LUCINDA’S BEST BOOKS 2019 (4)

The last of my 12 books (from a total of 100) for 2019. Remember they are in no particular order and I would be hard put to choose one above all the others.

THE MYSTERY OF JULIA EPISOPA by  John I Rigoli

THE MYSTERY OF JULIA EPISOPA

I have a weakness for historical fiction books set especially around the early Christian era. There is an aura of mystery surrounding the Vatican and the secrets of the early church and the manipulation of the elderly men who set a whole religion on a path that is still followed two thousand years later. An exciting, easy to read book which kept me turning the pages while the dirty dishes waited in the sink.

This was a great book to read. We meet Julia, the wife of a Roman official who was alive not long after the crucifixion of Jesus. Circumstances take her from Rome to Ephesus and then to Heracleum and back to Rome. In parallel, the story is set in the present day when two young archaeologists discover evidence of Julia’s life buried deep in the Vatican archives. What they find will rock the world. The tale moves at a great pace, not lagging for a moment and the characters were believable although I could relate more to Julia. Highly recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078P5T17C/

THINGS FALL APART  by Sharon Brownlie

THINGS FALL APART

An emotional journey of awakening, through broken trust, heartbreak, and family conflict. Despite being at the depths of despair, in the face of adversity, there is always a belief in the promise of a hopeful future. This is a coming of age story with a difference. Thirty-five-year-old single mother Mandy is forced to mature and grow up quickly. By the time we reach the final chapters of this incredible chronicle she moves from the blindness of naivety into pain, despair and eventually, at great cost, the maturity of hard-won wisdom.
Set in the mid-nineteen eighties in Edinburgh, a city dubbed as the drug’s capital of Europe, it’s a town where Mandy faces a mother’s worst nightmare. The warning signs are staring her in the face, but at first, she doesn’t heed them. All she wants to do is love, nurture and protect her family, but despite all her efforts she has to stand by, watching helplessly as it fragments, and things fall apart. How does she bring things to a peaceful conclusion? Is it even possible?

I know I am reading a good book when the dishes are ignored, the world goes by and I sit and read it from beginning to end. This story had me transfixed. I can’t praise it enough. I am not sure if it is in any way autobiographical, but if not, then this author can get right inside her characters. You feel their pain, their joy and their precarious position. This is a book which should be read by every parent with teenage children and the teenagers themselves.  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07961BTBX/

CAPE OF STORMS  by Bianca Bowers

CPAE OF STORMS

Why did I choose to read this book? Initially, because it was set in and around Durban and Umhlanga and evoked almost forgotten memories of places I knew well having lived there for several years. I suspect the story has a hint of autobiography as the author grew up in South Africa and left to live in Australia when she was twenty-three, also considered by the heroine Rosalinde. The narrative is fast-paced and engaging as we first meet her as a young child questioning apartheid and its ramifications. The innocence of childhood accompanies her through school to university when she is brought face to face with a different culture and an alien mindset when her beliefs are shaken to the core. She is forced to face the same dilemma that so many white South Africans have encountered and to which there is no easy solution if there is any solution at all. The tension builds as Rosalinde is faced with the reality of being of Caucasian origin in the modern South Africa. Family members are brutally murdered, and from sitting at home with a panoramic view over the Indian Ocean, all this changes, to high walls, razor wire, and security cameras. She, like so many, becomes a prisoner in her own home. She struggles to understand the reasons for the anger and violence but it is hard to accept and she can see how the fledgling country is on the path to destruction. Not wanting to leave the land of her birth she acknowledges that leaving may be the only path to take to save her life. The dialogue is realistic, the narrative flows smoothly and once I read the first page, I did not put this book down until I reached the last one. If you have always lived in a western country and think you know what life in Africa is like because you have watched the news and read the papers, this book may open your eyes. It is a novel, yes, but nothing is far-fetched, it simply incorporates everyday life in a country I too fell in love with and was heartbroken to leave.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZJVKHPN/

If any of my top books sound fun, then do please go and check them out. They are the 12 best of the 100+ in 2019 that have taken me to new worlds, different places, and exciting situations. I could have included a lot more, many of the other books I’ve read this year have been good, but those I’ve featured over the last 4 weeks are the ones that have stayed with me and that is always the sign of a good book.

I’m currently scribbling my 14th book, it’s a follow on of my psychological thriller A Year in the Life of Leah Brand. You can take a look at all my books by clicking here  https://www.amazon.com/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914

I wish all my readers a wonderful Christmas or holiday season wherever you might be. I’ll be down south in Australia and wrenched away from my laptop, but I’ll do my best to keep in touch.

Stay safe and take care

Lucinda

 

 

 

Lucinda’s best books of 2019 (3)

Someone asked me how do I choose only a few books from so many? Since my memory went AWOL some time ago, l now list them on a spreadsheet. Those special books I highlight when I review, and I nearly always write up a few words, unless I really didn’t like the book or it was badly written.. All writers adore getting reviews (hint).  The three books in my top 12 this week are:-

PORTRAIT OF STELLA by  Susan Wuthridge

PORTRAIT OF STELLA

After discovering her birth certificate is a fake and there is no record of her existence in the UK database. Jemima Ashton is desperate to discover her real identity. With scant information and the burning question ‘who am I?’, she embarks on an incredible journey of detection. On learning of her late mother Stella’s disappearance during WWII, she retraces her footsteps across the globe and at a distant vineyard, unearths a family she had no idea existed.
While treading a path of narrow-minded bigotry, scandalous revelations emerge of two families inextricably linked by one woman and the drastic steps they took to hide the truth.

I didn’t think I was going to even like this book, but I loved it. I loved it so much I spent a whole day immersed flicking the pages as fast as I could. This is an excellent story, carefully crafted, exciting and packed with lots of information. Having lived in South Africa, I was aware of the apartheid rules and regulations – if you did not experience that, it will be a real eye-opener. The plot is quite complex but all the loose ends are tied up leading to a very satisfactory conclusion. The pace was fast, but the words flowed and I raced through the book through the eyes of both Stella and Jemima. The book grabs you from the first chapter when Jemima finds out that she is not who she thought she was and thus begins her search to discover her past. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073QGDX9Y/

ONLY THE GOOD by Rosemary Reeve

ONLY THE GOOD

The third book in the Jack Hart series follows on nicely from books one and two but it can be read as a stand-alone. We meet up again with Jack, the kind-hearted litigator, his girlfriend and long-time friend Mark, not forgetting Betsy the dog with attitude. Mark is still hating his job in the Seattle law firm, but he finds himself in deep water when he is suspected of murder. He might be able to prove his innocence on one killing but then the bodies begin to pile up. Adding to this Jack’s family, a family he didn’t know he had, is involved and he finds himself in conflict on both sides of the law. Extra suspicion falls on Jack when it is revealed that he has inherited the family business, the mansion, a holiday home, and several yachts.
Rosemary Reeve has written another action-packed, fast-moving novel. The reader cannot help but love Jack and his friends, even the golden-haired almost out of control Betsy. The plot is tight, the words follow effortlessly and the scenes are described with just the right amount of detail, not too much but enough to take you into each location. The storyline had me guessing as the murders add up and suspicion falls on Jack time and time again. It does not help when the police in Bellingham are determined to pin all the crimes on Jack. At the same time, Jack is struggling with his own demons, about his past childhood in a selection of foster homes and his desperate desire to know who his parents were – all is not what it seems.      https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DDFS2QJ/ref

WILD CHILD   by Ian Mathie

Ian Mathie was an entertaining raconteur and writer who told his true-life stories with great vigour and enthusiasm. He had an amazing memory and was able to recall the smallest details, even from his early childhood. His life was packed with unusual experiences and adventures in distant places with strange people, wild animals, danger and fun.

When Ian Mathie sadly passed away some months ago, the world lost one of the last adventurers who grew up and loved the African continent and its people in the mid 19th Century. I have avidly read all of this author’s books and this last one, completed by his family in collaboration with his publishers, tells the story of Ian’s early days growing up in the bush. It recounts the freedoms, the adventures, and the creatures, running wild without a care in the world. His voice shines through on every page painting vivid pictures of a rural missionary school and the exacting punishments he received. He tells us of his African friends, getting to grips with a new language and the culture shock of boarding school back in Britain. Reading Wild Child takes you to Africa, surrounding you with the dust, the smells, the atmosphere of those vast areas densely populated with wildlife and vegetation. The book is a must-read for all those who have visited, lived there or who simply want to experience a world very different from any other continent on earth.

I should mention my books, shouldn’t I? I have penned 3 memoirs, one fairy tale for adults, a five-book adventure series set in Africa and my latest one is a psychological thriller set in England. Click here for my Amazon author page.

https://www.amazon.com/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914

 

LUCINDA’S BEST BOOKS OF 2019 (2)

Last year, 2018, I set my Goodreads reading challenge to 100 books. I only managed to achieve that by cramming in a couple of children’s books in December – well I wasn’t really cheating, was I? This year and last I read more than the totals as I could not include beta reading or other books that were not yet published.

In 2019 to take a little pressure off I lowered it to 80 books and that is a much easier target to reach, I’m already there.

I have traveled back in time, returned to Africa several times, lurked behind pillars in the Vatican, and again and racked my brains wondering ‘who done it’?

Here are the next three books I loved.

CONCLAVE  by Robert Harris 

conclave

I’m very curious about the Vatican with all its secrets, mysteries and the men who live there – those who are genuine in their beliefs and those who worship power more than God. I loved this book and read it in one day. The pope is dead, and behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election. They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals. Over the next seventy-two hours, one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth. I also learned much about the rituals involved when voting for a new pope and it was not as I had imagined. Why did I think they were all locked in one chapel for days on end? Why did I believe they might not be able to talk to outsiders in those days? This book explains a lot and the ending? While I was still debating – it had me fooled – as to who were the good guys – the ending was explosive and made me laugh out loud.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1784751839

THE DUNG BEETLES OF LIBERIA  by  Daniel V Meier JR

dung beetles

I loved this book for its sheer honesty especially in an age where so many people are just willing and waiting to criticize and contradict and pc speech is strangling our literature. This book set in Liberia in the 1970s cannot be questioned, it tells of a time period well before we could all immediately find out the ‘facts’ as they now appear on the world wide web.

The Dung Beetles of Liberia is the story of a young college undergraduate at Cornell who drops out of school to take a job flying planes in Liberia. He leaves behind his astonished family and his almost-fiancé in a bid to escape the demons that plague him over the death of his brother. He’s learned that Liberia is one of the richest countries in Africa and has high expectations of what he will find there. America had repatriated many slaves in the 1800s and established a democracy and infrastructure. What young Kenneth found was the true state of Africa with its own interpretation of life, morals, and ethics. It shocks him to the core. Life is cheap, the hierarchy is absolute, the poor are driven to the point of extinction and he finds himself rubbing shoulders with other hard-drinking, wild and unprincipled expatriates.
The book is based on a true account of life there at the time – which I suspect has changed very little. This is possibly the most honest tale of Africa I have ever read. It is not as politically correct as other books set in similar places, but the author brilliantly highlights the cheapness of life, the lack of compassion, the willingness of the poor and downtrodden to accept their lot in life. Many readers may simply not believe the tales told with such pathos and humour but I can assure them that life is as wild and undisciplined as they are recounted. Kenneth Verrier is a typical young American from a good family who is shocked to the core with what he encounters. Flying small planes delivering equipment to the mines – and a little diamond smuggling on the side – paying no attention to overloading, air traffic rules, non-existent runways and centre of gravity safety regulations. Little by little Kenneth learns to adapt but never loses his humanity. He is a likable hero, and tells his story simply, honestly and clearly. This book is one of the best I have read in a long, long time and find it difficult to believe the author did not spend most of his life in Africa as he has grasped the problems, the customs, and the mindset so truthfully. Highly recommend reading – in fact this should be on the prescribed reading list of every high school as a window on a continent with a different way of life and a different mindset. Welcome to the world of Africa.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1945448377

THE OPIUM LORD’S DAUGHTER  by  Robert Wang

THE OPIUM LORDS DAUGHTER

Moving continent to Asia, the author, now living in the United States, writes of a historical period in the land of his ancestors. In an east meets west scenario we meet the family of Lord Lee Shao Lin, his daughter Su-Mei and his number one son Lee da Ping during the time of the opium Wars between Britain and China. Many people may not know of the travesty of this unevenly fought war when the British navy attacked China to ensure uninterrupted trade in tea, porcelain, silks, and spices. Since China had no need to import anything from the west, the currency used to buy Chinese goods was Chinese silver which the British obtained by illegally importing opium into China. Everyone was involved, the Chinese merchants, the corrupt customs officials, the addicts who would do what it took to obtain more of the drug. But then the Emperor issued a decree to halt the trade and the troubles begin. At this time, Sue-Mei meets Travers Higgins from Yorkshire and falls in love – a cross-cultural affair unheard of and disapproved of in 1840. The stage is set for an explosive story in more ways than one.

The Opium Lord’s Daughter is one of the best books I have read this year. I read it in a day and a half and loved every bit of it. The characters leaped off the pages, I connected with Sue-Mei the heroine and the words flowed effortlessly. For the hours I was engrossed in this book I was living in the 1800s in China, surrounded by the sights and smells, the customs and the laughter and sorrow of the young couple and her family. The historical information was woven seamlessly into the story and I suspect the author researched the facts thoroughly, backed up by the pictures in the back of the book featuring many of the real characters mentioned at the time. A fairly balanced argument from both sides highlights the greed and avarice and arrogance of man which has not changed one iota in the last two thousand years. I highly recommend this book, and I shall file it away to read again in the future.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07T2N4GK9/

Have you checked out my books? Memoirs, humour, action-adventure and my new psychological thriller. This link will take you to my Amazon author page.

https://www.amazon.com/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914

 

 

 

BOOK AWARDS 2019

I have been very quiet on my blog this year. Keeping up with social media on Facebook and Twitter, writing more books and (attempting to) market them plus the twice a week blogging wore me out. Life also gets in the way too, and I’ve even ventured out of the house a few times in between.

However, as I do every year, I could not ignore sharing my favourite books from 2019 with you.

In no particular order, over the next 4 weeks these are the reads that have blown me away over the last 12 months. The books I didn’t want to end, where I was in awe of the author’s skill, or, the story was simply amazing.

OF KNIGHTS AND DOGFIGHTS  Ellie Midwood

DOG FIGHTS

In 1938 four young men join the flying school at Schwechat near Vienna. From different backgrounds, they all share a love of flying for the freedom and the danger. We meet Johann and Willi, complete opposites, Rudi and Walt who is half Jewish. When war breaks out, they are sent out to fight for Germany in Europe, North Africa, and later on the Eastern Front. Not all of them survive the war, but long before it is over, they begin to question the reasons and rationale and whether they are fighting for the right side. They have doubts about the Nazi regime, the sanity of Hitler and the lies and propaganda they are expected to believe.
When I chose this book to review, I was not sure I would enjoy it as much as this author’s other novels. I am a great fan of Ellie’s work and this is one of her best. She did not disappoint. This is not a ‘man’s’ book despite its detailed description of the dog fights, the handling of the planes and the aerial tactics. Topics of friendship, beliefs, morals, and comradeship are all explored as these teenagers fly one mission after another. The slow dawning of what part these brave young men were being forced to play on the chessboard of an insane man’s dreams was masterful. In places I smiled, in others, my eyes filled with tears. Ms Midwood knows how to spin her words as she takes you to the desert in North Africa then to the frozen wastelands of Russia. She pulls no punches in describing the brutality, the gut-wrenching scenes against the backdrop of a shameful period in history. What made this book really special for me was the realization that while the Nazis / Germans have been vilified for the part they played in World War II there were many fine, upstanding people who did not share those beliefs and stuck to their values until the very end and even beyond. I was amazed to read that the two main characters were based on the lives of real people who flew for the Luftwaffe. I can’t praise this book highly enough. It stands head and shoulders above any other World War II novel I’ve ever read.    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KX56ZJK

AMONG THE MASAI  Juliet Cutler

among masai

Among the Masai by Juliet Cutler is a memoir recounting the two years the author spent living and teaching in Tanzania at the end of the 1990s. Arriving with preconceived ideas and expectations, nothing was as she had imagined. She describes her feelings of being ‘on show’ her white skin making her very conspicuous, the shock at the levels of poverty, the comparison with the society in which she had grown up. While there were mental challenges to adjust to there were also the practical problems too – shortage of water, no internet, lack of familiar foods and necessities, the dangers of the local wildlife. Traveling with her fiancé, Juliet was seconded to the first Secondary School for Girls catering to the Masai, a partly nomadic tribe spread across Kenya and Tanzania and viewed by other tribes in those countries as primitive. It had taken months of negotiations to set up and run a school.

Like many young people traveling overseas to third world countries to work among the disadvantaged, Juliet’s wish was to help educate and uplift the lives of the young girls she was employed to teach English. Fresh out of college, with little experience she had no idea what to expect. This book is beautifully written and should be on the prescribed reading list for all schools to create an understanding of a culture that is so often misunderstood. I could relate to her experiences, applaud her soul searching and her questioning of whether foreign aid is a blessing or a curse. She understands the fine balance between imposing an alien culture and gently easing young people into the modern world. Encountering practices such as FGM, child marriage and girls sold for a few cows were a culture shock and she shares her sorrow and triumphs with the young girls she grew to love. As she says, you will always have Africa inside you. A wonderful book, it made me laugh and cry as I feverishly turned the pages. A book written with love which showed great empathy.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07L973RQM

THE LAST CALIPH  by T L Williams

last caliph

The Last Caliph is the fourth book in the Logan Alexander series and it takes the reader from the United States to Turkey and Syria as Logan goes undercover to track down the current Caliph who is continuing to run ISIS operations. While the President of the US has announced that ISIS has been defeated and is preparing to withdraw the American troops, Logan and his old allies at the CIA are not convinced. At great risk to himself, and despite strained relations between himself and his wife, Logan arrives in Turkey with the idea of crossing the border into Syria, with the help of a young Muslim woman who supports the extremist regime. The subplot involves Logan’s brother in law and adds an extra twist to the book. This is an excellent, on the edge of your seat story, the pace and action never let up. I was compelled to read this at almost one sitting. The book is crammed with technical details which only someone who was totally familiar with weaponry, aircraft and espionage techniques first hand could produce. This lends the book authenticity and takes it out of the realm of the usual run of the mill spy story. The author has created a believable character in Logan Alexander. While accomplishing his mission, he remains down to earth and human. There is no extraneous detail, just enough to inform the reader without slowing the story which gallops from beginning to end. I loved the realism, the possibility that the events could take place and all the loose ends were tied up and followed through.       https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07P222SRH

If you would like to see the books I write, hop over to my web page and read all about them. I’m multi-genre so there is something for everyone.

https://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Three more books next week.

 

 

 

 

Amie: An African Adventure by Lucinda E Clarke

I don’t remember seeing this before Tanya – thank you so much 🙂

T. R. Robinson Publications

51-ano4yiflFrom the start readers will recognise this author has an excellent command of words. The way the scenes, emotions, tensions, etc. are conveyed draws the reader in enabling them to easily visualise the situations, disappointments, apprehensions and fears the protagonist, Amie, encounters and experiences. Occasionally it may appear the author is going to go into too much detail however, she never does. The information provided enables the reader to fully comprehend what is happening without every minute and unnecessary aspect or detail being drawn out. The reader is never left wondering. The words more than paint a picture.

It is sometimes possible to mistake this for a memoir, which it is not. For example, the disappointment felt on a family visit is heartfelt and realistically imparted. The author is evidently an acute observer of people and life. It is also clear she has drawn upon her own experiences.

It would…

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Lucinda E Clarke

A great idea to feature books that travel the world and help build bridges through greater understanding. Thank you Rebecca 🙂

Bendideia Publishing

Bendideia Publishing welcomes Lucinda E Clarke today, and she’ll talk a bit about her award-winning Amie in Africa series.

  • Amie African Adventure
  • Amie and the Child of Africa
  • Amie Stolen Future
  • Amie Cut for Life
  • Amie Savage Safari

Link to Amie video  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhMEGM9apRM

Who Is Amie

About the Books

Location: The stories are all set in the mythical country of Togodo, a cross between Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and South Africa. I also include a visit to Zimbabwe and to Durban where I lived for many years.

Genre: Adventure / thriller

Audience: Suitable for teens onwards, very little swearing or sex. I’d be happy for my grandchildren to read them.

Time period: set in the 1990s through to modern day.

LUCINDA IN VIENNA

Interview

Tell us a little about Amie African Adventure.

After I wrote my personal autobiography where all the facts were in place, I stepped out of my comfort zone and wondered…

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