A Boy Called Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2 ~ Belated Review #Fiction @marciameara

This is the first of my ‘missing’ reviews… 

 

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In Book 2 of the Wake-Robin Ridge series, Marcia Meara, author of Swamp Ghosts and Finding Hunter, returns to the rugged beauty of the North Carolina mountains, introducing a little boy whose remarkable gift will change the world for everyone he meets.

“Evil’s comin’, boy…comin’ fast. Look for the man with eyes like winter skies, and hair like a crow’s wing. He’s the one you gotta find.”

 

The remote mountain wilderness of North Carolina swallowed up the ten-year-old boy as he made his way down from the primitive camp where his grandparents had kept him hidden all his life. His dying grandmother, gifted with the Sight, set him on a quest to find the Good People, and though he is filled with fear and wary of civilization, Rabbit is determined to keep his promise to her. When he crosses paths with Sarah and MacKenzie Cole, neither their lives nor his, are ever the same again.

The extraordinary little boy called Rabbit has the power to light up the darkness, and the resourcefulness to save himself from the one person his grandparents had hoped would never find him. His dangerous and bittersweet journey will touch you in unexpected ways, and once you’ve let Rabbit into your heart, you’ll never forget him.

 

Our Review

Rabbit has the gift of ‘seeing’ like his grandmother, but will it help him to find where he belongs?

Rabbit has a father, someone he has never met. Someone his grandmother warned him about. He has turned up wanting his son, but Rabbit knows he must keep away from him and stay with Sarah and MacKenzie Cole, but will he be allowed to stay there?

This is a heartbreaking story, one that broke mine over and over again. Rabbit is a wonderful child and deserves to find happiness, even though it seems impossible.

Although you know that things must get worse before they can get better, some of the good stuff will have you reaching for the tissues too…

 

 

About the Author

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Marcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, four big cats, and two small dachshunds. When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. At the age of five, Marcia declared she wanted to be an author and is ecstatic that at age 69, she finally began pursuing that dream. Three years later, she’s still going strong, and plans to keep on writing until she falls face down on the keyboard, which she figures would be a pretty good way to go! Marcia has published six books to date, all of which are available on Amazon in both print and Kindle format: Wake-Robin Ridge A Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2 Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3 Swamp Ghosts: A Riverbend Novel Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2 Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love You can reach Marcia via email at mmeara@cfl.rr.com or on the following social media sites: The Write Stuff: http://marciamearawrites.com/ Bookin’ It: http://marciameara.wordpress.com Twitter: @marciameara Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/marcia.meara.writer Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/marciameara/ To keep up with the latest news and giveaways, sign up for Marcia’s Mail List here: https://marciamearawrites.com/mail-list-win-free-stuff/

When I tried to post this review on Amazon.co.uk, it was rejected like this …

But I have successfully (I hope!) just posted it to Amazon.com…

Fingers crossed everyone!

(Does anyone have an ideas why the UK Amazon failed?)

Apologies…

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I am not sure how it happened, but all I can do is offer everyone involved my heartfelt apologies. It may not even be my fault, what with Amazon ditching people’s reviews all over the place.

This blogging business is sometimes very complicated and although I am an idiot even on a good day, I thought I was keeping a handle on all the important bits. I mean, I had all my notes and prompts, lists and instructions, to ensure I don’t forget anything important.

But it is beginning to look as though I have been forgetting one of the most important parts of reviewing some of the books we read. Most of you will know the basic premise when you have finished reading a good book. We write a blog post about it including our review, and then we post this review to Amazon and Goodreads.

Now, unless Amazon has been eating some of our reviews, it would appear I have been missing out one of these important steps. I have done an extensive check of our reviews and these are my findings. Eighty reviews have found their way to Amazon, but about twenty or so have not. Some of these were arc copies and I wondered if that had something to do with it, but then I discovered that others were copies I had bought, so no solution there.

I cannot tell you how mortified I am, or how I have allowed this to happen. I cannot think of any reason or excuse for these omissions.

We will, of course, repost all of these reviews and notify the authors concerned.

I am sure someone must have noticed this error and chose not to comment, and for those who were kind enough to spare my feelings, I am grateful. But if you had pulled me up I could have put this right sooner.

As it is, I am sure I will not forget again.

If Amazon did have something to do with this, it will be interesting to see what happens when I repost these reviews.

PS:   One thing I haven’t been doing, is stating clearly that our reviews have been written from an arc copy, gifted by the author for an honest review. Something else I will not forget to do in the future…

#WednesdayWriters: Nine Lives ~ chapter15

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Chapter Fifteen

Later that evening, as Kate was sorting through her painting supplies to decide what she needed to stock up on, she thought she heard a child crying. She often heard all manner of sounds coming from the neighbours, and as far as she knew, no one had any children.

She looked around the room for Dylan, thinking it could be him and the silver tabby was nowhere in sight. It had sounded more like a child than a cat, she thought, and the memory of David suddenly burst into her mind.

He was so small when he was born, too small to have caused so much trouble.

The first hint something was wrong happened the morning after David was born. She awoke in the hospital bed and tried to move her legs, thinking she would get up and go to the bathroom. But something didn’t feel right. Her left leg felt heavy and awkward and didn’t want to move.

She pulled back the covers and discovered a red, angry leg, which had swollen considerably. She called to a passing nurse who took one look, told Kate not to move for any reason, and summoned the doctor.

It was a thrombosis, a blood clot, which apparently could travel to her heart or brain if she as much as moved an eyelash.

Being told she must not move on pain of death, so soon after the rigours of childbirth seemed to work the oracle. Kate simply froze, far too frightened and exhausted to think straight. They gave her medication, and over the next few days the swelling gradually went down and the danger passed.

Thinking about it now, Kate wondered idly if it counted as a life lost. They said she could have died after all. So how many was it? Possibly five or six, she thought.

Kate had tried to be a good mother, never complaining or resenting the demands of her tiny red-faced dictator. She was always a patient person but David pushed her to hell and back. He never seemed to sleep like other babies or behave as she thought a baby should.

She remembered him standing up in his cot every night, grinning at her like a Cheshire cat, almost as if he knew he was being infuriating.

Having a child had not worked for Kate. Instead of having the opportunity to show the world just how it should be done, she had managed to screw it up and do a worse job than her mother. Despite her struggle to do all the right things, David grew up hating her and she never knew why.

Surprisingly, John took to being a substitute father like a duck to water. He never spoke of Michael at all. It was as though his own son didn’t exist and Kate thought she understood. John kept hinting she should marry him and settle down. Forget any dreams she might still have about finding a better life. Kate couldn’t stop expecting to see Michael, couldn’t believe he could stay away. Surely, he would want to at least look at his son?

The time passed and David grew into a moody, rebellious toddler, and if she still had dreams of a better life, she tried to forget them. Which wasn’t easy, as the voice tormented her almost on a daily basis, constantly reminding her of the mess she had made of her life. Kate had started to think it wanted her to do something drastic, like jump under a bus, and she refused to listen, stubbornly holding on to the little bit of hope she had left.

Most people see life in black and white, and for Kate, there were a million shades of grey, plus some mystifying element that eluded her whenever she tried to concentrate on it.

Whatever it was, it was always tantalisingly close and out of reach at the same time. Why was it so difficult for her to find love? She had searched long and hard deep down inside herself, and the elusive answer simply danced away whenever she came close to it.

Kate tried to remember what had made David hate her so and her mind refused to cooperate. It was late; she should pack up and go to bed. No point worrying about any of it, was there?

The voice in her head stopped her in her tracks, asking if she had ever considered that someone else might have influenced her son. Why did it say that? It might explain why she could never quite put her finger on the cause of her son’s hatred. His feelings were strong, so he obviously thought he had a good reason to be so angry. It would also explain why she had always felt it was not anything to do with her. If it wasn’t her fault, why did he hate her so much?

Kate tried to switch her brain off as easily as she flipped the light switch on her way to bed, but the thought it might have been someone else’s fault went with her and she knew she would have trouble sleeping.

She had lain awake for most of the night, convinced she could hear a child crying. Dylan had not made an appearance, which was odd because he never stayed out all night. She would have to look for him when she returned from the art suppliers in Guildford.

She spent most of Tuesday morning carefully choosing the paint and canvases she would need, blissfully happy to be able to do what she loved so much, never regarding it as work. She decided to stop for lunch before catching the next train home and found herself in a smart new Italian place where the food turned out to be good and the waiters treated her like royalty.

Despite her surroundings, she found herself thinking about the mysterious crying child, which in turn made her think of the day Michael did, in fact, turn up all those years ago. Typically, it had to be a day when she looked her worst. Her hair, longer and messier than ever, needed washing and David was being his most frustrating, throwing his toys all over the place one minute then demanding things and throwing them on the floor too.

Don’t do this today, she remembered thinking, but Michael wasn’t taking any notice of his child. He was staring at her, almost as though he hadn’t  looked at her before. John was at work, and Kate didn’t want to think what might happen if Michael was still there when he came home.

‘You’re looking good Kate.’ he said softly, his oh so blue eyes twinkling just as she remembered. Something inside her seemed to move and stretch its legs. What was she supposed to make of this visit? What did he want?

She stood up straight and looked him in the eyes. ‘Why are you here Michael?’

He smiled nervously and pushed his fingers through his hair, a habit that was all too familiar. ‘I wanted to see you.’

Kate was having a lot of trouble keeping herself detached. The way he looked and the things he was doing brought back so many memories she couldn’t concentrate. How long had it been? It must have been eighteen months since he had walked away. What had brought him back now? She had supposed he would be married by then as he was too good looking to stay single for long.

She had to sit down. Her legs were beginning to demand it and she hesitated, knowing he would take it as a signal to be all over her like a rash. She compromised and leaned against the windowsill. ‘Why did you want to see me, I would have thought you would have better things to do.’

He had the grace to look awkward and gave a nervous laugh. ‘I couldn’t stop thinking about you, so here I am.’

And just what do you expect me to do about that, she thought. The next thought slipped unbidden into her mind and made her swallow so hard, she almost choked. Did he still love her?

The voice warned her of falling for Michael’s charms again, and to remember how badly he had hurt her.

‘Oh shut up!’

‘Pardon?’ he said, looking anxious.

‘Oh not you, Michael, I was thinking aloud. Would you like a cup of coffee?’

Why had she offered hospitality? She should throw him out, and for some reason, she couldn’t bring herself to be angry with him. He always did have that effect on her.

It was getting late, John could be home anytime soon and she knew all hell would break loose if Michael was still there.

‘Your dad will be home soon, she said, pointedly.

He didn’t look at all worried. Don’t tell me he’s grown a pair since I saw him last, she thought. He had picked up one of David’s toy cars and was turning it repeatedly in his hands, seemingly without a care in the world. She waited for David to notice one of his toys was in someone else’s hands and go into his usual spoilt brat routine and scream to get it back, and he didn’t. She knew he had noticed, for he was watching Michael intently, studying him from behind the armchair.

‘Why are you here, Kate?’

As if you care where I am, she thought. ‘Where else would I go?’

‘There must be better places, than here with him…’

‘He has been good to both of us,’ when no one else was, she felt like adding.

Suddenly she decided she would not be playing his games again, not even for a social visit. ‘I think you should go now. I want you to leave.’

He stood up and crossed the room to stand in front of her at the window. ‘Don’t be like that Kate, I have missed you.’

Oh no, you don’t, she thought and pushed past him to get to the front door. He was right behind her and put out his hand to stop her from opening the door. ‘You don’t really want to throw me out, do you?’

He was standing so close; she could feel the heat coming off his body on the bare skin of her arm. The familiar smell of his aftershave washed over her, evoking so many wonderful memories of their romantic past.

With an extraordinary effort, she managed to pull herself together and gritted her teeth, desperately trying to remember she still hated him.

He leaned towards her and tucked a stray curl behind her ear. ‘Beautiful as ever Kate, I must visit you again and soon.’

He opened the door, which meant squeezing past her. Her body disobeyed every command she gave it and long forgotten sensations came back to life. It was all she could do not to grab him and melt in his arms.

By some miracle, she held herself together and managed to close the door behind him. She stood there for a moment, trying to decide how she felt. She didn’t have to think about it, it was obvious she still loved him. She just hoped it wasn’t obvious to him.

Thinking about Michael usually depressed her but that wasn’t happening today. She felt almost elated and that was insane. It was all of thirty years ago, surely all thoughts of Michael and their ill-fated romance should have been buried long ago?

On the way home, she called in at the local supermarket for there was hardly any food in the flat and Dylan’s was running low too; which reminded her, she hadn’t seen him that morning. Where was he?

When she arrived home, she checked all his favourite hiding places and the silver tabby was in none of them. She checked the cat flap still worked as it had been known to get stuck occasionally, much to Dylan’s annoyance. You would think she had done it just to annoy him, the way he carried on.

Kate was getting worried now. She hadn’t seen him for at least two days and it wasn’t like him at all.

She walked across the road to her neighbour and knocked on the door, waiting patiently for the old woman to make her way to the front door,

‘Hello Janet, I was wondering if you had seen Dylan lately? And how are you these days,’ she added guiltily. Kate thought she looked a bit tired, not quite her usual perky self.

‘Oh I’m not so bad, and no, I haven’t seen his Lordship for a while now. How long has he been missing?’

‘About two days, I think. I hope he’s all right.’

‘I’m sure he is Kate, although there has been a strange car parked outside number ten for over a week now. Nobody ever gets out of it though, not that I’ve seen anyway.’

‘I’ll have to ask around. Do you need anything Janet?’

‘I’m fine; you go and find Dylan, that’s more important.’

‘He’s not more important than you, take care…’

None of the other neighbours had seen Dylan either and by the time she was back home she was worried. She had a quick look at the car Janet mentioned, it was a green Vauxhall and beaten up enough to be her brothers, but the inside was so clean and tidy she dismissed the idea. It had probably been dumped anyway.

It was possible Dylan had gone walkabout, although he had stopped doing that a long time ago. He was too old now, wasn’t he? Apart from ringing the local vet and reporting him missing, she couldn’t think what else to do. She knew cats do sometimes up sticks and move on when the mood takes them. She just hoped that wasn’t what had happened as she would miss him terribly.

 

Where is Dylan, the cat? And why is she remembering Michael, after all this time?

 

So, why do we blog?

 

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We are constantly being told that reading more will make us better writers and that we should blog with enthusiasm to build up our presence on the web. But I find that some of the things we need to do seem counterproductive and time-consuming.

Don’t get me wrong, reading does make me think, and it probably improves my vocabulary, but sometimes this can be counterproductive too in that I end up reading too much, taking time away from my writing. When I first started blogging, I read everything I could get my hands on, desperate to learn the secrets of the black magic box of the blogosphere.

And admittedly, I learned a lot.

Just lately though, there has been a change in my attitude to all things blog related. It suddenly dawned on me that as bloggers, we are trying far too hard to be the best at what we do with our constant searching for the golden egg. The one that will magically cause us to become omnipotent.

But because we are so busy running around like headless chickens, we are losing sight of our focus, the real reason we blog in the first place. We might even be missing the plot or choosing all the wrong moves.

I have been concerned of late, that there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to do everything. What with the increasing amount of emails and time spent on social media, there isn’t much left for writing or blogging, come to that. Not to mention any new ideas that need to be explored or any of our other interests.

Apart from the reviews we do, I haven’t read a book simply for the joy of reading it in ages. I have begun to resent some of the demands made of my time too.

It could be time to step away and have a long hard look at what we do. Time to prioritise and cherry pick what we really want to concentrate on.

Life might be different when the dust has settled, but hopefully better. We have to concentrate on what we can do and do well, instead of chasing so many rainbows…

What does everyone else think?

 

 

Honesty in WorldWar2 by Chris-Jean Clarke #ContemporaryFiction/History@ChrisJeanClarke

 

WW2 through the eyes of a child: It is mid-summer, 1944 and Britain is embroiled in war.

A large percentage of city and town dwellers are being killed; homes bombed, and personal belongings destroyed. The people not only fear for their own safety, but they also realize, that even if they are fortunate enough to survive there is a slim chance their offspring will not.

They feel they have no choice but to send their children to remote country villages to be raised by strangers, in the hope they will have a better life. The only adults permitted to travel with the children are mothers with youngsters under five years old, the infirm and the elderly. Meantime, the community of Honesty Brook Dale feel it’s their duty to rally together to help the evacuees by sharing their homes and limited food and clothing supplies. 

Our Review

I was only a child during WW2 and evacuated out of London to Northampton, but probably a little too young to remember much of what was going on around me. I knew I had been taken somewhere strange, but didn’t feel alone or scared, unlike some of the children in these circumstances.

Reading this book, listening to the children as they tried to cope with being uprooted or worse, have their homes and family destroyed in front of them, must have been terrifying. Making me realise I was a lot luckier than most.

The people who took in these evacuees found themselves taking a very different role in the war effort. For most, it wasn’t easy, squeezing extra people into their lives when food was already rationed. People who must have resented being treated like lost luggage.

I loved the name of the village in this book, Honesty Brook Dale. Honesty is one of my favourite flowers and is mentioned several times, reminding me of the shiny silver seedpods I loved as a child.

I know you’re not supposed to have favourites when it comes to children, but I couldn’t help loving Cyril Blessum. A typical boy, into every mischief, desperately trying to understand everything, and not making a very good job of any of it.

“If only me Dad were able to come home, George wouldn’t have to be so tired from working long hours … and we could have fun again,” he added as new tears threatened to spill down his cheeks.

Unbeknownst to Cyril, George had been standing at their bedroom door, listening. “Nobody wants change, our kid, but we have to make the best of what we’ve got,” George said as he joined Cyril by the window.

He gently squeezed Cyril’s shoulder and continued, “Remember when we used to walk for miles over the fields. We would play by the brook and go as far as the entrance to the coalmines or walk across the fields in the opposite direction towards the cottage hospital. That’s how far I biked today looking for ya. I was real worried, our kid. I thought something bad had happened to ya … that’s why I got so mad.”

Cyril slipped his hand into George’s and said, “I am sorry, honest … but I don’t know what to do to make things right with Mam.”

 “Ya know I was thinking Cyril. Mam used to love it when we picked a few flowers for her while we were over the fields. Her favourite is honesty because she loves the delicate shades of pinks and purples. I remember she always managed to find a spare jam jar to put them in. We can pick a few at the weekend if ya want?”

 “Yeah, it will be just like old times … only without Dad.”

This heart-warming but sometimes sad story reminded me of The Railway Children, waiting for the war to end and their fathers and brothers to come home…

About the Author

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Chris-Jean Clarke grew up in the West-Midlands (UK) but now resides in South Staffordshire (UK) with her husband, Geoff and children, Nathan and Kyrsten.

Prior to giving birth to her two beautiful children, Chris-Jean worked for twenty years with people with learning and physical disabilities.

She studied the art of writing children’s stories @The Writing School, Oxford Open Learning.

Chris-Jean also donates stories & poems twice yearly to the Peacock Writers to benefit various charities. (NB She does not publish her contributions in any other form.)

November 2016, Chris-Jean was accepted as a paid reviewer for Readers’ Favorite. During this month she was also accepted as a Publishing Assistant for the Books4Kids program, South Dakota.

Early 2018, Chris-Jean transitioned from Publishing Assistant to author with the release of her educational story: To Dye For.

 

#ThrowbackThursday ~ Excerpt from Let it Go…

Let it Go is Anita’s sixth book, and one we have been neglecting to promote for some reason. My routine as editor/publisher has proved to be totally inadequate of late and it had to change. So many things kept getting in the way last year, but I have a new system in place now to keep track of what I am doing. Organisation has finally arrived at our house!

 

 

Excerpt from Let it Go…

We hadn’t seen dad for nearly a week, and that was a long time, even for him.

Mum was going spare, ranting on about what she’d do to him when he finally came home. Poor dad, it could mean another black eye, or a nose which wouldn’t stop bleeding for hours after mum landed one of her punches. Pretty normal behaviour for my parents and had been going on for years. Considering my mother’s temper, you would think he would stop rolling home drunk and penniless, but he never did.

It was late Friday night when he finally came home. We knew it was him, even though it sounded as if something had been thrown at the front door. We listened to him fumbling with the key for ages; mum with arms folded, waiting for him to fall through it. How she controlled her temper and didn’t rush at the door and tear it from its hinges, I will never know. I think I would have done; it would have been quicker.

I heard the lock turn and dad swung in like a gust of storm wind, holding on to the key that was stuck in the lock. His dark, shaggy hair hadn’t seen a comb in days and his clothes appeared to have been slept in. He stood there swaying, grinning at mum like an idiot.

She slapped his hand from the key, sending him flying across the hall, skidding on the mat that never seemed to want to stay in one place. I had a ringside seat at the top of the stairs and watched as she calmly removed the key and slammed the door…

#WednesdayWriters ~ Nine Lives

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Chapter Fourteen

On her way home from her lunch with Kate, Sam found herself having to fight to hold back the tears. It seemed to be raining, the windscreen streaked with water distorting the view from inside the car. When she realised the water was in her eyes and not on the glass in front of her, she pulled over and parked the car on the side of the road.

She wished for the millionth time there were something she could do to help Kate, something to help her settle down and be happy. Misery seemed to follow her around like a stray dog, her life full of pain and disappointment and didn’t look as if it would be letting up anytime soon. Who was tormenting her, and what did they want?

Two obvious candidates stood out immediately. It had to be either Danny or Jack.

She didn’t want to think it could be Kate’s brother Danny. He was a bit of an idiot, but why would he want to hurt Kate? Then there was Jack, her ex-husband. She didn’t know him well, and on the few occasions, she had met him he had made her skin crawl. Always so courteous, most women would fall at his feet and Sam instinctively knew he was hiding his true colours behind all his mock chivalry. She had watched him with Kate and her son in the past and it was like watching a horror film. You just knew something awful was going to happen at any minute, and as hard as you tried to prepare yourself it was never enough. She was glad when Kate had finally left him and moved away, hoping that would be the end of it.

Jack had seemed to give in without a struggle, which had surprised Sam. She half expected him to move heaven and earth to get her back, but he didn’t. He contacted her a few times, contrite, humble, and pleaded with her to come home, promising her the world and more to make amends.

Kate would have none of it. Sam had expected a few pitfalls or fruitless reconciliations but Kate had not conceded. Something far worse must have occurred, Sam thought. Something Kate obviously didn’t want to talk about.

Whatever it was, Sam was pleased the marriage was over as she didn’t want Kate having anything to do with him. So the thought he might be up to his tormenting games again was annoying, to say the least. And why now?

She had a mental picture of him keeping an eye on Kate, watching and waiting for opportunities to arise. Sam had never understood how he could have been so nasty to both Kate and her son David. Was he lying when he said he loved her? It couldn’t be love, not the kind of love Kate needed.

Not the kind of love Sam had offered her either and suddenly the tears began again in earnest, threatening to turn into wholesale sobbing.

 

Sometime later Sam had composed herself just enough to resume her journey, deciding to put in a few hours at the gallery, as going home had not appealed in the slightest. Being alone in her tiny flat served to remind her just how lonely she was, but after a few minutes inside the gallery with all its empty spaces and concealed lighting, she realised she was just as lonely there too. She needed someone in her life, someone to share everything with. Over the years there had been some opportunities but none of them had meant as much to her as Kate. It was a great pity she didn’t feel the same in return.

There had been that time when Sam was sure Kate would finally realise how she felt about her, that their relationship could be more than just good friends. They had been at some function, she couldn’t remember much about it. The pair of them managed to get drunk and ended up alone together, and what should have been a romantic occasion had quickly degenerated into a one-sided show of affection from which Kate had rapidly retreated into her shell.

Sam often wondered if Kate had been too drunk to understand what she was offering, and had been too scared to bring the subject up in case it ruined what relationship they did have…

 

5* Review of Honest Hearts by Frank Parker #Romance @fparkerswords

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This book follows the lives of two people of Irish descent. Paul arrives in Brooklyn in 1895 aged 19. He meets and is captivated by Maeve whose parents arrived two decades earlier but met tragic ends. She develops a fondness for the innocent Irishman but is forced to deceive him. On discovering the deception he leaves Brooklyn, eventually joining the gold rush to the Klondike and, later, Alaska. Throughout the years thoughts of Maeve are never far away.

She escapes the clutches of the man who has controlled her since her parents’ deaths and travels to Chicago where she gives up a child for adoption before becoming involved with the family of an artist. Before her parents died she had enjoyed painting and now, encouraged by the artist, studies and becomes a successful painter. The traumatic separation from her child influences her paintings and she harbours an unfulfilled need to find her daughter.

On a painting assignment in Dawson City, she discovers that Paul was there years earlier and considers trying to find him. At the last minute, she decides that revisiting the past would be unwise, bringing back unpleasant memories of the terrible thing that happened to her after Paul disappeared.

Years later she is commissioned to paint the portrait of a nurse newly returned from the battlefields of France and Germany. Simultaneously Paul is persuaded by a friend that he has misunderstood Maeve’s actions and should seek her out in Chicago. The book reaches its climax as all three meet against the backdrop of the Red Riots of July/August 1919 and the horrific circumstances of the daughter’s conception are finally revealed.

Readers with an interest in history, genealogy and/or the Irish Diaspora will enjoy reading this short (60,000 words) debut novel.

 

Our Review

Paul Horan, an ambitious, honest and determined Irish man, travels to America looking to make his fortune.

He meets Maeve, a beautiful and enchanting woman in Brooklyn, but their happiness is short-lived.

“The rain was like a thousand sharp pointed needles battering her cheeks and mingling with her tears. It ran from her hair over her collar bone and inside the high collar of her dress. It squelched within her shoes as she blundered through the storm battered streets and back alleys. None of it mattered. Nothing mattered any more…”

Two very different and fascinating people, but we wonder if they will ever meet again after circumstances drive them apart. Maeve is forced to deceive Paul, causing their relationship to explode and they part company. Life for the two of them continues in very different ways, making the likelihood of them ever meeting again very remote. Especially since Maeve has a secret, one which must surely prevent any happiness for either of them.

At this point, I was very impressed by the attention to detail in this book. The author leads you into both threads of the story, leaving no stone unturned as you watch both the stories unfold. I particularly liked the descriptive way the author lets you enter the world of an artist, I could almost smell the paint!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this romantic and historical drama; it is brilliantly written and presented.  I can definitely recommend this book to readers of believable dramatic and romantic fiction…

Biography

Frank is a retired Engineer. He spent most of his working life in England where he was employed by UK based multi-national companies. He always wanted to write but has only found the freedom to do so since retiring to Ireland in October 2006. He lives with Freda, his wife since 1963, in Stradbally, County Laois.

He has four novels published on Amazon:
Honest Hearts is about the lives of Irish migrants to North America around the turn of the 19th/20th centuries. With settings that range from the Irish countryside to the Alaskan gold rush, via Brooklyn and Dawson City, Canada, this romantic tale reaches its climax in Chicago during the “Red Riots” of the summer of 1919.
Summer Day offers a contrast, with the action set during a single day and within the confines of a small rural community during the long hot summer of 1947. Feel the tension rise with the temperature and humidity as storm clouds gather. Suffer with young Henry and his dog as he tries desperately to evade his pursuers. The events of this Summer Day will change him forever. Reading about them will change you.
Strongbow’s Wife seeks to answer the question: “what was it like to be a teenager forced to marry a medieval warrior?”. Along the way, a crucial period in Anglo-Irish history is brought to life.
Transgression is an exploration of changing attitudes to sex and sexuality in Britain over the past 70 years. Four people conspire to conceal a pregnancy, an action that has consequences for three of them forty years later.

#ThrowbackThursday~ The Power of Books x4…An excerpt from Simple

 

There has been a lot of talk lately about bullying and how wrong it is. How damaging and cruel and all the places you find it. One of the worst places, I think, is inside the family unit.

Ordinary people who wouldn’t dream of bullying in the general sense can be guilty of the quite severe bullying of a family member. Most families have at least one relative whose modus operandi is to shoot people down. Usually condoned as ‘being for their own good.’
As if nagging someone to the point of insanity can ever do any good.

Sometimes, even the kindest people think they have the right to do it, simply because they are family, especially if they think the recipient deserves or needs it.

I am sure quite a lot of us have been on the receiving end of severe nagging that all too often can slide into bullying. There is a very fine line separating ‘helpful suggestions’ from the cruel taunting that is present in a lot of our homes.

Here is an excerpt from Simple by Anita Dawes, a story about such family bullying. Even more despicable in this case because the abused is a mentally challenged man, someone with the mind and heart of a child. Someone who only had one friend in the world, his half-sister, Leanne.

“Simple was almost well enough to leave, but Belle made us stay a few days more than we needed, said she liked the company. As we left, she said I should come by some time, ‘Bring Simple if you want. There’s a bed and food on the table whenever you have need of it.’

I thanked Belle for her kindness and told her I understood there was more than one way of telling a story. Simple was pulling at his ear, the way he did when Lizzie cries, or when his thoughts won’t settle, or his mind won’t let him hold on to one long enough to say what he’s feeling. He didn’t need to tell me, I could feel his fear alongside my own. I took his hand, the one that didn’t want to let go of his ear and led him towards the clearing, to the path that would take us home.

On the way, I told Simple that Gran wouldn’t be mean to him anymore, that I wasn’t going to let anyone hurt him again. We walked slowly; there was no need to hurry as I was in no rush to see Gran. When we stopped every now and then to eat the food Belle had given us, I wondered how it would be. Simple was still pulling at his ear while trying to tell me Gran was gonna be mad at him. Then he said he couldn’t go back. ‘Lizzie s-sad, Simple didn’t get b-baby.’
It didn’t seem to matter what words I used, his mind was stuck on Lizzie having what she cried for.

Then it hit me. I would work on Lizzie! The thought came like a flash of lightning. If I stopped her from carrying on, Simple would stay out of trouble. I was feeling better about going back with every step we took.We needed to reach the caves before it got much darker. I could feel the rain coming and the need for sleep was slowing my body to a stumble. We staggered on and finally saw the mouth of the caves. I never thought the sight of them would be welcome, but it was a temporary haven. Better than what awaited us at Gran’s.”

Will they escape to a better life? Can there be a better life for Simple?

You can find Simple here… myBook.to/mySimple

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#WednesdayWriters~ Serialisation of Nine Lives Chapter13 #MysteryThriller

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Chapter Thirteen

Kate decided to ring Sam later, and tried to concentrate on a theme for a new canvas. She spread her collection of photographs out on the floor, but her brain didn’t want to work. She was having trouble doing much of anything these days, and housework was the least of her worries. She too tired to care, who would see it anyway?  She started to think about her health, something she didn’t usually bother about. Since the heart attack, she had been preoccupied with the idea she might not have much longer to live, and increasingly felt as though her body was giving up, one day at a time.

Despite all that had happened in her life, she had always felt invincible, as though nothing could affect her. Now that feeling was gone. It sounded ridiculous, but she could feel a degeneration happening to her, leaving her in no doubt her time was nearly up. She thought she was also developing angina, what did that mean? Was her heart going to stop again? She should try to remember to take the pills, for who knew just how much time she had left?

Then she started to think about all those hints she had been getting lately about the lives she had apparently lost. Was the voice trying to insinuate she had been using them up, like a cat? Surely, there hadn’t been that many. Had there?

She tried to count them and promptly gave up, dismissing it as total rubbish, just another one of its stupid remarks.

Sam answered the phone almost before it had a chance to ring, sounding pleased to hear Kate’s voice.

‘Did you ring earlier Kate?’

‘Yes, I did, and your junior said you were off sick or something.’

Sam laughed. ‘You must have misheard her, Kate. She wouldn’t have said that. And I was being a little mysterious with her; she is far too nosy you know.’

‘So where were you?’  Kate asked, trying to sound mildly curious.

‘I was in London, meeting with the owners of the building I am thinking of leasing.’

‘And…’

‘And it’s a done deal. It’s a lovely place, just right for a gallery. And it’s the perfect location too!’

Kate’s mind went into overdrive.  Now the new gallery was becoming a fact, Sam would need a lot more art for the walls. Things might be looking up after all. ‘Does that mean I shall be seeing less of you then?’

‘No, I’m getting a manager so I can stay down here. London is fine for the odd visit, and I wouldn’t want to stay up there.’

Kate was busily trying to predict how fast she could paint. ‘How soon will all this be happening?’

There was a pause and Kate could hear people talking in the background.

‘Look, Kate, I would prefer to have this conversation in person, how about lunch tomorrow?’


Sam had arranged to pick Kate up in her smart yellow VW beetle and they were headed for the local Harvester, with Sam was driving much too fast in her usual erratic manner. It was a good choice as the food was always delicious, with a vast menu, which catered for all possible tastes; which was ideal if you didn’t fancy anything particular or simply couldn’t make up your mind. The free salad bar was a great idea too and Kate looked forward to their meal almost as much as the chance to catch up with her friend.

The Harvester was busy, as usual; and they were seated and discussing the menu inside five minutes.

‘So Kate; how’s everything? Have you finished the commission?’

‘Yes, I think so. You can take it back with you.’

Sam thought Kate seemed to be in a weird mood, almost as if her mind was somewhere else entirely. ‘Are you okay Kate? You seem a bit off.’

Kate looked up at her friend; suddenly realising she didn’t know about her heart attack or the business with Danny.

As she relayed everything that had happened, she was amazed by Sam’s reaction. There was surprise, shock, concern and finally sadness. It looked as though she were about to cry.

‘Are you all right now, medically I mean?’

‘So they tell me. If I keep taking the pills, I should be fine. My heart apparently needed an MOT and they had to put these bits in to keep the arteries open, so I should be good for a while yet.’ She laughed. ‘They managed to talk me into giving up smoking…’

‘Good for you Kate. Now, what’s all this about Danny?’

Their food arrived, temporarily halting the conversation, and they ate in silence. And Kate noticed Sam was picking at her food. Surely, her news hadn’t upset her that much?

Sam put down her fork. ‘I’m not hungry today. Tell me about Danny.’

Kate described what had happened, keeping her voice low as she noticed the family at the next table were eavesdropping. ‘I’m absolutely sure it was him, who else could it be. He must have a key or something, nothing was damaged.’

Sam looked deathly serious. ‘Did you manage to change the lock yet?’ she asked, already knowing what the answer would be.

‘Err, no – do you think I should?’

‘Definitely, or do you want a return visit from your brother, or whoever else it might have been?’

Kate promised faithfully to replace the lock, and having finished their meal, made their way to Sam’s car.

‘For some inexplicable reason, Kate, I keep thinking about the time you had that virus. I never knew anyone could get so hot and survive, and you did and from what I know about you, you’re good at surviving.’

Kate had forgotten how bad the virus had been. It had turned out to be viral meningitis and she had been lucky to come through it without any brain damage. Her temperature had reached such high levels it was a wonder her brain hadn’t fried.

It had been a normal day, Kate had been painting off and on, and a violent headache was building to epic proportions. She had gone to bed early, hoping to sleep it off, and no such luck. She awoke shivering, the pain in her head and neck excruciating and she knew something had to be wrong.

Kate telephoned Sam to cancel their lunch appointment. She must have sounded so bad Sam had dropped everything and turned up on her doorstep. She took one look at Kate and called the doctor.

When he arrived, he tried to play down the seriousness of it all and stressed Kate had to cool down even if it meant throwing her into a cool bath.

Apparently, the first time Sam tried it was hilarious. Kate had ended up being dragged along the floor in the hallway, grabbing at every doorway she passed, begging Sam not to be so cruel. But  Sam had her instructions, and come hell or high water she would keep Kate’s temperature down if it killed them both in the process.

For nearly a week, she nursed Kate and dragged her to the bathroom every time her temperature went up another notch. It couldn’t have been easy, for Kate was bigger and usually stronger than Sam, and determination obviously won through.

Kate had never thought to ask her friend how she had managed so well. She knew she had slept a lot and not eaten for several days, but Sam must have been so worried. Kate had been so grateful she had stayed with her, for she knew she might have died without her help.

So that was probably another life used up and she hadn’t given it a thought until now. How much more had she forgotten about?

Kate laughed, and without enthusiasm. ‘So that’s what my friendly pest keeps going on about.’

‘You mean it’s still talking to you?’ Instant frown lines appeared on her forehead. ‘So what’s it saying now?’

‘It keeps going on about how many lives I have used up; makes me feel like a cat.’

‘And how many have you used?’

Kate frowned, trying to remember. Her memory was getting worse. ‘I can think of four, but there was that time when Jack’s car went out of control. That was pretty scary.’

Sam dropped Kate at her flat and went to park the car. As Kate unlocked the front door, she studied it closely to see if there was any damage to the lock. There was none she could see; wasn’t it supposed to be possible to open doors with a credit card? Well, that should rule Danny out; he wouldn’t get a credit card in a million years. And if it wasn’t him, who…?


The rest of the afternoon was spent discussing the new canvasses and the time just flew by. Kate was to paint four large seascapes for the new gallery. She wanted to include different water scenes, and Sam was adamant. ‘You can’t paint anything else for the grand opening Kate — the gallery is going to be called Seascapes, so that’s what I want to specialise in, at least at first. You can try other things later on.’ She smiled, her face lighting up with excitement. ‘You will come up to London next month for the opening, won’t you?’

It wasn’t  a question, Kate realised. She was expected to be there; come hell or high water. It reminded her of the frightening dream of Sam drowning in the water. It was symbolic of her latest enterprise, jumping in the deep end sort of thing.

She had always assumed her friend knew what she was doing and everything would be okay, never giving the financial risks any thought at all. But Sam was no fool. She must be supremely confident to consider setting up a brand new art gallery from scratch, and in London of all places.

‘Kate?’

‘Oh sorry, I was miles away. Yes, of course, I’ll be there. You couldn’t keep me away.’

‘You’re not still worried about Danny, are you? You probably won’t hear from him again, you know.’

Kate nodded, unwilling to spoil the afternoon with her thoughts about the break-in if that’s what it was. She couldn’t tell Sam how she felt about living there now. She was beginning to understand what she had to do, and now was not the time to discuss it.

She was haunted by the fact that her special place, her sanctuary, was not so special anymore. It felt used and dirty somehow, and try as she might, she could not get past that fact…


Is someone trying to hurt Kate, or is it all in her imagination?