What must it be like for the family of a monster killer? Discussion Post #TuesdayBookBlog

A Discussion post

The Obsession by Nora Roberts

Recently I finished reading The Obsession by Nora Roberts. This book pulled me into the pages and I didn’t want it to end. Why?

About the genre

This is a romantic suspense and a stand-alone, as opposed to some of Roberts’ other work, many of which are written as trilogies.

The Plot

A young girl discovers a savagely abused young women and bravely rescues her.  The fall-out is the discovery of a high profile serial killer. It takes years for the young girl to get over what happened. Finally she decides to put down roots, but danger follows as her past comes back to haunt her.

A Question

What must it be like for the family of a monster killer? In a discussion thread on www.fallintothestory.com Roberts states that this was the starting point for the plot of this book. There are three immediate family members: two young children and a wife.

The Wife: What must it be like to realise you are married to someone that you find you know little about? Do you think it is possible to not suspect a thing? As the book progresses we see how the killer’s wife was influenced by a gradual enforcement of control.

If you are a wife/partner/ How do you think you’d feel if you were faced by this shocking reveal?

The first emotion is mostly likely severe shock, or denial, but perhaps it could have been anger too? How hard is it to judge someone else while setting aside your own influences from your upbringing? Have you read the book? If so, what made you like or dislike the wife of the killer?

Whose story is it anyway?

The Obsession is the story of the young girl who discovered a crime and how it affected the rest of her life, but it also brushed on the lives of so many others. Part of the reason Roberts’ writing is so popular is because she creates characters that a reader can invest in and really empathise with.

Strong characters

It doesn’t matter if you are reading a book from Roberts’ romance themed trilogies like Three Sisters Island, or a book from the  Born In… series where she writes as J.D Robb, or even her latest book Year One which goes in an exciting new direction for Roberts, it’s her characters that grab readers.

A sequel?

Some fans have clamoured for a sequel from the point of view of a couple of the other characters. Sadly for them, Roberts says she wrote this book only as a stand-alone.*  Laura Reeth, Roberts’ publicist, announced that due to a change in publishers a sequel would not happen.

Summary

For me and many fans of Roberts, the characters made this book compelling. I’m often as inquisitive as the next man about what makes a person tick, but for a book to pull me in, the main characters really need to show a strength that I connect to, especially if I get one of those ‘goose bump’ moments when you ‘know’ a book speaks to you deeply.

So, if you enjoy Roberts’ writing style, can you pinpoint why she keeps you reading?  If you’ve read The Obsession, what do you think it must be like to be the family of a monster killer?

*http://fallintothestory.com/the-obsession-discussion-thread/

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

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

#RBRT Review Team

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

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This review is for Rosie’s Book Review Team. The book was purchased by the reviewer.

A Tincture of Secrets and Lies is the fourth book in the Dr. Adam Bascom Mysteries series by William Savage.  His other series is the Ashmole Foxe Mysteries and both are set in Georgian England, in and around Norwich. I’ve read the previous three Dr. Adam Bascom books, mainly because I love mysteries, history, and am married to a physician. A perfect syzygy for Savage’s books. Despite being part of a series, A Tincture of Secrets and Lies can be read as a stand-alone, without any confusion on the part of the reader.

The main character, Dr. Adam Bascom, practices medicine in Aylsham, a small town in Norwich. His closest friend, and the person off whom he bounces ideas, is Peter Lassimer, a pharmacist and a confirmed ladies’ man. Dr. Bascom’s unmarried status has the subject of many of their interchanges, but this book hints that his status may change,  sooner or later. Dr. Bascom has fallen in love with Lady Alice, young and wealthy widow of one of his former patients.

The story opens on the night of April 13, 1793 with two significant events. Bascom is thrown from his horse on his way home, and lies unconscious for a long time on a remote country road. At the same time, some miles away, a young woman is viciously stabbed, her body pushed under a hedge to prevent it from being discovered.

The good doctor, although badly hurt, rouses himself enough to let his horse lead him home, but his injuries are serious enough to keep him there for an extended recovery period. In previous adventures, Bascom has developed into an astute detective, and when two other murders are discovered, he is naturally sought out to solve them. However, this time he is frustratingly confined to his bed and must use Peter Lassimer, the nephew and niece of Lady Alice, and even his groom, William, to be his eyes, ears and legs to find the killer.  Through them, he uncovers a plot to destabilize the country, already on edge with a threatened invasion by the French, and the topic of smuggling, rampant on the English coast, becomes entwined in the story.

I shared the sheer frustration of Bascom, being confined to his room and then his home, and at the mercy of his housekeeper, Mrs. Brigstone; Hannah, the nervous parlor maid; and Mrs. Munning, a warm-hearted young widow brought in to nurse him. I was nearly tearing my hair out, right along with the patient. How the author managed to keep the plot afoot from Bascom’s confines is a real feat, but allows him to write from different characters’ points of view, which keeps the readers interest. I particularly enjoyed, Professor Panacea (wherever did Savage get that name?), a snake oil salesman with real charisma but no medical knowledge.

Characters from previous books in the series evolve in this one. Lady Alice’s niece, Ruth Scudamore, is a young woman who dislikes the trapping s of traditional society, and is more than happy to investigate and interview people at Bascom’s direction. She reminds me of a Georgian Nancy Drew. Her twin brother Charles, who has been unable to find a focus for his life other than genteel leisure, discovers what he’s made of working for the doctor. Through him, the reader gets to experience a military attack to stop a group of rebels. The reader is kept hanging about the outcome of the doctor’s relationship with Lady Alice, who keeps a huge secret from Bascom. Perhaps in the next book?

The author’s ability to weave interesting characters into the social mores and historical detail of the day is his strength, along with a complex and complicated storyline. The book is written at the pace of the time, and there is lengthy dialogue, both of which can take a period of adjustment for the reader; however, but with the varied settings and points of view, the mystery never flags. I recommend it to all, but especially to readers who love mysteries in perfectly described, historically accurate settings.

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

William Savage grew up in Hereford, on the border with Wales and too his degree at Cambridge. After a career in various managerial and executive roles, he retired to Norfolk, where he volunteers at a National Trust property. His life-long interest has been history, which led to research and writing about the eighteenth century.  But his is not just a superficial interest in history, but a real desire to understand and transmit the daily experience of living in turbulent times.

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My #Bookreview of cold war #Thriller THE LEIPZIG AFFAIR by Fiona Rintoul @fifikinrocks

The Leipzig AffairThe Leipzig Affair by Fiona Rintoul
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Leipzig Affair is a cold war thriller.

The story opens with Bob recalling the death of Marek, for which he blames himself; this sets an intriguing, dark tone to the book.

The story then turns to 1985, Leipzig, East Germany. Magda is training to be an English interpreter and translator; her hopes are pinned on winning a place on a study programme in Great Britain, so that she may escape the strict socialist regime she rebels against.

Magda once believed in socialism, but when her brother, an Olympic athlete, fell seriously ill, she thought there was a cover-up and for her, a dangerous disbelief set in. For a while she tried to break free, but her father held a powerful position, so she pretended to conform, whilst plotting her escape.

Robert McPherson was granted a one year study visa for East Germany, and smuggling in banned clothing. He was already a target for Magda’s plans, but when the Stasi arrest him and throw him out of the country he becomes consumed with guilt, convinced he’s signed a man’s death warrant.

This is the story of two people: Robert who spent years hiding in a drunken haze of guilt, and Magda, whose life was tossed around by others in a dangerous cloak and shadow game. The mind games of the Stasi are notorious and this book gave an interesting insight. Even after ‘The Wall’ came down it didn’t instantly solve all the problems, nor could it wipe away the events which scarred many lives. This isn’t a thriller filled with gruesome murders but the chilling feeling left by twists and turns of spies, when you really don’t know who you can trust. Ideal for those with an interest in tales from the cold war era.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

The year is 1985. East Germany is in the grip of communism. Magda, a brilliant but disillusioned young linguist, is desperate to flee to the West. When a black market deal brings her into contact with Robert, a young Scot studying at Leipzig University, she sees a way to realise her escape plans. But as Robert falls in love with her, he stumbles into a complex world of shifting half-truths – one that will undo them both.
Many years later, long after the Berlin Wall has been torn down, Robert returns to Leipzig in search of answers. Can he track down the elusive Magda?
And will the past give up its secrets?

About the author

Fiona Rintoul is a writer and translator based in Glasgow in Scotland. She writes fiction and articles, and translates from German and French into English. Fiona’s poems and short stories have appeared in anthologies and magazines, including Mslexia and Gutter, and she is a past winner of the Gillian Purvis New Writing Award and the Sceptre Prize.
Fiona Rintoul

My #Bookreview of #nonfiction CALL OF AN ANGEL by Patricia O’Toole @callofanangel

Call of an AngelCall of an Angel by Patricia O’Toole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Call Of An Angel is a non-fiction, spirituality book and is ideal for those who believe in connections to angels and the energies of the universe.

Written from the author’s own experiences and set mainly in a rural Irish location, this book follows the chance awakening of the author’s spiritual channels. I enjoyed the journey, especially the chapters about connecting with nature, healing animals, and planting a garden, then a wood, for nature to thrive in.

The book is inspiring on many levels; it may be that a reader has their own angelic stories, or that they want to do more to save the world we live in. I’m glad the author persevered and brought this book to fruition; may it be the first of many.

View all my reviews

Book description

The remarkable true story of angels and spirits appearing in the lives of an ordinary working mum and her two teenage sons, living quietly in a remote corner of Ireland.

This was no chance meeting between heaven and earth and they soon became part of a phenomenon that would change their lives forever.

‘In the still silence of the night, I said a little prayer asking the angels never to do anything that might startle me. Feeling somewhat reassured by this, I snuggled down and drifted off to sleep. I am not so sure I would have been quite so easily placated if I had had any notion of the sheer volume of angels and spirits that were soon to come into my life at every opportunity and everywhere I went, from that night forward.’

Call of an Angel will appeal to a wide audience, including the many fans of angel author Lorna Byrne, and the growing force of modern millennial followers of angel gurus Kyle Gray and Radleigh Valentine.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Horror GHOSTS OF MANOR HOUSE by @GhostsofMH

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Ghosts Of Manor House by Matt Powers

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My review:

I write this review on behalf of Rosie’s Book Review Team and thank Rosie Amber and the author for providing me a copy of the book that I freely chose to review.

The description of the book provides us with a good gist of what the book is about (and it is accurate) but the title itself will stir readers in the right direction. Yes, this is a book about ghosts and it centres on a house. Manor House is a house with plenty of history behind. And Mr. Travels, the old oak tree in its vicinity, has seen its share of events, mostly dark ones.

The book is a ghost story in the best tradition of psychological horror. The clever way in which the story is designed made me think of magicians and sleight of hand artists who misdirect the spectators and create an atmosphere where the most bizarre or magical things can come true. The story is told in the third person and although it mostly tells of the events that happen to the family Wilder, it also has a prologue and an epilogue that beautifully bring the story full circle and incorporate it into the mythology of the house, turning it into a representative of what the house stands for, and of the stories of the rest of its inhabitants. The story is set in the recent past, before social media and mobile phones were the norm, and it is told in the third person, in its majority from the point of view of Edmund Wilder, (although later there are some chapters told from the point of view of his brother-in-law, Charlie), who was a happy husband and father until tragedy stroke and he lost his son, Tommy. His wife is depressed and when she suggests spending a few days at Manor House to have a break and strengthen their family ties, he agrees. The plan is for him to take the opportunity to write the book he has been talking about for ages. The narration is not straightforward. Although the book is pretty short, the reader needs to remain attentive, as Edmund experiences strange events, and his story is interspersed with his writing, that includes stories about the house, a diary where he narrates dreams (sometimes experienced whilst awake and sometimes asleep), and the time frame is not as evident as it might seem at times. Edmund is not a reliable narrator. He interacts with a number of mysterious characters that keep reassuring him that everything is all right, but he is not totally convinced of that. There are moments when he feels that he is not in control of what is happening or what he is writing, but that he is rather a conduit for somebody or something else (Manor House?).

These mysterious characters who work in the house (Lucas, the housekeeper, and the groundskeeper) give him some clues as to what might be really going on, but we experience events through Edmund’s eyes and senses, and although we might be as convinced as he is that things are not right, and we have some extra information (the prologue and later the chapters from Charlie’s point of view), we still feel as lost and puzzled as him.

Matt Powers does a great job of enveloping the story in suggestion and creating intrigue, without using gore descriptions or openly violent scenes. He manages to make the readers autosuggest themselves and creates a psychological atmosphere of disquiet and dread. The fact that we only know some basic facts about the family and the protagonist rather than having a very personalised and detailed portrayal of the individuals and their characteristics helps us immerse ourselves in the story and we can easily identify with the role of observer and writer Edmund takes on (more or less willingly).

The style of the writing is atmospheric and it alternates with stream of consciousness and with descriptive writing of historical events and lore, but as mentioned, due to the state of mind of the character whose point of view we share in, it needs to be followed closely and it is not a light and easy read.

The author explains that he intended to pay homage and create his own version of the horror stories about ghosts and haunted houses he loves, and in my opinion, he is successful. Fans of horror stories will find plenty of nods to stories and authors who have written in the genre and will enjoy that aspect as much as the story itself. Although I did not find the novel scary or the ending surprising per se, it is eerie and it does a good job of exploring the psychology of anxiety and fear, while at the same time touching on the themes of loss, grief, guilt, and the toll losing a child can have on family relationships.

A short read recommended for those who prefer their frights more psychological and less gory in nature. And I agree with the author’s chosen quote by Dean Koontz:

Houses are not haunted. We are haunted, and regardless of the architecture with which we surround ourselves, our ghosts stay with us until we ourselves are ghosts.

Another author to keep a close eye on.

Book description

Edmund and Mary Wilder are very much in love. But the death of their young son, Tommy, has shattered their family. Edmund is determined to bring them back together, drawing on the only bit of strength he has left—his love for Mary and their daughter, Stephanie. But Mary sinks deeper into depression while little Stephanie’s anger grows. Edmund flounders in his attempts to rescue his family from the brink of collapse and doesn’t know where to turn.

Then Mary receives an invitation for the family to become guests at Manor House, a seemingly quaint Bed and Breakfast. This, she assures her husband, is the answer to all their troubles.

Edmund arrives ahead of his family to spend a couple days working on his long-delayed novel. But his growing curiosity about the old house leads Edmund to an encounter that will change him forever.

What will you sacrifice for love?

An old fashioned psychological thriller with a nod to Stephen King, Manor House will keep you guessing and compel you to turn the page to the very end.

A mother will sacrifice anything for her children. A husband will risk everything to save his wife. Manor House will take them all.

About the author

Matt is the author and creator of Ghosts of Manor House and Senior Producer at Zynga. Computers and video games have been a part of his life since he was young. As a child, he always played video games and when he was ten, his Dad told him that he should try making his own. And so he taught himself to program and create games on the computer. He majored in Computer Science and enjoys working with a team of creative people. Matt has a passion for books and finds writing to be a great way to release his inner creativity.

Matt lives and works in the busy and vibrant metropolis of San Francisco where he is surrounded by extraordinary views of the ocean. He loves how the city is filled with a variety of people and activities – there is always something to do and new to see. In addition to San Francisco, Matt spends a lot of time in Grass Valley with friends and family where he can escape the concrete jungle for the relative calm of this gold mining sierra town. This is where the characters and story of Ghosts came to life.

He loves to write because he can use his wacky and twisted imagination to create interesting characters that he brings to life on paper. Matt’s writing process with Ghosts started with a concept, “write a creepy haunted house story.” Ideas became scenes, which became characters that created a story. Matt made a deal with Manor House to tell its tale and so he did, but at what price?

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#Giveaway 2 paperback copies open internationally. (closes Saturday 20th January)

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My #BookReview of #HistFic Whales And Strange Stars by @KathySharp19 @BrookCottageBks

Whales and Strange Stars by Kathy Sharp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whales And Strange Stars is historical fiction, set in Kent in the late half of the 18th century.

In the sleepy waterside hamlet of Wych Ferry, fifteen-year-old Rosamund Euden lives in the Tradewinds Inn with her two uncles, Burto and Joss, and a guardian. Burto is a ferryman taking passengers across the waterway, while Joss transports goods along the river in his boat the Belle Isle.

Most of the uncles’ business comes from transporting goods for the mysterious Mr Antonius. The book opens with Joss transporting a sea captain up the river; this captain stops at the inn and fills Rosamund’s head with tales of adventure. She dreams of a world outside of Wych Ferry, so when she overhears confusing whispered words of magic and the devil her mind works overtime. She finds a useful confidante in Mr Littlebourne, the local Squire, but little does she know that the snippets of information she diligently writes down for him will put her uncles in grave danger.

I loved the way in which the author made the period and the setting come so alive in this book. Joss’ almost human connection to the Belle Isle was a delight; they sailed hand-in-hand up and down the river, knowing every curve and mud bank, in tune with the river’s flow. At this time, smuggling was a constant way of life for many, as the king continued to raise taxes to fund wars in the Americas. The narrative alludes to dubious business dealings by the Euden brothers, supported by more than one skirmish, but it isn’t until the very end that Rosamund and the reader are given confirmation of the trouble her uncles had got themselves into.

This novel is an interesting snippet of life in a quiet English river setting, with some lovely descriptive passages about the life of ordinary people during this century; I was absorbed into the period. The title made me think the book might be about adventure on the high seas (something about the whales!), but I believe it is more a symbol of adventure instead. Even though I was surprised by the content I still enjoyed it very much.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Series: First book in my new Wych Ferry Series

Genre: historical fiction

Release Date: 12th December, 2017

Publisher: Crooked Cat Books

A world beyond her own.

A sea captain passes through the forgotten port of Wych Ferry, and whiles away an hour relating his traveller’s tales to young Rosamund Euden. He tells her that the stars are different, if you sail far enough, that the horizon isn’t quite real, not when you get there; he speaks of sea serpents and whales, and mysterious islands.

To an impressionable girl who has never left her home, the whales and strange stars of his stories come to symbolise the great outside world she longs to see. The sea captain moves on, unaware of the dramatic events he has set in action as Rosamund’s search for adventure leads her into a world of dangerous secrets in the marshlands of eighteenth century Kent.

Torn between loyalty to her uncles, and her desire to discover what lies beyond the marshes, Rosamund seeks help from an unexpected source. But who can she really trust?

BUY LINKS

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2CqGR6v

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2CucLhr

Kathy Sharp

Kathy Sharp was born and brought up by the sea in Kent. Life took her inland, and she worked for many years as a desktop publisher for Surrey County Council, and as a tutor in adult education.

And then, one day, she visited a friend who had just moved to the Isle of Portland, Dorset, and fell in love with the place. She has now lived by the sea in the Weymouth and Portland area for more than ten years, and still loves it. The wonderful Jurassic Coast, and Portland in particular, were the inspiration for her Larus Trilogy of novels.

Kathy also sings with, and writes lyrics for, the Island Voices Choir on Portland, and is a keen member of local writing groups, as well as enjoying studying the local flora.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kathy-Sharp-111574195915740/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KathySharp19

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2728164.Kathy_Sharp

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathy-sharp-5b5a9736/

Blog: https://kathysharp2013.wordpress.com/blog/

Website: https://kathysharp2013.wordpress.com/

Brook Cottage Books

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT @jaydawes2 reviews #Fantasy KEEPERS by @sacha_black

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

#RBRT Review Team

Anita has been reading Keepers by Sacha Black

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Keepers has been heralded as a brilliantly written debut novel, the first in a series by Sacha Black, and although not my usual choice of genre, I had read enough about it to know I would enjoy it.

The cover image and description promised plenty of action and excitement and did not disappoint. A complex plot, fascinating characters and a strong leading woman take you on a gripping journey where you find yourself alternating between fantasy and reality.

Sacha has created Trutinor, a beautifully detailed and believable world where we meet Eden East and follow her through some difficult times. There is something for everyone in this story, magic and romance, danger and betrayal, heartbreak and joy. An altogether breathtaking story with one of the best cliff hangers I have ever read,  will leave you more than ready for the next in the series!

Book description

Eden’s life is balanced…
…until her soul is bound to her enemy.

When her parents are murdered, the realm of Trutinor is threatened. Then a mysterious human arrives and changes everything.

As Eden’s world spirals out of control, she doesn’t need a charismatic Siren from her past returning to complicate life.

Now, saving Trutinor is the last thing on Eden’s mind.

Three boys.
Two murdered parents.
One deadly choice.

About the author

Sacha Black has five obsessions; words, expensive shoes, conspiracy theories, self-improvement, and breaking the rules. She also has the mind of a perpetual sixteen-year-old, only with slightly less drama and slightly more bills.

Sacha writes books about people with magical powers and other books about the art of writing. She lives in Hertfordshire, England, with her wife and genius, giant of a son.

When she’s not writing, she can be found laughing inappropriately loud, blogging, sniffing musty old books, fangirling film and TV soundtracks, or thinking up new ways to break the rules.

Sacha de Black

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WWW Wednesday January 10th What Am I reading? @SamAnnElizabeth #AmReading

WWW Wednesday is a meme from Sam at Taking On A World Of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Whales and Strange Stars: An Adventure by [Sharp, Kathy]Whales And Strange Stars by Kathy Sharp (currently reading) Historical fiction

A world beyond her own.

A sea captain passes through the forgotten port of Wych Ferry, and whiles away an hour relating his traveller’s tales to young Rosamund Euden. He tells her that the stars are different, if you sail far enough, that the horizon isn’t quite real, not when you get there; he speaks of sea serpents and whales, and mysterious islands.

To an impressionable girl who has never left her home, the whales and strange stars of his stories come to symbolise the great outside world she longs to see. The sea captain moves on, unaware of the dramatic events he has set in action as Rosamund’s search for adventure leads her into a world of dangerous secrets in the marshlands of eighteenth century Kent.

Torn between loyalty to her uncles, and her desire to discover what lies beyond the marshes, Rosamund seeks help from an unexpected source. But who can she really trust? AmazonUk | AmazonUS

36658695Broken by Ivy Logan (recently finished) A Young Adult Fantasy
BROKEN BUT NOT LOST

The dark shadow cast by an ancient prophecy shatters an innocent family, but all that is broken is not lost.
Unaware of her supernatural legacy, half blood sorceress Talia has a unique childhood. Although protected by the love of her parents, Talia is instructed in the art of combat by her mother, Caitlin, a powerful sorceress of the Heichi clan.

When Talia’s family’s worst nightmare comes to pass, her protected life spins out of control. Everything she believes in and everyone she loves is cruelly snatched away and Talia is forced to flee the attentions of a mad king.

Choosing a path of retribution devoid of love and friendship, Talia comes to learn that love can be received even if it is not sought.

‘Broken’ is a tale of Talia’s coming of age, reuniting with her family, and seeking vengeance. Most of all, it chronicles, Talia’s rise from the ashes and how she finds herself again.

Set against a background of time travel and supernatural forces, read Talia’s epic saga of love, sacrifice, and discovering the hero within. AmazonUK | AmazonUS

8302720The Call Of The Canyon by Zane Grey (my next read) Western. This book was mention in another book I recently read and caught my interest.

1924. From the master of the western comes a novel full of romance and adventure. The story begins: What subtle strange message had come to her out of the West? Carley Burch laid the letter in her lap and gazed dreamily through the window. It was a day typical of early April in New York, rather cold and gray, with steely sunlight. Spring breathed in the air, but the women passing along Fifty-seventh Street wore furs and wraps. She heard the distant clatter of an L train and then the hum of a motor car. A hurdy-gurdy jarred into the interval of quiet. Free Download AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT @TerryTyler4 reviews Family Drama Chergui’s Child by @JaneRiddell

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Chergui’s Child by Jane Riddell

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CHERGUI’S CHILD by Jane Riddell

3 out of 5 stars.

Genre: Family/relationship drama, with themes of extramarial affairs, pregnancy, death, eating disorder.

Chergui’s Child is the story of Olivia, whose aunt has just died; to her surprise, she is left a large amount of money in the will.  Olivia is a troubled woman; her relationship with her mother is difficult, to put it mildly, and she has an eating disorder.  Early in the book, she receives a letter that reveals a startling revelation; this sends her on a life-changing journey.

The novel alternates between her present dilemmas, which include her mother contesting the money left by the aunt, and the past, when she was a medical student having an affair with her tutor, Richie, whose wife had her own problems.  I’m a fan of this structure, and in this case the slow building up of the past-that-led-to-the-present made it much more interesting than just a straight story.

Olivia travels to France and to Gibraltar as more revelations provide missing pieces in her life’s jigsaw.  Generally, the family dynamics of all characters involved are well drawn.  I did think that, generally, there was too much domestic/conversational minutiae that was not needed for the plot, and slowed it down.  Some of the characters came alive to me (Martin, Richie, Dorothy and Roz), some didn’t; alas, for me, Olivia fell in the latter group.  The only emotion I felt towards her was slight irritation at her naïveté; she didn’t understand that age-old cliché and truth of the mistress of a married man: that once you become problematic or needy you no longer supply the romantic fantasy, and are, thus, dispensible.  Mostly, I felt no connection with her.

I was a little unsure about the feasibility of some elements: Olivia is told about her inheritance by her own solicitor two days later after her aunt dies, and the funeral is the next day.  In my experience, it takes a couple of days even for the death certificate to come through, before you can begin to arrange funerals, which takes a week at the very least, and I would have thought that Olivia’s solicitor would have had to wait for instruction from executors, etc.  Also, in the flashback chapters, a tragic death takes place in Morocco that is central to the plot, but I was unconvinced by some practicalities and subsequent reactions of the character involved.

I liked many parts of this novel, but on the whole, for me, it lacked a spark that would have made it memorable.  But the writing flows well, and I am sure readers who like easy-read, emotional family dramas would enjoy it.

Book description

Thirty-something Olivia is recovering from a traumatic event five years earlier, when she is summoned to the bedside of her dying aunt, Dorothy. Shortly afterwards, she learns that her aunt has left her a large sum of money and a letter with a startling revelation. From Morocco to London to the south of France, this is the story of one woman’s journey to make her life whole again.

About the author

Jane Riddell grew up in Glasgow, Scotland but defected to Edinburgh in her thirties, after living in New Zealand and Australia. For many years she worked for the NHS as a dietitian and health promoter. In 2006 she took a career break to move with her family to Grenoble, France, for three years. During this time she wrote more seriously, so seriously that when she returned to Edinburgh she decided to make writing her ‘job’.

Jane writes contemporary fiction, and is a keen blogger, including penning letters from a Russian cat. She is always on the lookout for interesting authors to interview for her Papillon blog. If you fit this category, email her on: Riddell.Jane@gmail.com

Jane holds a Masters in Creative Writing. In 2011 she started a small editing business, Choice Words Editing.

Jane Riddell

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