Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Modern Dickens with "Jack Dawkins"

Review of “Jack Dawkins” by Charlton Daines

Five Stars


Jack Dawkins, once known as the Artful Dodger in the streets of London, was sent to Australia on a prison ship when he was little more than a boy. Now he has returned to find that London has changed while the boy has turned into a man.

With few prospects provided by his criminal past and having developed mannerisms that allow him to move amongst a higher strata of society, Jack turns his back on the streets that would have primed him as a successor to the murderer, Bill Sykes, and quickly remodels himself as a gentleman thief. 

New acquaintances and a series of chance encounters, including one with his old friend Oliver, create complications as remnants of his past come back to plague him. Jack is forced to struggle for a balance between his new life and memories that haunt him with visions of the derelict tavern where Nancy used to sing.

My Review:

I want to preface this review by saying I read it from the viewpoint of someone who has never read Charles Dickens. I have, but it was years ago. I wanted to do this so I could find out if it could stand alone as a novel in its own right, and not dependent on former knowledge.

Jack Dawkins, The Artful Dodger, returns to England from ten years in the Australian convict outback, having escaped from there. His return is illegal, not having served his full sentence of life, but for this clever child thief, that was not a hindrance. He endeavors to find anyone connected with his former circle of child thieves, especially Oliver Brownlow, a young man he had helped kidnap years ago, and who was ultimately rescued from a life on the streets with the accidental help of Jack. Now Jack is back in London and determined to look up Oliver and regain that connection. 

What follows is an in-depth and insightful exploration of one man’s searching for his place in a society that didn’t care about him as a child, and cares even less now he’s a young man. Forced to find his own way, he finds that his former skills come in handy, affording his living but fighting his own conscious and re-discovering his morality. In this process, he reluctantly makes connections with even less desirable characters than he was associated with in his childhood, and gets himself into situations that prove more than troublesome. 

The plot was engrossing and believable, and it did indeed stand alone as a novel in its own right, with no dependence on former knowledge of the book or the stage play. I was prepared to be bored and was pleasantly surprised to find myself immediately engrossed in the story. It flowed naturally and the characters were well developed and easy to remember. They were certainly not what I call “cookie cutter characters”. You could easily envision their pasts and how they grew up, and what made them do what they did. 

I especially enjoyed the play on morality, the theme I took being “nurture VS nature”. Despite his upbringing on the streets, being taught to steal to make a living and the warped morals that were instilled in him from a very young age, he finds he still has feelings and a conscious that, I think, surprises even him. There are things he just won’t consider, showing he is innately a good man, despite his dubious livelihood, knowing no other way.

The atmosphere and descriptions of the location during that era is striking, allowing the reader to “see” the difference in the areas around the city. 

I did find the brief love story concerning Jack and Lilly, the modest flower girl, a bit unrealistic, only based on brief glimpses and even briefer meetings, but that could be because my background is in romance writing. I tried hard to find flaws in this novel and this was the best I could come up with. 

All in all, a great read, and I would highly recommend it, both to those familiar with the work it was based on, and for those unfamiliar with Dickens work. I enthusiastically rate this as a five star read.

Lynette Willows
Author of “No Gentleman Is He”, first in the epic Sons of Liberty series

Original review can be viewed here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/646528278

Monday, 10 June 2013

Blog Tour Special Announcement

Win a pair of specially designed earrings by a talented artisan, Lorri Schlamp of Polished Presence Design. She is so talented that she is garnering attention from notable artists in the music industry clamoring for her jewelry. I was fortunate indeed that she was willing to afford me the opportunity to offer my readers a specially designed pair of earrings made of crafted from Venetian lace, sterling silver and Pyrite gemstones.. They are one of a kind and the design will NOT be repeated, and it’s made in the true spirit of Colonial America.

In order to win this pair of special earrings or a $100 Amazon gift certificate, all you have to do is comment on the featured blog of the day, featuring our first novel in the Sons of Liberty series, "No Gentleman Is He" all throughout the blog tour and the prize will be awarded at the end of the tour, sometime in late July.
Here are the earrings from Polished Presence Designs:
**not exactly as pictured, since they are one-of-a-kind, but it's close, made from Venetian Lace in the traditional manner of Colonial women**

Here is the list of blogs hosting Carley and I for our month long tour. Be sure to visit them all and join in the fun!

Looking forward to seeing you all there.

If you’re interested in seeing Polished Presence Design’s fantastic artwork, visit her here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Polished-Presence-Design/106606129367061?fref=ts

However, I also have a bonus offer for all our readers that is specific to my blog here; if you also comment on my blog at http://lynettewillows.blogspot.ca/ on the special announcement entry here, and answer a question concerning our book, “No Gentleman Is He”, I have an additional prize. From the same artisan, Polished Presence Designs, I have the matching necklace. However, because of the existing Canadian laws, I have to ask a “skill testing question” and decided to base it on our book, so that loyal readers gain this one of a kind wearable piece of art.

You will double your chances of winning if you add a “like” vote on our book page on Amazon.

Better yet, triple it with a review as well, on the Amazon book site for our novel here: http://amzn.to/179Mo7R .

Be sure to mention how many entries you want by fulfilling the terms, your name and email address, as well as the answer to the skill-testing question in comments, so I can add your name the appropriate amount of times to the draw jar. Remember to leave your email address so I can contact you if you’re a winner! This is essential; if you don’t do this, I can’t possibly contact you to send your prize, can I?

In short, let me review how you can win the unique, one-of-a-kind necklace, exclusive to this blog site only:
1 entry: commenting on my blog here and answering the question concerning “No Gentleman Is He”.
2 entries: “liking” our novel on Amazon.
3 entries: posting an honest review on Amazon.

We’d love it if you joined us on our fan page so you can keep updated on our progress on Book 2 of the Sons of Liberty series and any other special news we have to share. We’d love to hear from you! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lynette-Willows-Carley-Bauer/278323855613717

Remember, your name could be entered up to three times, tripling your chances of winning. The draw will be at the end of the blog tour, sometime in late July, the same time as the earring draw. Keep tuned for the date of the draws here and on our fan page.

Interested in seeing what you’re playing for? The wonderful necklace:
**not exactly as pictured, since they are one-of-a-kind, but it's very close, made from Venetian Lace hand-wrapped with fresh water pearls, again in the traditional manner of the Colonial era**

And you can’t lose by reading our book, “No Gentleman Is He”, considering it is rated 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon http://amzn.to/179Mo7R 

And is #1 in Goodreads “Hot Reads for Summer” list. http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/35996.Hot_Reads_for_Summer

**I also invite you to visit my co-author Carley’s blog, “From Carley’s Laptop” at http://fromcarleyslaptop.blogspot.com/

*Skill testing question for a chance to win the necklace, exclusive to this site: What is the name of Colton Rolfe's illiterate lead hand that Cassandra taught to read? Remember, you must include the answer to your comment to qualify for the prize. 

**Must have a minimum of three separate readers enter  before drawing for the prize of the necklace. Failure to meet minimum reader requirement will result in cancellation of the game/contest.**