Doctor Mom Blog Hop

BLOG HOP

 

Today is the much-anticipated Blog Hop for Elaine Kaye’s latest children’s book, Doctor Mom. I can’t wait for my great-grandkids to give yet another seal of approval as they did with Pea Soup Disaster, the first in the Gregory Green series, and with Slow Poke, her debut. These kids are the best reviewers – and already Elaine Kaye fans.

So, let’s have a fanfare with cake, ice-cream and fireworks for Doctor Mom.

cover

 

Title: Doctor Mom

Author: Elaine Kaye

Genre: Picture Story Book

Ages: 5-8 years

BLURB: It’s Saturday, and Gregory Green can’t wait to have fun with his dad on the riding lawnmower, but something is wrong. Sammy, his teddy bear and best friend, won’t get out of bed. Gregory is worried when he sees Sammy’s left leg is torn. This is a case for Doctor Mom! Can they fix Sammy? And just how did Sammy get hurt in the first place?

PRAISE FOR DOCTOR MOM:

“Doctor Mom is an adorable story that shows how Moms can fix anything—even a torn limb on a beloved teddy bear! Children will enjoy the lovable little bear who needs a stitch or two and his boy who plays dress-up as a doctor.” – Wanda Luthman, award-winning author of Little Birdie Grows Up

“A sweet and heartfelt tale kids can easily identify with, and all of that with a wonderful touch of magic.” – Tonja Drecker, reviewer at Bookworm for Kids

BUY LINK:

AMAZON

 

Elaine Kaye

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 Elaine Kaye first created Gregory Green after her son, who loved her homemade pea soup, thus inspiring the story Pea Soup Disaster. Doctor Mom is the second book in A Gregory Green Adventure series and highlights something all moms and children can relate to; a beloved stuffed animal in need of a repair.

Kaye has worked as a library assistant and teacher’s assistant in elementary schools in the Sunshine State. She currently lives in Florida, but she has called Michigan; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Okinawa, Japan home.

She is a grandmother of three boys.

Website / Etsy Shop / Goodreads

**

MOTHERLY MEMORIES

My mother has been in my thoughts as we have just celebrated Mother’s Day, here in the US on May 13th – Mothering Sunday back in the UK was earlier in the year on March 11th. Anyway, for this blog I got the chance to bathe in those motherly thoughts as the hop-hostess – thanks Chrys Fey – set me a wonderful goal:

“Prompt: Share a favourite memory you have of your mom. Or just share a picture of your mom that you cherish. Or you can do both!

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I have two specific pictures of my mum, Nidia – or Mummy as we called her – and the one above releases so many specific memories.

It was taken in May 2005 at Borde Hill Horse Trials by a veterinary surgeon friend, Tony Warr. I was co-organiser of this event at the family estate, and my mother was very supportive, especially as I had already been diagnosed with MS – multiple sclerosis – five years earlier. That support had to be strong as despite the MS, I had been determined to revive the horse trials that had been cancelled in 2001 due to the horrendous foot & mouth outbreak.

I was cutting back on my equestrian journalism career as the MS didn’t sit well with tight deadlines. Pacing myself and co-organising an event with a long lead was a better fit, especially living with a mother that backed me and, with her riding background, shared the dream. I remember going with her to other horse trials in the South East and sitting eating a picnic lunch watching the cross-country. And I remember Mummy polishing the trophies for the South East Eventers League, founded in 1995 by me and Ian Bareham – and so much more moments we shared.

That era came to an end for me and others, and sadly my mother passed in April 2013 – which still brings floods of tears. Borde Hill Horse Trials commemorated her with a beautiful flower box fence on the cross-country.

The family used this photo, that I had taken a few years earlier, as the cover of the Order of Service for the funeral of Juana Nidia Gereth Clarke – more memories flood out.

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The Shepherdess of Siena – a review

Thursday_horizons

This week’s novel for my Thursday Creation Review was a ‘must read’ that fit two reading genres and offered more: historical and equestrian, plus it was set in Italy.

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The Shepherdess of Siena

by

Linda Lafferty (Goodreads Author)

Raised by her aunt and uncle amidst the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside, young orphan Virginia Tacci has always harboured a deep love for horses—though she knows she may never have the chance to ride. As a shepherdess in sixteenth-century Italy, Virginia’s possibilities are doubly limited by her peasant class and her gender. Yet while she tends her flock, Virginia is captivated by the daring equestrian feats of the high-spirited Isabella de’ Medici, who rides with the strength and courage of any man, much to the horror of her brother, the tyrannical Gran Duca Francesco de’ Medici.

Inspired, the young shepherdess keeps one dream close to her heart: to race in Siena’s Palio. Twenty-six years after Florence captured Siena, Virginia’s defiance will rally the broken spirit of the Senese people and threaten the pernicious reign of the Gran Duca. Bringing alive the rich history of one of Tuscany’s most famed cities, this lush, captivating saga draws an illuminating portrait of one girl with an unbreakable spirit.

Review 4.3 stars

A Historical novel with horses and set primarily in Tuscany was a Must Read, and it proved enjoyable.

Virginia Tacci is the young shepherdess that loves horses and wants to ride – something that few women in the sixteenth-century can do on an even playing field with men. Even those from the nobility like Isabella de’ Medici that can attempt to ignore social expectations are prey to their male superiors – or those that believe in their right to manipulate and persecute.

This is a world of rules and rulers, and Linda Lafferty paints the period and the setting vividly, demonstrating her painstaking research. This is a realistic medieval world from attitudes to architecture, from struggling peasants to scheming nobility. Many of the characters are historical, yet the author gives them distinct personalities – at times needing to build on limited documentary evidence from the period. (The author’s notes at the end make the extent of the research clear.)

The novel is strongest when focused on the horses and on Virginia. It is their story that kept me reading from the birth of a key foal, through the event that makes Virginia the centre of a thread of plots. The equestrian elements were meticulous in their detail as well as vibrant. The choice of having the protagonist tell their own first-person story also worked and enhanced this central thread.

However, with multiple plotlines, there was a need for some of the other viewpoints used. All these were the third person, and, in most cases, these worked and gave the plotlines momentum. But, purely from this reader’s perspective, there were too many, and some characters suffered through too little ‘screen-time’. There were moments when I stopped and wondered if some of these POVs could have been amalgamated – perhaps giving one observer more chapters to record events as they experience them.

This applied to the probably accurate de Medici scenes which led me to comment, mid-reading, “Whose story is this?” At times, I wanted to get back to Virginia and the horses as those scenes had a momentum that never tailed off. Of course, to me ‘Mares rule’ – except I will always find room for a great stallion.

Virginia’s ride is not always easy and not just because of her gender, although that prejudice never lets up. The ending is unexpected, but many have argued that it is right given the era. One question was uppermost as the threads converged together: “How would the antagonists atone for their sins?”

How can a historical novel ever have a neat ending? Reality is never what we expect or desire. And life goes on beyond the end of a novel. If characters evolve, as they do here, then that is the truth.

Although this novel rates 4.3 stars adjusted to 4 stars, I would recommend this to fans of historical fiction especially if they love horses.

Story – four stars

Setting/World-building – five stars

Authenticity – five stars

Characters – four stars

Structure – four stars

Readability – four stars

Editing – four stars

 

Privacy and GDPR

 

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Image from https://www.covermagazine.co.uk/

 

Since the European Union’s general data protection regulation (GDPR) comes into force on May 25th, 2018, I have been making my website as compliant as I can.

My first step was reading up on the implications for small operators – the most valuable was on author Jami Gold’s site: The New EU Law: What All Authors Need to Know — Guest: Kharma Kelley

From reading that, and panicking, I concluded that my hardly-existent newsletter was destined to become non-existent history. So that feature has been vaporised along with any data collected by MailChimp.

However, I still needed a ‘Privacy Policy’ and I assessed what I could do with this Writing Wings landing pad. WPBeginner proved to have the best solution – check their advice on How to Add a Privacy Policy in WordPress.

As for the finished Privacy Policy that is now live on this site – so I hope that I am now compliant and not heading for a 4 million Euro fine.

And if you wish to read the detail, there’s a link in the menu to the left OR just go to https://rolandclarke.com/privacy-policy/

Air and Ash – a review

Thursday_horizons

This is the second of my new Thursday Creation Review posts which will usually be Books, but I am still reserving the right to review Games, Films or other Works of Art – and I will add music to that.

Alex Lidell’s Tides is a series of books that has been on my Want To Read list for too long – and then I won Book 3, Sea and Sand (#3) in a Goodreads Giveaway. First, though, I read and reviewed First Command (TIDES, # 0.5), which was an absorbing taster that introduced me to the main character of Lieutenant Nile Greysik and her world.

The author kindly provided me with Book 1 of the series, and this is my extended review.

AirandAsh

Air and Ash (TIDES #1)

by

Alex Lidell (Goodreads Author)

Born to privilege.
Trained for command.
Destined for danger.

After a lifetime of training, seventeen-year-old Princess Nile Greysik, a lieutenant on the prestigious Ashing navy flagship, sails into battle with one vital mission–and fails.

Barred from the sea and facing a political marriage, Nile masquerades as a common sailor on the first ship she can find. With a cowardly captain, incompetent crew, and a cruel, too-handsome first officer intent on making her life a living hell, Nile must hide her identity while trying to turn the sorry frigate battle worthy. Worse, a terrifying and forbidden magic now tingles in Nile’s blood. If anyone catches wind of who Nile is or what she can do, her life is over.

But when disaster threatens the ship, Nile may have no choice but to unleash the truth that will curse her future.

Review 4.3 stars

After reading First Command (TIDES, # 0.5), the taster that introduced me to Lieutenant Nile Greysik and her world, I had to read Tides #1. This book was provided by the author but without any requirements.

When Nile escapes her Royal obligations and masquerades as a common sailor, events conspire against her. The author ensures that the decks are stacked against Nile in unexpected ways that had me guessing where the story was heading. This was a slightly devious storyline although with few plotlines to misdirect the reader from a fast read.

The characters are varied, and some have complex personalities with backstories that are never totally revealed – there must be more to come. The cast hints at the world created from the political situation and attitudes to the crucial seafaring.

Alex Lidell’s well-imagined world blends seafaring and fantasy, and yet brings back memories of reading the Hornblower books in my teens – although it is wrong to compare the books. This protagonist is female, and the author builds on that – as well as the princess angle. But there is so much more – like magic being a very mixed curse. For Nile, this force that flows through her veins is a primary motivation – and not just for herself.

This is a world where magic is going underground through misunderstanding and a growing sense of discrimination. Attitudes, not just in magic, vary from nation to nation and between cultures. For instance, the Ashing royals serve in their navy, but in other states, the nobility and rich pamper themselves.

The social divide is clear, but onboard a ship there is promotion from the ranks. The nautical details rang true from my limited mucking-around-in-boats and from my copy of The Hornblower Companion. The confined space of a ship adds to the cruel pecking order. However, rank brings expectations as does Royal blood. Nile needs to judge who to trust beyond appearances if she is to complete her goals.

Where do events lead Nile? I’m giving nothing away – even if you keel-haul me – all I can say is ‘don’t expect all the threads to be tied up’. This entertaining read is Book 1 of a trilogy and you won’t want to stop. I’m not, although I must clear the reading decks so I can open War and Wind (#2) and the conclusion Sea and Sand (#3).

Recommended for those that enjoy their seafaring adventures spiced with fantasy – 4.3 stars adjusted to 4.

Story – four stars

Setting/World-building – four stars

Authenticity – four stars

Characters – five stars

Structure – four stars

Readability – five stars

Editing – four stars

First Command

#AtoZChallenge: Reflection

A-to-Z Reflection [2018]

2018 was my fifth Blogging From A to Z Challenge and the aim of my theme was “to find the origins of online games, some relatively modern and some with ancient roots. Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling” …

This was a perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper, in some cases finding the myths and legends that had inspired a new generation of storytellers. I wasn’t surprised at how many had ‘ancient roots’, nor was I surprised that there were universal themes arising.

However, I was intrigued how many cultures were represented as I expected most games had Celtic, Norse, Japanese or Chinese roots. Okay, I half-expected Korean mythology to work in somewhere as South Korea has a large games industry. The surprise was (a) the cross-fertilization between cultures – see Z is for Zelda; (b) the use of less prominent mythologies – see W is for Witcher.

I was pleased that most of the posts inspired comments, even a little debate. However, I was amazed that J is for Jumanji,  K is for King Arthur and T is for Tomb Raider received none – especially when R is for Resident Evil received six comments, excluding my replies. (I replied to every comment.) Was that because Resident Evil is the most successful game-to-movie adaptation? Or was it because King Arthur has been overdone in everything from legend to Hollywood blockbuster?

Maybe I spent too much time trying to get the posts out. I admit that I didn’t visit many A-to-Z bloggers beyond the ones that I follow regularly – I have a lot of catching-up to – in the Road Trip. (The Road Trip is where bloggers continue to visit each other from May thru March.)

However, as well as my posts linking with my Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin accounts, I did manage to add my post-address to the Daily Lists as well to my comments on other sites. Towards the end of the Challenge, I was writing the following day’s post with a few hours to spare – and I consistently forgot the #AtoZchallenge hashtag, except on my Theme post.

My frantic approach was partly because I hadn’t even remembered to sign-up until mid-March. That began some in-depth research which included some ‘product testing’. I need to give myself time in future if I am going to reduce the pressure and visit more sites.

Looking ahead to the Road Trip is coming on May 23, I’m trying to decide which was my favourite post and why. Will the writing-related research or the gaming-experience lift the award?

H is for Hellblade or L is for Lord of the Rings? Or maybe something unexpected.

What would you choose?

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Apricots and Wolfsbane

Thursday_horizons

 

This is the first of my new Thursday Creation review posts which will usually be Books, although I reserve the right to review Games, Films or other Works of Art.

When I first encountered Apricots and Wolfsbane in an interview with K M Pohlkamp, and then read the blurb, I had to read the novel. This review is an extended and more developed version of my initial thoughts when I’d reached the end.

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Apricots and Wolfsbane

by

K.M. Pohlkamp

* Shortlisted for the 2017 Chaucer Book Awards for Historical Fiction.
* Contains a book club reading guide in the back.
* Available on Google Play:

Lavinia Maud craves the moment the last wisps of life leave her victim’s bodies—to behold the effects of her own poison creations. Believing confession erases the sin of murder, her morbid desires are in unity with faith, though she could never justify her skill to the magistrate she loves.

At the start of the 16th century in Tudor England, Lavinia’s marks grow from tavern drunks to nobility, but rising prestige brings increased risk. When the magistrate suspects her ruse, he pressures the priest into breaking her confessional seal, pitting Lavinia’s instincts as an assassin against the tenets of love and faith. She balances revenge with her struggle to develop a tasteless poison and avoid the wrath of her ruthless patron.

With her ideals in conflict, Lavinia must decide which will satisfy her heart: love, faith, or murder—but the betrayals are just beginning.

“One should never condone murder, but, strangely, I rooted for Lavinia. Pohlkamp made her easily understandable, despite her odd sense of morality. She had to survive in a time period dominated by men…Her dark obsession with poison, her love for the magistrate, Haylan Moryet, and her belief in God turn the narrative into something fascinating and substantial that powers the heart of the story.”- 5 Star Review from Readers’ Favorite

**

Review 4.9 stars

I’m one of Lavinia Maud’s victims – or am I a gullible sympathiser? However, she wove her masterful ways – or rather K. M Pohlkamp did – and the price was very acceptable.

First an interview with the author then the blurb tempted me. Other reviews hooked me, and the opening pulled me in as I succumbed to the words. I knew the protagonist was poisoning people, but the author did a crafty job of keeping this reader behind Lavinia, despite the crimes. When are sins forgiven? Was it through her confessions? Unlikely as I sympathised with the priest. But I wanted Lavinia to succeed – at least in her attempt to find the elusive poison and escape to another life. Was I deceived by someone?

The plotting and character development required skill and abilities that all writers could learn from. As Lavinia’s machinations get more devious, there are repercussions – ripples that have consequences. This well-crafted plot builds, and trust is tested as the poisoned web grows.

Beyond Lavinia, there are other well-painted characters, although through the eyes of the poison mistress so the perspective is shrouded by beliefs. Words and actions make for memorable personalities, even fleeting – and strange partnerships emerge. And identifying the next victim is always under the surface in this world.

This Tudor England felt accurate, although as a Brit, I went investigating where this was set and uncovered the writer’s reasoned decision to tread a semi-fabricated path. Yet the plotting and politics painted an unsettling but familiar picture of a society where being male and having money equals privileges. A too-real world where women needed other wiles to survive – like a knowledge of herbs and more.

How far can a poison mistress climb? When is she respected?

Questions I was loath to project as my sympathies were torn between acceptance of Lavinia with all her sins, and the innocent crying out for justice. It takes a talented writer to outsmart her protagonist and her readers, creating an unexpected conclusion.

At this point, I must be careful and evade the temptation of spoilers.

As the climax drew near, I couldn’t put the book down, desperate to know what Fate and Faith had devised. Who would choose to play chess with Poison?

So, I hope that I’ve tempted you, even if a killer deserves fewer stars, and Divine Justice makes demands too. But why condemn the poison wielder, when it was the author’s skill that resolved the web of deviousness.

Am I perverse? No, Drama prevails so I recommend this novel wholeheartedly. 4.9 stars upgraded to 5.

Story – five stars

Setting/World-building – five stars

Authenticity – four stars

Characters – five stars

Structure – five stars

Readability – five stars

Editing – five stars