#FlashbackFriday August 2021 with @CathedralOfLies @Jancoledwards @SDRauthor & @SueMoorcroft #BookReviews

Hi, and welcome to my Flashback Friday feature 🙂

On the first Friday of each month I like to have a little look back at the books I was reading during the same month in previous years, since starting my blog.
Please do join in, if you have the time. I’d love to see your posts. Share a link with us in the comments.
Here are my reviews from August 2020 plus a link to previous FBFs….

https://chataboutbooks.blog/2020/08/07/flashbackfriday-august-2020-with-twisted-tilbury-mtilburyauthor-l-j-ross-ljrossauthor-erik-therme-eriktherme-noelle-nholten40-amanda-prowse-prowse_amanda-bookreviews/

happy reading 🙂

#AuthorInterview with Constantine Dhonau

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Constantine Dhonau to Chat About Books!

Constantine Dhonau

Dear Constantine,

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?

In 8th grade, I started a myspace-official religion (thank you to our 121 dedicated followers). I picked up trombone after my ska/punk band broke-up in high school. Florida sucked me back in and I became depressed after blowing-out my knee on a 52-day backpacking trip in Colorado because I thought I blew my only chance at realizing my dream by just trying to chase after it. Someone planted the idea in my head to pick-up skydiving as a hobby in college. 8 years later, I jumped out of an airplane solo after watching a man break his leg on landing right before it was my turn to fly. I’m terrible at cooking. After 3 & 1/2 years as a wilderness therapy field guide, my roommate and I woke up one morning and decided to start a high-end catering company. Life is good & I’m satisfied with myself.

All that aside, I like tea. I’m a homebody and a space/tech nerd. I’m becoming increasingly attracted to Daoism. I’m working on letting go of fixed plans and surrendering to the current of life. For the rest and whatnot in between, you’ll have to check out the book.

“Collateral Intentions” is my first-ever publication into official authorhood. It’s a comprehensive collection of my writing from 17 to 28 years-old.

Yes, it has teen angst & cringe.

Yes, it has smile-back-at-that-moment coming-of-age.

Yes, it has letters to unrequited love.

Yes, it has knee-cracking, tear-extracting, mind-blasting, stomach-stirring rawness.

No, it does not have the answer to your problems.

T’was inspired by a desire to put together a book of selected works to read to my students in the field while I was a wilderness therapy guide. I made a small booklet with a few originals and many other established works. It was a fun process creating it (stirring a deep satisfaction to organize and agonize over the most minute details night after sleepless night, cursing the dawn as a landmark of time passing beyond what I could accomplish within “reason”). So, I decided to continue (how insatiable was the urge) and create a larger collection by combing through my dozen journals. Some friends caught wind of my side-project (whole-hearted obsession) that I started so I could have all my writing in one place and they began asking after it. I gave away manuscripts for the cost of printing. At some point, someone teased me about publishing. “PFEH!” I would say. “HA!” I would scoff. “HRNGH!” I would grumble. Then, after sifting through many-a-scam-site, I decided I would self-publish with Overlord Bezos.

Where did/do you get your ideas from?

The material for “Collateral Intentions” is a collection of previous writing, completely sourced from my journals, phone notes, and scraps of dishevelled shoebox scraps. Inspiration can be a fleeting thing for me, something like surfing. When the waves are there, I ride. When they’re not, I do my best to enjoy the calm anyhow. Sometimes an interesting line will pop into my head, sometimes I’ll be struck by a view or a feeling.

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

When those little moments crop-up for me, I tend to build around them. That line will stick or I’ll play with words until they match the feeling or observation. I’m primarily a nocturnal writer. For instance, I didn’t sleep last night. I’ll pour into a piece for as long as I can, then forget about it (genuinely, I’m often surprised at the paper trail my past self creates for future me to rediscover).

Who are your top 5 favourite authors?

Off the top of my head, I have great respect for Lao Tzu (of the Dao De Jing) and Stephen Mitchell (a translator) for their artistic engineering of words. They both met the task of communicating vast complexity with elegant simplicity. Margaret Cheyney did a remarkable job of adding subtle embellishments to rigorously-researched factual history in “Man Out of Time,” a biography of Nikola Tesla, which made me feel so clearly that I was in the same room with Nikola at times. I’ve never read Stephen King but my hat’s off to him for sheer endurance. Finally, Saul Williams is a seminal inspiration to me. He is an internationally-renowned slam poet and his content, his literary devices, his delivery…ugh…to me, he challenges what it means to read, write, and perform poetry.

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Hunter S. Thompson. “Take me with you.”

Were you a big reader as a child?

I was not. I loved being read to, of course, but I’ve always been more of a visual person. I’m much more engaged by movies and shows. Where many readers enjoy the freedom to imagine writing on their own, I enjoy seeing how a director meets the challenge of bringing it to life.

When did you start to write?

I started writing for pleasure around 17. It all started because of a girl. She had stacks of erroneously-scribbled-in composition books and after we parted ways I found myself writing through my difficulties to the point of obsession. It was my coping mechanism until it became my crutch.

If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?

Mordor was Sauron’s plot to re-incarnate all along. 

Is there a book you wish you had written?

So far, so good. I’ve written all that my fancy fodders.

If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?  

Well, “Collateral Intentions” is a good start as a memoir for a section of my life. When I’m setting the sheets for my death bed?…Hard to say. Maybe something like “Night Walk”.

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?

Amahl Farouk, the villain from the TV show, “Legion”. He can completely control and alter matter to the point of shaping reality. He enough of an anti-hero morality/indulgence balance that we could have a hell of a day bending the rules for fun. He could probably also imagine into existence the greatest cup of coffee to ever exist.

Tell us a random fact about yourself.

I play trombone.

What are you working on right now?

A magician never reveals their secrets. “Let your workings remain a mystery. Just show people the results.”

Do you have a new release due?

No BUT I do have something very tangibly in the works and a dozen ideas for the near future.

What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?

A tradition has yet to formulate itself. My first ever publication day passed rather unceremoniously due to several family members passing.

How can readers keep in touch with you?

Networking:

Author Website/Blog: https://www.constantinedhonau.com/blog

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cdhonau/

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20431911.Constantine_Dhonau

Reedsy: https://reedsy.com/discovery/user/constantinedhonau

Book Purchasing:

Author Website/Blog: https://www.constantinedhonau.com/blog

Amazon (eBook & Print): https://www.amazon.com/Collateral-Intentions-Stories-Journal-Entires/dp/0578663422/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/collateral-intentions/id1503092314

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1009139

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

Self-love and acceptance are large themes throughout “Collateral Intentions.” I’ve seen radical changes in my life in the past 6 months. I’ve spent time hiking solo, on a vision quest, changing my career, and overall taking a leap of faith. What I’ve discovered is not just self-love, but unconditional self-love. There is no ceiling. I’ve learned that everything is a grieving process and that last step of any grief cycle is bargaining -or- telling one’s story. With this, I believe a new chapter to a new book has opened up for me in my life (while I don’t intend the pun, I see no better way around it).

Wherever you’re at in life, I suspect this book has something to offer you.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Constantine 🙂

Bio:

Constantine was born in St. Petersburg, Florida and raised by his mother and his aunt, with the help of several formative programs: Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venture Crew, and Sea Scouts. He spent 3 years as the front man for a Tampa ska/punk band: H1N1. After overcoming blind rebellion against “the system,” he attended St. Petersburg College for his Associate of Arts, followed by New College of Florida for his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

He made his initial escape to Colorado in 2015—degrees in-handin search of his independence, dedicating a year of service to City Year Denver of AmeriCorps. There, he discovered a new passion and direction in life: wilderness therapy. He pursued his first and only dream and vision in life with ferocity to become a field guide with Open Sky Wilderness Therapy, completing nearly 550 days in the field.

He enjoys writing, tea, cooking, brooding, dancing, yoga, astronomy, reprehensibly long walks, movies, being outdoors, etc. & suchforth.

Collateral Intentions

by Constantine Dhonau

Blurb:

At what point does practicing vulnerability fortify ourselves such that we become…invulnerable? This is the vessel on which Constantine Dhonau invites us to explore our most sacred treasure: our inner world. Our voyage is furnished by his journey back across 11 years, from a 17-year-old boy faced with becoming a 28-year-old man, offering a glimpse into his inner dialogue of self-criticism and self-affirmation. We follow his development as a writer and a person as he walks the line between light and dark, love and lust, choice and powerlessness, seeking to free himself from the dichotomous pitfalls of black and white thinking. Throughout this 11-year exploration, he reflects on who he has been, who he is, and whom he wants to become on his way to uncovering a higher calling. He encourages us to embrace the unknown as he bares naked the “collateral intentions” of his choices; those heartfelt efforts which turned against us and those mistakes which became our greatest blessings, in time.

enjoy!

**If you are an author who would like to be interviewed on my blog please do drop me a line**

Sticks and Stones by Jo Jakeman @JoJakemanWrites #BookReview

Sticks and Stones 

by Jo Jakeman  

Sticks and Stones is a compelling tale of revenge against a controlling and abusive husband. Imogen is married to Phillip, but he left her for another woman, Naomi. Younger, slimmer, firmer, Naomi. Imogen isn’t Phillip’s first wife either. He left Ruby behind for Imogen. Phillip, it seems, is never satisfied, and seems to think women are his to own and mould into whatever suits him. He’s arrogant enough to think he will always have the upper hand too. He’s a police officer and considers himself untouchable. However, he is keeping a secret.

Only Imogen shares a child with Phillip and when he pushes her too far, she takes drastic action to protect hers and her son’s future. I can understand how she feels she has no other choice. She’s a brave lady who has been through hell and has well and truly had enough. She’s not alone either as unlikely friendships are formed.

Phillip is a particularly unpleasant character. It’s hard to see how he managed to attract any woman, although men like him do tend to know how to be charming when they need to be. Domestic abuse makes me feel quite sick and I felt a genuine hatred for his character which intensified as the story progressed. I was rooting for Imogen the whole time and praying for her freedom from him. My heart broke for her as I learned more of what she had been through.

Ruby and Naomi grew on me as the story progressed. They have both been through their own trauma’s. Their experiences added depth to the story and truly highlighted Phillip’s true colours.

This book is very cleverly written. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I very much recommend.

 **Many thanks to the author and publisher for my review copy via NetGalley**

Available now….

Enjoy!

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill #BookReview

The Woman in Black

by Susan Hill 

This is one of those books I feel like I should have read well before now, but better late than never as they say. I did watch the film a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I now agree with others that, as is usually the case, the book is so much better.

I picked up my paperback copy from an independent book shop whilst on holiday in Holmfirth last year. I had read The Small Hand by Susan Hill previously and I really enjoyed that, so I was looking forward to reading more of her stories. I’m so glad I finally got round to reading The Woman in Black. If you have never read it before either, then I highly recommend it.

Not much phases me in books to be honest, but I do find a ghost story quite unnerving and this one really did give me goosebumps. I found Arthur Kipps’ story both terrifying and heart-wrenching.

What he sees at Mrs Drablow’s funeral is extremely creepy and even more so for him not realising what he was actually seeing at that time. I felt his frustrations with the locals who didn’t seem to want to offer any information about Mrs Drablow as I would be curious too. I understood why they were so reluctant as the story progresses.

The descriptions of Mrs Drablow’s house alone are enough to give you the chills. Where it is situated even more so. I certainly wouldn’t want to stay there on my own, so I take my hat off to Arthur who seems unperturbed initially. What he experiences whilst there though is terrifying (my heart was thumping on more than one occasion) and the ultimate consequences of his time there made my heart break for him.

This is one of those stories which will stay with me for a long time to come and I have been told that there is a theatre production which is quite terrifying, so I hope to catch that at some point. I imagine it would be quite an experience.

Why not treat yourself….

Enjoy!

Summer at the Cornish Café (The Cornish Café Series, Book 1) by Phillipa Ashley @PhillipaAshley #BookReview

Summer at the Cornish Café

Book 1 (The Cornish Café Series)

by Phillipa Ashley 

In Summer at the Cornish Café, we meet Demi when she is working at a café. Unfortunately, due to a run in with an influential customer she loses her job and finds herself homeless again, along with her trusty companion, Mitch (her dog, who is a fabulous character by the way!).

When Cal Penwith comes along with a job offer too good to turn down, they begin the massive task of rebuilding his holiday park and her life is never to be the same again.

I thoroughly enjoyed how their relationship develops throughout this story both professionally and personally. Of course, nothing ever runs smoothly, and they hit many a bump in the road with their development as well as their relationship. Both are such likeable characters though (despite Cal’s fluctuating moods) that I was rooting for them to succeed and find their true happiness. The chemistry between them is evident very early on. They are real and believable characters. Cal has his past, which he is initially reluctant to let go of and Demi, being that bit younger, has a natural vulnerability and relatable concerns. I love that she’s no pushover! The heart wants what it wants though, and we can’t help who we fall for.

This is such a gorgeous read. Set in a beautiful part of the country which I hope to visit again one day. I could just imagine sitting on the beach, sipping wine whilst watching the sun go down. Bliss!

There are several lovely characters in this book, and a couple not so lovely. All are integral though and add their own depth to the story.

Beautifully written, feel-good fiction at its best.

I LOVED it!

Treat yourself….

happy reading!

Elle’s A to Z of Love by Claire Huston @ClaraVal #BookReview

Elle’s A to Z of Love

by Claire Huston 

Elle’s A to Z of Love is Claire Huston’s second book. Having read, and loved, Art and Soul I was very much looking forward to reading this book. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Elle and those in her life.

Elle is an easily likeable character who often puts everyone else’s needs above her own. She hasn’t had the most maternal of role models in her mother either. I found their relationship quite sad.

This book focuses heavily on the ups and downs of new and long-term friendships, and romances. Elle does come across as a bit of a soft touch at times and I’m sure many will relate to her relationship with Adam. Most of us have been in love with someone totally wrong for us at some point in our lives and it doesn’t matter how many people try to knock sense into us we have to find out for ourselves, eventually!

Toby is a lovely character, as is Zach. I loved the email conversation between Elle and Zach, especially the Kit Kat debate! LOL! I laughed out loud a lot!

Haileybrook sounds like such a beautiful place to live. It’s hard to understand why Elle seems so keen to leave at her first opportunity. I think many of us are guilty of not appreciating what we already have, although I’ve never really had any burning desire to travel the world. I understand why people do though.

It does seem like Elle is destined to stay put though as one thing after another gets in the way of her travelling plans. Will she ever get on that plane?

Reading this story was a bit like being on an emotional rollercoaster. No wonder Elle’s head is spinning at times. I probably wouldn’t know what to do for the best either! I’m pleased to say that I finished this book with a big smile on my face though.

Elle’s A to Z of Love is beautifully written, feel-good fiction which I think anyone would enjoy. I very much recommend! All the stars from me!

**Many thanks to Claire Huston for my kindle review copy**

out now!

About the author….

Claire Huston

Claire Huston lives in Warwickshire, UK, with her husband and two children. She writes uplifting modern love stories about characters who are meant for each other but sometimes need a little help to realise it.

A keen amateur baker, she enjoys making cakes, biscuits and brownies almost as much as eating them. You can find recipes for all the cakes mentioned in Art and Soul at http://www.clairehuston.co.uk along with over 100 other recipes. This is also where she talks about and reviews books.

As well as her website, you can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Goodreads: linktr.ee/clairehuston_author

happy reading!

#FlashbackFriday July 2021 with @RozWatkins @jpsbothbarrels Keith Bullock @RachelAmphlett @LJRossAuthor & @JenniKeer #BookBlogger #BookReviews

Hi, and welcome to my Flashback Friday feature!

On the first Friday of each month I like to have a little look back at the books I was reading during the same month in previous years (since starting my blog).

Please do join in if you have the time, I’d love to see your posts. Share a link with us in the comments.

Here are my reviews from July 2020 plus a link to previous July FBFs….

#FlashbackFriday July 2020 with Stephen Anthony Brotherton @FreddieJoJo Twisted Tilbury @MTilburyAuthor HALeuschel @HALeuschel Rob Sinclair @RSinclairAuthor & VirginiaHeath @VirginiaHeath_ #BookReviews – Chat About Books

Have you read any of the above?

#AuthorInterview with Mary Rensten @MaryRensten

Today I have the very great pleasure of welcoming Mary Rensten to Chat About Books! 🙂

Mary Rensten, social media author image

Dear Mary,

Thank you, Kerry, for inviting me onto your blog.

You’re very welcome….

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?

Myself and my books. Okay. Well … I make no secret of the fact that I am ninety-one, and there are now things I cannot do easily, like climbing up steps to reach a high cupboard!  I can still write though … and I do!  I started off as a free-lance journalist – my first paid-for piece was in 1975;  it was a humorous article for a magazine called Annabel  – and at the same time I was writing plays: my first love, as way back I went to drama school! I have written non-fiction books and educational material – I was a teacher for ten years – and I also created a couple of word games. I now mainly write novels and I have had three published.

Where did/do you get your ideas from?

The idea for my novel  Letters from Malta – which was a No. 1 best-seller! – came from an unplanned visit to a military cemetery there;  Her Almost Perfect Husband  began as a dream, and my most successful stage play, A Common Woman, resulted from supporting the women of  Greenham Common in the 1980s.

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

Not intentionally, but a character will sometimes be an amalgam of features from several different people.

How do you pick your characters’ names?

I don’t!  They have to come from them!

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

I will try.  (This is for a play or a novel. ) Have an idea, jot down scribbled notes,  map out the storyline and the time line – important to get this sorted early; also create the characters’  back stories. (As the author I need to know, and actors ask for them!) Then comes a very rough first draft, which journalists used to call the ‘first dreadful’.  So far it is all in longhand. Now I  go to the laptop and work on the next draft. And the next. Then it’s editing and tweaking, and more editing and tweaking  … until I feel the book or play is ready for me to let someone read it. I find it very hard to decide when a piece of work is finished; there’s always something I could write differently. I do wish I could get a piece 100% right first time, but it never happens … not to me!

Who are your top 5 favourite authors?

Five? I have a lot more, but these would certainly be at the top of the list: Rose Tremain, Tracy Chevalier, C.J. Sansom,  Alan Bennett and John Steinbeck.

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Alan Bennett,  and I would ask him about  An Englishman Abroad, one of my all-time favourites, about how much is fact and which bits are fiction, and how much licence a writer may take with history in the interest of drama!

Were you a big reader as a child?

Oh yes.  I remember reading Little Women when I was seven.

When did you start to write?

I wrote a play – kings and queens and a princess – when I was ten. I still have it! I was one of those nerdy kids who actually liked writing ‘compositions’!

If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?

Far From The Madding Crowd.  I would give it the happy ending that the film has.

Is there a book you wish you had written?

That’s a tough one. Well … anything by Rose Tremain or Tracy Chevalier, I think.

If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be? 

I shall have to think about that one … in case I ever do! (Possibly Never Too Late  as I didn’t publish my first novel until I was 80.)

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?

I would invite Eliza Doolittle …  and I would take her to one of the posh cafes in Covent Garden.

Tell us a random fact about yourself

I have recently become a great-grandmother!

Congratulations!

What are you working on right now?

A memoir about my childhood in Jamaica in the 1940s. Floella Benjamin’s Coming to England  started me thinking about my own young days in a new country and how much I owe to that beautiful island.

Tell us about your last release?

My latest book, which came out  in March, is a novel, Her Almost Perfect Husband. It is described as ‘A poignant story of love and deception, and the importance of human relationships set against material success.’

Do you have a new release due?  

No, I don’t. (Next year, I hope.)

What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?  

Sorry to be boring, but nothing really! I feel a sense of relief … and at the same time emptiness: I have lived with those characters for so long – several years – and now they have gone!

How can readers keep in touch with you?

By Twitter.  @MaryRensten  Please do!

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

I am a member and a Vice-President of SWWJ (Society of Women Writers and Journalists) a wonderful, friendly, international organisation which has been supporting writers since 1894!  We love to welcome new writers … and readers, too, both women and men! Right now we are unable to meet in person, but we have regular virtual events. (Have a look at our website swwj.co.uk.)

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Mary 🙂

Thank you, Kerry; it’s been a pleasure.

You will find all of Mary’s work on her Amazon Author Page here – Amazon.co.uk: Mary Rensten: Books, Biography, Blogs, Audiobooks, Kindle

Mary also had a recent promotion over on Bowen’s Book Publicity – http://bowensbookpublicity.com/2021/04/20/her-almost-perfect-husband-by-mary-rensten-maryrensten/ – Please do check it out and #sharethebooklove

Thank you!