Who can refuse an #Author / #Blogger Meet up? #MondayBlogs @kimthebookworm

What does a gal do when invited to spend an afternoon talking about books?

She says YES!

A quick e-mail on Friday evening had me heading to London on Saturday, to meet up with a group of bloggers and authors, and talk about books for an afternoon, who couldn’t resist?

We met in the @Canal125 Bar, Restaurant- overlooking the Regent’s Canal in Islington near Kings Cross, London (Bizarrely just a little further up the road from the Bloggers Bash venue back in June for those readers who met there)

The idea is to meet up with a selection of authors and bloggers at an Author/Blogger Shenanigans

Event organisers; Kim Nash @kimthebookworm and Holly Martin @hollymartin00  run these events alternating between London and Birmingham.

Here’s a little gallery of pictures thanks to Chris and Susan for the photos

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So who else was there? My chance to name drop with abandon…

Anne Williams @Williams13Anne blogging at Being Anne

Book reviewer Rebecca from @Ifonlyread blogging at If only I could read Faster

Book reviewer Karen @karendennise blogging from My Reading Corner

Author Annie Lyons @1AnnieLyons more from Annie here

Author Jessica Norrie @Jessica_norrie Facebook link here

Book reviewer Laura from @lozzabookcorner blogging at Lozza’s book corner

Author Fiona Wilson @FWilsonAuthor Facebook link here

Book reviewer Susan @Susanhampson57 blogging at Books from Dusk till Dawn

Book reviewer Joanne @jocatrobertson blogging at My Chestnut Reading Tree

Book reviewer Dawn @crooksonbooks blogging at Crooks On Books

Author Jan Brigden @JanBrigden Romaniacs link here

Author Sue Fortin @suefortin1 more about Sue here

Author Jan Ellis @JanEllis_writer more about Jan here

Book reviewer Rachel @Gilbster1000 blogging at Rachel’s Random Reads

Author Barbara Copperthwait @BCopperthwait more about Barbara here

Author TA Williams @TAWilliamsBooks more about TA here

Author Abigail Osborne @Abigail_Arthur more about Abigail here

Book reviewer Neats @lilac_hippo blogging at The Haphazardous Hippo

Author Christina Philippou @CPhilippou123 more about Chris here

Author Steven Hayward @stevieboyh more abut Steven here

Book reviewer Linda @LindaHill50Hill blogging at Linda’s Book Bag

Author Eva Holland @HollandEva more about Eva here

Apologies to anyone I missed. Do yell and I’ll add you in.

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT WHEN DARKNESS FALLS by @ChauvetEllen #ParanormalRomance

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

#RBRT Review Team

Shelley has been reading When Darkness Falls by Ellen Chauvet

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As a fan of paranormal romance, and in particular, vampires, I was looking forward to reading When Darkness Falls.

The plot idea is great – the fight between good and evil is always a popular theme, as we can see by the thousands of books that dominate this genre. Finding an original take on vampire fiction and paranormal romance is a tough task. For me, this book didn’t quite deliver.

What let the book down were things like monotone descriptions of the mundane, such as shopping for a purple jumper, a scene that went on for pages but didn’t drive the story forward in any way. I didn’t connect with the characters very well, they begged for deeper descriptions which could be used to create memorable pictures in my head.

The lead figure Lexie, is a vampire executioner, granted, she is new to the gig, but one minute she’s getting into her groove and the next she’s swooning or worrying about her random (and swiftly changeable) emotions towards every man in the vicinity, rather than being an intense, sassy, brutal persona, it leaves the reader confused.

Many paranormal romance, books have reasonably explicit sex scenes, I know the author was trying to make her mark in this genre, however, the sexual encounters in this book were clumsy and hugely untasteful. It almost felt like the author was attempting to fit as many sexually explicit words into a sentence as possible.

Sadly for me, the reading experience didn’t live up to the expectations I felt when reading the book blurb. Paranormal romance is a saturated genre in the book market and this book needs a bit more TLC to get it ready to compete.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE BRAZILIAN HUSBAND by @BeccaPowellUK

Today’s team review is from Alison, she blogs at http://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading The Brazilian Husband by Rebecca Powell

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Book Blurb

SUNSHINE, SAMBA, SECRETS AND LIES – this summer’s must-read. “…scrawled in biro, the words which had brought me here… ‘Take me home’.” Determined to honor her late husband’s final request, Judith and her teenage step-daughter, Rosa, set out on a journey from London to Brazil to track down his family and take his ashes home. But when Judith’s search leads her to Ricardo, a handsome but haunted human rights lawyer, she begins to unravel a web of lies surrounding her husband’s past: a past which is about to come crashing into their present in the form of Rosa’s real mother. As the two women navigate their way through this vibrant country of contrasts, they find themselves struggling to salvage their own fractured relationship and put the past behind them. The perfect blend of romance and suspense, set against the stunning backdrop of northeast Brazil, The Brazilian Husband is a story of friendship, family and finding out who we really are. 

Review

I read ‘The Brazilian Husband’ for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Intelligent, thoughtful, and engaging, it really is a page turner.

Judith is an interesting and well-developed main character. Her difficult relationship with her troubled step-daughter Rosa is very well-portrayed and a real strength of the book. Judith’s desperation to rekindle her connection with Rosa is heart-breaking and frustrating – just as it should be, and Rosa is spot-on, her voice completely authentic. I didn’t know whether I wanted to give her a hug or a real telling-off!

The author clearly knows Brazil and it is described in vivid detail; no punches are pulled and there is some very gritty realism here, but this is tempered by an obvious affection for the country and its people and an appreciation of its beauty.

The writing really flows and is a pleasure to read.

All in all an excellent debut novel. I’ll certainly be looking out for more from this author.

Five stars

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT BEDSIT THREE by @sallyjenkinsuk #Thriller #SundayBlogShare

Today’s second team review is from Judith W, she blogs at https://readandreview2016.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Bedsit Three by Sally Jenkins

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BEDSIT THREE: A TALE OF MURDER, MYSTERY AND LOVE by SALLY JENKINS

  • Title: Bedsit Three: A Tale of Murder, Mystery and Love
  • Published: 2015
  • Author: Sally Jenkins
  • Started: Sunday 4th September 2016
  • Finished: Wednesday 14th September 2016

Bedsit Three focuses on the lives of the tenants of Vesey Villa, a collection of bedsits.  There is a new tenant in Bedsit Three, Ian, after the old tenants – Ignatius Smith and his girlfriend – suddenly vanish from the town. Ian wants to prove himself as a father to his son, Marcus, and finds solace in his neighbour Sandra, and her daughter Halifax. However, the tenants find themselves embroiled in a murder mystery case when it is revealed that neither Ignatius or his girlfriend have been seen for a very long time…

I found Bedsit Three very engrossing and easy to read, which I think is important for books in the mystery and thriller genres.

The prologue was really well-written; this was a pleasant surprise for me, as I am notorious for skipping the prologue because they never tend to be quite scruffy and don’t add anything to the plot. However, this does not apply to Jenkin’s book!

I felt the plot flowed at a reasonable pace, although some of Sandra’s scenes at college or Ian’s scenes with Jo felt somewhat of a side-track. My favourite parts of Bedsit Three were the first person narration scenes with Ignatius – you could really see inside his head, and understand his mental process. In addition, with a name like Ignatius, it’s immediately clear that he’s going to be a creepy character.

Speaking of names, I didn’t like the names Ignatius or Halifax – I know they were meant to be original and had special meanings, but I still just thought they were very weird – especially in contrast to more mundane character names like Ian.

My only concerns with Bedsit Three are the title and the use of description.

I think the title is too long (Bedsit Three would more than suffice), and at times the description of mundane items or events was far too detailed. For example, something as ordinary as a cup of tea might be described as ‘a warm, ceramic mug of delicious brown tea’, which doesn’t sound very genuine.

All in all, the plot was dramatic, the climax was dramatic and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Bedsit Three is available to buy as an e-book or paperback from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT THE DEAD CITY by @dylanjmorgan #SciFi #SundayBlogShare

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

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Teri has been reading The Dead City by Dylan J Morgan

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I’ve been anticipating this followup to The Dead Lands (review here) and was highly rewarded for my impatience patience.

The reader is immediately dropped into a riveting action sequence that will make you want to flip ahead to see what happens – but try to resist the urge!  The action sequences are vivid and extremely well done and I could easily picture the scenes as if watching a movie.

Morgan also possesses a talent at creating characters you love and those you love to hate and would like to feed to the mutants yourself – namely the greedy, narcissistic, and disgusting Colonel Paden.  That being said, one of the reasons Morgan’s books are so suspenseful is that you never know if one of your favorite characters will live or go down in a blaze of glory –  or even with a whimper.  But it sure does make for an exciting read.

And the ending!  Just when I thought the story was over, my heart rate had returned to normal, and I’d made peace with the sacrifices and deaths, a curveball came out of nowhere and left me in shock.  A dark, but nice twist that could lead to a sequel – I hope.

I received a copy of this book through Rosie’s Book Review Team in exchange for an honest review.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

THE CELESTINE PROPHECY by James Redfield #Spiritual #Adventure #Peru

The Celestine Prophecy (Celestine Prophecy, #1)The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Celestine Prophecy is a work of spiritual fiction and book #1 of a series. Definitely a Marmite type of book, with readers either liking it or hating it. I found it interesting but I also think it depends on where you are in your own life at the time of reading.

The book evolves around an ancient Peruvian manuscript said to hold answers to how and why man has evolved from early times and how he will continue on into the future. We are told that the manuscript is in nine parts and each must be learnt and understood before moving onto the next. Known as insights the manuscript parts tell of how until the middle ages many followers of religion believed the teachings of the Catholic church about how you must lead your life to get to heaven. Then with the Renaissance period there was a burst of new thinking and questions. A period of scientific discoveries about the universe took over from the church. Man then settled down to make a more comfortable lifestyle for himself rather than one of mere survival.

At the end of the second millennium there then became an increase in spiritual awareness and the insights that follow talk about harnessing nature’s energy, re-evaluating your life-path and moving forward towards a form of enlightenment. Throughout the book the step by step discovery of the content of each insight for the narrator is hampered by the Peruvian government who want to destroy all copies of the Manuscript.

The book can be read on many layers from an easy read adventure to a thought provoking thread and will bring a different reading experience to everyone who tries it.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT WHEN DARKNESS FALLS by @ChauvetEllen #Paranormal #Romance

Today’s Team review is from Judith W, she blogs at https://readandreview2016.wordpress.com/

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Judith has been reading When Darkness Falls by Ellen Chauvet

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  • Title: When Darkness Falls
  • Published: 2016
  • Author: Ellen Chauvet

 

  • Started: Sunday 7th August 2016
  • Finished: Friday 12th August 2016

When Darkness Falls follows Lexi Miles, an American woman living a glamorous lifestyle with her friend Emma in Paris, France. When Emma is horrifically attacked and murdered by vampires, and Lexis’s world is turned upside down as she makes numerous shocking revelations. She meets Etienne, an enigmatic vampire she can’t help but fall in love with. However, betrayal leads her to seek revenge.

When Darkness Falls was definitely an interesting, but short, read for me.

I liked the use of vampire iconography, like vervain and compulsion, elements of vampire tales first introduced to me through The CW’s The Vampire Diaries TV show, the adaptation of the books of the same name by L. J. Smith, which I’m really enjoying.

The frequent use of violence and bloodshed felt genuinely horrific and dark, making the “bad” vampires seem truly monstrous. However, I thought the logic behind the “good” vampires’ ability to resist human blood (by taking an anti-serum) didn’t seem wholly convincing.

I also thought the story was reminiscent of the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, but despite the similarities between the two stories, I found nothing wrong with Chauvet’s narrative, and it was an enjoyable vampire storyline.

However, When Darkness Falls is not just a vampire story, it is an erotic vampire story, and that was my main issue.

Furthermore, I understood the link Chauvet created between the feelings of lust and vampire “bloodlust” –connotations of uncontrollable urges, which even traditional Gothic stories included – and I thought this was cleverly done. However, Chauvet takes these connotations and turns them into sex scenes, which just didn’t add anything to the plot, and the explicit sexual language genuinely shocked me.

Excluding the sex scenes, I thought When Darkness Falls was an enjoyable and interesting book (and still a better love story than Twilight!)

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

When Darkness Falls is available to buy as an e-book or paperback from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

The Strangely Surreal Adventures of Sylvia Smetana by Meira Eliot @meiraeliot #RBRT #womensfiction

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Strangely Surreal Adventures of Sylvia Smetana by Meira Eliot

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I will freely confess it took me a while to finish this book. Life got in the way and I had to go back and reread a goodly portion of it, because the story jumps around.

It begins in medieval Prague, now the capitol of the Czech Republic, and a city I know well having lived there for more than a year. The author asks, “What is life?” and then describes a barber, bored with his profession, who leaves his wife and children to follow the perceived enchanted life of a traveling scholar and alchemist. He carries with him a green stone of moldovite, the only gem not of this earth, but from a meteorite. When he returns to Prague after many fruitless years, he finds his wife dead and his daughters working in a brothel and realizes he had squandered a good life.

This is the prospect facing the main character in this book, Sylvia Smetana, a likeable middle-aged teacher at Our Lady of Ransom’s private school for girls, where she teaches religious studies. She was more or less contented with her life until she traveled to Prague with her mother Svetlana, a Czech ex-pat who has lived in England since the 1950s. Svetlana gives her daughter a ring of moldovite, and from that time, Sylvia feels a psychic draw to Prague, to which she escapes as often as possible, and she begins to observe and question the lives of ambition populating the school.

The book is part scathingly funny description of the school’s hierarchy and the lengths to which the members of the administration will go to advance. The author has clearly had experience with the machinations of academia, and her sarcastic views tickled my funny bone, since I’m a long time academic.  She takes the concepts of head hunting, steering committees and thinking outside the box to new heights of ridiculousness, and I loved these parts of the book.

I also enjoyed the author’s colorful descriptions of Prague and the many sites I know so well. It was a trip down memory lane for me and her affection for the city comes through loud and clear. I, too, would love to return again and again.

One problem I had with the book was the changing points of view. The story jumped from Sylvia to her mother to the parent of a prospective student and to another faculty member who is having a nervous breakdown and back again. I found the transitions jarring and occasionally perplexing. There are also digressions to the history of John Dee, English mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occult philosopher, and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, and his links to Prague, specifically to Thaddeus Hajek. Hajek was the personal physician of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II and a Bohemian astronomer. I see these digressions as part of the Sylva’s growing desire to nurture her inner life, and the book concludes with wandering thoughts on love and trust, the finding of self, and the creation of our lives through experience.

I give this book four stars, largely based on its characters and humor, which makes it well worth reading.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT THE SEVEN YEAR DRESS by @MahurinPaulette #WW2 #fridayreads

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

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Terry has been reading The Seven Year Dress by Paulette Mahurin

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The Seven Year Dress by Paulette Mahurin

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team

I always head straight for books set in World War 2, and this book has so many good reviews that I couldn’t wait to start it. I’m afraid I was a little disappointed by it, though there is much to commend, too.

In the present day, student Myra rents a room from Helen Stein; after a while, Helen reveals all that she suffered as a Jewish girl living in Berlin during the war and, later, in Auschwitz. I thought the parts in the concentration camp seemed the best researched, treated with sensitivity, not sensationalised, and would certainly serve as an education for anyone who doesn’t know about the atrocities commited by the SS.   The build up of anti-semitic feeling in Germany is portrayed well, as is the bond Helen formed with a friend in Auschwitz. Earlier on, though, there are parts that seem unlikely, at best.

Helen’s friend Max is homosexual. As a thirteen year old, he talks about this to Helen. I doubt very much whether a boy of that age from a traditional family background in early 1930s Europe would have even acknowledged such sexual preferences to himself, let alone talked freely about them. There were other attitudes and phrases that I felt came from a more modern era. I also doubted that Max would have had access, later, to the high level German campaign secrets that he revealed to Ben and Helen. Then there is the bear rooting about in the ‘trash cans’ outside the farm buildings in Brandenburg. There have not been wild bears in Germany for nearly 200 years (I looked it up).

The other thing I wasn’t keen on was the sexually orientated passages, which I thought were tacky; it’s possible to write about a girl becoming a woman, and longing for love, etc, without it reading as though it’s aimed to titillate.

There is a fair bit of historical fact woven into the novel, some convincingly, other parts clumsily. I liked the epilogue, I thought it was a nicely written, suitably poignant ending. I can see from the Amazon sites that this novel has been received very well by many, and I wouldn’t not recommend it, but for me it was just okay.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

THE FOWLER’S SNARE by @CMTStibbe #AncientEgypt #HistFic #Bookreview @tmsanders2014 @readreviewroom

The Fowler's Snare: A Novel of Ancient EgyptThe Fowler’s Snare: A Novel of Ancient Egypt by Claire Stibbe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Fowler’s Snare is book #2 in this ancient Egyptian trilogy. Two sons, attempted to poison their father, King Ibada of Alodia, they escape to Egypt with a small army and plot to take over Thebes.

Pharoah Kheper-Re discovers that Kanjo and his men are more than mere merchants, he suspects they are Princes on the run and decides to test them in a dangerous challenge facing great hardships across the desert. A team lead by his commander Shenq will race Kanja and his selected men.

This period of history revolved very much around the gods, seers, prophets and dreaming with magic and omens believed at every turn. Many a priest or sorcerer lost their life if they didn’t predict the right outcome. In this book everyone’s lives revolve around the predictions.

There is a large cast of characters, twenty five helpfully named at the beginning of the book which is useful as many are hard to pronounce. I did struggle to keep them all separate as, for me, few had distinguishing dialogue which made them stand out.

I do like the book cover artwork and I enjoyed the first half of the book, the descriptions of the ancient world were very enjoyable. However I felt the race across the desert was too long and drawn out and lacking in connection back to the Pharaoh and the original story theme, it didn’t keep my interest in the storyline, instead it introduced yet more characters who diluted the race plot. A few times there was a bit of head hopping leaving me wondering who was talking and sometimes action seemed to jump in time from one paragraph to the next with no real page break in the storyline. It may have been just the formatting of the book I read, or it may need another check with editing.

All in all a good story premise, but a good trim of the number of characters allowing the reader time to form a relationship and empathy with the main ones, a check on the dialogue to make each person really stand out as an individual so that the reader can clearly picture them. And content, for instance, Pharaoh conveniently having Kanja’s army all slaughtered on the night of the race, with no fight, comebacks or survivors, and making sure every person or action takes the story forward at a good pace.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

I reviewed this book for ReadersReviewRoom

View all my reviews on Goodreads