Bead's Pickle - Carolyn Hill (aka Brown Rat)

Mark Robson

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#1
Having self published my early work, and read more than my fair share of the self published work of others, it should not be taken lightly that I would describe Bead's Pickle by Carolyn Hill as the best written self published book that I've come across. (And yes, I include my own books within that scope.)

It did take me a few chapters to get into the quirky, off-beat storyline, but once hooked, I finished the vast majority of the book in one sitting. The writing style is clean and polished, and her unique writing voice clearly displays her love for playing with words.

One has to feel sorry for Bead McCheckrovsky. It is clear from the outset that life has dealt her some pretty tough breaks. Yet despite her troubled background she has built a place for herself running a fast food franchise aboard the aging starship cruise liner Anarchy. What makes her likeable from the start is that her reaction to her own misfortunes has been to reach out to others in trouble and seek to give them the help and love that she has lacked in her own life. If that means her staff in the Daisy Fresh fast food restaurant are an oddball cast that cause her little but trouble and heartache, then that appears fine by Bead. She has adopted them as her surrogate family and is determined to prevent shadows of the past from ruining their corporate dream of freedom and a life amongst the stars.

As one would expect, things quickly go awry. One event after another link together in a sequence that seems set to shatter Bead's dreams and break up the bunch of misfits she considers her family. However, there is one freak twist of fate that looks as if it could offer her a light at the end of her very dark tunnel ... if only she can figure out how to use it to her advantage.

Carolyn piles on the agony for Bead in great style, with so many problems and adversaries that it becomes impossible to see quite how Bead will turn things around. The plotting of this book is tight and complex, and the feel-good ending left me keen to read more. My only minor criticism is that I felt there were too many members of her 'family' for me to really 'know' them all. Despite the large cast, however, Carolyn managed to give each a distinctive character and a part to play, so it took little from the clever story and the emotive writing style.

Whilst this story doesn't have a mass-market feel to it, I feel sure that there is a considerable niche in the SF market just waiting for Carolyn to jump in and fill. Her writing is original and clever, with a touch of humour that will leave those who read her work with a warm afterglow of satisfaction.

I heartily encourage you to give this book a go, and hope that someone in the publishing industry will sit up and take notice that Carolyn has arrived!
 

dwndrgn

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#4
Darn and you were fast too. I just bought it (along with Laura Underwood's Dragon's Tongue) over at Amazon. I happened to find I had some gift certificates available and I just had to use them!
 

Carolyn Hill

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#5
Thank you, Mark! Your review makes me . . . dizzy. Like the world has lurched sideways. In a good way.

I might cry. (Happy crying, followed by chocolate and hugging of cats.)

(And Dwndrgn: thank you, too.)
 

Teresa Edgerton

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#6
Mark Robson said:
I feel sure that there is a considerable niche in the SF market just waiting for Carolyn to jump in and fill. Her writing is original and clever, with a touch of humour that will leave those who read her work with a warm afterglow of satisfaction.
I agree!

Here is what I had to say about the book elsewhere:

An entertaining and original tale with an appealing protagonist, a plot full of quirks and unexpected turns, and an alien race like no other. Carolyn Hill has populated her universe with colorful, eccentric characters, and created a setting that is both exotically futuristic and a tongue-in-cheek reflection of our own times. Readers who like a little humor mixed in with their Science Fiction will be delighted with Bead's Pickle.
 

Mark Robson

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#7
Mark Robson said:
Whilst this story doesn't have a mass-market feel to it ...
Thought I'd just justify/expand on what I meant by this comment in case anyone got the wrong end of the stick, so to speak.

By 'mass-market' I meant Harry Potter/Da Vinci Code blockbuster sort of sales figures. (Perhaps I should brush up on some of my definitions!) I don't doubt that given a push, this story would have wide appeal and sell well.
 

dwndrgn

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#11
Since there has already been a review posted by Mark, I'll just stick in my tiny little review here:

Bead’s Pickle, Carolyn Hill

Bead’s Pickle is a delightful treat of a story. The author has created a character in Bead McCheckrovsky that is not only compassionate but realistic, a character we’d all like to know. Despite the science fiction trappings, space travel, frightening aliens and beautiful starscapes, this is really a story about family. We all need to have a family. Some of us have one that works, others have one that tries, and still others have one that doesn’t seem to fit the norm. Regardless of how our individual families relate to each other, they are part of who we are. Bead has forsaken her biological family and created a new one for herself. Her new family is made up of those people on the edge of society; runaways, rebellious youth, and those with precarious mental and physical health. She has adopted all of these wonderful people as her own and will do anything to keep them together. Her new family makes her happy.

When her past comes back to threaten her new life, the newest member of her family – the pickle-loving alien called Junior – could be the key to saving them all.

I truly enjoyed reading this story. It made me smile, it made me chuckle, it made me hungry.
 

Carolyn Hill

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#12
Your review makes me very happy, Dwndrgn. And the last line made me laugh! Thank you. :)

Family . . . that's what Chronicles Network is all about. Bead would love this place.

And she'd make sure that you (and Mark and Teresa and all the rest of the hungry and quirky denizens of CN) have full bellies and a warm berth at night.
 

dwndrgn

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#13
I happen to love pickles anyway so this was doubly appealing ;-P

I have yet to read a book by an author who is a member here who's work I don't like (Mark Robson, Teresa Edgerton, Carolyn Hill and Laura Underwood). So the Chronicles family needs to keep writing and I'll keep reading!
 
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