Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Thankful For. #ThanksGiving #TuesdayBookBlog

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday is ‘Books I’m Thankful For.’

This weekly book meme is brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish

A Year of Doing Good: One Woman, One New Year's Resolution, 365 Good Deeds by [O'Reilly, Judith] A Year Of Doing Good by Judith O’Reilly

Fed up of New Year’s resolutions involving diets and exercise abandoned on January 2nd, Judith is attempting to be good. For one whole year.

She embarked on a mission to do one good deed every day. Some called it a social experiment. At times she called it madness.

Juggling family, friends and a variety of neighbours in the small Northumberland village she calls home, she recounts the ups, downs, moments of doubt and sheer bloody hard work of doing good.

From the small – babysitting a friend’s child, clearing up her neighbour’s dead mice and feeding her friendship cake Herman the German, to the slightly larger – trying to raise 10,000 for charity with her Jam Jar Army and teaching a severely handicapped child to write – she describes what she learns along the way: that no good deed is too small and that being good makes you happy. Well, most of the time. AmazonUk | AmazonUS 

2599655 Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

The women of the Waverley family — whether they like it or not — are heirs to an unusual legacy, one that grows in a fenced plot behind their Queen Anne home on Pendland Street in Bascom, North Carolina. There, an apple tree bearing fruit of magical properties looms over a garden filled with herbs and edible flowers that possess the power to affect in curious ways anyone who eats them.

For nearly a decade, 34-year-old Claire Waverley, at peace with her family inheritance, has lived in the house alone, embracing the spirit of the grandmother who raised her, ruing her mother’s unfortunate destiny and seemingly unconcerned about the fate of her rebellious sister, Sydney, who freed herself long ago from their small town’s constraints. Using her grandmother’s mystical culinary traditions, Claire has built a successful catering business — and a carefully controlled, utterly predictable life — upon the family’s peculiar gift for making life-altering delicacies: lilac jelly to engender humility, for instance, or rose geranium wine to call up fond memories.  AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

I Can Do It Affirmations: How to Use Affirmations to Change Your Life by [Hay, Louise L.]I Can Do It by Louise L Hay

Louise explains that every thought you think and every word you speak is an affirmation. Even your self-talk, your internal dialogue, is a stream of affirmations. You’re affirming and creating your life experiences with every word and thought. Your beliefs are merely habitual thinking patterns that you learned as a child, and many of them work very well for you. But other beliefs may be limiting your ability to create the very things you say you want. You need to pay attention to your thoughts so that you can begin to eliminate the ones creating experiences that you don’t want. AmazonUk | AmazonUS

 

The Thorn Birds by [McCullough, Colleen]The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

In the rugged Australian Outback, three generations of Clearys live through joy and sadness, bitter defeat and magnificent triumph – driven by their dreams, sustained by remarkable strength of character… and torn by dark passions, violence and a scandalous family legacy of forbidden love.

It is a poignant love story, a powerful epic of struggle and sacrifice, a celebration of individuality and spirit. Most of all, it is the story of the Clearys’ only daughter, Meggie, who can never possess the man she so desperately adores – Ralph de Bricassart. Ralph will rise from parish priest to the inner circles of the Vatican… but his passion for Meggie will follow him all the days of his life. AmazonUK | AmazonUS

29560746 My Wolf And Me by India R Adams

Their love was innocent.
Their friendship was pure.
Their fear was real.
Their danger was true.

When little Marlena is left to care for an abandoned wolf pup, her parents see their irrevocable bond, and this humble family embarks on an adventure trying to care for the needs of a rapidly growing wolf, and the needs of their headstrong daughter. The comical complications of such a venture only darken when Marlena, now a high school student, witnesses her wolf shift… into a young man.

Secrets and the pure hatred from a man out for revenge take Marlena, her family and her wolf on a heartbreaking journey of devastating loss, captivity, and ultimate sacrifices.

This love story will haunt you well after you finally set this book down. AmazonUk | AmazonUS

 1295The Clan Of The Cave Bear by Jean M Auel

This novel of awesome beauty and power is a moving saga about people, relationships, and the boundaries of love. Through Jean M. Auel’s magnificent storytelling we are taken back to the dawn of modern humans, and with a girl named Ayla we are swept up in the harsh and beautiful Ice Age world they shared with the ones who called themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear.

A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly–she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza’s way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge. AmazonUK | AmazonUS

82192The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

Fifth century Britain is a country of chaos and division after the Roman withdrawal. This is the world of young Merlin, the illegitimate child of a South Wales princess who will not reveal to her son his father’s true identity. Yet Merlin is an extraordinary child, aware at the earliest age that he possesses a great natural gift – the Sight. Against a background of invasion and imprisonment, wars and conquest, Merlin emerges into manhood, and accepts his dramatic role in the New Beginning – the coming of King Arthur. AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

 

Dissolution ( Matthew Shardlake #1) by C.J. Samson

Dissolution is the first in the phenomenal Shardlake series by bestselling author, C. J. Sansom, followed by Dark Fire, Sovereign, Revelation, Heartstone and Lamentation.

It is 1537, a time of revolution that sees the greatest changes in England since 1066
Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church and the country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. Under the order of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent through the country to investigate the monasteries. There can only be one outcome: the monasteries are to be dissolved.

But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell’s Commissioner Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege – a black cockerel sacrificed on the altar, and the disappearance of Scarnsea’s Great Relic.

Dr Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell into this atmosphere of treachery and death. But Shardlake’s investigation soon forces him to question everything he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes . AmazonUK | AmazonUS

4667024The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women:

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women — mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends — view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t. AmazonUK | AmazonUS

21036941The Other Side And Back by Sylvia Browne

This lively and empowering book of wisdom and healing comes from New York Times bestselling author and psychic Sylvia Browne. It offers an unprecedented and comprehensive look at how the afterlife affects us in this life. Discover: astonishing insights into our everyday contact with guides and angels; the truth about hauntings, and why we should not be afraid; how psychics can solve missing persons cases and even murders; how psychic energy can keep us healthy and improve our relationships; why we should not fear death or ageing; the afterlife, and how we can all maintain contact with our loved ones; reincarnation, and how we can all discover our past lives; Easy exercises to promote healing, discover past lives, improve relationships, contact loved ones, create joy and much more; must-read predictions for the 21st century. AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

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Rosie’s Review Team #RBRT Ryan Kaine: On The Rocks by @KerryJDonovan #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from E.L. Lindley, she blogs here http://lindleyreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

E.L. has been reading Ryan Kaine: On The Rocks by Kerry J Donovan

Ryan Kaine: On the Rocks: Book Two in the Ryan Kaine action thriller series by [Donovan, Kerry J]

Ryan Kaine: On the Rocks by Kerry J Donovan is the second book in the Ryan Kaine series and picks up where On the Run finished. Ideally it’s probably best to read the series in order but there are enough hints at the back story to make this novel work as a standalone. This is also helped by the fact that Kaine is on new territory with a new cast of characters.

Donovan builds the tension from the onset with the use of times and dates as chapter headings which emphasises the fast pace of the novel as the action takes place over a 48 hour period. What’s more the clock is ticking because a teenage boy is in peril and needs to be rescued before the elements take their toll on him.

The injured boy, Martin Princeton, provides the link to On the Run as the end of that novel saw Ryan Kaine pledging to redeem himself for the part he played in the shooting down of a plane which cost 83 lives. Martin’s brother was one of the victims and so Kaine feels duty bound to help him and consequently save his family from yet more heartache. The rescue mission takes him to the Scottish highlands where Martin has seemingly wandered off and become lost or worse.

The change of location injects the story with a renewed energy and the clash of cultures between the English interlopers and the local people provides lots of humour. The English characters, with the exception of Kaine, tend to be authority figures who have little respect for the locals or the difficult conditions that they will have to navigate. One such character is William (Buffalo Bill) Cody, head of an armed response unit who has been relocated from London due to his trigger happy approach.

There are references to characters from the previous novel but they play little part. Kaine is still hoping for a relationship with Lara Orchard who helped him in On the Run. She is being looked after by his friend, William “Rollo” Rollason while DCI Jones is working to clear his name. This novel belongs to the new characters, however, most of whom make up the mountain rescue team.

Iona McTay is a great female character, a tough no-nonsense doctor who goes out of her way to help Kaine. Her brother, Drew McTay, is a red-headed giant of a man with a good heart and strong moral code. Along with Gregor Abercrombie, the team leader, they form the heart of the rescue team and bring humour and warmth to what could otherwise be a harsh, violent, action story. The villains as I said are mostly the authority figures and Donovan offers a stark contrast between effective policing as represented by the officers on the ground simply doing their jobs and the careerists who don’t really care about anything other than how they look in the media and the impact this will have on their careers.

The main character is the eponymous Ryan Kaine, a 43 year old ex military officer. Despite the fact that he is tough and capable – if they were to make a film I envision Jason Statham – Donovan reveals him to be a kind, caring man who tries to do the right thing. He hates hurting people and mourns the loss of life, even if the individual may not deserve it. As he points out, “That’s someone’s son.” Early on in the novel Kaine defends a Sikh couple against a couple of racist thugs which puts him firmly on the right side of morality. Donovan maybe offers a wry political comment as the victim reflects how racism has intensified post Brexit.

Donovan chooses to write his novel in 3rd person which works extremely well as it allows for multiple viewpoints. Although the story is mostly from Kaine’s perspective we also get chapters from the members of the rescue team, Cody and Martin Princeton. This allows the tension to build as Donovan takes advantage of the fact that only Kaine and the reader are aware of his true role in the plane explosion.

I really enjoyed On the Run but I think On the Rocks is even better. Donovan is obviously a talented writer who takes his reader on an intense journey of both action and emotion. He seems to have settled into Ryan Kaine’s story so that the novel flows easily and engages the reader throughout. I can’t recommend this series enough if you enjoy action, adventure with a character who is not perfect but is willing to lay his life on the line for his beliefs.

Book description

Ryan Kaine is back in the action-packed sequel to the hit adventure thriller, Ryan Kaine: On the Run. 

Fresh from finding evidence that might clear him of terrorism charges and still carrying the scars of battle, Ryan Kaine heads to Scotland to help find missing schoolboy, Martin Princeton.

Facing arrest for shooting down civilian aircraft, Flight BE1555, and killing the 83 people aboard, Kaine is desperate to help find the boy. Why? Martin’s brother was on that plane and Kaine has vowed to protect the families of the victims–The 83.

Hunted by the authorities, can Kaine escape capture long enough to find the boy, or will the police and his more dangerous enemies find him first?

About the author

Internationally bestselling fiction author, Kerry was born in Dublin. He spent most of his life in the UK, and now lives in the heart of rural Brittany with his wonderful and patient wife, Jan. They have three children and four grandchildren (so far), all of whom live in England. An absentee granddad, Kerry is hugely thankful for the advent of video calling.

The cottage is a pet free zone (apart from the field mice, moles, and red squirrels).

Kerry earned a first class honours degree in Human Biology, and has a PhD in Sport and Exercise Sciences. A former scientific advisor to The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, he helped UK emergency first-responders prepare for chemical attacks in the wake of 9/11. This background adds a scientific edge to his writing. He is also a former furniture designer/maker.

Kerry J Donovan

Goodreads | AmazonUk | AmazonUS | Twitter

Authors reviewing Authors (It’s a Minefield) #MondayBlogs #AmWriting

Authors reviewing authors

(it’s a minefield…) Guest post by Terry Tyler

Reviewing advice

 

The scenario: you’re a self-published/indie press published writer who tweets, blogs and is a generally active member of the online writer community.  You like to read and review the work of writer friends, if in a genre that appeals.  One of these friends (who I will call Friendly Writer and refer to as ‘he’, for convenience), asks you to review his new book, via an ARC.  The blurb piques your interest; you say yes.  You start to read, with enthusiasm—but there’s a problem.  Several of them.  The dialogue is unrealistic, the characters are one-dimensional, or tired stereotypes.  Maybe the plot is unconvincing, or it’s a bit slow/long-winded/badly researched.  If it was a random book by a stranger, you’d abandon it.

If you’ve been active in the online writer community for a while, this might be a situation you’ve already faced.  Friendly Writer is expecting a review from you.  So do you take the easy way out?  Say what a great read it is, and give it 5*?

Do you decide that it’s best to … lie?

Most writers have, at some point, been less than totally frank when reviewing.  We think about ourselves in the same situation; sometimes, being kind is more important than brutal honesty.  But there are several levels of diplomatic possibility between ‘This guy needs to find a new hobby’, and ‘This is a superb novel by a talented writer, highly recommended!’

Before I get to the helpful hints, though, let’s look at why some authors give dishonest reviews—and why they shouldn’t.

5 reasons why authors give glowing 5* reviews they don’t mean:

  • Because they’re kind.  They don’t want to hurt Friendly Writer’s feelings, and would like to give a boost to the book he’s worked so hard on.
  • Because they don’t want to face the possible hassle that might follow an honest review; easier just to provide the required positive one.
  • Because Friendly Writer has given them a 5*, or been generally supportive about their work, and they feel they ‘owe’ him the same.
  • Because other reviewers have been complimentary, and they feel under pressure to agree (‘is it just me?’).
  • Because their own new release is imminent, and they think that if they dole out the 5*, they will be reciprocated.  NB: this might involve not actually reading the whole book…

5 reasons why they shouldn’t:

  • It misleads the reading public.  All over Amazon, you can find reviews that say, ‘I don’t understand the high ratings; was I reading a different book?’, and ‘I bought this based on all the great reviews, and I wasted my money’.  Think about it.  If you’d stayed at a hotel where you received only mediocre service, would you label it ‘excellent’ on TripAdvisor?  Review a faulty electrical appliance with ‘5*, a great buy’?
  • Many people consider most Amazon reviews to be fake, purchased, written by friends or just generally ill-informed.  If you write dishonest reviews, you become part of this problem, which affects us all.
  • The misleading review doesn’t do much for your own credibility.  If you say a book is brilliant, when it has wooden dialogue and a dodgy plot, potential readers may think your own work won’t be so great, either.
  • It makes the glowing 5* that you really do mean count for nothing.  Who can tell the difference?
  • It doesn’t do Friendly Writer any favours, in the long run.

 Remember: Amazon book department is not a cosy writing group for the encouragement of aspiring authors.  It is an online shop where the reading public spend money.

Writing tips

Practical problems

Sometimes, your complaint about the book may just be that it needs a better proofread.  This is not a criticism of the writing itself, but a practical problem that can be fixed, as is an issue with formatting.  A couple of times I’ve started to read friends’ books that were otherwise very good but had considerably more than the acceptable few proofreading errors.  I emailed to tell them, so they could amend if they wanted to, or instruct their publisher to do so.  Recently, I read a terrific book with one glaring continuity error that the editor had missed; I let the author know.  She was really pleased I had.  With regard to the proofreading, I also listed some of the errors I’d found.

But what if the problems are not so easily fixed?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Write the honest review but show it to Friendly Writer before you post it, and ask him if he’d rather you didn’t.
  • Concentrate only on the elements about the book that you did like, and give it 3*, or 4*, depending on the good/bad ratio.  For instance, it might have lousy characterisation but wonderful scene setting.  Or a plot full of holes, but delightful dialogue.  Contrary to some opinion, 3* is not a bad review; it means ‘it’s okay’ on Amazon, and ‘I liked it’ on Goodreads.  I find 3.5* very useful; you can then round up or down.  Or up on Amazon and down on Goodreads, as they mean different things.
  • Give 3* and review objectively rather than personally, by saying what the book is about and who might enjoy it.  For instance, if it’s a zany chick lit book, give a brief summary of the plot and say something like ‘If you’re a fan of Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, this might be one for you’.  Just because a book made you wince, other readers might not be so discerning.  For instance, my ‘deal breakers’ are bad grammar, lack of historical research, consistent bad punctuation, unrealistic dialogue, and characters undergoing sudden, unexplained personality changes to fit the plot.  Others might not mind or even notice these things.  Recently, I read a basically good book with punctuation errors on every page.  Out of over 30 reviews, only a handful of others mentioned them.
  • Do nothing.  This is actually not as much of a cop out as it sounds.  When I published The Devil You Know, I submitted it to lots of book bloggers who had never read me before.  Of all those who agreed to take it, two never reviewed.  I just assumed they didn’t like it much.  Friendly Writer will probably make the same assumption about your own lack of response, and thus save you both embarrassment.

What if you haven’t taken an ARC, but have bought the book and feel obliged to review because of your online friendship?

  • Say and do nothing.  See above.
  • Do not mark the book as ‘Currently Reading’ on Goodreads, or tweet that you are reading it, until you have read 20% and are sure you like it enough to continue.
  • If Friendly Writer asks, say you’re sorry, but you weren’t that interested in the subject matter/it wasn’t quite what you were expecting.  It’s likely that he will accept this with dignity; in my experience, writers who throw their toys out of the pram every time someone fails to express awe at their brilliance are few and far between.  Thank goodness.
  • Be aware of Friendly Writer’s feelings, and imagine yourself in the same position before launching into an detailed critique; if asked, mention the aspects you liked but say that you had some issues with other areas, and do not expand unless invited to.  He may already be aware of the book’s weaknesses. 

Any of these suggestions is better than writing dishonest, misleading reviews.

Lastly, if your lack of a glowing 5* results in Friendly Writer getting shirty with you, put it down to experience, and move on; if he gets upset because you are not willing to lie about his book, then perhaps his apparent ‘friendship’ was really nothing more than networking …

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT @AlisonW_Editor reads #mystery Starlings by @mirandagold999

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

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Starlings by Miranda Gold

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Sometimes book reviews are really hard to write. There were aspects of this book that I absolutely adored. , and the way the author uses her writing to so accurately portray the chaos going on in Sally, the narrator’s, head is so very clever. And it works, for the most part. The repetitions replicate the way we have of going over and over a problem, and give a real rhythm to the prose, and the language is poetic at times. Sometimes I stopped and re-read a sentence, or a whole paragraph, because something was so well-written that I just had to read it again.

The story of Sally, and her troubled relationship with her brother Steven, who she adores, and her guilt and mixed feelings about her parents with who she lives, is interesting and thoughtful. The back story about Sally’s grandparents, who escaped the holocaust, is so well done, drip-fed almost, intriguing and sorrowful and poignant and a real strength of the novel.

But the strength of really good poetry is that it’s concise. Every single word matters. It requires precision. And that’s what I felt was somewhat lacking here. Sometimes an image, a feeling, the description of a moment, was taken too far, stretched too thinly, repeated too much. And reading then became a chore rather than a pleasure.

It’s not an easy novel to read. It requires patience and the prose does take a bit of getting used to. It is too dense in places, the story lost under the prose, rather than shown through it. I wish an editor had used a restraining hand, and allowed the really good bits to shine the way they deserve.

So do I recommend it? Yes. If only because there are moments in the writing that are truly brilliant, and it’s worth it for that. And for the passages that sweep over you with their rhythm, when it is like reading really fantastic poetry. And because Sally, is, at times, compelling and her story is a powerful one.

Four stars

Book description

Struggling to bear the legacy of her grandparents’ experience of the Holocaust and her mother’s desperate fragility, Sally seeks to reconnect with her brother Steven. Once close, the siblings have become distant since Steven left London, separating himself from their shared history.

Starlings reaches back through three generations of inherited trauma, exploring how the impact of untold stories ricochets down the years, threatening to destabilize a coherent sense of self. Having always looked through the eyes of ghosts she cannot appease, Sally comes to accept that -Before- may be somewhere we can never truly leave behind and -After- simply the place we must try to make our home.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #HistFic #Mystery A Tincture Of Secrets And Lies by @penandpension

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

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading A Tincture Of Secrets And Lies by William Savage

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The fourth book of investigations by Dr Adam Bascom begins dramatically when he falls from his horse one dark evening, near to the site of a young woman’s murder.  Finding himself incapacitated, Adam seeks the help of young Charles Scudamore, nephew of the entrancing Lady Alice Fouchard, to follow leads in this investigation as well as suspicions of a plot for rebellion.

It is a pleasure to meet again the incorrigible apothecary, Peter Lassimer as well as Adam’s reliable staff, housekeeper Mrs Brigstone, nervous Hannah, the parlour maid and faithful groom, William.  But new characters are also introduced, including the warm hearted young widow, Mrs Munnings and the strange Dr Panacea, who offers a cure-all medicine after a compelling speech to the crowd.

As in the previous books we learn much of Norfolk life in the years following the French Revolution, of the widespread hardship of the poor and the anxiety of those in power about the possibility of invasion or disorder.  Adam goes through a period of depression, trapped in his house and convinced that he will soon lose touch with Lady Alice, but he concentrates his mind on solving crimes and his bravery and moral conviction command loyalty from his friends.

Another enjoyable return to the past, written in the style of the time, with an intriguing storyline.

Book description

The night of April 13th, 1793 has proved unlucky for at least two people. Dr Adam Bascom has been thrown from his horse to lie injured, unconscious and alone on a remote country roadway. Barely a mile away, another man is thrusting the body of the young woman he has just murdered as far under a hedge as he can. Thus begins one of Adam Bascom’s most complicated mysteries; one that will end in many more deaths and a fight off the coast of Norfolk between a navy frigate and a French privateer. Trapped at home by his injuries, Adam still finds ways to use his friends and family as his eyes and ears as he uncovers the solution to a series of local murders — and a plot to destabilise the country as it awaits the threatened invasion by the French revolutionary government.

About the author

I started to write fiction as a way of keeping my mind active in retirement. I have read and enjoyed hundreds of detective stories and mystery novels. One of my other loves is history, so it seemed natural to put the two together. Thus began two series of murder mystery books set in Norfolk.
All my books are set between 1760 and around 1800, a period of turmoil in Britain, with constant wars, revolutions in America and France and finally the titanic, 22-year struggle with Napoleon.
The Ashmole Foxe series takes place at the start of this time and is located in Norwich. Mr Foxe is a dandy, a bookseller and, unknown to most around him, the mayor’s immediate choice to deal with anything likely to upset the peace or economic security of the city.
The series featuring Dr Adam Bascom, a young gentleman physician caught up in the beginning of the Napoleonic wars, takes place in a variety of locations nearer the North Norfolk coast. Adam builds a successful medical practice, but his insatiable curiosity and knack for unravelling intrigue constantly involve him in mysteries large and small.
I have spent a good deal of my life travelling in Britain and overseas. Now I am more than content to write stories and run a blog devoted to the world of Georgian England.

William Savage

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

 

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Clean #Romance By Light Of Hidden Candles by @DaniellaNLevy

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading By Light Of Hidden Candles by Daniella Levy

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This novel fits into several genres. It is a romance (a clean or sweet romance. I’m not sure if the same that there are Christian books, there is also a category for Jewish books, but if there is, it would fall into that as well), where fate seems to conspire to unite the two protagonists whilst their faith separates them (Alma, the young American woman is an Orthodox Sephardic Jew, while Manuel, the Spanish young man is not only Catholic but he is considering priesthood). It is also a historical novel. Both protagonists have always wondered about their past, their genealogy and family histories, and are fascinated by some stories about their ancestors that have been passed down for generations although with little in the way of evidence to confirm them. They end up joining a project to do some family research in the historical archives in Madrid and they pair up as a team. Whilst we follow their research and investigation, with alternating chapters in the first-person, told from each one of the protagonists points of view, we also have some chapters set in the XV century in Spain (1492), told in the third person, from the point of view of Miriam, a Jewish young woman whose father’s dealings with conversos (Jews who had converted to Catholicism) gets him into trouble with the Spanish Inquisition (yes, Monty Python get a mention, don’t worry). The book is also a book about religious and personal identity and faith, and it goes into a fair amount of detail about the Jewish faith, not only about customs but also about points of faith and doctrine. For both, Alma and Manuel, their faiths are fundamental parts of who they are and they are both determined not to allow their friendship to cross boundaries and develop into something that is impossible if they are to remain faithful to their beliefs. I think you probably can guess where this is going.

The characters are likeable, quirky (especially Alma. Manuel seemed too good to be true at times, but then, male characters in romances sometimes are, and this is not a story full of rogues), and easy to empathise with. Alma’s family and her interaction with them feel real and give the reader a good sense of the joys and the struggles of trying to keep the tradition alive despite the pressures of the modern world. Manuel’s mother is very peculiar, although everything is explained later, and he does not have other contacts or close family, so his chapters focus mostly on his doubts about his faith and on his relationship with Alma. Their interaction is sometimes funny (rather than Romeo and Juliet this is more like Much Ado About Nothing), sometimes poignant, and sometimes deep and reflective. They can be at times naïve (they have both lived what appear to be quite sheltered lives, despite their very different backgrounds and circumstances), unaware, and blinkered (there is much made of the prejudice in Spain, both in the past and now, but they don’t seem aware of any issues in that respect in the USA), but they are devoted to their families and their projects, they are well-liked by all they come in contact with and meet interesting people whose stories illustrate multiple aspects of living according to a religious faith.

The novel travels with the characters, providing a wonderful background for the story (New York, Granada, Madrid, Lorca, Cartagena), without long and tiresome descriptions, just enough detail to fire up the imagination and transport the readers there.

There is mystery (well, there are several mysteries) and coincidences, luck, and fate play a huge part in the story. I don’t think many readers will be surprised by what happens, although, like in many romances, the beauty is in the detail, the process, and in how seeing how things will come together in the end. And yes, the ending is satisfying.

I would recommend this novel to readers who love romances with a big dose of both fate and faith, who like clean novels (no swear words, no sex), are interested in the Jewish faith and its history, and enjoy the company of warm-hearted characters who deserve the best of luck.

Book description

In a mud hut in the Jewish Quarter of 16th-century Fez, a dying woman hands her granddaughter a heavy gold ring–and an even heavier secret.

Five hundred years later, Alma Ben-Ami journeys to Madrid to fulfill her ancestor’s dying wish. She has recruited an unlikely research partner: Manuel Aguilar, a young Catholic Spaniard whose beloved priest always warned him about getting too friendly with Jews. As their quest takes them from Greenwich Village to the windswept mountain fortresses of southern Spain, their friendship deepens and threatens to cross boundaries sacred to them both; and what they finally discover in the Spanish archives will force them to confront the truth about who they are and what their faiths mean to them.

At times humorous, at times deeply moving, this beautifully written and meticulously researched book will appeal to anyone interested in the history of Inquisition-era Spain, Sephardic Jews, or falling in love.

 

About the author

Daniella Levy is an Orthodox Jewish mother of three, rabbi’s wife, writer, translator, self-defense instructor, bridal counselor, black belt in karate, and certified medical clown–and she still can’t decide what to be when she grows up. Her articles, short fiction, and poetry have been published in both English and Hebrew in publications such as Writer’s Digest, The Forward, Pnima Magazine, Reckoning, Newfound, the Rathalla Review, and the Jewish Literary Journal, as well as online platforms such as Kveller, Aish.com, JWire, Ynet News, and Hevria.
Born in New York, Daniella immigrated to Israel with her family as a child. She wrote her first book at age ten and completed her first full-length novel at fourteen. Her Talmud studies notes from high school consisted of a series of silly dramatizations of Jewish sages yelling at each other. She’s pretty sure her teacher would have been horrified.
She blogs at LetterstoJosep.com about Judaism and life in Israel, and at RejectionSurvivalGuide.wordpress.com about resilience in the face of rejection and criticism. Connect with her online at Daniella-Levy.com.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Psychic #Thriller The Angel Killer by @authAprilTaylor #fridayreads

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading The Angel Killer by April Taylor

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Deryn Steele’s life had taken an unimaginable path when he rescued a girl from her abusive boyfriend, and a sequence of events resulted in a near death experience, the knowledge that somehow he was now an empath and a prison sentence. He worked hard to obtain a psychology degree and a subsequent teaching qualification, only to find disillusionment in the role he secured as lecturer at Birmingham City University.

DCI Harry Curzon, the arresting officer all those years ago, and Deryn have kept in contact. It was Harry who persuaded Deryn to try for his degree and teaching qualification. When Deryn is suddenly and inexplicably let go from the university he takes the offered opportunity to work with Harry. There’s a killer in Thorpe St David targeting blonde, blue-eyed twelve year old girls, but the last victim, Becky Maddox, survived the attack. Harry’s hoping Deryn can gain some insight or information from Becky.

Given the subject matter, I like the fact there’s no unnecessary violence or description of the crimes. Deryn is an intriguing character and his, and others’, reactions to his ‘gift’ are portrayed realistically and convincingly. He is uncomfortable with being an empath, still not quite used to being able to tune in to others’ feelings and emotions, yet when he can’t read someone involved with the investigation, he’s surprised to find himself shocked. His strong reaction to Terri Fordham, the aunt of the latest victim, is immediate, perhaps a little too much so for me, and unexpected. Running alongside the main plot is the question of why Deryn was inexplicably sacked from his university post when the principal knew all about his background.

There are a number of possible candidates for the killer and April Taylor does a good job with the plot twists. I didn’t guess the correct identity until it was revealed. I think there could be quite a bit of mileage in Deryn and Harry. They make a good team and they’re both likeable characters. Although we get a good sense of who they are, there’s room for more depth.

A psychic, supernatural or paranormal thread in a story is always a hook for me and the psychic aspect is executed well in this story.

 

Book description

Deryn Steele has an unwanted psychic gift leftover from a near-death experience. He can read people just by touching them. His friend, DCI Harry Curzon pulls him into the hunt for the killer of blonde, blue-eyed 12-year-old girls in the Lincolnshire seaside town of Thorpe St David, the Angel Killer..
Deryn meets Terri Fordham, aunt of the latest victim, who has survived an attack. It is a shock when he cannot read Terri, but this feeds his growing feelings for her making him determined to catch the predator. It soon becomes clear, however, that this killer won’t stop and is not only still targeting Terri’s niece, but also Terri. Can Deryn keep the girl and her aunt safe and unmask the murderer?

About the author

Author of The Tudor Enigma series. High Treason in an alternate Tudor universe.

April Taylor

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My #Bookreview of #Paranormal #Fantasy The Magician’s Curse by @LindaGHill

The Magician's Curse (The Great Dagmaru, #1)The Magician’s Curse by Linda G. Hill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Magician’s Curse is a romance with a paranormal twist and is set in Canada.

Herman Anderson is almost eighteen; handed down a predominantly male name in a family tradition, she has decided to drop out of school and take up a job on a horse farm. On her way to her new job, she meets a handsome man on her train journey and they both feel an instant love connection. Twenty-three year old Stephen in a successful magician who immediately offers Herman a job as his magician’s assistant, believing she will be a great addition to both his act and his life.

Herman then changes her plans and leaves the train with Stephen for a new adventure. He is very attentive and domineering, but he has his secrets. A family curse ties him to the Curry family, which ultimately puts a potential wedge between himself and Herman.

The prologue gave a strong opening scene; it introduced us to the demon blood causing through the veins of the Dagmar family. I looked forward to reading more about this demon in the following story. I also liked the idea of the magician. However, for me, there was missed opportunity to further develop the magic and illusions so that they really ‘popped’ with those moments when an audience are struck dumb with amazement, by making them a more prominent part of the story.

The book description spoke of a Gothic tale of romance and magic, lace and leather. I enjoy dark Gothic romances, but this aspect faded in comparison with the dominant modern themes and situations. The author did use old railways stations and some lace frilled clothing, but I remembered Stephen’s lipstick, eye-liner and modern transport more.

I felt the weakest part of the story surrounded the romance and Stephen’s role in the curse. The romance bounced from the love-at-first-sight style of a young adult book, then popped in hints and innuendos that boarded on erotica, before returning to chaste kisses because Herman was under-age. Then we were taken back to the curse that had Stephen fornicating with a servant whilst blaming the curse, all behind Herman’s back. I can understand the story ideas, I think they just need a bit more polish and some re-working to make them believable, perhaps with more depth to the main themes and cutting other lines that were wordy and clunky.

This book has a complex mix of themes which makes it hard to recommend a particular genre for readers to associate it with. The title might suggest fantasy, the description a romance, but just which age group of readers would it suit? I’m not sure.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

When Herman Anderson leaves home to make a better life for herself, she doesn’t expect to meet a tall, dark stranger with whom she’ll fall hopelessly in love.
Charming and mysterious, Stephen Dagmar is a stage magician seeking an assistant. The moment he sets eyes on Herman, he knows she’s the one. He brings her home to his Victorian mansion where they embark upon an extravagant romance. Yet a shadow hangs over their love. Will the curse on his family end Stephen and Herman’s happily ever after, before it really begins?
Amidst lace and leather, innocence and debauchery, The Magician’s Curse begins the Gothic tale of The Great Dagmaru. Magic and romance await.

About the author

Linda G. Hill was born and raised an only child in Southern Ontario, Canada. She credits the time she spent alone when she was growing up, reading books and building worlds and characters of her own to keep her company, as the reason she became a writer.

A stay-at-home mom of three beautiful boys, Linda is a graduate of the Writing Program at St. Lawrence College in Brockville, Ontario. Aside from caring for her family, she enjoys traveling the world, eating trout cooked on the barbecue, and, of course, reading.

Linda G. Hill

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#BookTwins If You Liked Flora Banks, You Might Like Biddy Weir #AntiBullyingWeek @Lesley_Allen_ ‏

“If you read … you’ll like …”

When you’ve read a book, do you sometimes find yourself thinking “oh, that really reminds me of *insert name of another book*”?

Welcome to a new feature, in which my team and I make reading suggestions based on your favourites, be they classics, or newer best sellers.  Our recommendations consider not just genre, but writing style, plot—and that ‘feel’ you can’t quite put your finger on.

If you liked The One Memory Of Flora Banks by Emily Barr, you might like The Lonely Life If Biddy Weir by Lesley Allen

 

Flora Banks is a YA book by internationally acclaimed author Emily Barr, about a girl with no short-term memory, while Biddy Weir is by the perhaps less well-know Lesley Weir, on the theme of bullying, but my reading mind connected them because Flora Banks and Biddy Weir are both isolated from society due through no fault of their own.

Although Flora has no memory, she one day remembers a single incident and she grasps at this one shred of hope.  Biddy Weir suffers from a seven year bullying campaign which almost destroys her. Circumstances of her upbringing kept the usual teenage opportunities closed to Biddy. She fell through a network of support systems and, sadly, people chose to gloss over her problems rather than offering help.

Biddy’s journey reminded me so much of Flora’s, although one is from rock bottom and despair, the other of hope. I found Biddy’s story heart-wrenching; the level of bullying was shocking. The book is split between Biddy’s teenage life and her still troubled adulthood, which provides plenty of opportunity for the book to appeal to a wide reading audience.

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What is it about isolated individuals that makes an appealing read?

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Thriller The Angel Killer by April Taylor @authAprilTaylor

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

#RBRT Review Team

Teri has been reading The Angel Killer by April Taylor

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It’s been a little while since I’ve read a suspense/thriller, and with the main character having a psychic gift allowing him to ‘read’ people, this one grabbed my attention.

Deryn Steele is a likable MC, and I have a soft spot for anyone who loves their pet as much as he does.  I enjoyed the spin his gift/curse put on the story, sometimes giving him an advantage.  He’s had somewhat of a rough life, but his problems aren’t yet behind him.

This is a well-written novel offering a number of characters with varying motives for the reader to eliminate as suspects.  I have to admit, I figured out ‘who dunnit’, but the reason was somewhat of a surprise.  The author does a wonderful job at characterization, making even the supporting cast well-rounded.

Something I didn’t care for, and this is just a personal preference, is the amount of romance (insta-love) in the novel.  There was such an emphasis on the romantic aspect, I felt it overshadowed the urgency of tracking down a serial killer/rapist of 12-year-old girls.  I’d even consider classifying this as more of a romantic suspense novel.

If thrillers and romance with a dash of paranormal is your preferred brand, I’d definitely recommend The Angel Killer.

 

Book description

Deryn Steele has an unwanted psychic gift leftover from a near-death experience. He can read people just by touching them. His friend, DCI Harry Curzon pulls him into the hunt for the killer of blonde, blue-eyed 12-year-old girls in the Lincolnshire seaside town of Thorpe St David, the Angel Killer..
Deryn meets Terri Fordham, aunt of the latest victim, who has survived an attack. It is a shock when he cannot read Terri, but this feeds his growing feelings for her making him determined to catch the predator. It soon becomes clear, however, that this killer won’t stop and is not only still targeting Terri’s niece, but also Terri. Can Deryn keep the girl and her aunt safe and unmask the murderer?

About the author

Author of The Tudor Enigma series. High Treason in an alternate Tudor universe.

April Taylor

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter