Roses & Thorns

Roses & Thorns

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes


By virtue of her profession as a midwife, Tabitha Eckles is the keeper of many secrets: the names of fathers of illegitimate children, the level of love and harmony within many a marriage, and now the identity of a man who may have caused his wife's death. Dominick Cherrett is a man with his own secret to keep: namely, what he, a British nobleman, is doing on American soil working as a bondsman in the home of Mayor Kendall, a Southern gentleman with his eye on a higher office. By chance one morning before the dawn has broken, Tabitha and Dominick cross paths on a misty beachhead, leading them on a twisted path through kidnappings, death threats, public disgrace, and…love? Can Tabitha trust Dominick? What might he be hiding? And can either of them find true love in a world that seems set against them? With stirring writing that puts readers directly into the story, Lady in the Mist expertly explores themes of identity, misperception, and love's discovery.

Donna's Review:

Lately, I have a knack for picking up an author’s first book. It’s not on purpose, I assure you. It’s just a quirk of fate.

Lady in the Mist is the first work of Laurie Alice Eakes, and it is the first of her trilogy titled The Midwives.

Overall, the book was a likeable read. The characters of Tabitha Eckles and Dominick Cherrett are endearing. I liked the fact that while Tabitha really wanted to marry and have children, she was devoted to midwifery and her role in the community.  I liked the time period, just prior to the War of 1812. The plot pacing is well done and moves along.

However, the whole of it, characters, plotting, and prose, was not well focused. At times I had to reread to understand not only what a character said, but where the plot was going. While the external goals are clear, the characters seem to have several issues internally they are dealing with. Tightening these elements by focusing on one or two specific goals would have made the book not only more enjoyable but would have driven the plotting forward in a clearer way.

I also had trouble picturing  Dominick Cherrett as an Englishman. The name sounded French to me, and I am pretty sure the English, after the Reformation, did not name their boys Dominick as it smacks of Catholicism. There was also not enough build up to the relationship between Dominick and Tabitha. All of a sudden, Dominick is in love with Tabitha. She seems to love him from the start. 

This is a Christian historical romance, so readers should be aware of that. At times, the religious angle was lengthy and the ideas, again, were not clear.  Long internal dialogues in fiction between a character and God in which they suddenly have an ephiphany of sorts almost always turn me off. It is not realistic except in a few cases.  No specific church or denomination was ever mentioned. Dominick, of course, would have been Anglican having been an Englishmen, but nothing was ever mentioned of Tabitha’s church denomination. This would have created a huge conflict and should have been explored, or at the very least, explained as being a non-issue. If she was Episcoplian (the American counterpart by this point in time of Anglicanism), that should have been mentioned as well. 

I did, very much, like the ending, especially the way in which the story issues were finally resolved. 

Three Roses for this one, because there is enough good going on to encourage me to pick up another book in the series, or even another by Eakes.   

Length:  416 Pages
Print:  $12.41
Digital:  $5.99

Thanks for visiting—Rose, Julie, Donna and Rochelle

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Story of the Iliad by Simon Armitage


Following his highly acclaimed dramatization of the Odyssey, Simon Armitage here takes on the fate of Troy, bringing Homer’s Iliad to life with refreshing imaginative vision. In the final days of the Trojan War, the Trojans and the Greeks are caught in a bitter stalemate. Exhausted and desperate after ten years of warfare, gods and men battle among themselves for the glory of recognition and a hand in victory. Cleverly intertwining the Iliad and the Aeneid, Armitage poetically narrates the tale of Troy to its dire end, evoking a world plagued by deceit, conflict, and a deadly predilection for pride and envy. As with the Odyssey, Armitage reveals the echoes of ancient myth in our contemporary war-torn landscape, and reinvigorates the classic epics with adventure, passion, and, surprisingly, Shakespearean wit.


Simon Armitage’s The Story of the Iliad is a dramatic retelling of Homer’s epic and the last days of Troy. It is an enriching read for its transforming qualities from classic moments to contemporary wisdoms. It is easy to read, written in play format. I especially appreciate the insight it gives to the main characters of the Iliad and it’s ability to enliven them for me. While I still consider Homer’s Iliad one of the greatest reads and not to be missed, I can recommend Armitage’s book as an interesting and enjoyable supplement.

Thanks for visiting, Rose, Julie, Donna, & Rochelle

Length:  112 Pages

Print Price:  $13.95

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cracking Up by J. J. Reinhardt


Joe Robertson’s life never panned out. In college, he was a top draft pick until his knee blew-out in the NCAA Championship game on what he claimed, was a cheap shot by Drew Waters. Choosing a second career in construction, he clawed up the ranks, becoming the top Civil Project Manager in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. But that didn’t last. A scandal broke out; he was accused of offering bribes to state inspectors. The allegations were never proven; the damage was done. The only job he could obtain was a foreman’s position. But that wouldn’t last.

The only saving grace is his wife Julie, until she's involved in a horrific traffic accident that would launch them into a macabre dance of, betrayal, sex, murder and redemption.

WARNING! This book contains strong language and adult, erotic situations. Not recommended for ages under twenty-one.

Review by Rochelle Weber:

Cracking Up did not engage me at all. A book needs likeable people, or at least people with whom I can identify in order for me to get hooked into it. I also need believable situations, and finally, decent grammar. There is an editor listed on Amazon, but apparently she never learned that possessives are spelled with apostrophes, because not a single one included an apostrophe in the entire book. She also apparently never learned the difference between then and than. There was only one time a comparative was spelled “than”; the rest were all spelled “then.” That drove me nuts! Even the blurb has a superfluous comma. “This book contains strong language and adult, erotic situations.” There should not be a comma between the words “adult” and “erotic.”

To the plot. Joe is a whiny ne’er-do-well. When he blows out his knee, he drops out of college and gets a job in construction. Yeah, he works his way up, but when a scandal occurs, he doesn’t fight it; he quits, becomes a foreman and blows that job, too. When his wife is in a horrific accident, instead of being worried about her because he loves her, he’s worried about how soon she can get back to work. He finally gets a job, but has to work with a corrupt co-worker, who frames him for the problems on the project they oversee together. Instead of keeping track of the shortfalls and problems that result from his co-worker’s interference, Joe drinks and starts frequenting a local strip club. Of course he gets fired yet again, and gets angry when his wife, Julie, confronts him about the evidence of his lies and infidelity.

I’m not terribly fond of either erotica or BDSM, but if you’re going to write about it, do some research and get it right. I have friends who live that lifestyle, and before they initiate a new person into it, they discuss it with them. They talk about what the person likes, or thinks s/he might like; they establish parameters; and they establish a “safe word.” If, in the course of the play, the submissive person feels s/he is experiencing too much pain or is being injured, there is a word s/he can say and the dominator/trix will stop immediately. When Joe’s wife, Julie, gets involved with her chiropractor and his nurse, they make wonderful love to her. Then, without warning, they start calling her vile names, spanking her, having extremely rough sex, and twisting her breasts until they’re horribly bruised. That’s not “play;” it’s rape. Any real dom will tell you so. I was amazed they didn’t put her back into a wheel-chair, considering her injuries.

Part of me didn’t blame Joe for the solution he came up with, considering his state of mind by the end of the book. But I didn’t like him from the beginning, so I didn’t have much sympathy for him by the end.

I imagine there are 18 year-olds out there who could read Cracking Up, but I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone at any age who is thinking of dabbling in BDSM play. J. J. Reinhardt doesn’t know enough about the subject to write such scenes. Before you try it, find someone who can explain how to play safely, without raping your partner.

Length:  124 Pages
Print:  $5.27
Digital:  $2.77

Thanks for visiting. Rose, Julie, Donna, & Rochelle

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick


Moby-Dick is perhaps the greatest of the Great American Novels, yet its length and esoteric subject matter create an aura of difficulty that too often keeps readers at bay. Fortunately, one unabashed fan wants passionately to give Melville’s masterpiece the broad contemporary audience it deserves. In his National Book Award-winning bestseller, In the Heart of the Sea, Nathaniel Philbrick captivatingly unpacked the story of the wreck of the whale ship Essex, the real-life incident that inspired Melville to write Moby-Dick. Now, he sets his sights on the fiction itself, offering a cabin master’s tour of a spellbinding novel rich with adventure and history. Philbrick skillfully navigates Melville’s world and illuminates the book’s humor and unforgettable characters—finding the thread that binds Ishmael and Ahab to our own time and, indeed, to all times. A perfect match between author and subject, Why Read Moby-Dick? gives us a renewed appreciation of both Melville and the proud seaman’s town of Nantucket that Philbrick himself calls home. Like Alain de Botton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life, this remarkable little book will start conversations, inspire arguments, and, best of all, bring a new wave of readers to a classic tale waiting to be discovered anew.


The Melville humor, especially in his daring move to name a sperm whale “Moby-Dick,” is illustrated but faintly by Philbrick in his non-fictional explanation on why one should read Moby-Dick. However, Philbrick is a master at moving the soul to want such a reading for its descriptive magnificence and its depth of moral muscling. Using excerpts from the novel, he guides his reader to the heart of Ahab’s conflict with the great white whale through Melville’s grand ability to deliver reality on every page and achieve perspective within the tumult of the moment. If you have never read Melville’s Moby-Dick, you will find your intellect challenged with a great desire to do so; if you have read this distinguished novel in past-times, you will find your heart at peace with knowing the musings behind this great American literary classic. It will be well worth the read.

Thanks for visiting, Rose, Julie, Donna, & Rochelle

Length:  144 Pages


Print:  $13.00

Digital:  $7.99