Welcome to another selection of christmas gift ideas from the Cafe and Bookstore and some books that explore the darker side of human nature and social injustice. The first is the latest release from Yecheilyah Ysrayl – A novella – Even Salt Looks Like Sugar.
About the book
Wanda wants nothing more than to escape the oppressive upbringing of life with her abusive foster mother. Miss Cassaundra manipulates the system by bringing lost children into her home turned whorehouse and collecting the money. Wanda knows what it’s like to be abandoned and has no doubt Abby is Cassaundra’s next case. When an opportunity arises, that could save them both, Wanda must find a way to get the paperwork that will secure their freedom. But Cassaundra’s got eyes everywhere and no one can be trusted when even salt looks like sugar.
One of the reviews for the novella
Don’t trust everything you see. Even Salt Looks Like Sugar is a poignant tale of a 16 year old girl named Wanda who was abandoned by her parents and taken in by a neighbor. The story takes place in a rural Louisiana town where everybody knows you and your business.
The “kindly” neighbor, Miss Cassaundra, had a habit of taking in children who had been abandoned. She would feed and clothe them, but also made them feel trapped. She received money from the government to care for the kids, but she didn’t show they live and affection. In fact, they lived in a brothel, run by Cassaundra, a woman who rarely got off of her couch due to being morbidly obese.
Wanda wanted out, but the only way she knew to do that was to get a job. Each time she had an interview, Cassaundra found out and threw a wrench in her plans.
Things escalate and eventually Wanda is told the truth about why her father abandoned her, leaving her in a whore house. Wanda’s only saving grace was the young girl who was left in her charge, Abby. Cassaundra was getting money for her, but Wanda was taking care of the child. Things come to a head and secrets are revealed. One such secret ends up saving Abby from Cassaundra’s clutches.
I loved the dynamic between Wanda and her BFF, Rosa. They grew up in foster care together and had each other’s backs no matter what.
This was a quick read, more like a short story. It held my attention and gave some good info on the foster care system. I expect nothing less when I read a novel by Yecheilyah.
Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07G2VLM24
And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Even-Salt-Looks-Like-Sugar-ebook/dp/B07G2VLM24
Also by Yecheilyah Ysrayl
Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Yecheilyah-Ysrayl/e/B00ML6OHFA/
And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Yecheilyah-Ysrayl/e/B00ML6OHFA
Read more reviews and follow Yecheilyah on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8336941.Yecheilyah_Ysrayl
Connect to Yecheilyah via her website: https://www.yecheilyahysrayl.com/
The next author with a wonderfully wide range of books that would make great gifts is Stevie Turner and I am featuring her psychological thriller A House Without Windows.
About the book
Dr Beth Nichols thinks she has been held captive by Edwin Evans for about 8 or 9 years now. Amidst her grief she often looks back and thinks about her fiancée Liam; theirs was the greatest romance of all. She lays awake at night staring at the one light bulb that is never switched off, and prays that he is still out there somewhere searching for her…
One of the recent reviews for the book
I listened to the audio version of this book narrated by Wendy Anne Darling. I thought Wendy did a very good job. She has the perfect accent for this particular book set in the United Kingdom and I found her narration to be clear and easy to follow.
I found this story to be very touching and emotional on two levels. One, because I found the idea of the abduction of a young, professional woman by a patient she had tried to help absolutely awful but also alarmingly possible. Two, the mental illness demonstrated by Edwin in this book strikes a deep cord with me as I have had a few brushes with people suffering from mental illness. The thought of how parents, either good or bad, impact on and shape the destiny of someone with problems and leanings towards obsessive compulsive disorder and probably autism, as are exhibited by Edwin, together with the fact that his childhood abuse was never discovered or noticed in a country as progressive as the UK is very poignant and sad. The neglect and physical and metal abuse that Edwin suffered, impacted heavily on his own life and also on the lives of his abductee, Beth, and her entire family. The complexities and enormous difficulties faced by medical practitioners in attempting to treat these sorts of disorders in government facilities without the support of family and friends is also tragically apparent.
I enjoyed Turner’s style of writing and the use of a children’s book given to Amy, Beth’s young daughter who was born in captivity, to draw parallels between her life, living as a prisoner in a house without windows to the lives of the children in the book who have a lot of freedom, experience boating on the ocean and a great adventure. Amy learns a lot about life from reading this book and it makes her restless and unsettled in her own life.
This is a book about a terrible experience by a woman and how it impacts on the man who loves her, her children and her family. The effects of Beth’s abduction are far reaching and last for many years into the future of those around her.
Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/House-Without-Windows-Stevie-Turner-ebook/dp/B00HUH6R7Q
And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/House-Without-Windows-Stevie-Turner-ebook/dp/B00HUH6R7Q
A selection of books by Stevie Turner
Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Stevie-Turner/e/B00AV7YOTU
And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stevie-Turner/e/B00AV7YOTU
Follow Stevie Turner on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7172051.Stevie_Turner
Connect to Stevie via her website: http://www.stevie-turner-author.co.uk/
Now something for fantasy lovers from Fiona Tarr with her latest release Call of the Druids ( The Priestess Chronicles – Volume 1)
About Call of the Druids
When an Angel answers your prayers, you had better be prepared!
All Ariela has ever wished for is to be treated like all the other Priestesses and be given a chance to use her powers to fight evil. Until now, her parents have held her back, treated her like a Princess and kept her from danger.
Now she is eighteen and believes she will finally be allowed to embark on her first quest. But when Ariela’s uncle the King sends word that he has promised her in marriage, Ariela’s hopes are shattered.
She prays for an escape. When the Angel Raziel offers her a divine quest, she must choose!
Stay, marry and never be the Priestess she longs to be or leave everything she has ever known, for a quest she knows nothing about—to a place and time she has never seen—for people she is yet to meet.
One of the recent reviews for the book
History is full of moments when those in power stomped out all mention of magic, but what if the people with such talents teamed up to prevent their elimination? That’s the foundation of Call of the Druids, and I presume The Priestess Chronicles as a whole.
The story begins with a young priestess whose bloodline connection to King David of Israel means she’s assigned a diplomatic marriage rather than allowed to follow her calling. She’s trained her whole life to use her gifts from God to fight evil. Ariela begs God for another path and the angel Raziel sweeps her away to parts unknown. She arrives in Roman-occupied territory where Celtic clans struggle to protect their few remaining druids and their disappearing culture.
While the beginning would be appropriate in any young adult novel, make no mistake. This story delves into the heart of Roman atrocities with their treatment of conquered people, especially women. It also looks at how greed and envy can corrupt a soul. Even without knowing something of the history involved, I had no doubt as to the villains of this piece almost from the moment she lands in a mud-filled alley.
Morrigan, a druid, finds and protects Ariela as she overcomes the disorientation of learning she has jumped not just in space but also some 500-700 years in time to offer the druids hope when they’re all but lost. The druid suspects Ariela is more than the young, vulnerable woman she appears, and she’s right.
Though trained in battle and magic, Ariela is not alone in the battle against the Roman conquerors either. Beyond Morrigan’s help, she’s joined by two friends in the clan, Culaan and Genie, who stand up for Ariela even while they doubt the truth of her accounting.
Druidic power had so faded from the clan memories, even Culaan believes Morrigan nothing more than a mixer of herbs, though her potions are far from simple tinctures. Genie is slower to dismiss the idea, or at least she recognizes the accuracy of Ariela’s accounting of that time. This interest in history is an odd quirk in a woman known as a huntress and tracker extraordinaire.
Culaan has his own specific histories, a mystery shrouding his dead mother and the disdain of his father, who is also clan chieftain. Where another could grow bitter, Culaan is good-hearted and looks out for those around him, the image of his father’s relationships with the clan.
I’m mostly recounting things from the story rather than talking about the themes of the story for two reasons:
First, the theme is pretty straightforward, which does not diminish its strength in any way. The destruction of culture and loss of knowledge in the wake of conquer is something I mourn. It is an atrocity repeated all too often in our histories, and one that has echoes down the timeline to modern day, affecting us still.
The second, though, is because I was swept into the story and the characters until little else mattered. Do not fear I’ve given away all the interesting parts. The above barely scratches the surface of a complex dance between tradition and belief, honor and greed, and fear versus action.
The story has a rotating point of view (POV) that can fall on almost any character in any scene. While this might bother some of you, I suggest you give it a try because I never lost the sense of whose POV I was in no matter how often it moved. This is a well-telegraphed close omniscient voice such that it took me a bit to realize how often it switched. Any other technical issues were minor in comparison to the strength of the narrative and characters as they worked to keep the druidic traditions alive.
At one point, the angel charges Ariela to “Save the magic,” but this is no simple task. She has to find and bring supporters around her, learn to navigate new cultures, and help bring faith back to those who have lost their way if she’s to have any chance of living up to this command. Nor is Ariela left unmolested in her efforts. Her first act upon arriving has consequences stretching further than she could have imagined.
Fiona Tarr made the story come alive through complex characters with their own concerns and histories to drive them. If you’ve been following my reviews, you’ll know story wins out over anything, but a strong story is more than theme and plot. It’s the people contained within the lines and how they become real to the reader. Call of the Druids succeeds in this admirably.
Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07JN8W5CG
And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Call-Druids-Priestess-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B07JN8W5CG
Also by Fiona Tarr
Read all the reviews and buy the books including a box set: https://www.amazon.com/Fiona-Tarr/e/B00KOL7XI2
and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fiona-Tarr/e/B00KOL7XI2
Read more reviews and follow Fiona on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8423164.Fiona_Tarr
Connect to Fiona via her website: http://atime2write.com.au
Thank you for visiting today and I hope you have enjoyed the selection… there will be more gift ideas for you tomorrow…still 60 authors left to feature in the Christmas promotions.