Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #HistFic #SciFi The Alien Diaries by Glenn Devlin

The Alien DiariesThe Alien Diaries by Glenn Devlin

3 stars

The Alien Diaries is a mix of historical and science fiction. Set mainly in Virginia, the story uses a dual timeline. It opens with an extract from the diary of fourteen-year-old Kate. The year is 1778; Kate and her brothers are rescued from a life of servitude by a couple who surround themselves with objects and ideas from a futuristic era.

In modern times bookstore owner, Colin, is gifted rare books from a patron who wants him to appraise books at a house he owns in Virginia. Investor Asher Bradford also requests the presence of Maddy Prentice as caretaker, while Colin works in the library. Colin and Maddy are required to embrace the house and its contents, living day-to-day as if the time was the late 1700s. But strange noises and sightings of frightening beings have the couple desperate to leave. Unfortunately for them, an invisible barrier prevents them from exiting the grounds. During their stay, they’ve been reading Kate’s diary; it’s possible that it holds the answers to save them from the mysterious terror.

The opening chapters of this book were very intriguing, with the mix of old and new setting a good ground for a story. I liked the mystery and the historical elements. However as the book progressed, there were points which let it down. There were a lot of story threads and I wasn’t convinced that they all added enough to the story to warrant their inclusion. The latter portion of the book also needed another edit and a final proofread. It felt really rushed and there were tense issues, head-hopping and proofreading errors. As to the story, the use of diary entries made ‘telling’ the story the dominant writing style. This continued throughout the book, missing opportunities to ‘show’ the reader the story. There was also room to add depth to the main characters to give them individual nuances and unique dialogue with a good variety of emotions. Currently too much dialogue was spoken in anger, which when over-used became unrealistic.

In summary, the book has a lot going for it, but it needs a tidy up and re-working of some of the weaker areas that let it down.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

While appraising old and rare books at a restored colonial plantation, a book collector stumbles across a series of diaries that chronicle an alien visitation in 1781.

A mysterious elderly stranger offers Colin Brayton, a bookstore owner, the job of appraising old books at a desolate colonial plantation. While working on the books, Colin stumbles across a series of diaries written in the late 1770s by fourteen-year-old Kate Dibble that chronicle an alien visitation.
Colin attempts to navigate a delicate balance between solving the mystery of the diary and simmering tensions with the beautiful, but aloof caretaker, Madeline Prentice. The strained relationship reaches a boiling point as a thunderstorm descends over the desolate property and prevents them from leaving. A malicious winged being emerges from the storm and demands the presence of The Ancient One in three days. When the diary hints of a buried spaceship, Colin and Maddy must put aside their differences to find the ship for their safety, and solve the mystery of the diary that hints at who The Ancient One is before the being seals their fate.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Histfic Queen Of The Darkest Hour by @kimrendfeld

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Queen Of The Darkest Hour by Kim Rendfeld

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This novel is set in the late eighth century and the queen of the title is Fastrada, the fourth wife of Charles, King of the Franks, also known as Charlemagne. This is a challenging era about which to write, given the constant upheavals and realignments in Europe amongst the various warring factions. King Charles the Great, or Charlemagne, became king of the Franks and made it his mission to unite all Germanic peoples into one kingdom and convert his subjects to Christianity. A skilled military strategist, he spent much of his reign engaged in warfare to accomplish his goals. In 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor of the Romans.

Charles had many wives and children. The reader is fortunate because the author has named the four wives, a forceful concubine, and the children, along with other major characters, both real and fictitious.

Fastrada comes from lands east of the Rhine and is relatively uneducated when she arrives in Charles’ court. This puts her at a distinct disadvantage in serving as an advisor to Charles as well as mother to his children – the older three of which are well-read and educated in Latin, Greek, and other languages. Charles divorced his first wife, Himiltrude, who is now the abbess of a nunnery. Their son Pepin, his oldest, has profound antipathy to Fastrada and a major theme of the story is Pepin’s scheming to rid the court of her presence. His hatred is stoked by the preference of his father for his second son, Karl. Pepin is deformed with a crooked back, thought to be the result of his mother’s sin, and thus can’t be Charles’ heir. He is not allowed to carry a sword or fight and has been told he will take orders and inherit a bishopric, a fate he rails against.

Fastrada also has to guard her tongue and her dignity in the presence of Kunigunde, Charles’ favorite concubine, who is heavy with child and living at court.

The author does an excellent job in describing life in the eighth century court: food, clothes, social customs, and the profound religiosity of the king and his family. The reader can easily see the surroundings and feel part of this history.

The metamorphosis of the naïve Fastrada to an educated woman and a crafty political advisor to her husband makes for a wonderful story. She becomes much more than Charles’ lover, but an intelligent, caring and formidable force. I am impressed that the author, knowing of Fastrada’s long bout with an illness that left her physically weak after the birth of her second child, portrayed her as suffering from anemia.

Court life, with its politics, scheming, and back-stabbing are excellently described.

There were a few negatives. Missing is some indication of positive things Charles did during his reign and of which Fastrada must have been aware, if not involved in. His impressive construction projects are mentioned, but there is also his wide support of education, scholarship, literature and art and the development of a common currency. The emphasis of the book is on the many battles he waged to unite the country, and although the brutality and bloodiness of warfare at the time are well wrought, I did become confused with the various warring factions. A minor point: there are nagging repetitions of Pepin’s scowling, which seemed to be his only expression, and the references to the rushes on the floor and the herbs scattered with them.

All in all, this is a very satisfying historical read, and I plan to read the author’s other books, which should give a strong indication that I liked this one!

Book description

Family Strife Imperils the Realm
Francia, 783: Haunted by the Saxons’ attack on her home fortress, Fastrada obeys her father and marries Charles, king of the Franks and a widower with seven children and an eighth on the way by a concubine. As more wars loom, Fastrada’s greatest peril lurks within the castle walls: Pepin, Charles’s son by his embittered former wife. Blaming his father for the curse that twisted his spine, Pepin rejects a prize archbishopric and plots with his uncle and mother to seize the throne. Can Fastrada stop the conspiracy before it destroys the kingdom?
Based on historic events during Charlemagne’s reign, “Queen of the Darkest Hour” is the story of a family conflict endangering an entire country—and the price to save it.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #womensfiction Gold Plated by @Campbama

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

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Gold Plated by Christine Campbell

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Rosanna and Paul are celebrating their Golden Wedding with a grand party at the local Golf Club.  Aided by their only daughter Heather, Rosanna is making sure that everything is perfect including baking a delicious cake and buying Paul the ideal gift, but have all their years together been so perfect?

The clock is turned back to 1964 when Rosanna started at Art college and Paul was her young, charismatic tutor.  Lacking confidence in herself, she was astonished that he chose her as his “secret” girlfriend, but against all odds, they have now been married for 50 years.  Abandoning her earlier artistic ambitions, Rosanna has looked after their lovely home while Paul continued his successful teaching career.

Christine Campbell is skilled at putting us inside Rosanna’s head.  We begin to understand her calm, quiet personality and her loyal, loving nature.  We can see that Paul takes her for granted but they seem to have a happy marriage.  But at the party everything changes in a dramatic way. Secrets are revealed, treachery exposed, and Rosanna’s life is in tatters.

This is a story, with which we can all identify in some way.  It is sadly true that many women, and men, can suddenly find themselves alone as old age approaches and dealing with the collapse of all they believed in can be catastrophic. But this is not a sad story, there is a positive message that life is what we make of it and Rosanna discovers new personal qualities of independence and self-reliance as well as rekindling her creativity.

Personally, I would have preferred the story to have been written in the past tense, especially for the scenes from the past, but that is probably just my particular bête-noire!  The detailed involvement in Rosanna’s rollercoasting emotions and cleverly plotted, surprising events make this book a very rewarding read.

Book description

Rosanna and Paul are celebrating fifty years of marriage.
Their daughter, Heather, has helped plan their Golden Wedding Anniversary party, and it looks like being a wonderful night: sixties music, all their friends and family present, and Rosanna has bought the perfect golden gift for Paul.
What could possibly go wrong?
When an uninvited guest shows up, Rosanna’s world is shaken and she is forced to look back over their fifty golden years and see them as they were.
Were they golden? Or just gold-plated?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Historical #Mystery Fear And Phantoms by @carolJhedges

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

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Fear And Phantoms by Carol Hedges

I always look forward to another volume in Carol Hedges’ Victorian mystery series.  Once again, she has created an effective picture of the grime and poverty of 1860s London, filled with vivid characters, good, evil, peculiar and captivating.  In Fear and Phantoms, we face the very real horror of murder and fraud as well as a mysterious vision of the Madonna in the tunnel of the Metropolitan Underground railway.

An intelligent young woman, Helena Trigg, who works as a book-keeper, is baffled when her twin brother, Lambert, a senior bank clerk, disappears and comes under suspicion of fraud.  Luckily, she seeks help from reliable Detective Inspector Stride and kindly Inspector Greig, who wonder if there might be a connection to their current murder investigation. But nothing is that simple.  With wit and humour intermingled with suspense, Carol Hedges leads us through the parallel plot strands.

My favourite characters in this novel are the delightful journalist and author Lucy Landseer and the hard-working, irrepressible young cleaner, Pin.  Lucy is ahead of her time, determined to have a successful career, studying to improve her mind and certainly not intending to be dependent on a man. Pin is poor and downtrodden, but she takes care of “the boy, Muggly,” who has no-one else, and she will not tolerate unfairness or cruelty.  Both these young ladies participate actively in solving the mysteries.

There are so many delicious titbits to discover within this novel, such as names like the Hon. Tom Scallywagg MP and a creepy landlord called Mr Mutesius.  A must within a Victorian novel is a detailed description of the many exhibits in the taxidermists where we recoil in horror at the shelves, “of glass cases, full of birds and beasts in a variety of strange and unlikely poses,” but Pin loves to talk affectionately to “the tiny kittens in frilled bibs and tuckers… having a tea-party in their minute prison.”

This exciting tale can easily be read as a stand-alone or as an introduction to the wonderful series but those of you already familiar with the Victorian murder mystery books will find all their expectations well-rewarded.

Book description

When a young man’s body is discovered buried deep beneath the winter snow, Detectives Stride and Cully little realise where the discovery will take them. Is his murder a random, one-off event, or could the death be linked to the mysteriously elusive individual who has already brought down one of the City’s long-standing private banks?

Mishap, misunderstanding and mystery dog their footsteps, as the Scotland Yard detectives find themselves in very murky territory indeed, struggling to keep their heads above water in the umbrous underworld of murder and  financial fraud.

Can they unmask the dark brutal mastermind lurking at the centre of it all, before he strikes again?

A taut, gripping historical crime novel that lays bare the dubious practices of the Victorian banking businesses and entices the reader into the shady world of high-class gambling houses, where fortunes can be made or lost on the luck of the cards.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #crimefiction Dead On Leave by @ChrisNickson2 #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

E.L. has been reading Dead On Leave by Chris Nickson

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The Dead on Leave by Chris Nickson is a gripping crime novel set in 1930s Leeds. From the opening page I was engrossed in both the story and its historical backdrop.

The novel’s protagonist is the likeable Detective Sergeant Urban Raven who is tough and cynical but has an underlying insecurity that becomes most apparent in his relationship with his wife. Urban has facial scars from injuries sustained in WW1 and this defines how he sees himself and how others see him and treat him. He refers to his marriage as “beauty and the beast” and there is the sense that he feels he doesn’t deserve to be happy.

The story begins as supporters of Oswald Mosley prepare to stage a rally in Leeds which provokes a violent clash with Communist protesters. This proves to be a challenge for the police and is made worse when someone is murdered during the melee. Urban and his colleagues, unused to such serious crimes, struggle to solve the case which becomes even more problematic when there are two more murders which are somehow linked to the British Union of Fascists.

The crime element is engaging, especially as Urban proves to be a good, methodical investigator willing to do whatever it takes to solve the case. However, the novel has so much more than this to offer. Nickson’s knowledge of Leeds is evident in the way he expertly describes the drab landscape of a city still reeling from the Depression. Nickson uses the motif of vividly coloured advertisements posted around the city to highlight the bleak reality of a community where the majority of people are unemployed.

Nickson’s historical knowledge also brings something to the novel as men such as Urban are shaped by their wartime experiences. Almost every encounter he has with men of a similar age involve references to the war. At the same time the spectre of WW2 is looming in the background as Hitler is consolidating his power and his influence is spreading as a result of the widespread poverty and desperation. The media meanwhile are focusing their attention on the possible abdication of King Edward Vlll and his affair with Wallis Simpson.

Despite the fact that the novel is set in the 1930s it feels very relevant to modern Britain and I could relate to many of the issues it raises. The popularity of the British Union of Fascists as they play on the fears of people who are suffering the effects of austerity can clearly be likened to the emergence of groups like Britain First. The idea of ‘fake news’ is also not new as Nickson refers to it as “Bread and Circuses” where the media try and set the political agenda by focusing on stories designed to distract people from what’s really going on.

I really enjoyed Nickson’s exploration of Urban’s marriage to Marjorie who was his nurse when he returned from the war. Even though they have done better than most financially, escaping from the slums to new housing, their marriage is not plain sailing. Marjorie has suffered numerous miscarriages and the lack of children has created a void between them. Marjorie feels like she is disappearing and Urban avoids communication by focusing on work. The difficulties they face are believable and I’m sure lots of readers will relate to them.

All in all I enjoyed The Dead on Leave very much. It is well written with a lively plot that kept my interest throughout. If you enjoy a crime which is steeped in history then I suggest you give this one a try.

Book description

During a British Union of Fascists rally, a body is found.
War veteran Detective Sergeant Urban Raven is tasked with finding the killer.
But with virtually no clues, no witnesses and no obvious motive, he has few leads to start the investigation.
Leeds has become a shadow of its former self. Once a bright, vibrant and progressive metropolis, it has all but ground to a halt since the Crash of ’29, the Depression and the ensuing descent into unemployment and poverty.
And there are political stirrings as the BUF vie with the Communist Party for public support.
Was the murder an act of vengeance?
Was the victim killed for his political beliefs?
Or was the killing part of a more sinister plan, a grisly smear campaign? And if so, which side, if either, is responsible?
Raven and his colleagues find themselves constantly hindered by red tape, politics and the press. But sometimes, if you want a result, you just have to do it your way…
This puzzler of a crime story comprises convincing characters, a clever plot and a window into the dark days of 1930s northern England, where so many had lost hope…
…the dead. On leave.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #thriller Lily White In Detroit by @CynthiaHarriso1

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

#RBRT Review Team

Anita has been reading Lily White In Detroit by Cynthia Harrison

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Lily White is a private investigator but there was a time when she was someone else.

These days she is recovering from post-traumatic stress caused by a gruelling incident in her past and is definitely in the wrong job. Far too much spying on guilty wives and handling distraught husbands for her liking. She much prefers honest investigating.

Now there is a dead body.

And she had just been hired to find the killer.

This was well out of her comfort zone, especially for her PTSD, but too exciting to miss.

I loved the American setting, walking around Detroit with the characters seemed as natural as breathing, so the author must know it well.

All of the characters are well written and real, but I especially liked the two main characters, Lily and Paxton and the way they interact with each other. Such lovely chemistry between them.

The story had just enough subtle tension to keep me turning the pages and I have a feeling this won’t be the last we see of Lily and Paxton. At least I hope not…

 

Book description

Private investigator Lily White has a client with a faulty moral compass. When the client is arrested for murdering his wife and her alleged lover, Lily follows her intuition and her own leads. If she’s wrong, she’ll at least know she did her job.

Detroit police detective Derrick Paxton remembers Lily from another case. He understands she suffers from PTSD and thinks her judgment is impaired. He goes after her client and the evidence he needs to close the case. When Lily is kidnapped, the case takes an unexpected turn.

In a sometimes racially divided city, a black cop and a white PI work together to peel back every layer to find the truth. What they find leads them to each other, but do they have enough to bring the true criminals to justice?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Histfic #shortstories Long Shadows by @ThorneMoore

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Long Shadows by Thorne Moore

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I do love books about old houses, having grown up in one myself. This book details the history of the different form of a house and its main occupants from the Victorian times of the 1880s, to the time of witches in the 1660s, to medieval times of the 1300s, in that order. Llys y Garn is an estate in Wales with a history that goes back centuries, and the author has woven tales of the estate at these three different time periods.

The first story, The Good Servant, is set in the Victorian era, when the house is a rambling Victorian/ neogothic amalgam of many rooms. There is a distinct upstairs/downstairs, where the survival of a servant, with endless days and nights of back-breaking labor and a bleak, loveless future, hinges on the good will of their employer – who can dismiss them for any perceived transgression, even a minor one. The tale follows the career of Nelly Skeel, an ugly woman who works her way up through the hierarchy of life below the stairs. She is not loved or even liked, but when she encounters the orphaned and unwanted nephew of the manor’s owner, she eagerly takes on the task of being his mother, giving him the love no one else will and only hoping for his love in return, while scheming to avoid dismissal.

The Witch is the second tale and takes place in the 17th century; it tells of another strong-willed woman, whom her father plans to use as a pawn in marriage to advance himself. Llys y Gar is a Tudor residence with a crumbling great hall. Devereux Powell’s daughter Elizabeth is isolated there with her two brothers to be raised by her grandmother, who is devolving into madness fixed on the dark doings of the Devil. Clever and strong-willed Elizabeth loves Llys y Garn and wants to remain there but is unsure of whether her life is at God’s will or the devil’s. She manipulates her father into accepting her betrothal to a childhood friend, Huw, who is of poor nobility and lives on a nearby farm. She assumes her dowry will be Llys y Garn. But it seems the devil has other plans for her, and tragedies ensue.

The third and final story is set in medieval times, which despite the chattel status of women in the previous two tales, is yet more harsh in their treatment. Little is known of what stood on the land of Llys y Garn in the 1300’s, but it was occupied by the family of the loud and brutal Owain ap Elidyr. Angharad’s story opens with a birthing gone horribly wrong, leaving her and her older sister Marged and younger brother Ieuan motherless and subject the whims of the despotic father, an impoverished descendant of a royal line. Angharad’s one joy in life is attending Curig’s fair, where she meets a girl of her own age, Johan, daughter of a cloth trader.  Their meeting becomes an annual thing and Angharad longs to live Johan’s life, traveling to distant lands, eating exotic food and wearing nice clothes. Like Marged, however, she will be used as an asset in marriage as her father plots to expand his land and recover old rights. In overcoming horrible odds, Angharad has the happiest outcome of the three women.

The author has written a book with a sweep of time similar to books by James Michener, but much more limited in scope and place. I had expected the three women would be bound by an explained lineage, but instead found the link was their resistance to the roles demanded by society. This, even more than Llys y Garn, binds the narrative.

The female characters are well-limned and compelling. Their strength in the face of implacable norms and demeaning roles sticks with the reader. It is unfortunate the men, with one exception, are depicted as priggish, selfish, self-serving, brutal and bullying – this certainly elicits fear and loathing, but I longed for a few sympathetic or kind men.

This author is known for her historical research, and it shows. The detail is impeccable and sets three distinctive scenes. The dialogue is crisp and reasonable for each of the time periods. While the brutality and gore of some scenes might drive away a few readers, it is appropriate to the stories and the times.

I would definitely pick up another book by Ms. Moore.

Book description

Llys y Garn is a rambling Victorian-Gothic mansion with vestiges of older glories.

It lies in the isolated parish of Rhyd y Groes in North Pembrokeshire. It is the house of the parish, even in its decline, deeply conscious of its importance, its pedigree and its permanence. It stubbornly remains though the lives of former inhabitants have long since passed away. Only the rooks are left to bear witness to the often desperate march of history.

Throne Moore’s Long Shadows: Tales of Llys y Garn comprises a trio of historical novellas that let us into secrets known only to these melancholy birds.

The Good Servant is the story of Nelly Skeel, loveless housekeeper at Llys y Garn at the end of the 19th century, whose only focus of affection is her master’s despised nephew. But for Cyril Lawson she will do anything, whatever the cost.

The Witch tells of Elizabeth Powell, born as Charles II is restored to the English throne, in a world of changing political allegiances, where religious bigotry and superstition linger on. Her love is not for her family, her duty, her God or her future husband, but for the house where she was born. For that she would sell her soul.

The Dragon Slayer tells of Angharad ferch Owain in the early decades of the 14th century. Angharad is an expendable asset in her father’s machinations to recover old rights and narrow claims, but she dreams of bigger things and a world without the roaring of men. A world that might spare her from the seemingly inevitable fate of all women.

In these three tales the rooks of Llys y Garn have watched centuries of human tribulation – but just how much has really changed?

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#Histfic Rosie’s #Bookreview of Gentleman Of Misfortune by Sarah Angleton

Gentleman of MisfortuneGentleman of Misfortune by Sarah Angleton

3.5 stars

Gentlemen Of Misfortune is historical fiction set in nineteenth-century America. It is based around true tales of a showman who acquired ancient Egyptian mummies and artefacts.

The book opens in a seedy gambling establishment in New York. Lyman Moreau is a conman who recognises an opportunity to make money. He hears of a shipment that has recently arrived, containing valuable Egyptian goods, the owner of which has just died. Acting fast, Moreau asks his friend and mentor, Horace Laurent, to get false papers claiming Lyman is the rightful heir to the goods.

Dishonest customs agent Martin Quinn forges the papers, and Lyman, Laurent and Laurent’s equally corrupt wife Mariana become the new owners of eleven mummies and a cargo of other treasures. However, in the early hours of the following morning, Lyman finds Laurent dead. Fearing he’ll be framed for the murder, Lyman takes the mummies and goes to Philadelphia. He sells a couple of them to a scientist, then sets up an exhibition of the rest. There’s a lot of public interest in his curios, and he makes money from admission tickets. Then follows a tour of the eastern states, but the black shadow of death is always close behind. Is this shadow in human form, or a mysterious curse that surrounds the mummies?

This was an interesting topic to use for a base of this novel. Man’s curiosity for history and it’s artefacts will always be popular. This isn’t a fast-paced or particularly high-tension story, more a pleasant meander through a revolutionary period in history. The story dabbles in the spiritual side of the mummies and the portent that moving them from their resting place may have caused. At the end of the book, the author explains how much of the content was based on a true tale, which I did find an interesting addition.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Spring 1833

Gentleman swindler Lyman Moreau is accustomed to changing his identity to suit his schemes. A new opportunity arrives when a collection of eleven mummies and several papyri covered in indecipherable hieroglyphs are due to arrive in New York’s South Street Seaport direct from the Valley of the Kings. Enlisting the help of a crooked customs agent and a black market antiquities dealer, he assumes the identity of Michael Chandler, nephew of deceased Egyptologist Antonio Lebolo, and lays claim to the shipment.

The showman’s plan to amass his fortune displaying the stolen artifacts across the country becomes more complicated when one of his accomplices dies a suspicious death, causing Lyman and the man’s beautiful widow to make a hasty escape from the city. Through four states, along the Erie Canal, and eventually to the doorstep of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, Lyman exhibits his dusty companions before a curious public. Rarely more than a few breaths ahead of his enemies, Lyman struggles to keep his prize from slipping away as he tangles with grief, love, betrayal, and a growing sense of his own mortality.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #thriller Scathed: Grafton County Series: #3 by @SueColetta1

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

#RBRT Review Team

Karen has been reading Scathed by Sue Coletta

Scathed: Grafton County Series: #3 by [Coletta, Sue]

This third book in the Grafton County series re-introduces you to best-selling author Sage Quintano, her husband Niko, Grafton County Sheriff, their son Noah, and to their canine kids Colt and Ruger.

With Scathed, Sue Coletta has created another extraordinary and fast-paced thriller about a woman who once again is confronted with a serial killer – close to her own home. Who has moved up to the mountain? Who kills and leaves envelopes for Sheriff Niko Quintano? The story comprises a variety of interesting characters with sufficient depth and cleverly elaborated and fast-paced interactions. Be prepared to accompany Niko and his team to some grisly crime scenes; even if the descriptions are not too stretched, you clearly see that Sue Coletta is serious about her research. I had a thrilling time reading Scathed – it is a very compelling read; it takes you close to Sage, Niko and his partner Frankie, and to ‘the kids’. I was drawn into the story right away, very close to the protagonists. Sage and Frankie are complex and intense characters, their ways of thinking and their actions – as unusual as they may be – fit these women perfectly. The story has a great flow with some surprising (nicely integrated) turns.

This is for you if you like thrillers on serial killers, psychology, likeable and interesting characters, authors who did their homework (well-researched topics), do not shy away from gory scenes.

A very compelling read.

Highly recommended!

Book description

On a picturesque fall morning in Grafton County, New Hampshire, a brutal murder rocks the small town of Alexandria. In the backyard of a weekend getaway cabin, a dead woman is posed in red-satin, with two full-bloomed roses in place of eyes.

In her hand, a mysterious envelope addressed to Sheriff Niko Quintano. Inside, Paradox vows to kill again if his riddle isn’t solved within 24 hours.

With so little time and not enough manpower, Niko asks his wife for help. But Crime Writer Sage Quintano is dealing with her own private nightmare. Not only did she find massive amounts of blood on the mountain where she and her family reside, but a phone call from the past threatens her future—the creepy mechanical voice of John Doe, the serial killer who murdered her twin sister.

Together, can Niko and Sage solve the riddle in time to save the next victim? Or will the killer win this deadly game of survival?

About the author

Sue Coletta is a proud member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the Kill Zone, an award-winning writing blog where she posts every other Monday. Sue’s a bestselling, award-winning, multi-published crime writer in numerous anthologies and her forensics articles have appeared in InSinC Quarterly. She’s also the communications manager for the Serial Killer Project and Forensic Science, and founder of #ACrimeChat on Twitter.

2017 Award-winner of Feedspot’s Top 50 Crime Blogs (Murder Blog sits at #6), Sue shares crime tips, police jargon, the mind of serial killers, true crime stories, and anything and everything in between at suecoletta.com. If you search her archives, you’ll find posts from guests that work in law enforcement, forensics, coroner, undercover operatives, firearm experts … crime, crime, and more crime.

For readers, she has the Crime Lover’s Lounge, where members will be the first to know about free giveaways, contests, and have inside access to deleted scenes. As an added bonus, members get to play in the lounge. Your secret code will unlock the virtual door.

BONUS: When you join Sue’s community you’ll receive two free killer reads!

Sue lives in northern New Hampshire with her husband, who deals with a crazy crime writer feeding circus peanuts to crows named Poe and Edgar, a squirrel named Shawnee (the Marilyn Monroe of squirrels, with her silky strawberry-blonde tail), and a chipmunk dubbed “Hippy” for his enthusiasm and excited leaps each time he scores a peanut in “Hip, hip, hooray!” fashion.

Sue Coletta

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Gentle #SciFi Rosie’s #Bookreview of The Afterlife Of Alice Watkins by Matilda Scotney

The Afterlife of Alice Watkins (The Afterlife of Alice Watkins #1)The Afterlife of Alice Watkins by Matilda Scotney

3.5 stars

The Afterlife of Alice Watkins is book one of a gentle science fiction series. It opens with Alice, who lives in Australia and is about to celebrate her sixty-fifth birthday. She falls asleep in her chair; when she awakes she is very confused; everything seems different. A carer and doctor explain that she has been asleep for around four-hundred-years, and her name is Alexis Langley.

Each day brings new discoveries for Alice. Currently her home is on a spaceship near Saturn, but the team around her are preparing for her return to earth. Alice is shocked when she sees a reflection of herself; gone is her grey hair and wrinkled skin. The women who returns her gaze is red-haired and aged around thirty-years-old. Alice still insists she’s Alice Watkins, but there are unexplainable moments. Sometimes she speaks and acts in ways that the old Alice would never have done. Could she perhaps be the Alexis that the others insist she is?

This had aspects of interest, but it is a slow read. There are technical scifi elements, mixed with everyday relationships, plus whispers of a romance and a degree of mystery. However, book one of any series needs to grab the reader with interesting characters, perhaps some tension or high drama and a tempting storyline. Although I understood the need for world-building and descriptions of the futuristic space technology, there was room for another round of strict editing. I thought the main storyline was watered down by too many secondary characters and time spent on unnecessary mundane activities.

Alice’s dual-character was intriguing, but I would have liked to see more of a dramatic contrast in behaviour between the two personas that share the same body. There was also room to give the other significant characters more clear-cut personalities. I understand that this series sets out with a time-travelling granny, but the contrast of sharing her body with someone who is half her age is a hard task to pull-off convincingly. Overall an interesting idea, but it all took too long to unfurl for me.

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Book description

In the distant future…
Alice Watkins is history.
Time’s attention must have been elsewhere the moment old, grey, unsophisticated Alice Watkins died in her armchair a few days before her birthday in November 2016.
It still wasn’t minding what it was doing on Saturn Station in the year 2513.
Dr Jim Grossmith, one of the most eminent scientists of the age has devoted his career to The Sleeping Beauty Phenomenon, guarding the beautiful, red-haired young woman who sleeps peacefully, in a mysterious sarcophagus, her life perfectly suspended, her body preserved in a strange fluid. The woman, cocooned in her protective shell has defied scientific analysis for almost four hundred years. History recorded little, only that she is Dr Alexis Langley, a noted scientist of her time.
When the sarcophagus opens and vanishes without a trace, leaving the young woman in his care, Jim Grossmith eagerly awaits the day when she can tell him the manner of her preservation. A strange science, lost in the annals of the past? Alien technology?
But as he learns her story, Jim Grossmith finds himself faced with an even deeper mystery. He is certain the physical form of Dr Alexis Langley emerged from the sarcophagus, but as for anything else…

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