Blackthorn Book Tours Review: Rose by Rami Ungar

 

Rose Taggert awakens in a greenhouse with no clear memory of the past two years and, to her horror, finds her body transformed into an unrecognizable form.

Paris Kuyper has convinced Rose that they are lovers and as Paris could not bear for her to die, he has used an ancient and dark magic to save her from certain death.

But the dark magic Paris has used comes at a price. A price which a terrible demon is determined to extract from Rose.

My Thoughts

At first Rose seems like the sort of light horror novel that will also appeal to fans of YA. Very fast, punchy writing, the narrative action packed and filled with the angsts and worries and conflicts typical of those in their late teens. The story opens with sociology graduate Rose Taggart, who awakes to find herself lying on a table in a greenhouse and realises she has partial amnesia. In a few short paragraphs the horror of her new circumstances unravels as she finds she has been the subject of a spell from ‘The Forest God’s Record’, a grimoire that fell into the hands of her apparent boyfriend Paris. A playful wit vibrates behind the words, Ungar taunting his readers with the absurd, the ridiculous, Rose a hat tip to Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Instead of finding herself transformed into an insect, Rose is part plant, a rose no less. Somehow Ungar renders Rose’s metaphysical calamity plausible.

The playful wit soon gives way to a descent into the ominous and the spooky, Rose’s situation unraveling, the lens pulled back bit by bit, the suspense building and building, culminating in an unexpected ending. Rose contains good characterisation, enough descriptions to offer a sense of place and Ungar demonstrates a keen talent for plotting.  In all Rose makes for very entertaining and disturbing reading.

About Rami Ungar

Rami Ungar knew he wanted to be a writer from the age of five, when he first became exposed to the world of Harry Potter and wanted to create imaginative worlds like Harry’s. As a tween, he fell in love with the works of Anne Rice and Stephen King and, as he was getting too old to sneak up on people and shout “Boo!’ (not that that ever stopped him), he decided to merge his two loves and become a horror writer.

Today, Rami lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio. He’s self-published three novels and one collection of short stories, and his stories have appeared in other publications here and there. Rose, his first novel with Castrum Press, will be released June 21st, 2019.

When he’s not writing your nightmares or coming up with those, he’s enjoying anything from the latest horror novel or movie to anime and manga to ballet, collecting anything that catches his fancy, and giving you the impression he may not be entirely human.

https://ramiungarthewriter.com

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46374205-rose

https://www.facebook.com/RamiUngarWriter/

@RamiUngarWriter

Buy Link

 

 

Celebrating Odyssey Books Ten Year Milestone with a Special Discount of A Perfect Square

Celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of Odyssey Books with a Special Discount of A Perfect Square

Odyssey Books have been going since 2009. They are a terrific little press, punching above their weight, with an impressive list of authors and high calibre titles. I joined the small press in 2015 when Odyssey Books released my first two novels, Asylum and The Drago Tree. In 2016, they published my third novel, A Perfect Square. This weekend, Odyssey Books are having a special sale of A Perfect Square to celebrate their anniversary! (check out the other titles they have on offer in July)

ABOUT A PERFECT SQUARE

Across two continents, two sets of mothers and daughters are bound by a dark mystery.

On a winter’s day in the Dandenongs, Victoria, pianist Ginny returns home to stay with her eccentric mother and artist, Harriet. Consumed by disturbing dreams, speculations and remembering, she tries to prise from her mother the truth concerning her father’s disappearance and why, when she was seven, Harriet abducted her. In an effort to distract her daughter’s interrogations, Harriet proposes they collaborate on an exhibition of paintings and songs.

Meanwhile, on the edge of Dartmoor, Judith paints landscapes of the Australian Outback to soothe her troubled mind. Her wayward daughter, Madeleine, has returned home and she’s filled the house with darkness. Her father doesn’t want to know her. Judith wishes he did. When at last she forces the two to meet she breathes a sigh of relief.

Back in Australia, Ginny is poised to fly to England in search of the truth when she receives some earth-shattering news.

A novel brimming with mystery, intrigue, creativity, art and the occult.

 

ONLY $0.99 on Kindle viewbook.at/PerfectSquare

 

A Very Special Review of A Perfect Square

About forty five minutes by car to the east of Melbourne brings you to the Dandenongs. A small mountain range strewn with a magical semi-tropical rainforest, full of tall mountain ash, giant tree ferns and crystal trickling creeks.  Mast Gully was so named by an old sailing captain, in the days of the first settlers, who said the tall straight trees reminded him of nothing so much as a forest of ships masts. The area has attracted artists and musicians since its very earliest days, the painter Tom Roberts used to live and paint here, and William Ricketts of the famous sanctuary in Olinda, used to be a jazz clarinettist. A bustling, vibrant, ever-changing colony of artistic types has inhabited the hills, gullies and quaint little towns ever since.

It is in this idyllic setting that Isobel Blackthorn has placed ‘A Perfect Square’. At the heart of this delightful tale is an artistic collaboration between Harriet, a somewhat neurotic painter with a hidden past, and her daughter Ginny, a musician with deep questions about her absent father. At the same time far across the sea on the moors of Dorset, England, another mother daughter relationship is being played out by Judith and her daughter Madeleine. Judith too, is a painter, also wrestling with her work and her past and her relationships. The two stories play as counterpoint to each other, as the story ducks and weaves around Astrology, Art history, music, occultism and the power of a past, not fully come to terms with, to invade and choke the present.  As the two girls become unhappier, winter approaches, the gallery presentation comes nearer, and the story itself begins to become darker before finally resolving in very surprising ways.

There is more than a touch of ‘AbFab’ about the relationships between some of the characters, and as someone with more than a passing acquaintanceship with the Dandenongs, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed spending time with them all. I have known these people, gone to their homes and eaten their food and drunk their wine, far into the evening. Musicians and practitioners of the static Arts will find much to interest them in this story as both subjects are not merely touched upon but form an integral part of the structure of this tale.

In a case of ‘life imitating Art’ or ‘Art imitating life’, the authors own daughter has contributed musical works that echo the collaboration in the story, and these are also available to the reader through web links at the back of the book?

I was somewhat hesitant approaching ‘A Perfect Square’ as something seemed to be saying that it might have been a little too serious for my mood. I could not have been more wrong.  I heartily recommend this to anyone who likes fascinating and believable characters, well drawn settings and just enough mystery to keep the whole thing bubbling along nicely. The sort of book you almost want to start reading again, the moment you have finished it, and I have to confess, I enjoyed it immensely…

– Film and Book Critic, Philip A. Wallis.

Accompanying music by jazz pianist and composer Elizabeth Blackthorn:

https://elizabethblackthorn.bandcamp.com/album/a-perfect-square

https://open.spotify.com/album/6BWFjoq8tuvyrg7w9FYjUC

https://music.apple.com/us/album/a-perfect-square-ep/1149154120

Book review: Grasping at Water by Carmel Bendon

I do enjoy reading novels with strong mystical content. Especially when, as is the case with Grasping at Water, the author has profound knowledge of her subject.

About Grasping at Water

When a young, unidentified woman is pulled alive and well from Sydney Harbour in 2013, the connections to another woman – found in similar circumstances forty years earlier – present psychiatrist Kathryn Brookley with a terrible decision as the events of the present and past begin to mirror each other and the gap between truth and illusion shrinks.

When the young woman goes further and declares that she has lived continuously since coming to ‘understanding’ in the 14th century, her vivid accounts of life, love, childbirth, and loss in the Middle Ages seem so authentic that they test Kathryn’s scientific objectivity to the limit. As Kathryn delves she discovers that she is not the only one whose habitual assumptions about life have been torn asunder by an apparent experience of the miraculous in connection with the mystery woman.

My thoughts

Grasping at Water is an unusual book, possibly one of its kind. Told in the form of a mystery, what unfolds is so much more, as Kathryn, a traditional psychiatrist with all of the typical objectivist trappings of her job, is called in to assess a mysterious woman dragged out of Sydney Harbour. What unfolds will intrigue and fascinate the receptive reader.

The mystical theme is present early in the narrative through this mysterious un-drowned woman who eventually names herself Sophia (wisdom). The tales she tells at first mystify and puzzle, then reveal, slowly, fragment by fragment profound truths. Kathryn is at first reluctant and disbelieving, but her own prejudices are soon tested and she finds herself questioning her own rational understanding of the world. She notices coincidences, particularly of dates, the usual point of entry into the world of the unknown. From there Kathryn finds herself introduced to the anchoresses of medieval Europe immured in the walls of churches, and she is exposed to a feast of extraordinary knowledge as she grapples with her own life story.

Bendon deploys good pacing and plotting throughout, with believable and well-crafted characters. The protagonist, Kathryn, and the mystery woman, Sophia, are especially well-rounded. The style of prose is for the most part chatty and informative and easy to read. It is difficult to insert the theme of mysticism into the genre of a mystery and I commend the author for doing so.

The novel’s strength lies in the narrative control in the scenes exploring mysticism. The strange, mystical world Bendon portrays is utterly convincing, placing the reader right in amongst things. The insights into spirituality and mysticism contained in Grasping at Water are profound and important. Where else is the average reader to be presented with an engaging understanding of Julian of Norwich and anchoresses like her? I am reminded of L.J.M. Owen’s Dr Pimms’ series, in which the author draws on her extensive knowledge of archeology.

Grasping at Water is a story of loss, grief and acceptance, on one level a feel-good mystery to warm the heart. On a mystical level, here is a story of a rite of passage, one that will leave the reader questioning their everyday reality. A fascinating read.

 

You can purchase a copy of Grasping at Water on Amazon.

Find out more about Carmel Bendon here

A Perfect Square – review by Suzanne Diprose

I’m delighted to share this thoughtful review of A Perfect Square by Suzanne Diprose.

This book held me captive as I read about the primary relationships between two different mothers and their daughters through time, different countries and challenges. It was intriguing to explore their particular journeys and tensions through life’s stages and the resilience of the relationships during these challenges and responsibilities. I can see shades of so many of us in these descriptive stories within the book.

The rich vignettes provide details that allow the reader to build an understanding of the characters, their backgrounds with its impact on their daily choices and selected lifestyles. The story engages you and the descriptions held so true.

We have visions of earlier inner city Melbourne, Sassafras and Dandenong Ranges, plus locales in rural Britain. When reading from my armchair I was transported to the UK or up the main street in Sassafras and right into the art gallery, garden shop, antiques shop and tea rooms.

As a local of the Hills I appreciated how Isobel depicted the environment, the early evenings and how dusk rolls in over the mountains every evening. Also Isobel’s words describe shades of people we rub shoulders with regularly up here in the hills. There are some great names to be on the lookout for – start collecting them as you read through! I kept diving back to see who would I meet!

The interwoven stories provide an insight into the essence of a creative and quirky soul with deep thinking, rich patterns, and concerns. Isobel is not afraid to outline the uneasy and challenging questions and parts of the mother and daughter relationships that span 30 or 40 years. A great read.

a perfect square can be purchased at the book depository, amazon and through all good bookstores. For a signed copy, contact the author via this site.

A pot pourri of bookish things

It’s been a busy weekend of A Perfect Square book promotion. So I thought I’d gather it all together in a single post, for those interested in following my blog tour or finding out more about me and the story behind my story.

A perfect square

The weekend kicked off with a Q&A on Amanda Howard’s book blog, Killing Time.

Janet Emson of From First to Last Page book blog then features a piece on my writing process, called My Devilish Muse, and includes a short extract of A Perfect Square.

Fictive Dream published my flash fiction piece, Margo’s Slippers, and I’m really proud to find my story amongst those of so many fine writers.

To cap it all off, author Patricia Leslie, posted on her website her stunning review of A Perfect Square. Praise doesn’t come any better than this:

“Reading Isobel Blackthorn’s stories is like engaging in high calibre wordplay. The words wash over you, move through you, and lift you intellectually.” 

A Perfect Square coming soon…

There’s been a circularity at work in the creation of my latest novel, A Perfect Square, ever since the ideas first came to me in 2014. The essence of the story was formed out of my daughter Elizabeth Blackthorn’s Honours thesis in Music. Now that the book is written, Elizabeth has composed and recorded the music to go with it. A link to access her work will be included in the book. A Perfect Square will be released in 10 days. Meanwhile Elizabeth created this book trailer. Her mum is forever grateful 🙂 X