Category Archives: Relationships

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

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The Blurb:

We were in the square, in the square where I’d run, holding her, carrying her, telling her to stay alive, stay alive till we got safe, till we got to Haven so I could save her – But there weren’t no safety, no safety at all, there was just him and his men…

Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss. Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor’s new order. But what secrets are hiding just outside of town? And where is Viola? Is she even still alive? And who are the mysterious Answer? And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode…

“The Ask and the Answer” is a tense, shocking and deeply moving novel of resistance under the most extreme pressure. This is the second title in the “Chaos Walking” trilogy.

My Review:

As I suspected, I liked “The Ask and the Answer” by Patrick Ness more than the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy – and I came to like Todd Hewitt a good deal more in this novel.

When Todd carries a badly wounded Viola into Haven, they expect that their troubles will be over; that their questions will be answered; that Viola will be able to contact “her people” – colonists who are approaching the world of “Noise”. However, the young protagonists find something completely different to their expectations.

Todd and Viola are forced to separate and throughout the unfolding of this violent and often heartbreaking story, they rarely meet. However, the ties that bind them are extremely strong and their faith and trust in each other brings real life to this story. They meet many devious characters for whom power is the guiding light and Todd has to develop ways of dealing with awful situations and actions in which he had to participate.

In the first book of the trilogy, I was irritated by Todd, but the way his character developed in “The Ask and the Answer” provided much to like and admire. Although some of the things he had to do were despicable, he tried to show compassion. Viola continued to be a strong young woman, growing in strength even in the face of betrayal.

This book was written from the points of view of both Todd and Viola – I think this worked very well and helped to broaden the scope of the story. Their voices are quite different and there was no confusion for me, just added enjoyment. I have admired the work of Patrick Ness for a while now and have no reason to change my views. I think he is an extremely skillful, thoughtful writer and although the Chaos Walking trilogy is aimed at young adults, the questions that we are asked to ponder are applicable at any age.

Needless to say, I have now made a good start on the third book: “Monsters of Men”

In the Eyes of an Angel by Kimberly Livingston -review and author interview.

Today, it is my pleasure to welcome author, Kimberly Livingston to my blog.

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Blurb:

Camille Ryan is in her final year at Southern State University. Working as a bartender in a local establishment in order to support herself, she knows from her mother’s experience with her alcoholic father not to depend on anyone. That is until travelling businessman Rick Pantanelli decides to visit her bar. He is a handsome, well-off, successful professional and her senior by a full 17 years.

Camille is used to doing everything she is expected to do. But when she meets Rick she is swept away by his good looks, his charm and his ability to take care of her. Rick is used to getting what he wants. But when he meets Camille he is swept away by her beauty and her inner fragility. He finds himself believing he can take care of her. Is this belief strong enough to make him a better man?

My Review:

“In the Eyes of an Angel” by Kimberly Livingston traces the story of Camille Ryan’s life during her last few months at university and her first steps into the world of work.

Our first meeting with Camille finds her working as a barmaid, in an attempt to help pay her bills as she completes her studies. Quickly, we gain the impression of a gentle, decent young woman, but one who has little sense of her own worth. Her family life has been lacking in security – her father is an alcoholic; her mother, a woman who appears to find it hard to show emotion.

Camille is a beautiful young woman and attracts the attention of business man, Rick Pantanelli. The attraction is mutual and a relationship develops between them. However, is this a match made in heaven? Time and circumstances will tell. To say more about the plot would spoil the story for other readers, so I shall leave it there!

What I really enjoyed about this novel was the way in which Camille’s self-confidence grew, alongside her belief that she was worth knowing and had a purpose in life. She had always worked hard, but had lacked the support and time to nurture her sense of self. This was a rocky road for her to travel, and it held my interest throughout. I was also interested in Rick’s character – a successful man, but not very likeable, in my opinion.

I have to admit that I don’t read many romance novels, but I did enjoy this one and look forward to reading the promised follow-up.

 
 Interview with Kimberly Livingston:
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 Hello Kimberly. I’m delighted to welcome you to my blog today. Would you like to tell us a little about yourself?

Thank you for having me.  What an honor! I am from Colorado, which, for your UK readers, is in the western half of the United States near the Rocky Mountains. I am a Disney FANATIC (my homage to Disneyland is in my novel On a Run) and am so excited to be spending my 50th birthday there in a few weeks!!! I was raised on Happily Ever After stories, even though I realize, those don’t always turn out like the main hero/heroine expected. I am married to my own Prince Charming (I got lucky!) who is a golf fanatic so we spend a lot of time outdoors, and hopefully will make it to the UK to do some golfing before too long!

It would be great if you could come over to the UK!

 Q. Have you always been an author?

A. That’s an interesting question. I’d say….. Yes. I have made up stories and written them down for as long as I can remember. I remember starting my first “novel” back in elementary school. I actually might still have a copy! That novel got to be about a page and a half long, but the concept was there. Who knows, I might finish that novel someday.

Q. Do you have a set routine when you are writing?  

A. I wish! I am an author who still has a day job so my writing time tends to be catch as catch can. I can edit with any distraction going on, but to write I need to have my own head space. Doesn’t matter when, day or night, but once I get started I can write for hours on end. I have been known to write while sitting lake side while my husband fishes, sitting with my laptop in bed all day, or stopping mid walk or run to voice-write a scene I’d been mulling over into my phone.

Q. Are there any authors that have influenced you? What have you admired about their work?

A. I’d say all authors influence me, but the author that I am most similar to style wise is probably Susan Wiggs. I am especially awed by authors who can come up with complex worlds or situations so different from our own. Erin Morgenstern’s Night Circus is one example. I wish I were that creative and skilled! I also have loved Barbara Kingsolver’s work. Both of those authors paint such vivid characters and settings. However, as I often read my own genre that gives me comfort to know that a good novel doesn’t have to be long or complex. It just needs to be a good story with relatable characters (and hopefully a happy ending!).

 I loved “The Night Circus” but have yet to read any of Barbara Kingsolver’s novels. I’ll have to remedy that!

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Q.I enjoyed reading “In the Eyes of an Angel.” How long did it take you to write it? Did you follow a plan or did the plot and characters evolve as you were writing?

A.Phew! I am so happy you enjoyed it. That is the hardest part about publishing. When I write I can love my work, but the moment I put it “out there” it becomes very vulnerable. I wrote In the Eyes of an Angel over about a 6 month period. I was on a leave of absence at the time, so I was able to work on it fairly consistently. I rarely have a “plan” when I write. Okay, I never have a plan.  Typically I have a character or a situation in mind and then my imagination just takes over and the novel writes itself. Sometimes I don’t even have the character or situation in mind to start, I just start daydreaming and the stories emerge.

 

Q. The characters in the book were very “real”. Were they based on anyone you know or figments of your imagination?

A.What a great compliment! My characters are figments of my imagination, though I may see a person or have a memory that sparks a story in my head. One observation may begin the whole story telling process. For In the Eyes of an Angel I used the memory of a bar I worked at when I was in college as the backdrop, but there was no Camille or Rick, they just developed themselves. Often when I am writing I “become” the character, which helps I think in capturing the inner person. The characters become very real to me, so it is nice that that translates to my readers.

 
Q.Can you tell us a little about what you are hoping to have published in the future?

A.I just finished the follow up novel to In the Eyes of an Angel. I felt like one of the characters was truly misunderstood in that book so I wanted to tell the rest of their story. Hence, the title of my new novel is “Book by Another Cover”. I am extremely happy with how it all works out (remember, I never know how a book will resolve itself)! I am currently working on the editing process and developing a cover for it, then it will be up on Amazon Kindle for purchase!

 

Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog. It’s been a pleasure to chat to you and learn a little more about you and your work.

Thank you again for having me on your blog! If you or any of your readers have any follow up questions or would just like to connect they can find me at
kimberlylivingstonnovels. weebly.com
twitter.com/KLnovels
facebook.com/ kimberlylivingstonnovels

 

 

My Name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley

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This book, which is aimed at older children/young teenagers, tells us of the lives of two girls named Victoria. The more famous of these two is the Princess Victoria, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. With the death of a number of her uncles, she becomes heir to the throne of Great Britain. The other Victoria is “Miss V.”, the daughter of Sir John Conroy. She is roughly the same age as the princess and becomes her companion.

Princess Victoria lives in Kensington Palace, with her mother, a widow, and her governess and teacher, Baroness Lehzen. Sir John Conroy is comptroller of this household and, with the Duchess of Kent, they had devised something called the “Kensington System”. This ensured that the young princess was kept isolated and obedient, under the strict control of the adults around her.

Miss V. is brought into the household at the age of 10 to be a companion for the princess, but her reception is not particularly enthusiastic. Princess Victoria is very unhappy with her restricted life and is highly distrustful of her young companion.

Lucy Worsley has used real historical characters and settings in this novel, but she has used her imagination to develop the relationships between them. I loved the “what if” plot development, which took me by surprise.

This was a very enjoyable read for me. The settings were described in a way which made them visible in my mind and the characters were well developed and interesting. I am a fan of Lucy Worsley’s history programmes and I have to say, I’m a fan of her novel, “My Name is Victoria”!

I would like to thank NetGalley for enabling me to read this novel, in return for my honest review.

 

Another You by Jane Cable

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Jane Cable’s “Another You” has much to recommend it.

A contemporary romantic novel, with a mysterious twist, it is set in a beautiful part of England, mainly focusing on the area around Studland Bay in Dorset. I loved the author’s descriptions of this setting, having visited the region many times myself.

Against this backdrop, the story of Marie and her turbulent relationships unfolds. Marie and her estranged husband, Stephen own and run a pub, with the help of their son, Jude, and two other employees.  To escape the arguments with Stephen, Marie often walks along the cliff tops and this is when she meets an attractive American named Corbin.  He is a soldier and she assumes he is staying in the area for a commemoration and re-enactment event concerning the Second World War.

After a while, Corbin seems to disappear from the area, but a different American soldier appears on the scene. Marie finds Paxton very attractive and they embark on an affair.  This is only one strand of this novel, which also looks at the important decisions that Jude has to make about the direction he wants his life to take.

There is much more to the plot than I’ve written about here, but to reveal more would spoil the book for future readers.

I enjoy Jane Cable’s writing very much. There is a flow to her work which makes it such a pleasure to read.  In “Another You” and her  previous novels, she shows such a talent for setting the scene, not by lengthy description, but using well-chosen words. There is also the element of “other-worldly” mystery that I enjoy immensely.  I also like the realistic depiction of the characters and their relationships – Marie’s stressful life with an unpleasant estranged husband and a son, about to take steps into the unknown, were authentic and rang true for me.

All in all, a very good, satisfying read! 

The Spider by Maria Savva

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“The Spider”, latest novel by Maria Savva, has to be one of my favourites by this talented author. I have enjoyed all of her work – novels and short stories – but this one , with its blend of paranormal horror and normality is a real page turner.

 

George, Roisin and their little boy, Robbie, seem to be living “the normal life”, until a meeting with the handsome next door neighbour, Hugh, threatens the solidity of their marriage. George, at the same time, has heard stories of strange happenings in a supposedly unoccupied house in another part of the town where he lives. He and his close friend, Glen, decide to investigate the rumours that people who have entered the house recently have not been seen again. This escapade unleashes all sorts of horror and speeds the unravelling of several relationships.The author successfully entwines the plot lines until a satisfying conclusion is reached.

“The Spider” is full of suspense and chills, but it also delves into the real life problems of infidelity, distrust and loneliness. All in all, a well written and entertaining novel!

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

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“The Night Watch” is neither a quick, nor particularly exciting, read, but I found it to be compelling and well worth the effort.The story is set in London, beginning in 1947, and then moving backwards in time to 1941. This was a time when homosexuality and lesbianism were taboo and attempted suicide was a criminal offence. It explores the lives and intertwined relationships of Kay, Helen, and Julia and also looks at sister and brother, Vivien and Duncan Pearce. I was impressed, as always, by the development of these characters by the excellent Sarah Waters ; although not particularly likeable, they are certainly clearly etched in my imagination.

I particularly liked the “backwards” storytelling. The story begins in post-war London in 1947 and paints a dreary picture of life at that time. All of the characters are introduced in this first part of the book and the book takes us back in time, filling in the gaps and answering the questions that arise in this first section. The second and third sections of the book are full of the harrowing life of Londoners in World War II – it is against this backdrop that Sarah Waters explores the themes of love, jealousy and suspicion; powerful emotions that can destroy lives. I think Sarah Waters is particularly talented at creating authentic settings and “The Night Watch” is no exception to this.

The book took me a long time to read, but it wasn’t because I was bored by it. It was so packed with emotion that at times, I needed to break off to allow it to all sink in. An intense, but absorbing book, it is one which I thoroughly recommend.

The Faerie Tree by Jane Cable

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“The Faerie Tree” is Jane Cable‘s second novel and, I think, in many ways, it is better than “The Cheesemaker’s House”.It is well written and the pace is just right throughout

This book tells the story of Robin and Izzie; of their loves and griefs and how their lives are affected by these two powerful emotions. The story begins with Izzie being recently widowed at the age of 44, left to bring up her teenage daughter, Claire, and continue her work as a teacher. When she bumps into a tramp, she discovers that this is no stranger, but someone she knew many years ago. His name is Robin and it is obvious that this is a person who meant a great deal to Izzie in the past.

The tale unfolds to tell of their earlier relationship and the development of the current one, this time also involving Claire and her teenage traumas. These three characters are well drawn and believable. There are others who play an important part in the plot, especially Jennifer, who takes on the role of a second mother to Robin.

This is not a straightforward love story. There are many times when I questioned what had actually happened and my interest was maintained throughout as answers were gradually revealed. It is also an exploration of the dramatic effect that grief can have on an individual.

I particularly enjoyed the folklore aspect of this novel. The so-called Faerie Tree itself and the way in which Jennifer and Robin celebrated the natural world were a delight to me and were an integral part of this story. I loved the atmosphere that Jane Cable evoked in her descriptions.

If you want something a little different to read and want to try a new author, I would thoroughly recommend Jane Cable’s work

About the author:

7226007  Jane Cable says: Perhaps writing is in my blood. My father, Mercer Simpson, was a poet; my cousin, Roger Hubank, a novelist; Roger’s uncle, John Hampson was also a novelist and fringe member of the Bloomsbury Group. And it’s even rumoured that John Keats is somewhere back there in the family tree.


No wonder that I have always scribbled. But it took me until I was in my forties to complete a full length manuscript. And then another, and another… Writing stories became a compulsive hobby. I could lose myself in my characters, almost live their lives, and I started to long for readers other than my mother and a few close friends to be able to do the same.
It was reaching the final of The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition in 2011 which made me take my writing seriously. The Cheesemaker’s House, a gripping romance-suspense, saw the light of day in September 2013 and I was delighted when it received great reviews from book bloggers and, just as importantly, from the people who bought and read it. My second novel, The Faerie Tree, is due out in March 2015 and is a suspenseful romance about the tricks memory plays.