Saturday, January 19, 2013

"Ripples In The Sand" by Helen Hollick

* * * * *
  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Silverwood Books (January 15, 2013)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781320778

I have to admit to being a real Helen Hollick fan and I am sincerely puzzled about why she is not more well known in the States.

Anyone who loves historical fiction will clamor to read more of Helen Hollick's books once you have read one! In reading her books I find similarities to the works of Diana Gabaldon and John Jakes in that this series that follows the lives of a group of people who you come to know and enjoy.

While it is interesting to me personally to read the books as a series they can all be read as stand-alones as well. This "Sea Witch" series follows the adventures of Captain Jesimiah Acorne, an adventurous pirate turned husband adventurer.

"Ripples" continues the adventures of Jesimiah as he uncovers more about the mystery of his parentage and his past then, perhaps, he had wanted know. The book is filled with action, adventure, mystery and it will be sure to entertain readers who love historical fiction, adventure and pirate culture.

I don't think that any reviewer can say it better that the author herself so here is the book's synopsis from the author's website:

"..... Approaching England's North Devon Coast Captain Jesamiah Acorne is worried. A Royal Navy frigate is trailing in his wake and Sea Witch has a hidden cache of brandy and indigo aboard. His instinct is to hoist full sail and flee, but he cannot attract attention, for his wife, Tiola, is ill and getting worse. She says the sea is affecting her, but Jesamiah has never seen seasickness like this before - is it something worse; something to do with her being a white witch perhaps?

Like an approaching storm, his worries get deeper, darker and more sinister.

Tiola's brother, Ben, is in gaol, arrested for smuggling. At a loss of how to help him, opportunity comes in the unexpected form of Sir Ailie Doone - the last of the notorious Doone family of Exmoor. He offers Jesamiah a highly secret but lucrative commission to go to Spain and bring back to England a man who will lead a Jacobite rebellion. It seems an ideal solution, but first Jesamiah must break young Ben out of gaol. Once escaped from the threat of the gallows, the boy can sail with Jesamiah on the Sea Witch leaving Tiola ashore to recover in peace.

Except, being captured and interrogated by the Spanish and meeting with an old friend, the beautiful English spy Francesca, is not part of Jesamiah's plan. Once again he is in danger of losing his fidelity, his freedom and maybe even his life.

Tiola meanwhile, has her own fears to face. Why is the ethereal spirit of the sea, Tethys, so determined to have Jesamiah for her own? To save him, Tiola must find a way to recall her previous lives and discover why events of the past have influenced the hatreds of the present. Like ripples in the sand blending together when disturbed, she must influence the fragile ripples of time..... "

If you love historical fiction be sure to check out Helen Hollick's "The Chosen King" a novel about The Battle of Hastings in 1066. 

The usual disclaimers of no relation, no affiliation apply. I'm just a fan of Ms. Hollick's work!

Friday, January 4, 2013

"Bohemia" by Veronika Carnaby

* * * +
  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-1478386605

This book is a bit out of my normal subject review range, but the author piqued my interest, and I decided to give it a go.

This is a coming of age tale that traces the lives of four friends as they make the way in a world that is teetering on the brink of change. The story weaves the lives of these 20-something friends as well as a host of supporting characters. Ms. Carnaby's (my own memories flew to London's Carnaby Steet in the 70's as I read the author's name!) writing style is solid, the plot line is good but a little hard to follow at times. The time is 1960 - a bit before my own 'heyday' but I think that the dialogue and character development is really rather spot on and very well developed. The dialect seems correct, and I found a lot to like about this universal story of growing up and searching for your own true way in the world. No matter when you grew up there is a lot that will ring true in the pages of this book.

I felt the hip, I heard the beat, and I walked around the streets of the East Village just before the Fillmore East really began to rock. Reading this book was like having a center seat in the legendary Cafe A GoGo; listening to some poet read, or listening to the early years of Bob Dylan's songs, all the while sipping a giant mug of coffee - or something.

It was a bit difficult to keep it all straight at times - but then I think that life is that way during your early 20's anyway,and the time frame of this book, when cultural change was brewing and stewing, there was, indeed, a general feeling of not following the straight and narrow path that had been followed in generations before -and so perhaps that is a style element that works well for this book.

This book will, specifically, have great appeal to anyone who has memories of the late 50's and early 60's, but it will also tantalize those of us who came up a bit later. For younger generation readers, it will be valuable as a cultural glimpse into a time that heralded all that was to come  - the bridge era between the "Leave It To Beaver" set and the XBox generation.

It's a well done novel and will likely bring back some memories for all readers.