Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistFic #Mystery Bad Blood Will Out by @penandpension

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Bad Blood Will Out by William Savage

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4 out of 5 stars

This is the fourth in the Ashmole Foxe series of 18th century murder mysteries.  Foxe is a dapper entrepreneur living in the centre of Norwich.  Officially, he is a bookseller and purveyor of rare volumes, but in reality he has little interest in his shop, leaving it to be run by the reliable Mrs Crombie.  Aside from this, Foxe dabbles his fingers in many pies, not least of all the solving of murders to which he is often referred by the Alderman and other leading lights in the city.

In Bad Blood Will Out, Foxe is presented with two murders: one is that of a wealthy chandler, the other an actor in the White Swan theatre.  At first Foxe dismisses the latter, but finds his thoughts returning to it over and over.  His days are busy; he is also obliged to play host to his nephew Nicholas, who has come to the city to learn how to become a businessman.  As the early chapters progress, Foxe soon finds that, despite the presence of the odious Postgate, the theatre stage manager he and most others detest, he cannot resist delving into the White Swan murder – which soon becomes murders in the plural.

Like all of William Savage’s books, Bad Blood Will Out is a highly readable mix of intricate plot construction and wonderful characters; Ashmole Foxe remains a delight, and the other characters are all fully rounded, with plenty of subtle humour in the dialogue.  The time and place is beautifully illustrated, with a backdrop of the world of 18th century theatre.

A stunning first chapter about a fire at the theatre some years before had my interest well and truly piqued, and the unfolding plot lived up to expectations (and the murder weapon had me stumped!).  I did wish, on occasion, that more events were shown in the same way as that first chapter, rather than being described/reported to Foxe, but this is just the personal preference of one who likes stories told from several points of view; I certainly enjoyed this novel and am sure Mr Savage’s many readers will find it every bit as charming as all the others.

Book description

Ashmole Foxe is approached by the mayor of Norwich and the manager of one of its oldest theatres, both wanting him to investigate sudden, baffling deaths. Foxe loathes the theatre manager, so he’ll have nothing to do with his tale of ghostly apparitions and the murder of an alcoholic, has-been actor. Instead, he turns to the mayor’s request — to resolve the killing of a rich merchant. The trouble is Foxe can’t quite put the theatre mystery out of his mind.

Both cases contain inexplicable events. How did someone stab the merchant as he was hosting a grand masquerade ball surrounded by his guests — without anyone seeing what happened? What has an actress dead for twenty years to do with the murder of someone who shouldn’t even have been in the current cast?

Urged on by cryptic messages from a local Cunning Woman and supported by his extended household and the street-children of the city, Foxe is soon entangled in webs of secrecy and deceit going back into the past and outwards as far as London itself.

“Bad Blood Will Out” is Book 4 of the Ashmole Foxe mystery series. Like the rest, it’s set in the fascinating world of 1760s England. The story shows how betrayal, greed, ambition and grief lead to a toxic mix of thwarted passions, grim obsession and slow-burning hatred. Before the end, it’s going to bring Foxe face-to-face with the most callous, cold-hearted and remorseless killer he has ever known.

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

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#NonFiction #SelfHelp My #Bookreview of Happier Thinking by Lana Grace Riva

Happier ThinkingHappier Thinking by Lana Grace Riva

3 stars

Happy Thinking is a self-help non-fiction book. At just fifty pages it is a quick and easy read. This is one woman’s thoughts drawn from her own battles with depression. There’s no heavy scientific theory to wade through, or ground-breaking new techniques, just one person’s ideas on how to find happiness.

Ideal for a lunch-break read.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Changing how you think is possible. I wasn’t always so sure that was true until I experienced it myself, but I know now we don’t have to just accept unhappiness. Not always anyway. This book is my collection of tips and suggestions that have helped me achieve happier thinking. It’s sort of a gym for my mind. I’d love to tell you it was easier than the real gym but well… it’s not really. It takes time, effort, and practice but it’s absolutely well worth the rewards.

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#Romance The Captain And The Cavalry Trooper by @MadameGilflurt And @e_harkstead

The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper (The Captivating Captains #1)The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper by Catherine Curzon

4 stars

The Captain And The Cavalry Trooper is book #1 in the Captivating Captains series. It is a romance set in the latter years of World War 1.

Trooper Jack Woodvine is sent to Chateau de Desgravier where he will be Captain Thorne’s latest groom. Both the Captain and his horse Apollo share fierce reputations; several previous grooms have been kicked by the horse and yelled at by the Captain. But Jack grew up on a farm and with gypsy blood running through him; he has a talent for calming horses with just a whisper

The Chateau is home to an eclectic mix of soldiers, all awaiting orders from the front, with some praying they never see the fighting. Trooper ‘Queenie’ Charles prefers silk robes to his khaki attire and makes sure everyone knows how dangerous he can be. He’ll do anything to keep himself away from the warfare.

When Jack meets Captain Thorne, he’s instantly attracted to both the man and his steed. He believes he sees something behind the icy façade. With the threat of war all around, the chateau offers an enchanting place to escape the horrors of combat and to live, for a while, in just the moment. The men fall in love and begin a clandestine affair, but dangerous prying eyes miss nothing.

As the call to the frontline becomes imminent, Thorne attempts to keep Jack safe, but his plans backfire. They both find themselves on the battle line and the war is hungry for more soldiers to chew on and spit out.

This book is primarily an MM romance, but the unusual Chateau setting in wartime France worked well. I could easily picture the stables and yard features, while I understood the hopes and fears of the soldiers. The romance was daring in a time when the men would have been corporally punished if caught, but the author has blurred lines of social acceptance that might have been stricter elsewhere. An enjoyable story which fits the genre well.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

As the Great War tears Europe apart, two men from different worlds find sanctuary in each other’s arms.

Captain Robert Thorne is the fiercest officer in the regiment. Awaiting the command to go to the front, he has no time for simpering, comely lads. That’s until one summer day in 1917 when his dark, flashing eye falls upon the newest recruit at Chateau de Desgravier, a fresh-faced farmer’s boy with little experience of life and a wealth of poetry in his heart.

Trooper Jack Woodvine has a way with strong, difficult stallions, and whispers them to his gentle will. Yet even he has never tamed a creature like Captain Thorne.

With the shadow of the Great War and the scheming of enemies closer to home threatening their fleeting chance at happiness, can the Captain and the Cavalry Trooper make it home safely? More importantly, will they see peacetime together?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT An Artifact #Mystery Rituals Of The Dead by @JSAauthor

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

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Rituals Of The Dead by Jennifer S Alderson

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Zelda Richardson is an adventurous heroine who loves to solve mysteries.  She needs to succeed in her placement as an intern at the Tropen museum in Amsterdam but the work involves Asmat Bis poles from Papua New Guinea, totems made for the spirits of the dead, whose evil looking faces seem to be leading her into danger.

Seven crates have been discovered unopened for 50 years in the archive depot of Rotterdam’s Wereld museum.  As Zelda and the more important staff from the museums observe, the crates are unpacked, revealing not just Bis poles, but also human remains of the head-hunting Asmat culture of what was then Dutch New Guinea.  But the most intriguing discovery is the leather-bound journal of Nicholas Mayfield, a wealthy American anthropologist who went missing in 1962.

Interspersed with Zelda’s transcription of the journal and her investigations, are passages from 1962, where we discover the frustrations and difficulties Nicholas had experienced while trading in Dutch New Guinea, hindered rather than helped by experienced Dutch anthropologist, Albert Schenk.  Albert is now Director of the Wereldmuseum and he seems to be a thoroughly unpleasant, arrogant individual.

Soon, Zelda is alarmed when two people close to her are murdered.  She continues with her task of transcribing the journal and researching the background of the Bis poles for an imminent exhibition, but she keeps information close to her chest and, at times, is unwise in those she chooses to trust.

This exciting story is also an education about a culture of which I knew very little.  The actions of colonial powers, the church and collectors of artifacts is called into questions but there is also our moral dilemma of whether to exhibit treasures from the past or return them to their source.  But don’t let this put you off; you will be on the edge of your seat wondering if Zelda will take one risk too many as well as wishing to discover what actually happened to Nicholas Mayfield.  A thoroughly good read.

Book description

Art, religion, and anthropology collide in Alderson’s latest art mystery thriller, Rituals of the Dead, Book three of the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series.

Art history student Zelda Richardson is working at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam on an exhibition of bis poles from the Asmat region of Papua – the same area where a famous American anthropologist disappeared in 1962. When his journals are found inside one of the bis poles, Zelda is tasked with finding out more about the man’s last days and his connection to these ritual objects.

Zelda is pulled into a world of shady anthropologists, headhunters, missionaries, art collectors, and smugglers – where the only certainty is that sins of the past are never fully erased.

Join Zelda as she grapples with the anthropologist’s mysterious disappearance fifty years earlier, and a present-day murderer who will do anything to prevent her from discovering the truth.

All three mysteries in the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series are stand-alone novels, yet are even more enjoyable when read in order:
Down and Out in Kathmandu: A Backpacker Mystery (Book One)
The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery (Book Two)

About the author

Hi! I worked as a journalist and website developer in Seattle, Washington before trading my financial security for a backpack. After traveling extensively around Asia, Oceania, Europe and Central America, I moved to the Netherlands and earned degrees in art history and museum studies.

When not writing, I can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning my next research trip.

Jennifer S. Alderson

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Rosie’s Review Team #RBRT #Romance That Summer At The Seahorse Hotel by @adrienneauthor

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

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading That Summer At The Seahorse Hotel by Adrienne Vaughan

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The romance in this novel is not only in the plotline or between the characters but for me it was in the fabulous setting. A crumbling estate on the dramatic coast of Ireland, what’s not to love.

Mia is a dresser on film sets (I thoroughly enjoyed the attention given to the detail of her work) and is the favourite of an aging film star, Archie Fitz, who has been great friends with Mia’s mother, Fenella, another film star, for many years. Sadly, Archie is dying and as friends and family gather around him at Galty House, once known as The Seahorse Hotel, the dynamics in the relationships come to light along with the truth as secrets from the past are at long last revealed.

Adrienne Vaughan’s characterisations are very good. Mia was terrific and I particularly liked Archie, I’d loved to have known him he was such fun. I was curiously drawn to the green-eyed cat that arrived towards the end of the book too but shall say no more on that.

There was a lot that happened in the storyline, which I won’t go over, and Mia faced betrayal along with her grief at losing Archie. I was pleased the estate went where it should have done and with the plans eventually made for it. As for the romance, well that was nicely done. Realistic and not slushy, just the way I like it!

Book description

Mia Flanagan has never been told who her father is and aged ten, stopped asking.

Haunted by this, she remains a dutiful daughter who would never do anything to bring scandal or shame on her beautiful and famously single mother.

So when Archie Fitzgerald, one of Hollywood’s favourite actors, decides to leave Mia his Irish estate, she asks herself – is he her father after all?

That Summer at the Seahorse Hotel is a tale of passion, jealousy and betrayal – and the ghost of a secret love that binds this colourful cast yet still threatens, after all these years, to tear each of them apart.

About the author

Adrienne Vaughan has been making up stories since she could speak; primarily to entertain her sister Reta, who from a very early age never allowed a plot or character to be repeated – tough audience. As soon as she could pick up a pen, she started writing them down. It was no surprise she wanted to be a journalist; ideally the editor of a glossy music and fashion magazine, so she could meet and marry a pop star – some of that came true – and in common with so many, still holds the burning ambition to be a ‘Bond Girl’! She now runs a busy PR practice and writes poems, short stories and ideas for books, in her spare time. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a founder member of the indie publishing group The New Romantics4. Adrienne lives in Leicestershire with her husband, two cocker spaniels and a retired dressage horse called Marco.

Adrienne Vaughan

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #memoir Living In Italy by Stef Smulders by @italie_verhalen

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

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Living In Italy by Stef Smulders

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I have long harboured a dream to move to France, though Brexit may well scupper that. Italy or Portugal are next on the list, even though my own experience of driving in Italy was utterly terrifying (they literally have no rules – at least not any that anyone follows). So I was very interested to read the story of a couple relocating to Italy, especially as they bought a house that needed renovation and which has now been turned into a holiday rental (I am so tempted to book!).

Well, I now know that I will have to buy something that needs no work at all – I know I couldn’t bear the stress and upheaval that Stef and Nico went through. If you thought stories about unscrupulous tradesmen, a lackadaisical attitude to working times and deadlines, and a system where everything is done through a friend of a friend were exaggerated, then you should read this book. Everything you think and fear is true.

Stef and Nico come across as endlessly patient, hugely pragmatic and very nice indeed! The stories included here are so interesting and so funny at times. The portrayals of neighbours and friends, tradesman, agents and architects are delivered with a wry humour and a real eye for the little details that sum someone up in a few words or actions.

The only let down for me was that the translation isn’t great, which sometimes made things a bit hard-going. That isn’t really the fault of the author, but it does mean a lower rating than I would have given otherwise. If you can overlook that, and read it with an open-mind, then you’ll really enjoy it.

Three and a half out of five stars.

Book description

Would you dare to follow your dream and move or retire to Italy?

Stef & Nico did, although their dog Sara had her doubts. Now from your comfortable armchair you can share in the hilarious & horrendous adventures they experienced when they moved to Italy to start a bed and breakfast.

 

For lovers of amusing travelogue memoirs who like a good laugh. And for those interested in practical advice on how to buy a house in Italy there is useful information along the way, pleasantly presented within the short stories.

.

Stef Smulders

Dutchman who moved to Italy in 2008 to live the good life with his husband and dog, welcoming guests in their Villa I Due Padroni B&B in the beautiful wine region Oltrepò Pavese, south of Milan.

Author of the Award winning book “Living in Italy: the Real Deal” with hilarious expat adventures.

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My review of #contemporary Let Me Be Like Water by @_sarah_perry @NikkiTGriffiths #TuesdayBookBlog

Let Me Be Like WaterLet Me Be Like Water by S. K. Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let Me Feel Like Water is a contemporary novel that celebrates friendship found after a young woman reaches great depths of despair.

Holly escapes her life in London to live in Brighton. She is surviving hour by hour, wracked by grief over the death of her boyfriend.

Seventy year old Frank is an ex-magician and a collector of broken people. He befriends Holly, gives her something else to think about, offers an easy friendship and invites her to his book club. Here she meets the other members, each with their own story to tell.

This is Holly’s journey; some days she’s lonely, other days she prefers solitude. Sometimes she can’t stay still, running to the point of exhaustion. Another day she swims in the cold sea where she considers ending it all. Life in Brighton offers escape, anonymity and time to heal. The narrative is raw and, at times, haunting and sad.

This is a captivating story. The author does a good job drip-feeding information in the beginning, reeling in her audience. As the story continues, we’re given just enough information to form our own pictures, but it kept me guessing and wanting to turn the pages; the technique is clever and works well. When I think back I have loads of questions about the secondary characters, but this is Holly’s story. She has experienced much tragedy; for her there is no happy-ever-after but perhaps a distant glow of hope.

A book about the gritty side of real life, this book may leave you with questions, but it gave me a lot to think about.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Holly moved to Brighton to escape her grief over the death of her boyfriend, Sam. But now she is here, sitting on a bench, listening to the sea sway… what is supposed to happen next?

She had thought she d want to be on her own. Wrecked. Stranded. But after she meets Frank, the tide begins to shift. Frank, a retired magician who has experienced his own loss but manages to be there for everyone else. Gradually, as he introduces Holly to a circle of new friends, young and old, all with their own stories of love and grief to share, she begins to learn to live again.

A moving and powerful debut which combines the emotional pull of Maggie O’Farrell with the lyrical beauty of Sarah Perry, Let Me Be Like Water is a book simultaneously about nothing and everything: about the humdrum yet extraordinariness of everyday life; of lost and new connections; of loneliness and friendship.

About the author

S.K. PERRY was shortlisted for the Mslexia Award and longlisted for London’s Young Poet Laureate, and was a resident artist at the Roundhouse in Camden and a Cityread Young Writer in Residence. She runs creative writing projects that develop emotional literacy, and explore mental health, memory, and healing from violence and she set up the Great Men project, which trains men to talk to teenage boys about gender equality and healthy relationships inschool workshops. She lives in Brixton, London. This is her debut novel.

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Cultural #HistFic My #Bookreview of The Green Phoenix by @alicepoon1 #TuesdayBookBlog

The Green Phoenix: A Novel of the Woman Who Re-Made Asia, Empress XiaozhuangThe Green Phoenix: A Novel of the Woman Who Re-Made Asia, Empress Xiaozhuang by Alice Poon

3.5 stars

The Green Phoenix is historical fiction set in China during the 1600s. The book tells the story of Mongolian Princess Bumbutai, who became a concubine to the Chinese emperor Hong Taiji, and how, over her life-time, she became influential in many decisions taken by those who ruled the Qing dynasty. An empire which ruled from 1644 to 1912, the Qing dynasty was preceded by the Ming empire.

Bumbutai was married to Hong Taiji when she was just twelve years old, a political marriage; it was the emperor’s brother Dorgan who always held her heart. But Bumbutai understood the importance of her role and with it the need to produce male heirs. A natural linguist and eager scholar, Bumbutai was allowed to continue to study religion and Chinese history.

Life in the Chinese courts was perilous with mass corruption, constant rebellion and the complex, ever-changing hierarchy within the concubine households. Through this Bumbutai rose and fell, but when Hong Taiji died she was forced to use political ties to ensure her own son became the next Emperor against a strong opposition. She played an advisory role to her son, and then her grandson, in her remaining years.

This was a challenging book to read. I knew nothing of this period of history and struggled with the unfamiliar names, especially when many of the main characters had several names and titles bestowed upon them. The author’s research shines through, but I felt, on several occasions, that Bumbutai’s story became lost under the weight of the battles and corruption. I understand that the historical evidence was important to the building of the empire, but, at times, the book fell heavily towards a non-fiction account of the period rather than historical fiction.

Overall, a good window into an important historical period, but, for me, it needed more to make Bumbutai’s story outshine the facts.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

With the fate of East Asia hanging in the balance, one Mongolian woman manipulated her lovers, sons and grandsons through war and upheaval to create an empire that lasted for 250 years. The Green Phoenix tells the story of the Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang, born a Mongolian princess who became a consort in the Manchu court and then the Qing Dynasty’s first matriarch. She lived through harrowing threats, endless political crises, personal heartaches and painful losses to lead a shaky Empire out of a dead end. The story is set against a turbulent canvas as the Chinese Ming Dynasty is replaced by the Qing. Xiaozhuang guides her husband, her lover, her son and her grandson – all emperors and supreme leaders of the Qing Empire – to success against the odds.

About the author

Alice is an avid reader of world historical fiction. Born and educated in Hong Kong, she grew up devouring Jin Yong’s martial arts and chivalry novels, all set in China’s distant past. That sparked her life-long interest in Chinese history. Writing historical novels set in Old China has been her long cherished dream.

Her new historical novel The Green Phoenix set in 17th century China was released in September 2017 by Earnshaw Books.

She is the author of the bestselling Chinese Edition of Land and the Ruling Class in Hong Kong, which won the 2011 Hong Kong Book Prize . Canadian Book Review Annual selected the original English Edition as Editor’s Choice (Scholarly) in 2007.

She currently lives in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, and is working on her next Old China novel.

Alice Poon

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Madam Tulip And The Bones Of Chance by @DaveAhernWriter

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

#RBRT Review Team

Jessie has been reading Madam Tulip And The Bones Of Chance by Dave Ahern

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I’m the kind of girl who gets totally, embarrassingly, nerdily excited when they see that another book by a favorite author is getting released. When the book is something off the best seller list, I often have another book lover to gush about the up coming book with. When the book is less well known I instead kick into overzealous-crazy-book-lover-who-insists-you-must-read-this-book mode. I’m not interested in asking what my friends and family think about this behavior of mine but I like to imagine they find it useful and charming.

And look everybody, Madam Tulip is back!

Just in case you haven’t yet had time to read the first books (because I know after my recommendations they must be on your “to read” list)  Madam Tulip and Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts, I certainly recommend you start there. If, like me and my Granny, you’ve been waiting for the next installment it’s here. You should probably just go ahead and order it now. The same great cast of characters are again unwittingly getting themselves into hot water. And it is again the best kind of page turning mystery with enough laughs to keep it lighthearted and fun.

But instead of waxing on about the third book in a series I’ll trust you’ll start with the first and keep on reading.

In the meantime David Ahern himself agreed to answer a few questions!  

1) First things first. Does daily life begin with caffeinated beverage of choice?

Three caffeinated beverages of choice. And nothing fancy, either. Straight from the jar. Milk no sugar. I might, just might, stumble into life midway through #2.

2)  In the Madam Tulip books the main character Derry’s dad often seems to be the one who sees  “signs” in what his daughter says. How about you? Do you have any sure signs your day is going  to be fantastic… or not….

As a writer, never a clue. Sometimes you think a day is going to be like pulling teeth, and then for no discernible reason you find yourself on a roll. Other days you breeze to your desk feeling mighty clever, to find your brain instantly turns to mush and you wouldn’t trust yourself to write a shopping list.    

3) They say pictures are worth a thousand words. Could you describe Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance using nothing but emojis? (And no, I don’t think emojis are worth a thousand words but I’m curious anyway. ??)

Haven’t a clue. I’m from the emoticon age :).

4) Having lived in both Scotland and Ireland it’s possible you may be qualified to tell us who has the best whiskey. If that’s too controversial of a question, is there something about Scotland (where much of this book takes place) that you wish you could take with you where ever you live?

Scotch whisky is the hands down winner, and frankly we Irish don’t even put up a fight about that. On the other hand, we invented Scotland, but don’t tell anyone I said it. As for what I wish I could take with me, the hospitality of the people of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is something very, very special.    

5)  During Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance Derry is acting for a movie that she doesn’t seem to think will be the next blockbuster, or even close. What “awful” movie do you love despite itself.

Zardoz, a wonderful Sean Connery turkey directed by John Boorman. And I’m not saying why.

6) In my own little world I prefer for everything to end with dessert. What’s your favorite treat to end things with?

A laugh.

Thank you David for being willing to do a little Q & A with us!

And as for the book…

Would I recommend it? Without a doubt! These books should be on the best seller lists!

Book description

A surprise role in a movie takes actress Derry O’Donnell to a romantic castle in the Scottish Highlands. But romance soon turns to fear and suspicion. Someone means to kill, and Derry, moonlighting as celebrity fortune-teller Madam Tulip, is snared in a net of greed, conspiracy and betrayal.

A millionaire banker, a film producer with a mysterious past, a gun-loving wife, a PA with her eyes on Hollywood, a handsome and charming estate manager—each has a secret to share and a request for Madam Tulip.
As Derry and her friend Bruce race to prevent a murder, she learns to her dismay that the one future Tulip can’t predict is her own.

Madame Tulip is the third in a series of thrilling and hilarious Tulip adventures in which Derry O’Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and reluctant amateur detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life, drinks borage tea, and fails to understand her parents.

About the author

David Ahern grew up in a theatrical family in Ireland but ran away to Scotland to become a research psychologist and sensible person. He earned his doctorate but soon absconded to work in television. He became a writer, director and producer, creating international documentary series and winning numerous awards, none of which got him free into nightclubs.

Madame Tulip wasn’t David Ahern’s first novel, but writing it was the most fun he’d ever had with a computer. He is now writing the fourth Madam Tulip adventure and enjoys pretending this is actual work.

David Ahern lives in the beautiful West of Ireland with his wife, two cats and a vegetable garden of which he is inordinately proud.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #UrbanFantasy Shrouds Of Darkness by @BrockDeskins

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

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been reading Shrouds Of Darkness by Brock Deskins

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My Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars for Shrouds of Darkness by Brock E. Deskins

“Don’t be too sure I’m as crooked as I’m supposed to be. That sort of reputation might be good business, bringing high price jobs and making it easier to deal with the enemy.”—Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, 1942 based on Dashiell Hammett’s 1929 novel)

Leo Malone is a private investigator, a knight in dubiously-rusty armor who is ten times as antisocial and unfriendly as his hardboiled detective models—and a lot more dead, or at least undead. Told mostly in the first person from Leo’s POV, we soon realize his private eye monologue about how detached he is and how little he cares about people doesn’t exactly match up to his actions. When we meet him, in fact, the first two items on his to-do list are to stop an abusive father and a rapist. But just in case we miss that point, Leo muses, “It’s possible, and this is a stretch, the pretense is me not giving a shit. Maybe I am pretending to be a heartless bastard so I can go on doing what I do without becoming a complete basket case.”

Author Brock E. Deskins goes on to check off most of the remaining hardboiled detective tropes:

  • TrenchcoatYou just know Leo is a spiritual descendant of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe because he wears a trenchcoat. (Although Leo’s is one of a dozen identical three-thousand dollar coats, each a “custom-made Miguel Caballero bullet resistant trench coat.”)
  • Femme fatale: we all know about her—she’s called a “dame” and she has “gams” that defy nature when she appears in our gloomy detective’s even gloomier office with a job for him. In this case, the blonde bombshell comes in the form of Katherine Goldstein, whose father is missing. “Her long golden hair cascades over her shoulders better than halfway to her narrow waist and seems to glow with a light all of its own.”
  • Set up to take the fall: Leo knows he’s probably going down, and has a pretty good idea of who is behind it, but just doesn’t know how to be the kind of person who behaves any differently. What he is, though, is pragmatic about how to face the coming doom. “Fortunately, being a pain in the ass is what I do best, and the more I’m a pain in the ass, the more overt they’ll have to get to deal with me.”
  • Friendly villain: the real monsters are of course, the ones most like Leo. But in true homage to his film noir roots, Leo works as contract bodyguard for Yuri, a good(ish) bad guy who models himself on The Godfather and stays bought. Leo muses, “I don’t know if I would go so far as to say I like Yuri, but we have a mutual sort of respect for each other. I’m not real quick to judge the lifestyles of others.”
  • Girl Friday: For most hard-boiled detectives, an assistant is out of the question. A lucky few like Maltese Falcon’s Sam Spade, though, do have the “office wife” to shelter, mother, and cater to their every whim. Leo? Not so much. His occasional assistant is Marvin, a computer genius and would-be badass hampered by the unfortunate circumstances of having a father who is dean of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and a mother who is a world-renowned biologist and Nobel nominee.” [NOTE: Leo must have used his vampire mojo to find out that one, since the Nobel committees do not divulge the names of nominees.]
  • MacGuffin: This could be anything—Jason’s Golden Fleece, the LOTR rings, Indiana Jones’ Arc of the Covenant, and especially hard-boiled detective Marlow’s Maltese Falcon statue—an object that moves the story along without actually being important in itself. In this case, the macguffin comes in the person of mild-mannered Martin, accountant to the mob, and missing father of blonde bombshell Katherine. Oh, and… a werewolf.
  • Bittersweet ending? Don’t be ridiculous. This is just the first of a series which already stretches to three volumes.

Although this book got off to a slow start with a fairly massive info dump about the flavor of vampires and werewolves in Leo’s world, it did pick up with plenty of fast-paced and bloody action, accompanied by lots of suitably snarky observations from Leo. I just had a few problems with some of it. For one thing, there was the racism. Some of Leo’s comments about “squints” (Asians) he attempts to dismiss by playing the age card, claiming that’s what they called them when he was growing up. But he clearly knows better, and in fact refers to the rapist he stops as “black” (instead of the term we all know he would have heard those eighty years past)—although, he doesn’t ever bother to name the races of (presumably) white characters. Women seem to fall into the angel or whore categories, usually by haircolor. In fact, the vampiress who turns him has black hair, while the golden-haired Katherine is a smart and beautiful and willing to sleep with him without any of that annoying wooing or foreplay.

But for me, the missing pieces that usually make all this genre-mashing palatable are humor and a little humility. If the protagonist isn’t just so unstoppably able to defeat every single threat with literally superhuman acts of strength, I might legitimately feel more tension over the outcome. And if there’s a sense that everyone tacitly accepts their whole preposterous world is built on the fluffiest of fantasy, and is thus willing to laugh at themselves and their situations, the reader is so much more likely to willingly suspend disbelief and go along with the fun. At least, this reader is.

Still, if you’re looking for a fast-paced action story with plenty of blood, a clever plot, standard tropes, and comfortably-familiar characters, then Shrouds of Darkness might be for you.  It’s certainly those features which will have me round up my three and a half star rating to four stars for online reviews.

Book description

Leo Malone: Vampire, body guard, Private detective, and all around pain in the ass is hired to find a client’s father who has gone missing, but not only is the missing man an accountant for the mob, he is a full-blooded werewolf.
What seems to be a simple case of a werewolf run amok turns into a massive conspiracy that threatens to reveal the existence of both species as the brutally dismembered bodies of humans begin turning up all around Brooklyn.
Leo quickly finds himself embroiled in fights between werewolves, vampires, the mafia, and the local police. Luckily, violence is what Leo knows best.

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