Rosie’s #Bookreview Of Epic #Fantasy THE LOST WAR by Justin Lee Anderson @authorjla #TuesdayBookBlog

The Lost War: Eidyn Book OneThe Lost War: Eidyn Book One by Justin Lee Anderson

4.5 stars

The Lost War is an epic fantasy tale, and book one of the Eidyn series.

It opens in the country of Eidyn as it recovers from a great war. The evil Mynygogg is currently trapped in Dunn Eidyn castle, while King Janaeus attempts to repair the damage to his kingdom.

Aranok is the king’s envoy and, together with his bodyguard Allandria, he is given a mission to help a deposed queen regain her throne so that she may become a useful ally to the new king, thus helping him create a solid ruling platform.

Following the popular quest trope of this genre, the pair set off with a small band of companions into a land to face magic, demons, Reivers, and the Blackened—violent victims of a wasting plague.

Although this isn’t a genre that I regularly read, I was drawn to this after reading the opening chapter. The author’s style grabbed my attention with a winning opening hook and it had me wanting to know more. I thought the dialogue, often quite coarse, suited the overall tone of the story, and I could easily picture the settings and the characters, which is always a tick in my book.

Aranok is a draoidh, like a wizard, but his skills make some people mistrust him. However, as the king’s envoy, he must be respected, so the two labels cause conflicting responses from folks during their travels.

The author chose to make several of the main female characters warriors. Alliandra, Aranok’s bodyguard, is a brilliant archer. Nirea is a pirate captain and excellent sword fighter, as is Samily, a knight of the notorious White Thorn order. I thought they worked really well.

There was plenty of conflict which kept the story interesting and moving at a good pace and I enjoyed the other story threads which evolved as the band travelled through Eidyn. Looking back there were several scenes which I particularly enjoyed and if I had to choose just one it would be during the ghost town visit at Caer Amon.

Overall a good tale in this genre and if you like any of these fantasy elements: magic, demons, ghosts, zombie types, interesting characters and well -written twisted storylines, then this might be for you.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

The war is over, but something is rotten in the state of Eidyn.

With a ragged peace in place, demons burn farmlands, violent Reivers roam the wilds and plague has spread beyond the Black Meadows. The country is on its knees.

In a society that fears and shuns him, Aranok is the first magically-skilled draoidh to be named King’s Envoy.

Now, charged with restoring an exiled foreign queen to her throne, he leads a group of strangers across the ravaged country. But at every step, a new mystery complicates their mission.

As bodies drop around them, new threats emerge and lies are revealed, can Aranok bring his companions together and uncover the conspiracy that threatens the kingdom?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Horror #Shortstories CHILLS & CREEPS by @NickClausen9

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

#RBRT Review Team

Robbie has been reading Chills & Creeps by Nick Clausen

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book of eight short creepy and chilling tales by Nick Clausen. The tone of his stories, and their unusual and clever twists reminded me of Roald Dahl’s style with his short story collections.

Under the skin features a young, red headed boy with freckly skin who takes shelter in a elderly strangers house one afternoon during a downpour. The granny is kindly towards him, giving him tea and cookies and drying his clothing, but she has her own frightening agenda.

Snapper the fish is a tale about the acquisition of a pet gone wrong. Mary is a spoiled girl who has recently become an older sister to a baby girl. Mary is jealous of the attention the new baby is garnering from her friends and family. When Mary acquires a most unusual pet, she makes a plan to use it for her own selfish ends.

Deadly dreams features the very topical world of gaming. Two boys are drawn into a popular game of human versus monsters. Despite various warnings that the game is dangerous to your health, it has gone viral. Daniel and Christian had better practice hard, they can’t afford to make mistakes.

All birds hate me gave me the greatest creeps of them all as I have a bit of a phobia about birds attacking people. Eagle is diagnosed with a strange disease. He is getting treatment, but is impatient to enjoy his life like everyone else his age. He decides to venture out of the safety of his home.

Ghost tennis is all about a young ghost who has an obsession with tennis. When a new family move into his historic home, he hopes that he will find a new tennis partner. If not, everyone will pay.

Drip-Drip-Drip shows what could happen if your own home turned against you. Unfortunately, it knows your deepest and darkest fears and is willing to use them against you.

When I snap my fingers is really rather unsettling tale about progressive hypnotism and what could come out if you delve into your past lives. Meddling with the mind is never a good idea.

Lights out is a rather unusual tale with a super power flavour of a different sort. It is never a good idea for one person to have too much power over nature.

Book description

In this collection, you’ll meet …

Peter, who meets an upholsterer who really likes his skin. Mary, who gets a pet fish thatwill only eat human flesh. Daniel, who plays a game that becomes real in his dreams. Eagle, who has a disease that make birds attack him wherever he goes. Joseph, who plays tennis with a ghost. Nadia, who gets trapped in a house slowly filling up with water. Calvin, whose sister visits a hypnotist and becomes someone else. And Noah, who learns to control lights with his mind.

Eight stories spanning horror, dark fantasy and science fiction, all set in everyday life while exploring the dark, the evil and the supernatural. The Chills & Creeps-series was originally published in Danish to great reviews, and is now available in English.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #mystery INTRIGUE & INFAMY by @carolJhedges

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Intrigue & Infamy by Carol J Hedges

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In a Nutshell:  Mid-Victorian murder mystery, set in London.  Book 7 of a series of stand-alones.

Loved it, loved it.  When I got to 80% I found myself slowing down because I didn’t want to read it too quickly.  In this 7th book of the series, racism rears its ugly head, showing that it is far from being just a 20th and 21st century problem.  Stride and Cully must deal with a series of arson attacks on businesses, and the brutal murder of an old Italian man.

Elsewhere, socialite Juliana Silverton is thoroughly enjoying the attention received since her engagement to hedonistic rich boy Henry Haddon, her delight marred only by a secret from the past … and the appearance of Henry’s younger half-brother’s new tutor.

This book is as expertly structured as the rest of the series, and includes similarly colourful characters and the ever-present chasm between rich and poor, so much a theme in all the books – and in certain areas of life nothing has changed; young aristocrats with powerful connections are able to get away with the most heinous of crimes, just as they always have been and are now.

Although illustrating society’s problems in the most deft way, Ms Hedges does not fall into the cliché of making all the privileged characters the ‘bad guys’; I was pleased to see a happy outcome for one, in particular.  I guessed the perpetrators of the crimes quite early on, but this didn’t matter a jot; the joy of reading these books is the writing itself, the vivid pictures of 1860s London, and the slow unfolding of sub-plots.

I can’t help but think of what star rating I will give a book while I am reading it, and this was a solid 5* all the way through, but what earned it my extra ‘gold’ star was the end twist that I never saw coming.  It was beautifully executed, and made me smile as I realised how other aspects were explained by it.

If you haven’t read any of these books, I recommend you start now – and I hope this is not the end of the series….

Book description

It is 1866, the end of a long hot summer in Victorian London, and the inhabitants are seething with discontent. Much of it is aimed at the foreign population living in the city. So when a well-reputed Jewish tailoring business is set aflame, and the body of the owner is discovered inside, Detective Inspector Lachlan Grieg suspects a link to various other attacks being carried out across the city, and to a vicious letter campaign being conducted in the newspapers.

Can he discover who is behind the attacks before more people perish?

Elsewhere, Giovanni Bellini arrives in England to tutor the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Haddon, ex-MP and City financier. But what are Bellini’s links to a dangerous Italian radical living in secret exile in London, and to beautiful Juliana Silverton, engaged to Harry Haddon, the heir to the family fortune?

Romance and racism, murder and mishap share centre stage in this seventh exciting book in the Victorian Detectives series.

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Intrigue

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #RegencyRomance THE WORK OF ART by by @MimiMatthewsEsq

Today’s team review is from Sandra.

#RBRT Review Team

Sandra has been reading The Work Of Art by Mimi Matthews

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Set in the Regency period, The Work of Art is the first book I have read by Mimi Matthews, but it certainly won’t be the last! I love finding a new writer and knowing there are lots of books to catch up on. The Work of Art was such a delight to read. The main characters, Philly and Arthur, jump off the page fully formed; they are not the usual stereotypes, but slightly unconventional and therefore much more interesting to read about.

All alone since the death of her grandfather, Philly is in London to find a husband (or so she thinks). What she doesn’t know is that her Uncle has promised her to the Duke of Moreland, a despicable character, who only wants to add her to his collection of unique objects, due to the unusual colour of her eyes.

What starts out as a marriage of convenience, to save Philly from the clutches of the Duke of Moreland, works out so well because of the foundation of friendship, trust and mutual support between her and Arthur. Their romance blossoms but the author manages to avoid the kind of explicit descriptions that would have made Georgette Heyer blush!

In London, both Philly and Arthur are not in their natural environment – they are both much more at ease in the countryside, horse riding, walking the dogs, away from the superficial restrictions imposed by society.

The ending is a real surprise; I won’t say any more but I don’t think you’ll see it coming.  I am looking forward to reading many more books by Mimi Matthews.

Book description

An Uncommon Beauty…

Hidden away in rural Devonshire, Phyllida Satterthwaite has always been considered more odd than beautiful. But in London, her oddity has made her a sensation. Far worse, it’s caught the eye of the sinister Duke of Moreland–a notorious art collector obsessed with acquiring one-of-a-kind treasures. To escape the duke’s clutches, she’s going to need a little help.

An Unlikely Hero…

Captain Arthur Heywood’s days of heroism are long past. Grievously injured in the Peninsular War, he can no longer walk unaided, let alone shoot a pistol. What use can he possibly be to a damsel in distress? He has nothing left to offer except his good name.

Can a marriage of convenience save Philly from the vengeful duke? Or will life with Arthur put her–and her heart–in more danger than ever?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #SciFi #Dystopia #Thriller THE ECHO CHAMBER by Rhett Evans

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Echo Chamber by Rhett Evans

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SciFi, dystopian techno-thriller involving AI and social media

What I liked:

  • The author has talent; this is a most original novel that makes some interesting points in an intelligent and well-informed fashion. Basically, he can write good sentences, has a fine handle on suspense, and uses words creatively.
  • It is clear that he really knows his subject: Silcon Valley, the dangers of AI and dependence on social media; how it is now so ingrained into our culture. The Echo Chamber shows a good understanding of the future that is just around the corner, some of it already happening; the manipulation of our thoughts and prejudices by the media, the lack of security concerning the data we give out so freely, and its use by AI to re-order the population. This is all stuff I love to read about, and some of which I have written about myself, so certain aspects had me engrossed.
  • It is inventive; I was impressed by the world put together within the pages, and the insight.
  • There are some great twists.
  • It’s well professionally put together, and decently proofread.
  • The author has something to say. This, I think, makes a novel more than just a story.


What I was not so sure about

  • It’s very technical in parts; as I’ve said, I have an interest in the subject matter, but some of it I found rather heavy-going. I think that if you don’t have a quite good understanding of new technology, much of it might go over your head.
  • The structure: it goes back and forth between ‘Before’ (the collapse of the US) and ‘After’, with other ‘Outside Time’ sections.  I’m usually a fan of going back and forth between different periods, but in this case I think a linear structure would have worked so much better. I kept enjoying the ‘Before’ parts, then being dragged out of it to read about different situations, ‘After’. This hampered the flow, and made it definitely not an ‘easy read’. I wondered, at times, if it was experimental for the sake of being experimental.
  • The dramatic event and its fallout, when it happens, is dealt with so quickly – instead of seeing it experienced from character point of view, we are just told about it, in a brief fashion, by a narrator.  
  • Most of all – there is little or no characterisation. I felt as though the author had thought up a brilliant plot, but added the characters as an afterthought. Mostly, they just seem like names on the page, as vehicles for what he wanted to write about.  Only one is three-dimensional (Orion). 

This is a debut novel, and, as I said, I can see that Mr Evans has talent and a great deal to say, but I think he needs to take some time to learn about writing as a reader, and understanding that characters are central to any story – because readers react to what happens in a fictional world because of how it affects the people they’re reading about, not because of the events themselves.  It does, however, have a few stunning reviews, so if you’re madly into tech rather than people, you might love this book.

Book description

A Silicon Valley scandal sets off a chain of dystopian events in this topical and twist-laden thriller about virtual heists, social media, and second chances.

Mike is a Silicon Valley wunderkind who stood idly by while his company launched an addicting social media platform that made the world take a turn for the worse. He did nothing when an outrageous tech scandal pushed a polarized country to the brink of collapse. Then, after becoming trapped in a loop of his own memories, he is doomed to watch society fall apart over and over. Only by crossing paths with Charlotte Boone—once Hollywood’s up-and-coming royalty—does a kink appear in the pattern. With a daring heist in both the virtual and real worlds, Charlotte may hold the key to burning it all to the ground: the company, the lying pundits, and the echo chamber itself.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR by @AilishSinclair

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

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading The Mermaid And The Bear by Ailish Sinclair

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Scotland in 1597 was not a place to be a woman, especially a woman of faith, opinions or healing gifts.  But Isobell has fled from her London home to avoid marriage to a cruel Englishman and has found kindness and friendship in a Scottish castle.  Hiding her wealthy background, she starts work as a kitchen maid but her clumsy mistakes reveal her lack of experience.  While Bessie, the housekeeper guards her secrets, Isobell must be more cautious with Agnes, the spiteful governess and Christen, the aristocratic lady of the house.

Soon Isobell is captivated by the impressive castle and its fairy tale setting and she finds meeting the Laird is an overwhelming experience. It is a pleasure to read of their growing romance despite misunderstandings but as they grow closer, others gather to cause pain and suffering.

This carefully researched story is based on true events in Aberdeen when cruel men gained power over innocent women by accusing them of witchcraft.  It is a horrifying story from our history, mirrored in other parts of the United Kingdom.  Thankfully in The Mermaid and the Bear the sadness is tempered by love and kinship in a believable and satisfying conclusion.  An enchanting novel.

Book description

Isobell needs to escape. She has to. Her life depends on it.

She has a plan and it’s a well thought-out, well observed plan, to flee her privileged life in London and the cruel man who would marry her, and ruin her, and make a fresh start in Scotland.

She dreams of faery castles, surrounded by ancient woodlands and misty lochs… and maybe even romance, in the dark and haunted eyes of a mysterious Laird.

Despite the superstitious nature of the time and place, her dreams seem to be coming true, as she finds friendship and warmth, love and safety. And the chance for a new beginning…

Until the past catches up with her.

Set in the late sixteenth century, at the height of the Scottish witchcraft accusations, The Mermaid and the Bear is a story of triumph over evil, hope through adversity, faith in humankind and – above all – love.

AmazonUK | AmzonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #Mystery INTRIGUE & INFAMY by @carolJhedges #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been redaing Intrigue & Infamy by Carol J Hedges

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My Review: 5 out of 5 stars

One of the biggest problems for authors of a detective series is moving a story forward, allowing your detective and cast to evolve, but still retain the world you’ve built. In Book 7 of her Victorian Detective series, Intrigue & Infamy, author Carol Hedges gives a master class in just that.

Detective Inspector Leo Stride, protagonist of the early books, is now trapped in an administrative role, the victim of his own success. “Detective Inspector Stride is a long-standing officer, now reduced to an officer of long sitting.” The only mystery now facing Stride is how a certain green folder documenting thefts of barnyard animals keeps ending up on his desk, the only conflict his longstanding skirmishes in the neverending war with journalism in general and reporter Richard Dandy in particular.

It is Stride’s colleagues at the Metropolitan Police—later known as Scotland Yard—Detective Sergeant Jack Cully and Detective Inspector Lachlan Grieg who take on the real crimes facing the Detective Division. At the same time, the detectives are dealing with very real issues in their personal lives—Cully as a sleep-deprived young father, and Grieg, a newly-minted Detective Inspector whose courtship is dramatically different from the minutely-planned society alliances.

At the same time, the hallmarks of the earlier books provide the bones of the new one. As before, author Carol Hedges employs the tropes of Dickens, but avoids the wordy sentimentality of the original. Still present are the myriad of twisting plots so beloved by Dickens, that have Cully and Grieg investigating murder, assault, burglary, and pure bloody-mindedness.

Side-by-side with these are the social observations so often central to Dickens. The upper classes’ pursuit of each other’s wealth via the London Season and its attendant Marriage Mart, the political realities that make “justice” into very different things depending on social caste, the barely concealed racism and misogyny bubbling beneath the surface—all are described in a way that acknowledges their ongoing existence and echoes our disturbingly-similar present.

‘I thought we’d consigned this sort of thing to history,’ Stride says disgustedly.

‘Ah well, maybe history isn’t just something that is behind us; it also follows us,’ Grieg says thoughtfully.

There are also flashes of humor which echo Dickens at his very best, but also the sharp dry wit of Jane Austen at her most socially sarcastic:

  • Beautiful young debutants working tirelessly at their assigned role of achieving a socially advantageous marriage observe the lessons of one wrong step. Choose the wrong partner? “As far as anyone knows, poor Rosamund is now a governess in some faraway barbaric location. Possibly Yorkshire.”
  • Senior officers at the fledgling Metropolitan Police optimistically trying  to professionalize the young police force? “It is from one of the night constables, for whom spelling and punctuation are optional extras.”
  • Following clues in depths of London? “The Rat & Bottle is the sort of low dive that gives low dives a bad name…It is the sort of pub where nobody will know your name because frankly, they can’t be bothered to ask it.”
  • Romance for young girl? Juliana—“Tonight Juliana is absolutely and quite deliberately irresistible.”
  • Romance for young man? Harry—“It is hard work living up to everybody’s expectations, though admittedly, the expectations of his father are so low he probably couldn’t even crawl under them, let alone live up to them.”
  • Young love? “The guests look on fondly, because young love, even if it has been planned and carried out like a military manoeuvre, is still delightful to witness.”
  • Society? (My personal favorite as it deliberately echoes the traditional marriage service, evoking the force of divine providence into the pursuit of ensuring social position, power, land, and especially keeping all that lovely money in the family.)

A ball, as everybody knows, is like a marriage. It should never be entered into lightly or frivolously, but soberly and reverently, considering the purposes for which a ball is intended. Firstly, it is intended to show off the finery and figures of single young women, thus indicating that they are available for suitable alliances with single young men. Secondly, it is for the mutual encouragement of the Mamas of the single young women, whose one desire is their happily married future. And thirdly it is to ensure the papas of the single young women dispense as much money as is necessary to show off the finery and figures, and secure the happy marriage.

 

Carol Hedges’ intricate plots show off a deep knowledge of London, both past and present. But she also conveys a love of her city so tangible, London itself emerges as a main character—beautiful, terrible, flawed, and wonderful.

It is a clear night, the vast scoop of velvet black sky full of pin-bright sars. The air smells of damp and soot and horse shit, the familiar London smells. Cully walks the silent streets in search of the nearest post box, while the Sleeping beauty city murmurs and shifts, mutters and groans, waiting for the rough kiss of dawn to wake her and the jingling clattering morning carts to fill her streets once more.

At the risk of spoilers, I have to say one of my favorite parts of Intrigue & Infamy is the inspired ending. When the flexing of powerful society muscles threatens to allow a murderer to walk free despite the brilliant detective work of Cully and Grieg, Detective Inspector Leo Stride takes completely unprecedented action. I wanted to stand up and cheer.

This continues to be one of my favorite series. Not only does the writing contain a degree of clarity that—for me anyway!—sets it well above the Dickens it channels, but the subtle humor, social commentary, character growth, and clearly salutary references to current events in both the US and UK makes Intrigue & Infamy a must-read even as a stand alone. But do yourself a huge favor: if you haven’t read the earlier books, now is your chance to enter a wonderful, funny, thoughtful, and above all beautifully written world. You’re so lucky!

Book description

It is 1866, the end of a long hot summer in Victorian London, and the inhabitants are seething with discontent. Much of it is aimed at the foreign population living in the city. So when a well-reputed Jewish tailoring business is set aflame, and the body of the owner is discovered inside, Detective Inspector Lachlan Grieg suspects a link to various other attacks being carried out across the city, and to a vicious letter campaign being conducted in the newspapers.

Can he discover who is behind the attacks before more people perish?

Elsewhere, Giovanni Bellini arrives in England to tutor the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Haddon, ex-MP and City financier. But what are Bellini’s links to a dangerous Italian radical living in secret exile in London, and to beautiful Juliana Silverton, engaged to Harry Haddon, the heir to the family fortune?

Romance and racism, murder and mishap share centre stage in this seventh exciting book in the Victorian Detectives series.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Intrigue

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction THE CONFESSOR’S WIFE by Kelly Evans @ChaucerBabe

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Confessor’s Wife by Kelly Evans

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The Confessor’s Wife is an engaging tale of the wife of Edward the Confessor. Edith of Wessex , daughter of Godwin, the Earl of Wessex, spends her early years in a household with two older brothers, Harold and Sweyn, and a beloved younger brother, Tostig.  Her father, knowing that she must make a good marriage in support of her family, sends her as a teenager to the royal abbey of Wilton. There she is to be educated in the running a household, along with the artly skills of the high-born and with fluency in various languages. Despite her despair at having to leave her home, she finds a friend in Aethel, also the daughter of a nobleman but who has taken her vows as a nun, and also in the Abbess. After years, during which she comes to feel at home at the abbey, her brother Sweyn, a pompous, self-centered man, comes to retrieve her. She is to be married – to Edward, the King of England.

Edith’s nemesis in her marriage is her mother-in-law, Emma, who despises Godwin and his family, believing Godwin is responsible for her oldest son’s death. Edith finds herself in an untenable situation – married to an older man, hated by her mother-in-law who thwarts her at every turn, and her family obligations. She must prove herself worthy to all of them.

In time, her relationship with Edward becomes respectful and deeply caring, yet she bears him no children – a cause for a man to cast his wife aside. Royal politics sway this way and that, and at one point Edith is sent back to the abbey, when her family falls from grace. And yet Edward does not remarry.

How does she navigate the political waters that swirl around the king? How can she ensure the promotion of her family’s men to the highest offices in the land, and help raise her brother to the throne? And how can she do this, when criticized over many years for being a barren wife?

Kelly Evans has taken a woman who is little more than a footnote in history and created a story around her that makes her real and emphasizes the perils of a queen in that period.

I had not known of Edith prior to reading this book and had barely heard of King Edward the Confessor, so the history of the story fascinated me. The strength of the author’s writing is definitely in the dialogue, which gives three-dimensionality to the speakers and had me drawn in from the beginning. I felt the love of Edith for her brother Tostig, even when he proved feckless and disloyal, through her dislike of the ceaselessly critical Sweyn, and her tolerance of the scheming Emma and her simpering mother, Gytha.

While much less descriptive than the writings of other authors of historical fiction – and there were times when I absolutely yearned for more detail – the dialogue kept me reading. The author made Edith’s life and the obstacles she faced very real despite the sparseness of the background elements. There were a few lapses into modern expressions, which brought me up, but not enough to drag me away!

The author has written several other historical novels. One of them is The Northern Queen about Edith’s mother-in-law, Emma. I think readers of historical fiction will enjoy this book, and I am definitely interested in reading The Northern Queen.

Book description

In the 11th Century, when barren wives are customarily cast aside, how does Edith of Wessex not only manage to stay married to King Edward the Confessor, but also become his closest advisor, promote her family to the highest offices in the land, AND help raise her brother to the throne? And why is her story only told in the footnotes of Edward’s history?

Not everyone approves of Edward’s choice of bride. Even the king’s mother, Emma of Normandy, detests her daughter-in-law and Edith is soon on the receiving end of her displeasure. Balancing her sense of family obligation with her duty to her husband, Edith must also prove herself to her detractors.

Edward’s and Edith’s relationship is respectful and caring, but when Edith’s enemies engineer her family’s fall from grace, the king is forced to send her away. She vows to do anything to protect her family’s interests if she returns, at any cost. Can Edith navigate the dangerous path fate has set her, while still remaining loyal to both her husband and her family?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview #Team #RBRT #Horror novella HUMAN FLESH by Nick Clausen

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here https://readandreview2016.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Human Flesh by Nick Clausen

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Human Flesh is the third book by Nick Clausen I’ve reviewed this year – clearly, I enjoy his work.

Human Flesh is a narrative formed from fictitious evidence from a murder case. The suspect, Otha’s grandfather, is a man who behaves strangely whenever winter descends. This is somewhat understandable; winter reminds him of losing his wife. Yet, Otha’s grandfather adamantly refuses to admit how she died – almost as if he has something to hide.

As I’ve been reading more of Nick Clausen’s books, I’ve found I really enjoy the many ideas he has for horror stories. Human Flesh is no exception. The story is inspired by legends of the Wendigo, a cannibalistic creature or spirit which lurks in Northern America. I really enjoyed following this mysterious murder case, and I was drawn to keep reading. It’s definitely a creepy little story.

However, when I say little, I do mean little.

Human Flesh is very short. On the one hand, this could tie nicely to the fact the book is meant to be a collection of police evidence and, consequently, a small amount of evidence could reflect the mystery behind the story and how much is still unknown. On the other hand, practically speaking, when I read it, I was disappointed the story ended so soon.

I did like Clausen’s choice to present the narrative as a collection of evidence from the past though, adding some realism because it treats the Wendigo and the mysterious deaths as real crimes. Furthermore, it leaves the reader in the dark, as we have no idea who has survived the ordeal and who has not until the end of the book. However, I do have some constructive feedback about this choice of narrative style too.

Firstly, as Human Flesh largely consists of informal evidence such as blog posts and text messages, the story was also informal. As a result, I thought that in places, the story lacked detailed or literary narration and description. I partly understand this, as the bulk of the narrative is from a teenager’s perspective, which is bound to be more informal. Yet, it also felt a shame that some opportunities for fantastically scary or Gothic language and descriptions were missed.

Secondly, I’m not convinced an e-book was the best format for Human Flesh; at present, it is only available to buy as an e-book. I appreciate it can be harder to publish physical copies of a book but, in this instance, I think a physical book would have lent itself to the format. For example, the pages could have been designed and printed to look like an email browser, a police report, or a text message exchange. It would have looked like a more convincing scrapbook or folder of collected written evidence. In an e-book, however, it is very obvious that you’re not actually reading a text message, for example. I know this is a nit-picky comment to make, and I know the story itself is fictitious – but when the narrative partly relies on convincing you, the reader, of the realism of the situation, I found that this format pulled me out of the story a little.

These comments may sound a little critical, but I only mean them in a constructive way. I still genuinely enjoyed Human Flesh and, in general, I particularly like Clausen’s creative and interesting horror story ideas, even if I do wish these stories were longer!

For anyone looking for a small and succinct yet chilling read, I would recommend Human Flesh.

Star Rating: 3.5/5 Stars 

Book description

They never caught it

During the winter of 2017, a series of strange occurrences took place in a small town of northern Maine. A rational explanation for what happened has still not been presented. Now, for the first time, all the available written evidence is being released to the public from what is commonly know as the Freyston case.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #Mystery INTRIGUE & INFAMY by @carolJhedges

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Intrigue & Infamy by Carol J Hedges

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Trouble is brewing in the capital as the London Season nears its end. Detective Sergeant Jack Cully and Detective Inspector Lachlan Greig are investigating an outbreak of vandalism attacks on businesses owned by anyone classed as an immigrant. One such arson attack results in a death, soon to be declared a murder. And while Cully and Greig are out and about Detective Inspector Leo Stride, much to his dismay, is stuck at his desk with a mountain of paperwork in front of him.

Elsewhere, in a very upmarket area of the city, Miss Juliana Silverton has secured an excellent catch in the form of young, handsome (and sole heir to his father’s fortune) Harry Haddon, who proposed to her the previous evening. Their engagement will soon be announced in The Times. But if a past indiscretion becomes public knowledge all will be lost.

[Quote] For Fiona Blythe, the engagement of Juliana Silverton means that she alone of their little set is un-matched at the end of the Season. There is also another reason for her discontent, which she cannot divulge to anybody, as it consists of certain embarrassing incidents involving her attempts to attract the man who has now plighted his troth to Juliana. [End Quote]

Also added into the mix is Angelo Bellini, who has travelled from Italy to take up his position as the new tutor for Lord and Lady Haddon’s young son, Danny. Former MP Lord Haddon determines to make sure Danny doesn’t end up like his feckless step brother. However, all is not quite as it seems with Señor Bellini.

The characters are drawn so well that there’s an immediate mental image and sense of their personalities. One aspect I really enjoy about a series is the development and growth of existing characters. The divide between the well to do and the poorer element is detailed in all its grimness, with the evocatively described city of London as the backdrop where prejudice, bullying and cruelty isn’t just confined to the lower classes. There is an appreciable understanding of life at that time, across all levels of society.

I’ve been looking forward to a new mystery with Stride, Cully and Greig, and Intrigue & Infamy certainly doesn’t disappoint. Carol Hedges masterfully weaves several story threads together with engaging, witty, present tense prose, keeping the reader immersed in the story and creating an atmospheric and vividly depicted visit to 19th century London with its colourful inhabitants.

Book description

It is 1866, the end of a long hot summer in Victorian London, and the inhabitants are seething with discontent. Much of it is aimed at the foreign population living in the city. So when a well-reputed Jewish tailoring business is set aflame, and the body of the owner is discovered inside, Detective Inspector Lachlan Grieg suspects a link to various other attacks being carried out across the city, and to a vicious letter campaign being conducted in the newspapers.

Can he discover who is behind the attacks before more people perish?

Elsewhere, Giovanni Bellini arrives in England to tutor the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Haddon, ex-MP and City financier. But what are Bellini’s links to a dangerous Italian radical living in secret exile in London, and to beautiful Juliana Silverton, engaged to Harry Haddon, the heir to the family fortune?

Romance and racism, murder and mishap share centre stage in this seventh exciting book in the Victorian Detectives series.

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Intrigue