Monday, 8 December 2014

Book Review: THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPH BY KATE RIORDAN


My Thoughts on this atmospheric and spellbinding story ......


THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPH
BY
KATE RIORDAN


Published:  5 Jan 2015
Publisher:  Penguin books
Pages:  437 (paperback advance reading copy)


Summer, 1933, Alice Eveleigh has arrived at Fiercombe Manor in disgrace.  Hiding her shame in the beautiful yet isolated manor, in the care of housekeeper, Mrs. Jelphs, Alice soon begins to sense that something isn't quite right.  And that she is being watched ....

There are secrets at Fiercombe that those who remain there are determined to keep.  Tragedy haunts the empty rooms and foreboding hangs heavy in the stifling heat.  Traces of the previous lady of the manor, Elizabeth Stanton, are everywhere and Alice discovers Elizabeth's life eerily mirrors the path she herself is on.


The past is set to repeat its sorrows, and with devastating consequences.



**************************************************

'I could never have imagined all that would happen in those few short months and how, by the end of them, my life would have altered irrevocably and for ever'

These are the words of Alice, three years on from the long hot summer of 1933 as she recalls the events and people from that time who changed her world forever.

The story then started in 1932 as Alice is wondering when 'her life - her real life - would begin'.  She has a good job but becomes smitten with a married man and when she falls pregnant her mother suggests she go to stay at the centuries old Fiercombe Manor, deep in a Gloucestershire valley, while she awaits the birth.  

Glad to be away from London and her mother's chilly disapproval, she is almost enthusiastic about exploring the manor and tries to discover what became of the family who used to live there but no-one seems able to tell her.



I felt intrigued and almost excited, as though a mystery had presented itself to be solved.  Delving into the past was just the sort of distraction I needed to take me away from my own present.


Interspersed with Alice's story is Lady Elizabeth Stanton's story where she recalls the summer of 1898 when she too is awaiting the birth of her child. She lived in Stanton House which was nearby to Fiercombe Manor.


Alice's mind starts to play tricks on her as she has strange dreams of Elizabeth and thinks she sees glimpses in the shadows of the dusty corridors.  These events were quite scary and chilling to read and there was a real sense of foreboding as Alice gradually becomes obsessed with Elizabeth and her family and the mystery of their disappearance.


The old manor house itself has staircases that are out of bounds, locked rooms, clocks and watches don't work and there are several out buildings which have been long since demolished but no-one knows why.  The descriptions of the house and grounds are wonderfully eerie and all add to the atmosphere that builds throughout as the tale unwinds.


I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was full of wonderfully drawn characters such as Ruck, the groundsman, still there after four decades, who sees much but says little.  A well-told story that had me hooked from the beginning.



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Available from January 2015
I received an advance reading copy from Real Readers / NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

COZY CHRISTMAS CAPERS - HOLIDAY BOOK BLITZ!




HOLIDAY BOOK BLITZ
Cyber Monday - 1 December to 4 December 2014


This Book will only be available from 1 December 2014 until 31 January 2015



19 holiday short stories by 19 New York Times, USA Today and award winning authors!

Enjoy these tales of mystery, romance and laughter amid the backdrop of pine trees, gingerbread men and Santas galore!

The perfect short bites for cozying up by the fire with a cup of cocoa ........ or waiting in line for gift wrapping!





Get Your Copy Today Here





Stories include:
Rosolio Red (Franki Amato Mysteries) by Traci Andrighetti
Chasing Tinsel (Miranda Vaughn Mysteries ) by Ellie Ashe
Death of a Christmas Witch (A Crewel to be Kind Mini Mystery) by Diane Bator
Queenie Baby: Pass the Eggnog (Queenie Baby Mysteries) by Christina A. Burke
The Holiday Inside Job by Mary Jo Burke
Hard to Catch a Christmas Thief (Hard Targets) by Wendy Byrne
A Christmas Ghost & Zero Regrets (Dead by the Numbers Mysteries) by Jennifer Fischetto
Christmas Canap├ęs & Sabotage (Culinary Competition Mysteries) by Janel Gradowski
Christmas in High Heels (High Heels Mysteries) by Gemma Halliday
Christmas Al Dente (Southern Pasta Shop Mysteries) by Jennifer L. Hart
Santa Claus, Lies, and Murder (Amber Fox Mysteries) by Sibel Hodge
A (Gingerbread) Diorama of Death (Helen Binney Mysteries) by Gin Jones
Mini Pie the Christmas Spy! (Mini Pie Mysteries) by Libby LaManna
Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas (Greatest Hits Mysteries) by Leslie Langtry Ornamental Danger (Working Stiff Mysteries) by Kerri Nelson
Motion for Mistletoe (Jamie Winters Mysteries) by Kelly Rey
Christmas in Venice by Maria Grazia Swan
Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Tahoe Tessie Mysteries) by T. Sue VerSteeg
Santa’s Little Mistake by Stacey Wiedower

BUY LINKS:
Amazon UK:  http://tinyurl.com/pfrcye8

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Book Review: ISLAND OF A THOUSAND SPRINGS BY SARAH LARK


My Thoughts on this Epic Historical Novel ......

ISLAND OF A THOUSAND SPRINGS
BY
SARAH LARK


Published:  3 October 2014


London, 1732: Nora Reed, the daughter of a merchant, falls hopelessly in love with her father's clerk, Simon. Despite their differing social class, the star-crossed lovers dream of a future on a tropical island - until tragedy strikes, and Nora must face a life without her soulmate. Hopeless, Nora enters a marriage of convenience with Elias Fortnam, a widower and sugar planter in Jamaica. Even without Simon, she is determined to somehow fulfill their tropical fantasy. But life in the Caribbean doesn't turn out as Nora had dreamt. 

Nora is deeply shocked by the way plantation owners treat the slaves and decides to shake things up on her own sugar cane plantation - for the better. Surprisingly, her adult stepson Doug supports her in this endeavour when he arrives from Europe. However, his return also puts things into a state of turmoil - especially Nora's feelings. 

Just as Nora seems to be settling into her role as lady of the house, one harrowing event rips everything from her but her life... 
A gripping tale of love and hate, trust and betrayal, and a thrilling destiny set against the pristine beaches and swaying palm trees of the tropics. 


*************************************************

Island of a Thousand Springs is a wonderful epic historical novel taking you from the poorest of people living in the slums and degradation of the East End of London to the beautiful paradise island of Jamaica and the wealthy sugar cane planters.

The chasm between the two is very marked at the beginning of the book as we meet Nora, from a wealthy family, who has fallen in love with her father's clerk, Simon, who's family have fallen on to hard times. When Simon contracts a deadly illness she gives up everything to look after him.  Nora is heartbroken when he dies and when an opportunity arises to marry for convenience and live in the Caribbean Island that she and Simon had long dreamed of she took it.

She feels his spirit on the land where they had often talked of living one day.

At the start 17 year old Nora is wide-eyed and timid, spoiled by her doting father and I enjoyed seeing her grow in confidence as she was determined to help the slaves despite her husband's obvious annoyance. Her care, sympathy and respect of the slaves lives really was

I could almost see and feel and smell the Caribbean as the author's descriptive writing immersed me in the culture and diversity of Jamaica very vividly.

...the bright Caribbean sun, the beaches and the deep, blue sea ..... the landscape was often bleak, mountain ranges, where nothing other than a few cactus plants or tough grasses grew ..... tobacco, cocoa, sugar cane growing .... jungle snaking all the way down to the beach.... the air so heavy with moisture but also with the thick sweet scent of the tropics.

This was an epic novel, full of memorable characters, some twists and turns, it  was heartbreaking and compelling, very much an emotional rollercoaster, and one which I would heartily recommend!

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I received an ebook copy of this novel from Samantha at JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review.

Available from Amazon UK  -  Amazon US 




Thursday, 27 November 2014

Guest Post and Book Review: THE ABORTIONIST'S DAUGHTER BY ELISA DECARLO

I am thrilled that Elisa DeCarlo, author of The Abortionist's Daughter, set in 1916, has written a Guest Post exclusively for Carole's Book Corner looking at how women were not free to do as they pleased 100 years ago.

My review of this fabulous book follows




GUEST POST


In 1916, where my novel “The Abortionist’s Daughter” is set, a pivotal question is: can a woman be a free human being? It has been difficult to convey to contemporary women how limited a woman’s life was back then. Historians have called this “The Cult of True Womanhood.” A true woman was pious, submissive, devoted exclusively to her home and family. (It is amazing that is still some people’s ideas of a “woman’s place”!)

 My heroine, Melanie Daniels, lives in a small Adirondack village in upstate New York. Unmarried women look after family members. Married women stay home and raise children. “The weaker sex” are property, owned by either their families or their husband. Not only do they do not have the right to vote but also they are not legally citizens! Melanie wants an independent life, owing nothing to anyone.


The women’s movement achieved the goals of citizenship and the right to vote in 1920, after World War One. “The Abortionist’s Daughter” takes place before the war, when women were still restricted to traditional roles. However, after a series of setbacks, Melanie makes her way forward in life, traveling to New York City and entering the theater. At the novel’s end, she achieves her goal to be a free, independent human being.




*****************************************************






THE ABORTIONIST'S DAUGHTER
BY
ELISA DECARLO


Published:  February 2012
Publisher:  Mad Fashionista Enterprises




In 1910, before her father was convicted of accidentally killing a woman during an illegal abortion, Melanie Daniels was considered the most marriageable girl in her tiny Adirondack village. Now, six years later, the “Killer Doc” has been released from prison and the family are social outcasts. To cope with her fear of ending up an “old maid”, Melanie loses herself inside glamorous motion picture magazines. Until she meets James, a handsome stranger who promises adventure and a chance to leave the stifling small town life behind her. Shortly after they elope to New York, Melanie meets James’s ‘friend’ Gladys Dumbrille, a Broadway actress, and discovers he is not the man he seemed. In an attempt to re-invent herself, Melanie lies her way into Gladys’s new show. Their lives become intertwined in ways neither of them could have expected.

From the backwoods of the Adirondacks to the backstage of Broadway, The Abortionist’s Daughter explores love, sex, work and freedom in the first decade of the 20th century.  Filled with a colorful cast of supporting characters and vivid depictions of social mores, fashion, and family, Elisa DeCarlo tells one woman’s story with intelligence, passion, and wit.

*********************************************************

"I want to do something"

Twenty-three year old Melanie Daniels hated how her father's conviction had ruined her life, she blamed him for the townspeople shunning her and how her family went from the upper to the lower tier of society.

Melanie was a romantic, she was waiting to be swept off her feet like the stars she read about in her glossy magazines.  She was a young naive girl living in the Adirondack mountains and when one day she meets handsome, charismatic James, a 'travelling salesman' she feels like her dream has finally come true.

Running away with him to New York she declared that "she didn't care if she never saw another mountain again".  

I loved seeing New York through her eyes, she was in awe of the crowds of people, how the fashions were more daring, shorter skirts and lower necklines, she was stunned by all the bright lights, scared of the elevator and fascinated with the flushing toilet!  But she was also transfixed and loved everything about the city as well.

But Melanie discovers some harsh life lessons too and soon she is all alone and penniless and the lights aren't so bright anymore.  A friend of James, the actress, Gladys Dumbrille comes to Melanie's aid and their paths will cross again throughout the book.

She decides that the theatre stage, like the stars that she looked up to, is where she wants to be and she is determined that she won't fail.......



I enjoyed seeing Melanie change and grow as a person, I liked how she didn't want to conform, she didn't want to go back home to the Adirondacks and just barely scrape a living like her parents.

This is one of my favourite reads of this year, the writing was descriptive and well paced with some memorable characters and a wonderful leading heroine, I enjoyed the behind the scenes at the theatre and the mentions of the celebrities of the day added a realism to the story.  I found it easy to immerse myself in the New York of 1916, a man's world where it seemed that women had all the responsibilities but very little of the fun! 

I was captivated from the start and didn't want it to finish, I wanted to read more about Melanie, to see where life would lead her, and was disappointed when I turned over the last page and saw the words THE END.


************************************************

About the Author

Elisa DeCarlo has published two previous novels, "The Devil You Say" and "Strong Spirits" (Avon). She also writes a comic blog on fashion and social commentary, "Diary Of A Mad Fashionista" for which she was profiled in The New York Times in 2008. In addition, she has been an actress in theater, television, and film.


ELISA DeCARLO was raised in Westchester County, New York. Her first novel, The Devil You Say (Avon, 1994) won both “Locus Best First Novel” and “Amazing Stories Best First Novel”, and received the CaB Magazine Special Achievement Award. Its prequel, Strong Spirits, was published by Avon in 1995. Her humorous essays have been collected in the 2002 Random House anthology “Life’s A Stitch: The Best of Women’s Contemporary Humor”; Morrow Books “The Best of The New York Times’s Metropolitan Diary”; and Freedom Voices Books “Goddesses We Ain’t”. 
Her greatest love is the theater. She has written numerous award-winning solo shows, including “Toasted,” “I Love Drugs,” and “Size Matters”, which have been produced in New York, San Francisco and Chicago. Her show “I Love Drugs” was a Chicago paper’s “Critic’s Choice” in 1994, and “Cervix With a Smile” was a San Francisco Bay Guardian “Critic’s Choice” in 2005. In 2008, the New York Times profiled her in “Personality Plus” about a stage show she developed around her popular humor blog “Diary of a Mad Fashionista”. Elisa’s appeared in the popular soaps “General Hospital”, “All My Children”, and “As the World Turns”. She’s written comic spots for NPR’s All Things Considered and has performed comedy for most of her adult life, either sketch comedy or as a character monologuist. She has also written well-received plays. In 2015 the Exit Press will publish an anthology of her playwriting, I Was Born To Suffer: The Plays of Elisa DeCarlo. Elisa lives in New York with her husband, Jeff, and a fair amount of animals.

******************************************

I received an ebook from Elisa DeCarlo's publicist in exchange for an honest review and would like to thank Lori Hettler for the chance to read this lovely book.

I hope you get the chance to read it too!

Available from Amazon UK  -  Amazon US



Monday, 24 November 2014

Book Tour & Excerpt: BOB BY TEGON MAUS



BOB
BY
TEGON MAUS


Publisher:  Tirgearr Publishing 
Published:  5 September 2014
Genre:  Soft Science Fiction
Available:  eBook  approx 165 pages


After 27 years as a newspaper man, Peter Anderson’s career is slipping away… at least it was... until he stumbled upon the story of a lifetime.

 Sent to do a fluff piece about lights in the night sky over Arizona, he discovers far more than he ever expected when he comes upon a mysterious young woman held prisoner in a basement.   After helping her to escape she disappears before he can learn the truth about who she is or where she came from.   

His search for her leads him back to the lights in the sky and leaves him with more questions than answers.   The only thing he knows for certain… the only thing he can count on are the two words offered repeatedly by his friend and guide…. “IS BELT.”


*****************************************************

EXCERPT


He seized the spike, yanking it from his body, 

throwing it at her; the woman, having gotten to her 

feet, removed the second nail and braced for another 

assault on Carl, her hands bleeding freely.   

Bob now stood next to her, ready for a signal to 

charge.

"She's not what you think, mate.  She's not human.  

Believe me, on my mother's grave, she's a monster," 

Carl said, his right hand clutching his fresh wound, 

his left outstretched, as if holding them at bay. 

"I'm as human as anyone here," she shouted 

defensively, looking from side to side between Bob and 

Fred.  She bounced from foot to foot, shifting her 

weight and then lunged at Carl again.  

Everyone screamed.

The two became a tangle of legs and arms until 

Carl wrapped his enormous hand around her neck. 

I had to do something and almost without thinking, 

my hand found a cold piece of metal as I rummaged about 

the shelves for a weapon.  

The piece of metal turned out to be a pipe wrench.  I 

grabbed it with both hands and swung it as if all our 

lives depended on it.  It made a loud, metallic crack 

as it encountered the back of Carl's head and he fell 

to the floor like a sack of potatoes. 

Bob stood over him, eyeing him closely before 

looking to me.  He snapped his fingers twice and 

pointed to Fred without a word. 

It took me a moment to understand his meaning but 

the blood flowing from the back of Carl's head brought 

me to full understanding.  

I pushed my hand into my pocket, retrieving a 

fifty handing it over to Fred.  

He beamed in return, kissing the bill before 

shoving it into his pocket. 

"He's still alive," the woman said with 

disappointment, straddling his body.  She clutched the 

spike in her dripping hand as if trying to decide 

whether to stab Carl again or not.

My mind flashed with images of being found after 

breaking and entering, standing over an unconscious and 

bleeding Carl.  And if that weren't enough...  a woman 

had been nailed to a table.  All of which had begun to 

fill me with panic. 

"We have to go," I pronounced, turning for the 

stairs. 

Fred was way ahead of me, already halfway up as I 

reached the first step at the bottom.

"I need salt," the woman said flatly.  The nail 

slipped from her hand, falling to the floor with a loud 

clank. 

"We need to go," I demanded.

"And I need salt," she insisted, turning to face 

me.  

I truly saw her for the first time.  Her clothes 

were torn and blood stained, ragged looking.  She 

appeared compact, fit, almost muscular really.  Her 

strawberry red hair hung just above her shoulders, 

framing her face in an alluring way.  Something about 

her green eyes drew me, held me.  They made me feel as 

if she could see into my very soul.  Beyond that, she 

seemed ordinary, attractive but little more than 

average...  

"Emma Greenwood." 

"What?" I asked, stopping where I stood.

"You were going to ask my name," she answered, 

making her way to the steps. 

"No I wasn't," I lied. 

"Yes, you were," she insisted, pushing roughly 

past me. 

Once we reached the main level, we were greeted by 

the sound of Fred rifling through the cabinets, 

throwing pots and pans everywhere, littering the floor.  

Emma made a beeline to Fred.

"Salt... there has to be some here, somewhere... 

there has to be," she said, joining Fred in his 

destruction of the kitchen.  There was an edge of panic 

in her voice.  Her eyes had begun to take on a wild, 

desperate appearance as her search had taken on an air 

of all out urgency.

She emptied cabinet after cabinet to the floor.

"Dude," Fred said at last, excitedly holding a 

blue salt box over his head.

Emma grabbed it as if it were about to explode, 

pouring it onto her wounds and then down her throat.  

To my surprise, she swallowed it without choking 

or coughing, almost emptying the container. 

"How I needed that," she said happily.  "Let's 

go," she commanded, slamming the empty box on the 

counter.  

We ran like thieves into the night, and to think 

about it, if freeing a woman nailed to a table was 

stealing, then I suppose we were. 

No one ran faster than Fred, no one.  He ran like 

a track star, hurtling over rocks, bushes, fallen logs 

as if we were being chased by dogs, bears or lions or 

whatever the hell lived in the woods that could 

possibly be worse.  

Emma ran a close second, staying right on Fred's 

heels. 

I huffed along a distant third as best I could as 

Bob pushed me from behind.  I wasn't built for running, 

let alone running at night in the woods over every 

piece of crap nature had thrown on the ground.  

Behind us, the sound of angry voices and the 

treating whine of truck engines drifted through the 

trees. 

As expected, Fred was the first to reach the car, 

pounding on its roof repeatedly shouting at us in 

Russian.

Emma began to hammer on the top of the car, 

shouting in Russian as well, rushing me along.

Bob removed his keys, pressing the alarm release as he 

sprinted pass me again, jumping behind the wheel.  Fred 

jumped in next to him with cat like reflexes.

***************************************************************

About Tegon Maus



I was raised pretty much the same as everyone else... devoted mother, strict father and all the imaginary friends I could conjure. Not that I wasn't friendly, I just wasn't "people orientated". Maybe I lived in my head way more than I should have, maybe not. I liked machines more than people, at least I did until I met my wife.

 The first thing I can remember writing was for her. For the life of me I can't remember what it was about... something about dust bunnies under the bed and monsters in my closet. It must have been pretty good because she married me shortly after that. I spent a good number of years after inventing games and prototypes for a variety of ideas before I got back to writing. It wasn't a deliberate conscious thought, it was more of a stepping stone. 

My wife and I had joined a dream interpret group and we were encouraged to write down our dreams as they occurred. "Be as detailed as you can," we were told.I was thrilled. If there is one thing I enjoy it's making people believe me and I like to exaggerate. Not a big exaggeration or an outright lie mind you, just a little step out of sync, just enough so you couldn't be sure if it were true or not.  When I write, I always write with the effort of "it could happen" very much in mind and nothing, I guarantee you, nothing, makes me happier.

I have consistently placed in the top 3 in 189 writing contest in a variety of genres and I have been featured in magazines a couple of times to raise money for Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Website: http://www.tegonmaus.com/#!

Author on Tirgearr Website: 

http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Maus_Tegon/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TegonMaus

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tegon-

Maus/150255051766767

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/tegon/tegon-maus/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/101974688416833509592/posts


Buy 'Bob':

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

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Praise for Tegon Maus's 'Bob'


"After twenty seven years in the business, who wouldn’t want an exclusive story, especially when “It’s the BIG one?” The one which answers questions which has been asked my millions.

“Are there really aliens out there, and have they ever visited Earth?”

Well, journalist Peter Anderson is given the opportunity to find the answers to these questions, a journalists dream. However first he must travel to Payson, Arizona and interview Professor Donald Thorpe, luckily the doorman at the hotel has a ‘friend’ who can drive him. Meet 
Dimitri Rurik Petrova otherwise known as Bob!

The Professor says he has proof that the lights in the sky are real, and, what Peter sees that day, changes his life forever.

Soon, Peter and Bob find themselves rescuing Emma, a beautiful woman they discover being horribly tortured in a basement. Then the fun begins as we discover the answers to many questions. If you’ve always wondered about those lights in the desert, if little green men have visited earth, and if spaceships exist the answers could be here….

Whether or not you believe the outcome, there is no denying that you will have great fun reading this very enjoyable science fiction story. It has all the essential components, good characters, a great plot and plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing, right up until the end."- 

Susan Keefe, Book Reviews by Susan Keefe

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"This is a cute science fiction piece that can't be put down until the last "cousin" is discovered. Bob is so zany and endearing one can't help but to love him in spite of his nefarious ways. 
This adventure moves very quickly, so one must keep on their toes to keep up with the action. This novel starts off as the typical lights in the sky story, but quickly morphs into an entirely unique tale of good and evil and the reader is kept on the edge of their seat waiting to see what happens next. The end is completely unexpected but completely hilarious. Anyone into sci-fi or comedy would enjoy this delightful little 
gem that is worth reading again and again."- Belinda Wilson, Amazon Reviewer

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