Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog The Peasants’ Revolting Crimes by Terry Deary (@penswordbooks). Fun historical facts with a twisted sense of humour #history #non-fiction

Hi all:

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I’ve been working on a present (well, of sorts) in the form of a free read for all, but due to technical problems with my internet connection it’s taken me a bit longer than expected to get it ready, so I hope to bring it to you very soon (perhaps next week), but in the meantime, I have a recommendation that might work as a present for history buffs with a sense of humour, or for yourselves. As I warn in my review, though, this is not a book for children or an illustrated book. Don’t let the cover fool you.

The Peasants' Revolting Crimes by Terry Deary
The Peasants’ Revolting Crimes by Terry Deary

The Peasants’ Revolting Crimes by Terry Deary

Popular history writer Terry Deary takes us on a light-hearted and often humorous romp through the centuries with Mr & Mrs Peasant, recounting foul and dastardly deeds committed by the underclasses, as well as the punishments meted out by those on the right side’ of the law. Discover tales of arsonists and axe-wielders, grave robbers and garroters, poisoners and prostitutes. Delve into the dark histories of beggars, swindlers, forgers, sheep rustlers and a whole host of other felons from the lower ranks of society who have veered off the straight and narrow. There are stories of highwaymen and hooligans, violent gangs, clashing clans and the witch trials that shocked a nation. Learn too about the impoverished workers who raised a riot opposing crippling taxes and draconian laws, as well as the strikers and machine-smashers who thumped out their grievances against new technologies that threatened their livelihoods. Britain has never been short of those who have been prepared to flout the law of the land for the common good, or for their own despicable purposes. The upper classes have lorded and hoarded their wealth for centuries of British history, often to the disadvantage of the impoverished. Frustration in the face of this has resulted in revolt. Read all about it here! This entertaining book is packed full of revolting acts and acts of revolt, revealing how ordinary folk – from nasty Normans to present-day lawbreakers – have left an extraordinary trail of criminality behind them. The often gruesome penalties exacted in retribution reveal a great deal about some of the most fascinating eras of British history.

Links:

https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-Peasants-Revolting-Crimes-Paperback/p/16754

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Peasants-Revolting-Crimes-Terry-Deary/dp/1526745577/

https://www.amazon.com/Peasants-Revolting-Crimes-Terry-Deary/dp/1526745577/

https://www.amazon.es/Peasants-Revolting-Crimes-Terry-Deary/dp/1526745577/

Picture of author Terry Deary
Author Terry Deary

About the author:

Terry Deary writes both fiction and non-fiction. The Fire Thief was his 150th book published in the UK, this was followed by Flight of the Fire Thief and The Fire Thief Fights Back. Terry’s books have been translated into 28 languages. His Horrible Histories series has sold 20 million copies worldwide. Terry has won numerous awards, including Blue Peter’s Best Non-fiction Author of the Century.

http://www.terry-deary.com/

My review:

Thanks to Rosie Croft from Pen & Sword for sending me an early paperback copy of this book, which I freely chose to read and review.

I’ve long been intrigued by the Horrible Stories books, and when I saw the stage adaptation advertised, I thought about going to watch it, but, as was the case with the books, I never managed to make it. That, combined with my interest in criminology and the criminal justice system (particularly in the UK), made this book irresistible. Although I cannot compare it to other books by the authors, and must warn readers that this is, by no means, a book written for children, I loved every minute of it. The author combines a vast number of UK historical (and also some fairly recent) facts and events, with a sharp sense of humour (beware of papercuts. Some pages ooze poison), to the point of crossing into satire and black humour at times. The book shows a great deal of social consciousness, and it is far from complacent with the status quo, but it does not glamorise “peasant criminals” either, and it is harsh on popular renderings of figures like the highway man (Dick Turpin is no favourite), or pirates.

Deary explains in his introduction (after three great quotes, and there are many interspersed throughout the whole text) the reason why he decided to write the book. He observes that most books and plays featuring crimes and criminals tend to focus on kings, queens, or high-class characters (he mentions Shakespeare and Agatha Christie), and even when lower class characters are mentioned, they are not usually the heroes or the central figures. And he decided it was time to put it right, and here we have this book. As you can imagine from the topic and the title, there is plenty of gore, detailed accounts of crimes and punishments, and despite the wit and the humour, I’d recommend caution to those who prefer a truly light and cosy read.

The book is divided into seven chapters, plus the already mentioned introduction, an epilogue where the author reflects upon how little things have changed over the years, and an index. The chapters seem to follow a chronological order (or almost): Norman Nastiness, Mediaeval Misery, Wild Women, Tudor Twisters, Sinful Stuarts, Quaint Crimes, Georgian Jokers and Victorian Villains, but the content of each individual chapter is not limited to the period mentioned in the title. Every chapter focuses on a series of crimes that became typified or described for the first time in that historical period, or that are particularly associated with it, but Deary sometimes includes recent examples of similar crimes, to compare the types of punishment then and now or to emphasise the fact that history repeats itself and certain things change little, if at all. Although I have lived in the UK for many years, I didn’t grow up here, and there are periods of UK history and events that I’m not familiar with, so it is likely that much of the information that was new to me might be well-known to others, but the author presents it in an entertaining and seemingly light-hearted manner (I’d leave that to readers’ interpretation and opinion) that makes the book impossible to put down and the facts stick in one’s mind.

I, for one, was fascinated to read about football hooligans and their shenanigans as far back as the 1100s, about clan clashes, to discover the origin of ‘brawling’ (quarrelling in a church or a churchyard), to read about wife-selling (and how it often seemed to be a good option if divorce was not an option and both parties wanted out, no matter how illegal)… And yes, husband-selling also took place. Deary writes also about peasant revolts, about the machine wreckers of the Industrial Revolution era, or the many attempts on Queen Victoria’s life. I don’t want to spoil the book for you, so I won’t go into more detail, but apart from managing to cover a lot of ground, and having a knack for finding the perfect quote, Deary’s sharp wit and his talent for highlighting the connections between historical events and the present make this book a must read for those interested in crime, criminology, and UK history in general. Especially if they have a slightly twisted sense of humour.

I marked so many pages of the book that I had difficulty choosing a few to share here, but I’ll try to give you some sense of what you might expect from the book.

Here is one of his notes (they are priceless) in reference to Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.

Some critics interpret eating your sons, not so much as ‘cannibalism’ as ‘incest’. Whatever the legality of eating your children, just don’t try it at home.

In Chapter 2, Mediaeval History:

Peasants were at the bottom of the feudal system pyramid. And if you were at the bottom of a pyramid you’d be crushed. As if that weren’t enough, your evil lord made you work like a slave labourer; meanwhile, your Good Lord sent you something to help relieve your misery. He sent you plagues.

This reflection seemed particularly relevant to some recent events in my country.

The Seditious Meeting Act was passed in March 1817. What constituted ‘sedition’, you might ask? Well, like ‘treason’, pretty much anything the Lord Lieutenants of the counties fancied, really.

The book ends in a hopeful note, well, sort of, but not quite.

In summary, this is a great book for people interested in the history of crime and the criminal justice system (and history in general) in the UK, particularly if they enjoy a humorous and ironic take on received wisdom. I am sure fans of Deary will enjoy it as well, but, despite the cover, this is not a book for young children, and I’d advise parents to check it out to decide its suitability for themselves. The book’s back cover states that the author is working on The Peasants’ Revolting… Lives, and I’ve added it to my wish list already.

Thanks to the author, to Rosie, and especially to all of you for reading, and remember to share with anybody you think might be interested, keep reading, reviewing, smiling, and especially enjoy 2020!

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview #EQUAL: A STORY OF WOMEN, PAY AND THE BBC by Carrie Gracie (@ViragoBooks) Do not wait. Read it. Now.

Hi all:

Today I bring you a non-fiction title. It’s a fantastic and worrying read at the same time. I kept thinking of people who’d “enjoy” reading it (I’m not sure enjoy is quite the right term, but…). Hi, Debby, this is the book! Teagan, reading this book made me think of you as well. And Pete, I think you’ll be interested in this one as well.

And well, without further ado…

Equal by Carrie Gracie
Equal by Carrie Gracie

Equal: A story of women, pay and the BBC by Carrie Gracie

Equal tells a personal story that changed the public debate’ Guardian

‘[An] absorbing account . . . she laces her tale with mordant humour’ Financial Times

‘A gripping personal story told with warmth and wit, combined with a ‘how to’ guide for anyone who wants to ensure women are paid as true equals’ Julia Gillard, former Australian Prime Minister

Equal pay has been the law for half a century. But women often get paid less than men, even when they’re doing equal work.

Mostly they don’t know because pay is secret. But what if a woman finds out? What should she do? What should her male colleague do? What should the boss do?

Equal is the inside story of how award-winning journalist Carrie Gracie challenged unequal pay at the BBC, alongside a wider investigation into why men and women are still paid unequally. It’s a book that will open your eyes, fix your resolve and give you the tools to act – and act now.

‘The BBC journalist’s important account of her struggle to win equal pay is full of sound advice for women’ Observer

‘Pragmatic and honest’ Mail on Sunday

‘Pulls no punches’ Sunday Times

‘A book that can read like a tortured love letter to an abusive partner . . . and shows that such casual slights and the unthinking bias behind them remain an organisational and societal scandal’ Financial Times

‘She tells the story of her struggle and eventual triumph as a way of encouraging us, of changing our society, of giving us all courage . . . Equal is a very important book’ Sandi Toksvig

Longlisted for the Financial Times Business Book of the Year Award 2019

https://www.amazon.com/Equal-Carrie-Gracie-ebook/dp/B07K7KRGR7/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Equal-Carrie-Gracie-ebook/dp/B07K7KRGR7/

https://www.amazon.es/Equal-Carrie-Gracie-ebook/dp/B07K7KRGR7/

About the author:

Carrie Gracie is a Scottish journalist best-known as having been the China editor for BBC News. She resigned from this post at the beginning of January 2018, citing what she said was pay discrimination over gender for the BBC’s international editors. She returned to her former post in the BBC newsroom.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrie_Gracie

My review:

I am grateful to NetGalley and Virago for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review. What a book!

This is a fantastic read and an important book about a topic that, as the author notes, it feels strange to have to be still talking about in this day and age.

The author, a well-known and award-winning BBC journalist, chronicles her fight to get equal pay for her job as China editor for the corporation. The BBC is publicly funded, and after some pressures, in 2017 they published the salaries of the highest paid of their employees. All of them happened to be white males. Gracie, who was the China editor at the time, was surprised to see that the USA editor was earning almost double her salary, when one of the conditions she had asked for when she accepted the job (she was highly qualified for it, as she had studied Mandarin at university, had lived in China, married a Chinese, and had lived there and worked there on and off for long periods of time) was that her pay would be equal to that of male colleagues doing a similar job, and the comparison agreed was the USA editor. She was not the only female employee to take issue with the list of salaries and while Gracie chronicles her own fight (it was hard and arduous to put it mildly), she also emphasises the importance of the support of her colleagues and the encouragement she received from family, friends, and strangers who also told her their stories.

Although Gracie explains her story and how she felt, she is not a reporter for nothing, and she goes about the task of discussing equal pay for women (although she also acknowledges and talks about other types of discrimination: race, sexual, disabilities…) in a methodical manner, quoting facts and figures all over the world, talking about the law, the developments over time, the different cases that brought about new legislation, and intersperses this with a chronological account of the stages of her grievance with the BBC. Although her references to the law and the grievance process are specific to the UK (and to her organisation), the principles are applicable to many other cases, and the examples she uses are universal, unfortunately. She does recognise that she is privileged (she had access to free legal advice, she was able to resign from her job without being concerned about her financial situation, and she had another position to go back to), and she did not feel she was badly paid, but felt she had been treated unfairly, and she had to take a stand, not only for herself, but also for others.

The process she had to undergo was soul destroying, not only for the types of games and techniques used (she mentions Orwell in a number of occasions, but Kafka’s The Trial and Terry Gillian’s Brazil also come to mind), but also because she loves the BBC, believes what it stands for and felt terribly disappointed by the way they behaved. She tried to see things from their point of view and gave them the benefit of the doubt, but she was stretched almost to breaking point. This is not a fiction book, so there are no real spoilers, but I’ll leave you to read exactly how things settled in the end.

Apart from the interest of the story itself (and it is gripping), Gracie is a compelling writer, and she is evidently passionate about the topic, although that does not make her lose her objectivity. She does talk about her own battle, and she does mention the effect it had on her, how it made her feel, and the way it made her question her beliefs and, at times, even her own sanity, but she does not spend an excessive amount of time on that, and she focuses on providing useful advice and guidance for others. The back matter of the book includes a section of acknowledgements, an epilogue with cases and data that have come to light since the resolution of her complaint, also advice she provides to companies, men, and women, resources (including videos, books, information about a variety of organisations, links to important documents), and detailed notes for all the chapters, with references and links to all documents, studies, and cases she mentions.

Here a tiny sample from the book:

But when it comes to deep-rooted patterns of power and money, history shows time and again that justice for women does not come through patient persuasion. Instead women must find their power and use it. In January 2018, I went over my employer’s head to write directly to the public because I wanted an end to pay discrimination in my workplace and my bosses weren’t listening. The answering echo from women everywhere made me feel the BBC was a mirror of the society it served.

In sum, this is a fascinating book and one that is bound to make many readers’ blood boil. Why are things still like this in this day and age? This is an important book, well-written, full of valuable information and much food for thought, no matter what your gender, your position, or your status may be. Go and read it, and share it with others. The fight is not over.

Oh, I couldn’t help but share two videos Gracie mentions in the book. One that shows that Capuchin monkeys “get” equal pay, and a Norwegian study where kids demonstrate they also understand the concept of equal pay and are happy to apply it of their own accord. Priceless.

Capuchin monkeys reject unequal pay

Finansforbundet on Equal pay: What do these kids understand that your boss doesn’t? Mary just made me aware that the video does not play directly from here, but if you follow the link to YouTube, it does (at least for me!) Sorry about that. I guess the organisation doesn’t want the video shared on other sites.

Thanks to Carrie Gracie and to NetGalley for this book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always keep fighting and supporting others’ fight for equality. 

Categories
Navidad Novedades literarias

#Feliznavidad y nueva traducción

¡Hola a todos! Ya sé que suelo compartir más artículos en inglés que en español, pero no podía dejar pasa la ocasión de desearos unas felices fiestas a todos.

Ah, y por si acaso tenéis un huequecito para la lectura, hace poco he traducido una novela corta, un romance con un toque erótico, BDSM que os podría interesar. La escritora es inglesa y sus libros son muy populares allí, pero esta es su primera obra traducida al español, así que, podéis ser los primeros en descubrirla.

La Novedad Más Esperada de Lucy Felthouse

La novedad más esperada

La vida de Catriona está descontrolada. Un instante es una exitosa banquera de inversiones con un piso a orillas del Támesis y una cuenta bancaria saneada, y al siguiente se ha convertido en una famosa autora. Bueno, más o menos. Ha escrito una novela de dominación femenina usando un pseudónimo, así que nadie sabe que fue ella. Su editorial se ha volcado en la campaña publicitaria, proclamando que su libro es “la novedad más esperada” y Catriona no consigue salir de su asombro. Especialmente porque ella no ha hecho ninguna de las cosas que ha descrito en su libro.

El día del lanzamiento del libro la puede la curiosidad, se va a una concurrida librería londinense y hace cola para comprarse un ejemplar, a pesar de tener una caja llena de copias de autor metida en el fondo de su armario. Allí conoce a Elijah. Todo cambia cuando durante su charla anodina él admite que está interesado en la dominación femenina, y su encuentro casual lleva a mucho más, ofreciéndole a Catriona la oportunidad de experimentar cosas sobre las que hasta entonces solo había fantaseado, además de la inspiración que necesita para escribir la secuela que su editor le está reclamando a voces.

Esta es la primera traducción al español de la obra de esta exitosa escritora inglesa.

Amazon (universal link)
Barnes & Noble
Eden Books
Google Books
iBooks
Kobo
Smashwords

¡Disfrutad las fiestas por todo lo alto, y no os olvidéis de leer y sonreír mucho, que se contagia!

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog LIARS & LUNATICS IN GOOSE PIMPLE JUNCTION: A GOOSE PIMPLE JUNCTION MYSTERY, book 5 by Amy Metz (@authoramymetz) A cozy mystery full of Southern charm, wit, and many laughs

Hi all:

I catch up on a series I love today. Perfect for any holidays!

LIars & Lunatics in Goose Pimple Junction by Amy Metz

Liars & Lunatics in Goose Pimple Junction: A Goose Pimple Junction Mystery, book 5 by Amy Metz

It’s election season, and there’s a new candidate in town. Virgil Pepper is determined
to take the job from Goose Pimple Junction’s long-time mayor. Virgil is a charming and
charismatic candidate but someone who will say anything (and mean none of it)
to get what he wants. Three things top his list: to become mayor, to acquire Jackson
Wright’s land, and to make Caledonia Culpepper one of his many conquests.

Wynona Baxter is back, and she’s a new woman. Now Daisy has a new identity, new life,
and new business–ironically named Killer Cupcakes. But the town soon finds out that
isn’t the only kind of killer in town. Book five of the Goose Pimple Junction mystery series
combines political hijinks, delicious cupcakes, Goose Juice moonshine, the ups and downs
of finding true love, and, of course, murder.

It is said that “It’s a basic truth of the human condition that everybody lies. The only
variable is about what.” Lying in politics, lying for personal and professional gain,
lying about an identity . . . What are the folks of Goose Pimple Junction willing to
lie for . . . and what are they willing to die for?

https://www.amazon.com/Liars-Lunatics-Goose-Pimple-Junction-ebook/dp/B07WMZV27F/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Liars-Lunatics-Goose-Pimple-Junction-ebook/dp/B07WMZV27F/

https://www.amazon.es/Liars-Lunatics-Goose-Pimple-Junction-ebook/dp/B07WMZV27F/

Amy Metz
Author Amy Metz

About the author:

Amy Metz is the author of the Goose Pimple Junction mystery series. She is a former first grade teacher and the mother of two grown sons. When not writing, enjoying her family, or surfing Pinterest and Facebook, Amy can usually be found with a mixing spoon, camera, or book in one hand and a glass of sweet tea in the other. Amy loves unique Southern phrases, cupcakes, and a good mystery. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Find out more at http://authoramymetz.com

https://www.amazon.com/Amy-Metz/e/B008NA07X4

My review:

The author provided me with an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review. This in no way influenced my opinion.

I have read and enjoyed some of the books in the collection, but I somehow missed number 4, and that, perhaps helps me tailor my comment also towards readers who might be considering reading this book without having checked the rest. Yes, the story is self-contained, although there are references to events that have taken place in previous books, and a lot of the characters will be familiar to those following the series, who will be in a better position to understand the background to some of the interactions and also the web of relationships and the ins and outs of life at Goose Pimple Junction. And yes, in case you’re wondering, I love the name of the place! So, regarding the issue of reading it as a standalone, I’d say one does not need to have read all the books in the series to enjoy it, but because some of the characters have names and nicknames (witty and funny, I admit), and their relationships are not always evident, it might get a bit confusing to follow the story if you are totally new to it. On the other hand, as I said, I had missed one of the books, and I could pick up the narrative without any problem. I am convinced, though, that reading them all in order enhances the experience, and it’s like visiting a familiar place where you always have fun and renew old friendships every time you go.

The way the story is told is quite interesting, and it adds to the mystery. We start with a murder (a new character, Virgil, who is in the race to become the mayor of the town, is murdered in mysterious circumstances), a confession, and then we go back to several months before the event, counting back to the time of the crime, and then moving forward with the investigation. It works well, because we keep mulling over in our minds how everything we read might relate to the crime (and there are other suspicious deaths as well), and this results in plenty of red herrings, more and more suspects and plenty of possible motives (Virgil is far from a nice man, as we discover. In fact, he is a narcissist who treats women badly, and his business practices and politics aren’t much better either). Although told in third person, the narration follows the points of views of several of the characters, without ever giving us an advantage when it comes to solving the mystery. We might think we know what has happened, and we are privy to some information the sheriff department don’t have, but things are, of course, not as straightforward as they seem to be.

As the mystery part of the plot advances, we also get to learn more about some new arrivals to the town (not totally new, but I’ll avoid spoilers), and also catch up on what has happened to those inhabitants we have come to know and cherish. There are romances developing, a new cupcake shop (if you’re on a diet, I’d take care with the book, as there are many reference to Killer Cupcakes, both the shop and the actual items), there are shady business deals (moonshine liquor, buying land with coercion and under false pretences), there is Oktoberfest to spice up things and bring in the party atmosphere (the fancy dresses, mostly wordplay related, bring in plenty of chuckles), and the ending is very satisfying, and it hints at even better times to come for Goose Pimple Junction. (Yes, I want to move there, or at least go for a very long holiday).

The story flows well, moves at good pace, and the combination of the mystery aspects with the lives of the characters is seamless. I highlighted so many parts of the dialogue, funny repartees, and quotes, that I was unable to choose just a few to add to this review, so my recommendation is to check a sample of the book if you’re trying to decide if you’ll enjoy it or not. I wonder if a list of characters, with their names, nicknames, and relationships might serve as a memory aid for readers visiting the town again, and might also assist readers totally new to the series.

The Southern-style sayings and the dialect of the region (Tennessee), the peculiar lingo and expressions of some of the townspeople, the new characters (I liked Daisy, but her mother, Kaye, must be my favourite new addition), and the quotes at the beginning of the chapter (all about lying and liars), give this book its unique flavour, and people who’ve read previous books in the series and loved them, will have a blast with this one.

I recommend this book to lovers of cozy mysteries, especially those who enjoy stories set in the Southern part of the USA and prefer their crimes laced with plenty of humour, wit, and local flavour. I think the novel works better as part of the series, and I’d recommend people who like the sound of it to start at the beginning, with Murder and Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction (you can check my reviews of the first three books in the series, here). I hope to keep on visiting the town in the future, that is, if I don’t manage to move there!

Thanks to the author for the book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to share if you enjoy it or know somebody who might, and above all, enjoy the holiday season!

Oh, and before I forget!

Categories
Book launch book promo

#BookLaunch THISTLEDOWN – MIDSUMMER BEDLAM with River Mindshadow #NewBook — Thistledown Character: River Mindshadow

Hi all:

When Teagan Geneviene, blogger and writer extraordinaire, announced she was launching her new book (another one of her serials that finally becomes a full-fledged book), I had to join in the launch. I won’t say this book is one of my favorites (it is!), because I love them all, but Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam goes beyond the three objects contribution of bloggers and readers, and many of the readers of the blog have become characters! Yes, I am one of them, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy, and will leave it to Teagan herself to explain it all.

December, 2019

Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam is ready to fly to your shelves!

Thistledown 2019 cover
Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam, cover design by Teagan Geneviene

Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene is now available in book form (Kindle and paperback). If you think you’re too old for a tale about faeries, it also has a dark side. For those who read the serial version at Teagan’s Books (blog), she added a little something to the ending that you haven’t seen.

Here’s Teagan to tell you a little about the story, as promised.

Olga, thanks so much for hosting the launch of my launch of Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam. It is a tale of faeries written for whimsical grownups, but suitable for children ages 8 and up.

In 2017, readers of my blog, Teagan’s Books, named many of the fairies (or faeries, as I prefer to call them). The characters are not based on the real people. They are just a way for me to recognize the people who followed Thistledown. Many people used a “fairy name key” based on their initial and month of birth. I remember completely discarding the chart to name River Mindshadow in honor of you.

Fairies Looking Through A Gothic Arch John Anster Fitzgerald 1823-1906
Fairies Looking Through A Gothic Arch John Anster Fitzgerald 1823-1906. Wikimedia

Thank you, thank you. I am humbled and honored! And it was such fun!

River Mindshadow is a young faery who speaks her mind, and she’s loyal to her friends. That ended up getting her expelled from school, along with her friend, Bedlam Thunder. River has a knack for understanding how people think. She also has a counterpart who lives in a dark, colorless world that is parallel to bright and beautiful Thistledown. Her name is Rotten Soulfire. Although River and Rotten look alike, but their attitudes are at once similar and opposite. Also, Rotten Soulfire is part of a rebel group in the colorless world.

Here’s the Book Blurb

Thistledown ― Midsummer Bedlam, by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene is a wildly whimsical tale of faeries. It was originally written for a grownup audience, but it is suitable for children ages eight and over.

Thistledown is a world of color and light. It has faeries, hummingbirds, and ancient books of magic. Bedlam Thunder is a misfit faery who is afraid of heights. She is also a seer who has terrible visions of a parallel world devoid of color and brightness. The hate and darkness of that colorless world is seeping into Thistledown. Will Bedlam and her friends be able to save their home?

Thistledown ― Midsummer Bedlam, with its radiant creatures and faeries will lift your imagination to new heights.

Universal Purchase Links

These links should work to redirect you, no matter what country.

Kindle: relinks.me/1675233632

Paperback: relinks.me/B082RFN9GF

Thanks for visiting.

Hugs on the wing!

Teagan

***

This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2017 and 2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog THE ANGEL OF EVIL: THE GREAT DEVIL WAR IV by Kenneth B. Andersen (@K_B_Andersen) Darker adventures and even more action #YAseries

Hi all:

I bring you book four in a series I’ve been following for a while. I’m not big into series, but this has me truly hooked.

The Angel of Evil: The Great Devil War IV by Kenneth B. Andersen
The Angel of Evil: The Great Devil War IV by Kenneth B. Andersen

The Angel of Evil: The Great Devil War IV by Kenneth B. Andersen

Book 4 in the multi-award winning series.

Nothing will ever be the same. Satina is gone, kidnapped by the enemy. Disobeying Lucifer, Philip heads out to find her, journeying into the deep darkness of Outer Reach.

But nothing can prepare Philip for the horror that awaits–or the demons he will face.

Meanwhile, Lucifer’s kingdom is threatened as the Great Devil War draws closer. All Hell is about to break loose…

THE GREAT DEVIL WAR is a gripping, humorous and dark tale about good and evil seen from a different perspective, set in a world beyond your wildest dreams.


Praise for The Angel of Evil

“Kenneth B. Andersen has a way of taking everything you think you know and turning it upside down in the most intriging and funny way … Filled with humor, death and romance – a mix that is absolutely captivating.” ***** – Goodreads review

“I loved every bit of it. A masterpiece.” ***** – Goodreads review

“Truly an amazing book.” ***** – Goodreads review

Over 2000 worldwide 5 star reviews of the series!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07VKBF3P7/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07VKBF3P7/

https://www.amazon.es/gp/product/B07VKBF3P7/

Author Kenneth Bøgh Andersen
Author Kenneth Bøgh Andersen

About the author:

I was born in Denmark on a dark and stormy night in November 1976. I began writing when I was a teenager. My first book was a really awful horror novel titled Nidhug’s Slaves. It didn’t get published. Luckily.

During the next 7 years, I wrote nearly 20 novels–all of which were rejected–while working as a school teacher. The rest of the time I spent writing.

In 2000 I published my debut fantasy book, The Battle of Caïssa, and that’s when things really took off. Since then I’ve published more than thirty-five books for children and young adults in genres ranging from fantasy to horror and science fiction.

My books have been translated into more than 15 languages and my series about the superhero Antboy has been adapted for film, which is available on Netflix. An animated tv series is currently in development.

A musical of The Devil’s Apprentice opened in the fall 2018 and the movie rights for the series have also been optioned.

I live in Copenhagen with my wife, two boys, a dog named Milo and spiders in the basement.

You can read more on my English website www.kennethbandersen.com

https://www.amazon.com/Kenneth-B%C3%B8gh-Andersen/e/B0045ADTRM/

My review:

I received an ARC copy from the author but that has in no way influenced my review, which I freely chose to write.

This is the fourth book in The Great Devil War Series, a series that I’m enjoying enormously (you can read my review of the third book here), and I loved this part as well. As I warned in my review of the previous book, that one ended with a huge cliff-hanger, but you don’t need to worry; that is not the case here. And not only that, but many of the mysteries and questions that had yet to be answered from the rest of the series get their answers here (we even learn the meaning of life! No, I won’t tell you what it is. You’ll have to read the book to find out!). In many ways, this book felt like the end of the series. But, luckily, there is a teaser with the first chapter of the next book included, so you can breathe easy if you’ve loved the series as much as I have. If you’ve read the previous novels a while back, don’t worry; there is enough information of what went on before to bring you up to speed, but I would recommend readers who haven’t read any other novels in the series to start at the very beginning, otherwise they’ll miss a lot of the fun, and the story won’t work as it should.

I am not going to discuss the plot in detail, for evident reasons, but we have Philip taking control of the situation and coming to the rescue more than once, and there’s also a mystery at the heart of the book (Aziel, Lucifer’s sworn enemy, is up to no good, the Devil War of the title approaches, but how is he planning to win it?), with plenty of cryptic clues (people with a knowledge of the Bible might have their suspicions, but it’s not straightforward), red herrings, twists and turns, plenty of action; we revisit some of our favourite characters, and meet some new ones (I particularly enjoyed Samson’s guest appearance, but I won’t spoil the rest of surprises). As the description promises, all Hell breaks loose, literally, and it is epic. Oh, I loved the ending as well, although it feels bittersweet.

The writing is as good as in previous books, with vivid descriptions of places and characters that don’t detract from the flow of the story. If anything, I’d say this book is darker than the previous ones, and although there are humorous moments, there is plenty of suffering (both physical and psychological), more explicit violence (young adults who love gore, bloods and guts will be happy), and subjects such as loss, death, choice, free will, betrayal, identity, sacrifice… are explored in detail, always within the realms of the story. The character is growing up, and so are his concerns and the seriousness of the decisions he is confronted with.

I was a bit disappointed with the role of the female characters in this instalment. Satina is not in a position to act as she usually does, for reasons to do with the story, and none of the females seem to take active part in the big scenes, but this does not detract from the enjoyment of the adventures (although it is, perhaps, a lost opportunity).

I recommend this book, and the whole series, to YA and adult readers who love fantasy, adventures, are not squeamish and love a touch of horror, monsters and dark events. This is a great coming of age story as well, and it will suit readers who appreciate complex characters to go with their thrills and exploits. There are tonnes of risky moments, scares aplenty, and surprises to keep readers hooked. Oh, and although many questions are answered, I’m already mulling over some new ones. I’m looking forward to The Fallen Angel already.

Thanks to the author for keeping me on the loop and for all the fun, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to share if you’ve enjoyed it, keep reading, reviewing, and always, always, smiling!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview #DOVERONE (A DOVER MYSTERY BOOK 1) by Joyce Porter (@farragobooks) A satirical vintage cozy mystery with an awfully funny (anti) hero #mystery

Hi all:

I bring you something a bit old today but wickedly funny.

Dover One by Joyce Porter
Dover One by Joyce Porter

Dover One (A Dover Mystery Book 1) by Joyce Porter

Detective Chief Inspector Wilfred Dover is the most idle and avaricious hero in all of crime fiction. Why should he even be bothered to solve the case?

For its own very good reasons, Scotland Yard sends Dover off to remote Creedshire to investigate the disappearance of a young housemaid, Juliet Rugg.

Though there’s every cause to assume that she has been murdered – she gave her favours freely and may even have stooped to a bit of blackmail – no body is to be found. Weighing in at sixteen stone, she couldn’t be hard to overlook.

But where is she? And why should Dover, of all people, be called upon to find her? Or, for that matter, even bother to solve the damned case?

Editorial reviews:

“Something quite out of the ordinary.” Daily Telegraph

“Joyce Porter is a joy… Dover is unquestionably the most entertaining detective in fiction.” Guardian

“Plotted with the technique of a virtuoso.” New York Times

“Wonderfully funny.” Spectator

“Dover is wildly, joyously unbelievable; and may he remain so for our comic delight.” Sun

“You will be fascinated by his sheer dazzling incompetence. Porter has a keen eye, a wicked sense of comedy, and a delightfully low mind.” Harper’s

https://www.amazon.com/Dover-One-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07XX255JK/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dover-One-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07XX255JK/

https://www.amazon.es/Dover-One-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07XX255JK/

Author Joyce Porter
Author Joyce Porter

About the author:

Joyce Porter (28 March 1924 – 9 December 1990) was an English crime fiction author. She was born in Marple, Cheshire. In Macclesfield she attended the High School for Girls, then King’s College London. She served in the Women’s Royal Air Force from 1949 to 1963. An intensive course in Russian qualified her for intelligence work for the WRAF. She left the service determined to pursue a full-time career in writing, having written three detective novels already.

Joyce Porter lived the last years of her life in a pretty thatched cottage on Sand Street in Longbridge Deverill, a village in Wiltshire. She is buried in the churchyard of St Peter and St Paul.

Porter created the characters of Eddie Brown, Constance Ethel Morrison Burke, and Wilfred Dover.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joyce_Porter

My review:

I thank NetGalley and Farrago for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review. Let me clarify that this novel was first published in 1964 by Cape, and Farrago is now republishing all the books in the series.

In brief, this book is a blast. I hadn’t heard of the Dover series and had never read any of Joyce Porter’s books before (more fool me!), but I’m pleased to have discovered both, the character and the author. While the character is truly dislikeable, the author had a talent for creating solid and engaging mysteries inhabited by a fantastic array of characters, and her observational skills and her comedic timing turn her books into a peculiar creation, somewhere between the satire and the farce.

I’ve been trying to find a way to describe this book. It is clearly a mystery and as I said above, it is a good, solid mystery, with red herrings, twists, turns and enough clues to make most lovers of the genre enjoy the putting together of the puzzle. You even have the mandatory summing up at the end, by Detective Chief Inspector Dover, but like everything else in the book, any similarity with what would happen in a true golden age mystery (yes, Agatha Christie comes to mind) is pure coincidence. You’ll have to read the book to judge by yourselves what you think of the ending, but it made me chuckle. I guess I would call it a vintage cozy mystery (if such a thing exists). It is not a standard modern cozy mystery, because although we do have some of the typical elements of those (a peculiar investigator, a strange crime, and a weird assortment of characters), the investigator here is a professional of law enforcement (to call him something) from Scotland Yard and all (the fact that the Yard are keen on sending him as far away as possible notwithstanding), and rather than being engaging and likeable, he is quite the opposite. In some ways, the novel has element of the police procedural, of the period, of course, and the mystery plays a more important part than it does in some of the modern cozy mysteries, where the main character is usually an amateur and his personality, her relationships, her business/profession, and her adventures can take up much of the novel.

Dover is a great creation. He is terrific and horrible all at the same time. He is lazy. He will go to any extents not to make any effort, either mental or physical. He is completely self-centred and totally uninterested in his job. There is no rule he won’t break in order to make his life easier and get a quick result. He exploits Sergeant MacGregor, making him do all the donkey work, and scrounging his cigarettes; there isn’t an invitation to food or drink he ever turns down; he is prejudiced, short-tempered and blows his top at the drop of a hat; he is pompous and never listens to anybody… As the back matter of the book says: “Detective Chief Inspector Wilfred Dover is arguably the most idle and avaricious hero of any novel, mystery or otherwise. Why should he even be bothered to solve the case?” This is not a novel for those who are looking for a character to root for. Although his sergeant is the total opposite, when it comes to solving crimes, he is methodical but not a great asset, either. The mystery takes place in a small town, mostly around what would nowadays be called a luxury housing state, and we come across a fantastic catalogue of characters and suspects, from the slightly odd to the wildly eccentric, and every shade in between. The local law enforcement sounds pretty normal in comparison, although the police women we meet are something else as well. Sorry, I’d rather not spoil it for readers.

The story is narrated in the third person, and although we mostly follow Dover’s adventures, we are clearly outside observers, rather than seeing things from his point of view. We might be privy to some of his thoughts and those of the other characters, but always as spectators. People who read the novel and feel disgusted by the lack of political correctness and the character’s flaws miss the distance between the narrative’s perspective and the character, in my opinion. We are not meant to like him or agree with his approach, quite the opposite. Of course, the novel is of its time, and that’s another one of the joys of it. I loved the language, the references to popular culture, the snippets of information about clothing, habits, social mores… It occurred to me that people researching the era (writers, designers, scholars…) would have a field day with this book.

I don’t want to go into too many details about the plot, but we have a pretty special victim, a bunch of characters from the ridiculous to the more ridiculous (dope fiends, yapping dogs, leery aristocrats, amateur detectives, defrocked priests (well, sort of), a writer interested in little known tribes…), blackmail, a ransom note, a missing body, adultery… and more. Take your pick.

Although I know comedy and sense of humour are very personal, and many of the references in the book are very British, I found it really funny and witty. The book is eminently quotable, but I had to try to offer you at least a few snippets, so you can get an idea:

I was nearly fifty when I married. Up till then I had always avoided matrimony like the plague, going on the principle that there is no need to throw yourself into the river to get a drink of water.

Dover didn’t approve of foreigners, mainly on the irrefutable grounds that they were un-English, and he was looking forwards to giving Boris Bogolepov, guilty or not, a rough old time just for the sheer hell of it.

It’s no good going round with an open mind like a vacuum cleaner because all you’ll finish up with is…’ Dover paused to work this one out ‘… is fluff!’ he concluded triumphantly.

I recommend this book to people who love cozy mysteries but are looking for something leaning more towards the police procedural side, and who prefer their humour rather sharp and British. Although I’ve read far worse, and there is only limited violence (fairly slapstick), the novel is non-PC (not that it condones the points of view exposed, but…) so it could be offensive to people reading it as a straight narrative. On the plus side, royalties from the book got to the work of the Friends of Friendless Churches (yes, they do exist, and do a great job as well). Go on, try it. You know you want to!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for this novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to spread the word if you’ve enjoyed it or know somebody who might. And always keep reading, reviewing and having fun!

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog COLLATERAL CARNAGE: MONEY. POLITICS. BIG PHARMA. WHAT COULD GO WRONG? by Chris Saper Recommended to fans of conspiracy theory novels and spy thrillers #RBRT

Hi all:

I bring you and intriguing a scary book, although it is not a horror novel. Another one from Rosie’s fabulous Book Review Team.

 

 

 

Collateral Carnage by Chris Saper
Collateral Carnage by Chris Saper 

Collateral Carnage: Money. Politics. Big Pharma. What could go wrong? by Chris Saper

Money. Politics. Big Pharma. What could go wrong? As PTSD therapist Claire Wilheit is about to learn, a whole helluva lot. A chance after-hours encounter with a fellow therapist reveals falsified patient files and thrusts Claire into a conspiracy poised to revolutionize treatment for US veterans now and for future generations, with deadly collateral damage. Trapped in an avalanche of events over which she has no control, Claire is locked into a race against time in preventing the sweeping, irreversible and fatally flawed policies that Congress is about to set into play. Collateral Carnage is Chris Saper’s debut novel, a gripping thriller set in a future near enough to be all too terrifying.

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Collateral-Carnage-Money-Politics-Pharma-ebook/dp/B07TSL17GT/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Collateral-Carnage-Money-Politics-Pharma-ebook/dp/B07TSL17GT/

https://www.amazon.es/Collateral-Carnage-Money-Politics-Pharma-ebook/dp/B07TSL17GT/

Author Chris Saper
Author Chris Saper

About the author:

I’m lucky enough to have had three pretty diverse careers spanning forty years. But solving puzzles has been at the heart of each one.​

As a masters prepared health care administrator, I worked as a strategic planner, hospital administrator and implemented the pre-hospital/categorization program in Central Arizona.​

A bachelor’s degree in fine arts, put on the back burner for seventeen years, served me well as second career as a commissioned portrait artist. After all, what’s a blank canvas except another big puzzle to solve? To date, I’ve completed nearly 400 commissions nationwide, and authored four books and four DVDs teaching other artists about my craft – and helping them develop their own.​

As a voracious fiction reader, a relentless grammar nut, and Scrabble junkie, I love communicating clearly and with the best style I can.

And here we are! My first novel, set in the near future, about corruption and conspiracy within the government’s delivery of mental health service to PTSD patients in the VA system.​

Sound far-fetched to you? Not to me. I care about this stuff, deeply, and this is one way for me to elevate not only my own concerns, but those of so many of my fellow citizens.

https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Saper-Author/e/B07V49T25C

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, check here if you want to get your book reviewed), and thank her and the author for the ARC copy of the book, which I freely chose to review.

Having worked in the health services (although in the UK) for a number of years, and having treated some patients suffering from PTSD (although I’m no specialist), I was intrigued by this debut novel. I was even more interested when I read the author’s biography and learned of her first-hand experience as a healthcare administrator, as that promised to bring an insider’s perspective into the topic and add complexity to the plot.

This novel is perfect for readers who love conspiracy theory plots and also spy novels. I must confess that I am not much of a reader of spy novels, because I tend to get lost in the huge number of names, where characters often swap identities, and sometimes find it difficult to tell the different players apart. There is some of that here, because we are thrown at the deep end from the beginning. There’s no gentle easing into the subject or much background information provided before we get into the nitty gritty of the story, and the fact that we don’t know what’s happening parallels the experience of the main character, Claire Wilheit.

The story is narrated in the third person, but from a variety of points of view (I’d say almost as many as characters, or at least as many as characters that have some bearing into the outcome of the novel), and although some characters appear often and we become somewhat familiar with them, there are others that only make a fleeting appearance. The point of view, although clearly signalled, can change even within a chapter, and not all readers feel comfortable with so many changes. Chapters are short, the story moves at a quick pace, and although the language is straightforward, and there are no unnecessarily long descriptions, readers need to remain alert and attentive. This is not an easy and relaxed read; the plot has many strands that might appear quite entangled and confusing at first, but if one keeps reading, the story becomes clearer and the subject is both compelling and gripping.

Personally, I felt that this is a story heavier on plot than on characters. There are quite a number of characters I liked (mostly on the “good” side, although I felt some sympathy for the motives of some of the characters on the “bad” side as well), especially Claire, who is determined, intelligent, resourceful, and has managed to overcome pretty difficult circumstances, but because there are so many characters, and they all take their turn, it is difficult to get to know most of them in depth. I think that was in part the reason why, at times, I felt like an observer of the plot and the story, rather than being fully involved and sharing in the experiences of the characters. The end of the novel hinted at the possibility of further adventures involving Claire and some of the other characters (I’m trying to avoid spoilers here), so readers might learn much more about them.

I “enjoyed” (well, it worried me, but you know what I mean), the insight into the pharmaceutical industry, the way the novel spells out the relationship between Big Pharma and politics, and the reflections on how the healthcare system works (or rather, might end up working) in the USA. One of the aspects of the novel that I found captivating was the dystopian edge of the story. I haven’t seen it listed as a dystopia, but it is set in the very near future, with a social order very similar to the current one, but with subtle differences, or perhaps one could call them “developments” that, unfortunately, fit in well with recent events and with the way things are progressing. In the book, the efforts to control costs have resulted in the privatization of ever more services —the police force in Phoenix, for instance, deals with certain kinds of crimes, but at night there is a Militia in charge, and there is a curfew in place—, including the healthcare of the veterans of the many wars that the American military has participated in, and there are large interests involved in all these services. And, of course, those can be manipulated by less than scrupulous people. The most worrying part of the story is that it feels very realistic. It does not take a big stretch of the imagination to see something like this happening, and perhaps with an end far less satisfying than that of the novel (which I liked).

In summary, this is a novel for lovers of conspiracy theories and/or fairly realistic spy thrillers, that like puzzles and complex plots and don’t shy away from hard topics. The author injects her knowledge into the story without overwhelming it and the research is well integrated into the plot. There is no graphic violence and no romance here but a dire warning of how things could end up if money continues to be the governments’ (not only that of the USA) only consideration when dealing with people’s wellbeing. The characters are not as important as the story, but I think there is room for their development in future instalments. As a note to the author, I wonder if a list of characters might help people not to get lost, especially at the beginning of the book. I know that because of the nature of the plot, it might be difficult to do that without spoiling some of the surprises, although there might be ways around it. I will keep a close watch on the author’s writing career.

Thanks to Rosie and to her team for the ongoing support, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, and review, if you’re so inclined, but always keep smiling!

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview DICKENS AND CHRISTMAS by Lucinda Hawksley (@penswordbooks) (@lucindahawksley) A fabulous gift, for you or for those you love #Christmas

Hi, all:

I bring you a seasonal book and one that I think many of you might appreciate. It would be a wonderful Christmas gift, for sure.

Dickens and Christmas by Lucinda Hawksley
Dickens and Christmas by Lucinda Hawksley

Dickens and Christmas by Lucinda Hawksley

Dickens and Christmas is an exploration of the 19th-century phenomenon that became the Christmas we know and love today and of the writer who changed, forever, the ways in which it is celebrated. Charles Dickens was born in an age of great social change. He survived childhood poverty to become the most adored and influential man of his time. Throughout his life, he campaigned tirelessly for better social conditions, including by his most famous work, A Christmas Carol. He wrote this novella specifically to strike a sledgehammer blow on behalf of the poor man s child , and it began the Victorians obsession with Christmas. This new book, written by one of his direct descendants, explores not only Dickens s most famous work, but also his all-too-often overlooked other Christmas novellas. It takes the readers through the seasonal short stories he wrote, for both adults and children, includes much-loved festive excerpts from his novels, uses contemporary newspaper clippings, and looks at Christmas writings by Dickens contemporaries. To give an even more personal insight, readers can discover how the Dickens family itself celebrated Christmas, through the eyes of Dickens s unfinished autobiography, family letters, and his children s memoirs. In Victorian Britain, the celebration of Christmas lasted for 12 days, ending on 6 January, or Twelfth Night. Through Dickens and Christmas, readers will come to know what it would have been like to celebrate Christmas in 1812, the year in which Dickens was born. They will journey through the Christmases Dickens enjoyed as a child and a young adult, through to the ways in which he and his family celebrated the festive season at the height of his fame. It also explores the ways in which his works have gone on to influence how the festive season is celebrated around the globe.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dickens-Christmas-Lucinda-Hawksley/dp/1526712261/

https://www.amazon.com/Dickens-Christmas-Lucinda-Hawksley/dp/1526712261/

https://www.amazon.es/Dickens-Christmas-Lucinda-Hawksley/dp/1526712261/

https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Dickens-and-Christmas-Hardback/p/14004

Lucinda Hawksley
Author Lucinda Hawksley. Great-great-great granddaughter of Dickens

About the author:

Lucinda Hawksley is an author, broadcaster and public speaker. She has written more than twenty books, including critically acclaimed biographies, art history, social history, the history of London and travel writing. This is her third book about her great great great grandfather, Charles Dickens. Lucinda has appeared on television and radio around the globe. She is a Patron of the Charles Dickens Museum in London.

http://www.lucindahawksley.com/

My review:

Thanks to Rosie Croft from Pen & Sword for sending me an early hardback copy of this book, which I freely chose to review. Although I’m not a big Christmas fan, I couldn’t resist this book, and I thought it would make a great gift for this time of the year.

The book (which contains a bibliography, a detailed index, and illustrations) is a great read, no matter how much or how little you like Christmas. Liking, or at least being curious about, Dickens would enhance the experience, but I’d dare say that even people who only have a passing acquaintance with his word can enjoy it.

The structure of the book, written by Dickens great great great granddaughter, follows his life, although it is not a detailed biography. We look at the tradition of the Christmas holiday, mostly in the UK (although we hear about Christmas celebrations in the USA when Dickens embark on his lecture tours in America, later in the book), as it was (or wasn’t), and I found it an invaluable source of information from a historical point of view. Although I was familiar (or so I thought), with the elements of what we consider a traditional Christmas and their origin, I have learned plenty about it, from the fact that the celebration in the early XIX century used to focus on the 12th day of Christmas (with a big cake and parties where people played different parts), Christmas trees, Father Christmas, Christmas card… to the first introduction of the Christmas cake and the way the Christmas pudding and the mince pies have changed over the years (yes, I think most of  us had heard that originally the mincemeat contained real meat… and that’s true).

I am not an expert on Dickens, although I’ve read a number of his novels (and A Christmas Carol, of course), and I don’t think much of the biographical information about him will be new to those who have studied his work and life (although as it is written by one of his relatives, and as we all know stories about family members circulate and are passed on through generations, it is always possible that if not the facts, the details and anecdotes might be more vividly portrayed), but I did learn much about him, his childhood (that I was familiar with), his struggles, his friendships… The book centres on the writing of A Christmas Carol, which was hugely successful and Dickens wrote in an attempt at raising people’s social awareness of the plight of the poor and the terrible conditions of the working classes in Victorian England, and how it would become the beginning of a tradition (still followed by many authors) of publishing novels and books in time for Christmas. Initially, in the years after Carol, he would write a new story for publication at that time, but later he would publish Christmas books, compiling his own stories and those of writer friends and collaborator, mostly not on the subject of Christmas. These proved popular, and as his fame grew, he spent more and more of his time touring, reading fragments of his books or some of his novellas in full (A Christmas Carol remained popular and still is), and also preparing the Christmas number. There are titbits of information that bring Dickens, the individual, to life (he had pet ravens and loved his dogs), with his qualities and defects (his behaviour towards his wife was horrendous, even if it was not uncommon for the period, and women had little in the way of legal rights at the time), and the focus of this volume on the yearly Christmas celebrations fits in with his enthusiasm and his interests. I loved the way he would get involved in pantomimes, which grew more and more elaborate over time, to the point of writing what sound like true plays to perform with his children and friends.

The book is peppered with fragments from his stories, which are set apart from the rest of the text, also quotes from his letters, and passages from newspapers of the period reviewing his work and/or his lectures. One of the aspects I particularly enjoyed —and I think most writers or people interested in the writing business will also appreciate— is the insider information about the publishing industry of the era. How Dickens would change publishers, his fight against piracy (oh, yes, it’s nothing new), his anger on seeing so many versions of his books turned into theatrical performances without his authorisation, the fact that there was no international copyright law, so although his books were very popular in the USA he did not receive a penny from the sales (and of course, they tried to tax his gains from lecturing, but he managed to escape the American taxmen), and other juicy bits. There is also plenty of material about his writing methods, and he often talks about it in his correspondence.

There are some photographs included, but my favourite illustrations are those taken from Dickens’s stories and others that capture the Christmas period of the era. They are a joy and further enhance the reading experience.

This is a book for lovers of Christmas, for people interested in the Victorian period and its traditions, for people who want to learn more about Dickens, and it will be of particular interest to writers who want to learn more about what writing was like at the time. I loved the fragments of Dickens’s stories that exemplify why he continues to be love, valued and appreciated. A fabulous gift, for you or for those you love. Merry Christmas, and God bless Us, Every One!

Thanks to Rosie and Lucinda for this book, and to Dickens for his stories, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to share if you’ve enjoyed it or know somebody who might. And keep reading, smiling, and have a great festive season!

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog INVISIBLE, AS MUSIC by Caren J. Werlinger. Beautiful writing and compelling characters and setting #LGBTromance

Hi all:

I’m sharing today a review of a book I’ve discovered through Rosie’s Book Review Team. It’s the second novel I read by this author, and I don’t think it will be the last.

Invisible as Music by Caren J. Werlinger
Invisible as Music by Caren J. Werlinger

Invisible, As Music by Caren J. Werlinger

Henrietta Cochran has spent nearly forty years dealing with the effects of the polio she contracted in 1945. Her braces and crutches restrict her, define her, but they also give her independence. Almost. She hates that she has become increasingly reliant on a series of live-in companions to help her. For some reason, the companions never seem to want to stay very long. So Henrietta retreats further and further into her art, where her physical limitations don’t matter.
Into her life sails Meryn Fleming: out, outspoken, and fiercely political. She’s young, enthusiastically diving into her first job as a history professor at the local college. When she falls, almost literally, into Henrietta’s path, she seems like a godsend.
Little does Henrietta know that this young woman is about to upend her carefully structured existence. Ryn challenges everything, barging right through the walls Henrietta has built to keep others at a distance.
To Ryn, Henrietta is an enigma: prickly and easily insulted at the slightest suggestion that she can’t do things for herself; a brilliant artist capable of producing the most beautiful paintings; and sometimes, when Henrietta doesn’t realize she’s letting her guard down, a tender and sensitive woman.
With Meryn’s youthful optimism pitted against Henrietta’s jaded acceptance of the world as it is, life will never be the same for either of them.

https://www.amazon.com/Invisible-as-Music-Caren-Werlinger-ebook/dp/B07ZXJQ4WX/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Invisible-as-Music-Caren-Werlinger-ebook/dp/B07ZXJQ4WX/

https://www.amazon.es/Invisible-as-Music-Caren-Werlinger-ebook/dp/B07ZXJQ4WX/

Author Caren J. Werlinger
Author Caren J. Werlinger

About the author:

Bestselling author Caren Werlinger published her first award-winning novel, Looking Through Windows, in 2008. Since then, she has published fourteen more novels, winning several more awards. Influenced by a diverse array of authors, including Rumer Godden, J.R.R. Tolkein, Ursula LeGuin, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Willa Cather and the Brontë sisters, Caren writes literary fiction that features the struggles and joys of characters readers can identify with. Her stories cover a wide range of genres: historical fiction, contemporary drama, and fantasy, including the award-winning Dragonmage Saga, a fantasy trilogy set in ancient Ireland. She has lived in Virginia for nearly thirty years where she practices physical therapy, teaches anatomy and lives with her wife and their canine fur-children.

https://www.amazon.com/Caren-J-Werlinger/e/B002BOI2ZI/

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, check here if you want to get your book reviewed) and thank her and the author for the ARC copy of the book, which I freely chose to review.

This is the second book by this author I read (you can read my review of When the Stars Sang here), and it shares many of the characteristics of the previous one (a great setting, a love story at the centre of the book, a sense of time and place, great characters, both protagonists and secondary, wonderful writing…).

Here we have two characters that seem total opposites at first sight. Meryn, Ryn, a young woman, openly lesbian, newly qualified to teach history, from a large family, gregarious and friendly, dynamic, with strong convictions, and happy to stir things up. Henrietta, on the other hand, contracted polio in the 1940s and has lived with its sequelae ever since, leading a reclusive life, restricted to a small town, with a tiny circle of friends (mostly not deserving of the name), dedicated to her art, and dependant for her everyday life on paid help and living-in companions. Although the book starts in the 1980s, in many ways Henrietta still lives in the fifties. Due to the braces she wears and to her level of disability she has built up a protective shell around herself, and she’s never dared to change anything or explore beyond her self-imposed boundaries.

The story is narrated in the third person, alternating the two main characters’ points of view, and this works very well, as we have the contrast between a total newcomer who finds it difficult to fit into the stuffy and stifling society of the small town and of the Catholic college (where men reign supreme and misbehave without anybody taking them to task) where she works, and an older woman who might not like her lifestyle and those she mixes with if she stops to think about it, but cannot imagine a different life for herself. She fears the pity of others and has never allowed herself to love, after an experience she had as an adolescent prior to her illness. The girl disappeared, and she never heard from her again. That coupled with her conviction that nobody could look at her and feel anything but pity means that she is closed off and does not let anybody in, in case they hurt her.

The author creates two complex characters we get to empathise with and sets them in a recent historical period, but like the best historical fiction, the novel highlights how much some things have changed since, and also how little  other things have truly changed. The gender politics at the college are appalling but not miles away from what still exists today in some places; the prejudice might be less open but is still present (and it takes many forms here: gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, political beliefs…); and as the epilogue reminds us, the parallels with the current political situation (Reagan was in power at the time the story starts and the Democrats lost their campaign, and the book closes after the 2016 election with Trump’s victory) are evident.

Above all that, the novel talks about love: about different kinds of love (religious love, family love, friendship, romantic love…), about acceptance and tolerance of diversity, about letting others in and learning to look with new eyes at ourselves and those around us. Although there are some truly appalling characters, Ryn and Henrietta manage to find a community of friends who make them feel welcome and accept them for who they are. Henrietta’s love for art and painting, and Ryn’s enthusiasm for history and women’s history in particular, their passion and creativity, make them more alike than they realise at first, and although their story is not without complications, and there are sad as well as joyful moments, this is ultimately an inspiring and beautiful read.

This is a novel that explores issues of identity, prejudice, diversity, different definitions of love, and what life (and love) is like for a person with a disability and for those around her. I enjoyed becoming a part of the story and, as was the case with the previous novel by Werlinger, I was sorry to get to the end, and I hope to read more of her stories. Recommended to readers who are looking for LGTB and diverse romances or simply enjoy beautifully written stories that will make them think.

Thanks to the author, to Rosie and her team for their ongoing support, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to spread the word, and to keep smiling!

 

GET MY FREE BOOKS
%d bloggers like this:
x Logo: Shield Security
This Site Is Protected By
Shield Security