Blog Tour: Rush of Shadows by Catherine Bell (Review)

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I’m delighted to host a tour stop today for Catherine Bell’s Rush of Shadows, depicting the conflict between settlers and natives in 1800’s Calfornia. It was a rollercoaster of a read!

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Title: Rush of Shadows
Author: Catherine Bell
Series: n/a
Publication date: October 15th 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction; Literary Fiction
Purchase from: Amazon

Synopsis
When American pioneers set their hearts on a California valley where Indians had been living for thousands of years, a period of uneasy appraisal emerged, followed by conflict and soon enough by genocide. The epic greed and violence of the 1850′s and 60′s has been brushed aside by history, conveniently forgotten in the pride of conquest. Willful ignorance and cruelty, terror and desperation were common in that time, but there were moments too of nobility and compassion, ingenuity and forgiveness, qualities which might have prevailed if certain things had been different. Rush of Shadows brings to life two freethinking women, Mellie, a white, and Bahe, an Indian, who enact the clash of their cultures, endure, and come to an unlikely understanding.

My Review

I’ve always had a weird fascination with this period of history, despite not actually knowing much about it (shamefully). I remember a book my dad had when I was growing up which was essentially just photos of Native American Indians going about their lives, and I thought it was beautiful and magical.

So when I came across this book and was asked to be part of the blog tour, I was delighted. And, I still am!

Rush of Shadows is about Mellie and Law, a recently married couple who become some of the very first settlers in an area of California, an area inhabited by Indians.

Mellie is sweet-hearted yet extremely strong-willed, with a degree of irreverence about her. You get the feeling from the start that she’s not entirely happy about her lot in life, and has reservations about her husband, Law, but she goes along with his plans regardless.

When they arrive at the place Law has his mind set on, he is concerned with building their home and finding sustainable work, leaving Mellie feeling isolated and alone. This is when she meets Bahé. Bahé, as Mellie names her, is the opposite of Mellie, yet somehow they are similar in many ways too.

To Law’s dismay, Mellie finds herself seeking Bahé out more and more. But as time goes on and more settlers arrive bringing with them their ignorance and fear of the Indians it gets increasingly harder for Mellie and Bahé’s friendship to develop.

This book was such a rollercoaster. On one hand, I loved the way the Indian’s were portrayed, in that the way they lived was such a mystery to the settlers it made them seem so spiritual and almost magical, but on the other hand, the way the settlers saw them and feared them made me so angry.

I liked that Mellie had her own mind and stood up to her husband on occasion (and that he enjoyed it!), but she also let the influence of others impact on her relationship with Bahé and her family.

There is massive scope in this novel. We start at the very beginnings of settlement, when there were only two houses in the region, to the development of a town and a government. I found this really interesting and enjoyed the contrast of this story to that of Bahé’s who learns a lot from Mellie but will never fully understand her or their ways – which I guess works both ways.

Bahé and her family’s lives are in danger from the settlers. Everything that was once theirs – nature, wildlife, freedom, is slowly taken away from them to the point that they begin to starve, and their traditions are basically damned, but she never blames Mellie, or lashes out – such is her spirit.

I found Rush of Shadows dramatic, emotional and infuriating – but all in a good way. Catherine Bell did such a great job of juggling multiple narratives, something which I often dislike in books. I thought it was written really beautifully and the amount of research she did comes across in every single line (you should see the list of sources)! It is definitely one of those books that gives you food for thought, as the themes here are universal and can be applied to any era.

unicorn rating 4

Meet the Author

DSC_0974Catherine Bell grew up in a New England family with a sense of its past as distinguished and its culture superior, as chronicled in many of her short stories.

An early reader, she found in fiction that penetrating experience of other people’s lives that opens a wider world. The Winsor School, Harvard, and Stanford prepared her to recognize good writing and thinking. She credits work as a gardener, cook, cashier, waitress, and schoolbus driver with teaching her how to live in that wider world.

She has also worked as a secretary, freelance writer, and therapist, served as a teacher in the Peace Corps, and taught in inner city schools. She has lived in Paris, Brasilia, Nova Scotia, Northern California, and Washington, D.C. Culture clashes, even within families, are often subjects of her fiction. She has published stories in a number of journals, including Midway Journal, Coal City Review, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Sixfold, Solstice, and South Carolina Review. Her story “Among the Missing” won The Northern Virginia Review’s 2014 Prose Award.

She researched and wrote Rush of Shadows, her first novel, over a period of twenty years after she married a fourth-generation Californian and fell in love with his home territory, the Coast Range. The bright sunburned hills, dark firs, clear shallow streams, and twisted oaks were splendid, but the old barns and wooden churches and redwood train station didn’t seem old enough. Where was the long past? Where were the Indians? There was only the shadow of a story passed down by her husband’s grandmother late in life. Born in 1869, she grew up playing with Indian children whose parents worked on the ranch her father managed. One day the Army came to remove the Indians and march them to the reservation, and that was that. She was four years old, and she never forgot.

Bell lives with her husband in Washington, D.C. and visits children and grandchildren in California and Australia. As a teacher at Washington International School, she loves reading great books with teenagers.

Links:
Check out the rest of the tour schedule here: JKS Communications
Add Rush of Shadows on Goodreads
Available from Amazon

Many Thanks to Catherine Bell and JKS Communications!

Trust in Me by Sophie McKenzie (Out this week!)

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Title: Trust in Me
Author: Sophie McKenzie
Series: N/A
Edition: ARC, 464 pages
Publication Details: September 11th 2014 by Simon & Schuster UK
Genre(s): Psychological Thriller
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy via the publisher/author in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads
Purchase

Julia has always been the friend that Livy turns to when life is difficult. United fifteen years ago by grief at the brutal murder of Livy’s sister, Kara, they’ve always told each other everything.

Or so Livy thought.

So when Julia is found dead in her home, Livy cannot come to terms with the news that she chose to end her own life. The Julia that Livy knew was vibrant and vivacious, a far cry from the selfish neurotic that her family seem determined to paint her as.

Troubled by doubt but alone in her suspicions, Livy sets out to prove that Julia was in fact murdered. But little does she realise that digging into her best friend’s private life will cause her to question everything she thought she knew about Julia. And the truth that Livy discovers will tear the very fabric of her own life apart.

Trust in Me was my first Sophie McKenzie read, and the first psychological thriller I’ve read for a while. I totally ate it up.

When Livy finds her vivacious, free-spirited best friend lying dead on her sofa, her life begins to spin out of control. All signs suggest that she’s killed herself, but Livy knew her too well to know for certain that she’d never do a thing like that. Or did she?

Julia’s death not only brings back the horror of Livy’s little sister’s murder years before, but also starts to turn her pre-teen daughter and husband against her. Livy only has Damian – Julia’s boyfriend whom she knows very little about- to turn to, but can she trust him?

It’s been quite a while since I’ve read a book that I just couldn’t put down. As the story unfolds, it’s clear that Kara and Julia’s deaths are related, and all signs are pointing to people close to Livy, or to Damian. Trust in Me was one of those books that I had to stay up reading to find out who the killer was.

McKenzie did an excellent job of creating, and building tension. I felt so sorry for Livy whose life was crumbling down around her and there was nothing she could do about it, and had no one to trust.

There were just enough characters involved to suspect, making it a compelling read.

However, I did feel like the book was too long. Some passages were drawn out, and although I liked getting a complete picture of Livy’s life and past, I found myself skipping ahead sometimes. The pacing was good in parts, in order to build tension, but sometimes I wished McKenzie got to the point a bit quicker.

As for Livy, I liked her for the most part. I felt for her being in such a difficult position, but sometimes I wanted her to pull herself together and stop worrying about what her family thought of her, and just get on with finding out what happened to her best friend.

As the title suggests, this book raised a lot of issues surrounding trust. Will, Livy’s husband had cheated on her years before, but they’d overcome it. Livy trusted him as much as she knew how, but when evidence suggests that not only has Will cheated again, but that he might also be involved with Julia, and her death, understandably, Livy doesn’t know who she can trust.

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

I hated that towards the end of this book it was repeatedly thrown in Livy’s face that she didn’t trust Will, but it was never highlighted that Will didn’t trust her either. He was so quick to dismiss Livy’s belief that Julia was murdered, that he made her think she was going mad. Gah! Double standards or what!

For me, Trust in Me, was a great read with only a few flaws. It reminded me a lot of the ITV drama Broadchurch. Much like with that show, at one point I was so confused as to who the killer was, I tried too hard figure it out and ruined it for myself when I did. In this, I figured it out quite a while before the big reveal which was a bit of a disappointment, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

Note to self: Stop thinking too much.

unicorn rating 4

Trust in Me is now available to Pre-order from Waterstones.

Virtual Book Tour (& Review): Invoking Nonna by Sage Adderley

I’m delighted to host one of the first stops on Sage’s tour for her brilliant YA book Invoking Nonna!

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Title: Invoking Nonna
Author: Sage Adderley
Series: Triple Goddess Series (Book 1)
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Paperback: 186 pages
Publisher: Sweet Candy Press; 1ST edition (December 20, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0989709825
ISBN-13: 978-0989709828

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Maggie Sloan is a free-spirited teenager growing up in rural Georgia. Unlike her peers, Maggie is a witch and so is her mother. In addition to normal teenager rites of passage, she must learn about her family lineage and witchcraft. Her mother, Laura, keeps a tight lid on their family secrets – like the mysterious life and death of her grandmother who passed away before Maggie was born.

Practicing the craft will test solid friendships and introduce Maggie to new realms. While seeking the truth about herself and her family, Maggie is faced with danger from churchgoing classmates who will stop at nothing to make sure she is found out. Laura and Maggie strengthen their bond through witchcraft and work together to overcome their enemies. Are their magical gifts enough to keep them safe?

Book Trailer:

 

My Review:

It’s been a while since I’ve read a good ‘Witch’ book and Invoking Nonna didn’t disappoint. I was seriously hooked from the beginning as protagonist Maggie starts to tell us about how she discovered witchcraft via her secretive mum, Laura.

It’s clear from the off that the star of this show is going to be Adderley’s characterisation skills. Take maggie’s frenemy, Gillian for example:

She had thin brown hair that hung around her face. Sadly, she battled with acne and would try to cover the many bumps on her face with make-up, way too much make-up. Every time I got near her mug, I would envision someone scraping off a layer or two of her foundation with their fingernail,’

…Eugh, we all knew a Gillian in high school, right?

I was a little worried when I realised that Invoking Nonna had two of my book turn-offs – multiple narrative, and a jumping timeline, but it actually really worked. I liked that we learned about Maggie’s family in the past, it created an even richer foundation for her.

I found this book so easy to read, the pages just flew by. In essence, it’s part family saga, high school drama, and a great coming of age tale.

And how refreshing to have a YA book which actually centers around a girl’s relationship with her mother, and how the unlikeliest of things can bring them together.

unicorn rating 4

Meet the Author:

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Sage Adderley is a single (and very busy) mom of three humans and one cat. She is passionate about kindness, coffee, mental health, fat activism, and the DIY lifestyle. Sage is the owner of Sweet Candy Distro & Press, Sage’s Blog Tours, and writes the zines Tattooed Memoirs and Marked For Life. She is also the creator of FAT-TASTIC! Sage currently resides in the magical land of Olympia, Wa.

You can stalk Sage here:
Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

Buy Invoking Nonna:
From Amazon
From Etsy (print & digital available)

Horror October: Where it all began (Point Horror, boiii)!

My love of all things horror was spawned from two main things.

1. My family, who never really censored what we watched and me trying to get one up on my older brother by swearing I wasn’t scared of any of the films he put on. Somewhere along the line, I got a taste for it. I also remember trips to the video shop (RIP VHS) on Friday nights in which I would usually have a friend over (the promise of horror films at the age of 13 was always good for the popularity ratings) and my dad would let us pick any 3 of the bargain nasties (50p for 2 nights!!), any our hearts desired. Some that spring to mind are, Salem’s Lot, Amityville Horror, and Child’s Play.

2. My discovery of Point Horror books. I love these books. Reading them now they are silly and a bit of fun but back when I was 10, I thought they were the best thing ever. And they really got me back into reading when reading wasn’t considered cool. I stupidly sold all of my original copies when I thought I’d out-grown them, but I’ve been slowly building up my collection again.

Here’s what I have so far:

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And here are some of my favourites. I haven’t reread them all yet but these are the ones I remember the most!

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The Snowman – R.L Stine
Heather feels cold all the time. Alone. Her guardian hates her. He’d like to see her dead. He’d like all her money. But for now he settles for controlling it, and making Heather’s life miserable.

Poor little rich girl, just like Cinderella…

Then the gorgeous, ice-blond guy shows up at the crummy restaurant where Heather works after school. He understands about Heather. He’s her Prince Charming. No one can get to Heather now.

Heather feels so safe. So loved. So warm…

The Cemetery – D.E Athkins

When an innocent game played by a group of teens leads to the death of one of them, the surviving friends must figure out who among them is the killer

The Cheeleader – Caroline B. Cooney

Cheerleaders are beautiful, popular and exciting – girls that Althea longs to be. But Althea is nobody – she gets no phone calls, shares no laughter and has no friends. Then one day she meets him, a vampire who offers to make her a cheerleader in exchange for a simple bargain.

The Window – Carol Ellis

It should have been the skiing holiday of a lifetime. But Jody sprains her ankle and finds herself alone with nothing to do but gaze out of her cabin window.

Gazing into the cabin of a beautiful neighbor she witnesses the fight, the murder and the killer…or does she?

And if the murder is real, has the killer been watching Jody?

The Girlfriend – R.L Stine

Scotty has the perfect life. And the perfect girlfriend. But one weekend while she’s away, Scotty goes just a little…astray. Suddenly he has a new girlfriend. One who won’t go away. His one wild night has become a nightmare.

Because his new girlfriend has decided that she loves Scotty…to death.

The Boyfriend – R.L Stine

Sometimes, love is murder. Too bad about Dex. He was in love with Joanna. She broke up with him. And then he died.

Joanna’s sorry, of course. But it’s not her fault he’s dead, is it? Besides, she never loved him. Boys are just toys, to be used and thrown away.

But this time, Joanna’s gone too far. Because Dex is back. From the dead. For one last date with her….

I really want to find this one next:

459353When the Devil’s Elbow roller coaster goes off track, killing one teenager and maiming two others, everyone thinks it’s just an accident . . . except Tess. She saw someone tampering with the track. Then another “accident” occurs in the Funhouse and Tess may have been the intended victim.