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THE CHALK MAN: A Suspense Novel ~C.J. Tudor

Monday, January 29th, 2018

THE CHALK MAN is about 5 children who at age 12 were a group trying to make sense of confusing community events and their small world – 4 boys and 1 girl.  1986 is the year where the story begins and 2016 is when the group comes together to discover the truth.

The children roam their sleepy English Village on their bicycles and find adventure while communicating with their chalk stick figure communications system.  The boys are pursued by mean older boys and need to hide from those bullies.  There is an accident at the summer fair when a ride injures a beautiful young woman, who later on the group finds murdered in the woods.   There are protestors against the new abortion clinic and this adds confusing information to the group and they are still figuring out what was going on back in the flashbacks.  Chalk figures are appearing everywhere.

There is speculation that this will be the Thriller or Suspense Novel of 2018.  It is predicted to be a best seller.  There is definitely a reason why these children are unable to leave town.  They have not done the work or tried to resolve their confused or disturbed behaviors.  Ed the prominent character in the story is drinking more and more and he is not even able to leave his parent’s home.  He is emotionally closed off and yet trying to be a great English Teacher at the school.

I had trouble with this book.  The writing is excellent, but I felt so awful about the problems the children were encountering and the abuse that was put upon them.  There was no one who could talk to them to relieve the pressures and provide understanding.  And the one teacher, who was trying his best was peculiar himself and the children were warned against him.  I wanted to help the children and thought about all the ways that we try to talk to children today to relieve trauma and bring about understanding.   I was kept awake by the violent death and the horrible violence perpetrated by the old boys.  I suppose this worry is what makes the book a winner in the suspense category, but it kept me awake for sure and finally I just barreled through to the end to find out what actually happened.  After you read this remarkable book, I want you to come back and tell me what you think happened to the head!

“I haven’t had a sleepless night due to a book for a long time. The Chalk Man changed that.” —Fiona Barton, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow

C. J. TUDOR lives in Nottingham, England, with her partner and three-year-old daughter. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much. The Chalk Man is her first novel.

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THE AUSTEN ESCAPE: A Novel Novel ~Katherine Reay

Monday, November 20th, 2017

Falling into their past will change their futures forever

Do you love reading Jane Austen?   Then I cannot encourage you enough to read THE AUSTEN ESCAPE.  A wonderful book and a most enjoyable read.   I have now read it 2 times and I am taking it on a small vacation with me.   Reay has captured Austen’s conversation style and the format of the book deals with conventions, economics, and circumstance that are abundant in our current times. The story builds and flows as though Austen is writing it herself.  Wonderful read.

About the author:
Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries—who provide constant inspiration both for writing and for life. She is the author of three previous novels, and her debut, Dear Mr. Knightley, was a 2014 Christy Award Finalist, winner of the 2014 INSPY Award for Best Debut, and winner of two Carol Awards for Best Debut and Best Contemporary. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University and is a wife, mother, runner, and tae kwon do black belt. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine and her family recently moved back to Chicago. Visit her on line at katherinereay.com.

Mary Davis is a design engineer working at her “perfect” job although she has a new supervisor who is critical and negative about her work.  She likes control and her set patterns in life while doing everything herself.  It is proving hard to go into work and her love interest is a consultant who is moving onward and does not seem to know that she is interested.

Isobel, Mary’s best friend since second grade, is working on her Doctorate on Jane Austen and her books.  Isobel’s mother left when she was young and her father never had time for her so Isobel adopted Mary’s family as her own.  Isobel is going to a two week retreat to Bath, England to live out a complete experience of being in Austen’s time period and she is insisting that Mary take some time off from her work frustrations and come to the retreat with her.  The trip is all paid for and Mary’s father insists that it is a good idea; she has not taken a break since her mother’s death.  Mary decides to attend and starts re-reading the Austen books.

The English Manor House where the retreat is held is stunning and the other guests on the retreat very interesting indeed.  The reproduced clothing is elegant and refined and they all pick an Austen character to enact for their stay.  Isobel’s father chooses this moment to overwhelm her with awful news and causes Isobel a small mental breakdown and truly believes she is in Bath and that she has become Emma.  Mary is left to guide her back to herself and in the process makes some terrible discoveries about their relationship, which entails some major working through – including working out her “perfect” job problems and making changes.

The book is most interesting and carries through the story line well and with great Austen-like aplomb.  I am sure my daughters would enjoy this book to the max.   I can highly recommend it and I am so happy that THE AUSTEN EXPERIENCE was sent to me for review.

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THE DOLL FUNERAL: A Novel ~Kate Hamer

Monday, August 21st, 2017

After reviewing THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT, I was a bit hesitant about this book.  I was so in empathy with the young mother who’s daughter had been adducted and I had to keep turning the pages to find the outcome and release.  THE DOLL FUNERAL is also a well-written book and very captivating, but certainly not of the intensity of the first book I read.  It was actually a relief that it was more of a fantasy story- the imagination providing survival.

A couple that has lost their own baby has adopted Ruby.  The new mother is not a strong person and the new father is very abusive to Ruby.  As this child becomes a teenager she is searching for answers about her birth family, which, she believes will find her or come to her if she just believes this to be true.  Ruby is acting out and often using fire to make her point perfectly clear.  With grandmother’s death she does not feel that she has a comrade or any answers, but she continues to recite ideas that this kind person shared from her cottage deep in the forest.  We are treated to little tidbits of ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

“[Hamer’s] fascination with the thresholds between childhood and adulthood, sanity and insanity, chosen and blood families, and her subtle understanding of the clean, often disturbing logic of childhood morality, evoke both Jeanette Winterson and Ian McEwan . . . This is an elegiac and uplifting novel about the indissoluble bonds between mothers and daughters and a reminder of how the imagination can set you free.” —Melanie McGrath, The Guardian

There is quite a substantial amount of presence by a shadow figure, which it is a long way into the read before one realizes, like Ruby, that she is able to see the dead.  In essence her mother does come to her in a vision of a car hitting a tree and a woman in a yellow dress.  When Ruby has been badly beaten by her father and put on a train to an aunt’s house, she finds a way to run away and it is in the forest that she encounters a huge old house and children who have been abandoned by their parents on an old commune.  Tom and Elizabeth are doing the best that they are able and they invite Ruby to stay with them in their huge house.  This arrangement works okay until the wandering parents stop sending funds and a fox kills all the chickens in their coop – the cold winter is upon the reader and the story.

We are treated to Ruby’s parent’s story as part of the backstory and we learn about her beginnings as Ruby does and this makes for quite unique story telling.  The love of the forest is quite a dominant theme and all the changes the locals have to make as mining ends and there is no work in the woods.

A very unique coming of age story with lots of little confusing moments that make the reader work a bit to figure them out and guess what will happen next, while still developing an intensity in the story.  I think Hamer is  quite the writer and I am very happy that her work is making it’s way onto our local scene.   Another 5 star read for sure – I can highly recommend THE DOLL FUNERAL.

The title did not excite me and I thought it was a weak part of the story line and not as well prepared, or as subtly worked into the story, or well resolved in the conclusion.

About the Author:

KATE HAMER is the author of The Girl in the Red Coat, which was a Costa First Novel Award finalist, a Dagger Award finalist, an Amazon Best Book of the Year 2016, and a winner of the ELLE Lettres Readers’ Prize. She lives in Cardiff, Wales, with her husband and two children. TLC Book Tours Book

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THE WORTHINGTON WIFE: A Romance with a Decades Old Mystery ~Sharon Page

Monday, February 13th, 2017

We have all the splendor of Downton Abbey and the long sweeping estates of the old families of England in the 1920s, we also have a decades old murder mystery amidst all the glamor and confusions of finding a new Earl for Worthington Estates. Oh and the Roaring Twenties are truly the “rage”.  We find it all in THE WORTHINGTON WIFE.

Lady Julia Hazelton is attempting to make a difference in the lives of War Widows who have been abandoned to their own fates and some have taken up prostitution in order to survive and care for their children.  She is wanting to use some of her trust money to make loans and find employment for these widows, but her Brother, The Duke of Langford, says “no” although he agrees with her assessment that the country has deserted these families.

Lady Julia was the intended bride of the new Earl of Worthington, but her Anthony was killed in the War.  She has been trained to be a great lady in an estate and her mother and grandmother are pushing her to marry one of the men of money available to her from other estates.  Lady Julia wishes to marry for love or to not marry at all.  She is quite beautiful and quite outspoken, though her vision of the world is quite limited.

Along comes a discovered heir to the Worthington Estate, he is a painter in Paris, an American, a bootlegger, and of course he is handsome and muscular and was a pilot in the War.  He hates what his English relatives did to his family in New York City and that they refused to send funds and his father and mother were killed struggling to raise their boys and were killed because of their poverty.  He has a score to settle.

There is the matter of the disappearance of several young women in the area, who have never been found.  There is the matter of the sporty red roadster, which was seen in the area a number of times.

The story is well written and the bodice ripping, lusty sex does not happen until after marriage and there is no lack of descriptive drooling and lust from afar and very restrained.  The story about the abuse of war widows, disappearances, and financial woes of the estates are very sharp and point out the changes in the country making arranged marriages important and passé.  The Americans to the rescue is kind of a boring theme but vital to keeping interest going.  The Roaring Twenties are just getting started and truly messing with the rules!

It is a long book, one of those great escape reads that are signs of excellent story telling and a worthy romance   Thank you TCL Book Tours for sharing THE WORTHINGTON WIFE with this reader.

“New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Sharon Page is author of more than 20 books. Sharon has won two RT Bookreviews Reviewers’ Choice Awards, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the Colorado Award of Romance, and the Golden Quill.

The mother of two children and wife of a terrifically supportive husband, Sharon has a degree in Industrial Design and worked in structural engineering before fulfilling her dream of becoming an author”(TLC)

Be Seduced….

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