“Of sea and seed” by Annie Daylon

Historical fiction should do two things. #1 Portray the time period, culture, and events with accuracy (i.e. be well researched); #2 Entertain.of sea and seed

Annie Daylon’s “Of sea and seed” succeeds on both counts.  She has captured Newfoundland’s history with articulate accuracy and she has captured the cadence of “Newfie” speak excellently.  I know, as I have friends and family from Newfoundland.  The pages are so well rendered that the reader forgets time and tasks to be done.  When I did put the book aside for short periods, then had a chance to pick it up again, I told my husband that I was ‘going back to Newfoundland’.

The story begins shortly after World War I.  During these early years, Newfoundland was not part of Canada.  A land of fishermen and their families.  A time when fishers worked not for money, but to be paid ‘in kind’.  They were beholden to the merchants who ran the store and worked within the ‘truck system‘.   This was a time when the skilled men and women of Newfoundland did everything themselves.  They built their own houses and boats, made their own shoes and clothing, gardened for their own vegetables.  A time when there was a huge disparity within the class system.

The title refers to seed: that is human offspring and the families that endured through years of hardship and disaster.  Seeds that were born both in and out of wedlock.

“Secrets and sins”

This novel introduces the Kerrigan family.  Irish Catholic immigrants who settled in Argentia, on the Avalon Peninsula and toiled the sea to put bread upon the table.  The mother, Kathleen, the father, Alphonse (a veteran of the Great War), their son Kevin, a fisher like his father, their daughter Clara, who married a rum-runner, and baby Jimmy who died in infancy.

“I’ll take you home again, Kathleen”

When baby Jimmy passed away, Kathleen never recovered from her grief and was eventually sent away to “The Mental” (the psychiatric hospital in St. John’s).  Alphonse was left with his two children, work to do, and too many bottles to drink.  Kevin escaped at the age of sixteen to fend for himself.  Clara was not so lucky…

Kevin too had a life with more misfortune and misery than most men could endure.  For he moved to the Burin Peninsula where he and his family fell victim to the 1929 tsunami that devastated the area.burin-tsunami-destruction-1929

“The sea is a cruel witch who takes what she wants when she has a mind to.”

When Clara was sixteen her life was irrevocably changed when she met Patrick.  A few months later she was banished across the bay to live with her brother’s family…  By the time she was seventeen her father had found her a husband, an Englishman, a gentleman, and a rum-runner named Robert Caulins.  Clara had no choice in the matter. Rum-running was very lucrative as Newfoundland, Canada and the United States were living through the years of prohibition.rum-row-pic

“The laws were made for men, by men. Women were chattel and baby-makers”.

The Kerrigan family were Roman Catholics.  The priest wielded much power over his parishioners.  He had the power to condone, or to vilify and to condemn.  Clara considered herself a sinner and confessed her sins to the priest.confessional

Of sea and seed” is a story of family secrets, deprivation, atonement, sins, and guilt. This first installment in the author’s Kerrigan Chronicles, introduces us to memorable characters who have met life’s challenges with strength and stoicism.  Mothers and daughter, fathers and sons.

I loved the writing.  The author captured her characters with whimsy, realism, and a deep understanding.  I loved the little “Newfoundlandisms”.  “She was so tired she could have slept on a clothesline” ; “Won’t it be some grand, just the two of us?”; “Sure I didn’t know what I was doing”; “Just let me have at the kettle”; “She is the face and eyes of her mother”.

“There’s no accounting for the mood of the sea. It rocks you into a state of trust and then steals your soul”.

I read this novel within fifty feet of the ocean.  The cadence of the surf was a fitting background for a book in which the sea was a character unto itself.

This delightful and poignant historical family saga will appeal to a wide audience.   Within the narrative are a few plot twists that will please those whose tastes lean more toward thrillers and/or mysteries.  I have read that it has been referred to as “literary suspense’.   I heartily recommend this novel and plan to follow up by reading the further adventures of the Kerrigan family.F 5 star

My heartfelt thanks to Annie Daylon for providing me with a digital copy of her novel.

This painting by Earl Bailly evokes the mood of this novel.

"The yellow dory" by Earl Bailly

“The yellow dory” by Earl Bailly

author dory

AnnieDaylon

Annie Daylon was born and raised in Placentia, Newfoundland and now lives in Chilliwack, British Columbia, with her husband David and their dog CoCo.

After thirty years teaching, she delved into her passion for writing.

She is a member of both the Federation of British Columbia Writers and the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland & Labrador.

Posted in award winners, Canadian fiction, Family sagas, Favorite books, Fiction, Historical fiction, Literary fiction, Recommended reading | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Redemption Road” by John Hart

A few years ago I read a wonderful thriller called “The last child“.  It was the first book I had read by John Hart and it has resonated in my memory.  When I saw that Thomas Dunne Books offered another title by John Hart on NetGalley I wasted no time in requesting it.   Am I glad I did!
redemption road

From Goodreads: 

Imagine: A boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother.
A troubled detective confronts her past in the aftermath of a brutal shooting.
After thirteen years in prison, a good cop walks free. But for how long?
And deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, the unthinkable has just happened…
This is a town on the brink. This is a road with no mercy.

Redemption Road” has some very memorable characters.

Adrian Wall: Incarcerated for thirteen years for a crime for which he was innocent.  A good cop, in prison for murder, where he was treated abominably.  Now newly released, his life has turned into a fresh kind of hell…

Elizabeth Black: A North Carolina policewoman.  Daughter of a clergyman.  Deeply scarred by a traumatic event in her youth.  Loves Adrian Wall and the children she has come to love like her own, Gideon Strange and Channing Shore.  Now under indictment for a double homicide herself.

Reverend Black: Elizabeth’s father.  A man who believes in family and a ‘profounder truth’.

Julia Strange: Murder victim loved by Adrian Wall.  Mother to Gideon.  Her body was found on the alter of Elizabeth’s father’s church.9895420_orig

Gideon Strange: The son of the woman Adrian Wall was convicted of murdering.  Now lives with his alcoholic father in less than ideal circumstances.  Is very fond of Elizabeth, who entered his life in her capacity of policewoman when his mother was murdered.

Charlie Beckett: A homicide detective and Elizabeth’s police partner.  Happily married, yet extraordinarily fond of Elizabeth.

Channing Shore: A beautiful eighteen year old woman.  The victim of a horrific abduction, she has bonded with Elizabeth who rescued her from her abductors and has been charged with their brutal murder.

Eli Lawrence: Adrian Wall’s cellmate and confidante.  It was Eli who kept Adrian sane during his years within a corrupt prison system.

Faircloth Jones: An aging defense lawyer who has never gotten over his failure to keep Adrian Wall out of prison.

Peopled with such strong and individual characters, this novel is written with skill and a deep understanding of human nature.  The book expounds upon the premise that people who love, see what they want to see.  Because the reader connects to the characters you will rage at injustice the whole way through…  The compelling narrative illustrates the lengths to which a man will go when betrayed and desperate.

Those who read my reviews know that I love a character-driven plot and “Redemption Road” exemplifies this.  John Hart’s writing is in part literary, at times almost poetic, with equal parts page-turning suspense.  This is a gritty, dark, and psychologically astute novel which will appeal equally to male and female audiences.  Very highly recommended!F 5 star

I received a digital copy of this novel from St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne Books via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.about the author green

John HartJohn Hart is the author of the upcoming REDEMPTION ROAD, and of four New York Times bestsellers, THE KING OF LIES, DOWN RIVER, THE LAST CHILD and IRON HOUSE. The only author in history to win the best novel Edgar Award for consecutive novels, John has also won the Barry Award, the Southern Independent Bookseller’s Award for Fiction, the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award and the North Carolina Award for Literature. His novels have been translated into thirty languages and can be found in over seventy countries. A former defense attorney and stockbroker, John spends his time in North Carolina and Virginia, where he writes full-time.

 

 

Posted in Favorite books, Fiction, NetGalley title, Page turners, Psychological thrillers, Recommended reading, Suspense | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Amateur book reviews – my thoughts

Today an article by Peter Derk came to my attention, entitled “7 Things That Are Ruining Amateur Book Reviews.” Go read it and come back.

You’re back?   Good.

book-bloggers-red-circle-250x250I want to start off by making the point, which has been made before, that amateur book reviews – the kind that appear on social media including GoodReads, Amazon, etc., and blogs like this one, are just that – amateur.  Every book blogger/amateur book reviewer has their own style of presentation.  Some write eloquently, some don’t. Some include graphics and or gifs, some don’t.  Some have myriad followers, some don’t.

I am not a big fan of animated GIFs. I find them very distracting and feel that they detract from the review’s content. If you are a book blogger, maybe try to express yourself in writing? Of course the web is also visual, and visual representations can be a valid form of expression. Blogs that rely heavily on GIFs are not going to be blogs I read, and I tend to just scroll by them on other social media.  I DO however like to add still images to my reviews.  Graphics are eye-catching and as they say…. “A picture is worth a thousand words”. I feel that if I can add a photo or graphic that pertains to the review content, or one that demonstrates how I imagined a place or event would be whilst I was reading the work, then that graphic puts MORE of how I personally feel about the work I’m reviewing.

summarizeDerk states he doesn’t like it when summaries are including in book reviews. When I’m on GoodReads I’m there for the summary.  That being said I don’t feel that every review needs to include one.  If I DO include a summary, it is only so that the reader of my review knows some of the context from which I based my opinions.

I feel that Derk’s point about free copies is really off the mark. I enjoy getting free ARC and/or review copies.  Who wouldn’t?   I don’t sugar coat my feelings about a book just because I received it in exchange for a review.  I usually don’t write scathing reviews, only because I have usually chosen the title myself, thus I know going in pretty much what to expect.  If I am greatly disappointed, I WILL say so.  I do try to remember that the author has put in countless hours and a little bit of their soul in writing the novel, so I try to not be too mean….    Publishers hand out free copies and digital ARCs in order to create BUZZ about their titles.  Most also understand that not every book is a hit with every reader, even when it comes to their biggest fans, and publicity is publicity. An honest, thoughtful less-than-stellar review will not damage a blogger’s relationship with most publishers. Oftentimes they find the feedback useful.

Some of Derk’s points I wholeheartedly agree with.  I too think that pre-reviews (reviews written for books that have not even been written yet) are just plain fatuous and can distort the book’s rating when – after the book has been published, valid ratings are added into the mix.  Just because you admire an author’s previous works doesn’t mean that you can give a star rating to a work as yet unfinished and that you haven’t yet read.  I also disagree with how on Goodreads a person can ‘like’ a review for a title when there is, as yet, no review to like. For instance I have a few books on my Goodreads TBR that I have not read yet, thus I have not yet reviewed.  Yet… still a few times I was sent an email that a person ‘liked’ my review of that title.  What’s up with that?

ratingsDerk doesn’t believe in star ratings.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I DO utilize stars.  NetGalley and Goodreads use them (though their meanings are slightly different on the two sites).  I use them on my blog.  My regular readers will realize that my stars are my personal opinion only.  If they share my tastes in reading, my stars will be helpful.  If they don’t share my tastes in reading they are free to ignore them.

I do often put “Full review at my blog” links in my Goodreads and Amazon reviews.  I am constantly striving for more blog followers and that is a way of getting word of my blog ‘out there’.  If someone like Peter Derk chooses to not venture onto my blog – then so be it.

Amateur reviews written by book bloggers are deeply personal.  Some people write them for fun, to record their thoughts, keep track of their reading, share with friends, or for other reasons of their own.  My own blog was started partly as a way of recording my reading (I’m not getting any younger and I find looking back at my old reviews is a great memory enhancer).  I also enjoy the creative outlet.  I used to maintain a website, but found that blogging suited me better and gave me a way to interact with other readers of like mind.  Gradually, after I joined NetGalley and Edelweiss I started getting more and more free titles.  After I retired from my career as a cataloger in a public library, I had more time to read, review, and blog.  Blogging has kept my typing skills current and has given me a very enjoyable hobby.

I’ll close this post with my new mantra: enjoy wasting time

Posted in Book bloggers, Social networks | Tagged | 21 Comments

“Those we left behind” by Stuart Neville

What if you had only one person in all the world?  What if that person was your older brother?  What if your loyalty and love for that person was eclipsed by the fact that you are mortally afraid of him?those we left behind

This is the dilemma of Ciaran Devine.  At a tender age, he and his brother Thomas were put into foster care.  At the age of twelve Ciaran confessed to the murder of his foster father.  Both he and Thomas were put into a young offenders unit.

Detective Chief Inspector Serena Flanagan of the Belfast Police is the policewoman who put the Devine brothers away.  A breast cancer survivor, she pines for her husband’s attention even though he seems physically repulsed by her surgery scars…  Haunted by the young Ciaran ever since he confessed , she has always suspected that his confession was made in order to protect his elder brother Thomas.

Thomas Devine is angry and broken.  A psychopath.  Irreparably damaged by the traumas of his past.  He has complete control over Ciaran and has taught Ciaran to bury his emotions.  When Ciaran does something Thomas does not approve of,  in addition to psychological domination, he bites him.human bite on arm

Ciaran, needy, and so very young, feels a strong connection to DCI Flanagan.  She has been kind to him… and understanding.  Now, after seven years of being locked away, Ciaran Devine is free.  He has no experience of the world, and he has few, if any, coping skills.  He is torn between love and hate for his brother, Thomas.  His probation officer, Paula Cunningham, 36 years old, is battling her own demons.  Lonely and prone to drinking alone, she lives with her dog, Angus.

Daniel Rolston is the son of the man whom the Devine brothers murdered all those years ago.  He was an only child until his parents decided to foster those in need of parents.  He was the kind of boy whom others found easy to bully.  His life is irrevocably changed when the Devine brothers come to live in his house.  When his father is murdered, his mother never recovers and kills herself a few years later.  Now, seven years have past, and Daniel, alone in the world – and damaged, realizes that the Devines have been freed…

Days after Ciaran Devine is released, Daniel Rolston is fatally stabbed.  The Devine brothers are the chief suspects.  DCI Serena Flanagan and her underling, DC Ballantine are put on the case.police_service_of_NIWill Ciaran remain loyal to his brother Thomas?  Or, will he realize that he IS his own person and divulge the real truth? And… what IS the real truth?

A well crafted police procedural mystery, “Those we left behind” is one of those books that make a profound, positive impression on the reader.  It does make for unsettling reading due to some disturbing scenes, but they are so well rendered that you can’t help but feverishly turn the pages.  The author displays acute psychological understanding and the characters are written with empathy and candor.  The setting is rendered in such a way that it displays the lingering partisan sentiment in Northern Ireland in the years following the “Troubles“.  The conclusion portrays a fitting and satisfying resolution to the novel and the dustjacket is even more poignant after finishing the story.

A Belfast street with the RISE sculpture in the background

A Belfast street with the RISE sculpture in the background

“Those we left behind” is the first title I have read by Stuart Neville and is the first in a series featuring DCI Serena Flanagan.  I now know that he is an author I will follow with alacrity and I look forward to following this series to its conclusion.F 5 star

I received a digital copy of this novel from http://mysteriescrimethrillers.blogspot.ca/ in exchange for my candid review.

about the author green

Stuart Neville

Stuart Neville

Stuart Neville’s debut novel, THE TWELVE (published in the USA as THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST), won the Mystery/Thriller category of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was picked as one of the top crime novels of 2009 by both the New York Times and the LA Times. He has been shortlisted for various awards, including the Barry, Macavity, Dilys awards, as well as the Irish Book Awards Crime Novel of the Year. He has since published six more critically acclaimed books.

His first five novels have each been longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and RATLINES was shortlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger.

Stuart’s novels have been translated into various languages, including German, Japanese, Polish, Swedish, Greek and more.

His fourth novel, RATLINES, about Nazis harboured by the Irish state following WWII is currently in development for television.

Posted in Favorite books, Fiction, Mystery fiction, Page turners, Psychological thrillers, Recommended reading, Setting, Suspense | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My #20booksofsummer Challenge… so far

20 Books of Summer was initiated by fellow blogger Cathy at 746 Books.  The time parameters of the #20booksofsummer challenge: June 1 – September 5, 2016.summer read

Book bloggers all have lengthy (sometimes never-ending) TBR lists.  This challenge serves as an impetus to tackle our TBR lists together – in a fun and enjoyable way.  Summer lures of sun, holidays, socializing, visitors, etc. serve to make reading twenty titles within the time parameters even more challenging.

When I first signed up to take part in the challenge I had anticipated I would read these twenty titles, but due to mood, blog tours, the required reading of my in-person bookclub, and last minute review commitments, the books I actually read for the challenge were these:

  1.  “June” by by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
  2.  “The girls in the garden” by Lisa Jewell
  3.  “Daisy in chains” by Sharon Bolton
  4.  “Valentina” by S.E. Lynes
  5. “Field of graves” by J.T. Ellison
  6.  “I’m thinking of ending things” by Iain Reid
  7.  “Alex” by Pierre Lemaitre
  8.  “Before the fall” by Noah Hawley
  9.  “Shadowed” by Karen E. Olson
  10.  “Missing, presumed” by Susie Steiner
  11.  “The sister” by Louise Jensen
  12.  “In a dark, dark, wood” by Ruth Ware
  13.  “A game for all the family” by Sophie Hannah
  14.  “The beauty of the end” by Debbie Howells
  15. “No one knows” by J.T. Ellison
  16. “Those we left behind” by Stuart Neville  (now reading)
  17.  “Redemption Road” by John Hart
  18.  “Of sea and seed” by Annie Daylon
  19. “The lady vanished” by Gretta Mulrooney
  20.  “The kind worth killing” by Peter Swanson

That is not to say I won’t read the titles I omitted from my previous list, only that for reasons important at the time I had to shuffle them further down the queue.  I’ll get to them soon.  Stay tuned…tbr

 

 

Posted in Book bloggers, Choosing what to read next, Fiction | Tagged , | 3 Comments

“No one knows” by J.T. Ellison

no one knowsAubrey Hamilton is a damaged and grieving woman.  Scarred by the death of her parents at a tender age, then again by her unsavory experiences at the hands of a foster parent, she thought her husband Josh had saved her.  That is until he vanished five years ago – the same night as his best friend’s bachelor party.  A hard-working young doctor, Josh’s disappearance seemed so out of character for him.  Though his body was never discovered, due to the copious amounts of his blood found in their home, Aubrey was arrested and charged for his murder. Due to insufficient evidence, the charges were dropped and Aubrey was released.  Released to a life without Josh, where she has only her dog, Winston,

Winston

Winston

and her job as a Montessori teacher to sustain her.  Her only outlet is running, and she runs through Nashville’s streets for emotional release.

Nashville

Then, five years after his disappearance, around the time that Josh is declared dead, Aubrey meets a man who has eerily similar characteristics as Josh.  His name is Chase Boden.  She wonders if she could love again…

I wondered (as I was meant to) if Chase was Josh – or was it just one of the red-herrings the author utilized to help ratchet up the suspense?

We learn that Aubrey is no stranger to the regional psych ward…

Then there is Daisy, Josh’s mother.  Initially a very unlikable character, I came to pity her as I got more into the book.  After trying to overlook her extreme shallowness, I realized that she too is mourning Josh.  Inexplicably, Daisy always hated Aubrey, since she was a young girl.  We learn that Daisy is contesting that Aubrey will receive Josh’s $5 million life insurance payout.

We meet Tyler, Aubrey’s ex-con, criminal, foster brother.  He knows more than he is saying about Josh’s past and his disappearance.

A book of lies, betrayal, desperation, deception, and broken hearts.  This novel will have a strong appeal for fans of romantic suspense.  Though it is touted as a ‘thriller’ (and it DID contain numerous plot twists toward the end), I personally consider it to be more romantic suspense than thriller.  For this reason I am probably rating it lower that I would if I was a bigger fan of romantic suspense.  It WAS enjoyable, but I found the plot to be a tad gimmicky and predictable…

F 3 star

Thanks to Gallery Books via NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of the novel in exchange for my honest review.about the author pink

J.T. Ellison (photo copyright Krista Lee Photography)

J.T. Ellison
(photo copyright
Krista Lee Photography)

 

New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes dark psychological thrillers starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the Nicholas Drummond series with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the premier literary television show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens. Follow J.T. on Facebook or Twitter @thrillerchick for more insight into her wicked imagination.

Posted in Fiction, NetGalley title, Psychological thrillers, Romantic suspense | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Cover Love: Part 8 – LIGHTHOUSES

I find myself attracted to certain kinds of covers.  Covers are, after all, the way the publisher ‘hooks’ the reader into choosing one book over countless others.

In this, my eighth installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I’d like to show you nineteen books from my Goodreads lists that feature lighthouses on their covers.
Some I’ve already read, some are on my ‘to read’ list.

Having a lighthouse on the cover is a great ‘hook’ for a fiction book. 

Lighthouses evoke mystique.

Their history is inherent.

They save us in bad weather. (just like books! LOL)

I was brought up just 26 km from the lighthouse on my blog header so they have always been special to me.

Just click on the cover to read the

book’s synopsis from

Goodreads.

You might just find your next favorite book!

TheLighthouse

blue lightning

blackwater lightship

for Renata

edge of the earth

keeper of the light

dead in the water

virtue falls

light between oceans

misery bay

winter sea

this must be the place

ice twins

secrets of the lighthouse

stormy cove

unforeseen

plum island

long weekend

by book or by crook


Stay tuned for Cover Love ~~ (Part 9; umbrellas)

or… revisit the first seven installments of Cover Love:

#1  In Red Walking Away

#2  Windows

#3  Gates

#4  Doors

#5  Lakes

#6  Jars

#7  Piers

Posted in Choosing what to read next, Cover Love series, Dustjackets, Fiction | Tagged | 12 Comments