Book Tour Review. ‘Burrowed’ by Maressa Mortimer.

Burrowed, by Maressa Mortimer – fresh out this month (April 2022)

BUY HERE on https://vicarioushome.com/ or on Amazon

This must be the first time I have read an entire book in five sittings!

This gripping adventure is billed for teens and older, but as an adult I was gripped by the plot, full of intrigue, mystery and a weaving of relationships and challenges.

Set in the fictional island community of Ximiu, our heroine, Jasira, the daughter of the Governor and a budding detective, discovers a plot to undermine the island’s way of life.

Maressa Mortimer has created a world that has challenged the status quo and put women in power. Her matriarchal world has risen to the challenge of making sacrifices to create a sustainable way of life and future.

The author cleverly approaches some very topical political themes and issues: sustainability, radical green solutions, gender/power inequalities and stereotypes, democracy, exploitation, propaganda, science, genetics and over-population. Her characters grapple with the complexities of change and the practical considerations of forcefully implementing any system.

The relationships between the characters are a forum to explore issues of trust, compromise, team-work and courage, as they learn to face their own strengths and weaknesses to overcome forces larger than themselves.

I take responsibility for the thoughts that came up in myself, but I found myself making many parallels and comparisons with political issues and the contemporary world’s approach to the environmental and climate crisis.

For me, the book reminded me of many themes that disturb me about a move towards a more authoritarian political climate.

I was reflecting on human-trafficking and the exploitation of weaker communities and our pilfering of resources to serve the richest.

I considered the gender inequalities throughout the world and how male and female can have such complimentary qualities, that working together can create a harmonious world.

I saw parallels in media propaganda and the blind acceptance of rhetoric (despite the evidence and their secret resentment) and how the ‘sheeple’ often police the authoritarian agendas, believing that it is ‘all for our own good and for our future’.

I found myself considering possibilities and ways to address climate change that maybe did not involve such drastic measures and sacrifices; that perhaps need not let the ‘baby out with the bathwater’.

I saw a world where we inadvertently let ‘science’ dictate policy and let ‘green sustainability’ become the new religion, with a focus on animals and the environment at the expense of human life.

Burrowed also brings the reader on a journey of growth through choices, courage, risk, sacrifice, justice, loss, disappointment and faith.

Emotionally, I worked through the grief and anger that God does not always say Yes in answer to our prayers. Sometimes God seems far away and when we have to deal with grief, pain and injustice, it can feel like God is either unjust or uncaring. Jasira has to process her own response to disappointment and grief, but I was left with hope in the goodness of God and that, though life can sometimes be hard and grieving is dry and grey, that surely ‘this too shall pass’ and we can re-learn to trust, to love and to hope again.

Maressa reminds us that we are allowed to see the splashes of colour in the grey winter, if we refuse to pull up the pretty flowers that appear in the cracks.

Leaving Bethany

Book and Blog review of ‘Leaving Bethany’ by Susan Sutherland

I have always been curious about the relationships between Martha’s family in Bethany and Jesus, as recounted in the Gospels, especially the Gospel of Luke.

Personally, reflecting on the gospel account of Martha buzzing around and fretting, whilst Mary sits at Jesus’ feet (having chosen the better way), I always identified more with Martha, and in my 20’s, I took the name of Martha as my confirmation name.

The home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, attracted Jesus and has always attracted me.

When I heard about this book by Susan Sutherland, it was one I had to buy and put at the top of my pile. And I have loved it!

The author, like all good historical fiction writers, takes all that is known from Biblical, cultural and historical documents and colours it in with life and credibility. It was exquisite to explore Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives and Bethany with Martha and to get to know Mary, Lazarus, Jesus and his followers, and even some of her neighbours. I loved the ordinary beauty and details of every day life, which brings depth and personality to the life behind the scenes of the gospel accounts.

It was especially wonderful to continue Martha’s journey, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and to follow her and the other disciples as persecution forced the early Church to scatter and spread throughout the neighbouring lands.

Susan’s writing is moving and thoughtful and I found myself jotting down some beautiful and thought provoking imagery, painted with her words. Such as this, immediately after the death of Lazarus, when Martha said “A thousand sensations shattered the silence.”

No wonder Jesus wept.

I cried, I laughed; I became enraged and enamoured and like Martha, I did not want to leave Bethany.

I am delighted to learn that there is also a sequel coming, so I can find out what became of Martha, her family and the other followers of the way.

Thank you Susan for bringing these beloved characters – even Jesus – to life for me in a new way.

If you would like to buy a copy of the book……

The book can be bought from Yorkshire Publishing Direct  https://www.ypdbooks.com/religious-and-spirituality/1791-leaving-bethany–YPD02537.html

Or via the author’s website page – https://leavingbethany.com/

Susan Sutherland also writes a fascinating blog in the form of ‘interviews’ between a ‘Roman journalist,’ Aemilia Metella, and female characters of the New Testament. This is a similar style of narrative non-fiction to ‘Leaving Bethany’ – where the bare-bones and spirit of all we know of factually and historically is fleshed out into a very plausible and probable narrative.

I include a link here to her latest ‘interview’ with Phoebe, who was a benefactor of Paul and delivered an important letter from Paul to the church in Rome.

Book Reviews/Recommendations

Earlier this year I became an official member of ACW – the Association of Christian Writers. The wonderful writers and supporters of ACW have been a part of my life for a number of years already, through a Facebook-group communication, and I have gradually made better acquaintance of a variety of talented authors. There have been a number of online events and inspiring groups, that I have availed myself of this year and slowly I am learning how things are done to support other authors.

Having already read a number of books by these wonderful writers, today I challenged myself to write, onto ‘Goodreads’, some outstanding, as in long-awaited, reviews of some of the books I have enjoyed. As I find my way around these forums and portals, I hope to include some more. Here are my brief reviews and recommendations.

The Healing, by Joy Margetts

Set in 1231, this beautiful historical novel takes one deep into the heart of a troubled, noble soldier as he journeys from despair, to find a new, unexpected life and fresh hope in old familiar landscapes. The depth of his raw pain, his recovery and healing are all delicately explored, through the rich characters that one soon comes to love. I was delighted to hear that I sequel novella was coming…

The Beloved, by Joy Margetts

I eagerly read this as an e-book, wanting to reacquaint with the beloved characters from The Healing. This historical novella is set in 1250 and explores gratitude, courtship and the difficult task of making healthy choices. It is a delightful story, that makes one wish to physically roam the unspoilt countryside of Wales too.

Stories From The Heart, by Olusola Sophia Anyanwu

I thoroughly enjoyed these 15 entertaining, captivating short stories. They are clearly written with acute observations of the lives and attitudes of young people in Nigeria in the early 1980’s. Sophia’s own experiences and humour come alive in an authentic voice of the time, filling the stories with life, love and the optimistic concerns and dreams of those emerging into adulthood.

Walled City, by Maressa Mortimer

This is an exciting, dystopian-type adventure to a city world where emotions are banned and life is closely monitored. Infiltrating Elabi and bringing love and hope seems like an impossible mission to Gax… I loved the exploration of the concepts, characters and the story, and can’t wait to read the second book, in the Elabi Chronicles, to uncover the mysteries still to be revealed.