Lost and Found – a review

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Lost and Found
by Maria Savva

Purchase copies here

Maria Savva’s new collection of short stories is a pleasure to read. She really has the knack of describing people in a way that makes you care and sympathize, even when the people are sometimes rather troubled and find themselves in complicated circumstances. There are glimpses of many characters and many lives in this collection: a horrible boss getting his comeuppance, a man trying to get out of stale relationship…and changing his mind…kind of, an innocent man in court, and many others. Each person and each tale coming to life in Maria Savva’s gentle, but perceptive storyteller’s eye.

My favourite short story in the collection was ‘Boomerang’. This one really got under my skin with its single mother, pushed by exhaustion and regret to the point of doing something terrible. It’s a tragic story, with a twist that kept twisting the knife just a little deeper as I read it. Another favourite is ‘Left Unsaid’, which takes a hard, and piercing look at several intertwining relationships between four characters. Recommended!

Maria Haskins
(This review has appeared on Goodreads.)

Maria Savva is currently running a Goodreads Giveaway for 3 print copies of Lost and Found. Click here to enter!

Maria Savva has been previously promoted on Reading Recommendatons and recommended the writing of Maria Haskins on the blog, as well.

Dolls Behaving Badly – a review (2)

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Dolls Behaving Badly
by Cinthia Ritchie

Purchase copies here

Marie of 1WriteWay introduced me to the writer of another book with the word DOLL in the title.

When I started reading Cinthia Ritchie’s novel Dolls Behaving Badly I immediately thought, “Oh, my son’s fiancée will love this book.” Then I thought, “Mom will want to read this book.”

It starts off like fun chick lit. A single mom of a genius 8-year-old son needs to figure out how to pay her bills on her waitress salary and find love and happiness from a trailer in Alaska.

Luckily for me, before I sent a link to them, the dolls entered the book. Just in time, I stayed my hand (I know the phrase doesn’t belong outside the Bible or historical romances, but this is where it gets a little “Biblical”). The protagonist, Carla Richards, is not just a server, but also an artist, and retired Barbie and Ken dolls serve her art. She hacks and appends to them, all for a very “upscale” erotic website.

Although I didn’t send out the link, I kept reading because the last thing this book is is porn. It’s a well-crafted story of how Carla and the “family” she builds around her grow and change with dignity.

Ritchie khows to tell a story that is both accessible and thought-provoking. Sometimes the book stuns me with a lyrical phrase or brilliant notion. She uses some contemporary stylistic experiments quite well. For instance, Carla is writing her diary in tandem with reading the philosophies of an inspirational speaker known as The Oprah Giant. She’s haunted by the ghost of her dead Polish grandmother and is still friends with her ex, a chef. The recipes of both these characters are translated by Carla and the recipes supplied for the reader.

If it were a movie, the book would be called a comedy, maybe even a romantic comedy, but as written word it is much more than that. The book probes and examines our hopes and fears without letting us know that’s what it’s doing. Dolls Behaving Badly is not lightweight or superficial. It accesses the hidden areas of the mind and of the heart.

I still think my mother and future daughter-in-law would love this book, but I can hear the comments (“My mom gave you a book with WHAT kind of dolls?”). Maybe I could send it to them anonymously?

Luanne Castle
(This review was originally published on Luanne’s blog.)

Cinthia Ritchie has been previously featured on Reading Recommendations. Luanne Castle publishes the blog, Writer Site, and is the author of the award-winning poetry collection, Doll God.

Island in the Clouds – a conversation

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Island in the Clouds
by Susan M. Toy

Purchase copies here

(at) eleven with susan toy: island in the clouds
(For complete interview, click on Carin’s site, Matilda Magtree)

When I met Susan Toy through the Humber School for Writers online program some years ago, the first thing I learned about her was that she was obsessed with food and books. I’ve since learned that cats and coffee are a close third. [They may well be first…]

The other quality that made her stand out was a need/desire/talent for sharing information. I used to call her our ‘clipping service’. [For readers of a younger vintage, I’ll clarify: clipping service = google alerts with scissors and newsprint.]

We connected for all of the above reasons but also because she lived on an island in the Caribbean. And so had I for a short while. We traded some ex-pat joys and commiserations in between commiserations about our works in progress.

Her WIP eventually became Island in the Clouds, a murder mystery set on the island of Bequia, which Susan has called home for close to twenty years. It begins as all island mysteries should: with a dead body in the pool playing havoc with the pH balance. Toy writes with tongue-firmly-in-cheek, a pull no punches style that shows island life from an ex-pat perspective not afraid to laugh at itself while wringing its hands at the tribulations of island bureaucracy, customs and general shenanigans. The sounds, scents and sights of island life are always just there, not too far in the background. Ice-clinking is big here…

Her protagonist, like so many ex-pats, is running away from a bad deal back home, but no one asks questions on Bequia; this is part of its charm. Days are made up of food and drink and gossip and oh yeah! the need to make a living. But don’t be fooled by the palm trees and laissez faire vibe, there’s also a lot of nastiness going on and duplicitous friendships and, like any small town, everyone knows everyone else’s business, even if they don’t always talk about it. A lot of smiling through one’s teeth. Add island politics—and this is no small thing—and the result: when a murder is committed, the question is not so much who did it but who’s willing to admit who did it. Everyone’s scratching someone else’s back.

If you’ve ever lived on an island, you’ll smile and nod your way through the familiar. If you haven’t, but think you’d like to, it’s a good eye-opener. And if you read it while on an island, even better. The mystery element is but a bonus in my view. For me, it’s all about the place.

As always, in my (at) eleven series, the Q&A is followed by a menu chosen by me of a meal the book most inspires. Or, put another way, the perfect nosh while reading, because food and books just go together…

“Eating is our earliest metaphor, preceding our consciousness of gender difference, race, nationality, and language. We eat before we talk.” ~Margaret Atwood from The Can Lit Food Book

And now, may I introduce… Susan Toy, island reporter, on-line pal and oh-so-generous clipping service…

1. What literary character did you most identify with as a child, or want to become?
ST—It’s a toss-up between Harry the Dirty Dog and Curious George.

2. At age fifteen, what were you reading?
ST—Everything I could get my hands on from the library about Down Syndrome, because the daughter of a family friend who played with my younger sister and me when they came to visit had me intrigued. I thought I might like to work with Down Syndrome children when I grew up. Then, that summer at the cottage, I read through an enormous stack of Harlequin romances with a babysitter the same age as me who had been hired to look after the neighbour’s children. I know … weird. I didn’t really discover real literature until after that year.

3. Do you find there are recurring themes in your work, generally, that surprise you?
ST—The main issue that comes up, and this is mainly in my short stories, is of being trapped in a situation and not being able to get out of it. Reconciliation is another.

4. What is a favourite passage from any book, and why?
ST—Finally! Someone has asked me this question, and now I can tell everyone about this wonderful passage from Ivan Doig’s Dancing at the Rascal Fair:

“There in the gap, Herbert whoaed the horses.

What had halted him, and us, was a change of earth as abrupt as waking in the snow had been.

Ahead was where the planet greatened.

To the west now, the entire horizon was a sky-marching procession of mountains, suddenly much nearer and clearer than they were before we entered our morning’s maze of tilted hills. Peaks, cliffs, canyons, cite anything high or mighty and there it was up on that rough west brink of the world. Mountains with snow summits, mountains with jagged blue-grey faces. Mountains that were free-standing and separate as blades from the hundred crags around them; mountains that went among other mountains as flat palisades of stone miles long, like guardian reefs amid wild waves. The Rocky Mountains, simply and rightly named. Their double magnitude here startled and stunned a person, at least this one—how deep into the sky their motionless tumult reached, how far these Rockies columned across the earth.”

This is one of the best descriptive passages I’ve ever read, because Doig put the exact words to my feelings the very first time I saw the Rocky Mountains, when I moved to Calgary in 1978. This passage still causes goosebumps.

5. What is the writer’s role in society?
ST—I attended a seminar led by Aritha van Herk in which she said that the writer translates or interprets for the reader. That’s the way I think of writers—we are translators and interpreters of experience.

6. Island in the Clouds begins with a wonderfully candid description of, and introduction to, the ‘character’ of contemporary Bequia via the book’s narrator. In this way, we meet the island before we meet our protagonist. How important was ‘place’ to you in writing this story? And the accuracy of place… versus a fictitious island, for example.
ST—Place was the most important aspect of this novel. It was suggested by early readers that the setting be fictitious, because I was perhaps a little too accurate—and honest—about the island. But I knew the greatest appeal of this story was that it was about Bequia, so I never considered telling the story any other way.

7. Some elements of island life, especially local politics, are not always shown in the best light. Islands are small places… how was the book received by locals?
ST—I’ve received mixed reviews, but mainly positive comments, mostly from foreign tourists and ex-pats who say that I’ve nailed the place and what goes on here. I believe I portrayed the general local population in a generally favourable light. I know a few (very few) local people have read the book, but no one has criticized me for what I’ve written. I was told that one foreigner thought I had been too harsh in my depiction of the police – until she was robbed and had to deal with them herself. Then she said I had not been harsh enough. (I gave a signed copy to one of the gardeners who works for Dennis, and he said, “Sue, I will cherish this for the rest of my life!” That choked me up!)

8. What brought you to Bequia?
ST—We first came to Bequia as tourists in 1989 after a customer at the Calgary bookstore where I was working suggested it as a possibly vacation spot. We were hooked from that very first time, kept coming back every year, and before we knew it we bought land, built a house, and moved here permanently in 1996.

9. Any challenges/differences writing a male protagonist?
ST—No. Geoff’s was the first voice that came to me when I began writing this novel and that seemed quite natural for the story I wanted to tell. The second novel in the series is about a woman, and I really don’t notice that much difference writing in her voice from writing in the voice of a man in the first novel.

(rest of the interview …)

Carin Makuz

Carin Makuz, while never having been directly promoted as an author on Reading Recommendations, is a great pal of this site. Carin maintains two blogs: Matilda Magtree and The Litter I See Project, which has featured the work of a number of RR-promoted authors (including me!) and was promoted on the blog in Nov. 2015.

The Gift: Awakening – a review

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The Gift: Awakening
by J.P. McLean

Purchase copies here

From the book:
The Gift: Awakening follows the heroic journey of a young woman in her quest to overcome the burden of an extraordinary legacy and find her unique place in the world. Emelynn Taylor’s new gift, bestowed unceremoniously and unasked for, thrust her into a vortex of mystery, wonder and intrigue that promise to change her—and her world—forever.

The review:
I don’t give 5 stars easily, but I gave them to J. P. McLean’s Awakening with no hesitation. It has everything you’re looking for in a contemporary fantasy: masterfully crafted characters, exciting plot, believable magic. I love the pace. I love the setting. I love the narrative voice… I read it in two days; I couldn’t put it down.

Awakening is a deeply moving book and it will stay with you forever.

It’s refreshingly free of cliches. It’s gentle and lyric, and it’s dark and hard. It’s an intelligent novel, generously sprinkled with beautiful, subtle humor, and written by a natural storyteller. A rare treat!

J.F. Kaufmann
(This review has appeared on Goodreads.)

Both J.P. McLean and J.F. Kaufmann have been previously featured on Reading Recommendations.

Castles in the Air – a review

I’m posting this “beta read” rather than a usual review-after-publication, because I thought readers might like to see part of the process most books go through before they are published. And it was the original post by roughseasinthemed that brought Castles in the Air to my attention, making the book sound so interesting in the reviewer’s evaluation that I asked Alison Ripley Cubitt to promote the book on
Reading Recommendations.

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Castles in the Air
by Alison Ripley Cubitt

Purchase copies here

To beta read or not?

For those of you who don’t know, beta readers are people who read a pre-publication draft of a manuscript and suggest changes. They aren’t editors, and normally they don’t pick up on grammar and typos, although some do.

The main role is to provide feedback on how the book hangs together from the reader’s perspective.

Sometimes readers get an edited version, but often, it’s a version that’s not been through a professional editor, because an author isn’t going to want to pay for one round of editing to have to go back, rewrite and pay for extra editing.

Usually, it’s done for free, for example authors reading the books of other authors.

Not everyone uses betas, or, an editor may fulfill the role of a beta.

What are the sort of things beta readers look for?

The obvious ones are: characters and their development throughout the book, pacing, dialogue, flaws, inconsistencies and plot holes, structure e.g. is the order and emphasis right? more of this and less of that? what worked, what didn’t, and the big one – did the reader like the book?

People reply differently with their feedback. Some provide detailed comments via track changes (I can’t bear all the annotations, gives me vertigo), others make general comments, others look at specific aspects in detail. An author may ask readers to look at certain sections they feel are weak, or they may give betas a list of areas they want feedback on. It’s very flexible.

In one of the professional book review groups I’m in, one author asked for beta readers. So … I ended up reading Alison’s terrific book, Castles in the Air.

It’s a family memoir of her mother’s life, based on diaries, letters, and Alison’s observations as a child and young woman.

I was intrigued for so many reasons: Royal Naval connections, travelling and ex-patting from England to south-east Asia, to South Africa, back to England, then Malaysia, and then Australasia. With a few more trips thrown in.

Molly, the main character in the book, was born in the 20s, and her family travels to Hong Kong in the 30s shortly before the outbreak of WW2.

We read about the four or five week voyage out there, life on board ship, and the amazing life young Molly had in, firstly Hong Kong, then Singapore, and later at school in the Cameron Highlands. But as the war becomes more intense in south-east Asia, Molly and her mum are shipped out, although they have no idea where they will end up.

It’s a world in the past but Alison recreates it beautifully. An added bonus in the book is a selection of photos from this long-past era.

I loved the detailed reference to on-board ship menus in the 30s, so much so that I got hugely distracted hunting down more of them.

I can understand why Molly recalled the food on board ship, as they were served what, in that time of austerity, would have been elaborate meals. Family meals at home would have been simpler: one course, perhaps two at weekends or on special occasions. It must have seemed as though they were going out to dinner every night. A typical adult Tourist Class lunch menu from the sister ship of the Corfu, the Strathmore, in 1936 consisted of soup or Welsh rarebit to start, followed by veal cutlets with bacon, potatoes served three ways and bringals (aubergine). On the cold sideboard was potted meat and fish, Leicester (pork) pie, roast rib of beef and ox tongue. There was a choice of four salads, including beetroot and American. On the sweets menu was fruit roll pudding and a blackcurrant water ice. The cheese course offered four types of cheese, including gorgonzola, accompanied by a selection of bread rolls.

Get that! And people think food has improved?

As Molly grows up, we watch her start work, take pride in the career she chooses, and then she becomes engaged. Molly travelled out to Singapore again in the early 50s. Hm. Menu not as good.

After her marriage, we follow her new life and read about her starting her own family, and the inevitable challenges of leading an ex-pat life in yet more countries.

I don’t want to retell Molly’s story, so suffice to say it is surprising, poignant, heartfelt and very moving. With an unexpected ending.

It’s hard to say ‘great book’ when there is sadness and tragedy involved, but this is a well-crafted and well-written story that I enjoyed from start to finish.

And, reading the beta version and the later one, was fascinating. Not only had Alison generously mentioned her two beta readers in the acknowledgements, she’d made a number of changes that I’d suggested.

There is no obligation on an author to do this, but, as a beta reader, it’s interesting to see suggestions that are taken up. It feels like time that hasn’t been wasted. I’ve still got a few editorial gripes, but I usually do.

Whatever, it’s a great story, and I totally recommend it to people who are interested in memoirs generally, and specifically, twentieth century history, difficulties of being expats, living abroad, nursing, drugs, depression, family relationships, and … close unspecified relationships. Throughout the book, Molly’s relationship with her family friend Steve, hovers, even after his death.

roughseasinthemed
(For more images from the book, see the original review on roughseasinthemed.)

Alison Ripley Cubitt has been previously featured on Reading Recommendations. roughseasinthemed is a professional editor, writer and journalist who writes and publishes the blog, roughseasinthemed.

Town Father – a review (2)

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Town Father, Or, Where Graceful Girls Abound
by Kevin Brennan

Purchase copies here

A Different Kind of Book Review

Maggie assayed the kitchen table, using her index finger to count the settings. There were only the four of them tonight, but still she wanted to count and be sure she hadn’t overlooked anything. It was her night to “host” the book club she and her cousins had formed. The core of the club included herself and her two cousins, Melissa and Mary. Lately, Randy, Mary’s boyfriend, had been joining them.

Well, he’d been joining them because he was already there, already spending weekends at Mary’s house. Maggie smiled. She was looking forward to hearing Randy’s take on Town Father, Or, Where Graceful Girls Abound, the latest novel by Kevin Brennan. She had thought of him a lot while reading the novel, imagining him as Henry. Strangely, though, she didn’t imagine Mary as Avis, Henry’s love, although she certainly wouldn’t say that during their meeting.

The tea kettle interrupted her meditation with its high-pitched squeal and, as if on cue, Melissa pulled up in the driveway and Mary and Randy came bounding down the stairs together. She cast a side-long glance at Mary as Melissa entered the house and gave them all chilly hugs.

“I feel like my fingers might just break off like icicles, they’re so cold.” Melissa reached for her cup after Maggie poured in the hot tea, using it to warm her hands. “You need to knit me some new mittens, Maggie.”

Maggie smirked. “Maybe for your birthday.”

“That’s in July! I need them now!”

Ignoring Melissa’s feigned histrionics, Mary placed the subject of their discussion in the middle of the table. To read Town Father in time for the meeting, they took advantage of a recent sale and downloaded the Kindle versions. But Maggie, ever the purist, had to have a bound paper copy. Well worth the cost for that cover alone, she thought as she gazed at the colorful illustration. She picked it up.

“Well, shall we begin? Since this was my choice, I’ll start. I really enjoyed this novel. At times it felt like such a fun romp, you know? It’s historical fiction, around the 1880s forward, and I really felt like I was reading a book from that time. Sort of the same way I feel when I read Austen. Brennan really captures the language, the sentiments of that time. What made it even more fascinating is it’s a utopian novel, about an idealized community of only women. I know utopian experiments weren’t unheard of then, but still, they were usually based on a style of living, like agrarianism, not a separation of the sexes. I thought the community of Hestia was idyllic. Can you imagine living somewhere where everyone contributes according to their skill and you have none of the competition that sets people against each other?”

Mary stirred her tea. She could easily imagine Maggie in such a community, knitting up clothing for the citizens and getting food and shelter and acceptance in return. She glanced over at Randy. For her part, she could only consider such a thing if Randy were her Henry and she were his Avis. Otherwise, not a chance.

“I enjoyed it, too.” Randy’s voice cracked slightly, which it usually did when he was the center of the three cousins’ attention. Mary tried to keep her smile to herself. Indeed, he was like Henry, the man who becomes the Town Father, who provides a truly organic service to the community of 300 women, making sure that their community will grow. Like Henry, Randy has a moral backbone that won’t break and yet he’s amenable to new ideas. At first, Henry was appalled by his “duties” as Town Father, but he quickly (maybe too quickly, she thought) came around to see himself and his “contributions” as part of a greater ideal.

“You know,” Mary started, wanting to give Randy a chance to gather his thoughts since she knew he was a little bit … shy. “You know, I liked it too, although I would have liked Henry to have been stronger, especially when the circus came to town. I mean, he was there with these women through so much, definitely sensitive to the suspicions of the people near to them, but when that circus comes, he practically runs off with his tail between his legs after the first run-in with the ringleader Hazlitt.”

“But, I think that’s totally in keeping with his character,” Randy said. “He’s a very introspective man and also inclined to blame himself when things go wrong. Remember, he had had his heart broken before.”

Mary blushed as Randy continued, his eyes first directly on her. But as he talked, he looked around, making eye contact with Melissa and Maggie, both of whom seemed to be hanging on his every word.

“I saw a lot of myself in Henry, to be honest. I’d had my heart broken and there was a time when I thought I should just leave, go on some adventure, go somewhere and start over.” He glanced over at Mary and smiled. “Of course, I’m glad now that I didn’t, but, for Henry, it’s exactly what he needed to do. And he’s a man of honor throughout. But he’s naïve, too, not very worldly. It’s almost like he has to leave Hestia to fully realize the importance of Hestia’s mission and to realize how much the community needs him and he needs them.”

Melissa leaned forward, her fingers now comfortably thawed enough for her to tear apart an iced vanilla scone. “I loved the comedy of the novel, too. It was light, not heavy-handed at all, but it was there. Henry was perfect for that. How do you write a novel like this, for today’s audience, without a diffusion of humor, with Henry as the vehicle? I mean, wouldn’t a community like Hestia be like every man’s fantasy? But in other hands, such a novel would deteriorate into something like 50 Shades of Sepia. You need a gullible, good-hearted, and moral gentleman like Henry to keep it from doing that.”

“True.” Randy reached for a slice of banana bread as he spoke. “But he, the author, Brennan, does show what the “average” man would think about Hestia, how debased the women are in the eyes of someone who doesn’t understand. Remember when Henry’s own son returns? That was a heartrending part.”

“Oh, yes, that was genius!” Maggie almost spilled the tea she was pouring into Melissa’s cup. “I was really on the edge of my chair with that section of the novel. And, you’re right, it was a sad part,because you really felt the integrity of Hestia was being threatened, not just by the son who refused to believe in it, but by the fact that it happened at all. It was only because they exiled Paige, one of their own. Well, and that occurred because of the circus … .”

“You can’t keep the world out entirely. And you can’t control what goes on outside in that world.” Randy put his cup down. “You know, the ending surprised me. It was a soft landing, if you know what I mean. The community had had enough drama and at the end, it was time for Henry and Avis to take stock. And it’s interesting because while Henry was definitely in lockstep with the program once he got over the shock, all the time you could feel that he really just wanted to be with one woman. And because of that, well … .” Randy felt Mary’s knee rub against his and he let his voice fade.

“Well.” Maggie sat up straight and Melissa stifled a laugh. Her cousin took her role at these meetings so seriously, she thought. “Well,” Maggie started again. “Shall we vote? I give Town Father 5 stars for originality, humor, and that beautiful cover!”

They all laughed and then, in almost perfect unison, Melissa, Mary and Randy said “Five stars!” and clinked their teacups together.

As the cousins proceeded to dig further into the scones and banana bread that Maggie had baked, Randy sat back and gazed at them. In a way he felt like he might be in his own little Hestia, but he would keep that to himself.

***

Well, dear friends, if you’ve read this far, I hope my little review has convinced you that you must have a copy of Town Father for yourself.

Marie Bailey
(This review has appeared elsewhere.)

Kevin Brennan has been featured several times on Reading Recommendations. Marie Bailey writes about writing and reviews books on her blog, 1WriteWay.

Dolls Behaving Badly – a review

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Dolls Behaving Badly
by Cinthia Ritchie

Purchase copies here

Ritchie has written a uniquely structured novel that uses a diary format, employing first-person narration, letters, and recipes. The structure adds considerable depth to what would otherwise be an ordinary story of a single mom trying desperately to support herself and her young son in an economically depressed small Alaskan town. Much of the novel reminded me of the TV show, Northern Exposure, except there is no outsider to pass judgment on the quirky, eccentric characters. Instead, the reader immediately feels the normality of the community: the bill collectors demanding payment often do so with dry humor; the crisscrossing of romantic relationships raises few eyebrows; and seeing and talking to ghosts seems a natural result of stress and loneliness.

Ritchie draws an Alaskan territory that is otherworldly beautiful and yet cruel at the edges. The cold darkness of winter seeped into my bones as I read, yet I wished I could be there as Carla comes across a moose while running. And I wished I could be there for the community as well. You definitely feel the draw of Alaska as a place where a person could be her- or himself, where everyone has a quirk or two and where no one, ultimately, is more normal than anyone else.

A lot happens in this novel as Carla tries to straighten out her finances as her life threatens to spin off into a melodramatic disaster of soap opera proportions. Her older sister, with whom she had always had an uneasy relationship, suddenly moves into Carla’s trailer, seemingly ignorant of Carla’s need for stability and money. An anthropologist pursues her romantically, her closest friend sets off on her own roller coaster of romance and fear, and a street-smart teenager becomes her son’s babysitter and, by extension, the daughter that Carla often imagined having. Her son Jay-Jay is gifted and has a preternatural wisdom that both his parents depend on. He’s their proof that they did at least one right thing together.

How Carla manages to earn some extra cash, get noticed as an artist, and weather the resulting publicity moves her story along at a steady pace. It was a good thing I read this book while on vacation because it was hard to put down. I always wanted to read “one more chapter” before turning off the lights.

This is a rich novel. I could write so much more but I don’t want to give it all away. Read it for yourself.

Marie Bailey
(This review has appeared elsewhere.)

Cinthia Ritchie has been previously featured on Reading Recommendations. Marie Bailey writes about writing and reviews books on her blog, 1WriteWay.

Echo From Mount Royal – an interview

Cover for 'Echo from Mount Royal'

Echo From Mount Royal
by Dave Riese

Purchase coipes here

An Interview From Authors to Watch

Our Author of the Week is Dave Riese. He’s here to speak with us about his novel, Echo from Mount Royal. Welcome, Dave. When did you begin writing?

I began writing at Bates College in Maine. While studying abroad at Oxford University in England during my junior year, I travelled throughout Europe during term breaks. For my B.A. thesis, I wrote stories, essays and poems based on my travel journals. Like many young writers, I was ‘bitten’ by the poetry bug in my twenties. I was cured, mercifully, within two years. Three poems were good enough to escape the shredder.

In my mid-twenties, I began writing short stories. An early story, submitted to the University of Massachusetts literary magazine, was not accepted, but the editor wrote a personal note praising the story and encouraging me to continue writing. I have always treasured that ‘rejection.’

While studying for my MBA at Suffolk University in Boston, I entered stories in the university’s annual short story contests and won a couple of cash prizes. Despite that success, I knew I had to keep my day job.

In my thirties, I began writing a novel off-and-on over several years. I finally finished the 400-page novel. It hides in a cardboard box under my desk.

To read the rest of the interview, click here.

Tricia Drammeh

Both Dave Riese and Tricia Drammeh have been previously featured on Reading Recommendations.

Escape From B-Movie Hell – a review

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Escape From B-Movie Hell
by M T McGuire

Purchase copies here

After reading the K’Barthan Series, I was interested to see what McGuire would do in a different environment and with new characters.

Escape is for the most part, a light read, and, as to be expected, contains some fine humour and excellent characters, which are one of McGuire’s strengths. Anyone who can make crustacean aliens who drip ‘marmite-scented goo’ attractive, does a great line in character-building. As ever, she excels herself on the baddies.

Good to see a female heroine, a London student, who finds her own type of Narnia in space that comes to her, although like all Narnias, or even Alice in Wonderland, nothing goes as planned, or can be predicted.

McGuire writes very visually, and reading the book, I could easily imagine the spaceship, the aliens, even the space-walking.

Readers who enjoyed the K’Barthan Series and the humour in there should enjoy this venture into B-movie hell. This would be a recommended escape.

roughseasinthemed
(This review has appeared elsewhere.)

M T McGuire has been previously featured on Reading Recommendations. roughseasinthemed is a professional editor, writer and journalist who writes and publishes the blog, roughseasinthemed.