My review: Leap the Wild Water – history up close and personal

I have just finished reading ‘Leap the Wild Water’ by Jenny Lloyd – a wrenching historical drama set in rural Wales in the early 19th century. Increasingly, I am finding Indie authors who have put together fine work – language, story, structure, research, background, etc. As a writer myself, I’m aware of the work that goes into achieving these high standards. I understand the difficulty when the excitement of the idea hits the cold white space of the page – and the double difficulty of doing this entirely on your own without a fleet of professional publishing people fussing around in the background. It takes guts to write and publish a book on your own – especially a book with the sweeping canvas and resonance of ‘Leap the Wild Water’.

It’s wonderful to see how imagination evokes such bold ambition. Not only does Ms Lloyd take us back in time, but she does so with a sense of realism and immediacy; she introduces us to people who seem as familiar as relatives staring out from old family photographs. Like ghosts in the room, we hear the crack of the fireplace, the sweep of a long skirt, the heated arguments of angry, passionate people. And we are swept into their story.

But the core of this book is its powerful social message – one that resonates as much today as the story of 200 years ago shocks us. While reading about Megan’s dilemma when she falls pregnant before marriage – and of the dire consequences that befall not only her but her family as well – I became aware of two things: the incredible double standards (a woman caught out was degraded and derided until sometimes suicide was her only option while a man was looked upon with veiled admiration and a touch of envy – he was ‘a bit of a lad’) and the fact that so much of this attitude is still rife across the world, still forcefully instituted in many countries with little outcry from those of us who like to feel we have moved on. It is not so much the excellent writing that so vividly connects us to the characters of 200 years ago, but the familiarity of Megan’s situation that shakes us.

Indie writers are increasingly presenting books of note, books with good writing and powerful effect. If you are a reader who enjoys substance and a strong story line then – whether you’re a history buff or not – ‘Leap the Wild Water’ should be on your list.

Find ‘Leap the Wild Water’ by Jenny Lloyd here

Indie writing: Review ‘Heart’s Promise’

‘Heart’s Promise’ by Jeanette Hornby is a deceptively gentle book about pre-adolescent and early teenage romance.

Through a series of frames of ordinary life, we meet Milly when she is only eleven years old and already feeling the pangs of attraction and shyness with regard to the boy next door. The reader is taken on that old, familiar roller-coaster ride of first love awakening, and reminds us how these experiences are often the fundamental lessons in honesty, integrity and family values.

Set in Australia in the early seventies, this is a story of a small community, migrant labour, broken families, religious differences and racial prejudices, friendship and loyalty; and children struggling to find their own identity in the see-saw of adult relationships. We see everything through Milly’s eyes, becoming involved in her growing infatuation with the handsome Flynn – a seemingly insignificant and everyday scenario when played out against the broader backdrop of domestic dramas and winds of social change; but for Milly, in the tender teenage years, this is the driving focus in her life.

The novel skilfully portrays a young girl on the brink of sexual awareness and adult emotions; her conflicting feelings, her first kiss, the tumult of jealousy and betrayal, the reality of loss and grief.

What I liked about this book was the quiet, easy style of writing, cleverly introducing the more serious underlying issues of class, dysfunctional families, and the dangers faced when growing up – all within the framework of ordinary life. At the end of the book, I was loath to leave Milly and Flynn, they had built so strongly in my mind. This is a story for young and old, universal in appeal. A real trip down memory lane

Indie Writing: Review ‘Grimsley Hollow’

‘Grimsley Hollow – The Chosen One’ by Nicole Storey is first in a fantasy series for children. A key element which separates it from others in the genre is the lead character Gage, a young boy who is  autistic.  While this is a delightful tale entertaining in its own right – it has the unique angle of seeing events through the eyes of a boy who struggles to make friends in his own world, but achieves this easily in the magical world of Grimsley Hollow.

Written with passion and imagination, Grimsley Hollow has all the enchantment of a fairy tale combined with elements of epic fantasy. Intriguing, finely-drawn characters bring the extraordinary world of Grimsley Hollow to life. You will love Gage’s hideaway in the woods where he first meets a werewolf, a witch and a vampire. Imbued with magical powers which at first he doesn’t understand, Gage is called upon to help his new friends eject a wicked witch who has taken control of Grimsley Hollow. Ms Storey spares us nothing: from wolves, witches, vampires to dragons, pixies and the foul smelling, evil-eyed bejangs, you are taken on a breathtaking journey in the age-old fight of good against evil. Grimsley Hollow is Halloween come to your doorstep; the wicked glint of a pumpkin eye; the mystery of the woods in the moonlight. You’d better wear your lucky witch’s hat when you read this one. You’re gonna need it!

Here’s the link to Grimsley Hollow – The Chosen One http://tiny.cc/eup21w