#Bookreview The Royal Road To Fotheringay by Jean Plaidy Mary Queen of Scots #HistFic #wwwblogs

The Royal Road to Fotheringhay (Stuart Saga, #1) (Mary Stuart, #1)The Royal Road to Fotheringhay (Stuart Saga, #1) by Jean Plaidy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Royal Road To Fotheringay is a historical novel about the life of Mary Queen of Scots. Not to be muddled with Mary Tudor, this book is about the life of a queen who took her title when she was just six days old.

Mary was the daughter of James V of Scotland and his wife Marie de Guise of France. Mary’s father was a Stuart and, although he had other children, it was Mary who was first in line for the throne. Mary’s mother became Regent, protecting her daughter from political and religious threats as she grew up.

Henry VIII wanted Mary to marry his son Edward, thus joining England and Scotland, but when Henry died, Mary’s mother feared the appointed Lord Protector of England. She sent six year old Mary to France, instead, where she became engaged to the young Dauphin. Brought up in the French court, Mary spent more than a dozen years on French soil under the guidance of her Catholic family.

After the Dauphin and Mary’s mother died, Mary was forced to return to Scotland. Here she found herself a pawn in an ever changing, dangerous game of political chess. Stuck between feuding lords, squabbling family and strong Protestant believers, led by John Knox, Mary struggled to rule a people who didn’t know her and had little faith in her actions.

This book gives the reader enthralling insight into Mary’s eventful life, where friend and foe were quick to change. There were many marriage talks, made to strengthen ties and shift power, and the young queen found the path to happiness very difficult.

I really enjoyed this book, the author paints the scenes vividly and makes you feel a part of the story. The dialogue and actions suited the era and the writing style made the book a pleasure to read. I knew very little about Mary Queen of Scots before I read this book, but I now feel I know her very well.

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Book Description

The haunting story of the beautiful–and tragic–Mary, Queen of Scots, as only legendary novelist Jean Plaidy could write it
Mary Stuart became Queen of Scotland at the tender age of six days old. Her French-born mother, the Queen Regent, knew immediately that the infant queen would be a vulnerable pawn in the power struggle between Scotland’s clans and nobles. So Mary was sent away from the land of her birth and raised in the sophisticated and glittering court of France. Unusually tall and slim, a writer of music and poetry, Mary was celebrated throughout Europe for her beauty and intellect. Married in her teens to the Dauphin Francois, she would become not only Queen of Scotland but Queen of France as well. But Mary’s happiness was short-lived. Her husband, always sickly, died after only two years on the throne, and there was no place for Mary in the court of the new king. At the age of twenty, she returned to Scotland, a place she barely knew.
Once home, the Queen of Scots discovered she was a stranger in her own country. She spoke only French and was a devout Catholic in a land of stern Presbyterians. Her nation was controlled by a quarrelsome group of lords, including her illegitimate half brother, the Earl of Moray, and by John Knox, a fire-and-brimstone Calvinist preacher, who denounced the young queen as a Papist and a whore. Mary eventually remarried, hoping to find a loving ally in the Scottish Lord Darnley. But Darnley proved violent and untrustworthy. When he died mysteriously, suspicion fell on Mary. In haste, she married Lord Bothwell, the prime suspect in her husband’s murder, a move that outraged all of Scotland. When her nobles rose against her, the disgraced Queen of Scots fled to England, hoping to be taken in by her cousin Elizabeth I. But Mary’s flight from Scotland led not to safety, but to Fotheringhay Castle…

About the author

Jean Plaidy

Eleanor Alice Burford, Mrs. George Percival Hibbert was a British author of about 200 historical novels, most of them under the pen name Jean Plaidy which had sold 14 million copies by the time of her death. She chose to use various names because of the differences in subject matter between her books; the best-known, apart from Plaidy, are Victoria Holt (56 million) and Philippa Carr (3 million). Lesser known were the novels Hibbert published under her maiden name Eleanor Burford, or the pseudonyms of Elbur FordKathleen Kellow and Ellalice Tate.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT @TerryTyler4 reviews #HistFic Sinclair by Julia Herdman #wwwblogs

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Sinclair by Julia Herdman

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SINCLAIR by Julia Herdman

4 out of 5 stars

Sinclair is a drama set in the late 18th century, mostly in various areas of London.  It begins with the Scottish protagonist, James Sinclair—eager to escape the disapproval of his father yet reluctant to leave the woman he loves—setting sail for India, where he is to take up a post as a physician/surgeon.  Alas, he gets no further than Dorset; after violent storms, the ship is wrecked.  Sinclair is among the meagre number of survivors, along with the outgoing and friendly Captain Frank Greenwood.  Together, they make their way back to London.

Meanwhile, back in Southwark, widow Charlotte Leadam is in great difficulty.  Mourning her husband, she faces bankruptcy, and also has to deal with an overpowering and aspirational mother and sister, both eager to run her life.

The novel is extremely well researched, with all sorts of historically interesting snippets, much about the medical practices of the time and plenty of social and domestic detail.  The author has a pleasantly readable writing style, and I very much liked the social tittle-tattle and snobbery aspect involving the wives and mothers, which made for some excellent, amusing characterisation.

A slight downside for me was the lack of plot direction; there are many, many characters, and the narrative ‘head-hops’ constantly between character points of view, of which there are many.  There are so many plot diversions and side-plots that it was a bit like reading an 18th century version of The Archers or EastEnders.  However, I understand that this is the first in a series, so I’m guessing this is exactly what it is: the continuing story of the colourful characters connected to Tooley Street!   All the relationships, possible relationships and social gatherings certainly entertained me, though I kept expecting plot threads to develop into a main storyline, or deepen; certain aspects could have made for interesting reading, such as the corruption within the East India Company, the HMS Bounty, Charlotte’s potential bankruptcy, but were only touched upon in passing, with the main storylines remaining domestic.  Personal woes for Sinclair and Greenwood do provide more intrigue, and bring some of the other threads together.  I liked the last paragraph very much, incidentally.

To sum up, as a ‘life and times’ sort of work, or an illustration of the period, it’s a good example, and, although a bit too ‘cosy’ and HEA for me, I’d recommend it to lovers of the family saga genre or anyone who likes nicely written, lovingly researched, light historical fiction.

Book Description

Edinburgh surgeon, James Sinclair is prepared to give up his family and the woman he loves to make his fortune with East India Company but when things don’t go to plan he is forced to start his life anew. Returning to London Sinclair finds himself torn between the love of two women – the young and attractive widow Charlotte Leadam the owner of the Tooley Street apothecary shop and the vivacious and clever Iona McNeal.
Thus begins the Tales of Tooley Street, a heart-warming and gripping saga about a family of apothecary surgeons in 18th century London. Set against the corruption and greed of the East India Company and the development of the medical profession in Georgian London this story of love and friendship has a cast of characters that will imprint themselves onto your heart forever.

About the author

Julia Herdman

Julia Herdman studied history at the University of Kent in Canterbury where she focused on medieval and early modern history reading the Roman classics, Norse sagas and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Now her interest and inspiration is the development of the urban middle class in Georgian Britain, particularly the development of the medical profession in Edinburgh and London. Writing about the things nice girls shouldn’t mention in polite conversation – politics, religion, sex and money is her passion. Her books are steeped in period detail and focus on family, friendship and love. At the heart of every story there is always a powerful and compelling romance.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT The Internet Never Lies by @JenAmmoscato #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s second team review is from Jenny R

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading The Internet Never Lies by Jennifer Ammoscato

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The Internet Never Lies by Jennifer Ammoscato

Chic Lit, humour

Brilliant 5 Stars again.

This is the third of three books by Jennifer Ammascato, and all three have been a joy to read.

I feel I know our beloved Avery Fowler very well now.  This novel takes us through the heartache of longing for a baby as well as going through the hormonal challenges throughout pregnancy, before birth and after birth.  Oh, how poor Ryan suffers. But, he is Superman isn’t he? He knows just what to do to handle a hormonally challenged wife!  Avery finally launches her very first erotic novel, how does she cope with writing the book and the book promotions whilst trying to handle her pregnancy too.

I feel honoured to be let into Avery’s life, to join her for the duration of all three novels.  The reader is an onlooker to Avery’s highs and lows, they are drawn into her character and witness her grow as her life progresses.  Once again the story is filled with wit, laugh out loud moments, charm and occasionally sadness.

Jennifer Ammascato has put so much into this trilogy, and it has paid off. What a talented writer. Thank you Jennifer for such a wonderful set of novels. If you are wondering whether to write a forth…….well, it would be WONDERFUL!

I loved every second of the novel and recommend it heartily.

Book Description

“I’m turning forty tomorrow.

And, don’t tell me that “forty is the new twenty” because, if you do, I’m going to reach out from whatever device you’re reading my blog on, tear your beating heart from your chest, and pummel you unconscious with it.

Um. I just re-read that.

Okay. I might be having a bit of difficulty coming to grips with this “milestone.”

Which sounds quite close to “millstone,” doesn’t it? Which, I suppose, is what another entire decade vanishing in the dust feels like around your neck. And on your slightly sagging ass.)”

————

Avery Fowler is facing 40 with all the grace you’d expect of someone who once convinced herself that Cheetos were good for her because they’re the same colour as carrots. She simply hates admitting defeat.

Now a blogger and aspiring author, she hears the clock ticking on the deadline for her erotica novel, “Venetia: The Story of a Sized-16 Sex Goddess”, (erotica for the rest of us) as well as on the possibility of having a child.

As her world grows more complicated, some days, she simply doesn’t know where to turn. Should she chance renewing her relationship with Clementine, her Howto.com web advisor—available 24/7 for the low, low price of just $14.95 a month?

Or, should Avery trust her own instincts while searching for the answers to life’s latest challenges?

If you enjoy the Shopaholic series, or the charm and sass of Bridget Jones, Avery is right up your alley!

About the author

Jennifer Ammoscato

By day, Jennifer Ammoscato is an intrepid writer/editor. By night, she fights crime (not so much), the urge to organize closets and to stuff herself with salted chocolate caramels.

Despite her exhaustive to-do list, she’s written the Avery Fowler 2.0 Trilogy:

Dear Internet: It’s Me, Avery (Book 1)
The Internet Made Me Do It (Book 2)
The Internet Never Lies (Book 3)

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Phaethon by @WrrrdNrrrdGrrrl fun #UrbanFantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Lilyn has been reading Phaethon by Rachel Sharp

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Phaethon was one of the better books I’ve read this year. It’s a simple, uncomplicated story. The main characters are friendly, caring, relatable, and pleasingly snarky. Even the bogle. (Maybe especially the bogle?) What can I say? I love an honest smartarse. It’s also fast-paced, contains an interesting adventure, and doesn’t require anything from the reader except enjoyment.

I loved the easy mixing of fantasy and science fiction in Phaethon. I was able to very easily suspend disbelief and sink into the story the author was wanting to tell. When certain LED-laden individuals got introduced into the story, I might have had a small flash of Transformers. (However, considering I rather like them, that wasn’t exactly a bad thing.)

Rachel Sharp has a way of putting things that states the truth and makes you snicker at the same time. Like the following statement about horses.

“People could be assholes, too, but when horses were assholes, one had roughly a half a ton of asshole to contend with.”

Of course, her insults in Phaethon could be pretty good too.

“Get with the times, you bloody nuisance fish-hags! The iron bastards will make calamari out o’ ye! CALAMARI!”

I actually recommended this book to one of my best friends shortly after I finished it. (She’s a fantasy fan and hates dark stuff and most sci-fi, so we often don’t have any books to mutually adore.) It was nice to be able to toss another book recommendation her way. As I told her: “Phaethon is so light, it’s practically floof. BUT it’s entertaining floof with a side of good versus evil!”

I will say that while I might be willing to read more in this series, I don’t see a lot of potential in it. It was a fantastic stand-alone novel, but I’m not sure how it would work if she tries to draw it out. Still, she’s obviously talented, so if anyone can make it work, she can.

If you’re looking for an undemanding read that will entertain you and lift your spirits, look no further than Phaethon by Rachel Sharp.

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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My #BookReview of #Contemporary #WomensFiction The Art Of Hiding by @MrsAmandaProwse

The Art of HidingThe Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Art Of Hiding is contemporary women’s fiction set in England. Nina McCarrick’s privileged lifestyle is thrown into turmoil when her husband suddenly dies in a car accident. He ran his own business and dealt with all the family finance, so she is overwhelmed when she discovers his business is bankrupt and she is left owing creditors a huge sum of money. Her home is re-possessed and the Bailiff’s arrive to collect on the debts.

Reeling from shock and angry that Finn had kept it all hidden from her, Nina is forced to take her boys out of their private school and pick over what the Bailiffs left. Distraught, confused and needing to put space between herself and those she thought were friends, the family leave Bath. Nina heads back home to Southampton and rents a small flat, close to her sister, where she desperately tries to secure a stable life for her sons.

I enjoyed this book, the author turned Nina’s life upside down, then lead the reader on a trail of emotion as Nina picked herself up hour by hour, day by day. There were highs and lows, steps forward and stumbles backward. At first I didn’t particularly like Nina, I thought her rather naïve not to have any idea about the family finance, and, in my opinion, she made a big mistake not being open with her children about the situation. But it did add to the drama, and no one knows how we would react ourselves in such a high tension situation. For those who enjoy delving into other people’s lives, there’s lots of everyday situations which will echo with many of the readers; from the stages of grief, to teenage turmoil and the daily grind of life.

This is the first book I’ve read from this author, but I can easily see why readers enjoy her work.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?

Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

Bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love.

About the author

Amanda Prowse

Amanda Prowse was a management consultant for ten years before realising that she was born to write. Amanda lives in the West Country with her husband and their two teenage sons.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Mystery The Bluebell Informant by @NickRBTingley

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

#RBRT Review Team

Karen has been reading The Bluebell Informant by Nick Tingley

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My Opinion

This book introduces you to DS Evelyn Giles; having a day off on Bank Holiday was wonderful – until the phone rang.

With The Bluebell Informant, Nick R. B. Tingley has created the promising first book in a mystery series. It is a nicely elaborated read, taking you close to DS Evelyn Giles. Secondary characters are also relevant; mystery fans will love to check the tiniest details. Even if Nick R. B. Tingley focusses on Evelyn, the story comprises interesting events and memories. I was drawn relatively close to Evelyn – especially as the story evolves; she is vulnerable, she is strong and witty. According to their relevance, the characters are of sufficient depth, believable with their flaws and/or virtues. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

This is a book for you if you like British mystery/suspense series and strong female characters.

Recommended.

Book Description

How do you catch a killer who is already dead?
One year ago, the Bluebell Killer killed his last victim. He was shot and killed, leaving behind a legacy of twenty corpses and a name that people will fear for years to come…
A year later, a man is shot in the back of the head and left in a field of bluebells.
Is it a mugging gone wrong? A copycat killer? Or is the Bluebell Killer still out there, waiting to pounce on his next victim?
For DS Evelyn Giles the solution is simple – it’s just another dirty politician caught committing an unforgiveable crime. But with the evidence stacking up against him, Giles’ suspect has one more surprise in store for her…
And his words will throw everything she knows into question…
‘It’s not over yet.’
The past is coming back to haunt DS Giles. She’s already sacrificed much for the lie. The only question is how much more will she suffer for the truth?
An ingeniously, gripping thriller, The Bluebell Informant is a dark, unexpected and emotionally charged debut.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Mediterranean Summer by @JaneFMackenzie

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

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Mediterranean Summer by Jane MacKenzie

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I’m a bit of a Francophile. France is definitely my favourite place to visit and I plan to move there permanently one day – Brexit permitting. So I love reading anything set in France and this novel, set just after the civil unrest of Paris in 1968, sounded intriguing.

Art student Laure is returning home to her quiet village after her involvement in the Paris demonstrations. She needs to rest and recover, and she also needs to find a way to resolve the problem hanging over her – a problem that could mean the end of her studies.

At first the peace and solitude are soothing, and Laure enjoys reconnecting with her family and her childhood friends. But her brother-in-law Daniel has a new job at the Nobel factory in Paulilles, and trainee doctor Martin, his brother and Laure’s best friend, is worried about the risks the workers there face from exposure to nitro-glycerine.

The gorgeous summer is clouded by these issues and with Laure’s worries over what has happened in Paris. Then Martin’s cousin Robert, a lawyer from Paris, offers to help. The novel focuses on these relationships – between Laure and Robert, Laure and her family, and Laure and Martin’s family.

There is romance here, and conflict, and at the heart is a girl trying to find her place in a changing world. Laure is a lovely main character, and the interactions between the characters are well-written. There are some beautiful descriptions, of the little towns, the gorgeous countryside, and, of course, the wonderful food, and this part of France is really brought to life through the writing.

It’s a gently-paced read, which works well with the setting. However, it was too slow at times, and, while the descriptions were beautifully done, there were places where they went on for too long, and I did find myself skipping ahead. I do feel that this novel could be quite a bit shorter.

It was also a little difficult to keep track of the many characters and their complicated relationships – though it was worth persevering. The writing was a little too formal at times as well, and came across as a little forced and unnatural. However, on the whole this is a lovely novel, just right for a summer read.

Four out of five stars

Book Description

‘Beautiful artist, beautiful woman, and beautiful lover.’
May 1968 and Paris is hot with rebellion, passion and hope, as protestors clash with the riot police. Brilliant art student Laure stands boldly on the barricades, heady with her new-found defiance, and is swept into romance with Lolo, the fascinating student leader. But youthful rebellion comes at a cost.
Two months later, the excitement is over. Laure heads home for the summer to Vermeilla, her picturesque Mediterranean village. She looks forward to the simplicity of village life, and to a summer in the sun with family and friends, but is aware that the new Laure may shock her little Catalan community.
But even Vermeilla isn’t protected from the forces of change. Shadows hang over both Laure and her village haven. Can she battle the menace that has followed her from Paris? And can she trust Robert, the aloof lawyer who may be the only one who can keep her safe?

About the author

Jane MacKenzie

Jane MacKenzie has lived an exceptionally adventurous life, working in such far-flung corners of the world as the Gambia, Bahrain, and Papua New Guinea, and Switzerland and France nearer to home.
She is as much at home teaching in an African village as organising the research budgets of Nobel scientists, and is a natural linguist, picking up languages wherever she has lived, to complement the fluent French from her first degree in French Language and Literature.
She is an entrepreneur, an international expert in education, and latterly helped transform the UK Government’s Office at CERN in Geneva during two years as its Head. In her fifties Jane turned to writing novels, for a new challenge, and to fulfil a long-held dream.
Jane splits her time now between her homes in the Scottish Highlands, and in her beloved Catalan village in France, the region where her three novels have been set.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Dark Clouds Over Nuala by @HarrietSteel1 #HistFic #Mystery

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Dark Clouds Over Nuala by Harriet Steel

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Inspector Shanti de Silva and his English wife, Jane, were attending Nuala’s very fashionable horse racing event, the Empire Cup, along with the assistant government agent, Archie Clutterbuck and his wife, Florence. William and Lady Caroline Petrie, were also in attendance with visiting family. The Wynne-Talbots, Ralph and Helen, were on their way from Australia, via Ceylon, to England to visit Ralph’s grandfather. Ralph is in line for the title of the 14th Earl of Axford and as his grandfather is not in the best of health, it seems he may inherit the title sooner rather than later.

At William Petrie’s request, Clutterbuck has organised a hunting party at Horton Plains, which included the Wynne-Talbots and several other people. When a death occurs at the most famous spot at Horton Plains, a precipice with a drop of thousands of feet, it’s generally assumed to be suicide. Shanti de Silva, with no head for heights, has to make a hair-raising trip up the mountain.

‘As the road snaked up through low, scrubby forest in a series of alarmingly tight hairpin bends, he averted his eyes from the sheer drop a few yards from the line of ambling ponies. Once, a monkey leapt from a nearby bush and, gibbering furiously, scampered across their path. De Silva’s pony shied and the reins slipped through his sweating palms. He quickly gathered them again and the animal settled but his heart beat faster for several minutes.’

Dark Clouds Over Nuala is set in the exotic and evocative era of genteel 1930s Ceylon and is the second book featuring the courteous and engaging Shanti de Silva, along with a cast of delightfully diverse and wonderfully developed characters. As with the first book in the series, Harriet Steel paints a vivid picture of the area, the food, culture, and societal undertones and attitudes of the time in the small community, giving the story a real sense of time and place.

Another very enjoyable, cosy mystery, faster paced than previously, and de Silva finds himself in rather more danger as well. Alongside the main plot are a couple of side stories involving Constable Nadar, a new father suffering from sleepless nights, and Sergeant Prasanna whose mother keeps trying to marry him off. The narrative is well written and plotted, and flows smoothly as the mystery unfolds. The relationship between Jane and Shanti is lovely and portrayed well with the differing cultures melding together.

Book Description

Set in Ceylon in the 1930s, this second book in the Inspector de Silva Mysteries offers another colourful, relaxing read as the arrival in the hill town of Nuala of the heir to an English earldom signals more trouble for the hapless Inspector de Silva and a new mystery to solve. Throw in a mega-rich Romanian count, his glamorous countess and an enigmatic British army officer and the scene is set for an entertaining mystery.

About the author

Harriet Steel

Harriet Steel is the author of several historical novels including Becoming Lola and Salvation. Her work has appeared in national newspapers and magazines. She is passionate about history and blogs about it at harrietsteel.blogspot.co.uk

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My #BookReview of Magical #Fantasy Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen @SarahAddisonAll

Garden Spells (Waverley Family, #1)Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Garden Spells is a magical fantasy book and is set in North Carolina.

Do you believe in magic? The people of Bascom do. Folklore has grown up around the long family lines in Bascom: all Clark women are proficient in the art of love, Hopkins men always marry older women, and Waverley women know weird things, and have a magical apple tree. Tradition said that if you ate an apple from the tree, you would be provided with a vision of the biggest event in your life.

Claire Waverley now owns the large Queen Anne style family home, where she runs a catering business, creating dishes infused with flowers and ingredients from her garden. Her life is quiet and orderly.

Sydney Waverley rejects her roots; she hates being labelled a Waverley, and fled Bascom as soon as she could.

Everything is about to change. Claire can feel it in the garden, sense it in the air. A new neighbour and the sudden return of Sydney are about to turn Claire’s safe world upside-down.

I loved Evanelle, a seventy-nine year old distant Waverley relative. People are amused and perplexed at the items she gives them. But however curious the gift, they find it to be just what they need, at some point later, be it a spoon, or a brooch, or any other random item.

This is a delightful book to escape into on a lazy summer day. If you enjoy tales of enchantment and romance with a touch of suspense then this book might be for you.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

Welcome to Bascom, North Carolina, where it seems that everyone has a story to tell about the Waverley women. The house that’s been in the family for generations, the walled garden that mysteriously blooms year round, the rumours of dangerous loves and tragic passions. Every Waverley woman is somehow touched by magic.

Claire has always clung to the Waverleys’ roots, tending the enchanted soil in the family garden from which she makes her sought-after delicacies – famed and feared for their curious effects. She has everything she thinks she needs – until one day she waked to find a stranger has moved in next door and a vine of ivy has crept into her garden…Claire’s carefully tended life is about to run gloriously out of control.

About the author

Sarah Addison Allen

New York Times Bestselling novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction — a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility.

Born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Allen grew up with a love of books and an appreciation of good food (she credits her journalist father for the former and her mother, a fabulous cook, for the latter). In college, she majored in literature — because, as she puts it, “I thought it was amazing that I could get a diploma just for reading fiction. It was like being able to major in eating chocolate.”

After graduation, Allen began writing seriously. Her big break occurred in 2007 with the publication of her first mainstream novel, Garden Spells, a modern-day fairy tale about an enchanted apple tree and the family of North Carolina women who tend it. Booklist called Allen’s accomplished debut “spellbindingly charming.” The novel became a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection, and then a New York Times Bestseller.

Allen continues to serve heaping helpings of the fantastic and the familiar in fiction she describes as “Southern-fried magic realism.” Clearly, it’s a recipe readers are happy to eat up as fast as she can dish it out.

Her published books to date are: Garden Spells (2007), The Sugar Queen (2008), The Girl Who Chased the Moon (2010), The Peach Keeper (2011) and Lost Lake (2014) and First Frost (2015).

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The Lover’s Portrait by @JSAauthor #HistFic #Mystery

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

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been reading The Lover’s Portrait by Jennifer Alderson

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My Review: 3.5  stars out of 5

“Write what you know.” Like most vintage advice, there is a kernel of truth to that, especially if you interpret it as “take what you’ve experienced and use it to inform and color what you write”. Jennifer S. Alderson is certainly one writer who takes that advice to heart. Like her character Zelda, she was working as a website developer in Seattle, Washington, when the travel bug hit. After several international stops, she ended up in the Netherlands, pursuing a graduate program and internship in exhibition design and collection research.

In book two of this series, Alderson’s fictional doppelganger, Zelda, is counting on her internship at the Amsterdam Museum to ensure her admission to the prestigious graduate degree program in Museum Studies. But Zelda is disappointed to discover that she’s really only expected to work as a copyeditor, proofing english translations of the catalog copy. Museum curators and staff have been working for years to prepare for an exhibit of unclaimed art works recovered after Nazi occupation in World War II.

Interleaved with Zelda’s contemporary research are chapters set in 1942. In them, the history of the missing artworks unfolds against a backdrop of war, blackmail, the holocaust, and homophobia.

When Zelda offers to apply her web development skills to enhance the museum’s dreadful online site meant to showcase each work of art, her efforts are mocked and rebuffed by exhibition curator Huub Konijn. But before the new website can be taken down, they get their first hit. An elderly American, Rita Brouwer, whose family had fled Nazi-occupied Amsterdam when she was a child, came forward to claim Irises, one of the lesser-known works.

The museum administrators are delighted, and quick to publicize their first success. All that turns to dismay when another claimant to Irises emerges. Curator Huub is sure the new claim is valid, but Zelda is convinced that the picture belongs with Rita and her elderly sisters. As Zelda and her young friend/admirer Friedrich dig deeper, the stakes go from lies and greed to murder.

There were so many things to like about this book. The premise—Nazi-looted artworks hidden for decades—is both timely and terrific, and the settings were well-drawn and believable. Nazi atrocities against both Jews and homosexuals are well-documented. And we’ve all heard about families who’ve spent years trying to recover property looted by the Nazis, as well as the dramatic discovery of more than 1200 works in the apartment of reclusive German art dealer Cornelius Gurlitt.  And as a thriller, the novel’s pacing unfolds perfectly, slowly at first and then racing to its dark climax.

For me, though, there were a few problems with the book. I can wish for tighter editing for the various typos and edit fails (including the instance where Huub calls someone “Renee”). I can wish that better research/editing could have caught things like the reference to a non-Jew as one of hundreds of guests at a bar mitzvah party, even though such an event would have been more likely to be a family-oriented dinner feast in the days preceding more recent American-style extravaganzas. Or that while there is a definite point made to one character wearing a wig, we never really find out why.

Some things were probably just artistic license taken in order to make a point, such as the unlikely conversation between an art history graduate student and a museum curator where they discuss the meaning of “provenance”—something that should surely have come up on the first day of her first art history class. Or the way that the Nisqually earthquake was moved forward in time…and relocated from Olympia to Seattle.

But my real disappointment with The Lover’s Portrait is with the main characters, especially Zelda. We know that she’s an intrepid woman who has traveled the world. Trying to avoid spoilers, I have to say that she comes across as immature and surprisingly gullible, especially in her romantic relationships. Despite what I would have seen as opportunities for character development and growth, I can’t point to times where Zelda has changed or matured in any way. And—while trying to avoid spoilers here— I can also say that the other “romantic” relationship between the villain and his accomplice is even less believable.

In addition, virulent opposition of curator Huub to giving Irises to its original owner and his almost fawning acceptance of the second claim is vaguely attributed to his own family’s suffering during the war. While the plight of the Netherlands Jews is well documented—of the over 140,000 Jews living in the Netherlands at the beginning of the war, less than 27% survived the holocaust, and those who did almost invariably returned to find their property confiscated and possessions gone—that simply doesn’t explain why he would prefer one claimant over another.

Having said all that, I come back to the fact that this is a well-told story over all, with significant research, great settings, and good pacing. Author Jennifer S. Alderson can definitely write, and I’d look forward to reading her future books.

Book Description

When a Dutch art dealer hides the stock from his gallery – rather than turn it over to his Nazi blackmailer – he pays with his life, leaving a treasure trove of modern masterpieces buried somewhere in Amsterdam, presumably lost forever. That is, until American art history student Zelda Richardson sticks her nose in.

After studying for a year in the Netherlands, Zelda scores an internship at the prestigious Amsterdam Historical Museum, where she works on an exhibition of paintings and sculptures once stolen by the Nazis, lying unclaimed in Dutch museum depots almost seventy years later. When two women claim the same painting, the portrait of a young girl entitled Irises, Zelda is tasked with investigating the painting’s history and soon finds evidence that one of the two women must be lying about her past. Before she can figure out which one and why, Zelda learns about the Dutch art dealer’s concealed collection. And that Irises is the key to finding it.

Her discoveries make her a target of someone willing to steal – and even kill – to find the missing paintings. As the list of suspects grows, Zelda realizes she has to track down the lost collection and unmask a killer if she wants to survive.

The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery draws on the author’s experiences gained while studying art history in the Netherlands and working for several Dutch museums. Before moving to Amsterdam twelve years ago, Jennifer S. Alderson worked as a journalist and website developer in Seattle, Washington.

About the author

Jennifer S. Alderson

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

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

Both novels are part of an on-going yet stand-alone series following the adventures of traveler and culture lover, Zelda Richardson. The third installment, another art-related travel thriller (working title: Smuggler’s Deceit) will be released in the fall of 2017.

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

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