The Daughter-in-law Syndrome – a review

The Daughter-in-law Syndrome
by Stevie Turner
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I can still remember my mother’s reaction when, aged 20, I announced that I was engaged to be married. It was my finacée’s 17th birthday and I had made the proposal some six months previously. My mother believed I was throwing my life away, that the young woman she referred to as a ‘floosy’ was certainly not good enough for me. That was 54 years ago and ‘the floosy’ and I are still happily married. It took a long time for the pair of them to become reconciled to the fact of our love for each other.

I mention this to illustrate how easily I can relate to the problems faced by Stevie Turner’s female protagonist, Arla and her controlling mother-in-law Edna. After 30 years of marriage, Arla still feels ostracised by her mother-in-law and her husband’s two sisters. She is frustrated by her husband’s apparent indifference and his determination to support and defend Edna. Arla engages a counsellor who helps her to analyse these feelings but it is only when her son, Stuart, introduces the woman he intends to marry that understanding begins to dawn.

I found all of the principle characters in this novel to be entirely believable. The nuances of relationships; the little irritations we accept rather than cause upset by pointing them out, the lies, not all of them little, we tell to justify our prejudices, are all well realised. I particularly liked Ric, the husband, and the way he and Arla interacted with each other.

Stevie has a section of her blog devoted to feminism and its heroines so it was a surprise to find that the woman in this story who plays the most important role in helping Arla and her in-laws to settle their differences is someone whose sole ambition is to be a stay-at-home wife. Stevie evidently believes in the importance of women being able to make such choices without being subjected either to peer pressure or financial contraints.

This is a book that will be unlikely to appeal to many men. Many women, on the other hand, will find much to enjoy in this perceptive analysis of contemporary family relationships.

Frank Parker
(This review has appeared elsewhere.)

Stevie Turner has been previously promoted on Reading Recommendations. Frank Parker answered a call on my blog for reviews and sent me this he’d written earlier. Frank is a published author and writes the blog, Frank Parker’s author site: A Septuagenarian’s ramblings

Baudelaire’s Revenge and Dangerous Obsessions – 3 reviews and an interview

Bob Van Laerhoven is one of my favourite authors who writes both fiction and non-fiction – and also happens to live in Belgium, the country my mother and grandparents emigrated from to Canada in 1919. (Bob helped me too with the Flemish spelling of those all-important swear words I use in my Grandparent Stories!) Bob has been featured several times on Reading Recommendations and I have already posted other reviews of his work here on reading recommendations reviewed.

Baudelaire’s Revenge
by Bob Van Laerhoven

Purchase copies here

Recently, Bob’s latest novel, Baudelaire’s Revenge, has received excellent reviews and Bob was also featured in an interview at one of the sites. So here are links to those two reviews and the interview.

Quick Book Reviews“Baudelaire’s Revenge” by Bob van Laerhoven – A Poet’s Resurrection and Interview with Bob Van Laerhoven – A Writer’s Philosophy

Huffington PostDon’t Miss This Flemish Thriller Set In Paris

Dangerous Obsessions
by Bob Van Laerhoven

Purchase copies here

Bob’s collection of short fiction, Dangerous Obsessions, has also recently been reviewed in Quick Book Reviews“Dangerous Obsessions” by Bob Van Laerhoven – Our Uniting Factor

And, if that wasn’t enough … Bob has shared the cover of the Russian edition of Baudelaire’s Revenge, which will be released this month (April)!

Desert Flower – a review

Desert Flower
by Zohra Saeed

Purchase copies here

Zohra Saeed is the pen name for Rohini Sunderam, a semi-retired advertising copywriter.

Reviewed by Lisa McCombs for Readers’ Favorite

Until the day the stranger came to Bahr’ein, Noor had never questioned her position in life. She was a dutiful daughter, a positive role model to her younger siblings, and in line to follow in her mother’s footsteps as is expected in her culture. Once she sets eyes on the fair Canadian, her priorities change. It is with a heavy heart that she recognizes his commitment to including her in his Western culture. It isn’t possible. The shame her betrayal would mean to her country and family would never allow her to follow her heart. Even if it was possible to escape with him, the fear of the unknown made this a dangerous plan. Yet, the stranger continues to haunt her days in his presence until he is forced to leave.

Continue reading review here …

Review appeared on Readers’ Favorite: Book Reviews

Rohini Sunderam has previously been featured on Reading Recommendations here and here. Lisa McCombs is an author an reviewer for Readers’ Favorite.

The Burning Years – a review

The Burning Years
by Felicity Harley

Purchase copies here

Imagine a cackle of hyenas are chasing you towards the edge of a precipice. Do you stay and fight or do you take a leap into the unknown? In the slow motion of everyday life this might seem like an eccentric analogy to illustrate humanity’s impact on each other via climate change, but we all know time is relative. If we don’t get a handle on this most pressing of issues then it will get a handle on us, and it’ll all be over in the blink of an eye. To distant observers at least.

The Burning Years is a novel set in the mid- to latter twenty-first century, at a time when Earth has being badly scorched by the sun as a result of climate change and humans’ disastrous attempts to control the weather instead of looking after the environment. As a consequence of the negligence of successive generations, people are now having to move underground in order to survive the harsh new world their grandparents created for them. A plutocracy governs the United States, in much the same way as it does now (although many will disagree with me on that point).

Continue reading review here …

Jamie Flook
(This review was originally published on

Felicity Harley has been previously featured on Reading Recommendations as an author and on my main blog as a guest blogger. Jamie Flook is a writer who has contributed to Popular Science, Boing Boing, Hack Circus,, Crooked Scoreboard, The Huffington Post, and Devolution Z.

Fascination – a different kind of book review

by Kevin Brennan

Purchase copies here

A Different Kind of Book Review: Fascination #bookreview #guerillapublishing

Hello, friends, I am overdue for a book review and I’m a poet, doncha know it 🙂 Silliness aside, I’m reviewing Kevin Brennan’s latest novel, Fascination. If you’ve been a follower of my blog for any length of time, then you know I’m a yuge fan of Kevin’s writing (and I kind of like the guy too). Fascination is also special because Kevin is selling his novel by himself, no middle man for this man. He calls it #guerillapublishing. I hope you enjoy the review and do, please do, buy the novel!


Mary looked jealously at the colorful display on her cousin Maggie’s laptop, her feelings deepening as Maggie scrolled through the novel, showing her the pictures included with the novel they were to discuss that night. Even the stark landscape of Colorado was appealing with its white clouds, soft blue sky and camel-colored earth. She smiled tightly, not wanting to let Maggie to even have a hint of her feelings, but still, she did enjoy her Kindle Paperwhite. And, now that she thought about it, the black and white version of the photos gave the novel a darker undercurrent, one she could still feel under her skin.

“The thing about Brennan’s novels is that he always creates characters and stories that get under my skin.”

Mary looked up, startled to hear Randy echo her own thoughts. It was as if he knew her better than she knew herself, much like Clive knew Sally better than she knew herself. These two characters in Fascination, this latest novel by Kevin Brennan, were two people she wasn’t likely to ever forget.

Randy took a sip of his coffee and then resumed as Mary and her two cousins, Maggie and Melissa, gave him their attention.

“On the surface of this novel, it’s a crazy kind of a road trip for a crazy kind of reason. There’s a lot of humor in Fascination, with everything and everyone being fair game for a pun. But there’s a sadness too, especially with Sally. She is so naive and your heart just aches for her to understand what’s she’s doing to herself and the people around her.”

Melissa nodded her head a bit aggressively, as if to be sure that she would be the next to share her two cents. But first they all had to wait for her to swallow a bit of iced lemon scone.

“I’m not sure if she was really naive about Mason, her dead-but-not-really-dead husband. I mean, at first, she thinks they have a good marriage and he doesn’t really do anything to give her a clue that he’s wanting to leave her. Then when she realizes that his suicide was faked, she won’t let it go. She has to find him, even though doing so might mean that she won’t get the $500,000 insurance money.”

“And all because he wanted a kid, someone to carry on his name — Speck.” Maggie snorted. She had to admit to herself that she didn’t have much empathy for Mason. Her late husband Bobby had been A-OK when she told him, before they married, that she wasn’t interested in having children. She had never felt the urge and tended to look at babies as if they were miniature aliens.

“Yes, it does seem extreme for someone to fake a suicide just so they can plant the seed, or speck, with someone else. But that’s part of the appeal of Fascination, don’t you think?” As usual, Mary was asking a rhetorical question. “The characters are quirky, in ways that make you feel fond of them, but they’re also flawed. And desperate. Everyone is just trying to find their place in the world–”

“And with each other,” Maggie interrupted. “Even Stan and Jack, the guys at the Fascination parlor that Sally frequents, there’s some kind of history there. They have influence. As she visits other parlors on her road trip with Clive, their names secure her safety as well as help her earn some cash.”

“Which not everybody really likes because she has a preternatural gift with that game.” Randy smiled as he reached for a chocolate chip scone. What he would give for a gift like that.

“And don’t forget Warren Peeth and all those puns that Clive was so fond of making, almost like he couldn’t help himself.” Maggie laughed out loud. “I even found myself laughing out loud, or groaning depending on the pun. Warren Peeth — that definitely got a groan.”

Melissa made a half-hearted attempt at stifling her own laughter. “What about Berries Manilow?”

Randy snorted and then grabbed a napkin as coffee dripped from his nose.

“What about the Secret Society of the Mauve Maidenhead or those crazy, bald people at Homewood Place? Poor Clive. With his mutton-chop sideburns and pork pie hat, he was really out of place.” Mary paused to sip her coffee. “And yet, it was at Homewood Place where Sally and Clive had their confrontation.” She looked down at her hands. That confrontation had hit Mary hard. “You know, sometimes … Brennan just catches me off-guard.”

Maggie and Melissa looked at Mary, their heads tilted toward her, as if beckoning her to continue. Randy, sitting directly across from her, reached his hands forward slightly, as if making them available in case she needed to hold on.

“What I mean is, I’m reading this novel and going merrily along with these funny characters, this not-really-funny-but-actually-kind-of-funny fake suicide, this road trip of discovery and deception and potholes full of puns … and then suddenly it’s not funny. I find myself trying to not cry. I find myself arguing, in my head with myself, that maybe this relationship is just not meant to be.”

“Like with Occasional Soulmates.” Maggie spoke softly, recalling the surprise but ultimately satisfying ending to that Brennan novel.

“Yes. So, like that. But I had to keep reading. The story was just so compelling. But what a experience and as the story unfolded, I don’t believe it could have happened any other way. And I was relieved it happened as it did!”

“Oh, truly!” Melissa broke in. “Just like with his other novels, you get a bit scared, thinking “uh, oh, things aren’t going the way I want them to.” But things go the way they should go, the only way they can once you understand the characters and their history. Brennan draws his characters slowly, with a lot of subtlety. And just like with his other novels, I felt good about the ending. It really fit.”

“Exactly, and that’s what I really enjoyed about Fascination. He takes the reader on a road trip, giving you experiences that you may never have in real life, introducing you to characters you wish you could meet in real life, and leaves you with an ending that is as much of your own making as his.” Randy stood up and started to clear the dishes. He felt like he was finally getting the hang of these book club discussions.


Well, dear friend, I hope this review has whet your appetite for a fascinating novel. You can get a copy for your favorite ebook device from the author himself, Kevin Brennan, at this link.

It’s easy peasy and you can pay as little as $3.99 or as much as you like. Consider the cost of some of those bestselling lesser novels on Amazon and you’ll realize what a deal this truly is!

Marie Ann Bailey
(This review was previously published on 1WriteWay)

Kevin Brennan has been featured a number of times on Reading Recommendations and is a member of the group I call Reading Recommendations Revisited. Marie Ann Bailey is a writer, knitter, and stray cat magnet. She publishes the blog 1WriteWay.

Odd One Out – two reviews

Odd One Out
by Betty Jane Hegerat

Purchase copies here

Betty Jane Hegerat’s most recent novel, Odd One Out, has received two excellent reviews recently in print media:

Dr. Karen Boyd reviewed the book for CM Magazine (Canadian Review of Materials) published by the Manitoba Library Association

Andréa Schnell wrote a review that was published in Quill & Quire.

Betty Jane Hegerat has been previously featured on Reading Recommendations a number of times.

Amanda on the Danube – a review

Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music
by Darlene Foster

Purchase copies here

Darlene Foster writes middle grade novels about two plucky girls, Amanda Ross, and Leah Anderson, best friends from different continents. These intrepid travellers visit different places around the world and solve mysteries. Foster puts in considerable travelling and research to ensure that the details she writes about are authentic. Not only are readers entertained by great mysteries with a touch of suspense, they learn about different geography and history. If you haven’t read one of these books yet, you should change that.

In this book, Amanda convinces her parents to join Mr and Mrs Anderson on a cruise on the Danube river. The two girls end up sharing their own room on board the ship, which gives them more autonomy. It’s a pretty exciting opportunity for two girls who are on the cusp of adolescence.

Before they are even settled in, Amanda and Leah track a trail of blood droplets into a storage room on the cruise ship. Amanda sees some feet, but they are interrupted by an employee before they can figure out what is going on.

While they are on an excursion in Nuremberg, a ragamuffin of a boy gives Amanda his special violin for safekeeping. After that, strange things begin to happen. Another boy on a skateboard tries to steal the violin before they are even back on board ship. Once there, a mysterious older couple introduce themselves. They seem nice enough, but are they? Then the two girls’ room is ransacked. Luckily, the violin isn’t taken.

At the next port of call, the two girls meet up with the owner of the violin and smuggle him onto the ship with them. They do their best to keep him hidden in their room, but he disappears. Before long Amanda gets a ransom note, telling her she has to trade the violin in for him if she wants to see him safe.

You better go read the book if you want to find out what happens.

I enjoyed seeing the relationship between the two girls evolve as they mature. Leah begins by spending a lot of time texting on her new phone and doesn’t seem committed to being with Amanda. It turns out that Leah is caught up in her first romance, and it’s going badly. This creates some tension between the two of them, but they manage to resolve their differences.

There is a lot to like about these novels. The girls have strong parents who care about them, but also give them some autonomy. I appreciate learning about all the different places the girls visit and am impressed by how seamlessly the author educates and entertains me all at the same time. I like that the plot moves quickly and has enough action and suspense to keep readers thoroughly engaged. It’s a perfect read for kids aged 8 – 12, and even older readers like myself.

I’m looking forward to the next book when the two girls travel to New Mexico!

Cheriee Weichel
(This review has appeared on the blog Library Matters.)

Darlene Foster has previously been featured on Reading Recommendations. Cheriee Weichel is a retired teacher librarian who still reads and reviews books for children on her blog.

Runaway Smile – a review (2)

Runaway Smile
by Nicholas C. Rossis
illus. Dimitris Fousekis

Purchase copies here

Book Description:

Winner of the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award, in the Young Adult Fiction category. Award-Winning Finalist in the “Children’s Fiction” category of the 2015
International Book Awards
, Award-Winning Finalist in the 2015 Independent Author Network Book of the Year Awards.

“I woke up this morning and I had lost my smile and it wasn’t my fault and I looked everywhere and it was gone. Then I met a workman and a king and the best salesman in the world and a clown and no-one wanted to give me theirs. At school, I asked Miss to give me hers, but she gave us a pop quiz instead, and then no-one was smiling and…”

A little boy’s smile runs away until its owner learns that an unshared smile is a wasted smile.

I was kindly sent a free digital copy of this book by the author Nicholas C. Rossis. Runaway Smile is a lovely children’s book which will really put a smile on everyone’s face, here is my review:

A young boy wakes up to find his smile has run away. Where could it have gone? And how will he get it back?

This is such a lovely story which made me both smile and laugh at some of what happens. The story follows the boy who wakes to find he has lost his smile. On his journey to school and back home he meets lots of interesting characters who are smiling and asks them to help him. I won’t give away more of the story as it will spoil it, but there is a lovely heartwarming ending to the tale and it certainly brought a smile to my face as I read it.

The story is fun and actually made me laugh with some of the silliness, such as a book-reading, glasses-wearing dog, a sausage tree and a closet monster which was very funny. I love reading stories that are a bit weird like that and it just added to the humour. There are fun illustrations throughout the book and surrounding the text. These illustrations look like the one on the cover and are the same style, and by the same illustrator, as ones I’ve seem in Musiville, another lovely kids tale by Rossis, and they just add to the overall fun and humour of the story.

There’s an extra bonus bit at the back of the book which was also a fun addition to the story, an Ode to a runaway smile!

The ending of the story is one that I really loved and it’s a predictably happy book but I think so many kids and adults would love to read this. I was feeling quite down the day I read this and it put an instant smile on my face and cheered me up and I didn’t think any book could. I was so cheered up I read it again and enjoyed it even more. A lovely book I really recommend to everyone of every age!

Rating: 5/5

(This review has appeared on happymeerkatreviews blog.)

Nicholas C. Rossis has been featured on Reading Recommendations. happymeerkatreviews is a blogger dedicated to reviewing good books.

One Woman’s Island – Fan mail and reviews! (3)

From my main blog, a couple of reviews and some fan mail!

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

And definitely not from some flounder!

But this is what I can call a message I really like!

Not all readers like to write reviews and post them online, and I get that! So I will never ask anyone to review my books or post their thoughts if they don’t wish to do so.

However, I do know many readers, especially friends, like to tell me their thoughts and impressions about my books after they’ve read something I’ve written. They quite often write to me privately in an email, or they tell me in person when I meet up with them. So I then ask if I may post their comments to my blog, and will do so anonymously, if that’s what they wish.

Here are comments from two friends who had previously read Island in the Clouds and have now told me what they think of One Woman’s Island

View original post 883 more words

Uncertain Soldier – a review (2)

Uncertain Soldier
by Karen Bass

Purchase copies here

A conflicted teenaged soldier. A boy caught between two countries. When the world only sees you as German, how can you forge your own identity?

Seventeen-year-old Erich is a prisoner of war working at a northern Alberta logging camp. Twelve-year-old Max goes to school—reluctantly—in the nearby town. The two would be unlikely friends, except that neither has anyone else to turn to. At the height of World War II, nobody wants to befriend a German.

Awards and honours:
2016 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People Winner
2016 IODE Violet Downey Book Award nominee
2016 OLA Forest of Reading Red Maple Award nominee
2015 Best Books for Kids & Teens selection

The review:
When I was young, I saw the 1978 movie version of Bette Greene’s Summer of My German Soldier (1973). Until then, I hadn’t thought about what “our side” did with prisoners of war. It was more obvious with Allied prisoners in the European or Asian theatre: the prisoners were held there, where the battles were being waged. (Hogan’s Heroes, the comic TV series that ran from 1965 to 1971, was also a popular entertainment of my youth.) Less traumatic than the American Summer of My German Soldier, Uncertain Soldier tells the story of Erich Hofmeyer, a German prisoner of war held in Alberta in the winter of 1943-44.

The story begins, though, in the voice of young Max Schmidt, a Canadian lad born of German parents, who is persecuted for his heritage and understandably struggles with his identity as a result. His father is almost violently insistent that Max remain proud of and stand up for himself and his German heritage. What Max is subjected to is impossible to stand against, though: a systematic, targetted bullying that readers will recognize as being a pervasive response to otherness, not just the product of war-time Canadian prejudice. When the bullying becomes life threatening, Max runs away. Max’s flight is the impetus for an act of bravery by Erich on both a physical and an emotional level, a distillation of the uncertainty that has been tearing at Erich throughout the novel.

Read the rest of this review here

Karyn Huenemann

Karen Bass has been previously promoted on Reading Recommendations here and here. Karyn Huenemann reviews children’s and YA Literature for her blog There Will Be Books ….