#MagicalRealism And #Steampunk, Set Around The Turn Of The Twentieth Century. Rosie’s #Bookreview Of The Raven And The Pig by @AuthorLouKemp

The Raven and the PigThe Raven and the Pig by Lou Kemp

4 stars

The Raven And The Pig is book two of the Celwyn series of magical realism tales. These are also steeped in steampunk and set around the turn of the twentieth century.

Celwyn is an immortal magician and the book opens with him suffering a terrible injury. He is aboard the Nautilus submarine owned by Captain Nemo, and is being taken to the Cape Verde Islands in search of a special healer. With Celwyn are his associates and friends from book one; Kang, an automaton, and Bartholomew, along with Jules Verne and Celwyn’s estranged brother.

There are many adventures for the travelers as they encounter immortals, witches, vampires and villains of the human kind; several are after the designs for a wonderful new flying machine which Kang and Bartholomew are working on.

As with book one this is a steady paced novel, sprinkled with details of the era which support the magical elements. Celwyn’s love of classical music continues and later his magic is enhanced which allows him to create new exciting abilities. Another good book from this writer.

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As the music dies, the magician Celwyn is mortally wounded. His darker, immortal brother Pelaez brings him back, barely, with his magic and the party of protagonists travel on the Nautilus to the Cape Verde Islands and the healer of immortals. During the journey, Professor Kang and Bartholomew cannot tell if Pelaez will keep his brother alive. Captain Nemo is ready to evict Pelaez forcibly, but keeping Celwyn alive is the only thing that restrains him.
After Celwyn is saved, the healer requests payment for his services. This sends the adventurers to the catacombs in Capuchin, going underground with ancient and fresh corpses, and an experience they will not forget. If it hadn’t been for Captain Nemo’s foresight, they would have been lost. Before it is over, several of the protagonists question why it seems everyone from warlocks and vampires to witches, seem to be congregating in their world. Through it all some of them become surprising allies, and a few of their allies turn against them.
In part II, work on the new flying machine begins in earnest bringing attention from the Mafioso and a cherub-like warlock called Duncan.

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‘A fictional military account’. Rosie’s #Bookreview of Black Entry by Regis P. Sheehan.

Black EntryBlack Entry by Regis P. Sheehan

3 stars

Black Entry is a fictional military account of a period during The Vietnam War and is specific to ‘Project Tiger’. This was a plan to train local Vietnamese soldiers and drop them into North Vietnam where they had various instructions which ranged between intelligence work, sabotage and infiltration of their enemy.

The chapters tend to be written in a report style and are filled with lots of names of serving officers in the US army and CIA agents. The historical evidence is quite interesting, but I do think that it could have been used to create more of a fictional tale. The opening and closing chapters were the most fictional in style and I was drawn in by the opening pages of the book. I imagined that I would then be reading something along the lines of a good spy thriller. Instead the author has written more of a factual account and sadly I did begin to lose interest towards the end.

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This is a fictionalized account of “Project Tiger”, which was an operation spanning 1962 and 1963 in which the CIA inserted numerous indigenous agent teams into North Vietnam for the purposes of espionage, sabotage and other special operations. It also relates the story to earlier CIA operations in which similar efforts were made to drop agents in Communist East Europe – with similar results.

Author Bio: A native of Pittsburgh and a resident of Northern Virginia, the author is a former Special Agent of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), U.S. State Department. His career included criminal investigations and dignitary protection in the Miami and Washington field offices, as well as a tour in MSD – or the DSS Mobile Security Division. With MSD he provided training, tactical support to protective details and emergency security enhancement to high threat embassies and consulates around the world. Assigned overseas, he was a member of the Regional Security Offices in El Salvador, South Africa and China. Prior to retirement, he served as the Chief of the DSS Counterintelligence Division.

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‘The characters were lively and the pace fast’. Rosie’s #Bookreview of #ContemporaryRomance Highland Games by Evie Alexander @evie_author

Highland Games (Kinloch Series, #1)Highland Games by Evie Alexander

4 stars

Highland Games is a mix of romantic comedy and hot contemporary romance.

Zoe gives up her safe life as an accountant in London and heads to a cabin in Scotland that she has just inherited. Little more than a shack, it has no electricity, no running water and no door. It also comes with a grumpy employee of the landlord who wants to get rid of her.

Rory had plans to move into the derelict cabin himself, but he couldn’t refute Zoe’s right to be there. Despite his attempts to encourage her departure, she begins to get under his skin.

The first half of this story was sprinkled with comedy, whereas the second half moved towards the hot romance theme. The host romance was fine, but I was never convinced that the two sub-genres of romance melded together in a believable way.

Having said that, it was quite readable; the characters were lively and the pace fast enough to keep me interested and I found myself reading late into the night. This is book one of a series and there promises to be more Scottish romance in the future.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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Welcome to Kinloch, and the hottest winter Scotland’s ever seen.

Zoe’s always played it safe, just as her parents wanted. But when her great-uncle dies and leaves her a ramshackle cabin in the Scottish Highlands, she decides it’s time to change her life.

Upping sticks seems like a good idea in her cosy London flat, but the reality is very different. There’s no electricity or running water, the roof leaks and there’s no front door. If that wasn’t bad enough, she’s moved up in the depths of winter and her scorching hot neighbour wants her out.

Rory’s got a fifty thousand tonne problem. If he can’t make Kinloch castle profitable, he’s out of a job. He needs a clear head, but there’s someone living in the cabin he saw as his own and she’s turned his world upside down.

Rory needs Zoe out of Scotland, and out of his life. The trouble is, she has no intention of leaving.

Let the games begin…

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Book one of a new crime series set in Wales. Noelle reviews A Final Regret by @JeffreyJWarren, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Noelle. She blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Noelle has been reading A Final Regret by Jeff Warren

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A Final Regret: A Pembrokeshire Murder Mystery is the first in a planned series featuring Sergeant Alys Carey and Detective Inspector Matt Vincent. It is set along the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast in England, which the author has described very evocatively.

The story: A sergeant in the neighborhood police force of Madoc’s Haven, Alys Carey, is reunited after many years with a childhood friend, Matt Vincent, who is now a Detective Inspector and brought in to investigate the disappearance of a young mother. The reader learns just how Rianna Hughes disappeared in a tension and action-filled prologue.

After her body is discovered, there are no shortage of suspects in the story: the husband Dylan is an immediate suspect because they are separated. She was awarded custody of their baby daughter and also the home where they lived and he is bitter. There are also the people she is blackmailing, the men with whom she had affairs or who wanted to have an affair with her, the women scorned by these men, even the local vicar. Red herrings abound.

Matt Vincent had left Madoc’s Haven after the tragic death of his girlfriend, which he witnessed. Alys Carey, while somewhat younger at the time, liked him, His return creates an awkward relationship between them, not improved by their immediate attraction to each other or by the attitude of Vincent’s embittered sergeant, Beth Francis, who harbors animosity toward Vincent since she wanted his promotion to DI.

The relationships in this book are incredibly complex, so readers have to stay on their toes, especially after another murder occurs.

I greatly enjoyed this mystery and, bouncing between suspects, I wasn’t sure until the end who the murderer was. The dialogue was spot on and smooth and the descriptions of the countryside and coast were stunning. Readers can easily place themselves in the scenes. 

The prologue adds additional tension to the unfolding investigation since the reader is made to ask: When are they going to find Rianna?

The novel is written in third person omniscient, so it shifts between scenes and characters. This approach can be confusing (and occasionally is) but it also enables the reader to be introduced to various untidy aspects of Rianna’s life.

My one complaint is that some of the female characters could not be distinguished.  They seemed to run to a common type (except for Sergeant Beth Francis, who was spiteful and headstrong) and could have used more distinguishing features. Matt Vincent, despite being a DI, seems a little less than forthcoming when it comes to dealing with the women in his life. Hopefully he will find a clear path ahead in the next book!

There is romance (but no sex) and humor but no graphic violence, so this qualifies as a true cozy. It should appeal to everyone from YA to adult readers. I look forward to reading the next book in this series.

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A missing mother, her baby’s father a suspect

Young single mother Rianna fails to return from her cliff-top run. Did she have an accident, or did someone want her dead?

Neighbourhood Sergeant Alys Carey and Detective Inspector Matt Vincent are thrown back together when Matt returns to Pembrokeshire and takes on the case. There’s no shortage of suspects: Rianna’s blackmail victims; the men she beguiled; the women who loved them; the father of little baby Meg.

Can Alys and Matt unravel the complex web of relationships within the local community and ensure that justice prevails? Will Matt’s embittered detective sergeant, Beth Francis, derail the investigation? And what will become of Rianna’s baby daughter, Meg?

A Final Regret is a murder mystery set on the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast, with romance, humour and no graphic violence, sex or swearing.

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‘A mixture of police procedural, psychology, and close-to-home story-telling.’ Karen reviews #crimefiction Dark Is The Grave by @tgreidbooks #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Karen. She blogs here https://mytrainofthoughtson.wordpress.com

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Karen has been reading Dark Is The Grave by T G Reid

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The story starts in darkness; PC Hazel Garvey is bound and gagged, trying to remember what might have gotten her into this situation.

With Dark is the Grave”, TG Reid has created an expertly woven plot, an intriguing story of  a damaged (not broken!) investigator and his team chasing a copycat killer. “Dark is the Grave” comprises authentic main characters with sufficient depth – they gain complexity throughout the story. I had a great time reading – this is a very compelling read; I was drawn into the story right away, close to Duncan Bone, freshly reinstated to chase a copycat killer. The plot offers clues, investigative progress and throwbacks, and it is a true edge-of-your-seat read. I liked Bone’s thoroughness and stubbornness, the teamwork, and the determination to stop the killer. I consider “Dark is the Grave” a remarkable mixture of police procedural, psychology, and close-to-home story-telling. It is good to know that the next book in the series is on its way – I know that I have to read it!

This is for you if you like thrilling police procedurals, occasional insights into the mental abyss, and authentic characters.

A remarkable story that requires reading the next in the series as well.

Highly recommended.

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A dead cop. A damaged detective. A copycat killer on the loose.

When the chief suspect in the notorious Peek-a-boo cop killer case blew himself up, almost taking lead investigator DCI Duncan Bone with him, the psychologically damaged detective thought his days on the force were over. But when another PC is abducted and murdered in the same deranged Peek-a-boo fashion, Bone is persuaded to return to lead the new investigation. But as Bone and his team hunt a copycat killer, and with time running out before yet another cop is slain, Bone’s terrifying past returns to tear open old wounds and push him to very edge of the abyss.

Can DCI Bone end the killing before the killing ends him?

Set among the dramatic hills and glens of Scotland’s Campsie Fells, Dark is the Grave is the first in a series of edge-of-your-seat crime thrillers that will keep you guessing right up to the nail-biting, heart-stopping climax.

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‘An entertaining way to learn more about this time period.’ Robbie reviews Spanish Civil War adventure The Exhumation by @nfpadron for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Robbie. She blogs here https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Robbie has been reading The Exhumation by Nick Padron

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The Exhumation is an exciting adventure, overlaid with a romance, set in war torn Spain during the civil war of 1937. This is not a period of history I know a lot about so I was keen to read this book and learn more.

Three Americans, an ex-military ‘hired gun’ nicknamed The Major, his interpreter and ‘right hand man’ who goes by the pseudonym of John and an older individual, Mr Jordan, travel to Spain to bring back the body of a young American, Robert Jordan, who has been killed in the fighting. His wealthy parents are prepared to pay a great deal of money for the return of their son’s body and have sent his uncle along to make any necessary payments to ensure it happens. The information the three men have to work with is scanty, but meetings have been arranged with people who know him to enable their investigation.

John is concerned that they will run into trouble going behind the enemy lines in Spain, but The Major is confident that with the help of a few locals, he and John can successfully find the corpse and bring it back to Madrid, and from there back to the US.

During their brief stay in Madrid, prior to the expedition into enemy territory, John meets a lovely young woman called Maripaz. He spends two evening with her and becomes emotionally attached. He resolves to persuade her to leave Spain and return with him to the US after the job is done.

The pursuit of the body and John’s romance entwine beautiful to create and interesting and exciting storyline.

The Major is a strong character who, despite being unorthodox and quite brutal in his methods, is able to put on a good show of being an amiable and likeable personality. He is driven by personal gain and is prepared to go to extreme lengths to obtain the money he has been promised for the return of Robert Jordan’s body. He is exposed as being unethical and ruthless in his behaviour with little consideration for consequences or respect for the lives of others. Despite his character flaws, he is held in high regard by John whom he saved from a difficult and life threatening situation.

John is a conflicted person who has become attached to The Major whom he treats like a replacement father. He comes across as a person who is searching for love and affection and quite easily falls under the spell of Maripaz, a nice woman from a good family. He quickly escalates their brief affair into the great love of his life and becomes quite obsessed with her. The romance is a branch of the main adventure, but it is important to the way the entire novel plays out.

The history is nicely woven into the novel and this book is an entertaining way to learn more about this time period. All in, an interesting and entertaining read.

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In the fall of 1937, besieged Madrid lies in near ruins, its people struggling under nightly bombardments. Into this uncertain world, enter three Americans assigned with the task to find and exhume the remains of Robert Jordan – a member of the International Brigade killed in action –and bring him home for proper burial in the States. They are Jordan’s uncle and the two-man team hired for the job: the amoral but winsome Major Williamson and their interpreter, John, who tells us the story of how one man’s greed-driven final act becomes another man’s shot at redemption.

Set over the course of three days, amid vivid depictions of wartime Madrid, we follow the team through the violent drama that surrounds Robert Jordan’s exhumation, the human cost of the undertaking, and then John’s Maripaz’s, the beautiful piano teacher he meets during an artillery attack, fateful escape from Madrid. More than a tale of action and suspense set in a world at war, THE EXHUMATION is a story about the meaning of loyalty, of love and loss and, finally, the unending search for a lasting ideal.

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‘Reading is always a subjective and personal experience’. @OlgaNM7 reviews #ShortStory collection The Shivering Ground And Other Stories by Sara Barkat @tspoetry

Today’s team review is from Olga. She blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Olga has been reading The Shivering Ground And Other Stories by Sara Barkat

I enjoy short stories, but I rarely read anthologies or collections of them, other than those of authors I already know and whose writing I love. However, although I had never read this author’s work before, there was something compelling and utterly different about this book, and the cover and the title added to the appeal.

Although I’m not sure what I was expecting to read, the stories were surprising and extremely varied. Some seemed to be set in the present (or an alternative version of the present), some in the past (or a possible past), some in a dystopian future, some in parallel universes, and the characters varied from very young children to adults, and from human beings to a variety of “Others”. Some of the stories are very brief, some are long enough to be novellas (or almost), and they are written from all possible points of view: first person, third person (in some cases identified as “they”), and even second person. I usually would try to give an overview of themes and subjects making an appearance in the stories, but that is notably difficult here. The description accompanying the book gives a good indication of what to expect, and if I had to highlight some commonalities between the stories, I would mention, perhaps, the desire and need to connect and communicate with others, in whatever form possible, and to create and express one’s feelings and thoughts, through any medium (music, painting, writing, sewing…),

These short stories are not what many readers have come to expect from the form: a fully developed narrative, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, although usually providing fewer details and not so much character development as we would find in a novel, and often with a surprising twist at the end that can make us reconsider all we have read up to that point. Barkat’s stories are not like that. They rarely have a conventional ending (even when they do, it is open to readers’ interpretations), sometimes there are descriptive passages that we aren’t used to seeing in short narratives, and the plot isn’t always the most important part of the story (if at all). The way the story is told, the style and beauty of the writing, and the impressions and feelings they cause on the reader make them akin to artworks. If reading is always a subjective and personal experience, this is, even more, the case here, and no description can do full justice to this creation.

Despite that, I decided to try to share a few thoughts on each one of the stories, in case it might encourage or help other readers make their own minds up. I’d usually add here that I’ve tried to avoid spoilers, but these are not that kind of stories either.

1. The Door at the End of the Path. A wonderful story full of vivid descriptions of a young girl’s imagination, her internal life, and a reflection of the heavy toll the difficult relationship of the parents can have on their children.

2. Conditions. A glimpse into the relationship between a brother and a sister, where the best intentions can have the worst results, set in a world that is half-dystopia, half an alternative present, with more than a slight touch of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

3. The Eternal In-Between. A dystopia set during a pandemic, with plenty of steampunk-like fancies, and an ode to the power of imagination.

4. The Mannequin. A dystopian world epitomized by the willingness of its subjects to undergo quite an extreme and symbolic procedure to keep the status quo in place.

5. Brianna. A very special retelling of a fairy-tale story that digs dip into the psychological aspects and the effects such events would have over real people, especially if it was a fate repeated generation after generation. One of my favourites.

6. Noticing. A story with a strong ecological theme, a generous dose of fantasy, some beautiful illustrations and eerie pictures, an endorsement of the power of stories, and a strong warning we should heed. Both terrifying and breathtakingly beautiful. Another favourite.

7. Entanglement. A short but compelling story/metaphor of a love affair, and/or the possibility of one.

8. The Day Before Tomorrow. Although set in a very strange and dystopic society, it is a Young Adult story of sorts, and the relationship between the two main characters feels totally natural and everyday, despite the extremely unusual surroundings. Perhaps our stories never change, no matter what might be happening around us. A hopeful story I really enjoyed.

9. It’s Already Too Late. Very brief, very compelling vignette with a very strong ecological message. A call to forget about our excuses and the reasons to carry on doing nothing.

10. The Shivering Ground. A sci-fiction/fantasy/dystopian story that might seem utterly sad and pessimistic, but it is also moving and (I think) hopeful.

11. A Universe Akilter. A wonderful story that kept wrong-footing me, as if the ground the story was set on kept shifting. A Universe Akilter indeed! It starts as the story of the breakup of a romance, seemingly because the man has been caught up cheating, set some time in the past (many of the details and the way the characters behave sound Victorian, but there are small incongruous details that pop up every so often and others that seem to shift), but as the story progresses, it becomes the story of a (possible?) love affair in parallel universes (the universe of our dreams, perhaps), that influences and changes the life of the protagonist, making him discover things about himself and his creativity he would never have considered otherwise. This is the longest story in the book and one that might especially appeal to readers of dual-time or time-travel stories (although it is not that at all).

As usual, I recommend those thinking about reading this collection check a sample of it. The stories are quite different from each other, but it should suffice to provide future readers with a good feel for the writing style.

I could not help but share a few paragraphs from the book, although as I have read an ARC copy, there might be some small changes to the final version.

All the wreckage, all the ruin, and the ground was brilliant red. Every morning, he would wake to more of the world ending, and the earth laid out a scarlet cloak as though waiting for an emperor to arrive.

He wishes, desperately, that he could remember the sound of her voice hen she still knew innocence; that he had thought to fold it in his pocket with the mementos of another life.

Perhaps being a mis-turned wheel in a spinning globe is only as it should be after all, when in the spring, the scent of mint and apple blossoms fills the acres behind you.

But, surely, I wondered, interpretability only goes so far. To go further would be to strike out onto one’s own adventure, breaking the mass of the art’s finished illusion.

I wouldn’t say I “understood” all the stories, or I got the meaning the author intended (if she had a specific design for each one of her stories), but I don’t think that is what this collection is about. Like in an exhibition of artworks, the important thing is what each one of them makes us feel, what thoughts and reflections they set in motion, and how much of an impression they leave on us.

I don’t recommend this book to readers looking for traditionally told short stories, with a clear beginning and end, and a satisfying conclusion. On the other hand, readers seeking for something outside the norm and happy to: explore new worlds, try new experiences, ponder about meanings and possibilities, and get lost in the beauty of the writing and the magic of the words, should read this collection. It’s too beautiful to miss.

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The Shivering Ground blends future and past, earth and otherworldliness, in a magnetic collection that shimmers with art, philosophy, dance, film, and music at its heart.

A haunting medieval song in the mouth of a guard, an 1800s greatcoat on the shoulders of a playwright experiencing a quantum love affair, alien worlds both elsewhere and in the ruined water at our feet: these stories startle us with the richness and emptiness of what we absolutely know and simultaneously cannot pin into place.

In the tender emotions, hidden ecological or relational choices, and the sheer weight of a compelling voice, readers “hear” each story, endlessly together and apart.

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‘A fairy tale version of Old Russia’. @deBieJennifer Reviews Vasilisa by @FarbMl, For Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Jenni. She blogs here https://jenniferdebie.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Jenni has been reading Vasilisa by M L Farb

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It seems that I have accidentally read M.L. Farb’s Hearth and Bard Tales novels from back to front – and so we arrive at the third reviewed, and the first in the series, and what a glorious first it is. Intrinsically different from its sister-tales, but filled with the same wonder and beauty, Vasilisa follows (fittingly) a girl named Vasilisa in Ruska, or Russia of old. Born in the forest and raised as a serf, Vasilisa lives her life as an outcast because of her supernatural strength and the secret of her father’s heritage, a secret assiduously kept by her mother. Vasilisa’s only friend is Staver, the son of her master, and her only wish is to return to the serenity of the forest from whence she came.

As with all her other Hearth and Bard Tales, Farb weaves multiple threads from old fairy tale and myth to create the fabric of this novel. Likewise, as with the others, there is care and craft shown on every page. Vasilisa was not Farb’s first novel, but it is her first in this series, and even here, her skill in turning old threads into new tapestries shows. Where less practiced novelists might still be working out the kinks in their new series, the style of the Hearth and Bard Tales is already set and strong in Vasilisa.

As different from Fourth Sister and Heartless Hette as they are from each other, Vasilisa’s Ruska is a landscape all its own, full of forest groves, brutal winters, and wide plains. The balalaikas sing sweetly, the otters play freely, and the Tsar is (refreshingly, given the reality of Russian history) not so bad a guy. It is a fairytale version of a world, but certainly not without risk – bears and ogres lurk in the forest, a cruel mistress waits in the manor house, and far worse threatens beyond Ruska’s borders. This is a story about courage, and tests, and acceptance, even when revelations from the past threaten long-held convictions. It takes more than brute strength to win these battles, and more than pure wit to outsmart these enemies. Lucky then that we have a courageous heroin, as determined and strong as she is tricksy, to walk us through this first, spectacular entry into Farb’s Hearth and Bard Tales.

5/5

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“Forest born! Ogre child! You’re nothing but a demon wild!”

Vasilisa has always been strong. She’s strong enough to break the arm of the bully that daily taunts her. She won’t because she and her mother are servants at the Orlov manor, and her mother would be punished for her retaliation. Instead Vasilisa bides her time until she is sixteen and can return to the forest.

Only Staver, the master’s son, shows her kindness. His friendship pulls as strong as the forest, but their classes are divided forever by law. She is a forest born, fatherless servant and her future at the manor holds mockery filled drudgery.

War threatens. The forest calls. Will she stay to protect the one who can never be more than a friend, or flee to the peace that the forest offers?

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#ContemporaryThriller Rosie’s #Bookreview of Double Identity by @alison_morton

Double Identity (Mélisende Thrillers #1)Double Identity by Alison Morton

4 stars

Double Identity is a contemporary thriller and is the first book in the Mélisende series. It follows the events surrounding the shocking death of Mélisende’s (Mel’s) fiancé. Initially the prime suspect for his death, ex-French army specialist soldier Mel joins forces with British police to solve the mystery.

Mel must now work alongside Detective Jeff McCracken, the man who first accused her of the murder; it causes quite a frosty working relationship. However, the pace of the investigation soon picks up and Mel uses her specialist training skills to help the case, though her attitude and work ethic tread on the toes of more than one character.

I have read other books by this author, so I am familiar with her style that uses military-based characters. The author’s own army training shines through in the details of the narrative, but it does make the MC quite a cold harsh character which can be hard to empathise with. There are one or two small moments of warmth from Mel and I did appreciate reading those as they made her a more rounded character.

I enjoyed the mystery investigation, though I did spot the probable culprit early on.  I don’t think it was especially obvious, though.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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Deeply in love, a chic Parisian lifestyle before her. Now she’s facing prison for murder.

It’s three days since Mel des Pittones threw in her job as an intelligence analyst with the French special forces to marry financial trader Gérard Rohlbert. But her dream turns to nightmare when she wakes to find him dead in bed beside her.

Her horror deepens when she’s accused of his murder. Met Police detective Jeff McCracken wants to pin Gérard’s death on her. Mel must track down the real killer, even if that means being forced to work with the obnoxious McCracken.

But as she unpicks her fiancé’s past, she discovers his shocking secret life. To get to the truth, she has to go undercover and finds almost everybody around her is hiding a second self.

Mel can trust nobody. Can she uncover the real killer before they stop her?

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‘Set in the dark underworld of leafy Oxford.’ Rosie’s #Bookreview of #YoungAdult #UrbanFantasy Wicked Magic by @MargotDKwrites #TuesdayBookBlog

Wicked MagicWicked Magic by Margot de Klerk

4 stars

Wicked Magic is a young adult urban fantasy story set in Oxford. Nathan is training to be a hunter of supernatural beings; it’s a family tradition. However, he has a few doubts about this career; he’s friends with a witch, his uncle is a vampire and his new girlfriend is a shapeshifter.

As his eighteenth birthday draws near, life gets complicated when he rescues a girl from an attack by two dark mages. During the scuffle he confiscates a rare knife, one which drains magical powers.

The supernatural world in Oxford is controlled by a council made up of witches, vampires and hunters, with each group vying for power. Nathan finds himself in the unique position of being accepted by all three groups; quite useful when help is needed. He’s about to be tested by his conscience and his fighting skills need to be at their best for what’s approaching the underworld of leafy Oxford.

I really enjoyed the setting of this book and the paranormal world was quite easy to picture. Nathan had two sides to his character, the awkward teenage boy and the hunter in training, and I thought that he developed through the story at a good pace. A couple of times I wasn’t sure if there was a prior story to this book as there were one or two references to earlier events; however, a quick search has me thinking that this is the first book in the series.

There was room for deeper character development, especially of the supporting characters, just to make them more memorable, but overall I think this was a good story in this genre and I look forward to reading more from this author.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

 

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Nathan is a vampire hunter on the cusp of graduation. He’s been training for this his entire life: the moment he qualifies and joins the rest of his family in their noble calling.

If only it were that simple.

His grades are a mess, his social life is a disaster, and what’s worse, his best friend is a witch! Add to that, his vampire uncle is back in town and his crush might just be supernatural too, and you have one big melting pot of potential parental disapproval. Nathan doesn’t think he can take much more, and then the dark mages come to town.

As bodies begin piling up in the streets, Nathan finds himself pulled deeper into political intrigue and a deadly plot that will pit him against his own family. When the girl he likes comes under threat, Nathan races against time to solve the mystery… well aware that with every step he takes, he comes closer to his father exposing all his secrets.

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