Posted on

In the Heart of Windy Pines by Holly Tierney-Bedord

Synopsis

From the author of Kindle Unlimited All-Star winner Sweet Hollow Women comes a new novella featuring characters from Murder at Mistletoe Manor, Carnage at the Christmas Party, and The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club!

Klarinda Snow is the innkeeper of Mistletoe Manor in beautiful, remote, Windy Pines, Idaho, where she brings her unique brand of hospitality to the tiny mountain town.

When she finds her inn unexpectedly fully booked on a snowy Tuesday night in November, it brings back memories of a tragedy years before. Before she knows what hit her, she and her trusty team of employees (Myrtle, Pierre, and her new night manager, Josephine), have found themselves back at the task of solving another mystery at Mistletoe Manor!

While this book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novella, if you plan to read the books in the Windy Pines Mystery series or The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club, it’s highly recommended you read those first, as this book contains spoilers that could affect your ability to enjoy them.

My review
This is a quick and delightful read. The guests at Klarinda’s full-to-bursting hotel Mistletoe Manor get snowed in, and things take a turn for the mysterious. A familiar trope but one that it most certainly not stale when in the hands of this author.
We have a wonderful assembly of personalities that interact in good and bad ways. All very believable, and with emotional depth.
The plot is clever with enough tension to keep you riveted to the action. There’s complexity and cleverness in it and it makes for plenty of enjoyment.
There’s not just a mystery and a seasonal, wintry atmosphere, but also romance, which is a nice little extra!
The book is part of a series, but it works as a standalone although there’s more to gain from reading the whole series in order.

 

 

Purchase Links

About the author
Holly Tierney-Bedord lives in Madison, Wisconsin. She’s the author of over twenty books including The Woman America Loves a Latte, The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club, and Kindle Unlimited All-Star winner Sweet Hollow Women.
For more information or to subscribe to Holly’s newsletter, visit www.hollytierneybedord.com.

www.amazon.com/Holly-Tierney-Bedord/e/B00M3C9W3E
www.instagram.com/authorhollytierneybedord/
www.goodreads.com/author/show/6433388.Holly_Tierney_Bedord
www.bookbub.com/authors/holly-tierney-bedord
www.facebook.com/HollyRecommends/

Giveaway to Win a $5 Starbucks card (Open INT)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494322/

Giveaway to Win a complete collection of Holly Tierney-Bedord audiobooks (Open UK / US Only)
Only open to those who have a UK or US Amazon Audible Account.
Prize includes these audiobooks – https://www.audible.co.uk/search?keywords=holly+tierney-bedord&ref=
*Terms and Conditions –UK and US entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494323/

Posted on 1 Comment

A Forgiven Friend by Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape: fun amidst the chaos

A Forgiven Friend: Lies, Loss, and Love, But Always Friendship

Friendship will always come first.

There’s only one way out from rock bottom and that’s up, and Teri Meyer is finally crawling out from the worst time of her life – no thanks to her best friend Lee. But no matter, she’s finally found love – real love with a real man, a successful man, a man who accepts all her flaws. Teri’s never felt like this before, and yet it’s changing her in ways she doesn’t understand.

And there’s only one person who can help, one person who truly understands Teri.

It seems that no matter how hard Lee Harper tries, there’s a battle awaiting her at every turn these days, and she’s tired. And as if she needs the extra stress, Teri continues to create constant and unnecessary drama. But Lee’s the only one who really knows what’s going on under Teri’s hard, convoluted exterior, and that’s why she’s always been there for her.

But the question is: will Teri be there when Lee needs her most?

The brilliant and entertaining final book in the unique FRIENDS trilogy dishes out another dose of rib-tickling mayhem for our favourite thirty-something professional women.

 

My review

A Forgiven Friend is the third in a trilogy of novellas, but that said it works fine as a standalone. I suspect there may be added richness from knowing what’s come before, but I’m sure that after reading this book you’ll want to rush off and read the preceding two as quickly as possible. (These are A Falling Friend and A Forsaken Friend.)

The book is written by two lady authors who make a fantastic team. And we have two women as our heroines in the story, Lee and Teri. I hope that Sue and Susan get on better than their creations! Lee and Teri have a volatile relationship, at times almost childish in their vacillations from hate to love, blame and apologies, betrayal and loyalty. But as the title suggests, they truly love each other and will always forgive. There is also a deep maturity and sincerity to their friendship.

Lee and Teri are chalk and cheese. Teri is impulsive, frequently thoughtless and not the sort to think before she speaks. Lee is more considered, thoughtful and restrained. They are attracted and annoyed by the opposing qualities they see in their friend.

As mid-thirties heroines they have a bit of baggage and are embroiled in family dramas. Those of us of a similar vintage, or beyond, and situation will recognise so much of it! This aspect makes the characters very rounded and convincing.

There’s plenty of fun amidst the chaos in this novella, and so much to enjoy.

 

Purchase Links


Biographies: Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape

Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape are both former newspaper journalists with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers and magazines, and in public relations.

More recently they have worked in higher education, teaching journalism – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at Leeds Trinity University.

The pair, who have been friends for almost 30 years, wrote two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction (both published by Sage), before deciding to turn their hands to fiction.

The first novel in their Friends series, A Falling Friend, was released in 2016. A Forsaken Friend followed two years later, and the final book in the trilogy, A Forgiven Friend, published on November 19.

Sue, who is married with two grown-up daughters, and the most ‘gorgeous granddaughter in the whole world’, loves reading, writing and Nordic walking in the beautiful countryside near her Yorkshire home.

Susan is married and lives in a village near Leeds, and, when not writing, loves walking and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales. She is also a member of a local ukulele orchestra.

They blog about books at https://bookloversbooklist.com/

Follow them on Twitter: @SueF_Writer and @wordfocus

Posted on 1 Comment

The Last Landlady by Laura Thompson: a serving of social commentary, history and memoir to be lingered over

Summary

Award-winning biographer Laura Thompson pays homage to the English pub through the remarkable story of her grandmother, the first woman in England to be given a publican’s licence in her own name

Laura Thompson’s grandmother Violet was one of the great landladies. Born in a London pub, she became the first woman to be given a publican’s licence in her own name and, just as pubs defined her life, she seemed in many ways to embody their essence. Laura spent part of her childhood in Violet’s Home Counties establishment, mesmerised by her gift for cultivating the mix of cosiness and glamour that defined the pub’s atmosphere, making it a unique reflection of the national character. Her memories of this time are just as intoxicating: beer and ash on the carpets in the morning, the deepening rhythms of mirth at night, the magical brightness of glass behind the bar… Through them Laura traces the story of the English pub, asking why it has occupied such a treasured position in our culture. But even Violet, as she grew older, recognised that places like hers were a dying breed, and Laura also considers the precarious future they face. Part memoir, part social history, part elegy, The Last Landlady pays tribute to an extraordinary woman and the world she epitomised.

 

My review

This book is a beguiling mix of social commentary, history and memoir. The figure of the author’s landlady grandmother provides the central figure around whom the gentle decline of the English pub in the last quarter of the twentieth century.

The book begins with the landlady, Violet, and pubs in their heyday. Pubs were busy, welcoming, friendly places. As a child during that era I went to pubs with my parents and had lemonade and a pack of pork scratchings and happily soaked up the noise and smoke of my surroundings. As a teen I was in clubs and organisations that met in pubs, and the same as a student. Back home on Christmas Eves back home we’d all pack into a pub for a drink to mark the occasion.

During this time our landlady in the book struggled to get a grip with decimal money and dreadfully undercharged her customers, which is both touching and generous. She is somehow an emblem of timelessness, of continuity and dependence in a changing world.

Because it was changing. The large pub chains barged in and started doing food. When I was in my twenties on Friday lunchtime the whole office I worked in, and everyone else’s, went to the pub. Pubs now did ploughman’s lunches and other basic food. Some, anyway. Our landlady resisted the change for as long as she could, as did many others. Pubs were there for drinks, not food. Things slowly morphed into pubs becoming pretty much restaurants with a bar attached. I remember feeling quite sad at how our local pubs at home changed with this development. The atmosphere was different. From not going too far wrong with serving a drink, suddenly the proprietors had more to worry about. Would people complain about the food, the service, the length of time it took to cook it, the décor? An air of subservience emerged that these days has run riot with endless feedback and over-entitlement on the part of consumers.

We see our landlady slowly diminishing, yet never losing her dignity, along with the pub but she fights it all the way. She’s a fascinating figure, who eventually accepts that times are changing and so moves grudgingly but gracefully with them.

I enjoyed this book not just because of the superb writing and interesting subject, but also because I’ve witnessed this sanitising, character-destroying evolution of the pub. This book brings back lovely memories of a more honest, down-to-earth times, of genuineness, which the landlady personifies. It’s a wonderful read.     

The author

Laura Thompson won the Somerset Maugham award with her first book, The Dogs , and wrote two books about horse racing while living in Newmarket. Her biographical study of Nancy Mitford, Life in a Cold Climate, appeared in 2003 (re-issued 2015) and was followed by a major biography of Agatha Christie. A Different Class of Murder: The Story of Lord Lucan was published in 2014, and 2015’s Take Six Girls: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters was recently sold to television. She lives in Richmond.

 

Posted on

Re-Navigation by Sue Parritt: a must-read

Synopsis

A gloomy seascape is of little consequence to Julia, as a ferry transports her to an isolated Welsh island to undertake a Spiritual Development course.

Soon, Julia finds herself surrounded by new friends and questions. As relationships deepen, so does Julia’s feeling that something crucial is missing from her life.

As passion ignites and deep-buried secrets surface, Julia faces choices that will forever change the direction of her life. But at what cost?

 

My review

The synopsis above neatly encapsulates the intriguing story so I’ll focus here on the impressive presentation of this book.

Sue Parritt is such an interesting writer. She chooses unusual, challenging themes and her style is elegant and literary. She creates beautiful images and complex, engrossing characters.

Her books aren’t ones you can skim through or half-read while half-watching the telly. You don’t dare! This author demands your full attention and has you really thinking about things. If she can get you to drop any preconceived notions or go-to platitudes you many harbour then she will. Here faith and spirituality in particular are brought into the spotlight in a none-too-gentle way, and other rigid ‘beliefs’ are dissected too.

As with another novel by this author that I recently reviewed, ‘Feed Thy Enemy’, the title works on different levels. The ‘Re-Navigation’ could refer to our central character Julia now physically navigating new waters in leaving Australia to come to Wales, or to her finding a new direction for her soul, or generally getting her life back on track. Or all or none of these.

Decide for yourself. This is a must-read.

 

Purchase Links:

AU – https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07NN9LGG4

US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NN9LGG4

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NN9LGG4

Book Depositorywww.bookdepository.com/Re-Navigation-Sue-Parritt/9781097158850

 

Author bio 

Originally from England, Sue worked in university libraries until taking early retirement in 2008 to concentrate on creative writing. Since then she has written short stories, articles, poetry, a short TV drama script and six novels:

Sannah and the Pilgrim, first in a trilogy of a future dystopian Australia focusing on climate change and the harsh treatment of refugees from drowned Pacific islands. Odyssey Books, 2014. Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2014.

Pia and the Skyman, Odyssey Books, 2016. Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2016.

The Sky Lines Alliance, Odyssey Books, 2016.

Chrysalis, the story of a perceptive girl growing up in a Quaker family in swinging sixties’ Britain. Morning Star Press, 2017

Re-Navigation recounts a life turned upside down when forty-year old Julia journeys from the sanctuary of middle-class Australian suburbia to undertake a retreat at a college located on an isolated Welsh island. Creativia Publishing, 2019.

Feed Thy Enemy, based on her father’s experiences, is an account of courage and compassion in the face of trauma as a British airman embarks on a plan that risks all to feed a starving, war-stricken family. Creativia Publishing, 2019.

Sue’s current project, A Question of Country, is a novel exploring the migrant experience through the protagonist’s lifelong search for meaningful identity.

Passionate about peace and social justice issues, Sue’s goal as a fiction writer is to continue writing novels that address topics such as climate change, the effects of war, the treatment of refugees, feminism and racism.  Sue intends to keep on writing for as long as possible, believing the extensive life experiences of older writers can be employed to engage readers of all ages.

 

Social Media Links –

Website: www.sueparritt.com

Facebook – www.facebook.com/SueParrittAuthor

Posted on

Feed Thy Enemy by Sue Parritt: a privilege to read

Synopsis
In this heart-warming narrative based on a true story, a British airman embarks on a plan that risks it all to feed a starving, war-stricken family.
Thirty years after serving in World War II, middle-aged Rob’s holiday plans see an unforeseen change that leads him on a coach tour of Italy. Struggling with post-war PTSD and depression, he reluctantly agrees to the journey – and sparks a dream that plunges him into long-stifled memories.
Set in Europe, Sue Parritt’s Feed Thy Enemy is an account of courage and compassion in the face of trauma. When Rob’s flashback delves into his attempts to save a famished family with a series of increasingly daring raids on his army’s supply stores, will he trigger suppressed remembrances of past war, love, and sacrifice – and find the strength to confront them in the present?

My review
Dual timeline novels really do seem to on the up and up. They’re all I seem to be reading at the moment! Well, here’s one that is more narrative fiction than anything, and which is a real privilege to read. The main character, Rob, is the author’s father. This brave man fought for his country but suffered disastrous after-effects.
Which enemy is the title referring to? The wartime enemy who scarred his life so badly? The PTSD he suffered? Maybe even his wife who tries to get him to face his past and finally conquer the bad memories it brings? I love when there are layers like this to a story that make you have to think and consider.
There are good memories too. In the wartime thread of the story we also get to see Rob’s lighter escapades. We get a real sense of who he is as a person. Wife Ivy too is lovingly portrayed in great detail. There are even portraits which add an extra element.
This is a moving, challenging, beautiful story. The author very sensitively handles mental health issues and makes them meaningful and immediate. It’s a book that will stay with you for a long time.

Purchase links
AUS – www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07R6SXZ84
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07R6SXZ84
US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07R6SXZ84

Author bio

Originally from England, Sue worked in university libraries until taking early retirement in 2008 to concentrate on creative writing. Since then she has written short stories, articles, poetry, a short TV drama script and six novels:
Sannah and the Pilgrim, first in a trilogy of a future dystopian Australia focusing on climate change and the harsh treatment of refugees from drowned Pacific islands. Odyssey Books, 2014. Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2014.
Pia and the Skyman, Odyssey Books, 2016. Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2016.
The Sky Lines Alliance, Odyssey Books, 2016.
Chrysalis, the story of a perceptive girl growing up in a Quaker family in swinging sixties’ Britain. Morning Star Press, 2017
Re-Navigation recounts a life turned upside down when forty-year old Julia journeys from the sanctuary of middle-class Australian suburbia to undertake a retreat at a college located on an isolated Welsh island. Creativia Publishing, 2019.
Feed Thy Enemy, based on her father’s experiences, is an account of courage and compassion in the face of trauma as a British airman embarks on a plan that risks all to feed a starving, war-stricken family. Creativia Publishing, 2019.
Sue’s current project, A Question of Country, is a novel exploring the migrant experience through the protagonist’s lifelong search for meaningful identity.

Passionate about peace and social justice issues, Sue’s goal as a fiction writer is to continue writing novels that address topics such as climate change, the effects of war, the treatment of refugees, feminism and racism. Sue intends to keep on writing for as long as possible, believing the extensive life experiences of older writers can be employed to engage readers of all ages.
Social Media Links – www.facebook.com/SueParrittAuthor/ Website: www.sueparritt.com

Posted on

The Summer House in Santorini by Samantha Parks: uplifting and summery

The Summer House in Santorini

One summer in Greece will change everything…

Anna’s running away. From a failed relationship, a dead-end career and a complicated family life.

On the island of Santorini, with its picturesque villas, blue-tiled roofs, and the turquoise waters of the Aegean lapping at the white sand beaches, Anna inherits a less-than-picturesque summer house from her estranged father. As she rebuilds the house, she rebuilds her life, uncovering family secrets along the way that change everything. She starts to fall for her little slice of paradise, as well as for gorgeous, charming Nikos.

Will Anna lose her heart in more ways than one?

 

My review

This is a summer breeze of a novel about difficult decisions and new beginnings, about discovery and rethinking. Our heroine Anna has a few unpleasant issues to face in the story and realisations to make. Whilst at the start she’s definitely in a bit of a rut the tone is always positive and the story becomes more uplifting as it progresses.

Anna is self-contained and strong, maybe a little entitled even, but not above needing the love and support of others. She manages alone, but she really shines in company and life is more rewarding. She comes to realise the world doesn’t owe her a living. She can and has to influence things herself. Niko and Elena provide the friendship and encouragement she needs to take a good look at where she is and where she wants to be. They give her the courage she requires to start anew.

The setting is glorious. A Greek island in summer must be many people’s dream, and you can see why in the pages of this book. The colours and scents are described, as well as the atmosphere of this place, so very different from the greyness of home, which seeps into the story.

A delightful read for the summer.

 

Purchase links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-House-Santorini-Samantha-Parks-ebook/dp/B07JHLMQFV

US – https://www.amazon.com/Summer-House-Santorini-Samantha-Parks-ebook/dp/B07JHLMQFV

 

Author bio

Samantha Parks is the pen name of Sam Gale. Her pen name comes from her late grandmother Velma Hobbs nee Parks, who was one of Sam’s greatest role models. Sam was born in North Carolina but now resides in Bournemouth, UK with her husband Alex. She owns a successful marketing company and is enjoying her slow descent into “crazy plant lady” status.

 

Social media links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/samanthajgale

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/searchingforsamantha/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/samanthaparksauthor

Website/blog: https://www.samanthaparks.com/

Posted on 1 Comment

Cultivating a Fuji by Miriam Drori: richly rewarding to read

Synopsis

Convinced that his imperfect, solitary existence is the best it will ever be, Martin unexpectedly finds himself being sent to represent his company in Japan. His colleagues think it’s a joke; his bosses are certain he will fail. What does Martin think? He simply does what he’s told. That’s how he’s survived up to now – by hiding his feelings.

Amazingly, in the land of strange rituals, sweet and juicy apples, and too much saké, Martin flourishes and achieves the impossible. But that’s only the beginning. Keeping up the momentum for change proves futile. So, too, is a return to what he had before. Is there a way forward, or should he put an end to the search now?

Gradually, as you’ll see when Martin looks back from near the end of his journey, life improves. There’s even a woman, Fiona, who brings her own baggage to the relationship, but brightens Martin’s days. And just when you think there can be no more surprises, another one pops up.

Throughout his life, people have laughed at ‘weirdo’ Martin; and you, as you read, will have plenty of opportunity to laugh, too. Go ahead, laugh away, but you’ll find that there’s also a serious side to all this…

 

My review

Oh my goodness, this is such a moving and lovely story!

It’s essentially the story of one man’s lifelong battle with social anxiety. Martin is intelligent and compassionate but struggles to integrate in social situations. He’s bullied at school and generally life is pretty miserable for him. He’s unappreciated, but he soldiers on.

Fortunately he gets a lucky break (although not for the colleague who suffers a broken leg) at work and stands in for someone on a trip to Japan. Everyone expects Martin will be a disaster, Martin included, but Japan provides a very different environment for this gentle person to blossom in. This is his milieu.

The story isn’t just that – there’s much more going on. This is a very cleverly constructed novel and beautifully written. There’s no preaching or wallowing. The author presents the issue of social anxiety and gives us a view from both sides: from those who experience it and those who feel that it’s OK to put others down and induce such misery. There’s hope and despair, love and disappointment, achievement and failure, happiness and missed opportunities in this richly textured book that’s rewarding and poignantly enjoyable to read.

 

 

Purchase Link – mybook.to/cultivatingafuji

Author Bio –
Miriam Drori has decided she’s in the fifth and best stage of her life, and she’s hoping it’ll last for ever. It’s the one in which she’s happiest and most settled and finally free to do what she wants. Miriam lives in a delightful house and garden in Jerusalem with her lovely husband and one of three children. She enjoys frequent trips around the world. She dances, hikes, reads and listens to music. And she’s realised that social anxiety is here to stay, so she might as well make friends with it. On top of that, she has moved away from computer programming and technical writing (although both of those provided interest in previous stages) and now spends her time editing and writing fiction. NEITHER HERE NOR THERE (currently unavailable), a romance with a difference set in Jerusalem, was published in 2014. THE WOMEN FRIENDS, co-written with Emma Rose Millar, is a series of novellas based on the famous painting by Gustav Klimt. SOCIAL ANXIETY REVEALED (non-fiction) provides a comprehensive description of social anxiety from many different viewpoints. CULTIVATING A FUJI takes the social anxiety theme into fiction, using humour to season a poignant story.

Social Media Links –  Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram, Wattpad, website/blog and social anxiety blog.

Amazon page: Author.to/MiriamDroriAtAmazon

 

And look, there’s a giveaway! Do enter.

 

Giveaway to Win copies of Neither Here No There and Social Anxiety Revealed  (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494227/?

 

Posted on

Reflected Destinies by Florence Keeling: Mother’s Day Kindle promo

Reflected Destinies

Laura is happy and content, she has a new boyfriend and loves her job teaching primary school pupils in London.  But when she inherits a rundown house from a stranger on her 30th birthday, memories of her prom night come flooding back, memories of a scary encounter and an antique mirror in the very same house.

Laura visits the house with all its secrets and as she unravels the clues she reveals the biggest secret of all: her own destiny.  But how can you change the future if it’s already written in the past?

 

Purchase Link – http://mybook.to/reflecteddestinies

 

To celebrate Mother’s Day, Reflected Destinies will be half price from 29th March to 1st April.

About Florence Keeling

?

Florence Keeling adopted for her pen-name her Great Grandmother’s name, chosen because of the shared birthday of April Fool’s Day.  She is married with two teenage chidren.  Born and raised in Coventry, England she now lives just outside in Nuneaton.  Reflected Destinies is her first novel.

Florence Keeling also writes for children under the name of Lily Mae Walters.

 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/florence.keeling.7

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KeelingFlorence

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/florence.keeling/

 

Posted on

Strays and Relations by Dizzy Greenfield: lively, engaging and moving

Synopsis

Strays and Relations follows the story of Dizzy, whose search for her birth parents is sad, humorous, and in parts bizarre. Dizzy learns that she began life as a surviving twin, then was fostered until a permanent home was found.

Dizzy begins her search for her original identity. Why was she given up for adoption in the 1960s? Following a tenuous lead, she travels to Ireland with her best friend Sugar, but the trail takes a misleading turn. It ends in what they mistakenly believe is Dizzy’s mother’s grave.

Dizzy falls in love with Will, a blacksmith. But something is missing. Dizzy’s life changes when her birth father Tommy makes contact using a private detective. He reveals that her birth mother is alive and married to a man called Vernon. Now the bigger, trickier task lies ahead: working out how to fit the disparate bits of her life together. This is a book which will both amuse and touch readers’ hearts.

Strays and Relations manages sensitive subject matter with engaging wit and sharply-observed dialogue, and includes vivid descriptions of some rather unusual animals and people. It will appeal to readers who have encountered a recycled animal or family.

 

My review

This book makes for a truly enjoyable reading. The author has an engaging, lively style that it’s hard to drag yourself away from. It’s no surprise, then, to find her story is equally as absorbing and eventful.

It’s about a woman searching for her biological mother – not because her adopted family is less than perfect, far from it, but to satisfy natural curiosity and deal with a few lurking issues. Non-adoptees possibly find this need to search, this need for some sort of answer, puzzling. They have a loving family and surely that’s enough? It’s not quite so straightforward. I think the most moving scene of the book is where Dizzy has her baby in her arms and realises that at last she has a blood relative.

Feeling a bit like a stray herself, Dizzy has a lot of love and understanding to lavish on an assortment of abandoned animals that come her way.

Dizzy is pragmatic in her search, at times helped and hindered by her friend Sugar. They have fun along the way, as well as making some sad discoveries. Yet there’s no mawkishness about the story, just positivity and determination. It’s full of energy and indomitable spirit. Plenty of humour too, particularly in Mum’s Great Craft Movement, which I guiltily realise is something I’ve inflicted on my own family…

You’ll enjoy the spirit and entertainment of this novel, which deals with a difficult subject with sensitivity but at the same time gusto and grit. A fabulous read.

 

Purchase Links

https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/contemporary/strays-and-relations/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Strays-Relations-Hours-Decades-Greenfield-ebook/dp/B07BGF2YKF/

https://www.amazon.com/Strays-Relations-Hours-Decades-Greenfield-ebook/dp/B07BGF2YKF/

 

Author bio

I have lived in the West Country all of my life, but never in such a remote place as I do now –  in the middle of the woods with rooks and bats.  It may be remote but it’s never quiet in Dizzyland! When I’m not looking after the dogs, chickens and a six-toed cat, I help run a blacksmith’s forge with my partner.

My ideas come from humorous incidents in my own life, which I fictionalise. Strays and Relations is my first novel.

Before I began writing I had various jobs, including working in a wildlife park and as a youth worker.

Social Media Links

Website: http://www.dizzygreenfield.co.uk/

http://silvercrowbooks.co.uk/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39290813-strays-and-relations?from_search=true

https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/contemporary/strays-and-relations/

Twitter:  @DizzyGreenfield

Posted on

Fishing for Maui by Isa Pearl Ritchie: a compassionate novel about a courageous family

I’m delighted to be taking part on this the opening day for the blog tour of this lyrical and unique novel.

Synopsis

A novel about food, whanau (= family, essentially), and mental illness.
Valerie reads George Eliot to get to sleep – just to take her mind off worries over her patients, her children, their father and the next family dinner. Elena is so obsessed with health, traditional food, her pregnancy and her blog she doesn’t notice that her partner, Malcolm the ethicist, is getting himself into a moral dilemma of his own making. Evie wants to save the world one chicken at a time. Meanwhile her boyfriend, Michael is on a quest to reconnect with his M?ori heritage and discover his own identity. Rosa is eight years old and lost in her own fantasy world, but she’s the only one who can tell something’s not right. Crisis has the power to bring this family together, but will it be too late?

My review
The story is set in New Zealand and centres on a family. It’s helpful, I think, to quickly run through the relationships and say a little about the main characters. There’s Valerie, the mother, who was married to a Maori man. There’s Elena, the elder daughter, who’s pregnant. She’s a food blogger and we see some of her posts in the book. She’s married to the philandering Malcolm.
Michael is Valerie’s son. He’s at university and lives the life of a carefree twenty-year-old, chilling with friends and enjoying himself. He’s very interested in Maori culture, which he learns about from his grandmother, Gayle.
There’s also youngest child, Rosa, a very precocious eight-year-old, and from whose mouth come some very astute observations, and also there’s close family friend and activist Evie.

These are the main characters who act as narrators in turn. Each voice is distinct, and not just from the point of view it conveys but also in the language and imagery. Each person faces some sort of crisis, some more major than others. But none of it is over the top since we see the family cope, the way that close families do, with whatever life throws at them. The serious issue of mental health that crops up is particularly sensitively handled.
Another thing to know about is the reference to Maui in the book’s title. In Maori mythology he is a clever trickster. One of his accomplishments was to catch a giant fish using his grandmother’s jawbone as a hook. He attempted to make humankind immortal by tricking the Goddess of the Night, but he failed and died. When you read the book you will see how this title is so apt for this story.
It’s a lyrical and moving story, beautifully written, slow and steady to begin with but the pace and tension build as problems begin to emerge. Not all are completely solved but the family show strength and courage as they deal with them. Each of them moves from being rather self-absorbed at the start of the story to developing a wider awareness of their loved ones and their own role in the pattern of their family. Personal and cultural clashes are faced and dealt with.
This is a very thought-provoking, compassionate, enlightening and absorbing novel. Most enjoyable.

Purchase Links
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Fishing-Maui-Isa-Pearl-Ritchie-ebook/dp/B07DZBXSCN/
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fishing-Maui-Isa-Pearl-Ritchie-ebook/dp/B07DZBXSCN/
Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/826608

Author bio
Isa Ritchie is a Wellington-based writer. She grew up as a P?keh? child in a bicultural family and M?ori was her first written language. She has completed a PhD on food sovereignty in Aotearoa. She is passionate about food, wellbeing and social justice.

Social Media Links
https://www.facebook.com/isapearlritchie/
https://twitter.com/IsaPearlRitchie
https://www.instagram.com/isapearlritchie/

Follow the rest of the tour: