Rosepoint March Reviews Recap–For Better or Worse–April Is Upon Us

Rosepoint Reviews-March recap

Who could have guessed that in one short month from the February Recap, we’d be in the middle of a global pandemic and the fight for our collective lives? From the end of January to finally assessing the severity of exactly what we in this nation were facing changed the heralding of spring not with trumpets and flower buds but with bagpipes and the strains of Amazing Grace. It’s been a sad month and we are promised worse in April. The sheltering-in-place has reduced commerce to panic purchases and hospitals to erecting temporary tents housing medical equipment with patients in parking lots. It’s sad and beyond frightening.

Stay: Smart, Safe, Home

March started Reading Ireland Month and although all St Patrick’s Day celebrations were canceled, I did manage seven Irish related posts, including Irish authors as well as plot locations in Ireland. Reviews for Rosepoint Pub in March totaled thirteen (as always the links are below the grid):

Dear Ringer by Annelise Ryan
Murder in an Irish Cottage by Carlene O’Connor (a Reading Ireland entry)
Sockeye by Michael F Tevlin (a Reading Ireland entry and CE review)
Irish Car Bomb by Steven Henry (a Reading Ireland entry)
One Good Dog by Susan Wilson (an audiobook)
When All is Said by Anne Griffin (a Reading Ireland entry)
A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy (a Reading Ireland entry)
The Wolf in Winter by John Connolly (a Reading Ireland entry)
Past Deeds by Carolyn Arnold
Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone
Uncharted Waters by Scott MacKenzie (a CE review)
Beyond the Moon by Catherine Taylor (a CE review)
The Body in the Apartment by Judi Lynn

I had a wide variety of digital offerings from author requests, NetGalley downloads, my local lending library, and two spotlights as well as an audiobook. And I’m proud to say this old dog learned how to download gifted Audible books which I’ll be reviewing in April. I won a Giveaway that James J Cudney of This is My Truth Now ran and he introduced me to the idea. (Thank you, Jay!) I posted a spotlight for him this month here.

Of course, the book club meetings for March were canceled. Also included in the Reading Ireland Month challenge was the recommendation of one of my favorite podcasters, especially for all things Celtic, the Celtfather himself, Marc Gunn.  I hope you’ve had a chance to download and enjoy the amazing variety of artists included in his podcasts.

The CE continues to read and review as well, some as tandem reviews with my own, just as many independently. He has claimed quite a few favorable comments and Nina of The Cozy Pages dubbed him a vicarious blogger. Boy, I loved that, thanked Nina, and asked if I couldn’t use it. Having enthusiastically agreed, we’ll now be calling him CE, The Vicarious Blogger, rather than my associate reviewer. (He likes his new title as well.) Nina writes a delightfully sweet blog, her “homage to cozy mysteries” and if you haven’t discovered her page yet, here’s your chance!

My challenges get ever more challenging, one of which has fallen well behind. I’ve caught up my Reading Challenges page, however, if you’d like to see my progress. Three books behind in Goodreads, generally on target for the rest with the exception of the Murder Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge. NOT easy!

Thank you as always to those who joined me in March as well as my established followers. May you stay safe wherever you are!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Small CoVid19 graphic attribute: semiwiki.com

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy – a #BookReview – #readingirelandmonth20

A co-read with the CE. One of us loved this one more than the other.

March and Reading Ireland Month

Book Blurb:

Stoneybridge is a small town on the west coast of Ireland where all the families know one another. When Chicky Starr decides to take an old, decaying mansion set high on the cliffs overlooking the windswept Atlantic Ocean and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea, everyone thinks she is crazy. Helped by Rigger (a bad boy turned good who is handy around the house) and Orla, her niece (a whiz at business), Chicky is finally ready to welcome the first guests to Stone House’s big warm kitchen, log fires, and understated elegant bedrooms. John, the American movie star, thinks he has arrived incognito; Winnie and Lillian are forced into taking a holiday together; Nicola and Henry, husband and wife, have been shaken by seeing too much death practicing medicine; Anders hates his father’s business, but has a real talent for music; Miss Nell Howe, a retired schoolteacher, criticizes everything and leaves a day early, much to everyone’s relief; the Walls are disappointed to have won this second-prize holiday in a contest where first prize was Paris; and Freda, the librarian, is afraid of her own psychic visions.

Sharing a week with this unlikely cast of characters is pure joy, full of Maeve’s trademark warmth and humor. Once again, she embraces us with her grand storytelling.

This ebook edition includes photos from the landscape of A WEEK IN WINTER and a Reading Group Guide. 

My Thoughts

A favorite Irish author the world over was Maeve Binchy who wrote this book, her last, before her death in 2012 at the age of 72. The book became a tribute to her work spanning (according to Goodreads) 173 distinct works. Her distinctive storytelling style scored thousands of fans. This is my first experience with the author.

A Week in Winter by Maeve BinchyA Week in Winter tells the story of a large cast of characters, but stems from Chicky (Geraldine) Starr of Stoneybridge, Ireland. Chicky is a girl with wild ideas and meeting a young American with the same kind of free-wheeling ideas, followed him to America. When he left her with only the clothes on her back, she managed to find room, board, and employment at a boarding house and gradually saved money.

When an opportunity opens back in Ireland to buy an old “gentlemen’s home,” she is intrigued with the idea of turning it into a B&B, quaint, gorgeous views of the Atlantic, and good food at Stone House. But that doesn’t happen by herself, or the remaining sister of three who formerly owned the property. So begins the tale of gathering personnel and eventually the opening guests.

“Working all the hours that God sends us.”

The well-plotted tale reverts (sometimes years) to establish the backgrounds and lives of people who will eventually populate Stone House. There are outbuildings to restore and land that will accommodate animals and years of work ahead and in the meantime gather Rigger and Orla (a niece). Then proceeds to find the opening week’s guests; John, a movie star; Winnie and her future mother-in-law Lillian; Henry and Nicola, doctors; Anders, a businessman who prefers music; the Walls, celebrating their silver anniversary; Miss Howe, irascible retired school principal; and Freda, a psychic librarian.

Everyone comes damaged, at a crossroads, in conflict, unhappy, at odds, or seeking well-deserved peace and are then welcomed into the newly opened facility. Each new character(s) create a short-story that don’t particularly interact with the rest of the guests with the exception of a common breakfast or dinner. Miss Howe, never content anywhere having led a desperately sad and lonely life experiences no epiphany and leaves early. All the others have a great and life-changing week and sweeps the reader into a conclusion with just the slightest epilogue of each.

I just finished a book with a strong character study and almost the same number to keep track of, separated into their own stories, as this was done. The plot to rehab an old estate into an exclusive B&B offering an authentic Irish experience also vaguely familiar, although descriptions of the area conjure up real, well-developed characters with windy, salty faces, and overcoat weather in small atmospheric villages. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy the book. I did. The storyline keeps you reading–but it isn’t wholly new. 4/5 stars

His Thoughts

A masterful representation of life during earlier times. Ms. Binchy has captured the essence of life in rural Ireland and family struggles. It opened many memories of my childhood and the inter-familial relationships and struggles my family experienced when I was a child.

Each of the characters could be members of my own extended family. Loves hoped for and hearts broken are coupled with basic behavioral issues from less than perfect role models. Her characters portray the very essence of problems faced by most people in developing relationships.

Running off to America to be with a man who expressed deep undying love for Chicky starts the saga. As we all know, love is fickle. Left alone after five months Chicky has to develop a story for the loss of a person who said he loved her. The theme is replete throughout the book. Men are not shown in their best light, but then again, men can be very fickle.

A Week in Winter by Maeve BinchyThe central thread is a large property called Stone House outside the village of Stoneybridge. The property is refurbished by Chicky and her niece as well as bad boy Rigger. As the property is developed, so develops the strengths and weaknesses of the characters. Rigger is a young delinquent who turns his life around and becomes key to the success of Stone House. Each additional character faces their own challenges and lessons to be learned from life.

The overall impact of this novel is to embrace the effect of life itself. Everyone has challenges and struggles in life. The richer family near Stoneybridge spends a fortune only to fall upon hard times during a large business downturn. They wind up with a large subdivision of unsold houses and a diminished reputation as developers.

The overall impression I came away with was that all of us seem to have similar life experiences. As they worked to develop the property and create a successful business, their fortunes were actually the result of the effort put into helping each other as well as striving for success. Helping others achieve success develops our own karma. Stoneybridge ultimately succeeds because each character gives more effort to further the cause and others than pursue their own ambitions. Many of the male figures tend to be self-absorbed and selfish.

My hat is off to the author and her insights into family relationships and struggles. Thanks for the memories and refresher course! 5 stars

Book Details:

Genre: British and Irish Literary Fiction, Literary Sagas
Publisher: Anchor

  • ISBN-10:0307475506
  • ISBN-13:978-0307475503
  • ASIN: B009MYARTO

Print Length: 418 pages
Publication Date: February 13, 2013
Source: Local Library Digital Loan
Title Link: A Week in Winter

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Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Maeve Binchy - Irish authorThe Author: (Amazon author page) Maeve Binchy is the author of numerous best-selling books, including Nights of Rain and Stars, Quentins, Scarlet Feather, Circle of Friends, and Tara Road, which was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. She has written for Gourmet; O, The Oprah Magazine; Modern Maturity; and Good Housekeeping, among other publications. She and her husband, Gordon Snell, live in Dalkey, Ireland, and London.

(Goodreads author page) Maeve Binchy was born on 28 May 1940 in Dalkey, County Dublin, Ireland, the eldest child of four. Her parents were very positive and provided her with a happy childhood. Although she described herself as an overweight child, her parents’ attitude gave her the confidence to accept herself for who she was.

She studied at University College Dublin and was a teacher for a while. She also loved traveling, and this was how she found her niche as a writer. She liked going to different places, such as a Kibbutz in Israel, and she worked in a camp in the United States. While she was away, she sent letters home to her parents. They were so impressed with these chatty letters from all over the world that they decided to send them to a newspaper. After these letters were published, Maeve left teaching and became a journalist.

Maeve married Gordon Snell, writer and editor of children’s books. When they were struggling financially, Light a Penny Candle was published, which made her an overnight success. Many of her books, such as Echoes, are set in the past in Ireland. Some of her later novels, such as Evening Class, take place in more modern times. Her books often deal with people who are young, fall in love, have families, and deal with relationship or family problems. The main characters are people whom readers can empathise with.

She passed away on 30 July 2012, at the age of 72.

Her cousin Dan Binchy is also a published writer, as is her nephew Chris Binchy.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint February Reviews Recap–HELLO March!!

Rosepoint Reviews - February Recap

I am still catching up on all the audiobooks I listened to in January, so posted two in February, one more still from David Rosenfelt that I’ll share in March. Of course March starts Reading Ireland Month and I’ve got several lined up already. If you haven’t already registered your participation in that challenge, now is the time to do it! I’ve added the badge with the link, so plunge head first into the green.

I certainly had a variety of reads in February, from mysticism to beautiful literary fiction. I reviewed three audiobooks by the same author (Rosenfelt), neither of which were my favorite series (Andy Carpenter)–one starting a new series (The K Team). The CE reviewed two novels, one an author request that he really enjoyed by Michael McLellan. While most were from NetGalley, I sampled two local book groups in February, one in Crown Point, and thinking I might just stay with the one in my own “township,” a new start up. It sounds like the director will be amenable to molding it in a unique format and I’m all for that! So in all, fourteen books for the month as follows:

Statue of Limitations by Kate Collins
Fade to Black by David Rosenfelt (David Brock series audiobook)
The Master’s Apprentice by Oliver Pötzsch (CE review)
In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael McLellan (CE review)
Bitter Alpine by Mary Daheim
Anne and Louis by Rozsa Gaston
The Angel’s Trumpet by James Musgrave
The Lost Boys of London by Mary Lawrence
Black and Blue by David Rosenfelt (David Brock series audiobook)
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (Third Monday Book Club selection)
Here Comes the Body by Maria DiRico
The K Team by David Rosenfelt (new series)
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Fiction Addiction Book Club selection)
Thief River Falls by Brian Freeman

March

I’ve done some scrambling to try and keep up with the reading challenges, five until next month when Reading Ireland Month kicks in. I’ll bring back John Connolly from last year reading The Wolf in Winter this year and I’ll be reading Book 2 written by an Irish American writing about an Irish police woman in New York City with her K-9 partner (did you really think I’d read all month without one about a dog?) called Irish Car Bomb (an Erin O’Reilly K-9 Mystery) by Steven Henry. Don’t ask me why I started the series with Book 2–I have no clue, but it might have been this quote I noted in the blurb: If it weren’t for the Irish, New York wouldn’t have a police force. On the other hand, it might not need one.” And don’t forget to tag your posts with her hashtags #readingirelandmonth20 or #begorrathon20.

Otherwise, I’m pretty much behind on everything, including my NetGalley challenge. Thank heaven I only chose to try for Stenographer, 10-15 audiobooks! I think I’ll be able to make that one.

Thank you as always to those who have just joined me and those who continue to read and support this blog with your comments. You have no idea how much those are appreciated!

2020 V Williams V Williams

March photo background attribute: Canva.com

Cocos Island Treasure by Stanley McShane – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is an action-adventure fiction by Irish author and artist Stanley McShane. He was my grandfather and you can read about the discovery of his manuscripts, paintings, and poems in my “About Us” page here.

March!

 Title: Cocos Island Treasure by Stanley McShane

Genre: Sea Adventures, Historical Fiction

Publisher: Rosepoint Publishing

  • ASIN: B007D58KZC
  • ISBN-10: 1468177338
  • ISBN-13: 978-1468177336
  • Print Length: 204 pages

Publication Date: October 8, 2012

Title Link: Cocos Island Treasure

Book Blurb:

Cocos Island Treasure by Stanley McShaneWhere did those rasty, barbaric theft-driven pirates bury their treasures in the 17th and 18th Centuries? Perhaps just a little south of the main South Sea shipping lane in a secluded harbor where a short paddle through shark-infested waters to the steamy, fetid jungle island could yield fresh water, food, and gold! Turn-of-the-20th Century fortune hunters from the schooner, Bessie, hunt where only ghosts inhabit–or are they all merely apparitions? Captain Dan was ready to retire until he gained access to a secret cipher–one that he felt sure was authentic enough to reap him millions and willing to risk one more salty adventure to seek the insanely rich treasures of Cocos Island.

Editorial Reviews:

“This book has it all, adventure, mystery and a touch of romance.” – Catmarie

“Cocos Island Treasure is an old school nautical adventure. This work is a window into the by-gone era where maps that detailed the bounty of famous pirate treasure was indeed plausable.” – S Mellen

“Not my usual subject of interest, but a recent documentary on Blackbeard peaked my interest. The author really seems to know his stuff about the subject, and the island itself.” – mpytlikhusb

“I haven’t read a good pirate novel since I read the Sea Wolf as a teenager. Cocos Island Treasure was even more interesting because it is a true story.” – Terry W Sprouse

“It was quite a trip to go back in time, not only considering the setting of the story, but the book’s birth three decades ago. A cross between Stevenson’s Treasure Island…full of the language of the day.” – N Lombardi Jr. author Justice Gone

My Review:

My grandfather wrote this book back in the late 1920s. My mother can remember him tapping out the manuscript with his two index fingers on an old Underwood–older, I’m sure, than the one I use for my logo. While I may be a bit prejudiced, I rated it a five star because I know he was there, walked that beach (Chatham Bay), climbed through those jungles and did his best not to disappear in the many bogs and crevices. (He later noted in a letter what a fun little trip it was!)

The author described this island down to the gnat’s eyeball. Since I’ve researched the island, I’ve found descriptions echoing his down to the wild pigs that were brought to the island and allowed to go feral. He wrote the manuscript over 90 years ago, turning his sailing adventure into a novel affirming the well-known rumors or stories of all the pirate treasures buried on the island, including the “Loot of Lima.” The treasure stolen by Captain William Thompson, commander of the Mary Dear, was purportedly the largest treasure ever hidden by pirates. So many stories abound regarding the captain and whether or not he survived. More stories published regarding whether or not the treasure was found. That treasure, however, was not the only one to be buried on the island by pirates. (The island is now closed to tourists or treasure hunters.)

It’s a fun, quick read and takes you back almost a century to sail on the schooner, Bessie. The book was written using sailing jargon and colloquialisms of the day and was kept faithful to his original manuscript. The narrative, however, remembers another famous pirate, Edward Davis. (It is said that he was one of the earliest buccaneers to have buried treasure on Cocos Island where he anchored in Chatham Bay as well. Cocos Island is approximately 340 miles southwest of Costa Rica.)

There were two additional sea adventures published, one describing the gruesome art of whaling in Lucky Joe and another after his year-long fishing experience out of Grimsby, England he called Sons of the Sea.

It is the anthology published in 2015, Sole Survivor, in which I pulled together several of his short stories, introduction to Lucky Joe, paintings, and poems. With the possible exception of Cocos Island Treasure, all are available in both paperback and ebook, now for free through Kindle Unlimited. (Busters of Bitter River is available only in ebook form.)

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Patrick John (Stanley McShane) Rose

See the amazing story of the painting that provides an updated cover version of Sole Survivor here. (Three of the above covers were provided by his paintings.)

The Author: Stanley McShane is the pen name of Patrick John Rose and the author of one novel published during his lifetime in 1936, “Bitter River Ranch” by Phoenix Press. Patrick was born in 1872 aboard his father’s vessel, the Marguerite, and was the sole survivor when she sank. He sailed as a captain aboard his own ship until some time after the turn of the 20th century, whereupon he caught Alaskan gold fever and ventured north. It was in the late 1920’s/early 30’s that he eventually settled down to write about all of his adventures–both land and sea. “Cocos Island Treasure,” “Sons of the Sea,” “Lucky Joe,” and “Hot Air Promotions” were published posthumously through Rosepoint Publishing by his granddaughter. An eBook historical western novella was published in May, 2014 called “Busters of Bitter River.” McShane’s short stories, poems, and paintings were gathered in a fiction adventure anthology called “Sole Survivor” in 2015.

The vocal music background on the book trailer is provided by Marc Gunn, self-proclaimed Irish and Celtic Music celtfather. In addition to his albums, he offers a delightful podcast which was available for download on iTunes. Otherwise, check him out here.

My grandfather had an unusual writing style, often filled with slang, sailing terms, and sensitivities (or lack thereof) of his day. Have you attempted to publish one of your ancestor’s manuscripts? I’d love to hear about your journey!

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Secret Place by Tana French – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is a police procedural/crime fiction by Irish author Tana French. I was not prepared and it knocked my socks off! What did I get myself into?

March!

The Secret Place by Tana FrenchTitle: The Secret Place: (Dublin Murder Squad Series, Book 5) by Tana French

Genre: Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Police Procedural

Publisher: Penguin Books

Print Length: 480 pages

Publication Date: Reprint edition August 4, 2015

  • ASIN: B00IOE4JXS
  • ISBN-10:0143127519
  • ISBN-13:978-0143127512

Source: Reading Ireland 2019 list 746 Books

Title Link: The Secret Place

Book Blurb:

A year ago a boy was found murdered at a girlsʼ boarding school, and the case was never solved. Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to join Dublin’s Murder Squad when sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey arrives in his office with a photo of the boy with the caption: “I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.” Stephen joins with Detective Antoinette Conway to reopen the case—beneath the watchful eye of Holly’s father, fellow detective Frank Mackey. With the clues leading back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends, to their rival clique, and to the tangle of relationships that bound them all to the murdered boy, the private underworld of teenage girls turns out to be more mysterious and more dangerous than the detectives imagined. Continue reading “The Secret Place by Tana French – a #BookReview”

Dark Hollow by John Connolly – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is a crime fiction by Dublin born Irish author John Connolly. Because of the length of this and another that we borrowed from our local library, my associate reviewer read Dark Hollow and the following is his review.

March!

 

Dark Hollow by John ConnollyTitle: Dark Hollow: A Charlie Parker Thriller (Book 2) by John Connolly

Genre: Mystery, Thrillers and Suspense, Supernatural, Ghosts, Serial Killers

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Print Length: 432 pages

Publication Date: Reprint edition (June 16, 2015)

  • ASIN: B002OK2OQM
  • ISBN-10: 1501122630
  • ISBN-13:978-1501122637

Source: Irish Authors by 746Books

Title Link: Dark Hollow

Book Blurb:

The second thriller in John Connolly’s bestselling, chilling series featuring haunted private investigator Charlie Parker.

Charlier Parker, a former New York City detective with a haunted past, befriends a down-and-out mother with a small child. When she turns up dead, Charlie’s first suspect is her estranged husband. Charlie follows the man’s trail to Maine and there he becomes entangled in a series of strange occurrences which all seem to harken back to a string of unsolved murders that took place generations before. The murders were never solved and now Charlie must hunt for a killer and the connection between two crimes that span a century.

Dark Hollow by John ConnollyHis Review:

Extremely dark crime noir may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Charlie Parker is a former police officer turned private detective haunted by the death of his wife and daughter. The overall plot moves slowly, developing into a harsh reality of Charlie’s life. Overall the book is well written and keeps engagement but is brutal in the reality of catching the killer.

Subplots of harrowing psychological events imposed upon the reader by a mother who basically hated her husband and her child results in diabolical events. Add the mob on a ruthless quest to recover two million dollars and nobody is safe. Brutality at every turn left me wishing for a little peace in detective Parker’s life.

I felt the book could have matriculated quicker with less exposure to a ruthless killer of young women. It quelled my thirst to visit the far corners of Maine. Two generations of Parkers finally solve the mystery but at a horrendous price. Part of a series but could function as a standalone. Well-plotted but a little slow and long for me. C.E. Williams 4/5 stars

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John Connolly - authorThe Author: [John Connolly] I was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1968 and have, at various points in his life, worked as a journalist, a barman, a local government official, a waiter and a “gofer” at Harrods department store in London. I studied English in Trinity College, Dublin and journalism at Dublin City University, subsequently spending five years working as a freelance journalist for The Irish Times newspaper, to which I continue to contribute, although not as often as I would like. I still try to interview a few authors every year, mainly writers whose work I like, although I’ve occasionally interviewed people for the paper simply because I thought they might be quirky or interesting. All of those interviews have been posted to my website, http://www.johnconnollybooks.com.

I was working as a journalist when I began work on my first novel. Like a lot of journalists, I think I entered the trade because I loved to write, and it was one of the few ways I thought I could be paid to do what I loved. But there is a difference between being a writer and a journalist, and I was certainly a poorer journalist than I am a writer (and I make no great claims for myself in either field.) I got quite frustrated with journalism, which probably gave me the impetus to start work on the novel. That book, Every Dead Thing, took about five years to write and was eventually published in 1999. It introduced the character of Charlie Parker, a former policeman hunting the killer of his wife and daughter. Dark Hollow, the second Parker novel, followed in 2000. The third Parker novel, The Killing Kind, was published in 2001, with The White Road following in 2002. In 2003, I published my fifth novel – and first stand-alone book – Bad Men. In 2004, Nocturnes, a collection of novellas and short stories, was added to the list, and 2005 marked the publication of the fifth Charlie Parker novel, The Black Angel. In 2006, The Book of Lost Things, my first non-mystery novel, was published.

Charlie Parker has since appeared in five additional novels: The Unquiet, The Reapers (where he plays a secondary role to his associates, Louis and Angel), The Lovers, The Whisperers, and The Burning Soul. The eleventh Charlie Parker novel, The Wrath of Angels, will be available in the UK in August 2012 and in the US in January 2013.

The Gates launched the Samuel Johnson series for younger readers in 2009, followed by Hell’s Bells (UK)/The Infernals (US) in 2011. A third Samuel Johnson novel should be finished in 2013.

I am also the co-editor, with fellow author Declan Burke, of Books to Die For, an anthology of essays from the world’s top crime writers in response to the question, “Which book should all lovers of crime fiction read before they die?” Books to Die For is available in the UK as of August 2012, and will be available in the US in October 2012.

I am based in Dublin but divide my time between my native city and the United States, where each of my novels has been set.

©2019

Associate Reviewer - C E Williams
C E Williams

Reading Ireland – Author Amanda Hughes Interview

Author Amanda Hughes Interview

I am thrilled today to present an interview with author Amanda Hughes who has written edge-of-your-seat adventures about bold women of the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th Centuries.

The Bold Women Series

To highlight the March, Reading Ireland theme, I just want to mention that one of my favorites from the 18th Century Series, Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry, is set, in part, in Ireland, as is The Sword of the Banshee.

This theme, Bold Women, is so timely. While the stories include just a touch of romance, the women are no shrinking violets. They are strong, independent, and capable main characters that hold your interest and quickly get you invested.

Thank you, so much, Amanda, for joining me today! Let’s talk about your Bold Women Series to begin:

You began your Bold Women Series with the Bold Women of the 18th Century and wrote three in the series, three in the 19th Century, one in the 17th Century, and one in the 20th Century in April of 2017. I get the feeling we are due another shortly for the 20th Century. Can you tell us about it?

You are so right. I am just completing Book Two in the “Bold Women of the 20th Century Series”. After listening to my father’s stories about riding the rails during the Great Depression, I decided to write a book about a bold woman who rides the rails in the 1930s. Her adventures take her back and forth across the country and eventually she becomes an accomplished photojournalist. The book culminates in Berlin when she has to smuggle a renowned scientist out of Nazi Germany.

WOW! That does sound exciting and I’m looking forward to the release already, apparently scheduled for April. We’ll be looking for it!

Do you have any plans for writing a standalone?

All the books in the Bold Women Series are standalones. Each one is set in a different time period and about a different woman. Sometimes readers ask me if I am interested in writing a series about men. So far, I have had no wish to write about men’s adventures. It has been done to death! We need books about audacious women.

Do you dream about your characters or see them in a scene you can use?

Yes! Sometimes I do dream about my characters, but so far they have been in those odd, surrealistic settings. Unfortunately, there has been nothing I can use in my books. But I do know that my best writing happens in the morning right after I wake up. Maybe my brain is still in creative overdrive.

The “Bold Women” series is compelling and an empowering and topical theme. How did the distinctive sub-title come about?

It was not something I set out to do. It sort of evolved as a promotional tool. Knowing that readers love a series, I decided to pull my first three or four books together in some way. I had to find a common theme, and it was easy to identify. First, my novels were always about women in a historical setting and second these women were plucky, fearless, and often reckless survivors. They were bold women.

Do you carefully lay out an outline to follow or let it flow and see where it goes?

I know many writers follow an outline, and that it works well for them, but I do not. I have no idea where my book is going. My characters whisper their stories in my ear, and I write them down—rather like that classic movie, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. The book is as much of a surprise for me as it is for the reader.

Do you research popular female and male names for the century of the book? How do you create your character’s names?

That is such a fun question! No one has ever asked me that before. A lot of research going into the creation of my main character’s name. And yes, I try to keep the name within the historical context. I also want the name to reflect my protagonist’s character. In my most recent book, my main character goes on to work as a photojournalist, so I wanted her name to sound like a reporter, short and snappy. I named her Billie Bassett. The name of the love interest in the book is equally important. I research baby names popular in that particular portion of the century, and then I run my choices past my daughters for final approval. They never mince words and have no problem telling me if it is a dumb name.

Do you look for real characters in the century that you can loosely base your novel on? Which book closely follows a real story?

So far I have not based, even loosely, any of my “Bold Women” on anyone who actually lived. My secondary characters though are sometimes real people. Frances Marion, also named “The Swamp Fox,” shows up in The Sword of the Banshee, and the villain in The Looking Glass Goddess is based on Kid Cann, a notorious mobster in Minnesota.

Once begun, how long does it generally take to write your books?

Always around a year.

Do you shoot for a total word count in your novels?

I try to keep it under 100,000 words, but I am not always successful. Much over that is overwhelming for a reader. I know it is for me!

Do you set a daily word count goal or is there an average?

No, whatever I do in a day, I do in a day.

The Looking Glass Goddess by Amanda HughesWhat kind of awards have you received?

The Looking Glass Goddess was nominated for The Minnesota Book Award in 2017 which made me very happy, and I was awarded the Gems National Award for Writing.

It appears you’ve had more than one designer create your covers. Who are you currently using and do they receive a synopsis of the book in order to more creatively fit the cover? 

Most of my book covers have been designed by The Killion Group. They have a detailed questionnaire for writers to fill out before the design process begins and then Kim (the cover designer) works directly with you to make sure your vision for the cover matches hers.

And now personally, Amanda, have you been able to retire and write full time?

I write full time and love every minute of it.

What did you do before discovering your writing talent?

I have a degree in Therapeutic Recreation and for many years I worked in mental health settings, from locked units in psychiatric hospitals to group homes with developmentally disabled people. You can see these themes again and again in my books and in my choice of characters especially in The Pride of the King.

Family? Children and/or grandchildren?

I have three children who are now grown and my first grandchild just came along five months ago—a little girl. It is as much fun as everyone says it is.

Where are you currently living?

I live in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Do you read all your reviews?

I try to read every one, and I really appreciate them.

Where can we easily find you? Your own website and social media?

I LOVE hearing from my readers. I will always respond to you if you write a note. I am at www.amandahughesauthor.com and you can find me on Facebook as well at https://www.facebook.com/amanda.hermannhughes

I can’t thank you enough for inviting me to your blog. What great questions. I hope it was as much fun to read as it was to write!

It certainly has been for me! It has been my absolute pleasure and I so appreciate the time you took to be with us today. To my faithful readers and followers, please check out the Bold Women Series by Amanda Hughes and enjoy a woman protagonist who can hold her own against the world. Click the link on one of the books noted above or view her Amazon author page to see all her books. We would both love to hear your thoughts!

About the Author

Amanda Hughes authorBestselling and award-winning author, Amanda Hughes is a “Walter Mitty”, spending more time in heroic daydreams than the real world. At last, she found an outlet writing adventures about bold women through the centuries. Well known for her genre-busting books, she is the winner of the Gems National Medal for Writing, featured in USA Today and is nominated for the 2017 Minnesota Book Award. Amanda is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, and when she isn’t off tilting windmills, she lives and writes in Minnesota. Don’t miss these page-turning novels for readers who like historical fiction with a just bit of a love story. All of her books are stand-alone and can be read in any order.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

Treading the Uneven Road by L. M. Brown – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is a literary fiction by author L M Brown. It is an anthology, short stories of ’80s and ’90s Ireland, Treading the Uneven Road

March!

Treading the Uneven Road by L M BrownTitle: Treading the Uneven Road by L. M. Brown

Genre: Short Stories and Anthologies, Literary Fiction

Publisher: Fomite

  • ISBN-10:194438880X
  • ISBN-13:978-1944388805

Print Length: 208 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! March 15, 2019

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: Treading the Uneven Road

Book Blurb:

The stories in this collection are set 1980’s and 90’s Ireland. A by-pass around a small village has rid the residents of their once busy traffic. They feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later and the woman whose dreams are shattered because of a married lover. Treading the Uneven Road introduces us to a society that is unraveling and we cannot help feel for Brown’s characters who need to make a choice on how to carry on. Continue reading “Treading the Uneven Road by L. M. Brown – a #BookReview”

Return to Robinswood by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is historical fiction by popularly acclaimed author Jean Grainger. Jean is a USA Today Bestselling Author and was selected by BookBub readers in the top 19 of historical fiction books AND is the winner of the 2016 Author’s Circle Historical Novel of Excellence.

March!

Return to Robinswood by Jean GraingerTitle: Return to Robinswood: An Irish family saga. (The Robinswood Story Book 2) by Jean Grainger

Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, British and Irish

Print Length: 289 pages

Publication Date: February 19, 2019

  • ISBN-10:1797471155
  • ISBN-13:978-1797471150
  • ASIN: B07NVN3G7L

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: Return to Robinswood

Book Blurb:

One Irish house, two very different families, and a war that changed everything.

Robinswood Estate, County Waterford, Ireland. 1946.

Years of neglect and abandonment have left the family seat of the Keneficks almost derelict, but the new Lord Kenefick and his charming young wife Kate, are determined to breathe life into the old house once more.

The war is over and they have survived, so now they must set about making a bright future for themselves and their family. But the shadows of the past are ever lurking, and there are many who are not willing to see the new Lady Kenefick as anything more than the housekeeper’s daughter.

Kate’s family, the Murphys, find themselves once more, inextricably entwined with both the Keneficks and Robinswood, but this time everything is different. Or at least they hope it is.

The legacy of the war cannot be erased, and the events of those fateful years will not be forgotten. Can Robinswood provide a haven for those who need it, or are the scars of the past too deep? Continue reading “Return to Robinswood by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview”

Reinventing Hillwilla by Melanie Forde – a #BookTour #BookReview #Irelandmonth

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019, this beautiful literary fiction being the second. I will post a complete list of my reads for Reading Ireland on Sunday, March 10. Stay tuned!

Reinventing Hillwilla 

I am absolutely delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Reinventing Hillwilla by Melanie Forde on Sage’s Blog Tours.

Book Details: Five stars

Title: Reinventing Hillwilla: A Novel by Melanie Forde

Genre: Literary Fiction, Romance, Animals

Publisher: D Street Books, a division of Mountain Lake Press

Print Length: 339 pages

Publication Date: November 4, 2018

  • ISBN-10:1730785492
  • ISBN-13:978-1730785498

ASIN: B07K6TQC3R

Source: Publisher and Sage’s Book Tours

Title and Cover: Reinventing Hillwilla – Cover depicts farm overseer, Ralph

Book Blurb:

Life on a llama farm, set in remote “Seneca County,” West Virginia, transitions from contented to chaotic in this final novel in the Hillwilla trilogy — all under the watchful eye of canine guardian Ralph. Five years after we first met northern urban transplant Beatrice Desmond, she is finally adapting to her mountain hollow among the wary “born-heres” and is more open to the blessings in her life. She has developed a rewarding mother-daughter relationship with troubled local teenager Clara Buckhalter and is inching toward marriage with dashing, but complicated entrepreneur Tanner Fordyce. Meanwhile, Clara sets off on a productive new path, one that would have been unthinkable had Beatrice never come into her life. All of that progress is suddenly jeopardized by Clara’s scheming mother Charyce. Ultimately, the upheaval touched off by Charyce’s schemes serves as the catalyst for new beginnings for the Seneca County misfits (even Ralph).

My Review:

Reinventing Hillwilla by Melanie FordeOh, Mercy! Sucked in immediately in the prologue when you realize you are reading the POV of an English setter, beloved dog, and pack leader of the llamas (Ralph’s Pack) gracing this farm, it’s impossible not to continue reading. Then I was devastated when I realized that Ralph had passed away. NOOO…

Still, protagonist Beatrice Desmond is such a powerful, torn, and emotive character that the pages turns themselves as you become totally lost in the hollow in Seneca County, West Virginia. There is a divide in West Virginia. Between the “born-heres” and the “come-heres.” Beatrice falls in the latter and tends her animals. Clara Buckhalter, at thirteen and a product of a destructive family life, connected however remotely to Beatrice, had come to live with Beatrice temporarily. As these things sometimes evolve, temporary becomes permanent with Beatrice taking full charge of loving mother duties, something Clara had not received from her own mother. Now Clara is at Beatrice’s alma mater on a scholarship. Beatrice is thrilled and proud, but lonely.

In the meantime, Beatrice continues to wrestle with the proposal of marriage from globe-trotting Tanner Fordyce, off on yet another mission while Beatrice works out of her home office telecommuting as a translator and editor. Unfortunately, her old boss is gone and the new one isn’t working out–for Beatrice. Tanner, like Beatrice, had experienced a less than stellar childhood of Irish roots, Beatrice’s family from Boston. Tanner often harkens to the ancient Irish endearment “mo mhuirnin” (my darling) when signing off on his long distance calls.

The author weaves in the artful and knowledgeable handling of the llamas as Beatrice begins to experience strange happenings around the farm. She desperately misses Ralph, who would have alerted her to anyone on her property, but she does take security measures.

Clara’s mother is written as a despot; beyond comprehension how she could treat her daughter as she does, and creates a tension building conflict when Clara is left on the farm alone. (Beatrice has had to leave temporarily.) Clara is young, naive, and sure her own mother could not willfully scheme against her or Beatrice, although it’s difficult to imagine how she could not knowing her mother’s past deeds. The character produces a glut of protracted revulsion and sets the reader on edge, anxious to perceive how the author will produce a satisfactory remedy. In the meantime, it’s easy to get incredibly angry with Clara for not understanding Beatrice is the “real” mother here, protecting her even against her wishes.

The well-paced, well-plotted story creates that bond with characters struggling through discordance with others, the loneliness, catastrophic illness, coming of age, long-distance romance, and the struggles of survival in harsh, bitter winter conditions. The dialogue is natural and believable, the characters fleshed so well, you cheer for the little triumphs and wish Clara were close enough to slap her up long-side the head. She’s eighteen now! Get a grip! And Ralph, even I missed him. Or maybe not–didn’t we see him–once or twice?

A unique story for me! The animals are sweet. Then the plummet and anger, followed by a glimmer of hope. Emotions pulling one way, then the other. And always, always, wondering when or how is she going to get another dog? (You can’t replace a Ralph. Hubby and I also had one–a yellow lab–too smart for us but we loved him.) The author has an intelligent, articulate writing style that pops with little glimmers of Irish humor. The satisfying conclusion closes the trilogy. This is the first I’d read of the trilogy, but had no problem reading as a standalone. Sage's Blog Tours

I was given this ebook download by the author through Sage’s Blog Tours for a read and review and absolutely loved the book! It’s an amazing read–totally recommended.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five stars

Melanie Forde - authorThe Author: For most of her writing career, Melanie Forde ghosted on international security issues. She published her first novel, Hillwilla, in 2014, followed by On the Hillwilla Road in 2015. Her West Virginia trilogy culminates in Reinventing Hillwilla, 2018. Twenty years in the making, her Irish-American family saga, Decanted Truths, was also released in 2018.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Murder in an Irish Pub by Carlene O’Connor – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’ll be participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019, this cozy mystery being the first.

March! 

Murder in an Irish Pub by Carlene O'ConnorTitle: Murder in  an Irish Pub (An Irish Village Mystery Book 4) by Carlene O’Connor

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Crafts and Hobbies

Publisher: Kensington

Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

  • ISBN-10:1496719042
  • ISBN-13:978-1496719041
  • ASIN: B07DBQB82Z

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Murder in an Irish Pub – Compelling cover depiction

Book Blurb:

When competing card sharps stir up Siobhán O’Sullivan’s quiet Irish village, a poker tournament turns into a game of Hangman . . .

In the small village of Kilbane in County Cork, for a cuppa tea or a slice of brown bread, you go to Naomi’s Bistro, managed by the many siblings of the lively O’Sullivan brood. For a pint or a game of darts—or for the poker tournament that’s just come to town—it’s the pub you want.

One player’s reputation precedes him: Eamon Foley, a tinker out of Dublin, called the Octopus for playing like he has eight hands under the table. But when Foley is found at the end of a rope, swinging from the rafters of Rory Mack’s pub, it’s time for the garda to take matters into their own hands. Macdara Flannery would lay odds it’s a simple suicide—after all, there’s a note and the room was locked. But Siobhán suspects foul play, as does Foley’s very pregnant widow. Perhaps one of Foley’s fellow finalists just raised the stakes to life and death.

With conflicting theories on the crime—not to mention the possibility of a proposal—tensions are running high between Siobhán and Macdara. Soon it’s up to Siobhán to call a killer’s bluff, but if she doesn’t play her cards right, she may be the next one taken out of the game . . . Continue reading “Murder in an Irish Pub by Carlene O’Connor – a #BookReview”