#Bookreview – Legacy of Hunger: Druid’s Brooch Series: #1

What Amazon says

Ireland is no promised land in 1846. It is wracked by a crippling potato blight, and people are dying. But Valentia McDowell doesn’t know that.

From her father’s prosperous farm in Ohio, young Valentia is haunted by tales of an abandoned family and a lost heirloom. She travels to her grandmother’s homeland with her brother, Conor, and two servants, to find both. Her delight in the exciting journey on one of the first steam ships to cross the Atlantic is shattered by a horrible tragedy.

What she encounters upon her arrival in Ireland is both more and less than she had hoped. Valentia finds both enemies and allies, amid horrors and delights, and a small bit of magic. She finds a richer heritage than she had ever imagined, but it comes with a price.

When she finally reaches her goal, a terrible price is demanded. She must pay or forfeit, and both decisions have strong consequences for her and her friends.

My review

This book, set in America and then in Ireland in 1846, is well researched and interesting from a historical setting perspective.

The main character, Valentia, embarks on a journey from her birth home in America to her ancestral homeland in Ireland. Valentia is determine to find her Irish family, the sisters of her grandmother who immigrated to America when she was young, and a brooch that her grandmother had left behind in Ireland. She sets off on her travels with her younger brother, Conor, and both of their servants and helpers. Illness strikes during their crossing of the ocean on board a ship and both Conor and his male attendant die and are buried at sea.  Valentia, who has also been nearly fatally ill, and her maid, Maggie, are left to carry on alone.

Legacy of Hunger is the story of Valentia’s experiences in Ireland, starting with her convalescing at a health spa and continuing through her travels around Ireland in search of her family at a time when the land was in the grip of chronic famine. I enjoyed the history included in this story and learned a lot of information that I did not previously know about Ireland during the famine. It was heartbreaking reading about the indifference of the English landlords at this time of significant hardship for the local people.

The development of Valentia’s character as she experiences illness, hardship, romance an attempted rape is well done and I enjoyed her story although I did wonder whether some of her attitudes, thoughts and behaviours were feasible, given the time period and her sex and wealthy upbringing. The ending of the book was a bit of a let down for me and was not what I expected. The author introduced a lot of supernatural phenomena and paranormal experiences which, although these topics had been introduced to some extent earlier in the book, felt a bit out of context for me. I would have preferred the book to have remained firmly on the historical novel path and any folklore and supernatural myths and tales to have been incorporated in the context of stories told by the locals.

I rated this book 3.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Purchase Legacy of Hunger: Druid’s Brooch Series #1

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#SOCS – Hairy

When I was in primary school, a series of unfortunate events for my family resulted in us having to move into a rented house for a period. My mother is one of the fussiest people imaginable when it comes to cleanliness, I am quite sure she suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder [and she still does].

On the day we moved into the rented house, she made us four girls and my father literally clean the building from top to bottom before we could unpack a single thing. My family are all blonde and have limited body hair so, other than the odd strand of long blonde hair in the bath, you never saw hair anywhere in our house.

My mother cleaned the bathroom herself, not trusting any of us girls to sufficiently remove any lurking germs. My father was not allowed to clean the bathroom either as my mother firmly believes that men can only see a germ once they reach the proportions of a medium sized dog.

Her moans of disgust floated down the passage and we all gathered in the doorway to determine the cause. From the bath and basin plugs, my mother was pulling thick clumps of long dark hair. There was also hair in the shower stall and clumps of the sticky strands lodged in the shower drain. My mother made short work of removing the offending hairs, wearing a pair of yellow plastic cleaning gloves and armed with a strong smelling drain cleaning fluid.

My sisters and I talked about that hair for weeks afterwards. We agreed the people who had occupied the house before us must have been very hairy. As our knowledge of the world was fairly limited at that time, we thought it very likely that Mr and Mrs Twit from Roald Dahl’s The Twits, had been the previous tenants of the house.

This was written for Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. You can join in here: https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/14/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-15-18/

#Bookreview – Child of Satan, Child of God by Susan Atkins

What Amazon says

This is a re-issue of Susan Aktins’ 1977 autobiography with eleven new photos. “Millions met Susan Atkins in Helter Skelter. She was young and attractive, but desperate to find happiness. Alcohol, drugs, and promiscuity didn t satisfy her. . . She was looking for more. When she met Charles Manson, she felt she had met the world’s savior. Here is her personal account of life and death with the murderous Manson “family.” Condemned to die, rejected by society, she found life on death row – a miraculous rebirth as real as a resurrection.”

My review

This book is written by Susan Atkins and is about her life as one of Charles Manson’s “girls”. It describes how she met him and the great impression he made on her and his other followers. It tells the story of their life with this man and how he influenced and his followers into doing anything for him, including murder. The descriptions of the murders committed are quite gruesome and really made my stomach turn.

To me this is a really scary tale of how a young girl, looking for love and with a great a need to belong, was led into a life of drugs, promiscuity and eventually murder which resulted in her being incarcerated for life. As a mother of a young teenager if felt it was a really good book to read as it is easy to be ignorant and oblivious to the threats that face our children. The threats in our modern world of technology are even greater so it is very wise to be informed and a book like this one is a harsh reminder.

Purchase Child of Satan, Child of God

 

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Buy a Book for Christmas – #Collaborations – Kim Blades and Robbie Cheadle, John W. Howell and Gwen Plano, Jane Risdon and Christina Jones

Sally Cronin has featured Kim Blades and my poetry book, Open a new door, on her lovely blog, Smorgasbord. Thank you, Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Time for more book gift ideas for family and friends this Christmas and I wanted to revisit some of the books that have been co-written including the recently published poetry collection Open a New Door, now in print, by Kim Blades and Robbie Cheadle.

About the collection

Open a New Door is a poetic peep into the lives of the poets, Kim Blades and Robbie Cheadle, both of whom live in South Africa.

The book is divided into four categories: God bless Africa, God bless my family and friends, God bless me and God bless corporates and work. Each part is sub-divided into the good, the bad and the ugly of the two poets’ experiences, presented in rhyming verse, free-style, haiku and tanka, in each of these categories and include colourful depictions of their thoughts and emotions.

The purpose of this book of poetry is encapsulated in the…

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#OpenBookBlogHop – extracts from my books

Stevie Turner, who blogs over here: https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2018/12/10/open-book-blog-hop-december-10th/, and writes some lovely books, hosts an Open Book Blog Hop. I have never managed to participate in it before as I am always busy working and by the weekend it has faded from my mind.

I am on holiday this week [Yippee!] and so today I am joining in.

The topic is This week it’s our chance to shine, as we give some excerpts from our work.

Seeing as this is my adult writing blog, I am going to share an extract from my WIP, Through the Nether Gate:

Three excruciating weeks passed. The girl slumped forward in her chains, doubling up over her bloated stomach. The hair that tumbled down over her still form was thin and almost colourless. Bald patches spotted her scalp.

Starvation had sapped her energy and she no longer called out for help and struggled against her bonds. In her state of near delirium, the sound of her own voice echoing off the stone, was torturous.

“Lizzie,” a strident voice pierced the veil of listless apathy that had enveloped her mind and soul.

With a huge effort, she raised her head slightly, revealing a white face, the skin flaking, and unfocused, dark eyes.

The spectre that appeared before her was enormous and muscled. The savage teeth and claws of the monster frightened her but it was the eyes that caused the heart attack and hastened her untimely end.

The red eyes that gazed into hers reflected an evil intent and depth of depravity of spirit the young girl could never have imagined.

“Welcome to my world, Lizzie,” the dog growled. “I have been waiting for you.”

Here is an extract from my short story, The Haunting of William, that appears in Dan Alatorre’s horror anthology, Dark Visions:

Something was different. Her body felt light and airy as she got to her feet. She glanced around. The familiar shape of the manor house stood in the distance, its turrets tall and proud.

“Why am I outside?”

A large, bright moon bathed everything in a cold, silvery glow. Tendrils of mist rose from the ground, shimmering in the moonlight. The lingering dampness in her clothes and hair did not chill her. The icy wind that blew across the fields did not sting her exposed skin, numbing her nose and fingers like it usually did.

How strange. I can’t feel the wind blowing. I’m not cold but I am also not warm. What’s wrong with me?

As Matilda shook out her skirts, getting ready to walk back to the house, a dark stain on the front of her dress caught her eye. The large patch of darkness spread across her ribcage, creeping down her bodice and into the fabric of her skirt. Horror wrapped around her like a cloak. 

It’s sticky, like blood. How can that be? I have no pain.

She reached out a trembling hand to touch the stain. She could see her garments right through it. Her hand was transparent.

Matilda feared for her immortal soul.

Last but not least, here is a poem from Open a new door, a collection of poems by Kim Blades and Robbie Cheadle:

Where is the eye of the storm?

The end of the year is approaching in an incredible and frightening rush,

With its plethora of social, work and school events in celebration,

It should be fun, but in the multitude I forgot one introductory tea,

The result, recriminations from my child and emotional devastation.

 

I feel like I am living in a hurricane,

Where is the eye of the storm with its mild winds and fairer weather?

 

This year-end heralds change as we move onto the next phase of our lives,

The air, in advance of the storm, syrupy and thick; breaths unsatisfying and shallow,

We drove on unknowing and unprepared, pushing on regardless to get through to the end,

Looking forward to the end of the storm, where thoughts can lie dormant and fallow.

 

I feel like I am living in a hurricane;

Where is the eye of the storm with its mild winds and fairer weather?

 

The strong winds of change are blowing at speeds of 200 miles per hour,

As I stand and face them head on, I feel battered and my breath is swept away,

The stalwarts’ of our lives, built up over the past few years, rip loose and disappear,

The swirling, whirling power of the storm’s movement is impossible to relay.

 

I feel like I am living in a hurricane;

Where is the eye of the storm with its mild winds and fairer weather?

 

Lunches, dinners, examinations, prize giving’s, year-end parties, like debris floating past,

Each unidentifiable on an individual basis through the torrential rains that pour down,

We hope to negotiate the storm and survive through until we reach the other side,

We plaster on a happy smile and trudge on without a backward glance or frown.

by Robbie Cheadle

#Writephoto – Onward: A poem

There are times in life

when onward and upwards

seems so very hard

The road is mountainous

hewn from hard rock

which seems unstable

ready to tumble down

blocking your path

The cliffs rear up

their grey monstrous heads

leering at your best efforts

laughing as you fail

It is at these times

when you have to stop

and give consideration

to changing your route.

Possibly it would be better

to take the longer road

the one that winds gently upwards

instead of charging the steep cliffs.

The scenic route is pleasant

really quite picturesque

it may take you longer

to reach the heady heights

but you’ll get there with

your heart, mind and soul intact.

Onward and upwards

is always the way to go

it is the path you choose to travel

that makes all the difference.

by Robbie Cheadle

This freestyle poem was written for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photograph challenge. You can join in here: https://scvincent.com/2018/12/06/thursday-photo-prompt-onward-writephoto/

 

Ani’s Advent Calendar 2018! Rationing, Roberta Eaton and a child’s Christmas in wartime

I am visiting Sue Vincent’s lovely blog today to share a letter written to Father Christmas by the main character in my book While the Bombs Fell. I wrote this book under my married name, Robbie Cheadle, together with my mom, Elsie Hancy Eaton.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Christmas has been around a while. Much longer than me… and even longer than her! I mean, I knew that, ’cause we four-legses have been around for a long time too… and we have the stories from the Long Memory of our kind.  My mother told me those stories and she says all mothers do that, even two-legses.

She tells me that her mother was around when all the world seemed to be fighting each other… even at Christmas…  that her father was away fighting too. She says that it was very different from today, when Christmas seems to be about buying too much and eating too much (not that I mind that last bit myself…).

I don’t think I would have liked the wartime rationing. People ate some very strange things… and meat was so scarce that people even ate rats. A lot of pets were killed because…

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