Month: November 2015

#BookReview ‘Rosetta’ by Simon Cornish #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT

Rosie's Book Review team 1

I read and reviewed ‘Rosetta’ as part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

rosetta

Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com

This is a novella that is packed full of potential. The author can write and write really well, and the idea behind the story is intriguing.

When his former professor dies, Dr Graham Chandlers is asked to read a eulogy at the funeral. He is shocked when the professor’s adopted daughter, the enigmatic Rosetta of the title, performs an ancient ritual over the coffin in a language that only a handful of experts would understand.

Chandlers becomes intrigued by the events that led to the adoption of Rosetta and by what happened on the professor’s final dig. His investigations lead him to develop feeling for Rosetta, and also to uncover the mystery surrounding her and the dig.

The writing is beautifully crafted at times but there are places where it felt a little overdone, as if the author was trying too hard. There were places also where there was too much unnecessary detail. Conversely, I also felt that there was so much here that could have been developed. It was all over far too quickly and far too easily. The investigation could have, and should have, taken longer, and Graham and Rosetta’s relationship deserved far more time to develop. I also found it hard to believe that Graham accepted what had happened quite so easily – without giving too much away, an academic would not be so easily convinced. The answers seemed to fall into his lap.

With a little more depth and development, the plot could be thicker and more involved. Having said that, the characters and the situation are really interesting and the writing is wonderful in places. This deserves to be developed into a full-length novel.

3.5 stars

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Owen by @tonyriches #HistFic

My review of ‘Owen’ by Tony Riches. Definitely one for historical fiction fans.

Rosie Amber

Today’s team book review comes from Alison, she blogs at alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Alison chose to read and review Owen by Tony Riches

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Owen – Tony Riches

I love a good, intelligent historical novel. There are so many out there, and I have to be honest and say that, on many occasions, I have bought a promising looking book, only to abandon it within the first few chapters. Very often, the detail won’t be right, or the characters will behave in a way that just isn’t realistic for the time. One of the main issues though is that the dialogue can be so hard to get right. I’ve read so many historical novels where the characters use words that just wouldn’t have been around in the period in which they are set, or, alternatively, where the writer is so keen to make the dialogue authentic that they overdo it and render the…

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#FridayFiveChallenge : ‘December’ by Elizabeth H Winthrop @rosieamber1

Welcome to the Friday Five Challenge

biscuits

Rosie Amber’s Friday Five challenge only takes five minutes, so grab a cuppa and join in!

In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions on small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

The Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book,

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?

November is here and we’re on the way to Christmas. Although I love the sunshine, in warmer countries than the UK, I do love this time of year in England, when it’s cold and dark outside and you can stay cosy inside. And I’ve always loved Bonfire Night. So I searched for ‘Fireworks’. I wasn’t sure why this came up at first but the beautiful cover caught my eye straight away:

December

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

Price: £4.99 (kindle) £7.99 (paperback) in the UK (322 pages), $7.70 (kindle) $14.33 (paperback) in the US.

Book Description

Eleven-year-old Isabelle hasn’t spoken in nine months, and as December begins the situation is getting desperate. Her mother has stopped work to devote herself to her daughter’s care. Four psychiatrists have already given up on her, and her school will not take her back in the New Year. Her parents are frantically trying to understand what has happened so they can help their child, but they cannot escape the thought of darker possibilities. What if Isabelle is damaged beyond their reach? Will she never speak again? Is it their fault? As they spiral around Isabelle’s impenetrable silence, she herself emerges as a bright young girl in need of help yet too terrified to ask for it.

By the talented young author of FIREWORKS, this is a compelling, ultimately uplifting novel about a family in crisis, showing the delicate web that connects a husband and wife, parents and children, and how easily it can tear.

(so that’s where the fireworks came in!)

Reviews

There are thirty-four reviews on Amazon.co.uk, fairly evenly distributed between 1-5 stars, which is quite unusual, and seventeen reviews on Amazon.com, slightly more positive here.

The positive reviews really speak to me -this one in particular:

It’s not an action packed read by any means but filled two return commuter journeys into London easily. For maximum effect it should be read when exceptionally cold and snowing. The weather matched the mood of the novel perfectly. I was warmed up however by the characters who felt real – this is a story about the day to day difficulties of a family with a troubled daughter during a month period – December. If you are looking for a relaxing stress free winter read by the fire with a mug of cocoa this is for you. Wrap up warm you’ll feel the cold when reading it! Nothing of any great significance happens, nevertheless it’s a moving story and well written.

Other reviewers say they were completely absorbed by the narrative and praise the skill of the writing. Some of the negative reviews object to the bad language in the book – this really doesn’t bother me. The negative reviews mainly refer to the slow pace and also the main character who they see as spoilt and selfish.

Buy or pass? Yet another BUY

Analysis

The cover is just beautiful and so evocative of winter. I can imagine curling up on a cold day to read this. Although, as it’s set in New York, I may well take it with me to read on the plane when we go there just before Christmas. Reviewers point out the realistic detail and description of December in New York so this could be perfect for the trip. And the conflicting reviews intrigue me, as does the subject matter. I love character driven novels, and a slow pace, if written beautifully, can be as compelling and as absorbing as a book full of drama and conflict.

If you want to join in the Friday Five Challenge pop over to Rosie’s blog to find out more.

And you might find a new book in one of these Friday Five Challenge posts:

Rosie’s in the outback

Shelley’s back at school

Cathy’s feeling autumnal

Liz is looking at architecture

 

New Short Story Competition

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I recently had the pleasure of being invited to help judge Sandalle’s Five ‘n Ten stagewriting competition – see my post here.

I’m delighted to have been asked to judge their new short story writing competition.

I know that many novel writers and writers of all genres love writing short stories and this is a brand new competition that is relatively cheap to enter – the entry fee is only £5.00, with money raised helping to fund the prizes. The Sandalle group is a very small and very dedicated group of writers, poets and actors who give up their free time to help other writers, running competitions and events and giving critiques. So by entering this competition you might not only win a prize and have a writing credential for your writing CV, you’ll also be helping a dedicated group of volunteers.

There’s another incentive too. If the winning writers have a novel they’re hoping to submit or publish, or one that’s just been sitting in a drawer, I will provide a free assessment of the first three chapters.

Sandalle’s Short Story Competition

First Prize: £120.00 plus free assessment

Second Prize: £75.00 plus free assessment

Third Prize: £50.00 plus free assessment

Theme: The Key

Word length: 1200 words (maximum)

Fee: £5.00 per entry. If you would like a story critique, please add £2.50.

Closing Date: 30th January 2016

Please send two copies of each entry, a cheque (payable to Sandalle), an S.A.E and a separate sheet with your personal details to:

Sandalle
c/o Gwyn Hall
Orchard Street
Neath
SA11 1DU

Good luck and please do spread the word!

good luck

#BookReview ‘A Change of Climate’ by Hilary Mantel #TuesdayBookBlog

change of climate

Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com

I’m a massive fan of Hilary Mantel’s work and am assiduously working my way through everything she’s published – so far I haven’t been disappointed.

This is not a book like ‘Wolf Hall’ and those hoping for a repeat won’t find it here. What is here, as in all her books, is a quality of writing that is rare, a clarity that is beautifully crafted, a mastery of words, characterisation and situations that is skilful and subtle. Mantel is a brilliant storyteller.

Ralph and Anna Eldred raise their children in an atmosphere of doing good and charity, helping the ‘good souls and sad cases’ that come their way. But their good deeds hide a secret that is eating away at them and at their relationship; a secret tragedy from their time as missionaries in South Africa, a tragedy that threatens the stability, faith and peace that they have striven to provide for their children and for those other waifs and strays that they welcome into The Red House.

The tragedy (the nature of which is not revealed until fairly far on in the book) creates fissures between them that spread out though their family and friends. And when their son falls in love with local girl Sandra, Ralph also sees an opportunity for happiness, or at least for forgetting. However, his actions bring all the resentments, grief and sadness that has been hidden away to the surface and the family finds itself at crisis point.

The characters in this book are portrayed with huge sympathy – Mantel has a real knack of getting right under her characters’ skins.  The everyday is drawn as skilfully as the unusual, with both Norfolk and South Africa coming to life – the claustrophobia of a dismal, drab rainy England as real as the oppressive heat of an African day.

Different to Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, but just as wonderful.

5 stars