Jessie Martin believes that when it comes to love there are three types of people: the skimmers, the bottom dwellers and the ones who dive for pearls. Jessie is a pearl diver. She had thought her husband William was a pearl diver too. But when William leaves her for a much younger woman, it’s not just Jessie’s heart that is broken, her ability to trust is shattered too. All Jessie wanted was a love she could believe in. Was that so much to ask? Loyalty it seems has gone out of fashion.

Refusing to retire from the battlefield of life, Jessie resolves to put her heartache behind her. She doesn’t want to be that woman who was too scared to love again. There has to be another pearl diver out there; all she has to do is find him.

Urged on by her sassy best friend, Anne and her daughter Hannah, Jessie makes three New Year’s resolutions: get a divorce, get a promotion, get a life. Enthusiastically embracing her new start, Jessie sets about making all her resolutions come true.

When fate brings handsome flower seller Owen Phillips into her life, will Jessie have the courage of her convictions? Can she take her heart in her hands and give it away again? Hope springs eternal they say but a bruised heart needs to time to heal. Will Owen have the patience to understand? Will Jessie be brave enough to take that leap of faith?

By the time summer holds her firmly in it’s warm embrace, Jessie’s monochrome world of heartache has been transformed into one full of colour, romance and love.

Jessie can hardly believe her luck. Can Owen really be the one?

All things seem possible and even husband William’s attempts to bully Jessie into a less than fair divorce settlement don’t have the power to upset her as they once might have. Supported by Owen, Jessie stands her ground. Putting William’s deceit and betrayal firmly in the rear view mirror of her life, Jessie is full of hope for the future. Perhaps loyalty and true love haven’t gone out of fashion after all.

When autumn’s burnished hues colour the world around her, Jessie looks forward to cosy nights by log fires with her handsome flower seller. But is Owen really the pearl diver Jessie had hoped for? Or is Jessie’s fragile trust about to be shattered all over again?
The Flower Seller is an engaging and page-turning read full of love, deceit, betrayal and hope.

This romantic tale follows Jessie from the depths of winter, to the excitement of spring through a hot and passionate summer to the turmoil and drama of a stormy autumn.
As a second winter approaches and her world is once more turned upside down, will Jessie ever find a love she can believe in with a man she can trust?

My Review:

When I read the blurb  I thought the would be an easy romance to read. It was, but it isn’t only a romance; there are many twists to this story and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ellie Holmes has a lovely writing style that blends in the romance of the book with the darker side of the characters

All the characters  were well drawn into believable  rounded characters.

The story is told mostly from the perspective of Jessie Martin, the protagonist, in first person point of view. There are other perspectives; William, sometimes the omniscient narrator but these often came into the middle of the point of view of the protagonist (what an author friend of mine call ” Head Hopping”)  and it interrupted the flow of the narrative.

The dialogue is well written and easily differentiates the characters.

There are some wonderful descriptions of the settings which give a real sense of place of the market town of Abbeyleigh and the  close-knit community. And the dynamics of the lawyers’ firm that Jessie works for, and the cut and thrust of the business was interestin to read

The plot is almost given away by the blurb. I would have much preferred to have known less to begin with.

I have to say I found the title a bit…er… twee, Considering the content.

And I’m sorry but it really think that blurb is too long and actually doesn’t do the book any favours. Needs to be more ambiguous,

And the types of people? !the  skimmers, the bottom dwellers and the ones who dive for pearls.”? this classification would have put me off if I was a reader casually looking for a Romance to read.  But, there again, this  is probably just me.

Ultimately I have to say again, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to readers who like Romance with a touch of darkness to it.

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk:

http://amzn.to/1UfteDz

 Amazon.com:

http://amzn.to/22w8k9H

My Review of Rest Haven by Erik Therme for #RBRT

resthaven

I gave  Rest Haven by Erik Therme  3* out of  5*

I received a copy of Rest Haven in return of a fair review as part of #RBRT

 The Blurb:

The last thing Kaylee wants to do is participate in a childish scavenger hunt–especially inside the abandoned retirement home on the edge of town. When she finds a bruised, deaf boy hiding inside one of the rooms, she vows to lead him to safety . . . only to discover the front doors are now padlocked, and her friends are nowhere to be found. Kaylee is about to learn that not everything that goes ‘bump in the night’ is imaginary, and sometimes there are worse things to fear than ghosts.

 My Review:

Rest Haven is quite short and I finished it in one session.  I haven’t read YA fiction before and it’s not really my thing so I’m trying to be fair.

Erik Therme’s writing style flows well and is easy to read. But the story is light on both descriptions of setting and of characters. As a reader,  I much prefer  descriptions to give me a sense of place and I like to, to some degree, to be able to picture a character.

The book is an interesting one of mystery and suspense, with various themes on peer pressures, friendship, life struggles, cruelty and death.

However it’s a slow starter; the plot only takes shape well into the book; perhaps not so much a plot as a series of action scenes with many twists and turns.

I found it difficult to empathise with any of the characters, even  Kaylee (who takes on the first person point of view). I think this is because they are presented all at once and, at first, there is very little to distinguish one from another except by name. Although, I need to say, this is remedied later on in the story where they become rounded as the reader learns more of each character’s past and current lives.

Even so, I think it would help if the characters were re-worked to be given more depth and different backgrounds from the beginning. The characters all seem to derive from unhappy, almost dysfunctional circumstances.

However, the dialogue seemed realistic enough for a group of fifteen year olds; the slang, the throw away sarcastic comments fitted in well with the characters.

On the whole I think this book would appeal to any teenager who wants a quick read of mystery and suspense. I think I’m just too old!

Links to buy

Amazon .co. uk http://amzn.to/20QDreP: 

Amazon .com: http://amzn.to/25x1wOn

My Review of Death By Didgeridoo (A Jamie Quinn Mystery) by Barbara Venkataraman for #RBRT

 

jamie quinn

 

I gave Death by Didgeridoo 3* out of 5*

I received this book  in exchange for a fair review as a member of #RBRT

 The Blurb:

Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It’s up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it’s too late. It doesn’t help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn’t commit.

My Review:

This is a short, straight-forward murder mystery; easy to read. Overall, it is well written and the pace is steady. The characters are well portrayed  (and unusual!) within the action of the book but I would have liked more character development; to know their backgrounds and have more insight to their personalities.  I liked the way the  protagonist, Jamie Quinn, is  shown with her dark humorous outlook on life but I never really felt I understood the character and struggled to have any empathy with her. .

Most of the dialogue  helped  towards revealing, to round out the characters as the plot progressed but sometimes it seemed a little contrived, too ‘quick-fired humour’ if you know what I mean; striving too hard to funny to sound realistic.And I didn’t think the text conversations worked too well. But the latter is probably me, I’m not  (as I’ve often been told!) into text speak

I’m a reader who loves settings; descriptions, however simple, however short, that give a sense of place. And in Death by Didgeridoo there are few  of these for me to place the characters in the world they move around in. And I found that disappointing.

It’s difficult when reading to review. If I’d picked this book up as something to entertain me for a short while, I would say that this first book  of the Jamie Quinn series is a good read; it does the job. Much in the way a short story is enough. Death by Didgeridoo is fun. But I felt there could be so much more to the characters and the plot. I think I will need to read the next two to see how the protagonist develops.

So, would I recommend it? Well, for those readers who are looking for something a little different; fast action, quirky characters, humour, I would. And I would give the others ( The Case of the Killer Divorce, Peril in the Park) a chance.

Buying links here:

Amazon.co.uk:

http://amzn.to/25dURs7

Amazon.com:

http://amzn.to/1RdOzvk

 

 

My Review of Back Home by Tom Williams for #RBRT

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I gave Back Home 5* out of 5*

It is with thanks to both Tom Williams and Rosie Amber that I received this book as part of #RBRT for a fair review.

The Blurb:

The final thrilling instalment in the Williamson Papers, set in a superbly drawn Victorian London. Back in England after surviving the horrors of Cawnpore, John Williamson returns to his hometown. On looking up an old friend, he finds the man hasn’t been heard of since his departure to London, the glamorous capital of the British Empire. Concerned for his friend’s safety, Williamson follows him to the metropolis, where he has fallen into bad company and now dwells in the notorious rookery of Seven Dials. Worse still, the intelligence services are on his trail, convinced that something worse than petty criminality is occurring in the slum: that foreign subversives are at work there, with catastrophic designs on Britain herself. Blackmailed into helping the investigation, can Williamson manage to save his friend from certain death – and survive himself, in a world that condemns him for his sexuality?

My Review:

This is a brilliant read; a fascinating story tale of mystery in the slums of Victorian London.  And the research done by Tom Williams into the social, business, industrial changes of this era and the study of the environment of both city and countryside is both obvious and admirable

 As this is the third of John Williamson’s story and, as I have yet to read the first two books, I appreciated the explanatory Foreword; a very useful summary for the reader a good account of the protagonist’s previous life and background that immediately brings the character to life. It made it easier for me to begin to understand his motivations and decisions.

 Told in the first person point of view of the protagonist this is a man who has lived for many years in different countries and, although now rich and respected, his return to Britain becomes fraught with many dangers.

 The dialogue, especially the internal dialogue of John Williamson is excellent. Although, in many circumstances, ‘showing’ any action, detailing parts of a story, is a preferable way of writing, in this novel the ‘telling ‘ is essential and adds to rounding out the character. And the dialogue and language of the other characters give a real flavour of the era and their status in society.

 The sense of place is evoked succinctly through both the words of the protagonist and the descriptions; the atmosphere of despair, the bleakness of the world of these characters, the depths of poverty, conspiracies and lack of morals underpins the whole of the book. There is even an appearance of Karl Marx to add authenticity to the times.

I loved everything about Back Home and have no hesitation in recommending this book.

Buying Links:

 Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/1qFA3Xw

 Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/1Vg0kbG

 

 

 

 

My Review of You Wish by Terry Tyler

I gave You Wish 5* out of 5*

The Blurb:

YOU WISH was the winner of the “Best Chick Lit/Women’s Lit” in the eFestival of Words 2013.

Do we control our own destiny – or might it be determined by fate, coincidence, luck…or even magic?

Ruth, an amateur psychic with a husband who smokes cannabis for breakfast, is haunted by a tragic event from her teenage years which, she suspects, was the result of a wish she made on an allegedly enchanted stone. Too embarrassed to admit her fears, she keeps her secret to herself for twenty-five years.

Petra is the perennial singleton amongst her friends, unable, she thinks, to fall in love. She comes across the stone at a Psychic Fair and makes a wish, just for fun. As the wish begins to come true she wishes she had chosen her words with more care.

Spoilt, weight-obsessed Sarah wants nothing more than to be “size zero”. As her life spirals downwards into the seedy world of drug abuse and addiction, she remembers the day at the Psychic Fair when she wished for her heart’s desire.

When Ruth learns of the fates of Petra and Sarah she is forced to confront her guilt and discover the truth about the Wishing Stone…

Terry Tyler’s début novel is a quirky contemporary drama exploring the themes of family affairs, infidelity and guilt, incorporating jealousy, drug abuse and the obsession of a Facebook stalker, against a backdrop of secrets and superstition.

I’ve read a few of Terry Tyler’s books and was looking forward to reading You Wish. I knew this was her first novel so, though I expected the plot, the themes and the characters to be as diverse, as multi-layered, as interesting as her later stories, I thought that her writing style would not be quite so polished; it’s well known that the more we write the better we get (usually!).  “Practice makes perfect”  they say ( I never found out who said it but it’s something that was drummed into me as a child with anything I did).

But I was wrong; this author hit the ground running with her début novel; not only does You Wish have all the ingredients I’ve enjoyed with her other books, but the writing is as superb, as individualistic as ever. Structured, as is usual with Terry Tyler, with each character’s story being smoothly interwoven with the others  but in separate chapters, the book is as unpredictable and enjoyable as any other I’ve read of hers.  I’m not in the least surprised it won the Best Chick Lit/Women’s Lit” in the eFestival of Words 2013.

The themes are more or less listed in the blurb. (Bit too much information here? I try not to give spoilers in my reviews – does this blurb, Hmm?). Themes of addictions, obsession, superstition, family issues and secrets, infidelity, guilt, jealousy are all encompassed in You Wish.

 I usually forget to say anything about the covers of the books I review but I do love the image of the stone here.

 The wish-stone is a metaphor for all the main characters’ hopes and dreams, initially unfulfilled. But while the  supernatural aspect of the book lurks throughout the story and within the characters’ sometimes reluctant belief in its magical powers, it doesn’t detract from the gritty reality of their lives. Told from a third person omniscient narrator’s  point of view the various aspects of each character’s mind-set is exposed by their actions, and their dialogue. These are well-rounded characters, each identifiable by their dialogue even without the tags. I found myself empathising, disliking and feeling irritated with each in turn.

The descriptions of the various settings are  well  portrayed; the reader is taken from ordinary domesticity to plush surroundings to seedy environments. All give a believable sense of place.

 This is yet another of this author’s books I  would recommend. I finished reading with just the one thought in my mind; we should all take note of the sub-title of You Wish: “just be careful what for.”

Links:

Amazon.co.uk:

http://amzn.to/1RMaYF6

Amazon.com:

http://amzn.to/1SHsXZE