All posts tagged novella

The Oasis Of Time – Carolyn Waugh

Published August 15, 2016 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

Jay was a prince and he had the dark hair and dark smouldering looks of a sheikh of the desert. He was like the princes that you read about in the female romance novels that have a picture on the cover.
His personal assistant Lilly,would be first one in to work as always, she was there when he came in and invariably there when he left always just finishing up for the night. She intrigued him in the physical sense, he sometimes dreamed of her in his bed, making love to her. Her mouth was a wonder to behold and sometimes in their meetings if he was not careful he would lose track of their conversation.
Lilly on and off when working for him had saved his butt so to speak quite a few times. Lilly had been working for him for a while now and she loved every day.
Hiding the truth about her past and from where she came from and of what she could do, was getting harder and harder as she feared that she was falling in love with him and that was something she must not do. Ever. She must never do that as her genie status would vanish and she would become human.

(synopsis from Amazon)

What did I think?:

Full disclosure here – I am not usually a fan of so-called “romantic” fiction or erotica (although I do love a bit of fantasy) but Carolyn is a good friend of mine and absolutely loves to write so when she heard I was a blogger she asked if I would read her novella, The Oasis Of Time and let her know what I think. First of all, it’s clear Carolyn has an amazing imagination and reading fantasy/romance/paranormal fiction on a regular basis has given her an excellent background to writing a story of her own.

Our male lead is Jay, a strapping young man who happens to be a prince no less, who works very hard in his business managed by himself and his father the King but has been trying to hide his developing feelings for his assistant, Lilly, unsure if she reciprocates his feelings and afraid of losing her if she doesn’t. Luckily, Lilly does feel the same way but that’s not the real issue standing in their way. The thing is, Lilly knows the family much better than Jay can understand or appreciate as she is a genie who has been assisting the family for many years after she was captured close to the oasis where she lived.

The major reason why Lilly will try to stop herself falling in love with Jay is that if she enters into a relationship with her, her magical powers and status as a genie will vanish and she will become human forever. The future for Jay and Lilly is very unsure and potentially life-changing for both of them – will it work out for them in the end? Also, will Jay ever be able to accept the special properties behind the woman he loves?

One of my favourite things about this novella was the magical qualities in the story itself. I loved Lilly and Jay as characters and the fact that Lilly was a genie just brought an extra something to the narrative as a whole. I completely bought into their relationship and enjoyed reading about their struggles as they both wonder if they can be together as a couple. I’m hoping there will be many more stories to come from Carolyn Waugh as she has a clear passion for what she does and as I mentioned earlier, a huge imagination to back it up. Hopefully, some fantastic editor will see the potential in her work and snap her up, bringing her work to a wider population.

Carolyn’s first published novella is available to buy on Amazon for the bargain prize of 99 pence and 99 cents in America:

Amazon UK Link

Amazon US Link

Come back tomorrow when I’ll be interviewing Carolyn Waugh here on my blog!

Would I recommend it?:

For fans of the genre – yes!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art





Short Stories Challenge – Choke Collar: Positron, Episode Two by Margaret Atwood (stand-alone)

Published August 7, 2016 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

In this second, steamy episode of the new Byliner Serial Positron, Margaret Atwood picks up where she left off in her dystopian dark comedy I’m Starved for You , mining wholly deviant territory where a totalitarian state collides with the chaos of human desire.

Husband and wife Stan and Charmaine face more troubles in safe but carefully controlled Consilience, a social experiment in which the lawful are locked up and criminals roam the wasteland beyond the gates that is the America of Margaret Atwood’s creepily plausible near future.

In the world of Choke Collar, when you surrender your civil liberties, you enter a funhouse of someone else’s making.

What did I think?:

Margaret Atwood is without a doubt one of my favourite living authors at the moment and I was delighted to discover her Positron series in e-book format which consists of four short stories (so far) based in a dystopian, freakishly possible future. If you haven’t read the first story, I’m Starved For You, it’s probably best to start with that as this second instalment, Choke Collar, picks up right where the first left off.

Our two main characters are married couple Stan and Charmaine who have volunteered for a new project in their community – known as Consilience. Every other month, they are obliged to enter Positron, a prison environment to build the future for the next generation while an alternate husband and wife team live in their house and go about their daily lives. The following month, they swap over, take over the house from the Alternates and carry on with life as normal. In return, all their debts are written off, they are guaranteed stable and well-paid jobs on the “outside,” and decent treatment and “a meaningful life,” whilst inside the prison. However, they are forbidden any contact at all with their Alternates, even finding out who they are and this causes problems for the couple when Charmaine does just that in the first story.

In Choke Collar, Stan and Charmaine have been split up and whilst Charmaine languishes inside Positron for months longer than the obligatory one month, Stan is living with Jocelyn, who is the Alternate wife and she is making him pay big time for Charmaine’s misdemeanours and secret rendezvous with her husband, who Charmaine knows as Max. Stan is miserable with the way he is being treated and although he is desperately angry with his unfaithful wife, he even starts to worry about her slightly compared to what he has to put up with from Jocelyn. Yet things are not exactly as they seem and when Stan uncovers what Jocelyn is really up to, it could threaten the Consilience programme as a whole and be extremely dangerous for both himself and his wife Charmaine.

When I first started this series I wasn’t sure what to expect and I’ve got to say, I was a bit surprised by the story that Margaret Atwood had to tell. It teeters right on the edge of being overly sexual but is endlessly fascinating and I adore the dystopian element that she brings to her fiction. I actually enjoyed Choke Collar a lot more than the previous story and really appreciated the cliffhanger of an ending that makes me very eager to read the next instalment – Erase Me, which I’m more than certain is going to be brilliant. The author’s most recent novel, The Heart Goes Last is based on the Positron world and from what I’ve read so far, features the same characters. I’m not sure whether it is the same stories moulded together to make a novel but I’m definitely keen to find out and will probably explore it once I’ve finished these four short stories – the world that she creates here is too interesting not to!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


NEXT SHORT STORY: Elephants In Captivity (Part One) by Rajesh Parameswaran from the collection I Am An Executioner: Love Stories

Honeymoon In Paris – Jojo Moyes

Published February 18, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

At the heart of Jojo Moyes’ heartbreaking new novel, The Girl You Left Behind, are two haunting love stories – that of Sophie and Edouard Lefevre in France during the First World War, and, nearly a century later, Liv Halston and her husband David.

Honeymoon in Paris takes place several years before the events to come in The Girl You Left Behind when both couples have just married. Sophie, a provincial girl, is swept up in the glamour of Belle Epoque Paris but discovers that loving a feted artist like Edouard brings undreamt of complications. Following in Sophie’s footsteps a hundred years later, Liv, after a whirlwind romance, finds her Parisian honeymoon is not quite the romantic getaway she had been hoping for…

This enthralling self-contained story will have you falling in love with Liv and Sophie, and with Paris then and now, and it is the perfect appetizer for the The Girl You Left Behind, a spellbinding story of love, devotion and passion in the hardest of times.

What did I think?:

Honeymoon in Paris is a novella meant as a sort of prequel to the author’s book The Girl You Left Behind. Within it Jojo Moyes uses different chapters to narrate two love stories of women on their honeymoon to set the scene of two different time periods which provides a heart-warming and somewhat comforting read. The first story is that of Olivia (Liv) Halston in the present time (2002) and her new husband David, a much in demand architect. A bit too in demand, in fact as we find out when we meet Liv at the top of the Eiffel Tower, on her honeymoon but very much on her own. It turns out that one of David’s big jobs which involves commissioning a home for the rich Goldstein family means that he has to leave her to her own devices to attend important meetings. Liv is understandably crushed and starts to worry that perhaps she has made a mistake in marrying him. She is well-known by her friends to be impulsive and only knew David for three months before he proposed, a sum total of six months now they are married.

Chapter Two and we switch to our second love story in Paris, 1912 where former shop girl Sophie and acclaimed but small artist Edouard Lefevre have recently wed and are the picture of wedded bliss. Most days they don’t know where their next meal is coming from if Edouard hasn’t managed to sell a painting but they are both incredibly happy. It probably doesn’t help that Edouard is a generous man and Sophie finds that a few of his so-called “friends” who have bought paintings from him are in debt to him for as long as seven months. When Sophie discovers a couple of his friends in a bar with exceedingly fat wallets she takes it upon herself to be debt collector for her husband. A fight breaks out when one of the men insults Sophie and Edouard hears it but she manages to get the money and they have a wonderful meal that evening. Things don’t stay too rosy in Paris-dise however when Sophie is introduced to some of the girls that Edouard has painted. According to one particular venomous woman, who still holds a bit of a candle for Edouard, he is “a man of certain appetites,” (ooh, my!) who slept with all the women he painted, and this honeymoon period he has with Sophie is just a phase, he will return to his old behaviour, guaranteed. Sophie is obviously distraught with this woman’s claims and confronts Edouard with his past.

The two stories do end with a happy resolution, I have to say as this is only a prequel to the story that comes in The Girl You Left Behind which also follows the two couples. I think the author does a great job of telling two very different love stories set in different time periods. Personally, I preferred Sophie and Edouard’s story as I just fell in love with their characters, especially Sophie who seemed a bit more fiesty than our current day heroine, Liv. I also enjoyed the tiny cross-over in one chapter where Liv sees a painting in a gallery by our war-time hero of the past, Edouard Lefevre. I think it was also a nice way of explaining that marriage and a relationship isn’t all about the honeymoon period, it requires work and disagreements are inevitable, despite the intense love you may have for someone. I have to admit it wasn’t my favourite of Jojo Moyes work, but I do highly recommend The Girl You Left Behind as a beautiful, must-read novel. This is a nice little prequel that gives you a great introduction to the characters but isn’t a necessary read if you haven’t read the novel and can also be read quite easily as a stand alone.

Would I recommend it?:


Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT JOJO MOYES READ: Night Music, coming soon!

The Turn Of The Screw – Henry James

Published December 6, 2014 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

The story starts conventionally enough with friends sharing ghost stories ’round the fire on Christmas Eve. One of the guests tells about a governess at a country house plagued by supernatural visitors. But in the hands of Henry James, the master of nuance, this little tale of terror is an exquisite gem of sexual and psychological ambiguity. Only the young governess can see the ghosts; only she suspects that the previous governess and her lover are controlling the two orphaned children (a girl and a boy) for some evil purpose. The household staff don’t know what she’s talking about, the children are evasive when questioned, and the master of the house (the children’s uncle) is absent. Why does the young girl claim not to see a perfectly visible woman standing on the far side of the lake? Are the children being deceptive, or is the governess being paranoid? By leaving the questions unanswered, The Turn of Screw generates spine-tingling anxiety in its mesmerized readers.

What did I think?:

The Turn Of The Screw was originally published in 1898 and can be described as “a gothic ghost story novella.” The author, Henry James, an American-born author was at the forefront of writing “different” novels in this period where he explored interior monologue, unreliable narrators and consciousness. He is probably best known for this novella and for his novel The Portrait Of A Lady, which I am yet to read. This tale opens on a group of friends who are sharing ghost stories one evening and The Turn Of The Screw is one of the stories which is offered up by a gentleman who promises to chill and delight the group. The story is narrated from the point of view of our main character, a young woman who is taking up the post of a governess to look after two children in a secluded country home. She is interviewed by the uncle who takes responsibility (but not TOO much responsibility, he enjoys his life in London too much for that!) for his nephew and niece, Miles and Flora after the death of their parents.

The governess is quite taken with her employer and is excited, albeit a little anxious to take up her new role. On meeting the children however, it seems she has nothing to worry about. Miles and Flora are angelic, adorable and affectionate children who immediately put the governess at ease as she begins to relax into her position. But of course, all is not as it seems, and strange things begin happening within the property. Miles returns home earlier than expected, expelled from his school with a letter from his headmaster stating that fact. Unfortunately, he will not talk about the reason behind his expulsion and the governess who finds herself utterly charmed by the boy, lets the matter lie. Then she begins to see two strange presences who keep appearing and disappearing in different places in the property. The children claim not to see them when questioned, however the governess begins to find it hard to believe them and incidents occur that leave her wondering if they are quite so angelic as they seem. Who are the spirits and what are their purposes? Is there real “evil” in the house or even in the children? Or is everything a complete figment of the governess’ imagination? The author has us wondering right until the end of the story – which is also completely ambiguous, leaving the reader to make up their own mind.

I was very excited going into this story, having heard it hailed as one of the best (and scariest) ghost stories of all time. Apologies to anyone who loves this book, but I was bitterly disappointed. Sure, there were a couple of eerie moments and I think Henry James drew the reader in with some fascinating characterisation of the children, but I’ve read scarier and better (The Woman In Black by Susan Hill, for example). I found the opening of the story, where friends are telling each other thrilling tales very dull and the entire way through it felt like I was just waiting for it to get better. The rating I have given it is based on the strength of the writing and beauty of the vocabulary alone, I’m afraid The Turn In The Screw just wasn’t for me. This may be because I had already over-hyped it in my own mind, or perhaps I didn’t appreciate the subtle nuances of the tale enough. If you agree or disagree with me, let me know! It’s definitely a good book for discussion if nothing else.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably not.

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art