I bring you a review of a book that I’ve had pending for a while (it isn’t the only one), and I kept seeing great reviews for, so its time came. I also had featured it as a new book and I’ll include a link to that post later on, as it is relevant.
Here is the book:
What Tim Knows, and other stories by Wendy JanesGetting to know the characters, a feeling at a time.
A gallery-owner’s quest for beauty; a dancer in danger; a new mother struggling to cope with her baby; a sculptor’s search for inspiration; a teenager longing to live in the perfect family; a young boy lost and confused by the rules of life that everyone else seems to understand.
Six stand-alone short stories, spanning five decades. Each capturing a significant moment in the life of a different character.
Separate lives linked in subtle ways.
Here my review:
I received an ARC copy of this book and I voluntarily decided to write a review.
I had read some of Wendy Janes’s articles about editing and I was aware of her novel ‘What Jennifer Knows’ although I had not read it. So I came to this book feeling quite curious. I had read some of the reviews, both of the novel and of this book and they were all positive, and after reading it, I can say deservedly so.
The author explains that these “stories” are scenes and background information she had written when preparing her novel, but later they did not seem to fit in with it and she did not include them but thought readers might enjoy them in their own right. Not having read the novel, I can confirm they can be read independently, although I got the feeling that perhaps some of them would be enjoyed more fully by readers who were already familiar with the story, as they would offer further insight into well-loved characters.
They stories are not typical of other short-story collections that I’ve read in the past. Although self-contained, they don’t necessarily tell a ground-breaking story, and have no sting in the tail (we might perceive one, but this is up to the reader, rather than because of an imposed twist in the action). It’s easy to work out as we read that there are connections between the characters, as many of them appear repeatedly in the stories, playing different parts (a bit like in the Seven Ages of Man by Shakespeare), but if something is distinctive about them is that they are beautifully observed. Written in the third person but from different points of view, these are clearly different people with different interests and attitudes, men and women, children and adults, and they vary from the very personal to the professional. If I had to pick up some favourites, without a doubt ‘The Never Ending Day’ (I’ve never had a baby but as a psychiatrist I’ve worked with mothers who became very depressed following the birth of their child and I recognise the themes and the description of her feelings), ‘The Perfect Family’ (where Blythe reminded me of myself, as an only child who always thought that to have a bigger family must be fun) and ‘What Tim Knows’ that is a very successful peep at how an autistic boy sees the world. With regard to ‘The Never Ending Day’, I was aware from exchanging correspondence with the author, that this was a particularly personal piece for her. Check here the post about the book I published where the author explains, for a bit more information.
I hope to read more of the author’s work and I can recommend these stories if you want to make your own mind up about how you might feel about reading her longer fiction.
And I’m participating with two audiobooks. I shared some fragments of I Love Your Cupcakes on Tuesday and today I’ll share some to do with gifts and giving related to Twin Evils?
First a reminder of the audio:
A YA paranormal dark fairy-tale (or even romance, see what you think!) Twin Evils?
Once upon a time there was a pair of twins, a girl and boy. Ruth was blonde, blue eyes, very fair and really good. Max was dark haired, grey eyes, broody and bad. Their next door neighbour and pal, Hilda, tried to be friends with both but it was not an easy task. They didn’t like each other and she found herself in the middle trying to keep the peace. Max found his sister impossibly perfect and tiresome, and Ruth could not stand her brother’s bad boy attitude and his horrible behaviour. She was scared of him. Ruth was too perfect and child-like for the real world and Hilda suspected something was wrong but didn’t know what. Was she the angel everybody took her for? Was she ill? When both twins started talking about fate and said that “something” would happen she worried. What could she do? And indeed they were right. Something did happen.
‘Twin Evils?’ is a New Adult novella (approx. 40 pages) that begins like a fairy tale, talks about friendship against all odds, tragedy, romance, and has a touch of the paranormal. Fast paced and entertaining with intriguing, mysterious and ultimately lovable characters it will make you feel good but leave you wondering. If you have plenty of imagination and love a compact and fulfilling read (or listen), try it out!
In the first one, Max and Hilda, who are friends and neighbours, are talking about the birthday party for Max and his twin sister Ruth.
“Oh yes, the famous ‘birthday party’. The ‘little princess’ is seventeen, rejoice universe.” His sarcasm was nearly visible.
“You are seventeen too.”
“But all this fuss isn’t about me, and you know it well. For me they wouldn’t even open a packet of peanuts. They’d rather if I hadn’t been born.”
“You aren’t fair. That isn’t true.”
“OK. You listen to them this evening, and then tell me. You’ll see. I know it already…There, have your present.”
He gave her a little parcel. His presents were usually something to eat, the skin of an animal or something weird and nasty that he thought was funny. She opened it with some apprehension.
“It won’t bite you.”
It was a beautiful silver ring, with turquoise and other semi-precious stones making a geometrical motif. Native American jewellery.
“Max! You didn’t have to…It’s beautiful, really. Thanks.”
“Do you like it? Does it fit you?”
It did fit nicely. Hilda saw Max’s eyes fixed on her bracelet. Ruth had given her a lovely silver bracelet for Christmas and she adored it and told everybody how much she liked it. Max had been terribly jealous since. He kept playing with the bracelet every time he held her by her wrist, and it seemed to be burning him to see her wear it. He’d tried all his tricks to make her lose it. Worse still, he got appendicitis just before her birthday and couldn’t go to the party or buy her a present. Now he’d tried a different approach. It was subtler. Quite refined for him.
“It’s really pretty. I love it, Max. Thanks.”
They kissed on the cheeks and she played with his curls before she left. He was smiling and more relaxed.
In the second fragment, the three friends are playing with the Ouija board Hilda gave Max for his birthday.
He played with fiery eyes, as if he were possessed. Ruth was scared, and, to make things worse, the board began to answer questions quite reasonably after a few attempts. To questions like: “Who is the best? Who is the nicest?” the answer was always: “Ruth”. When Max asked: “How will I end up?” the reply was: “in hell.”
“Cool. Real cool.” He said.
“Why did you make it say that?” Ruth asked, her pale face growing greyer, and her mouth trembling a little.
“I didn’t. It was the spirits…” Max replied in a deep, hollow and scary voice. “Its’ fate, little dove. You’re going to heaven, with the white, blond, blue-eyed angels, and I’m going to hell, with my friend Satan. Lucifer. Nice and interesting guy. I’ve never really liked harp music anyhow. I guess hell is warmer. And Lucifer had reasons to rebel, I think. I quite agree with him. Being nice and friendly all the time, helping others and following orders…No, no, that isn’t good enough.”
Ruth looked sicker by the second. She seemed about to faint.
“Please, Max… don’t say that; you shouldn’t joke with that, it’s dangerous…”
“I don’t care. I am bad and I want to be bad. I hate nice people, and I hate you. I can’t stand your goodness and your patience, and your generosity, and all that crap. Where is the fun in that?”
“Max, please…” Ruth’s voice had become a whisper.
Hilda was contemplating the scene fascinated, convinced that she should do something. But Max’s eyes were on fire, the grey in them was nearly black, his cheeks were flushed, his nose broad, his teeth shiny…He looked devilish. It was a frightening but not completely unattractive sight.
“You don’t like me either, you were telling Hilda, so don’t pretend. Someone played a nasty trick on us and put us together. We hate each other’s guts. We can’t live together. And we won’t. I’ll make sure of that.”
The third one comes right before a very important point in the story and it’s the eighteenth birthday of the twins. Sorry for stopping where I do, but I didn’t want to give the whole of the story away.
With the summer, the big happening returned. The Party. And that year bigger than before, because it was the 18th birthday this time. There was a disco organised, a catering company was taking care of the food, and there were more guests than ever. Max didn’t have any complaints about anything. He chose to wear black smart trousers, a short black jacket (torero-like), a white shirt and black boots. Ruth was wearing a long white dress this time. The Pinters made their children pose for a photograph cutting the cake, like a couple of newly wed. Max and Ruth looked at each other and Hilda knew that whatever was going to happen, it would happen that day. She tried to distract Max, dancing with him and not leaving him alone, but at some point, around 8 p.m. he told her that he had something to do and left. She followed him at a distance and saw him talking to Ruth, grabbing her by the arm and pushing her to the garage. Ruth had been given a car as her 18th birthday present, while Max had to pay for the damages to the family car, but he didn’t seem to be upset about it. He smiled gracefully. He didn’t seem to care. When Max and Ruth got to the car, he’d forgotten the car keys and they had to go back to the house. In the interval, Hilda got in the car, in the back, and lay on the floor. Ruth and Max returned in a few minutes and Max drove off with Ruth sitting next to him. They seemed to be driving for a long time, in complete silence. Finally, after what felt like hours to Hilda, Max said:
“We’re nearly there.”
“Why do you have to do this? Drop me off somewhere and I’ll disappear from your life if that’s what you want. You don’t need to…”
Thanks very much for reading, and remember to share, like, comment, CLICK, and of course join!
Today I bring you another one of my reviews for Rosie’s Book Review Team. I advise you to check her blog and follow the other reviewers if you’re interested in books.
And without further ado…
Blood of the Sixth by K. R. Rowe A gothic Southern tale that will scare and delight
In the quaint Southern town of Port Bella Rosa, something sinister lurks beneath the cobblestones. When hunger stirs a centuries-old evil, a demon awakens, releasing its hunters in search of prey. Jackals swarm from the mist, seeking out quarry, sating their master with offerings of human flesh.
Allie Kent catches a glimpse of the first victim: a corpse with its organs, muscle and bone all consumed, leaving nothing more than skin behind. While police work to solve the unexplained murder, more bodies are found mutilated. Finally convinced the killer isn’t human, Detective Phillip Chambers is desperate to shield Allie from harm.
But something haunts Allie: shadows spill through her darkened window; nightmares invade her sleep while visions confuse her waking thoughts. With Phillip her only protection, Allie struggles to keep her independence in check while treading a thin line between reality and insanity. But is the evil dwelling beneath the stones her only true threat—or will the demons in Allie’s head have the strength to destroy them both?
Here, my review:
I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I was provided with an ARC copy of the book that I freely chose to review.
I enjoy horror books (and movies) although I don’t read exclusively in that genre. I must admit that perhaps I’m more lenient with horror books than I’d be with others. If they manage to scare me, I’m usually happy. As happens with comedy, where it’s very difficult to make people laugh, it’s not that easy to scare people (or at least people who enjoy being scared. I know people who wouldn’t read horror or watch movies). If the book can scare me, the story is good and the characters are solid and interesting, we have a winner.
And, we have a winner! As I mention above I am reviewing this book as a member of Rosie’s Books Review Team, and I noticed it in the catalogue of books available a while back, but I had so many other books to read that I didn’t dare to take it on. And there it was, teasing me. Eventually, I had to read it.
The story, told in the third person, alternating between the points of view of Allie Kent, the main protagonist of the story, and some of the other characters, including Phillip Chambers, a detective who falls for her from the very beginning.
The opening of the novel (and as I said I’ve read a few in the genre) is very strong. I won’t mention anything, although I dare you to check the beginning of the novel in the look inside feature. You’ll see what I mean.
The main characters have difficult and traumatic experiences behind (Allie’s we discover slowly, and they are much worse than we imagine), and Allie and Phillip cling to each other. But the bizarre crimes have also much history behind them, and soon the ghosts of the past become more vivid and alive than the present for Allie, causing all kinds of terrible things.
The crimes are not only gory and scary, beautifully (if you know what I mean) and eerily rendered but also relate to a tragic love story. The baddies… well, supernatural doesn’t quite cover it. If you’re or have ever been scared of the dark, you’ll jump at shadows after reading this.
The author cleverly creates a claustrophobic atmosphere, where Allie’s apartment, her building, and the neighbourhood become part of the story, giving it a gothic feel. I can honestly say that I felt as if the town was shrinking and only the areas where the crimes were committed existed.
As I mentioned above, the writing is superb, with excellent descriptions, not only of settings and of the gory details but also of the psychological experiences of the characters, that although written in the third person feel very close. The novel fits in well in the tradition of the Southern gothic novel, with complex family relationships, oppressive atmosphere and the weight of traditions.
So, here you have a pretty scary story, with sympathetic characters you care for, a well-developed and intriguing story, and a gothic atmosphere. There are many aspects of the story that readers of other genres would also enjoy, but I hesitate to recommend it to people who don’t enjoy horror, because… well, it’s horrific and more. I’m looking forward to exploring more of the author’s novels and I strongly recommend it.
Thanks so much to Rosie for coordinating the team and for helping us discover such great reads, thanks to the author for a fantastic novel, and thanks to you all for reading, and you know what to do, like, share, comment and CLICK!
As promised, I keep trying to catch up with reviews, and as Halloween is around the corner, I realised I hadn’t yet shared this review. This is a book that although if one stops and thinks about it, it might not stand up to a close look if you go with it, it’s difficult to resist.
Horror You’ll never look at a mirror the same way again
A mirror that feeds on human souls wreaks destruction on those around it in Mirror Image, the new novel from internationally bestselling author Michael Scott and Melanie Ruth Rose.
In an auction house in London, there is a mirror no one will buy. Standing seven feet tall and reaching four feet across, its size makes it unusual. Its horrific powers make it extraordinary. For centuries, the mirror has fed off of the lives of humans, giving them agonizing deaths and sucking their souls into its hellish world.
When Jonathan Frazer, the wealthy owner of a furniture and antiques shop in Los Angeles, buys the mirror at an auction, he believes he is getting the bargain of a lifetime. With its age and size, it is easily worth eight times what he paid for it. At this point, the mirror has sat dormant for years. But within days of Jonathan’s purchase, the deaths begin again. One employee is crushed when the mirror falls on top of him. A few days later, the corpse of another is found in front of the mirror, brutally stabbed. A third is burned beyond all recognition. All the while, an enormous man with a scarred face is following Jonathan, demanding that he give him the mirror and killing any police officer that gets in his way.
The police are becoming desperate. As the death toll rises, Jonathan himself becomes a suspect. He knows there is something wrong with the mirror. He knows it’s dangerous. But he cannot bring himself to get rid of it. Everyday he becomes more captivated by the mirror.
For the mirror is awakening, and its powers are resurfacing.
Thanks to Net Galley and to Macmillan-Tor/Forge Books for offering me a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Horror is one of my favourite genres although I don’t read exclusively in any genre, but I always look forward to horror books. I also love antiques and TV programmes and books about antiques, and I was therefore even more interested in this novel.
Mirror Image tells the story of a haunted mirror (so to speak, although the full details of what the mirror represents and its ultimate power go beyond most stories of haunted places and/or objects) that an unwitting interior designer/antiques dealer from Los Angeles buys in London and gets shipped back. Although he at first thinks he’s got a bargain (as the mirror is much older than he realised and much more valuable), instead he gets more than he bargained for. Very soon after its arrival strange deaths happen around the mirror. At first, they all look like freak accidents, but soon the police becomes suspicious of the new owner of the mirror, and there’s another mysterious figure, a tall man covered in scars, who knows more about the mirror than he’s willing to tell.
The prose is fast-paced and dynamic and the story is written in short chapters, in the third person from alternating points of views. Although many of the chapters are told from Jonathan Frazer’s point of view, there are chapters from the female detective’s point of view, from Frazer’s wife and daughter, Emmanuelle or Manny (who also become ensnared by the mirror), from three of Frazer’s employees, from Edmond, the man after the mirror, from some minor characters that make fleeting appearances in the book and even some very brief chapters that we realise are told from the mirror’s point of view. Although at first these changes in point of view tend to only take place in different chapters, as the pace picks up, especially towards the end, we might jump from one point of view to another during the same chapter. I didn’t find it difficult to follow but I know there are readers who are not keen on ‘head-hopping’. On the one hand, it might shift the focus of the action and release tension, although on the other hand, by making us share in the characters’ experiences, especially those who are just innocent victims, we are even more shocked by what happens. As the owner of the mirror becomes more and more fascinated by it, he starts experiencing dreams that seem to reveal past events concerning the history of the mirror that are particularly relevant to the current situation. As the mirror gains in strength, he isn’t the only one to experience those dreams that we are also witnesses to. True historical characters, like John Dee, Edward Kelly and Queen Elizabeth I appear to be linked to the mirror too and add intrigue and complexity to the story.
My only reservation was that I felt the female characters were slightly less well-rounded. I liked the detective but we don’t get to know enough about her, and Frazer’s daughter, Manny, although central to the action, spends most of the chapters where she appears either unwell, confused or under somebody’s influence and we never discover her true self. From the few details we get about her at the beginning I assumed she was older (as she’d been living and studying in Paris, met another of the characters and lived with him for a while) but then we learn she’s only eighteen and perhaps that explains her difficulty dealing with the situation she finds herself in. There are also other female presences very important to the story, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers.
There is gore (I’ve read books that are more explicitly violent, but it’s not a mild read either), there is sexual content (as the mirror gets its strength from humans emotions and human bodily fluids, and has some pretty interesting effects on its subjects) although it’s not as explicit as I’ve read in many other books and it is seamlessly integrated into the story. Is it scary? Yes. The novel shows how a character that to begin with is a likeable man, kind and gentle, a loving father and a generous employer, becomes a completely different person due to the influence of the mirror and he ends up doing unspeakable things. The obsession that takes over not only him but so many others who come into contact with the mirror and the lengths people will go to gain power and immortality have a ring of truth that makes it more effective. Although this is not the most terrifying book I’ve ever read, it’s an uneasy, uncomfortable and eerie read. It is also compellingly and beautifully written, and its connection with the historical characters makes one wonder what kind of things went on in the name of experimentation and knowledge in the past.
I recommend it to lovers of horror with a kick, especially those who enjoy some historical background and mythology and to people who love stories about haunted objects. If you read it I’m sure you won’t look into a mirror the same way again.
Rose Briar claims no responsibility for the act that led to her imprisonment in an asylum. She wants to escape, until terrifying nightmares make her question her sanity and reach out to her doctor. He’s understanding and caring in ways her parents never have been, but as her walls tumble down and Rose admits fault, a fellow patient warns her to stop the medications. Phillip believes the doctor is evil and they’ll never make it out of the facility alive. Trusting him might be just the thing to save her. Or it might prove the asylum is exactly where she needs to be.
I obtained a copy of Asleep in exchange for an honest review as part of a book review tour.
I love fairy tales. I loved them as a child and although I’m a child no longer (well, opinions might differ on that) I still love them. When I heard that this YA book was a reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, and after reading the details, I decided to read it. The fabulous cover also drew me in.
The story of Rose Briar is set in a rather undefined time (perhaps now, but it is not specified and neither location nor gadgets or medications give much of a clue. I guess it is ‘once upon a time’) and starts at a point of crisis. She’s being taken by her parents to a psychiatric clinic, for reasons not completely clear. Although the story is written in the third person, it is told from Rose’s point of view, and we’re not sure her version of events is correct. The psychiatric clinic appears a bit peculiar at first sight, and is connected to Rose’s family in strange ways (her mother’s best friend, Heather, was a patient there years back and she committed suicide shortly after leaving the clinic), but we don’t realise quite how peculiar until Rose starts to experiment strange events, that neither her nor us, the readers, know if are true, or nightmares. Is she being physically tortured? Are other patients locked up and inhumanely treated there? Why does she seem to lose time?
Luckily, she meets Phillip, although he prefers to be called Greg, a boy of a similar age to hers. At times he seems completely out of it, bruised, battered and mumbling numbers, but at others, he is not only protective of her, but insists that she is like him. She can’t help but be intrigued by him at first, and later she ends up feeling the connection he mentions, although she is not a hundred percent sure.
The longer Rose spends at the clinic, the more confused she becomes as to whom she can trust and what the agenda behind her stay there is. The friends she believed in don’t seem to be as reliable as she thought; Dr. Underwood is nice and caring but seems to have a strange attachment to Heather and Rose suspects that in his mind, she and Heather have become connected. He is definitely hiding something. And although she blames her parents, particularly her mother, for her internment, she desperately wants to go back home.
The experience of reading this book is a strange one. I’m a psychiatrist and I was intrigued by the idea of setting the story in a psychiatric hospital. Leaving the horror aspects of the story related to what might be happening at the clinic (and I’m trying not to reveal any spoilers here) aside, the way in which the readers are placed inside of Rose’s head and share her feelings and perceptions make it a confusing and nerve-wracking reading experience. You might not agree with what she does, but you are given no option but to follow her and share in her confusion and her difficulty making decisions. You keep trying to find clues to turn it into a linear narrative, but keep being wrong-footed along the way. At some point, I wasn’t sure if the present or the past were real, or if anything was real at all.
The reading is vivid although being inside of Rose’s head we don’t get the chance to see the place and the people as they are (talk about an unreliable narrator!). We might objectively think we’d never have ended up in such situation, but we join the story at a point where she has not many options, and none of the ones left seem good. Rose’s difficulty expressing herself through her art is a good metaphor for her problems. The author has the eye of an artist and some of her descriptions of the hallucinations and the works of art are beautiful (and sometimes horrific at the same time).
I enjoyed the end, but for me, there were many things not fully explained, and more in keeping with a fairy tale than a realistic novel. If we want to compare it to Sleeping Beauty, this turns the story of the attempts at rescuing her (she had done nothing wrong and it was fate and a bad fairy who played a part in her imprisonment), and twists it into a possible version of what was happening to the princess whilst she was supposed to be asleep. She is no longer the passive female figure waiting for the prince to come and find her. Instead, she has to fight her own demons and she and the prince work together to get free. The character of Doctor Underwood is one of the strongest ones in the book, and it brought to my mind the film Peeping Tom (but again I won’t elaborate to avoid giving you too many clues).
This is a story that will keep people guessing, although it’s not a typical horror story but rather a psychological eerie tale. If you enjoy a reading that will get you out of your comfort zone and challenge your sense of narrative, this could well be it. Ah, and the writing and the cover are true beauties.
Krystal Wade can be found in the sluglines outside Washington D.C. every morning, Monday through Friday. With coffee in hand, iPod plugged in, and strangers-who sometimes snore, smell, or have incredibly bad gas-sitting next to her, she zones out and thinks of fantastical worlds for you and me to read. How else can she cope with a fifty-mile commute?
Good thing she has her husband and three kids to go home to. They keep her sane.
Today I bring you a new book (the author belongs to one of the groups of authors I joined early on in my career and where I learned the little I know, ASMSG, Authors Social Media Support Group) by Maer Wilson. Although I’ve known her for a while, I hadn’t managed to read any of her books, but when she offered an ARC of her newest and I read what it was about, I couldn’t resist. And don’t worry, the book was published earlier this week (on the 9th of August) so you won’t have to wait. Ah, and read until the end, as another author of the book reminded me that in the ASMSG website readers can access free books by the authors in the group, and some of mine are there too!
Maer Wilson was very kind and sent an excerpt and extra material, so you can get a better sense of what her book is like.
“As a literary figure, Philip K. Dick is popularly perceived as a crazed, drug-addled mystic with a sinister Third Eye. Nothing could be further from the truth – the Phil I knew was a warm, humane, very funny man. Maer Wilson understands these truths far better than I, and The Other Side of Philip K. Dick casts a welcome shaft of daylight upon the real PKD, as opposed to the dark, distorted caricature Dick has become.” Paul M. Sammon, Author of Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner
What is the truth behind the legend of Science Fiction great, Philip K. Dick?
In spring, 1972, Phil Dick moved to Fullerton, CA, where he met Theatre student Mary (Maer) Wilson. Amid marriage proposals, marathon talk-fests and a love for music and films, they forged a strong friendship that would last the rest of his life.
Wilson’s quirky, yet unflinchingly honest, memoir reveals a funny, compassionate and generous man. She captures an inside view of one of our literary greats – a brilliant writer who gave the world some of its most revered Science Fiction.
“I found this book engrossing and authentic – a truthful and serious account of the last part of Phil Dick’s life by someone who was a fundamental part of it and who has the skill to write about it. There is evident love and friendship in this book, but also honesty. This was the Phil Dick I knew.” James P. Blaylock, World Fantasy Award-Winning Author
You can pre-order ebook versions now. The paperback will be available on August 9, 2016
After a successful career being other people, and later teaching others the many tricks of that trade, Maer Wilson has decided to be herself for a while. Turns out she’s a writer.
Maer first met Philip K. Dick in 1972 when he moved into the apartment across the hall from her in Fullerton, California. They remained close friends until his death in 1982. Maer was always an avid reader, but it was Phil who introduced her to science fiction, and she fell in love with the genre, later expanding into most aspects of Spec Fic.
When she’s not writing, Maer plays online video games, teaches college and reads. Maer is a partner in Ellysian Press, a small publishing house. She lives in the high desert of Southern Nevada with her two poodles.
Named 2015 Fantasy Author of the Year by AuthorClassifieds.com, Maer’s books include the recent Apocalypta Z. Her Modern Magics series includes the novels Relics,Portals, and Magics, as well as novelettes and stories set in that universe. Maer recently contributed to, compiled and published the charity anthology, The Dark Dozen. She is currently working on a science fiction novel, Truthsayer.
You can find all Maer’s books and novelettes at Amazon and other online retailers. For more info, you can visit Maer’s website at http://maerwilson.com/.
A few links so you can check other books by the author:
It’s April, 1972 in Fullerton, California around 7:00 PM. The sun has set and the night is cool, balanced between full spring and hints of summer. Can you feel the slight breeze?
The street is Quartz Lane. Some of the many apartment buildings in the area line the short road. We’re going to go to the first complex on the right, just past the church. There’s a small courtyard and the residents all have their curtains drawn. Most are translucent and clearly show the light from the apartments. But there. That first apartment on our right? The one upstairs. Yes, that one with the light shining through a gap in the curtains.
And the one across from it. The light isn’t as bright, but we need to note that one, too.
We can almost hear the giggles of two girls as we make our way up the stairs and fade through their door. Shhh… We’ll be as quiet as the ghosts from the future that we are.
The scene is set. The actors and orchestra are in their places as the curtain rises.
The stage lights come up.
The conductor taps his baton on the music stand.
The music begins.
Chapter 1 – At First
“It happened back when I was still immortal.”
Praise for The Other Side of Philip K. Dick
“I found this book engrossing and authentic – a truthful and serious account of the last part of Phil Dick’s life by someone who was a fundamental part of it and who has the skill to write about it. There is evident love and friendship in this book, but also honesty. This was the Phil Dick I knew.” James P. Blaylock, World Fantasy Award-winning Author
“As a literary figure, Philip K. Dick is popularly perceived as a crazed, drug-addled mystic with a sinister Third Eye. Nothing could be further from the truth – the Phil I knew was a warm, humane, very funny man. Maer Wilson understands these truths far better than I, and The Other Side of Philip K. Dick casts a welcome shaft of daylight upon the real PKD, as opposed to the dark, distorted caricature Dick has become.” Paul M. Sammon, Author of Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner
“The strongest piece of writing I’ve read in years. Wilson’s pacing is perfection. The Other Side of Philip K. Dick is filled with laughter and the kind of love only true friends can share. Even if, for some reason, you’ve never heard of Philip K. Dick, you will fall in love with him and Wilson. The ending had me crying, like “end of the Notebook” crying. Utter perfection.” M. Joseph Murphy, Author of the Activation series
“There are many tales of epic friendships, but there is one huge difference here: The Other Side of Philip K. Dick is real. Wilson’s prose gives us an inside view into two minds, a genius and a young girl. Through her eyes I am left with one thought — this is a man I wish I had known.” –Danielle DeVor, author of the Marker Chronicles.
“Frank and revealing. One part faithful memoir, one part a wonderful evocation of Phil’s final 10 years. Writing with crisp clarity, Maer’s humorous anecdotes wonderfully evoke both the times and the man. Her conversational prose sparkles with truth and winning story-telling. Best of all, this warm tribute replaces the oft-told myths about Phil with unique insights into his caring, compassionate and generous nature.” Daniel Gilbertson, Friend of PKD
“As a fan of Dick’s fiction, I was engrossed by these amusing, insightful, and poignant reminiscences of the last ten years of his life. Wilson evokes a human portrait of a warm, funny, unassuming man who was a good friend to a young student. This memoir is well-written and heart-felt. It illustrates not only the private world of a great writer but what it was like to be young in the seventies in California.” Carol Holland March, Author of The Dreamwalkers of Larreta
I received an ARC copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I thought I’d get a couple of things out of the way before I gave my opinion of the book. This is the first book by Maer Wilson that I’ve read. I’m aware she writes fiction but haven’t read any of her novels yet. The second thing is that I’ve read some of Philip K. Dick’s novels, but I’m not a connoisseur of his work and I have but a passing acquaintance with his life. Like a lot of people I’m more familiar with some of the film adaptations of his science-fiction novels than I am with the original books (but I must say one doesn’t forget easily reading one of his books and notwithstanding my undying love for Blade Runner, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is imprinted in my brain).
This book is not a biography of Philip K. Dick, or a memoir of Mary (Maer) Wilson, although it does have elements of both. The author sets up the scene and explains clearly what she intends to do at the opening of the book. This is the story of her friendship with the writer that spanned the last ten years of his life. She does not justify his behaviour, she does not provide a critical analysis of his work, and she does not go on a research digging expedition trying to discover who the true Philip K. Dick was. After many years of reading works about the man she got to know quite closely, and not recognising the versions of her friend those books created, she decided to share the man she knew. She acknowledges that he might have been different when he was younger and that perhaps he presented differently with different people. (In fact she has an interesting theory about the matter that makes perfect sense to me, but although not a true spoiler, I’ll leave you to read it yourselves).
Mary Wilson met Philip K. Dick when she was a young theatre student, and although she goes to great pains to try and remember and record the things as they happened at the time (and as her young-self experienced them), the older (and of course wiser) Maer Wilson can’t help but sometimes despair of her younger counterpart. As all young people, and especially somebody preparing from a young age for an acting career, the young Mary thinks she is immortal and the centre of the universe. She accepts friendships as they come and does not question either motives or reasons. She does not inquire why an older man (when they meet she doesn’t even know he’s a writer) is living with a young student or why he would want to make friends with people who are twenty five years his juniors. The way she writes about the young Mary reminded me of Herman Melville’s Redburn, where the older writer can’t help but reflect on the naïveté and inexperience of his younger self. (Not that she is all that naïve as she acknowledges that the writer had a crush on her and she handled it remarkably well, but she’s neither humble nor always wise).
The author does not aim to discover where Philip K. Dick was coming from or what happened during the periods when they lost contact, for example when he got married and his wife wasn’t keen on his younger friends, or when Mary was living with a boyfriend and so busy with her theatrical performances that she couldn’t always make time for a social life. She does not try to make up for gaps or recreate things that she was not witness too. She does include photographs of events relevant to the narration, drawings, etc., and has obtained some of the correspondence a common friend had kept, but in its majority, the book is made up of anecdotes, conversations and events that the writer remembers in plenty of detail, as would be expected of somebody talking about a close and dear friend. I also got the sense, from the book and the foreword, that Dick had remained a topic of conversation for his group of friends and some of the episodes mentioned have been reminisced upon more than once.
As it has been noted often (and is also mentioned in the foreword of the book), anybody who attempts to tell somebody else’s story, ends up telling his or her own, and the author gives us a wonderful insight into ten years of her life, from her years as a student, performing and putting on plays, to having her own theatre company, and working herself to exhaustion. It is a vivid portrayal of a type of life, a place and a period, that will make readers wish they were there, going to watch A Clockwork Orange with Philip K. Dick, or meeting Ridley Scott to talk about Blade Runner. It isn’t a glamorous story or a celebrity autobiography (thankfully!), and it has ups and downs, moments of enlightenment and regrets, happy moments and doubts and what ifs, but that’s what real life is like. The author writes as if she was telling her memories of Dick to a close friend, or perhaps as if she was retelling herself the episodes she recalls, trying to puzzle together and order her thoughts, to grab hold of her experience and not let go. It is an intimate and reflective style of writing that makes the reader feel close to both actors and events.
I personally enjoyed getting to know both the author of the book and a bit more about Philip K. Dick, the friend of his friends. This is not a book for somebody looking to acquire facts and figures about Dick, or a comprehensive biography, warts and all. It isn’t a book that talks in detail about his writing (although there are references to his comments at the time and the stories he shared), and it isn’t a gossip column trying to settle grudges (and sadly this is not the first non-fiction book I read where the people really close to somebody are pushed aside by the individual’s official family when s/he is no longer able to do anything to prevent it). This book will be of interest to people who want to find a new dimension, a more personal one, to Dick the man rather than the myth. And also to readers who want to experience the era of the 1970s (and early 80s) in California as it would have been for a very talented and artistic group of friends. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall at some of those meetings. That’s not possible but at least I have this book.
Thanks to Maer Wilson for giving me the opportunity of reading and reviewing her new book, thanks to all of you for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment, and CLICK!
Ah, and another author from the group, Carolynne Raymond (from Lady Maverick Publishing) has written a great post for readers so they can access some books by this talented group, and all for FREE! Check it here! (And yes, one of mine is available there).
Dimitri Tasarov has never had a choice in what he was. From infancy, he had been raised with the knowledge that he was a monster, an unlovable creature without a soul, until a single act of kindness threw his entire world into a tailspin.
Ava Emerson had always led a reluctantly sheltered existence. Friendship was a luxury that came with questions she couldn’t afford to answer.
They were an unlikely pair. He lived behind his mask and his roses, and she lived behind her secrets, yet they shared a bond that could get them killed if anyone ever found out.
Times were changing. The city was in turmoil. The weak were unprotected and someone needed to make a stand. But Dimitri wasn’t the only one with eyes on the north, or Ava, and they will stop at nothing to claim them both.
Can Dimitri keep Ava safe, or will the devil fall?
I must clarify a few things before I share this review. First, due to problems with the system I did get the book much later than I expected so I read it at quite a pace and didn’t have time to savour it. I’m also aware that I read an ARC copy and there were some issues I found with the book (that I won’t mention here as I’m sure they won’t be a problem with the definite version published) that might have affected my full enjoyment of the novel. The other thing I wanted to mention is that the novel, described as an NA book, is very sexually explicit (I’d say to the level of erotica, although I’m not a big fan of the genre and don’t read many books on it, so others might not agree). There are between five and six sex scenes (one is divided in two so I’m not sure if I should count is as one or two) some quite long and as I said very explicit, and one that is ‘rough’ although even the protagonist makes the point of saying that she does not enjoy S&M. The book is fairly long so the sex scenes are not a major part of the book, but for me they distracted me from the plot (and that together with my lack of interest for this type of writing and with what I felt was the uneasy combination of such scenes with the nature of some of the themes of the book didn’t work for me). In what I think it’s a standard of the genre those scenes stretched the suspension of disbelief for me personally, but I suspect nobody is too worried about what is biologically possible when reading an erotic fantasy. Putting all of that together I’m convinced I’m not the intended audience of this book, but I hope the review might reach the right people.
I was intrigued by the book because of the suggestion that it might have a link to Beauty and the Beast (one of my favourite fairy tales), and in a way it does, although a much darker version (well, not that a monster is not dark), that involves crime families, stormy and highly conflictive family relationships, danger, violence, murder (and murder attempts), sex trafficking, drugs, kidnappings, blackmail…
The story is told in the third person from the point of view of two different characters, Ava, a young woman whose mother, Charlie, is worse than most fairy tale evil stepmothers (although we only get a few scenes with her), and whose adopted dad (but not her official stepfather for reasons we learn later), Jean Paul, loves her dearly and is very rich. We later also learn that he is a big crime boss. The city where the action takes place is divided in five sectors and Jean Paul is one of the bosses. Dimitri, the man Ava loves, who’s been keeping away from her for eight years for reasons we learn later, is the son of one of the other crime bosses, a Russian woman called Elena. (And if Ava’s mother is a cold and horrible human being, Elena fits into a category of her own. I can’t think of many women who could compete.) He also happens to be the biological son of Jean Paul, but his father wants nothing to do with him and insist he’s a monster. Jean Paul is also determined to keep Ava and Dimitri apart, and theirs is a very extreme version of the star-crossed lovers.
Things don’t work according to Jean-Paul’s plans and once Ava and Dimitri come together again, nothing can separate them, even if Dimitri’s reasons to go back to her are suspect to begin with (he kidnaps her to blackmail Jean-Paul into agreeing to his becoming the boss of the North sector). Everybody around Dimitri and Ava seem destined to get into trouble, as if their coupling created an eye-of-the-hurricane effect, and Ava gets stolen away from Dimitri and sent on a shipment with other women who are being sold away, ending up in Puerto Rico. The subject of sex trafficking is horrific and those chapters make for harrowing reading, even if we’re quite convinced that Ava will survive, because this is her story. She doesn’t get much of a break because she’s shot at, and the subject of many more attacks (that I won’t discuss as I don’t want to give any spoilers).
The action is fairly fast, and we are kept guessing as to who is doing what and even more as to their possible reasons, as there are those who unwittingly might help the bad characters, but also very devious evil people, and the cast of people involved is long indeed. The book flows along at good pace although at some points there are things that seem to be left hanging on to be eventually revisited and solved later. This is not a realistic and gritty book (there is violence, wounds, and fights, although the level of description of the violence is not as detailed as that of the sex scenes, but I think it might be too violent for those who don’t like any such subjects) although as mentioned some of the themes are raw and dark, and the way in which these criminals can buy their way out of all their troubles and sort out any difficulties stretches credibility, as it does the seeming indestructibility of the protagonists, but that’s only to be expected from the genre.
With regards to the characters I really liked some of the secondary characters like Penny, Frank or Sayeed, which deserve full books. I liked some aspects of Ava’s character (like her attachment and loyalty to her friends), and enjoyed the couple of times when she took control of the situation, but although no human being could go through her experiences unscathed, I wondered about her sense of morals and the easy way she accepts the situation, especially considering what she has lived through. She is always being rescued by the men in her life (not a plot device I like) and I wondered if the ending (that I enjoyed) quite makes up for the rest. Dimitri, in my opinion, although a bit one-dimensional is a more consistent character, even though his style of possessiveness is not to my taste, but I know I might not be in the majority in that respect. His stunts as ‘the Devil’, when he steals from the baddies to give to good causes, make him more sympathetic, and he’s an exciting individual, the forbidden bad-boy who is not quite as bad as he appears to be, although he’s darker than the beast of the fairy tale.
I didn’t realise until I started reading it that this book is part of a series, although it is not necessary to have read the first book to enjoy it, as the stories are completely independent.
In summary this is a thrilling book, that treats serious themes, although its focus is on the romance between the two main characters whose relationship brings chaos and danger to everybody around them (and to both of them). It has sex and violence and it’s not my ideal kind of book (but that’s not the book or the author’s fault) and I’m sure many will enjoy it.
Airicka Phoenix lives in a world where unicorns, fairies and mermaids run amok through her home on a daily basis. When she’s not chasing after pixies and rounding up imps, also known as her four children, she can be found conjuring imaginary friends to play with. Airicka is the prolific author of over eighteen novels for those who crave strong, female leads, sexy alpha heroes and out of control desires. She’s a multi genre author who writes young adult, new adult and adult contemporary and paranormal romance. For more about Airicka and the realm she rules with an iron fist–and tons of chocolate–visit her at: www.AirickaPhoenix.com
Robby broke the silence that followed. “What just happened?”
The buzz had regained through the room. Curiosity punctuated with questions and glances at Ava that she ignored.
“I need to go,” she whispered to no one in particular.
But she grabbed Robby’s hand and dragged him along with her through the maze of rooms, down the seemingly endless corridors. Her heels clacked in sync with the tempo of her pounding heart. It was his turn to run to keep up.
“Don’t ask questions,” she warned him. “Promise me.”
Robby frowned. “But what—?”
She skidded to a halt and faced him, her chest rising and falling rapidly against the front of her dress. “I’m about to trust you with the most important thing in my life, the biggest secret I have ever kept, and I am trusting you because you are my best friend and I need your help.”
The crease between his brows deepened. More lines appeared at the corners of his mouth. His gaze shot past her to the hallway leading to John Paul’s office, then back down to her.
“Tell me who that was first.”
His hand slipped from her grasp. She took a step back and his eyes narrowed.
“I can’t. I can’t tell you anything.”
“But you want me to trust you.” It wasn’t a question.
Ava nodded. “Yes.”
Thanks to Lady Amber’s Reviews & PR and to the author for this opportunity to read the novel, thanks to you all for reading, and you know, share, like, comment and CLICK!
I signed up for this blog review tour when my mother was in hospital as I wanted something that would be a light read and would keep me busy, although I thought it was only one book! There was a change of date, but here finally I bring you Complicated Love the series.
I had some extra comments I haven’t included because I’m convinced my experience was different to somebody who had a more leisurely read (I read the three books in 6 days…).
Blurb: Dina Martin and Nicholas Riley are total opposites. She’s the good girl with the perfect grades and he’s the bad boy with the reputation. Growing up together with close family ties, they have been at war for as long as they can remember. When the unthinkable happens, neither of them wants it.
Set in a small town at the turn of the millennium, this story is about family and friendship, the love of music and how sometimes who you don’t want, is exactly who you need.
This is how it all started. A sweet love story. Well, almost.
I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review as part of a book-review tour. Having read the three novels I recommend that the whole series is read to get a better grasp of the story and the characters. See my other two reviews for full details.
The first book in the Complicated Love Series (and I must explain that I read them in the order of publication, so I read book 2 first, then book 3 and last but not least, book 1) is told in the third person, with alternating chapters for each of the two main protagonists, the couple who are destined to fall in love, although at the point where the story starts you couldn’t find two more different people. Dina (Christina) a fourteen year old girl, daughter of a bohemian family, with a driven and determined mother, a virgin, studious, invisible to many and not particularly attractive. And Riley (Nicholas), a seventeen year old wild boy, head of the Outcast Crew, best friends with Johnny, Dina’s brother, part of the music band (waiting for a name at that point), the black sheep of the Rileys (and old moneyed family from Shanwick) who’s never noticed Dina other than to tease her. He has all the girls in the world, does not study and embarrasses his family no end. He also has a reputation as a psycho. How do these two characters find each other? Well, Dina auditions as singer for the band and her voice talks to Riley’s soul.
The book could well be a Young Adult or New Adult story, with interesting characters, strong friendship and bonds, stories of bullying, drugs, wild parties, inappropriate relationships, teenage love, talent and misunderstandings galore. This novel follows the chronological order of the romance between the characters, without any of the jumps in time that characterised the other two, and it also has its share of hilarious moments and disappointments and sadness. Gabby, Dina’s sister, although young, only ten, is already one of the stars of the book and a force to be reckoned with, and we get to meet the parents and get a more rounded picture of events.
The writing style is compact, easy to follow and the dialogues are one of the strengths of the book.
I did enjoy this novel and thought many readers would enjoy it too, although it is perhaps different in tone to the other two (there are some sexy moments but definitely it is much tamer regarding the sexual encounters of the characters, although not squeaky-clean). Readers who read this novel first and then move on to the rest might find them quite a different reading experience, although the characters’ journey can be followed through the three novels and develops in an understandable and organic manner.
Blurb: *Recommended for audiences over the age of 18*
If you like your characters quirky, socially awkward, and badly behaved, this is the book for you. What if you got another chance with the love of your life, even when you didn’t want one? Would you grab the opportunity, or run as fast as you could in the opposite direction?
Christina Martin, lawyer, ex high school grunge queen, teenage bride, divorcee, and once a suspected killer, is confronted by a past that she has spent the last eight years carefully avoiding. Drawn back to her hated hometown, with her family under the worst of circumstances, matters are complicated when she finds the love of her life, ex-husband and nemesis, Nicholas Riley, also in residence.
Riley, a man with secrets, who has a penchant for psychological games, made wary by life and with one weakness, his ex-wife. Christina is the woman that brings out all his protective instincts and others less noble. All it takes is one fateful night, where these two collide, opening a door both thought slammed shut and locked forever.
From the past to the present, Christina and Riley show that true love doesn’t always run smoothly, it might not conquer all, and most importantly, love is complicated.
“Lost in Flight” is book two in the “Complicated Love Series.”
I can’t live with or without you, forwards and back
I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review as part of a book-review tour.
Two families, the Rileys (wealthy, old family from Shanwick) and the Martins (father a musician and British, mother mixed-race. Bohemian and alternative). A boy, Riley (Nick, but known as Riley), who is the black-sheep of his family. Handsome, talented, attractive, has all the women he wants and he’s even chased by those he can’t bear. A girl, Christina (Dina, because her older brother, Johnny, couldn’t pronounce her name when they were kids), responsible, serious, clever, good at school, big boobs but not classically pretty otherwise. They’ve grown together (their mothers had been good friends and so were both families. Later Dina’s mother dies of cancer, but by that point their mothers were no longer friends and their families weren’t in very good terms either), Riley is Johnny’s best friend. Yes, they fall in love, and although they seem destined and fated for each other, chaos and destruction ensues. The series chronicles the story of their relationship. I know you’re probably familiar with the story of the star-crossed lovers, and their complications. This is not Romeo and Juliet but the hilarious moments (mostly when the girls get together) alternate with pretty sad ones where the relationship crashes and burns.
Book two is told, like the rest of the series, in the third person and from alternate points of view. One chapter from Dina’s point of view (when the series opens she’s been living in Washington D.C. for years and works as a lawyer, so she’s more Christina than Dina) and the next from Riley’s. They are divorced but as Dina’s little sister, Gabby (she is one of the greatest characters in a book with plenty of amazing secondary characters), is in hospital and Riley manages the band where Johnny, Dina’s brother, plays, they seem fated to meet again. The story follows their collision course. The two are like the opposite poles of magnets and despite their best intentions they can’t avoid revisiting and reliving their story, both the good and the bad.
The novel is a rollercoaster of emotions. Each character goes through hope and desperation many times over, and shows why they got together in the first place, and also how they ended up hurting each other so badly. They are clearly in love still, but don’t seem able to move past their past. They keep bringing up things that happened before, and the novel moves backwards and forward in time to share with the reader many of the events that brought the couple to where they are now. Although I did not find the story in general difficult to follow, I must admit that at times I wasn’t so sure what had happened first and it wasn’t simple to keep the timeline straight in one’s head.
The two characters are likeable. Christina cares deeply for her family and her friends (the fabulous and fiery Bonnie, I adore Bonnie, and Mandy, the common-sense and practical one) and tries her best to be grown-up and responsible, always allowing her sense of duty to dictate her actions (even when it means risking her self-esteem and sanity), but her insecurities are brought to the fore when she has to go back to Shanwick, where she had been badly treated. Riley wants Dina back, but he is also bitter and has insecurities of his own, and both of them hide secrets that mean there’s plenty of heartbreak and healing to be done.
As I mentioned, I enjoyed the variety of characters, especially the secondary ones, although as tends to happens in these novels, I also wanted to grab the two protagonists by their necks and shake them, telling them to stop being so silly and start being honest with each other.
There are some sex scenes, and although not erotica and not the most explicit I’ve read, I wouldn’t recommend it to people looking for a good clean and sweet romance. The couple are passionate and it shows.
The style of writing makes it easy to read and the dialogue sparkles at times, with characters having distinctive voices. Some of their expressions and quirks I won’t easily forget.
There were many unsolved questions by the end of the book and I look forward to learning more about the characters and their adventures.
Forced to return to her hated hometown to work, Christina Martin, lawyer and ex resident bad girl, finds herself questioning her life choices. Reunited with her former husband, Nicholas Riley, their tenuous and complicated relationship is tested when secrets from the past and present are revealed.
Riley, a man with explosive secrets and penchant for psychological games, faces the dilemma of keeping the woman he loves through lies by omission or potentially losing her with the truth. This isn’t just their second chance for happiness, it’s their last chance and there may be some things that love can’t conquer at all.
Equal parts helped and hindered by a colorful cast of supporting characters, Ties that Bind, book three in the Complicated Love series, continues the dysfunctional relationship of Riley and Dina.
Darkness, forgiveness and endings (but not where and when you think)
I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review as part of a book-review tour.
In book three of the Complicated Love Series, we follow the story of Dina and Riley from where we left them in book two, when they had worked through some of the issues that had ended their previous marriage, but there were still many secrets and actions the characters had taken that their loved one didn’t know about, ensuring further complications. Again the story is told in alternating chapters from each of the protagonists’ point of view and there are some jumps in time where we get to learn more about the events surrounding their wedding and then the traumatic divorce, which had been referred to, but not discussed in detail. There are fewer changes in time (I wouldn’t call them flashbacks as they seem to come at points in the story where both characters are thinking about that particular event and they’re not exclusively narrated from one of the character’s perspective) than in book 2, and the narration is more straightforward, although it also swings to extremes, reflecting the emotions the characters go through. When things seem to have been solved between them, with all secrets revealed and both of them accepting the other for what and who they really are (and in the process accepting themselves too), thinks get much darker.
There are some sex scenes (I would rather call them sexy and passionate) but less explicit than in book two, and there is a hilarious scene early on in the book involving a cat. Well, there are several funny scenes involving that cat. Again there are funny and sad scenes in the novel, although I found them more finely balanced than in book two, with the ups and downs a bit less extreme.
I was particularly touched by the conversation between Dina and Riley’s Mom, a character that had been particularly difficult to understand up to that point. On the other hand there is a psychiatric diagnostic offered as an explanation in the novel that as a psychiatrist I had my doubts about, but even with that I enjoyed the ending.
I also enjoyed the secondary characters I had come to love in the previous book, and gained respect for some of the ones I didn’t like that much. Gabby, one of my favourite characters, comes into her own and she sizzles. The style of writing was again easy to read, dynamic and with great dialogue exchanges. A fitting conclusion to the series.
Neeny Boucher is a nom de plume because my real name sounds like a 19th Century suffragette. Originally from New Zealand, I’m a long-time supporter of the All Blacks. Currently, I live in Europe and am trailing spouse, following my husband all over the world for his work. This not only gives me the opportunity to write, but also, experience the world and indulge in one of my favorite past-times: people watching.
My own employment history is varied and ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous. All of those experiences and encounters, however, have allowed me to collect amazing stories, which now form the basis of my writings.
I have always loved the weird, the outcast and those on the margins of society because they see the world in a different way. These are the people my characters are based around.
I have a BA, BA Honors, and a PhD in Sociology/Indigenous Studies.
The Complicated Love Series, books one to three: Back of Beyond, Lost in Flight, and Ties That Bind.
Skin meets skin, trailing promises and desire. Feathery breaths whisper on Christina’s shoulders. Her eyes snap open, squinting at the morning sun. The dull throb in her head gives notice, as does fierce thirst.
Her tongue seeks moisture on her lips, but there’s none. Christina’s stomach roils. Her breath is radioactive. She makes her own self feel sick.
Blue walls, a dresser, and a familiar door: recognition tugs at her consciousness. Christina knows this room, but hasn’t been here in a long, long time. She’s also naked and not alone.
Wrapped around her is her ex-husband, ex-love of her life, and persona non grata, Nicholas Riley. Riley’s fast asleep, breathing heavily, and his hands are wandering up her body. One lands on her boob, clutching, groping.
Christina jerks forward, shrugging him off. She opens and closes her eyes, counting to ten. Nothing changes and he is still here.
The gory details of last night are behind the ominous, pulsating fog in her head. The man, the lack of clothing, and the rumpled bedding indicate what it involved. Adrenaline responds to her internal alarm.
If he wakes… A myriad of awkward scenarios run free-flow through her head. This will be the fastest exit of shame in the history of exits of shame.
Extracting herself finger by finger from Riley’s death grip, Christina slips over the side of the bed. The room sways, rocking back and forth. She lurches forward on wobbly legs.
Christina’s bladder aches. She needs to do things, desperate things… human things. She just can’t do them naked.
Her little blue dress is at the end of the bed. Hunching down, she crawls to retrieve it. A quick search for her other belongings throws up further questions. Draped at an odd angle on the mirror are her panties. It looks like someone slingshot them.
Cringe lands on Christina’s face in big, red, heat spots. What did she do? Scratch that. Willful ignorance is sometimes a kindness.
Her bra, shoes, and handbag are nowhere to be seen. The bras and shoes are manageable, but the handbag is a problem. Her life is in there.
Hauling on her dress, Christina slinks over to her panties, pulling them on with a hop and a bump. She recoils at the woman in the mirror. Smeared mascara accentuates dark brown eyes and then there’s the lipstick. It’s everywhere: face, teeth, chin, and neck.
But, the makeup is nothing in comparison to the hair. Her after-sex hair is an 80’s rock video. Dragging her fingers through it, she winces. Taming it is a lost cause and also, she doesn’t want to anger it.
Years ago, this wouldn’t have bothered her. She was “Dina,” high school Queen of the Outcast Crew, and a true believer in grunge. By today’s standards, Christina Martin, lawyer, she is a complete mess.
Wiping as much of last night’s makeup off as she can, Christina creeps to the door. Riley hasn’t moved, just rolled over onto his back and settled in the space she vacated. Taking a deep breath, she blows it out of her mouth quietly.
I can do this. I can get out of here and if anything comes of it, I can use the old lawyer’s trick of: deny, avoid, defer, and engage. There is also “settlement,” but that is the last resort.
Christina’s hand is on the bedroom door handle. She freezes at the crunching sound it makes. Every nerve ending is on high alert, but the silence from him allows her to relax.
She pulls the door toward her, but it sticks. She pushes and pulls, but it will not budge. Horror sweats break out.
“Good morning.” Riley’s raspy, amused voice hits her senses like an old lover’s caress. Intimate, knowing. It sends chills up her spine.
Thanks so much to Lady Amber’s Reviews & PR and to Neeny Boucher for this opportunity, thanks to all of you for reading and if you’re interested, like, share, comment and CLICK!
As I promised, although I’m hoping to have news about other things and my own writing very soon, in the meantime I’m reading as much as I can and I have a review of a fabulous book for you. Thanks to Rosie Amber and to Terry Tyler for the suggestion.
La Petite Boulain (Above all Others; The Lady Anne Book 1) by G. Lawrence
May 1536, London… a fallen queen sits waiting in the Tower of London, condemned to death by her husband. As Death looms before her, Anne Boleyn, second queen of Henry VIII looks back on her life…from the very beginning.
Daughter of a courtier, servant to queens… she rose higher than any thought possible, and fell lower than any could imagine.
Following the path of the young Mistress Boleyn, or La Petite Boulain, through the events of the first years of the reign of Henry VIII, to the glittering courts of Burgundy and France, Book One of “Above All Others; The Lady Anne” tracks the life of the young Lady Anne, showing how she became the scintillating woman who eventually, would capture the heart of a king.
La Petite Boulain is the first book in the series “Above All Others; The Lady Anne” on the life of Anne Boleyn by G.Lawrence.
I write this review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team. Thanks to Rosie Amber and to Gemma Lawrence for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review.
I’ve been reading more historical novels of recent and I appreciate the mix of skills their authors require. There has to be a lot of research for the novel to be grounded sufficiently in the era and not seem a total flight of fancy. But ensuring that this research is seamlessly weaved into the story and avoiding the risk of turning it into a textbook requires talent, inspiration, art and a passion for the topic. And La Petite Boulain has all those and more.
I’m Spanish and although I’ve lived in the UK for many years I wouldn’t say that my knowledge of English history is deep or detailed. Like most people the entire world over, I’m more familiar with the Tudors and their historical period than with any others, thanks to the fascination they have always held for historians, writers, and movie and television scriptwriters. I would guess that most of us have read or watched something about Henry VIII and Elizabeth I at the very least. And we’ve heard of Anne Boleyn. We might even have an opinion about her.
Since I started writing reviews and blogging about books I’ve come across many books about Anne Boleyn. What prompted me to read this one was a recommendation by one of the reviewers in Rosie’s team that I know is very knowledgeable on the subject (thanks once more, Terry ) and the fact that this book looks at Anne not solely regarding her relationship with Henry VIII. The story is told in the first person, by Anne, who is waiting at the Tower to be beheaded (I’m sure this is no spoiler for anybody), and as a way of keeping calm and passing away the time without falling into despair (more so as she’s surrounded by hostile women sent to spy on her), she goes back in time and remembers her life from childhood. This is the first book in the series, and it takes us from childhood to the time when Anne returns back to England after spending several years away, most recently at the French court, when she’s already a young woman.
The book is beautifully written, with detailed (but not boring or drawn-out) descriptions of clothing, places, people and customs. The language and expressions are appropriate to the era without being overcomplicated or slowing down the story. We see Anne as she sees herself, a lucky girl who’s been born into a good family, with a caring, affectionate and accomplished mother, a father somewhat distant and cold, more interested in politics and the advancement of the family’s fortunes than in the feelings of their members, an older sister (Mary) who is the prettiest one, but less clever and freer with her morals (she’s a more sensuous creature), and a younger brother, George, whom she has much in common with.
We follow her amazement and wonder at historical events, such as the coronation of Henry VIII, when she takes a fancy to the young king, and see her education, first at home, and then at different European Courts, initially at Mechelen and then in France. The book captures well the innocence of a young girl arrived at a European court, who thinks everybody is beautiful, clever and brilliant, although even at that age she is a keen observer and a quick learner. She’s also good at noticing the power relations and getting closer to influencers and people who can teach her the most.
As she grows, she starts to notice and observe the underbelly and the hypocrisy of the society she lives in, and she also becomes a critical thinker, questioning organised religion and reading what were at the time considered dangerous tracks (Martin Luther). She is shocked by some behaviours she sees, including those of her family members, and by the clear difference in the way women are treated in comparison to the men, no matter how high their position in life, but she is determined to absorb knowledge and learn as much as she can, to ensure that she will not just be at the whim of those around her.
I enjoyed the historical detail, the reflections on events and historical figures of the era, but above all, the way the story is told, that takes the readers into Anne’s confidence and makes them experience with her both wonderful and terrible events, helping make her a real and understandable human being, rather than a cardboard figurine out of historical volume . La petite Boulain is an absolute pleasure to read, and despite knowing the story, I can’t wait to for the next book in the series.
Thanks so much to Rosie Amber for her fabulous team, thanks to Gemma Lawrence for this wonderful book, thanks to you all for reading, and please, like, share, comment and CLICK!
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