Rosie’s Review Team #RBRT The Unraveling Of Brendan Meeks by @briancohnMD #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Unraveling Of Brendan Meeks by Brian Cohn

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THE UNRAVELING OF BRENDAN MEEKS by Brian Cohn

5 out of 5 stars

Brendan Meeks is schizophrenic.  He thinks his head contains an important, secret code, and that mysterious men in dark suits are trying to get inside his brain.  He comes from an affluent, middle class, dysfunctional family; his mother is cold and aspirational, his father a weak shadow, but his sister is the one light in his life.  Brendan lives in a run down apartment block, where his friends are a druggie, a drunkard and a dealer, but they’ve become his new family.

When tragedy strikes, Brendan is sure that the police are not doing enough to solve the crime, and takes on his own investigation.  Trouble is, he is unable to tell what is truth and what is just the voices in his head…

‘My voices commanded me to do awful things, like jump off a bridge or slit my throat or step out into traffic.  They never told me to do anything useful or productive, like, ‘Eat more vegetables’ or ‘Don’t forget to floss’.’

I read this book over just two days, it’s very good indeed.  Brendan is likeable and totally believable, and every character, even the minor ones, shine out.  Mr Cohn’s writing style is intelligent, incisive, and subtly amusing, which is just right for this unusual and highly original story.  Cliché alert: I couldn’t put it down!

Brendan makes some excellent observations:

About a DEA officer ~ ‘His voice was low and soft, with a backwoods Louisiana accent, Cajun and Creole and jambalaya all mixed together.  I envisioned him living in a house on stilts, driving a fan boat and wrestling alligators in his spare time.  He probably put Tabasco sauce in his coffee’.

About a dealer: ‘…a pudgy white guy with short blond hair … he looked like a bloated Eminem, and I wondered if he had eaten the rapper and taken on some of his persona in the process’.

The plot itself is interesting, some of it almost black humour, but it’s tragic, too, and I had no idea what the outcome would be.  When it came, it wrapped all the threads up nicely, and gave me hope for Brendan too.  I don’t throw 5* around but this book definitely deserves it.  The author has masses of genuine talent, the sort you can’t learn, or fake with ‘by-numbers’ plots.  Highly recommended!

Book Description

THE UNRAVELING OF BRENDAN MEEKS is a first-person glimpse into the mind of a young man with schizophrenia as he deals with tragic loss. The result is a unique and unforgettable mystery clouded with hallucinations and fraught by paranoia.

Meeks is a young man born with a silver spoon jammed down his throat, a fact his domineering mother has never let him forget. Although he has nearly everything he could ever want—friends, money, a good education—Brendan’s life falls apart during graduate school when he begins to show signs of schizophrenia. Forced to drop out of school, he watches most of his friends disappear and his parents distance themselves further and further.

The only constant left in Brendan’s life is his loving sister, Wendy. When she turns up dead, he must ignore the insults and threats from the voices in his head to begin his own investigation. With the help of an odd assemblage of his few friends—a drug dealer, a meth addict, and a war veteran with a bad case of agoraphobia—he begins to uncover a conspiracy that may, or may not, be a byproduct of his own delusional mind.

About the author

Brian Cohn

Brian is an ER doctor practicing in St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives with his beautiful wife and their two rambunctious children. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama where he grew up loving to read. His passion for books continued through his college career at the UNC-Chapel Hill, and traveled with him back to Alabama where he attended the University of Alabama School of Medicine. He moved to St. Louis for residency training, met his wife, and fell in love with both her and the city itself. He has been practicing emergency medicine for over a decade and loves helping people every day, but turned to writing as a creative outlet.

A self-professed nerd, Brian has long enjoyed everything science fiction, from books to TV and movies. He is also a huge fan of great mysteries and thrillers, and is a sucker for a surprising plot twist. He writes the kind of books that he would want to read, reflecting a deep-seated curiosity about what motivates people to do the things they do.

When he’s not busy writing and taking care of patients, Brian loves to run, play with his children, and spend quiet time watching TV with his wife. If he can only figure out how to do all three things at once, he’ll finally have it made.

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Rosie’s Team #RBRT @TerryTyler4 reviews #Scifi #Fantasy Phaethon by Rachel Sharp @WrrrdNrrrdGrrrl

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Phaethon by Rachel Sharp

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PHAETHON by Rachel Sharp

4 out of 5 stars

Jack and Rosie are a young married couple living in downtown Boston.  They have an obsession with all things techy, and spend their time pulling them apart, posting ‘how-to’ videos, reports on the latest software, and troubleshooting tips; they have menial jobs but supplement their income from donations via their online life.  They care more for what they do and love than upgrading to a better apartment or slipping into the American middle-class ‘norm’; domestic and material stuff is unimportant to them, in comparison with their tech world.  I loved Jack and Rosie!

When the new ‘Phaethon’ phone is introduced, they’re among the first to buy it, in order to make a bit of much needed cash from their critiques and how-tos.  But this is no ordinary phone.  When Rosie pulls ‘Lassie’ apart, she discovers that the inside is more like something from the pre-camera phone 1990s.  After a long, long night in conversation with Lassie, Jack suspects other-worldly goings on….

Basically, this book is about a magical world of faeries and other beings who exist alongside our world, unbeknownst to most ~ think Harry Potter.  Not a subject that is absolutely up my street, generally, but I enjoyed this, and sometimes I loved it.  Elements of the faerie world are rising up against the humans; you begin to find out why at about 60%, just as I was wondering what, exactly, it was all going to be about!  Calthine, the fae creature who labours alongside Jack, Rosie and their friends to put things right, is hilarious, so well written.  The tech stuff is spot on, clever and current, as are the observations of popular culture.  It’s sharp, funny, intelligent and (of no little importance) it’s perfectly proofread, edited and formatted ~ which is no less than I would expect from the creator of Jack and Rosie 😉.

Book Description

Hacker couple Jack and Rosie crack technology, but the newest device, the Phaethon, isn’t like other phones. The parts are junk, yet it can do the impossible. Though gentle prodding and data theft, they learn it’s powered remotely…by a living creature.
Cracking the Phaethon enters them into a war. Some, like Calthine, the bitter Bogle, are on their side. Others are controlled by ​a new type of fae; the bosses of the Phaethon corporation, who have steel for eyes and iron for souls. Now, the hackers have to fight creatures they’ve never heard of to save the friends they’ve just made.

About the author

Rachel Sharp

Rachel Sharp is an author and lifetime member of the Somewhat Eccentric Creative Persons Club (which she just invented).
She now lives in New York City with her partner, several plants, and her boundless sense of inappropriate humor. At time of writing, she is working on entirely too many projects. The previous statement will be true regardless of time of reading.
She also lives with chronic illness, plays ukulele, and tries to save the planet.

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To Bee Or Not To #Bee #SaveTheBees #Beekeeping #SundayBlogShare

Whilst surfing Twitter recently, I was reminded about the world plight of the humble honey bee, a creature ignored by me for some decades.  Why?  I spent them recovering from the scars of my teenage years. Let me explain. I … Continue reading

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT @TerryTyler4 reviews #NA #Romance Kai by @MichelleAbbott4

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Kai by Michelle Abbott

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KAI by Michelle Abbott

3.5 stars

This story is nicely written, flows well and is very readable; I like the author’s writing style.  The book starts with Lily, who works in a supermarket, discovering that her wages have not been paid into her bank.  The calamity is well written, drawing the reader into Lily’s world straight away, though I had an issue with this part: although it would leave her with no food for four days, she rejects the offer of a loan from her manager and chooses to spend her last seventy pounds on paying her electricity bill.  Who can go four whole days with no food?

We then meet Kai, dope dealer with a heart of gold, who is very appealing; I can see that he’s a great hero for a book aimed at a young adult age group.  Lily then meets her neighbour, Jackie, who is smoking a joint; it’s medicinal, for her MS.  I had another slight issue with this, too.  Lily automatically assumes that Jackie is a ‘drug addict’, because she’s smoking weed.  I would have thought that, as she has been an art student, she’d have a slightly more worldly attitude towards such things, unless art students have become a lot more clean living since my day!

I thought some of the issues raised were well done, such as Jackie’s son refusing to go to school, and I liked Kai’s bond with his mother and how he wanted to do whatever it took to make a better life for them.  The private, inner conflicts faced by Kai and Lily were nicely written, though I did wish the two characters’ ‘voices’ had been more clearly defined; they both used the same speech patterns and language, had the same tempo and mood.  The book was not as edgy as I expected from the blurb, but I expect that is because it is written within the confines of that which is suitable for the target market, and who, I imagine, will like it very much.

Book Description

My name is Kai Okamoto. I deal drugs. Trade escapism for cold, hard cash.
Born to a British mother and a Japanese father, I grew up poor, hungry, and alone. Hiding from the monsters at our door. The debt collectors.
I’ve worked hard to escape my past. I’m not that frightened little boy anymore. I’m wealthy, secure, and sure of myself. At least I was, until I met Lily.
Lily is a good girl. The kind of girl I should stay away from. I should, but I can’t.
I hate lying to her, but if she finds out who I am, what I do. I won’t see her for dust.
A standalone, bad boy romance, set in England.

About the author

Michelle  Abbott

Michelle Abbott lives in the UK and hates describing herself in 3rd person.
She’s a self-published author of new adult romance, and likes to write about heroes who begin as the underdog and are protective of their girl.
She’s an avid reader of romance, is addicted to coffee and loves wine and chocolate, so yeah, not the most healthy eating and drinking habits 🙂 She spends way too much time online when she should be writing. She collects teddy bears and occasionally knits a couple of rows on a sweater she started years ago, which she may eventually finish in time to wear for her funeral.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Mystery #Thriller Blessed Mayhem by @SueColetta1

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

#RBRT Review Team

Anita has been reading Blessed Mayhem by Sue Coletta

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This is the second book in the Mayhem Series, starring the inimitable Shawnee Daniels in another brilliant crime thriller set in Massachusetts, USA.

Shawnee is an unlikely hero, with a heart of gold and a vocabulary to shame the devil. She encounters a serial killer during one of her rare nightly forays as a burglar, triggering both his interest and his fascination.

What follows is an unusual relationship between them. Fast and witty, the dialogue between them will make your head spin. Mr Mayhem, as Shawnee calls the killer, is a remarkable man. Intelligent, elegant, with a wicked sense of humour. Totally, unlike any serial killer I have ever read about, and the perfect foil for the smart and quick witted Shawnee Daniels, occasional burglar and computer specialist for the Police Department.

You are not supposed to like serial killers, but you will love this one, especially the relationship between him and Shawnee. There are so many good things in this story, from the hilarious antics of Mayhem’s three pet crows, to the detailed description of the intricate world of computer hacking.

This book has it all, fast action and twisting plots that will literally keep you gasping for air as the tension grips you by the throat.

The ending was intriguing, but slightly disappointing. This only made me want to read the next in the series!

Book Description

A chance encounter …a deadly predicament …a lethal decision.
The infamous Mr. Mayhem is not your average serial killer. Reminiscent of the beloved Hannibal Lecter, minus his thirst for flesh—because eating humans is just plain rude—Mr. Mayhem storms on the scene with style, grace, elegance, and a zest for life unlike any other. Impeccable manners also help. He may commit murder, but there’s no reason to be impolite about it.
Accompanied by his loyal crow companions, Poe, Allan, and Edgar, his crimes strike fear in the hearts and minds of folks across Massachusetts’ North Shore. When Shawnee Daniels—cat burglar extraordinaire and forensic hacker for the police—meets Mayhem in the dark, she piques his curiosity. Sadly for her, she leaves behind an item best left undiscovered. Or is it serendipity by design?
Color him curious, but he yearns to examine the psychology behind her life choices, tough girl routine, witty banter, and unique double-life. In a different time and place they may even become friends. But unfortunately, their predicament defines the risk.
The stakes are too high to stop now.
For reasons authorities cannot fathom, these seemingly unrelated murders will go down in history as the most impressive killing regime of all time. His coup de grace, if you will. Even if it means permanently erasing Ms. Daniels from the equation. All the pieces are there if the authorities look hard enough. The question is, will they? The only new wrinkle is Shawnee Daniels, and she may be his toughest opponent yet …if she’s clever enough to play the game.

About the author

Sue Coletta

Member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers, Sue Coletta is an award-winning, multi-published author in numerous anthologies, and her forensics articles have appeared in InSinC Quarterly.
In addition to her popular crime resource blog, Sue’s a radio host—check out “Partners In Crime” on Writestream Radio Network, Blog Talk Radio—the communications manager for the Serial Killer Project and Forensic Science and founder of #ACrimeChat on Twitter.
Sue lives with her husband in New Hampshire, surrounded by the sultry sounds of nature.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Mystery The Unraveling of Brendan Meeks by @briancohnMD

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs here http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading The Unraveling Of Brendan Meeks by Brian Cohn

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My review:

I’m writing this review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Having read and enjoyed Brian Cohn’s previous novel The Last Detective  (you can check my review here), I was very intrigued by his new novel. Although it also promised a mystery/thriller of sorts, this one was set firmly in the present, well, as firmly as anything can be when told by a character suffering from paranoid schizophrenia who rarely takes his medication. As I am a psychiatrist, and I read many thrillers, the book had a double interest for me.

As the description says, the story told is narrated, in the first person, by the main character, the Brendan Meeks of the title. Although he is from a good family and had an affluent (if not the happiest) childhood, his mental illness disrupted his education (he was studying a masters in computer sciences at the time), and his life. He now lives in a rundown apartment in St. Louis, surrounded by other marginal characters (a war veteran suffering from PTSD who never leaves the house, a drug-addict girl whose dealer has become something more personal, an understanding Bosnian landlord…). His main support is his sister Wendy. When she dies, he decides to investigate her death, and things get even more complicated, as his brain starts making connections and seeing coincidences that might or might not be really there.

Brendan is the perfect example of an unreliable narrator. His mental illness makes him misinterpret things, give ominous meanings to random events, and believe that everything that happens relates to him and “the code”. Brendan hears voices, abusive voices, mostly in the second person, that give him orders, insult him, tell him to harm himself and others… He has a complex system of paranoid delusions, all related to a “code” he believes was implanted in his brain, and he is convinced that there is a conspiracy of various agencies (mostly men dressed in dark suits driving black SUVs) that will stop at nothing to try and recover that information. Thanks to his parents’ money (as this is the USA, his access to care would be limited otherwise) he sees a psychiatrist once a week, but he rarely takes medication, as he is convinced that if he does, he won’t be able to escape these agents that are after him. Yes, the medication helps with the voices, but it does not seem to touch his delusions (if it is all a delusion). There are several points in the novel when Brendan ends up in hospital and is given medication, and then he seems to hold it together for a while, enough to go after some clues and make some enquiries, but the longer he goes without medication, the more we doubt anything we read and wonder if any of the connections his brain makes are real or just a part of his illness.

I thought the depiction of Brendan’s mental illness and symptoms was very well done. It brought to my mind conversations with many of my patients, including his use of loud music or the radio to drown the voices, his feelings about the medication, his self-doubt, the attitude of others towards him (most of the characters are very understanding and friendly towards Brendan, although he faces doubt and disbelief a few times, not surprisingly, especially in his dealings with the police and the authorities), and his thought processes. He is a likeable and relatable character, faced with an incredibly difficult situation, but determined to keep going no matter what. His sister’s death motivates him to focus and concentrate on something other than himself and his own worries, and that, ultimately, is what helps him move on and accept the possibility of a more positive future. He also shows at times, flashes of the humour that was in evidence in the author’s previous novel, although here less dark and less often (as it again fluctuates according to the character’s experiences).

The narration is fluid and fast, the pace changing in keeping with the point of view and the mental state of the protagonist. There are clues to the later discoveries from early on (and I did guess a few of the plot points) although the narrator’s mental state creates a good deal of confusion and doubt. The rest of the characters are less well-drawn than Brendan, although that also fits in with the narration style (we only learn as much as he tell us or thinks about them at the time, including his doubts and suspicions when he is not well), and the same goes for his altered perceptions of places and events (sometimes offering plenty of detail about unimportant things, and others paying hardly any attention at all).

Where the book did not work that well for me was when it came to the mystery/thriller part of it. There are inconsistencies and plot holes that I don’t think can be put down to the mental state or the altered perception of the character. There is an important plot point that did not fit in for me and tested my suspension of disbelief (in fact made me wonder if the level of unreliability extended beyond what the novel seemed to suggest up to that point and I became even more suspicious of everything), and I suspect readers who love police procedural stories will also wonder about a few of the things that happen and how they all fit together, but, otherwise, there are plenty of twists, and as I said, the build-up of the character and the depiction of his world and perspective is well achieved. Although the subject matter includes drugs, overdoses, corruption, child neglect, difficult family situations, abuse, adultery, and murder, there is no excessive or graphic use of violence or gore, and everything is filtered through Brendan’s point of view, and he is (despite whatever the voices might say) kind and warm-hearted.

I recommend it to readers interested in unreliable narrators, who love mysteries (but perhaps not sticklers for details or looking for realistic and detailed investigations), and are keen on sympathetic psychological portrayals of the everyday life of a young man suffering from schizophrenia.

Book Description

THE UNRAVELING OF BRENDAN MEEKS is a first-person glimpse into the mind of a young man with schizophrenia as he deals with tragic loss. The result is a unique and unforgettable mystery clouded with hallucinations and fraught by paranoia.

Meeks is a young man born with a silver spoon jammed down his throat, a fact his domineering mother has never let him forget. Although he has nearly everything he could ever want—friends, money, a good education—Brendan’s life falls apart during graduate school when he begins to show signs of schizophrenia. Forced to drop out of school, he watches most of his friends disappear and his parents distance themselves further and further.

The only constant left in Brendan’s life is his loving sister, Wendy. When she turns up dead, he must ignore the insults and threats from the voices in his head to begin his own investigation. With the help of an odd assemblage of his few friends—a drug dealer, a meth addict, and a war veteran with a bad case of agoraphobia—he begins to uncover a conspiracy that may, or may not, be a byproduct of his own delusional mind.

About the author

Brian Cohn

Brian is an ER doctor practicing in St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives with his beautiful wife and their two rambunctious children. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama where he grew up loving to read. His passion for books continued through his college career at the UNC-Chapel Hill, and traveled with him back to Alabama where he attended the University of Alabama School of Medicine. He moved to St. Louis for residency training, met his wife, and fell in love with both her and the city itself. He has been practicing emergency medicine for over a decade and loves helping people every day, but turned to writing as a creative outlet.

A self-professed nerd, Brian has long enjoyed everything science fiction, from books to TV and movies. He is also a huge fan of great mysteries and thrillers, and is a sucker for a surprising plot twist. He writes the kind of books that he would want to read, reflecting a deep-seated curiosity about what motivates people to do the things they do.

When he’s not busy writing and taking care of patients, Brian loves to run, play with his children, and spend quiet time watching TV with his wife. If he can only figure out how to do all three things at once, he’ll finally have it made.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Dark #Fantasy The Blood King by @KeithWardWrite

Today’s team review is from Harry, he blogs here https://harryrodell.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Harry has been reading The Blood King (Red Proxy #1) by Keith Ward

The Blood King (Red Proxy Book 1) by [Ward, Keith]

3.5 out of 5*

I received a free review copy of this book, to review for Rosie Amber’s Book Blog, which did not influence my opinion. I read the title over 3 weeks on the train in eBook form. I enjoyed the book overall but I have included some critique points of considerations for the author and future readers.

The Blood King is a fantasy book, with some clear potential to be a dark fantasy adult epic.

The story of The Blood King is not a long one, but is packed with events. I encountered some great character development and writing that kept me turning the pages. The world building is progressive throughout the book, not all given in one chapter, but presented through the story, which I liked; it created a level of curiosity in me. It was also very clear from the beginning that the world was medieval, gruesome and brutal. It was also very distinct of how the population was living, building some wonderful imagery.

The main character has some great nuance to her; she is not your stereotypical likeable protagonist and has some questionable attributes that will make you unsure of how to feel about her. She feels human in her mistakes and in her personality. The antagonist so far is a little more ‘typical bad boy’, though his motivations are understood throughout the book. I felt he could have been developed more, so he was not so one dimensional. There are also some great minor characters throughout the book.

Some points to consider:

The violence level: The Blood King paints a violent picture from the start; the title is very clearly violent and the front cover depicts a king literally bathing in blood. I entered the book expecting some brutality and a decrepit world, but the violence was less than I expected, aside from in one chapter, perhaps even a little tame, which disappointed me, though this could be because the book is aimed at a younger market, I am not sure. I felt the author needed to up the ante as it were, and not be afraid to make the reader squirm!

A little more time: Some chapters felt a little rushed, especially those linked to a battle or war chapter, so this point supports itself with the previous one. Little description of the battles are presented, so you do not live out the scenes from the solders perspective, only briefly. I would like to hear from the solders’ perspective, hear the descriptions of gruesome sights and perhaps hear some real war strategy.

Some other points: I really like the style of presenting chapters with a title, I think this technique can work really well for some books. However, some of the chapters are easily predictable because of the title and it spoils a little of the fun. I suggest using some headings that are a little more ambiguous, rather than using the titles to spell out the chapter’s contents.

Overall, The Blood King, is well worth reading if you have the spare time I am very interested in what happens next.

Book Description

Madness wears a crown.
And when evil and madness collide, no one is safe.
Lord Fathim has ruled Walkland for centuries, and his plot to take over the rest of the world is ripening. He has one small problem, though: he’s going insane.
There is a cure. One person — Mavel, a powerful and famous Span Seer — can help restore his mind. She holds the key to Lord Fathim’s future, and thus the future of all. But will her own fears and failures stop her? Can she, or anyone, stop The Blood King’s reign of death?

About the author

Keith Ward

For me, writing is an exploration. I put on my virtual pith helmet, grab my machete and start hacking through my mind, trying to find stuff that’s interesting. Mostly, I just want to tell a good story — I don’t have grandiose ideas about changing the world through my prose (that would be nice, but nah — it ain’t happening).

I write mostly in the fantasy genre. I’ve loved fantasy since discovering Frodo, Gandalf and Smaug when I was still Hobbit-sized. For me, “The Lord of the Rings” represented how I wanted the world to be (heck, I’d still pay a lot of money for a ticket there, if anyone has one to sell). After that, it was “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant”, “Sword of Shannara” and any other fantasy novels I could get my hands on. The local library was my favorite place to be. I did more traveling there than anywhere else.

I’ve written in many other genres over the years (mostly during my unprofitable screenplay-writing days), including historical fiction, mystery, thriller, western and contemporary drama. But I always seem to come back to fantasy. As a genre, it’s difficult to do, since you have to make up *everything* you write — when a character walks somewhere, you have to decide what “somewhere” is — but that’s part of the appeal for me. I get to explore much further than the confines of this reality.

Ultimately writing is part of my soul. I do it because I must. I don’t write to feel alive. I write because *I am* alive. I hope you’ll come along on the journey with me.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT @CathyRy reviews #HistFic Wolfsangel by @LizaPerrat

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs at http://betweenthelinesbookblog.com

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Wolfsangel by Liza Perrat

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We first meet Céleste Roussel as an elderly lady attending a memorial ceremony with the remaining survivors of their village, along with their families. The atrocities and personal losses of WWII still weigh heavily and as Céleste reads the engraved names she is assaulted by memories, the decisions she made, actions she took, the feelings of guilt and sorrow which never truly leave her. Her granddaughter now wears the bone angel talisman passed down through the women of her family for generations.

This second book in The Bone Angel trilogy tells of Celeste’s life in Occupied France. The story, narrated by the young Céleste, gives a personal account of her experiences, as Lucie-sur-Vionne suffers under the rule of German forces. Her father had been taken to work for the Reich, her mother’s income was supplemented by her herbal remedies and her role as ‘angel maker’. Céleste and her mother have a difficult relationship, both are harbouring dangerous and traumatic secrets.

Céleste’s brother, Patrick, is a Resistance fighter with their friend, Olivier, and her sister, a nun, hides Jewish fugitives at the convent. Headstrong and sometimes reckless, Céleste wants nothing more than to fight for France and after proving herself a worthy candidate, she travels to Lyons to join the Resistance. Her courage is tested to its limits with tension filled exploits driven by anger and revenge. All leave their mark but through it all she grows and develops.

Based on historical fact, this powerful and skilfully written tale depicts the dangers, hardships and turbulence experienced by those who lived through the Occupation. Atmospheric and vividly descriptive, we see what an intense and far reaching effect it has on those subjected to unimaginable callousness and fear. The last horrific atrocity carried out by the Germans as the war comes to a close is the most horrendous and leaves Céleste with the literal and figurative scars that will haunt her throughout her life. A moving and tragic end to the story, made especially so by the author’s note at the end of the book.

Book Description

Seven decades after German troops march into her village, Céleste Roussel is still unable to assuage her guilt.
1943. German soldiers occupy provincial Lucie-sur-Vionne, and as the villagers pursue treacherous schemes to deceive and swindle the enemy, Céleste embarks on her own perilous mission as her passion for a Reich officer flourishes.
When her loved ones are deported to concentration camps, Céleste is drawn into the vortex of this monumental conflict, and the adventure and danger of French Resistance collaboration.
As she confronts the harrowing truths of the Second World War’s darkest years, Céleste is forced to choose: pursue her love for the German officer, or answer General de Gaulle’s call to fight for France.
Her fate suspended on the fraying thread of her will, Celeste gains strength from the angel talisman bequeathed to her through her lineage of healer kinswomen. But the decision she makes will shadow the remainder of her days.
A woman’s unforgettable journey to help liberate Occupied France, Wolfsangel is a stirring portrayal of the courage and resilience of the human mind, body and spirit.

About the author

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Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years.
When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her family for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist.
Since completing a creative writing course ten years ago, several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004 and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine, France Today and The Good Life France.

Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in the French historical “The Bone Angel” series set against a backdrop of rural France during the French Revolution. The second in the series, Wolfsangel, set during the WWII Nazi Occupation of France, was published in October, 2013. The third, Blood Rose Angel, set during the 14th century Black Plague years was published in November, 2015.

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My #Bookreview of #YA #Thriller Feel Me Fall by James Morris @JMorrisWriter #wwwblogs

Feel Me FallFeel Me Fall by James Morris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Feel Me Fall is a thriller. The main characters are teenagers, but this book can easily be enjoyed by adults. A school trip to Paraguay ends is disaster with a plane crash in the Amazon. Of the one hundred and thirty-four passengers, thirty-seven were students, teachers and chaperones from Riverdale Academy High. Just six survived.

The narrator is the sole survivor of struggles that follow the crash. Currently in hospital after the ordeal. As well as physical injuries, there is ‘survivor guilt’, so a counsellor suggests writing down the story as part of the healing process.

Minutes after the crash Emily struggles in a fast flowing river; buffeted, dragged under and finally spat out downstream. Five others make it to the same point alive: Viv (Emily’s best friend), Nico (Viv’s boyfriend), Ryan, Molly and Derek, who is the only one with any survival knowledge.

As a group, they outvote Derek and agree to continue downstream in search of rescue, rather than try to scale difficult terrain which would lead back to the crash site. Immediately there are divides; survival or ingrained morals, right versus wrong. Emily is the voice of reason, the one to argue that they should do all they can to help each other and show compassion. Derek, meanwhile, is all about survival of the fittest; he forages for edible food, finds drinkable water sources and makes beds to keep them off the floor at night. The jungle, hunger and exhaustion strip each of them of the veneer of their city upbringing. Ryan can no longer be the athletic bully he was at school, Molly gets their sympathy and Derek is no longer the oddball victim.

Are they all equal? Or are some more equal than others? A few of the group may have believed they were all working towards rescue, but Derek began to thrive. Being the sole provider, the leader, the one with survival knowledge, he begins to morph into someone savage. Flight or fight, submission or acceptance, these basic elements become forefront as their chances of rescue began to shrink.

This was a compelling read, I knew the ending, but I still wanted to know how six went to one. There was a point towards the end, when I thought I’d missed something but the author took me the extra mile. Gave more when I least expected it and pressed my fear trigger once more.

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Book description

Secrets and survival in the Amazon
Emily Duran is the sole survivor of a plane crash that left her and her teenage friends stranded and alone in the jungles of the Amazon. Lost and losing hope, they struggle against the elements, and each other. With their familiar pecking order no longer in place, a new order emerges, filled with power struggles, betrayals, secrets and lies. Emily must explain why she’s the last left alive.
But can she carry the burden of the past?
Discover the gripping new adventure novel that explores who we are when no one is watching, and how far we’ll go in order to survive.

About the author

James Morris

James Morris is a former television writer who now works in digital media. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching ‘House Hunters Renovation’, or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT @barrow_judith reviews Alt #Rome Inceptio by @alison_morton

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

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Inceptio by Alison Morton

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My Review:

I need to say from the start, that I may not have been in the right frame of mind to read what, to me, is a book with a complex and fantastical plot.  I wanted to like INCEPTIO; I started off really enjoying the book but as I read on I found the plot erratic; sometimes dragging, sometimes rushing by. So I struggled to be totally engaged with the story.

Told mainly from the point of view of Karen Brown, a modern New York resident, it is to the author’s credit that the protagonist is quickly built into a rounded character and it is easy to empathise with her in the rapid change in her circumstances. But, as the story progresses it becomes quite obvious that Karen,  soon renamed Carina Mitela as the most important resident of Roma Nova, wasn’t going to be beaten by any antagonist nor fail in any of the tasks she was given to complete. I felt there  were too many (and sometimes what I thought were ‘tongue in cheek’ ) attacks on the protagonist, designed to persuade her to sign away her  inheritance of vast amounts of money and, more importantly, a very successful business before her twenty-fifth birthday.

I did like the way the author built up some of the other characters: Karen/ Carina’s grandmother, Nona/Aurelia, the attractive, soon to be lover, Conrad. (I would have liked more time spent on the building of the relationships between the protagonist and these two characters – I am always more won over by character-driven tales ). And I also enjoyed characters such as Lurio, Apollodorus and Aelia. Even the antagonist, Renschman (told from a third person point of view, so we were a little distanced from him but could still see, if not empathise, his mindset – he has personal reasons for hating Karen) had his moments of depth were true evil for me. Of necessity there needed to be a lot of characters to populate this alternative country. But I did find myself shuffling back and forth sometimes to find out who fitted where.

Must admit though, I did like the idea of a country where the women ruled and called the shots!!

One of Alison Morton’s strengths is dialogue, both internal and spoken; there is never any doubt which character is speaking, even without dialogue tags. Yet even here I tended to be pulled out of the story by the constant use of Latin (Yes, I l know it adds to the validity of the country but still… . I have to confess this might have brought back too many memories of the language from a certain teacher in my schooldays! Don’t ask!!)

There is a lot of dense detail and some quite long descriptions of the fictitious state of Roma Nova. These build up a good sense of place of this civilisation that exists as a left over land of the long ago Roman Empire. Interesting- but I found they slowed the plot for me and I have to admit I did skip over some of them. And I found some of the narration, in parts, also dragged a little.

Loved the cover, by the way. I see this is a theme throughout the Roma Nova Thriller series.

Would I recommend? Well, yes to readers who enjoy alternative historical fiction with lots of action and lots of description.

Having written this review and then gone onto Amazon and seen how many 5* this book has been given, I think I’d like to read more of  Alison Morton’s work. Perhaps this just wasn’t for me at the moment

Book Description

INCEPTIO plunges you into a 21st century Roman world. Apart from kidnapping, heartache and a close encounter with Latin grammar, New Yorker Karen Brown must contend with a fascinating Praetorian elite forces officer. Oh, and a crazy killer pursuing her for a very personal reason.

Karen flees to her dead mother’s homeland, Roma Nova, the last remnant of the Roman Empire. Founded sixteen hundred years ago by Roman exiles and now ruled by women, it gives Karen safety and a ready-made family – but at a price.

In this adventure thriller set in an alternative timeline, Karen grows from a girl anybody might know into a strong female character not only intent on staying alive but also on finding out why the killer is hunting her.

A coming of age story, where an ordinary girl discovers there is a great deal more lying under her mundane existence, but also lethal danger. At what stage does she stop running from it?

About the author

Alison Morton

Even before she pulled on her first set of combats, Alison Morton was fascinated by the idea of women soldiers. After six years in a special communications regiment, she left as a captain, having done all sorts of interesting and exciting things she can’t talk about, even now…

The mosaics at Ampurias (Spain) and their creation by the complex, power and value-driven Roman civilisation made her wonder what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women.

Now, she writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with tough heroines, tends a Roman herb garden and drinks wine with her husband of 30 years.

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