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LOVING TWO WOMEN

LOVING TWO WOMEN: A gripping story of love, duty, sacrifice and determination by [Matthew Lutostanski]

Loving Two Women is a historical romance novel set in post-World War II about a man, Tadeusz, receiving a letter from his ex-fiancé from 40 years before who thought the Tadeusz passed away in the war.

Loving Two Women starts off very strong with the first chapter having the protagonist receive the first letter from his past lover, Ella, which is where the reader understands the basic premise of the novel, that is arguably one of the most intriguing aspects. Matthew Lutostanski, the author, stated that this is based off true facts and it is obvious that he put a lot of research into the setting and time as well which added a lot to the authenticity to the setting. Although I felt like there was one or two chapters where the setting was, albeit necessary for context, felt more like a summary of events and could’ve been written in a more interesting way. Fortunately, that only happened once or twice and the setting in the most of the novel was set up expertly, even down to the small details.

The three main characters, Tadeusz, Ella, and Maria, were expanded on enough for me to understand how they felt or would feel from the actions of others. We delve deep into Tadeusz’s inner conflict between the love of his current wife, Maria, and the love of his ex-fiancé. Lutostanski also successfully describes the emotions of the others characters at the same time. Personally, my favorite character was Maria. We only get a handful of chapters from her perspective but we come to understand her very much through her actions and Tadeusz’s view. We also receive a handful of chapters from Ella’s view and it is obvious from all perspectives that Lutostanski is more than competent in writing strong, female characters.

The plot of Loving Two Women is quite concise, there isn’t a lot of things happening at once, instead it follows one aspect deeply before moving onto the next. Personally, the best aspect of this novel was the prose, specifically, the switch between third-person past and first-person epistolary. Epistolary being the letters that Tadeusz and Ella send to each other was one of the parts that I found myself continuously looking forward to and enjoying. Each of these tended to last a while, and even a chapter long, which was thoroughly enjoyable.

Pages: 127 | ASIN: B08DYCFXJP

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Celtic Knot: A Clara Swift Tale

Celtic Knot: A Clara Swift Tale by [Ann Shortell]

Celtic Knot: A Clara Swift Tale is a thrilling murder mystery story that combines true facts with fiction in a compelling historical fantasy novel. The book follows the story of a young housekeeper, Clara Swift, who is sought by Prime Minister John A Macdonald to help find out who assassinated his master, Mr. McGee. Clara’s tenacity and abilities get her embroiled in a plot with national consequences.

Ann Shortell has creatively used a well known historical moment to tell a riveting mystery. Clara is an intriguing character right from the start. She’s smart and quick-witted and was someone that I empathized with along the nail biting journey she’s thrust on. Her perseverance and determination to seek the truth was something that kept me flipping pages. The story takes places in Ottawa Canada during the 1800’s and the time period is captured in striking detail.

Alluring characters in a memorable setting pulled me into the story, but the one thing that I think elevated this story above genre fiction was the theatrical mystery driving this dramatic novel. Ann Shortell is able to give readers just enough to keep them guessing, just enough to root for characters, and contine to feed you those bread crumbs until the finale. I am not familiar with the historical events discussed in the book, but still found the book to be entertaining. I will say that a reader may need a good respect for history and willingness to absorb the history and time period to be able to truly enjoy this novel as Ann Shortell really dives into the era. Like Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, it’s still entertaining, but you’ll be engrossed if you know about, or at least enjoy, the history discussed in the book.

Celtic Knot: A Clara Swift Tale is an enthralling historical fiction novel that places an unassuming but sharp girl at the heart of a spellbinding mystery.

Pages: 332 | ASIN: B07BN2TNQ3

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The Poetic Style Needed

Carl Hare Author Interview

What I liked about Spenser was the way in which you fused history with fantasy. What research did you undertake to ensure the historical references were accurate?

I did a huge amount of research, because I had to know as much as possible about the Elizabethan period in England, Ireland, and France, as well as the historical figures involved. And remember, the work has taken twenty-seven years to finish. When I started, there was no internet; I had to do research in university libraries, not through Google. I have seven huge binders of material xeroxed and carefully tagged. As well, in the actual creation I am now on my tenth workbook, apart from the digital files.

Actual things were relatively simple—to find how stained glass windows were constructed and appeared in Spenser’s time; to understand what a sailing vessel was like, its sails, its crew, its structure; to learn about the Irish sea and the ports; to become absorbed in what the buildings and costumes were; Christmas customs; medicine; the countries. There is very little knowledge of Spenser himself, so that I made surmises based on what was known; my Spenser is probably more fictional than real, but the conclusions I made were based on facts as well. I did, of course, create the final book of The Fairie Queene, the windows described actually based on Jung’s archetypal figures (a small license I gave myself). The Christmas play is my adaptation of what could have happened then (minus the satire of the pope, of course). The massacre of the Spaniards is directly taken from the report made of the affair. And the Latin phrases are actually the ones that British schoolboys used to have to learn, which is deliberate. Ben Jonson criticized Shakespeare for knowing “no Latin and less Greek”; I portray him in the scene as still learning Latin, much to the amusement of Spenser and Bacon, who wrote well in the language and who make quiet jokes between them in their responses.

As for the fantasy, you will have to wait for Book Three to get the whole story, when the three thousand years find their conclusion.

The book is written in Spenserian stanzas. Was this a challenge for you or do you prefer this style of writing?

Actually, the whole trilogy is a challenge, because I take the poetic style of the time and adapt it slightly to modern times. For example, Odysseus is deliberately written in the style that most translations have been seen over the past decades; Spenser is written in his form, but where he usually end-stops a stanza, I can run the idea without strain into the following stanza, so that the dialogue and description can be closer to us. I have deliberately left the numbering of the stanzas as he did. As well, in the agonizing memories of Spenser about the death of his son I have strained the stanzas to the limit to force the cries that he made stand out. If you want to know how that sounds, you may soon be able to hear them in the audio book that hopefully will appear in the near future. As for Archer, the styles range from the Romantic Period until today. Thus, you will find that even the verse ranges over the three thousand years.

I understand that you have been a professor, actor, director, playwright, and poet. How has your experience in these fields helped you write your books in the On the River of Time series?

A good question. All of these have helped me. First of all, I have an English Honours degree in which I had to take a comprehensive exam on all of English literature up to 1950 (excluding, of course at that time, all Canadian and American literature). I have taught English courses, seminar courses in Ibsen and Theatre Aesthetics, a first-year philosophy course, and, of course, courses in acting for professional and amateur actors. As an actor I have to learn, comprehend, and explore a character deeply, both in mind and body. As a director I have to know the world in which the play takes place; what the incidents expose of the characters; the structure of the action of the play and its conclusion; the period in which it takes place; and how to bring the actor to fulfill the demands of the character. As a playwright I have to conceive of the characters and their journey; write the scenes that are important for the revelations of the play; find the essence of each character’s thoughts, speech and action; place all this in an appropriate setting for the theatre and the audience; and as a poet sense the music of our language, the evocation of an experience, the poetic style needed, the deep influence of an idea, and the urge which forces me to express it.

All of these things in my background have enriched my vision and whatever skill I have. They have allowed me to find a way through to express through three thousand years what we all still experience, give into, or struggle with, in our lives

Book three in your series follows Archer, the fictional renegade actor/director in present-day Canada. When will that book be available and what can readers expect in the story?

I am almost finished writing it. My editor, with whom I have worked fifty years, is brilliant and patient and rigorous, keeping me always on the right track. We are in the twelfth draft of the work at the moment, but it should be the second-last. For reasons I won’t go into, it will probably come out next year.

What can you expect? A modern actor/director who is charismatic and searching, who has spent his life exploring and touring his events. The book is divided into three “Acts” (like chapters, but this is, after all, about theatre); Act One deals with his tour of King Lear in mask and his research on an event that will deal with all of Canadian history as far back as it goes; Act Two deals with the creation and tour of the event; Act Three deals with the company invited to Ireland to play the event in its Festivals, what happens there, and the repercussions later in Canada. You may suspect that I have some knowledge of all this; you might want to look at my website: http://www.carlhare.ca

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Spenser portrays the last four turbulent months in the life of poet Edmund Spenser, faithful servant of Queen Elizabeth I of England for whom he wrote The Fairie Queene. Written in Spenserian stanza to evoke the Elizabethan period and the poet’s own style, Spenser is Book Two of the epic trilogy On the River of Time, which examines three figures – one mythical, one historical, and one fictional – from different time periods spanning almost three thousand years: Odysseus in ancient Greece; Spenser, the poet, in Ireland, and Archer, a fictional renegade actor/director, in present-day Canada.

Nothing that Addresses the Aftermath

Greg Wyss
Greg Wyss Author Interview

When Life Was like a Cucumber follows the odyssey of Jeffrey Hesse’s life through the 70’s. What served as your inspiration for this story?

My inspiration was personal. Having come of age during the 60s, I have always felt that an important part of my generation’s story has been overlooked in both literature and film. There is no shortage of books or movies covering those tumultuous times but virtually nothing that addresses the aftermath of the decade and its effect on those who lived through it. If the reader is transported back to the era and inside the confused minds of those who were there, then I achieved my goal.

Jeff is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

Jeff is a flawed individual and a product of small-town America in the 50s and 60s. It was important to portray him honestly, warts and all. He is insecure, experiments with drugs and is consumed by his sexual appetite. His story is not unique but is meant to be an accurate representation of the thousands, perhaps millions, of those his age who were trying to make sense of their lives at the time.

The novel was able to capture the human experience of living in a tumultuous time. Was there anything from your own life that you put into the story?

Authors write what they know but “When Life Was Like a Cucumber” is a work of fiction, not an autobiography. Jeff’s story mirrors some of my personal experiences and many of the characters in the novel are fictional and composite depictions of people that I crossed paths with during those years.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am in the early stages of developing a story that revolves around the wild, unregulated lifestyle of the early 80s in Houston and Texas. At the moment, I cannot project when the book will be completed and available. I will keep you posted.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

It’s 1972 and the Sixties are over. Or are they?
When the house they are renting outside of Oneonta, New York, burns to the ground, twenty-four-year old Jeffrey Hesse and his wife, Jane, split up, launching Jeff on a wild journey of self-discovery and sexual awakening. Inspired by an angel calling herself Isadora Duncan, Jeff sets out to see the world and find his place in post Sixties America. His odyssey carries him to the Gulf Coast of Florida, the streets of Boston, the hash clubs in Amsterdam, and his ancestral home of Switzerland. He finds himself seated next to Jesus on an airplane and spends an idyllic summer on the island of Crete where he is befriended by a Greek Renaissance man. A delicious stew of Jack Kerouac and Cheech and Chong with a pinch of Forrest Gump added to the mix, When Life Was Like a Cucumber is both funny and sad. Set against the backdrop of the Watergate years, it examines the alienation and hope of a generation weaned on the drug culture, the sexual revolution, and the Vietnam War.
Hang on and enjoy the ride. When it’s over, you’ll have to agree that life is indeed like a cucumber.

The Dark Age Chronicles: Eve of Darkness

Eve of Darkness: The Dark Age Chronicles

Eve is a young woman caught between what she wants to do and what she must do. She has been marked, cursed if you will, and survived a childhood of abuse from her sadistic grandfather. A cruel taskmaster and slave owner, her grandfather, knows of her ability to see the future and perceive the true intentions of others. He has squelched her ability most of her life, and his fear of her has led him to regularly administer abuses to her that far outweigh what he shows his slaves. Now, also facing the idea of an unwanted arranged marriage, Eve receives a letter telling her that her help is needed–and her life has been a lie.

The Dark Age Chronicles: Eve of Darkness, by T.L. Bailey and performed by Wesley Bruff, has all the darkness professed in its title. The title character, Eve, lives a life so full of turmoil and fear it’s a true miracle she has the strength to face each day. Her grandfather’s evil nature is incredibly difficult to imagine, and it has created a magnificent strength in Eve that rivals that of any superhero. Her gift makes her a liability, but the more she is feared and the more she is pursued, the more invincible she becomes. Bailey’s choice to have Eve be a young nineteen-year-old girl is a fantastic one. These are formative years, and the horrors Eve is forced to endure would make anyone at this age crumble and give up on life.

The narration by Wesley Bruff is absolutely mesmerizing. Straight out of the gate, readers will appreciate the tone with which he delivers the story, the change of accent, and modulation. A dark and horrifying story calls for a performance that can communicate the atrocities effectively, and Bruff does that tenfold. His narration makes me forget who and where I am–honestly a stunning performance.

Readers who enjoy fantasy will find Eve’s plight enthralling. Her journey is one of resilience and determination, and her story is one readers won’t want to put down. I highly recommend Wesley Bruff’s narration, as well. It is not often you find an audio book so full of rich visuals. The Dark Age Chronicles: Eve of Darkness, the audiobook, is not to be missed.

Pages: 352 | ASIN: B07D58BB71

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Amulet’s Rapture

Amulet's Rapture: Curse of Clansmen and Kings, Book 3

Catrin is living a nightmare. She has become a slave, is used and abused as a woman disguised as a soldier, and the love of her life doesn’t remember the passion that once existed between them. Catrin is as feared as much as she is taken for granted. Considered to have powers that far outshine the abilities and skills of any soldier, she is allowed to live and protected even though she isn’t respected. Marcellus, her love, now under the spell of another, can’t quite shake the feeling that something is not right–something he can’t explain but leaves him feeling empty and broken. Catrin knows, but will she be able to tell him in time?

Amulet’s Rapture, by Linnea Turner, continues the journey of young Catrin. Her life, very different from that of previous installments, is a daily struggle for survival. She is only allowed to live because she is deemed valuable and believed to have the ability to speak directly with the sun god. Catrin is put through ghastly tasks and treated with little respect even though she is offered the opportunity to train as a warrior priestess. Playing along with the idea that she is all-powerful is the only thing that seems to keep her from being killed.

Catrin’s visions are an important part of the plot–the thread woven discreetly throughout the story that ties all of the elements neatly together. The images she conjures are vivid and touching. The author uses them expertly to pull in elements from previous installments. These little trips into Catrin’s past are especially helpful if listening to this as a stand alone.

The audio version of Amulet’s Rapture is a fascinating listen. The narrator absolutely nails tone, character changes, and emphasis. In addition, the particularly intense scenes in which Catrin is being threatened are completely captivating when read by the narrator, Kristen James. What would be moving moments if read in paperback or Kindle become quite terrifying and extremely uncomfortable when listening to the narrator’s interpretation of the text–the story is truly brought to life.

I believe this installment is completely readable as a stand alone text. The author provides quite a bit of background, and Catrin’s visions give readers a nice glance back at previous plots. One cannot read Tanner’s work without calling it romance. Though it is primarily a fantasy, readers who seek a strong romantic feel to their fantasies will appreciate Tanner’s writing. She peppers her plot with just enough of these steamy scenes to keep romance fans invested.

Audio Length: 11 hours and 11 minutes | ASIN: B0887Y9WLY

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Spenser: On The River of Time

Carl Hare brings fresh purpose to epic poetry in the book Spenser (On the River of Time). Just like book 1, the author is exceptional with narration, description of events, and the direction the characters are taking. Everything from the arrangement of the cantos, the breaking down of the story, the construction of sentences, and the simplicity of lines is ideal. Carl Hare makes the reading experience fun and even more enjoyable for readers that are new to this genre. The length of the cantos is inviting for readers that appreciate short verses. The introduction of characters and how the narrative unfolds encourage one to read more.

In this book, the main story is focused on the life of poet Edmund Spenser. The poet worked for Queen Elizabeth I of England. The book touches on different aspects of Spenser’s life, his convictions, the journeys he took, and the many challenges he had to face. Through this man, we also see how service to authority and how respecting the powers that be affect one’s life. One notable element in this book is the use of a real historical figure in a work of fiction. The author blends every part of the book to elevate a real character in a fictitious work and in doing so creates an engaging story that is hard to put down.

The characters are emotive and easy to empathize with. Each Canto has a unique feeling. The author’s words are clear and I was able to understands the content in the lines without having to repeat the reading, a struggle for me with other works, but Carl Hare’s story is easy to approach. Spenser (On the River of Time) is everything historical fiction fans could want in an adventure story from a gilded age. I enjoyed the style of narration, and loved the edifying effect the book has on literature enthusiasts.

Pages: 435 | ASIN: B0852QN65G

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The Boy Who Saw In Colours

The Boy Who Saw In Colours by [Lauren Robinson]

The Boy Who Saw In Colours by Lauren Robinson is a story about a young boy who is coming of age during the time of WWII. There are many stories out there about WWII, but the perspective from a child who turns 13 on the day of the London Blitz introduces a new viewpoint to the devastating war. Josef and his younger brother, Tomas, are the sons of a mother, who is from a well-to-do German family, and a father who is Jewish. Their love story is doomed from the beginning and leads both boys down a heartbreaking path. After being stolen from their parents Josef tells the story of how he and his brother are sent to an elite German Youth school to be groomed into the next brainwashed generation of the Aryan Super Race.

Even though this is a book of fiction, it is based on real historical events. After Josef and Tomas are taken from their parents, they are thrown into the military-like German school where they are literally beaten into following Hitler. But as Josef is of part Jewish descent, he is always picked on and called ‘mischling’, a foul name for someone who comes from mixed blood.

Josef has a gift that gets him through this unthinkable experience though, he is a painter. Not just someone who makes a pretty picture on a canvas, but a creative who sees his entire world in different colors.

I love how Robinson writes; it’s like I am sitting in a room with Josef at an old age and he is telling me about his life as a child while the fire burns and we drink tea. Her style is lyrical in nature and you can tell that each word she writes is put there with great thought and on purpose.

This book was at times very difficult to read because of the way the children were treated to ensure their submissiveness to the Fuhrer, it was nauseating. At the same time, their story needs to be told, we need to learn from our horrible mistakes of the past and this book tells it like a sad love song, heart-breaking, but beautiful.

There are relationships however that do emerge that give glimmers of hope and love and let you have a softer heart for some Germans who knew they had to follow along or be killed. I highly recommend reading this book. I look forward to more books by Robinson and her unique style in the future.

Pages: 371 |ASIN: B088BBXLL7

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