Barbara Wood uses meticulous research and elegant writing to create novels with believable characters and realistic settings that transport the reader to exotic countries and far off times. The Dreaming takes us to Australia in the Victorian Era, when Darwin is an upstart scientist and Jules Verne is writing his inspiring novels.
Young Joanna Drury of colonial India has lost both parents within days of each other and has made a promise to her mother to go to Australia in search of answers to the woman’s missing history. On her own and with only a tattered and water-stained deed to guide her, Joanna arrives in Australia looking for an obscure piece of land on a continent that has not yet been completely mapped. She carries with her a few belongings and a haunting set of dreams.
Joanna’s character is one you hope will prevail through a strong sense of sheer will, but I found that it was more the idea of keeping a promise that kept her going despite tremendous obstacles thrown up in her path. She might have given up on her pursuit of finding out her mother’s past if not for the pleading of her dying mother and the pressure of the confusing nightly images.
Each character introduced in this novel is written with purpose, whether it is to further Joanna’s goal, to define the history of Austalia’s native people and its colonists, or to block the young woman from finding the truth. The author’s rendering of character and setting exhibits extensive time and energy to get the details precise. Having recently completed a course on Australian literature, I was not disappointed by the interweaving of Aboriginal beliefs with the invasion of the white man into their lands creating a subtext of cultural destruction.
Sharyn Doolan offers her voice to this audiobook and adds to the enjoyment of the novel with her talented voice.
5 Stars – Elegantly writing and well-researched, a novel that takes you back in time.
From Cherry Hill Publishing and available on Amazon.
by Ekta R. Garg
Two for the Heart features two novella-length stories with emotional content. The first is romantic in nature and takes the reader on a journey faced by a young woman and the man she married, a marriage set up for convenience. The second examines the toll of emotional trauma on a woman’s life and her struggle to regain lost memories. Both are well-written and will keep you turning the page to find out what happens next.
4 Stars – Intriguing stories with strong emotional elements.
Available on Amazon.
These tales of women cover all the ages of our existence and poignantly, and with some amount of humor, point out our flaws, both those internal to being a woman as well as those forced on us by societal norms. Women have expectations of the world about being married and having children and enjoying a fulfilling life. The world places just as many expectations on us for those same things, and often we are torn between being who we want to be and becoming what others want us to be.
I found the first story in the book quite humorous with the use of irony and the well-drawn personality of the narrator, though I predicted the outcome of the story early on. Knowing the outcome did not inhibit my enjoyment of how the tale ended. Each story carries a unique voice and the characters are well-designed and written. Every word is intentional and meaningful, telling the tale without excessive “flowery” writing, yet still providing solid settings. The stories were told from different points of view, including the tricky 1st person/present tense style, and all stories kept my attention and left me with points to ponder about how girls and women perceive the world.
Rosalind Minett deserves 5 Stars for this collection of short stories.
Available on Amazon.com
One line in this book sums up the whole of teen angst.
“I feel so small that I will soon disappear and never have to deal with anyone or anything again.”
The Convenience of Lies captures the drama of being a teenager in a modern world and trying to figure out who likes you, who doesn’t, and what people are saying about you behind your back. Being a teenager is a rough time and, thankfully, many of us grow out of these hardships and stop worrying so much about what others are thinking about us. Mackenzie is trapped between the boy she likes and her friends who want to try to protect her, and she falls easily into the trap of his lies and her own.
Written from the point of view of a teenage girl, the characters are somewhat difficult to get attached to due simply to the fact that young people tune in only one or two outward senses to describe those around them, and they typically look at superficial traits. Young people also focus so much on their inner turmoil they don’t always empathize with their peers. While some of the feelings expressed are ones I remember grappling with at that age, I was not wrapped up in nearly as much drama in my teens. The point of view is so perfectly teenager that it was almost off-putting to read as an adult. The protagonist is naive, incessantly shrill, and unable to look past the shallow surface of the world. Yet, this is exactly the point of the book. She grows up to realize these faults.
The results of the book are summed up well in the epilogue. The book also includes further discussion about abusive relationships, both physical and emotional. This book would be a helpful read to young people, an exhibit of what it’s like to be subject to the manipulation of someone else.
I received my copy of the first edition from the author through a drawing.
The Convenience of Lies is available through Amazon.com
Intriguing. The conflict is worth reading. I wanted to keep reading to find out just what was going to become of the foreboding feelings of dread and the foreshadowing constructed in the beginning chapters. This is a story of a woman diving into depression, shielding herself from the woes of real life, while at the same time being faced with racist, elitist moochers that she can’t stand, but she won’t say a word about it. The book is long and covers a lot of topics, including racism, depression, relationships, and murder. The only reason I put this book down at any time was out of obligation for other parts of life.
The writing is both terrifying and humorous (and the typographical errors were mostly forgivable), woven in a way that brings out understanding for events in a chaotic time and place. I enjoyed numerous details about this book, including the new vocabulary to which I was exposed and the purposeful use of words in particular passages. I actually would say this book is akin to “To Kill a Mockingbird” for its depiction of life amidst Zimbabwe’s land reform policies. We meet characters of all types throughout the tale, Shona employees, white farm managers, racists, and civilized folk, pitted against each other or allied in meaningful ways.
This one receives 4 Stars. The book was a bit on the long side, and trimming a bit here and there would have lent more momentum to the plot. This could easily have made two books to cover everything the author wanted to cover.
Available on Amazon.com