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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book Review: 'Casablanca My Heart' by Hannah Warren.

 MY Book Review: “Casablanca: My Heart” by Hannah Warren

Author Hannah Warren has written more than just a boy meets girl romance in this  novel. If you want simplistic writing with improbable situations then this is not for you ... this novel goes deeper and explores emotions further than that.

Casablanca My Heart doesn’t follow traditional clichéd storytelling, and that is a large part of its charm.

The author uses 1st person narrative to wonderful advantage here, giving insights into what motivates her characters on a deeply personal level.

Meet Heather Simpson, a well know romance writer who cherishes her privacy and is known better under her pen-name of Femmy Lovecraft.

Heather has suffered the loss of her beloved father, and her husband lay in a coma as a result of a car accident for which Heather blames herself. Her guilt is unrelenting. At the insistence of her dear friend the very likeable and straight forward Rita, Heather takes a cruise, a short trip to give her cheeks back their glow and her writing back its meaning.

She travels under her pen-name.

Enter Ghalib Tourniquet. A prince no less. His fascination with her is clear. The fact that he appears to know so much about her, including her real name, unsettles her more than a little, as does his masculine good looks and his appearance of warmth intermingled with sublime sophistication. Their attraction is immediate and intense.

The Prince takes her to his beautiful home in Casablanca.  The author has wonderful descriptive talent and she utilizes it so well that the reader is transported to Casablanca, we walk through the beauty of the place and can clearly visualize his beautiful home. 

The sexual tension between them is palpable and the ultimate release of that tension is well written in an erotic, sensual, and moving episode in the steam bath of his home.

This is not a jarring note, it captures the tension beautifully.

A sudden brush with ill health, and the tragic death of her husband have Heather returning home suddenly and with no further contact with Ghalib.

We are given deep insights into Ghalib’s lifestyle and his growth as a man in the period of years they are parted.

Heather, has a child, Lucy, as a result of her one passionate interlude with Ghalib. He knows nothing about the child.

His life has taken a different turn. We see into his recent past, and share his love for his beautiful child Cassia, by his first wife. 

We come to an understanding of the man further as we are permitted to see the misery he has created for himself and others by his lifestyle. Two marriages and two divorces leave him a changed and damaged man.

I have no wish to spoil this book for the reader.

Suffice it to say that the story is woven with a talented hand, the characters are crafted so well that they become important to the reader, we care what happens to them.

The resultant ending is…ahh…that would be telling!

I have no hesitation in recommending this book to anyone that enjoys a well written story.

It travels beyond the romance genre, to become a memory of a book that will stay in the hearts and minds of its readers.

Purchase on Amazon 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Book Review: Johnny McClintock's War by Gerry McCullough.

Gerry McCullough has been writing poems and stories since childhood. Brought up in north Belfast, she graduated in English and Philosophy from Queen's University, Belfast, then went on to gain an MA in English.
She lives just outside Belfast, in Northern Ireland, has four grown up children and is married to author, media producer and broadcaster, Raymond McCullough, with whom she co-edited the Irish magazine, 'Bread', (published by Kingdom Come Trust), from 1990-96. In 1995 they published a non-fiction book called, 'Ireland - now the good news!'
Over the past few years Gerry has had more than sixty short stories published in UK, Irish and American magazines, anthologies and annuals - as well as broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster. Her poems and articles have been published in several Northern Ireland and UK magazines, and she has also done readings from her novels, poems and short stories at several Irish literary events. She writes a regular literary blog - Gerry's Books - and guest writes for several other literary blogs.
Gerry won the Cúirt International Literary Award for 2005 (Galway); was shortlisted for the 2008 Brian Moore Award (Belfast); shortlisted for the 2009 Cúirt Award; and commended in the 2009 Seán O'Faolain Short Story Competition, (Cork).
She is now also an Amazon best-selling novellist and her novels include:
'Belfast Girls' a thriller/romance (Nov 2010, Night Publishing - 2nd edition June, 2012, Precious Oil Publications)
'Danger, Danger' (October, 2011 - Precious Oil)
'Angel in Flight: the first Angel Murphy thriller' (June 2012 - Precious Oil)
'The Seanachie: Tales of Old Seamus' (January, 2012 - Precious Oil) her first collection of Irish short stories , previously published in an Irish weekly magazine.
'Lady Molly & The Snapper' (August, 2012 - Precious Oil) - a young adult time travel adventure, set in Ireland and on the high seas.
'Angel in Belfast: the 2nd Angel Murphy thriller' (June 2013 - Precious Oil)
The Cúirt Award-winning story, 'Primroses,' and the Seán O'Faolain commended story, 'Giving Up,' have been extended and re-written as part of a series of seven more serious Irish short stories - to be published later in 2014, with another of these stories, 'Not the End of the World' - a comic, futuristic, adult fantasy novel and another collection of Seanachie lighthearted, Irish stories.

Book Description
Publication Date: August 11, 2014
The story of one man’s struggle to maintain his faith in spite of everything life throws at him.

As the outbreak of the First World War looms closer, John Henry McClintock, a Northern Irish Protestant by upbringing, meets Rose Flanagan, a Catholic, at a gospel tent mission – and falls in love with her.

When Johnny enlists and sets off to fight in the War he finds himself surrounded by death and tragedy, which pushes his trust in God to the limit.

After more than five years absence he returns home to a bitter, war torn Ireland, where both he and Rose are seen as traitors to their own sides.

John Henry and Rose overcome all opposition and, finally, marry. But a few years later comes the hardest blow of all. Can John Henry still hang on to his faith in God?

My review of ‘Johnny McClintock’s War.’

John Henry McClintock, a young, idealistic, Northern Irish Protestant holds his belief in God dear to his heart, it is pivotal to who he is, pivotal in his interactions with the others that share his belief. 

When he meets Rose Flanagan a Catholic girl, he has to redefine his belief system. Surely a love as strong as the one between himself and the lovely Rose can overcome the ingrained prejudices of his volatile countrymen.

Confident that this love could withstand any test, Johnny McClintock enlists in the armed forces and is sent out to face the horrors of World War One. Horrors that will make any of us cry in our despair that this war was not and sadly will never be the war to end all wars.

Author Gerry McCullough has a deep insight into what drives her characters. Because of this each of her characterizations are very real to the reader, inviting us to step inside their lives, we laugh with them, and we cry for them, we invest ourselves emotionally and want so badly for their love for one another to hold fast against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Rose is forced to deal with the ugly side of life, before she’d ever had a real chance to experience the wonders that it can and does hold.

Johnny McClintock has his faith tested, again and again on the battlefield and in the foxholes. The sights sounds and smells of frail humans forced into inhuman circumstances, make his days red with blood and his nightmares imbed themselves into his soul.

 Death is his constant companion, and he fights to understand how a loving God could allow this inhumanity to exist. He fights to hold on to his beliefs just as strongly as he fought on this other field of battle. Both took their toll on his soul.

He returns home, no longer young. Circumstances have decreed that he will never again be the young man that left his beautiful Northern Ireland five years before.

The author understands his pain and allows us to share in it.

This insight makes his love for Rose especially poignant, and it needs to be a strong love to endure the prejudices and attacks of people who look at them from both sides and relegate them to traitor status.

Johnny and his Rose marry and are tested over and over again.

 I will not spoil the ending of this beautifully written book. Suffice it to say that their ultimate challenge looms large.

Will their love and faith in God survive? You must read the book.

The author has taken the reader on a journey of discovery, a journey that is fast paced, touching and sadly all to real.

I can’t say more, apart from the fact that I recommend this work highly to anyone who looks for depth, plausibility, and human frailties in what they choose to read. I will be reading this again and am certain I will discover still more layers of real life within its pages.

I congratulate author Gerry McCullough on this work...I have read most of her other books and enjoyed them immensely; but this ...this one stands proudly alone, a book that should be required reading for all those that sit distant and safe from the wars they help create.