Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #AmericanCivilWar #Histfic Cairnaerie by M.K.B. Graham

Today’s team review is from Sean, he blogs here http://ebookwormssite.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Sean has been reading Cairnaerie by M.K.B. Gaham

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Summary

A family drama history, from the period 1840’s through the Civil War to 1930, showing the far-reaching generational impact of the choices made, and the culture they are made in.

Main Characters:

Geneva Snow: The main protagonist, whose life we follow through her 72 years. The daughter of a wealthy lawyer, headstrong, sometimes petulant, and impulsive.

Zeph Elias: Husband and guardian of Geneva

John Klare: Disgraced history professor, hired by Geneva.

Minor Characters

Tobias Jebson: Low-life criminal, abusing his usurped position of post-master.

Joly Jennings – the grand-daughter.

Helen Van Soren – Librarian

Bertram & Caroline Snow – Geneva’s parents

Plot:

In 1827, a 10-years-old boy [Bertram Snow] was turned out onto the Baltimore streets, by a family too poor to feed him. A kindly stranger found him wet and starving a  few months later, and brought him up as his own. 100 years later, his daughter has summoned a historian to tell the family story, which she has recorded in her diaries.

The story is revealed by switching viewpoints and narrative between the 1860’s and ‘70’s, and the late 1920’s.

The story sets out to show the dynamism of the 1840’s Virginia, with Geneva’s father setting up his farmstead “Cairnaerie”, then having his family, three boys and a feisty, headstrong daughter.

Over time, as the children grow, the farm prospers, and Bertram expands his law practice in the local town and becomes a pillar of local society, the future looks very bright for the family. We get an insight into pre-War social mores, with the slavery etc. being taken for granted. Bertram however is more enlightened, and aims to “pay forward” the chance he received when a child, and to help/educate less-fortunate others, including his slave Zeph.

The War comes, and emancipation along with it. Zeph, now free, decides to stay with the Snow family. The Snows have lost two sons in the war, the mother begins her descent into the grave, and the family slowly withdraws from the life of the town, becoming forgotten.

Isolated, passionate, young, Geneva commits what then was an unforgiveable crime in Southern society, an inter-racial marriage and child with Zeph. She had hidden the marriage from her parents, but could not hide the pregnancy. Furious, they forbid her any contact with Zeph or the child, and confine her to the house until she recants and gives them up. Powerful personalities clash, with Geneva showing her naivety about real-world dangers, and her parents at odds with both her and each other.

Neither side moves, and her parents die without there being a rapprochement. Many, many years later, Geneva, now the last of her family, wants to set things right by her grandchild (daughter of her own daughter), but her secret is revealed before she can reveal it herself.

The historian, himself fighting to regain his good name after an incident at his previous college, walks a very thin line in bringing this story together, dealing as he needs to with the “science” behind eugenics, institutional racism, social expectations, and this line becomes even thinner when the full truth of the story is revealed.

Ably assisted by the local (and pretty, and single) college librarian, they build a relationship with the fragile Geneva, who slowly begins to trust them with her secret. Her one wish is to attend the wedding of her grand-daughter, but without having her secret reveal itself.

The story does not have a traditional happy-ever-after ending, and the human regret of leaving things unsaid becomes all too real.

What I Liked

I loved the historical accuracy, and feel the author brought both periods alive, for example the differing transport types in the periods, the dress codes, the social proprieties.

The main characters were well-written, and their actions and dialogue is believable and realistic.

The storylines mesh well.

What I Didn’t Like

It became predictable about halfway through, if not a little before, as the isolation of Geneva would naturally lead her to find comfort where she could.

The father was more modern than I would have credited, but that could just be my own bias.

Some pieces just didn’t ring true, but seemed a device just to get the plot moving (e.g. finding a preacher willing to marry the only daughter of a well-known local in an isolated church with no family present).

Overall

Cairnaerie is a well-written book, with engaging characters, and would be great as a holiday read. The changing world of the South is lightly but convincingly drawn. The questions raised are about loyalty, sacrifice, the power of family versus the power of society, and the reader is left to wonder how they would rise to each question.

Acknowledgements:

Thanks to the author for giving me a free copy in return for an honest and objective review.

About the author

M.K.B. Graham writes literary fiction, historical fiction, and feature stories under the label McKeadlit LLC, a freelance company. Partial to the Appalachian Mountains, the author is a lifelong Virginian and part of a family whose roots to the Commonwealth run deep, stretching back to the 1700s. Graham, a graduate of Virginia Tech, has worked as a writer for two Virginia universities and as a former associate editor of Virginia Tech’s signature magazine. The author lives and writes in the beautiful and historic Shenandoah Valley. She is fascinated by old houses, earlier eras, particularly the 1930s and 1940s, and the influence of families on history, much of which informs her writing.

M.K.B. Graham

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #thriller Restitution by @RoseEdmunds #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Restitution by Rose Edmunds

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It is exhilarating to meet “Crazy Amy” once more, trying to pick up her life again by using her financial and legal expertise to help 83-year-old George stake his claim to a valuable Picasso painting, recently rediscovered.  Believing that it belonged to his Art collector father before he was murdered in 1939, George travels to Prague accompanied by Amy, not realising that there are others with a similar mission who will stop at nothing to get hold of the picture.

Still in shock from a recent tragedy, Amy appears to be in control, but that little voice still pops up questioning her competence, while Mel, one of her erstwhile betrayers turns up, claiming friendship.  Amy is haunted by reminders of the horrors of her childhood, but she seems to be making progress in her task.  It is possible that both Mel and Amy might find romance in Prague, but first they need to stay alive.

The complex plot, deception and danger, make for an exciting narrative and Amy’s insightful analysis of the weaknesses of other characters raises a smile.   We really shouldn’t like Amy; she drinks too much, lacks patience and shows intellectual arrogance, but she is addicted to adrenalin, walking head on into every situation bravely, with a plan which may or may not work.  Some call her crazy, but Amy is trying to cope with her demons by helping others and proving her worth.  Another great adventure with this indomitable anti-heroine.

Book description

Reeling from a catalogue of disasters, flaky sleuth Amy travels to Prague to help an old man recover a Picasso painting last seen in 1939. It seems like a mundane assignment, but the stakes are far higher than Amy imagines. Competing forces have vested interests, and are prepared to kill to meet their goals. Caught amid a tangle of lies, with her credibility in question and her life on the line, could Amy’s craziness be her salvation…?

About the author

For more than 20 years, Rose Edmunds almost passed as normal, working undercover in in several well-known financial firms in London while quietly gathering material for her novels.

Since jumping off the corporate hamster wheel Rose now writes thrillers with a strong ethical theme. Her writing draws heavily on her considerable insight into business world and in particular the uncomfortable conflict between capitalism and humanity.

Rose’s debut thriller, Never Say Sorry, was about a Big Pharma conspiracy to suppress a cancer cure. Since then, she has been working on the Crazy Amy thriller series—an ambitious project which will follow the brilliant but unstable Amy Robinson on her journey from senior finance executive to who knows where…

Rose Edmunds

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Urban #Scottish #crimefiction The Trial by @johnmayerauthor

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Trial by John Mayer

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The author of The Trial was an Advocate in the Supreme Courts of Scotland, and he made good use of his knowledge of the Scottish legal system in this, his first book in the Parliament House Series.

Glaswegian Brogan McLane is a member of the Faculty of Advocates in Parliament House after being called to the Bar of the Scottish Supreme Court. He is an outsider, having spent years of university education and legal training to reach his position, rather than being handed his judicial office from his father. The other members of the Faculty of Advocates come from a rich and entitled tight-knit community, having grown up in each other’s company from an early age. Brogan, by contrast, comes from a murky background. So who better to frame for the death of High Court Judge Lord Aldounhill, found dead after a transvestite party in his sumptuous home.  Brogan is the perfect scapegoat to set up to take the fall, hiding the real killer.

The author takes us skillfully through the trumped-up charges, the holes in the rigged investigation, and the trial, which with a bad outcome can send Brogan away for life. The investigation is continually thwarted by corruption and evil within the Supreme Court.  It is not enough that the police officer leading the investigation, Commander Imrie, and Jimmy Robertson, the oldest Queen’s court officer in Parliament House and the provider of inside information, both believe Brogan is innocent. It is up to Brogan’s friends, who live largely on the other side of the law, to provide him with the help he needs to face the power of the nefarious forces within the Court.

I had a great time reading The Trial. It offered a unique setting for a crime novel, and the author provided plenty of twists and turns to keep me turning pages. The treacherous connivance of the members of ‘the system’ set my blood to boil in this good vs evil tale. The characters were enjoyable – even the vilest of the characters were limned in three-dimensions. The steaminess of the crime was presented tastefully as was the (limited) sex. I particularly enjoyed being educated on the Scottish legal system, although I had to refer frequently to the Glossary of Terms and am still not sure I understand the court organization.  I also had to read the Scottish dialect carefully – it added to the richness of the story, but not being familiar with it, I found some of it confusing. None of this detracted from a darned good ride. Great story, excellent plot – I recommend The Trial.

Book description

An urban legal/crime novel set in the beautiful Scottish city of Edinburgh.
Part I of The Parliament House book series

When Glaswegian Brogan McLane completes many years of university education and legal training he crosses that great divide from Glasgow to Edinburgh. ‘Called’ to the Bar of the Scottish Supreme Court, he becomes a member of the most prestigious club in Scotland; The Faculty of Advocates in Parliament House.

When High Court Judge, Lord Aldounhill, is found dead after a transvestite party in his sumptuous home, those who know the killer close ranks and need a scapegoat – who better than ‘outsider’ Brogan McLane?

Out on bail with his career on hold, McLane and his band of blood brothers in the Calton Bar in Glasgow need to get ahead of their enemies or McLane will go down for life after Trial. But every time they discover a piece of evidence, it seems there is a mirror image to contradict it.

Through the murky world of Russian controlled transvestite hotels and with some unexpected police and judicial help, McLane battles against ‘Low Life in High Places in the Old Town’ until the killer is found.

But well protected and knowing all the tricks, will the killer ever stand trial in Parliament House.

About the author

John Mayer would love to be a top-flight blues guitar player and have dated Jennifer Aniston. But what he did achieve, amongst other things was to be a 1970s Indie Record Producer before becoming a top-flight Advocate in the Supreme Court of Scotland where he specialised in international child abduction: rescuing the children, not abducting them, of course.

In his youth, John was shot! Twice! Once in Glasgow, Scotland and once in New York City. John attacks everything he does with passion. And that’s what he brings to his writing.

John Mayer

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Thriller Hiding by @jmortonpotts #SundayBlogShare

Today’s team review is from Karen, she blogs here http://mytrainofthoughtson.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Karen has been reading Hiding by Jenny M Potts

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My Opinion

This book introduces you to the plot lines covering Rebecca and her family, and Keller Baye.

With Hiding, Jenny Morton Potts has created a quite intriguing mystery, starting with two plot lines. It is at first on the slowish side, introducing the main characters and pieces of their pasts. After a few chapters, the story settles at a good and steady pace. Jenny Morton Potts created a good suspense story with some twists, and more insights in Keller’s motives. I did not get close to the characters – I followed them and their stories from a comfortable distance. I wanted to learn the reason why, even if I could not get very close to any of the events. Even if the story did not fully meet my expectations, it is a good read with believable characters, interesting turns, and a good flow.

This is a book for you if you like suspense with interesting turns and sidelines, believable characters, and if you appreciate the art of forgoing excessive details.

Book description

A gripping psychological thriller with chilling twists, from a unique new voice.

Keller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her.

This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens?

About the author

Jenny Morton Potts was born in a smart, dull suburb of Glasgow where the only regular excitement was burglary. Attended a smart, dull school where the only regular excitement was the strap. Worked in smart, dull sales and marketing jobs until realising she was living someone else’s life.

Escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon who wanted to talk about The Da Vinci Code, wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England – and unlikely ever to leave again – Jenny, with assistance from loyal hound, walked and swam her way back to manageable health.

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, partnered for 28 years, she ought to mention, and living with inspirational child in Derbyshire.

Jenny Morton Potts

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#Paranormal #Fantasy My #Bookreview of Wolfheart by @Konstantina88P

WolfHeartWolfHeart by Konstantina P.

3 stars

Wolfheart is a paranormal fantasy romance.

The Anders pack of werewolves share a land with Magic folk and humans. A bloody war took place and now the magical people and werewolves are sworn enemies. In the continuing power struggles the werewolves kidnap Cora, the Magic King’s daughter, hoping to use her as a bargaining tool.

Power in the Anders pack traditionally passes from mother to daughter.  Jen is the Alpha female of the pack, but her younger brother Steven created his own pack. Although Steven treats Jen as his queen, there are times when disagreements challenge their positions.

Cora is not what the werewolves expect and they find themselves connecting to her rather than seeing her as their enemy. This leads to a predictable showdown finale.

The plot had potential and I liked the paranormal theme, but I felt the book needed another re-draft and perhaps the assistance of a good editor. I wasn’t convinced by the characters so I didn’t get the escapism experience I was hoping for.

I felt there were opportunities for deep character development which would have made the personalities rounded and believable. Currently too many of the characters have similar sounding dialogue and showed simplistic, often childish, behaviour. Also, the behaviours of any werewolf pack should be very strong with no room for insubordination or disloyalty; the current mannerisms, for me, didn’t suit the story.

This was a good try for a debut novel, but in order to compete in the saturated fantasy market place, I think this book will need further work.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

In the middle of the war between two powerful species that revealed the supernatural world to Humans, two people try to find their place among their kind and with each other while battling not only the circumstances, but their own nature too.

Steven -a Werewolf Prince- inherited his Alpha powers after murdering a rabid wolf but in doing so he disrupted the equilibrium inside his family´s pack where the power should pass from mother to daughter. Now, with both him and his sister Jen being Alphas and laden with guilt, Steven has to keep his head down and follow orders; play the good soldier in a war he detests.

When Jen sends him on a mission that will take him and his pack out of pack land for the first time, he finds Cora -the Magic Princess- born the first year of the war and believed to be the most powerful Magic that has ever walked the earth. The Anders Werewolves though cannot survive long outside their land and Jen hates Magics with passion after they kidnapped and killed her mate. Wolves mate for life so, determined to take her revenge, Jen leaves her brother to struggle with his own morality; save a girl who has spend her entire life being tortured by her own people or keep quiet and maintain his position at his sister´s side, keeping their people united?

About the author

My debut novel “WolfHeart”, a new adult, paranormal romance, was published on November 2017. I was born in 1988 in Korinthos, Greece and soon after my family moved to Lefkada where I grew up until 2006, when I relocated to Athens for my studies. I have a BSc in Physics, a MSc in Materials Science and currently I am studying for my PhD. In 2013, I got my Diploma in Scriptwriting for TV, Film, Stage, Radio.

Konstantina P.

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Clean #Romance My #Bookreview of Finding North by Audrey Wick @WickWrites @TulePublishing

Finding True North (Texas Sisters Book 1)Finding True North by Audrey Wick

3 stars

Finding True North is an easy read romance set in Texas. It opens with Paige on the day of her uncontested divorce. Now she’s a single mum to two year old Nathan.

Caught in a power cut at the grocery store, Paige bumps into high-school friend Everett. He’s come back to Seguin to help care for his mother. Over the next couple of weeks Paige and Everett meet up, they enjoy each other’s company, but neither is being completely honest. In the end, any future relationship they might have together looks doomed when Paige reveals her lie. Will this be the end for them?

This is a light, clean romance with much of the storyline taken up with parenting, and single mother-hood issues. At times, I felt that too much minute detail was over-explained, which encouraged me to skip through sections. This would probably suit readers who are new to romance novels, who are yet to want more from this genre trope. For a book to stand out in this saturated category, I like to see several exciting twists and turns or unexpected elements.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Life in a small town has always suited Paige Fredrick. She loves going to work near the courthouse square and riding her bike nearly anywhere she chooses. But after her divorce, she can hear her neighbors’ whispers and the gossip mill churning.

Everett Mullins has worries of his own as he finds himself back in his hometown, providing temporary care to his ailing mother while trying to run their family farm. A chance meeting reunites him with Paige, his crush from high school. But when he discovers her little white lie, he questions what they’ve started building.

As Paige makes a new life, can she find direction with Everett? Or has too much damage already been done to navigate a romantic relationship built on a lie?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT 1800s shipping #HistFic The Likeness by @carver22

Today’s team review is from Anita, she blogs here http://jenanita01.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Anita has been reading The Likeness by Bill Kirton

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Fitting The Likeness into a genre seemed difficult at first. I thought it was a mystery thriller, but then realised it was a romance too. It is beautifully written, so should appeal to a wide range of readers.

John Grant is the first person you meet in The Likeness, and he has several threads to his story. A woodcarver with a flair for detection, he is a complex and fascinating character whose relationship with Helen Anderson was enjoyed in the author’s previous work, The Figurehead.

John is also part of the local lifeboat team, regularly rescuing the crews of stricken ships from the sea. The book opens with such a rescue, but there is an unexpected victim on the beach that day, a well- dressed and attractive woman.  The fact that one of her legs was damaged could mean she hadn’t walked to her death and John’s curiosity drives him to solve this mystery and somehow restore the woman’s dignity.

Helen is the daughter of a wealthy shipping company owner, determined to make her mark in a man’s world. Her relationship with John is handled with a gentle touch with just a hint of their growing passion for each other. I particularly enjoyed the chemistry between the two of them.

Set in the 1800s, this story describes the period very well, and we learn just how difficult it was to be a forward-thinking, independent woman back then. Something Helen handles with ease. I thoroughly enjoyed the way she manages to get her own way and without ruffling too many feathers in the process.

I particularly enjoyed Helen’s stubborn determination against the prejudices of the time and her father’s disapproval, to travel alone on one of his ships. She has a very good reason for doing this and eventually gets her way!

As a bit of a craftsperson myself, I also enjoyed the different descriptions of the joys of woodcarving, the wood used and the techniques involved.

John Grant is a special man, skilled as a wood carver but also skilled as a detective. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Likeness, and as I haven’t yet read The Figurehead, this will be something I remedy and soon.

Book description

Aberdeen, 1841. Woodcarver John Grant has an unusual new commission – creating a figurehead to feature onstage in the melodramas of a newly-arrived theatre group. Simultaneously, he’s also trying to unravel the mystery of the death of a young woman, whose body has been found in the filth behind the harbour’s fish sheds.

His loving relationship with Helen Anderson, which began in The Figurehead, has grown stronger but, despite the fact that they both want to be together, she rejects the restrictions of conventional marriage, in which the woman is effectively the property of the husband.

As John works on the figurehead, Helen persuades her father, a rich merchant, to let her get involved in his business, allowing her to challenge yet more conventions of a male-dominated society.

The story weaves parallels between the stage fictions, Helen’s business dealings, a sea voyage, stage rehearsals, and John’s investigations. In the end, the mystery death and the romantic dilemma are both resolved, but in unexpected ways.

About the author

Bill Kirton was a university lecturer in French before taking early retirement to become a full-time writer. He’s won two 2011 Forward National Literature Awards – ‘The Sparrow Conundrum’ was the overall winner of the Humor category and ‘The Darkness’ was runner up in the Mystery category. His historical mystery, ‘The Figurehead’, was long-listed for the 2012 Rubery Book Awards.

He’s produced material in many different media. His radio plays have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4 and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. His stage plays have been performed in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and the USA and he’s been the visiting artist to the Theatre Department of the University of Rhode Island on four separate occasions. There, he directed stage plays, gave classes on creative writing and theatre, performed in revues and translated three plays by Molière for public performance, one of which won a BCLA prize. Material from his Edinburgh Festival revues was broadcast on the BBC, ITV and French television.

He’s also been a TV presenter and a voice-over artist and his scripts for corporate and educational DVDs and videos have won awards in the UK and USA. He’s been a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, and the universities of Dundee and St Andrews.

Most of his novels are set in the north east of Scotland. ‘Material Evidence’, ‘Rough Justice’, the award-winning ‘The Darkness’, ‘Shadow Selves’ and ‘Unsafe Acts’ all feature DCI Jack Carston. ‘The Figurehead’ is a historical novel set in Aberdeen in 1840. The award-winning ‘The Sparrow Conundrum’, is a spoof spy/crime novel also set in Scotland. His comic fantasy novella, ‘Alternative Dimension’ satirises online role-playing games.

His short stories have appeared in the Crime Writers’ Association annual anthology in 1999, 2005 and 2006. IN 2010, one was also chosen for the ‘Best British Crime Stories, Vol. 7’ anthology edited by Maxim Jacubowski.

His non-fiction output includes ‘Brilliant Study Skills’, ‘Brilliant Essay’, ‘Brilliant Dissertation’, ‘Brilliant Workplace Skills’ and ‘Brilliant Academic Writing. He also co-wrote ‘Just Write’ with Kathleen McMillan.

He writes books for children. ‘Rory the Dragon and Princess Daisy’ was published as a tribute to his great niece, Daisy Warn, who lived for just 16 weeks. Proceeds from its sales go to a children’s hospice in South-West England. ‘The Loch Ewe Mystery’ is a stand-alone novel for children aged 7-12 and he’s preparing a series about a grumpy male fairy called Stanley who lives under a cold, dripping tap in his bedroom.

Bill Kirton

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Scottish #HistFic A House Divided by @MargaretSkea1

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading A House Divided by Margaret Skea

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A sweeping tale of compassion and cruelty, treachery and sacrifice, set against the backdrop of a religious war, feuding clans and the Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1597 – What’s not to like about A House Divided? I couldn’t wait to read it and savored it for as long as I could.

This is the second book in series about the Munro family and their enemy, the arch-villain of their story, William Cunninghame. Although I have not read the first in the series, The Turn of the Tide, A House Divided can be read as a stand-alone novel with no problem…except that I now feel compelled to treat myself to that first book.

The Munro family has been forced into hiding to escape their enemies, the wealthy Cunninghames. While Adam Munro fights in France with the Scots Garde, which is supporting Henri IV, Kate Munro takes shelter with her children at the Montgomerie stronghold of Braistane. There she takes the surname Grant to hide her and the children’s identity. The Cunninghame son, thinking all the Munros are dead from their persecution, takes possession of the Munro’s home at Broomelaw and is rebuilding the estate for himself.

Kate supports herself by working as a ‘wise woman,’ the term used for an herbalist and a midwife. These woman are often accused of being witches, and Kate courts danger during a period when witchcraft trials and burnings are common in Scotland. Kate is partially identified when she attends the wife of a Cunninghame supporter, and her daughter, who is training with her mother to be a wise woman, also becomes visible in the countryside when she answers some of the calls for Kate to provide medical help. When Kate’s growing reputation results in her being asked to attend Queen Anne, the wife of James VI, the chances she will be seen by the Cunninghame family at court increase exponentially.

Although the story focuses on Kate, Adam is not forgotten as the reader is treated to the vicissitudes of the war in France, King Henri’s increasing reliance on him, and Adam’s attempts to find a way home to see his family, from whom he has been separated for several years. I found these interludes to be less compelling than Kate’s story, but necessary to the direction of the overall plot.

This is an exceptional book, combining the tensions of several story lines with exquisite detail of life in Scotland in the 16th century. I loved the descriptions of herbal remedies and as the wife of an obstetrician, I found the midwifery fascinating.

The characters are exceptionally well wrought, pulling you into each scene. Skea is a master of description, from the lovely countryside to the details of siege warfare, the trials of witches, and the daily, mundane chores of everyday family life. Set against this rich tapestry is the rising and falling tension that Kate and/or Adam will be discovered, which did not play well with my blood pressure!

Skea also weaves into her story broader issues of morality, science vs superstition, loyalty and justice. This is a must read for all lovers of historical fiction, and I think Skea’s writing  is comparable to that of Phillipa Gregory and Diana Gabaldon.  I’m hooked and looking forward to reading the next in the series.

Book description

Eleven years on from the Massacre of Annock, the Cunninghame / Montgomerie truce is fragile.
For the Munro family, living in hiding under assumed names, these are dangerous times.
While Munro risks his life daily in the service of the French King, the spectre of discovery by William Cunninghame haunts his wife Kate. Her fears for their children and her absent husband realized as William’s desire for revenge tears their world apart.
A sweeping tale of compassion and cruelty, treachery and sacrifice, set against the backdrop of feuding clans, the French Wars of Religion, and the Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1597.

About the author

Margaret Skea grew up in Ulster at the height of the ‘Troubles’, but now lives with her husband in the Scottish Borders.

Awarded the Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best First Time Author 2014 and Historical Fiction Winner in the Harper Collins / Alan Titchmarsh People’s Novelist Competition for her debut novel Turn of the Tide, the sequel A House Divided was longlisted for the Historical Novel Society New Novel Award 2016. The third book in the series will be published in autumn 2017. She is passionate about well-researched, authentic historical fiction and providing a ‘you are there’ experience for the reader.

An Hawthornden Fellow and award winning short story writer – recent credits include, Overall Winner Neil Gunn, Chrysalis Prize, and Winchester Short Story Prize. Third in the Rubery Book Award Short Story Competition 2013, a finalist in the Historical Novel Society Short Story Competition 2012, shortlisted in the Mslexia Short Story Competition 2012 and the Fish Short Story and long-listed for the Historical Novel Society Short Story Competition 2014, the Matthew Pritchard Award, and Fish One Page Prize, she has been published in a range of magazines and anthologies in Britain and the USA.
New collection of short stories – Dust Blowing and Other Stories, including some of those from competitions mentioned above is now available.

Margaret Skea

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistFic Mary: Tudor Princess by @tonyriches #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Mary: Tudor Princess by Tony Riches

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Unlike other readers I tend to avoid selecting Tudor history, perhaps because of a surfeit of them in earlier years, but Mary – Tudor Princess appealed because she was so little known to me; not Bloody Mary, Henry’s eldest surviving child, not Mary Queen of Scots but Henry’s sister Mary. Though written in the third person, this Mary speaks to us of her life of duty and compromise and the happiness she found by guile and diplomacy in finally achieving the marriage she desired.

Wise beyond her years, 13-year-old Mary accepts her betrothal to 9 year old Charles, a future Emperor and prepares herself by keeping his picture at her bedside, but suddenly her capricious brother, King Henry VIII, sees more profit in marrying her to the much older King Louis of France.  Rather than being filled with horror, as a young woman of this century would be, she faces her new life bravely, realising that the King’s age and poor health open the possibility of another husband when she is widowed.  To this end she extracts a promise from her brother that her next marriage will be of her choice though she was to find this was not quite as straightforward as she hoped.

The story also deals with the purchase of wardships, where an astute gentleman, such as Charles Brandon, Mary’s second husband, acquired a young ward so that he could gain access to her fortune by arranging her marriage either to himself or to a useful ally. And here too, we see young girls happily agreeing to this state of affairs, just as Mary’s grand-daughter, Lady Jane Grey would, 40 years later. The complex life of a noble lady in 16th century Europe is both fascinating and disturbing.

Tony Riches has given us a likeable, clever Mary who becomes a good mother and step-mother, who eventually marries the love of her life but quickly learns that she and her friend Queen Catherine are tools in a man’s world.  I thoroughly enjoyed entering the French court, watching Henry’s tournaments and experiencing Mary’s joys and sorrows.

Book description

From the author of the international best-selling Tudor Trilogy, the true story of the Tudor dynasty continues with the daughter of King Henry VII, sister to King Henry VIII. Mary Tudor watches her elder brother become King of England and wonders what the future holds for her.

Born into great privilege, Mary has beauty and intelligence beyond her years and is the most marriageable princess in Europe. Henry plans to use her marriage to build a powerful alliance against his enemies. Will she dare risk his anger by marrying for love?

Meticulously researched and based on actual events, this ‘sequel’ follows Mary’s story from book three of the Tudor Trilogy and is set during the reign of King Henry VIII.

About the author

Tony Riches is a full-time author from Pembrokeshire, West Wales, an area full of inspiration for his writing. After several successful non-fiction books, Tony turned to novel writing and wrote ‘Queen Sacrifice’, set in 10th century Wales, followed by ‘The Shell’, a thriller set in present day Kenya.

His real interest is in the history of the Tudors and now his focus is on writing historical fiction about the lives of key figures of the period.

Best known for his Tudor Trilogy, Tony’s other international best sellers include ‘Warwick ~ The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses’ and ‘The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham’. In his spare time Tony enjoys sailing and sea kayaking.

Tony Riches

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #travel #memoir Notes Of A Naive Traveler by @JSAauthor

Today’s team review is from Shelley, she blogs here http://shelleywilsonauthor.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Shelley has been reading Notes Of A Naive Traveler by Jennifer S Alderson

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Category: Memoir/Travel Guide

My Rating: 4 Star

My Review:

Travelling is something I love to do and would enjoy doing more often if time and funds allowed. When I spotted Notes of a Naïve Traveler by Jennifer Alderson on the RBRT review list,I knew it was the book for me.

I love how this story is told in a diary/email format as it brings the adventure to life. Alderson throws herself into her travels embracing the cultures, highs and lows of family life, and opportunities presented to her by the Nepali people before moving on to Thailand. She spends Christmas and New Year away from her family but doesn’t deny herself the occasional present.

There is plenty of humour as Alderson’s bubbly personality shines through. She writes in such a way that you feel connected to her and her journey.

 Nepal:

While going to Durbar Square – I never made it – a young Nepali named Khamel started chatting me up while I was freaking out over a miniature stupa covered in the most ornate ceramic tile mosaic. He ended up being my guide for the day and took me to places I never would have been or understood.

Thailand:

I’m sitting in a pub that The Book (Lonely Planet Thailand) recommends, sipping whiskey and coke, staring at a gigantic Christmas tree, and listening to US and Radiohead. A frail Thai man selling Santa Claus hats with flashing battery-operated balls dangling off them walks up and down the street in front of me, displaying his wares and a toothless grin to all potential customers.

Part memoir and part travel guide, Notes of a Naïve Traveler, includes all the necessary ingredients for anyone hoping to visit Nepal or Thailand. The inclusion of photographs helps the reader to engage with what Alderson is experiencing.

Thoroughly enjoyable read. I look forward to more from this author.

Book description

“I never thought I would have reason to say to someone, ‘Sorry I’m late, it took longer to dismember the goat than originally planned.'”

I was twenty-six years old, worked at a well-paid job, rented a fantastic apartment, and enjoyed a large circle of friends. I had everything, except I didn’t. I couldn’t shake the feeling I was missing out on the experience of living.

Part guidebook on culture and travel, part journey of self-discovery, this travelogue takes you on a backpacking adventure through Nepal and Thailand and provides a firsthand account of one volunteer’s experience teaching in a Nepali school and living with a devout Brahmin family.

Trek with me through the bamboo forests and terraced mountaintops of eastern Nepal, take a wild river-rafting ride in class IV waters, go on an elephant ride and encounter a charging rhinoceros on jungle walks in Chitwan National Park, sea-kayak the surreal waters of Krabi, and snorkel in the Gulf of Thailand. Join me on some of the scariest bus rides you could imagine, explore beautiful and intriguing temples, experience religious rituals unknown to most Westerners, and visit mind-blowing places not mentioned in your typical travel guides.

Notes of a Naive Traveler is a must-read for those interested in learning more about – or wishing to travel to – Nepal and Thailand. I hope it inspires you to see these amazing countries for yourself.

Related subjects include: travel, adventure, memoirs, non-fiction, backpacking, volunteering, travelogue, travel writing, solo travel, culture, journals, cultural heritage, cultural travel, Asia, Nepal, Thailand.

About the author

Hi! I worked as a journalist and website developer in Seattle, Washington before trading my financial security for a backpack. After traveling extensively around Asia and Central America, I moved to Darwin, Australia, before finally settling in the Netherlands. There I earned degrees in art history and museum studies. Home is now Amsterdam, where I live with my Dutch husband and young son.

My travels and experiences color and inform my internationally-oriented fiction. Down and Out in Kathmandu: A Backpacker Mystery is a travel fiction adventure through Nepal and Thailand. The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery is a suspenseful ‘whodunit?’ which transports readers to wartime and present day Amsterdam.

Both novels are part of an on-going yet stand-alone series following the adventures of traveler and culture lover, Zelda Richardson. The third installment, another art-related travel thriller (working title: Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery) will be released in the January 2018.

My travelogue, Notes of a Naive Traveler: Nepal and Thailand, is now available as paperback and eBook. A must-read for those interested in learning more about – or wishing to travel to – Nepal and Thailand.

Jennifer S. Alderson

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