Midnight Sky by Jan Ruth

Midnight Sky Cover LARGE EBOOK

If any book can convert me into a horse lover it will be this one. I am still frightened of horses but I now have an idea of the empathy experienced by some people with special horses. Midnight Sky has a magical quality but she is a damaged horse, desperately in need of a sensitive horse whisperer. James Morgan-Jones, with his sad green eyes, is the one person who can restore her confidence, even though he is incapable of recovering any sort of personal life since the tragic death of his wife Carys, two years previously.

Laura Brown is an efficient, organised interior designer living in Chester with partner Simon. They run Dragon Designs, improving run-down houses, but their life together is often upset by Simon’s demanding wife Alice and his children. Disturbed by a particularly distressing row, Laura sets out visit her older sister Maggie in North Wales. Maggie, married to Pete for many years, has a busy life looking after 10-year-old, Ellie and her challenging 17-year-old, Jess. Even Pete is beginning to cause her worries.

All these characters, and more, are stirred together at the riding stables where James gives Ellie lessons. Despite their initial antipathy, James and Laura are thrown together in a snowstorm but this does not help them to solve their sadness about Carys and Simon. Alongside the angst of personal drama there is also humour in this mature, contemporary story and it really is a page turner. A conclusion is reached but now I can’t wait to move onto the following book, Palomino Sky.

You can find Midnight Sky in the UK here or in the US

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Taster Tuesday #TuesdayBookBlog

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two or three “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Midnight

My current read is very difficult to put down.  I have fallen in love with the hero and now his horse is captivating me.  The book is Midnight Sky by Jan Ruth.

They were going too fast to stop, but Midnight Sky leapt the natural barrier as if it were nothing.  

At this point, James was struggling to hold the horse, and Laura found herself standing on the bench, shielding her eyes from the sun.

They skewered over the drystone wall and joined the track onto the open mountain.  For a while she charted their progress as they flashed in and out of the trees, a black tail streaming out behind.  And then there was nothing, no sight or sound.

My review will follow tomorrow.

Home for Christmas by Jan Ruth

Home 4 Xmas

I’ve been getting myself into the Christmas mood by reading three fairly long short stories by Jan Ruth on the theme of Home for Christmas.  Each story is set in Snowdonia but there are three very different story styles.

Rudolph the Brown-nosed Reindeer describes an occasion everyone hates – a corporate weekend, part team building, part appraisal and part social. Rick, a reserved, hard-working man in his 30s is facing a lonely Christmas and he is not sure whether being stranded in a cottage in Snowdonia in bad weather will improve his mood or not. The story is a mixture of humour and pathos with an unexpected ending.

Jim’s Christmas Carol has a more complex plot.  Life catches up with an unfaithful husband in the setting of Christmas dinner at his large comfortable home.  Good and evil are present in his home and we see the situation from more than one viewpoint.  Tarot cards, Satan and a guardian angel all play a part.

The last, and my favourite story, really is Home for Christmas for Philippa. Worn out by her pretence of a successful career and relationship she has returned to her home village for peace to take stock.  This is a romantic comedy in a delightful setting which I will not spoil by writing any more.

A great book to download and read over Christmas.

#Authors to Follow

Since I took a more active part on Twitter in 2013 and more especially after I joined Rosie Amber’s Book Review team in 2014 I have discovered several tremendously rewarding authors, almost all Indie writers.  You have probably already read their books, but just in case you haven’t yet discovered them:-

Jan Ruth  Jan Ruth

Jan Ruth lives in Snowdonia, North Wales, UK.

This ancient, romantic landscape is a perfect setting for Jan’s fiction, or simply day-dreaming in the heather. Jan writes contemporary stories about people, with a good smattering of humour, drama, dogs and horses.

 

Jan’s realistic characters and emotionally charged storylines are difficult to put down so I’m tempted to buy the following collection as a present for someone (probably me!)

Home 4 Xmas

Terry Tyler

TT

Terry lives in the north of England with her husband, and has published eleven books on Amazon. Readers say she has created her own genre, which lies somewhere in the area of contemporary drama and romantic suspense, with the occasional bit of rock fiction and mystery thrown in.

“I usually write contemporary fiction, mostly of interest to women, but many men have read them too; “Dream On” has had more reviews from men than from women. I write about the issues that concern so many today; divorce, infidelity, addiction, obsession with celebrity, stalking, meeting people via social networking sites.”

Dream

Recently Terry has used the Tudor and Plantagenet families for the structure of her stories although they are set in modern times.

Readers are now looking forward to reading the follow up to House of York.

Carol Hedges  

Carol

Carol Hedges writes Victorian crime fiction in her own inimitable style. You are transported into the life of Victorian London, be it middle class parlour or the murky streets by the Thames, peopled with larger than life characters whose exploits you have to follow.

I have devoured all three of these volumes and I’m now eager to read the fourth tale of Detective Inspector Stride and Detective Sergeant Cully.  In the meantime, I’m tempted to try her very different YA book, Jigsaw Pieces.

Jigsaw

Jenny Lloyd

Jenny

Jenny Lloyd is the indie author of “Leap the Wild Water,” a novel set in early 19th century Wales.  A tale of treachery, betrayal, family secrets, and moral dilemmas, “Leap the Wild Water” is set amid the brooding, mountainous landscapes of 19th century, rural Wales. It is a story about the conflict between a brother and sister struggling to survive in a community where, if you are a woman, to err is unforgivable and the freedom to carve a life of one’s own seems an impossible dream.

“If you visit Wales, I’m that crazy Welsh woman seen wandering about the Welsh mountains in all weathers with a notebook in hand. The landscape here is little changed from the era in which I like to write and it features in my writing.  The inspirations for my writing come from the real life struggles of rural people, especially women, in the 19th century, and events in my own family’s history. The themes I write about include the pressures which drive people to act against their consciences; what it really means to be free; and how fear and prejudice destroy man’s humanity.”

leap_the_wild_water_cover_for_kindle1       Raven

Both these powerful novels are well worth reading.

I shall write about some of the other authors I have discovered in the last 18 months, soon.

Silver Rain by Jan Ruth

Silver Rain

I knew on opening Silver Rain that I would be engaged by a complex family drama set in the beautiful countryside of North Wales but I hadn’t expected to have so much empathy with the two main characters Al and Kate.

Kate is a warm-hearted, mature woman with flame red hair, trying to release herself from guilt, a year after the death of her husband Greg.  She is encumbered by a dysfunctional sister, Annemarie, and a frail elderly mother.  Her relationship with daughter Tia is in crisis so she is looking forward to a peaceful break, staying with her sister-in-law Fran at Chathill, a ramshackle farmhouse.

wales

Unbeknown to Kate, Fran’s brother-in-law, Al, is also coming to stay, with his young girlfriend Jo, even though he has been estranged from his brother George, Fran’s husband, for 15 years.  After the break-up of his marriage, the sale of his house has made Al homeless.  There will be no peace for Kate while Fran and daughter Becca care for a menagerie of rescue animals and George fumes at the effrontery of Al coming to stay at Chathill after their disagreement many years earlier.

But what did happen between the two brothers?  The underlying theme is secrets.  As Kate is drawn closer to Al by his charisma and humanity she needs to know how his close relationship with his brother was destroyed, but increasingly she also finds herself keeping secrets which could destroy their developing relationship.

Interwoven with the main storyline are humour, mystery and passionate romance.  Yet the characters, of every age, deal with the problems and joys encountered by us all today.  As a reader, you long for a happy ending for Al and Kate but there are also so many other sub-plots that could lead to other interesting tales, especially the back story of Al’s mother.

To meet Al’s dogs Butter and Marge, Becca’s horses Pumpkin Pie and Candy Floss and see Al in wig, baggy trousers and clown make-up I recommend you begin reading Silver Rain as soon as possible.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Four contrasting books by Terry Tyler, Jan Ruth, N A Granger and Steve Bridger

Round and Round by Terry Tyler

     Rosie's Book Review team 1Round

Have you ever wondered what might have happened if you had done things differently, taken that job abroad, studied harder or married your first love?  Well in Terry Tyler’s new novella, “Round and Round,” heroine Sophie does just that.  As she approaches her dreaded 40th birthday she looks back sixteen years and wonders whether she made the right choices.

I warmed to Sophie very quickly.  She is trying to make the best of her life but indecision in the past and the loss of her greatly loved Aunt Flick cause her to question her way of life.  Looking back to 1998 when she had lost weight and made advances in her career, it seemed as though she would have a golden future but there were four men in her life and she couldn’t choose between them.

But this is not a lightweight romance.  The story is set in the modern world, with concerns about career, home and family.  Sophie’s mother Alana is an embittered, abandoned woman who wants her daughter to settle down with a reliable man.  In contrast Flick is a woman of the 1960s who talks about karma and auras.  She takes Sophie to the Angel tree, a special place where all cares disappear and life seems clearer.

The four suitors; cheerful, affectionate Chris, handsome, artistic Seb, carefree Kieran and Neil, the friend who shares her interest in the theatre, are believable, well-drawn characters who gradually change over time as their lives progress.  Sophie is not naturally promiscuous, she is aware that each of them offer her the possibility of a happy, fulfilling future and she doesn’t want to hurt any of them; or herself.

What makes this book different is the way in which alternative life paths are shown.  It raises the question, are we entirely responsible for the way our life turns out?  And if things go wrong can we do something about it?  Of course a little bit of magic or help from a guardian angel is always useful.

Wild Water by Jan Ruth

Wild EBOOK

Writing contemporary family drama is probably the most difficult genre in which to achieve success, so it was a pleasure to find myself instantly immersed in the ever increasing disasters of Jack, the unlikely hero of “Wild Water.”  Successful estate agents from the wealthiest part of Cheshire don’t come to mind as empathetic characters, but Jack works hard, cares about his family and has sufficient stress to justify his intermittent smoking habit. His faithless wife Patsy, however, is difficult to like.  Her parental skills leave much to be desired and she always seems to be in search of better things.

And then the reader meets Anna, a quiet, artistic lady from Jack’s past who is trying to survive in an old, crumbling house in North Wales, by taking in guests.  Like Jack, she has a teenage son, but her life is also complicated.  She is warm, likeable and calm, in total contrast to workaholic, impulsive Jack. Their lives are entwined by Jack’s large complex family and ever more momentous events.

It is the strong characterisation which make “Wild Water” such an enjoyable read.  Jack’s children, his mother Isabel and especially his brother Danny are all given clearly identifiable personalities and the possibility of new stories to follow. Some of their names, such as Chelsey, are stereotypical and the break-up of a family is almost normal these days but the twists and turns of the plot combined with the emotional response this invoked kept me turning the pages avidly.

Combining the beautiful description of the Welsh countryside with a roller-coaster storyline makes “Wild Water,” an ideal holiday read and I can’t wait to read the follow up, “Dark Water.”

Death in a Red Canvas Chair by N A Granger

red

The eye catching title page of this murder mystery exactly reflects the prologue where the victim is deposited in full sight of a group of mother’s watching their sons’ soccer match, but the scene has been set specifically for Rhe Brewster, our heroine and narrator.  Rhe is a part-time emergency nurse, wife and mother whose stubborn, determined character make her an ideal investigator with a penchant for putting herself in danger, which adds to the drama.

Gradually, Rhe’s life growing up in the small Maine coastal town help her to unravel both the reason for the victim’s death and a conspiracy involving many significant people in the community.  The back story of communication problems within her marriage and valued relationships with others ensure that the reader will want to return to Rhe’s life in future mysteries.

Characterisation is well developed, especially in the case of Sam, the police chief and some, apparently minor characters, tease the reader.  Are they only a small part of the plot or will they prove to be part of the major criminal activity?

As a British reader I had trouble with some of the vocabulary.  I had to look up Mirandized (read your rights) and had no idea what a “red slicker” was but generally Ms Granger has a fluent, clear style of writing which advances the storyline while enabling us to understand Rhe’s feelings.  Some of the quotes she makes from literature and songs are unfortunately misquotes which are difficult to ignore, but Rhe’s original comments such as her, “peculiar sense of ownership of this crime,” enhance the narrative.

The balance of problem solving, “edge of seat” events and a heroine who is likeable and real, make this an enjoyable read and I shall certainly look forward to her next venture into the precarious world of crime.

One Degree North by Steve Bridger

North

Advertised as an action thriller, One Degree North lives up to its promise. Set on the island of Singapore in 1965 during Confrontation with Indonesia, it describes intrigue, explosions and fatal skirmishes involving Malay, Chinese, British and American nationals who are criminals, pirates, Secret Service and military men and women.

I have to confess personal interest in the location and timing of the book, since I arrived in Singapore as a teenager with my family in 1966 just as Confrontation was coming to an end. As Steve Bridger explains, General Sukarno, President of Indonesia, wanted to annexe the northern territories of the island of Borneo from Malaysia. Part of his campaign was to make attacks on the Malay peninsula and Singapore from bases in the many smaller islands just south of Singapore.

And yet Singapore was a thriving city, a mixture of Eastern and Western influences, where British Forces families relaxed happily by the pools or wandered about town, their children went to see the Rolling Stones in concert and visiting sailors enjoyed stimulating evenings in the bars and brothels of Bugis street.

Steve manages to convey the contrast between the happy-go-lucky atmosphere of pleasure and the undercurrent of secrets, collusion and terror. His characters are vibrant, lively and bold. A team of disparate fighters are established with the promise that they will return in a follow up. I recommend that you get to know them as I can see a film in the making.

Dark Water by Jan Ruth

Dark EBOOK copy

Dark Water is the sequel to Jan Ruth’s roller-coaster family drama, Wild Water. Once again Jack, 40 something estate agent, with 4 children and his expensive ex-wife, Patsy, to support, is juggling work, family life and miles of driving. He should, however, be much happier now that he is together with his first love, Anna, spending weekends at her farmhouse in north Wales.

But the title of the book begins to be fulfilled when Simon Banks, oddball father of Patsy’s first child comes back into their lives. As Anna’s beloved dog, Benson becomes weaker and more sickly, Simon’s unhealthy obsessions and threatening behaviour begin to impinge on all their lives.

As in the best of dramas, Jack is the cause of his own undoing. Both he and Anna make mistakes and when life should be improving with the recognition of Anna’s artistic talent in a new gallery, disaster strikes.

This compelling action packed story is difficult to put down. Jack’s character is less empathetic but understandable. Seeing the action through the eyes of Jack, Anna and even Simon gives the reader a more complete picture of their motivation and also a suggestion of impending doom.

The conclusion to this dark but exciting novel is both satisfying and thrilling and it could so easily be transferred to the screen.

You can read my review of Jan Ruth’s “Silent Water” here