Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I will be sharing the books of all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review in the last six months. I will be selecting authors at random so that there is something for everyone in the post.
The first author with plenty of books that would make great gifts this Christmas is Anita Dawes and her featured book is Let it Go.
About Let it Go
Mary Flanagan lives in south London with her ordinary family. Mum and dad, a stroppy older sister and an aging grandmother who lives across the road.
Her life is not so ordinary, but not as good as it could be. What with her dad spending all his wages in the betting shop, and the almost constant fighting with her sister Sally.
Her dad comes home with the keys to a new life in his pocket. A guest house on the Cornish coast acquired under dubious circumstances from old Tom, a drinking pal.
Mary knows she has no choice but to go with her family and hope for the best. Maybe the change would be good for them all. Maybe her dad will settle down and stop gambling, and her sister stop going through men like they were going out of fashion. Maybe her mum could be happy for once and stop worrying about all of them for once.
But trouble follows them in the shape of old Tom’s grandson, Spike, who says the guest house is his by rights. And Sally upsets the local teenagers with her lusty appetite. When her grandmother dies, Mary knows they have jumped from the frying pan straight into the fire, for life is no better in Cornwall and is likely to get worse.
Mary finds an old diary, written in 1936 by a girl called Morgan, who tells the story of betrayal and murder, the rescue of a baby right there in Cornwall. The story haunts Mary, and she resolves to find out if it could be true and if any relatives still exist.
She finds Samuel, the baby, now elderly, who neither wants or needs to forgive what happened to his mother. Life can be cruel, he tells her, but she should look to the living, and let the dead take care of themselves.
This is the story of growing up, and forgiveness, of accepting the things you cannot change.
A recent review for the book
Right from the start of this story you know you’re off on an interesting journey with a colourful family. The tale is told from the daughter, Mary’s, point of view. She has an older sister called Sally who she doesn’t think too much of because of her promiscuous behaviour. A drunken gambler for a father and a mother with a temper. One day, after the father has gone on a bender and been missing for a few days he comes home having won a guest house in a card game and just like that a whole new life beckons for the family.
Mary loves the new life in Cornwall where she gets to live with her beloved Nan in a caravan at the end of the garden. The village offers her new freedoms and her first fledgling attempts at romance but of course nothing is going to run that smoothly. Sally is soon up to her old tricks which brings trouble for the family and Mary finds a diary the alarming contents of which start to take over her life.
I did enjoy this read which sets off at a cracking pace. The characters are well rounded and interesting and the family dynamic worked well. The pace slowed a little in the second half but there was plenty of interest going on in the story and as added intrigue, throughout the whole book, there hangs that little shred of doubt about how the guest house was won in the first place.
A selection of books by Anita Dawes
Connect to Anita via: Jaye and Anita’ Blog
The effect of abuse of any nature in childhood is devastating, and can leave scars that last a lifetime. It can be extremely difficult to talk about and it is why memoirs that share experiences but also the transformation into a better life are so important. Chuck Jackson shares his childhood in his memoir What Did I Do?
What Did I Do? is Chuck Jackson’s true recollection of the abuse he received from both his parents. It is a story where he spent years struggling to please them without succeeding. It is a story where they told him he was irredeemable and unworthy of being their son. When he saw love and happiness in other families, he wondered why not his.
Chuck came out of the darkness to expound on the stigma attached to child abuse. He admitted to the affects of shame, anger, guilt, and depression that he and so many experience. He tells the story of survival where he felt invisible. Follow him where he sought a warm touch and a kind word of praise. Follow his desperation for love from anyone. Follow Chuck’s story and help answer his question, What Did I Do?
A recent review for the book
Like how the story was put together and how Ken was able to finely heal from the child abuse. Thanks for telling your story.
Also by Chuck Jackson
Connect to Chuck via his website and blog: Chuck Jackson
The next author is financial expert Sharon Marchisello who has also written a novel, the murder mystery, Going Home.
About Going Home
Michelle DePalma expected to jet into Two Wells, Texas, check on her elderly mother, and hurry back to her orderly life in Atlanta, where she has a happy marriage and satisfying career. Instead, she finds her mother, Lola Hanson, hovered over the bludgeoned body of her caregiver, Brittany Landers.
Since the events of 9/11, one month earlier, Lola’s memory loss has amplified, and the family suspects Alzheimer’s. Now Lola can’t tell anyone what happened to Brittany.
The agency that provides home care for Lola promptly withdraws its services. Michelle is stuck in her home town longer than planned as she cares for a mother with whom she has never been close and tries to prove her innocence. The police officers who investigate the crime are old antagonists from grade school. A secret thought to be long buried—that Michelle bore a son out of wedlock and gave him up for adoption—surfaces when a surprise daughter-in-law and granddaughter show up, distracting Michelle from her quest to solve the murder. And then she stumbles upon a motive which makes Lola look even more guilty.
“Going Home” was inspired by the author’s mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s and explores the challenge of solving a murder mystery when a potential witness cannot rely on her memory. Written from the prospective of a baby boomer forced to reverse roles with her parents, it crosses into the mainstream genre of women’s fiction and touches increasingly common issues such as elder abuse and end-of-life decisions.
One of the recent reviews for the book
Michelle DePalma is going home. When she arrives at her mom’s house, she finds her mother’s caregiver in a pool of blood. Her mom, the only other person in the house, is the main suspect. A convenient suspect too, since she’s suffering from Alzheimer’s and doesn’t remember what happened. So it’s up to Michelle to find out the truth. She sets off on a quest to find out who the real killer is, but this unexpectedly takes her on a journey back to her own past—a past that holds secrets and trauma—which she now has to face again.
Her mother, meanwhile, is much worse than she anticipated. This book is a statement of how vulnerable people become when their memory starts to fail. It’s a story about dementia, how it impacts both patient and family, how taking care of a loved one can be a struggle, and how bit by bit, you lose the person you knew, as they slowly fade away. The confusion, the paranoia, and the physical decline—it’s all there.
The mystery had some nice twists and was compelling. The ending, although unexpected, felt a little abrupt to me.
Also by Sharon Marchisello
Connect to Sharon via her blog: Sharon Blogspot
The next book which would make a great gift for mystery lovers, is by Olga Nunez Miret. The novella Escaping Psychiatry: Beginnings. Currently this book is FREE
About Escaping Psychiatry: Beginnings
How far would a writer go for a killer story? This is the question psychiatrist Mary Miller must answer to solve the first mystery/thriller of her career. You can get to know the main characters of this psychological thriller series for FREE and test your own acumen and intuition in this novella about the price of ambition.
Dr Mary Miller is a young psychiatrist suffering a crisis of vocation. Her friend Phil, a criminalist lawyer working in New York, invites her to visit him and consult on the case of a writer accused of a serious assault. His victim had been harassing him and accusing him of stealing his story, which he’d transformed into a best-selling book. The author denies the allegation and claims it was self-defence. When the victim dies, things get complicated. The threshold between truth and fiction becomes blurred and secrets and lies unfold.
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings is the prequel to Escaping Psychiatry a volume collecting three stories where Mary and her psychiatric expertise are called to help in a variety of cases, from religious and race affairs, to the murder of a policeman, and in the last case she gets closer than ever to a serial killer.
If you enjoy this novella, don’t forget to check Mary’s further adventures. And there are more to come.
One of the recent reviews for the book
When I review books and want to focus my review on the author’s particular qualities, I tend to find myself looking for a single word that best sums up the experience I had. Sometimes the word might be ‘thrilling’, sometimes ‘clever’, sometimes ‘imaginative’, and yes, sometimes ‘dull’. I wasn’t long into the pages of Escaping Psychiatry: Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret when my mind was assailed by the word ‘subtle’.
Olga is a master (or, in these PC times, should that be ‘mistress’?) of the art of subtlety. Her well-written prose sails along at its own quiet pace, but here and there, almost unnoticed, she sows little hints, tiny nuances, like occasional minute breadcrumbs along the way, that will ultimately become significant in the overall spectrum of the story.
In the early pages, during what seems like a normal conversation, Núñez Miret doles out enough information to keep us interested but stealthily, without quite knowing why, the reader finds himself wondering if Paul’s innocuous proposition to Mary is quite as straightforward as it seems.
Mary is being asked to go to Paul’s Law firm and make a psychological assessment of a new client, a writer who, during a sudden fracas, accidentally killed a stalker who had been harassing him for months. She meets Paul’s boss and other colleagues, and eventually the client, but while Núñez Miret records the events in a straightforward manner, she subtly underpins her writing with an aura of doubt that has the reader again wondering if there is something more to all of this than meets the eye.
I really enjoyed this story. It is well told, filled with real characters, but what impressed me most is the author’s restraint when it comes to psychiatric insights. I learnt from her bio that Núñez Miret is a highly qualified academic who has, herself, practiced psychiatry for a number of years. She could have been forgiven, therefore, for padding her story with complex and impressive psychobabble. But instead, and again there springs to mind that word ‘subtle’, the lead character, Mary, uses her insights to ask a simple question of the client. And that was it! It was as if a bomb had suddenly exploded in courthouse’s antechamber.
This is an engaging story, very well written. I would have perhaps liked it to have been a little bit longer but longer books may well be in the pipeline. I have no hesitation is recommending this books to those who enjoy cozy mysteries.
A selection of other books in Spanish or English by Olga Nunez Miret
Audio books – http://authortranslatorolga.com/my-audiobooks/
Connect to Olga via her website: Author Translator Olga
Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you will be leaving with some books tucked under your arm.. thanks Sally.