Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE SILENT KOOKABURRA by @LizaPerrat #TuesdayBookBlog #Thriller

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat

The Silent Kookaburra by [Perrat, Liza]

THE SILENT KOOKABURRA by Liza Perrat

5 stars

Every so often I find a real gem in the review team submission list, and this was one of them.  I thoroughly enjoyed it; Liza Perrat is an excellent writer.

The story takes place in the early 1970s in a quiet town in New South Wales called Wollongong, and is narrated by eleven year old Tanya, who lives with her alcoholic but not unlikable father, Dobson, her disturbed mother, Eleanor, who has miscarried many children, and her grandmother, Nanna Purvis.  It’s sad, tragic and funny, all at the same time.  Behind the story of everyday life lurks the shadow of child abuse, madness and murder, but these are dealt with so cleverly that the book doesn’t seem particularly dark.  If you can imagine that.

Eleanor finally manages to carry a child to term and Tanya is sure their family life will improve, but events take several turns for the worse, and she has to deal with great uncertainty about her future.  I wouldn’t have thought I’d like a whole novel written from the point of view of such a young girl, but one reads so much between the lines as Tanya reveals more to the reader than she understands herself.  Danger and intrigue is added by the appearance of the mysterious, seedy Uncle Blackie, the various nosy neighbours, the girls who tease Tanya for being fat, and her Italian friend Angela’s are-they-drug-dealers-or-aren’t-they family.

On the verge of adolescence, Tanya veers between excitement about becoming a woman, and comfort eating her way through her disintegrating family life.  One question remains in her mind, and is still there at the end of the book, an epilogue that takes place forty years later.

The characterisation in this book is brilliant.  Nanna Purvis is hilarious, a real old Aussie matriarch, and the atmosphere of the family’s slightly backward way of life of 45 years ago is so well portrayed.  I notice from the Author’s Note that Liza Perrat lived in Wollongong, and there are many popular culture references to the time, including items of food that Ms Perrat must have eaten back then, but, unlike other books in which this occurs, I didn’t find it contrived, or as if it was a deliberate strategy to press nostalgia buttons.  It worked (I particularly liked Nanny Purvis and her Iced VoVos).

It’s really, really good.  You won’t be disappointed.

Book Description

All eleven-year-old Tanya Randall wants is a happy family. But Mum does nothing besides housework, Dad’s always down the pub and Nanna Purvis moans at everyone except her dog. Then Shelley arrives –– the miracle baby who fuses the Randall family in love for their little gumnut blossom.

Tanya’s life gets even better when she meets an uncle she didn’t know she had. He tells her she’s beautiful and could be a model. Her family refuses to talk about him. But that’s okay, it’s their little secret.

Then one blistering summer day tragedy strikes, and the surrounding mystery and suspicion tear apart this fragile family web. 

Embracing the social changes of 1970s Australia, against a backdrop of native fauna and flora, The Silent Kookaburra is a haunting exploration of the blessings, curses and tyranny of memory. 

Unsettling psychological suspense blending the intensity of Wally Lamb with the atmosphere of Peter James, this story will get under your skin.

About the author

An image posted by the author.

Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years.
When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her husband and three children for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist.
Several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004 and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine and France Today.

Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in the historical “The Bone Angel” series set against a backdrop of rural France during the French Revolution. The second in the series, Wolfsangel, set during the WWII German Occupation of France, was published in October, 2013. The third in the series, Blood Rose Angel, set during the 14th century Black Plague years was published in November, 2015.

The Silent Kookaburra, a dark psychological suspense novel set in 1970s Australia, was published in November, 2016.

Friends, Family and Other Strangers From Downunder is a collection of 14 humorous, horrific and entertaining short stories set in Australia, for readers everywhere.

Liza is a co-founder and member of Triskele Books, an independent writers’ collective with a commitment to quality and a strong sense of place, and also reviews books for Bookmuse.

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THE BOYFRIEND WHISPERER by @LindaBudz High-school sports themed #YA #Romance

The Boyfriend WhispererThe Boyfriend Whisperer by Linda Budzinski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Boyfriend Whisperer is a young adult American sports themed romance. Lexi Malloy gets good grades and is a top basketball player. Most of her friends are guys, which is okay by her. She’s President and CEO of Boyfriend Whisperer Enterprises within which, for $125 per match, Lexi helps bring couples together – anonymously. So far she’s had a 95% success rate, but no one knows who the mysterious Boyfriend Whisperer is. The public face of the business belongs to Abi, who accepts the clients and liaises in secret with Lexi.

Despite all her matchmaking, Lexi is single. Recently her feelings for her best friend Chris Broder have changed, but how is she to get him to see her as a girl rather than a mate? A basketball weekend away match at Virginia Beach may hold the answer. Perhaps Lexi can get Chris’s attention over hot chocolate by a roaring fireside? Alas, cheerleader Lindsay has other ideas, and presents herself as the latest client for the Boyfriend Whisperer, with her sights set on Chris. Can Lexi treat this as a business match, or will seeing Chris go out with another girl push her over the edge?

This is a fun quick read and fits the young adult genre well. It is full of sass, hope, teenage anguish and raging hormones, as the characters teeter on the edge of adulthood.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

As President and CEO of Boyfriend Whisperer Enterprises, Lexi Malloy is Grand View High School’s undercover Cupid. One problem: She’s stuck in the friend zone with her own dream crush, Chris Broder. She and Chris have been best friends since the third grade, and he doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a member of the opposite sex.

When pretty, flirty cheerleader Lindsay LaRouche hires Lexi to whisper Chris, she has to decide whether to place her commitment to her company—and Chris’s happiness—before her own heart’s desires.

About the author

Linda Budzinski

My young adult novels, THE BOYFRIEND WHISPERER (2016), EM & EM (2015), and THE FUNERAL SINGER (2013), are all published by Swoon Romance YA.
THE BOYFRIEND WHISPERER received the Romance Writers of America Young Adult Chapter’s 2015 Rosemary Award and the Virginia Chapter’s 2015 Fool for Love Award. EM & EM was named a “Must Read for Teens” by Your Teen Magazine and has been optioned for development as a TV series.
I live in Northern Virginia with my husband, Joe, and our feisty chihuahua, Demitria. I’m a sucker for romance and reality TV and have been known to turn off my phone’s ringer when watching “The Bachelor.”
My favorite flower is the daisy, my favorite food is chocolate, and my favorite song is “Amazing Grace.”
When I’m not writing, I work part-time in nonprofit outreach and communications and am active with my church’s youth group.

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RISE SISTER RISE by Rebecca Campbell @rebeccathoughts #NonFiction #SundayBlogShare

Rise Sister Rise: A Guide to Unleashing the Wise, Wild Woman WithinRise Sister Rise: A Guide to Unleashing the Wise, Wild Woman Within by Rebecca Campbell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Four Point Five Stars

Rise Sister Rise is a non-fiction guide for those ready for change in their life circumstances, whether at a crossroads in life, a desire to stand up and be heard, or a need to follow a dream.

Rebecca Campbell firmly believes we are at a crucial point in our world development, ending thousands of years of oppression and darkness caused by religion and power hungry world leaders. Our planet is dying under current human abuse; people are lost, hurt and angry.

This book is “a call to arms for women to rise up, tell their truth and lead using their innate powers and wisdom.”

They can do this through the support systems and strengths of sisterhood. There have always been wise women, healers, medicine women, priestesses and visionaries. Campbell sees women all over the world awakening to what has been locked and hidden away inside them. Courageous, encouraging, passionate, compassionate, confident, self-assured, radiant women.

In this new high speed electronic world, we have forgotten to listen to the planet we inhabit, to work with its seasons and the cycles of the waxing and waning moon. Each season of the year has different components; spring is full of new life and energy, winter is for sleep, rest and recuperation. But many of us try to live our whole year at high-speed with maximum energy output and it is unhealthy for us, we fill up with stimulants and are constantly exhausted.

Campbell suggests remembering what makes us women, celebrating the strengths being a women brings and getting back our passion to change things in our worlds for the better.

This isn’t a book just about feminism, it is about reclaiming ourselves and saving the world.

View all my reviews Goodreads

Book Description

Rise Sister Rise is for the women who agreed at soul level to be here at this stage in history to lead this global shift that the mystics of all of the ages have predicted: the return of the mother and the rise of the feminine. It is essentially a call to arms for women to rise up, tell their truth, and lead.
Most women have spent much of their working lives “making it” in a man’s world, leaning on patriarchal methods of survival in order to succeed, dulling down their intuition, and ignoring the fierce power of their feminine. They have ignored the cycles of the feminine in order to survive in a patriarchal linear system – but now the world has changed.

Rise Sister Rise is a transmission that calls the innate feminine wisdom to rise. It is about healing the insecurities, the fears, and the inherited patterns that stop women trusting the Shakti (power) and wisdom (intuition) that effortlessly flows through them. It’s about recognizing all of the ways we have been keeping ourselves contained and restrained in effort to fit into a certain archetype of woman. It’s about co-creating a whole new archetype of woman – a woman who does not keep herself small in order to make others feel more comfortable. A woman who knows like she knows like she knows that she is not her body weight, her sexual partners, or her career. A woman who deeply respects the wise woman in her life and cultivates her own wisdom every single day.

Full of tools, calls to action, contemplative questions, rituals, and confrontational exercises, this book teaches women that it is safe to let Shakti rise, safe to trust their intuition, and safe to take leaps of faith – because in healing ourselves we are healing the world.

About the author

Rebecca Campbell

Rebecca Campbell is a Hay House author, grounded intuitive, spiritual mentor, six sensory teacher and co-creator of The Spirited Project.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT THE BEAUTY OF THE FALL by Rich Marcello @marcellor #WeekendBlogShare

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading The Beauty of the Fall by Rich Marcello

My review:

I received an ARC copy of this book that I voluntarily review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

This beautifully written novel touches on many subjects that are important at different levels: some, like loss (be it the death of a child, a divorce, the loss of not only a job but also a life-project) can be felt (and there are heart-wrenching moments in the novel) understood and managed at a very personal level, others, like the role of communications technology (who must control it? Should it remain neutral or become involved in the big issues? Should it ally itself with governments or be creatively independent?) or domestic and gender-related violence, although no doubt having a personal component, also seem to require global solutions. This ambitious novel tries to give answers to many of these questions and it does so through a first person narrative interspersed with poetry.

The novel is narrated by Dan Underlight, whom we meet at a particularly difficult time in his life. His son died a couple of years earlier and he feels guilty about it (we learn the details quite late in the novel), he is divorced, and now, the technology company he helped to create, and by extension his business partner and the woman he’d been closer to than almost anybody else for many years, fires him. His job, the only thing that had kept him going, is taken away from him. He has no financial worries. He has a good severance pay, a huge house, two cars, but his life is empty. Through the novel, Dan, who still sees his son, has conversations with him and wants to start a project in his memory, meets many people. Most of them are enablers. He has known Willow, a woman who works helping women victims of domestic violence, and herself a survivor (although she doesn’t talk much about it, at least with Dan) for some time and eventually, their friendship turns into a romantic relationship for a while. He has also been attending therapy with Nessa, a very special therapist (as a psychiatrist I was very curious about her techniques, but working in the NHS in the UK I must admit I’d never even heard of a Buddha board) since his son’s death, and during his peculiar pilgrimage, he gets ideas, encouragement, and a few brushes with reality too.

Much of the rest of the novel is taken up by Dan’s creation of a new company, based on his idea that if people could converse about important subjects and all these conversations could be combined, they would reach agreements and solve important problems. As conversations and true communication in real life amount to more than just verbal exchanges, there are technical problems to be solved, funding, etc. I found this part of the novel engaging at a different level and not having much knowledge on the subject didn’t detract from my interest, although I found it highly idealistic and utopian (not so much the technical part of it, but the faith in the capacity of people to reach consensual agreements and for those to be later enforced), and I also enjoyed the underhand dealings of the woman who had been his friend but seemed somehow to have become his enemy. (I wasn’t sure that her character came across as consistent, but due to the subjective nature of the narration, this might have more to do with Dan’s point of view than with Olivia herself).

Dan makes mistakes and does things that morally don’t fit in with the code he creates for his company, or with the ideals he tries to live by (he is human, after all) and things unravel somewhat as life has a few more surprises for him, but, without wanting to offer any spoilers, let’s say that there are many lessons he has learned along the way.

As I said before, the language is beautiful, and the poems, most of which are supposedly written by Willow, provide also breathing space and moments to stop, think and savour both the action and the writing style.

First of all, let me confess I was very taken by this novel and I couldn’t stop reading it and even debating the points with myself (I live alone, so, that was the best I could do). I was also touched by both the emotions expressed and the language used. As a sensorial reading experience, it’s wonderful.

Now, if I had to put on my analysing cap, and after reading some of the reviews on Goodreads, I thought I should try and summarise the issues some readers have with the novel.

The themes touched are important and most people will feel able to relate to some if not all of them. Regarding the characters and their lifestyle, those might be very far from the usual experience of a lot of readers. Although we have a handful of characters who are not big cheeses in technology companies, those only play a minor part in the book. The rapid expansion of the technology and how it is used in the book is a best case scenario and might give readers some pause. Personally, I could imagine how big companies could save money using such technology, but charitable organisations, schools or libraries, unless very well-funded, in the current financial times when official funding has become very meagre, would have problems being able to afford it all, and that only in theoretically rich countries. (The issue of world expansion is referred to early on in the project but they decide to limit their ambitions for the time being).

Also, the fact that issues to be discussed and championed were decided by a few enlightened individuals (although there is some debate about the matter) could raise issues of paternalism and hint at a view of the world extremely western-centred (something again hinted at in the novel). Evidently, this is a novel and not a socio-political treatise and its emphasis on changing the US laws to enforce legislation protecting equality, women’s rights and defending women against violence brings those matters the attention and focus that’s well-deserved.

For me, the novel, where everything that happens and every character that appears is there to either assist, hinder, or inspire Dan (it is a subjective narrative and one where the main character is desperately searching for meaning) works as a fable or perhaps better a parable, where the feelings and the teachings are more important than the minute details or how we get there. It is not meant to be taken as an instructions manual but it will be inspirational to many who read it.

In summary, although some readers might find it overly didactic (at times it seems to over-elaborate the point and a word to the wise…) and might miss more variety and diversity in the characters, it is a beautifully written book that will make people think and induce debate. This is not a book I’d recommend to readers that like a lot of action and complex plots, but to those who enjoy a personal journey that will ring true with many. It is a touching and engaging read to be savoured by those who enjoy books that challenge our opinions and ideas.

Book Description

A TECHNOLOGY EXECUTIVE CHARTS A HIGH-RISK, UNCONVENTIONAL PATH WHILE GRIEVING THE LOSS OF HIS SON Dan Underlight, a divorced, workaholic technology executive, suffers lingering grief over the death of his ten-year-old son, Zack. When Dan’s longtime friend and boss fires Dan from RadioRadio, the company that he helped create, he crashes and isolates himself. Willow, a poet and domestic violence survivor, helps Dan regain his footing. With her support, Dan ventures on a pilgrimage of sorts, visiting Fortune 500 companies to flesh out a software start-up idea. He then recruits three former RadioRadio colleagues and starts Conversationworks, a company he believes will be at the vanguard of social change. Guided by Dan’s leadership, Conversationworks enjoys some early successes, but its existence is soon threatened on multiple fronts. Will Dan survive the ensuing corporate battles and realize the potential of his company? Or will he be defeated by his enemies and consumed by his grief?

About the author

Rich Marcello

Rich is a poet, a songwriter and musician, a creative writing teacher, and the author of three novels, The Color of Home, The Big Wide Calm, and The Beauty of the Fall.

As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, aging, self-discovery. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet.

For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to a least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist and a teacher.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT THE MAGICIAN’S WORKSHOP by @HansenFehr #YA #Fantasy

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

#RBRT Review Team

Karen has been reading The Magician’s Workshop by Christopher Hansen and JR Fehr

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My Opinion

This book introduces you to a group of kids living in the magical islands of O’Ceea. Most of them are dreaming of receiving their colour, being accepted at the Magician’s Workshop, i.e. being allowed to officially create projections.

With The Magician’s Workshop, Volume 1, authors Hansen and Fehr have created a wonderful fantasy story not only for teens and young adults. It is a very enjoyable and compelling read, drawing you in as you learn more about Kai and the other kids and their clans. Hansen and Fehr carefully elaborated the characters, and their stories and interactions, still leaving the readers room for imagination; I simply adore the blue wallaroo. I was drawn rather close to the kids – it was fun being an invisible friend. The characters are of sufficient depth, believable with their flaws and virtues; the authors’ care for each of them shows. The story is very nicely woven and has a wonderful flow. Now I am eager to read volume 2!

This is a book for you if you like magic, urban fantasy, believable and very likeable characters, and/or the teen and young adult genre.

Recommended!

Book Description

Everyone in the islands of O’Ceea has a magical ability: whatever they imagine can be brought into existence. Whoever becomes a master over these powers is granted the title of magician and is given fame, power, riches, and glory. This volume of books follows the journey of a group of kids as they strive to rise to the top and become members of the Magician’s Workshop. 

Layauna desperately wants to create beautiful things with her magical powers, but all she can seem to do is make horrible, savage monsters. For years she has tried to hide her creations, but when her power is at last discovered by a great magician, she realizes that what she’s tried to hide might actually be of tremendous value.

Kai just wants to use his powers to have fun and play with his friends. Unfortunately, nearly everyone on his island sees him as a bad influence, so he’s forced to meet them in secret. When one of the creatures they create gets out of control and starts flinging fireballs at their town, Kai is tempted to believe that he is as nefarious as people say. However, his prospects change when two mysterious visitors arrive, praising his ability and making extraordinary promises about his future.

Follow the adventures of Kai, Layauna, and a boatload of other characters as they struggle to grow up well in this fantastical world.

About the authors

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The first glimmering Chris Hansen had that there was far more to reality than he had ever imagined occurred six days after his ninth birthday. “Christopher!” cried a wise, old sage. “Life is full of deep magic. Miraculous things happen all the time and all around us, if you know where to look for them.” Full of expectation and childlike optimism, Chris began searching for this magic, prepared to be surprised and amazed by it. And he was: he found Wonder! Now he’s chosen to write stories about it.

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When J.R. Fehr popped out of the womb, he knew there was more to the world than the four boring hospital walls that he was seeing. “Zango!” his newborn mind exclaimed as he saw people appear and disappear through a mysterious portal in the wall. As a child he found life wowtazzling, but as he grew older the cold water of reality hit him, and the magic he once knew vanished. After spending some wet and shivering years lost in a joyless wasteland, he once again began to see magic in the world. He writes because the Wonder of true life is far grander than anything he ever thought possible.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT ECHOES OF TIME by @AnneAllen21 #WW2 #HistFic Occupied #Guernsey

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Echoes of Time by Anne Allen

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I fell in love with books about the Guernsey Isles when I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows. Until then I had known nothing of the Channel Islands and what their inhabitants had endured during WWII. This book returned me there and had the added attraction of being a time slip novel, alternating between the present time and the time during that war.

In 1940, Olive Falla, a fairly independent young woman, who works as a farmhand on her father’s far, married Bill Falla. Falla owns his own farm, and Olive thinks this is the best future for her. She soon discovers she’s made a horrible mistake – Falla is a harsh, unloving, and demanding husband, who sees his wife as a slave to work the farm, take care of him, and give him children. Soon he finds any excuse to beat her. By chance, when collecting sticks for scarce firewood on an estate taken over by the German occupation, Olive meets Major Wolfgang Brecht, a veterinarian. She falls in love with the gentle and caring Wolfgang, who makes excuses to visit the farm to inspect the cows.

Flash forward to 2010, when Natalie Ogier returns to her homeland of Guernsey to escape her stalker, a man with whom she had a relationship but who turned abusive. She buys a beautiful cottage, built on the site of a secluded and burned out farmhouse. Her immediate neighbor is Stuart, the grandson of the original owners, Olive and Bill. His mother, their child, has lived off the island since she was old enough to be on her own, leaving her mother and her life there behind.  Stuart knows nothing of his grandparents because his mother is silent on her past.  When strange and eerie things begin to happen in the cottage, accompanied by a threatening voice, Natalie initially tries to tough it out on her own. Eventually she confides in Stuart and her parents.

Natalie wonders whose spirit is inhabiting her cottage, and after meeting Stuart’s mother, she becomes convinced that it has something to do with his grandparents. What happened to Olive, Bill and Wolfgang? What spirit inhabits Natalie’s cottage? Is it malevolent and how can it be banished? What links Stuart and his mother to that place? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It has several compelling threads and the jumps back and forth in time left me hanging and wanting to read on. The only problem was the prolonged diversion to France, where Natalie is invited to attend Stuart’s mother’s marriage to a gentle and understanding man. It went on far too long, and added virtually nothing to the progress of the story, so I skipped through it. I think it could have been omitted or vastly shortened.

Other than that, the author has created believable characters, lovely descriptions of Guernsey, and lots of tension, along with a healthy dose of history.  It is clear why she is a popular author. Well worth the read!

Book Description

Betrayal, injustice and revenge echo down the years… 

1940. Olive marries farmer Bill Falla. The Germans occupy Guernsey. 
All too soon Olive realises she’s made a mistake. 
Her life changes when she meets Wolfgang, a German officer- 
but there’s a price to pay. . . 

2010. Natalie Ogier returns to Guernsey to escape an abusive relationship – only to be plagued by odd happenings in her beautiful cottage on the site of a derelict and secluded farm. Disturbing dreams, disembodied voices and uncanny visions from the past. She becomes increasingly ill at ease as someone else’s past catches up with her own… 
Her only immediate neighbour, Stuart, is the grandson of the original owners, Bill and Olive. 

Thrown together in a bid to find out what really happened to Olive, can they each survive the repercussions of the past and move on? 

About the author

Anne Allen

Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby. She was born in Rugby, to an English mother and Welsh father. As a result she spent many summers with her Welsh grandparents in Anglesey and learnt to love the sea. Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.
By profession Anne was a psychotherapist but has long had creative ‘itches’, learning to mosaic, paint furniture, interior design and sculpt. At the back of her mind the itch to write was always present but seemed too time-consuming for a single mum with a need to earn a living. Now retired from the ‘day job’, there’s more time to write and Anne has now published five books in The Guernsey Novels series (as at August 2016). A sixth will be published in 2017.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT SELF SERVE MURDER by @denaehaggerty cosy #Mystery #wwwblogs

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs at http://betweenthelinesbookblog.com

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Self Serve Murder by Dena Haggerty

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As well as being a grad student and working part time at the local youth centre, Kristie Larson helps out as a barista at Callie’s Cakes. When she finds herself in bed one morning with a man she doesn’t know, and soon realises is dead, dazed and shocked she calls her best friend Anna. Kristie has no memory of the previous night, the man or how he ended up at her house, much less in her bed. She and her two friends, Callie and Anna, and their police detective boyfriends, Logan and Ben, begin to unravel the mystery and find out more than they bargained for.

Kristie is cleared of involvement in the death; tests prove she had been drugged and hers wasn’t the first case of this happening. There has been a string of date rapes on the college campus, all with the same approach, and although Kristie comes across as quite diffident and unassuming she’s determined to root out the perpetrator. After accessing a forum dedicated to assault victims and connecting with an online member, she’s in for quite a shock when she finally meets ‘Alex’.

Kristie has depth, tact and is a coffee addict. She’s also keeping a secret from her friends. I enjoyed learning about her life and connection and commitment to the Youth Centre. The three women have a great relationship and are always there for each other. Kristie is easy to like and not as over the top as the other two – Anna, the pink haired pixie and know it all Callie, aka the troublesome twosome.

Reading the previous books would probably have given me a deeper understanding of, and the dynamics between, the characters but having said that I did get a good idea of the personalities. Self-Serve Murder can definitely be read as a standalone. The storyline is emotional given the subject matter, written well and sympathetically, the humour in the appropriate places, and with a suitably creepy and repellent villain.

Told in the first person from Kristie’s perspective, Self-Serve Murder is entertaining, with likeable, sometimes ditzy, female protagonists. I wasn’t too sure about the men. I found Tyler irritating with his continual use of ‘baby’ when talking to Kristie and the insta-love aspect was too much too soon. All three men were a bit too alpha for me….shades of quite assertive cavemen types.

Self-Serve Murder is a cozy mystery with a dark undercurrent which is shockingly all too true. The figure of over 11% of college students subjected to rape on college campuses is correct. And although this is a fun, lighthearted tale the subject of rape is treated very seriously.

Book Description
Book 3 in the Death by Cupcake series. Can be read as a standalone.

Kristie is kind with a capital K, so it’s quite the surprise when she wakes up next to a dead man with no recollection of the previous night. Even worse? She’s naked. Kristie may be a sweetheart out to save the world, but sticking her nose into an investigation of rapes across campus makes her the target of a murderer. Before she knows it, Callie is smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation with her colleagues Callie and Anna. If that’s not enough to drive a sane person up the wall, a friend has decided he’s going to keep her safe whether she wants him to or not. And, oh yeah, he’s her man and that’s that. 

Come join us at Callie’s Cakes, where murder investigations are on the menu. You are most welcome, but you may need to serve yourself as our barista Kristie is busy trying to save the world. 

Warning: Although there are plenty of moments that will make you shake your head and laugh at the antics of the ladies of Callie’s Cakes, the subject matter – rape on college campuses – is very real and somewhat darker than your usual cozy mystery.

About the author
D.E. Haggerty
I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage, every once in a while, to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t my thing either. I decided to follow the husband to Istanbul for a few years where I managed to churn out book after book. But ten years was too many to stay away from ‘home’. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book. 

STEAL ME by @TheIndiaRAdams #NA #Romance Book #1 Haunted Roads Series #TuesdayBookBlog

Steal Me (Haunted Roads #1)Steal Me by India R. Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Four Point Five Stars.

Steal Me is book #1 of The Haunted Roads series, in the new adult genre, and a deeply emotional story of teenage friendship and resilience. There are subtle messages of respect, loyalty and safety, important themes for teenagers to read about, and this book was a joy to read.

So what is this story about? It’s split in half; firstly Maverick, then Tucker’s tale, the book is mainly set in a small town in Georgia. Maverick is sixteen and has it all: he’s a keen sportsman who has a college scholarship, a hot girlfriend and a great family. All this ends on the night his father is killed in a road accident. When his mother breaks down with grief, Maverick is forced to step into the parental role for his five year old sister, Bailey. He shuts down his own feelings and bravely takes over leadership of his family.

At school, Maverick’s friends don’t know how to support or talk to him, and he becomes an outcast as he focuses on making Bailey’s life normal. Then a decision to move away from the old memories offers hope, and Maverick steps up once again as he finds the family a new home and sets up monetary funds for the future.

It’s here, whilst putting Bailey’s needs first, that Maverick meets Hu and Cole. Instead of being in their own teenage bubble, they reach out to Maverick and invite him to meet their friends. This includes Bailey, and the pair are welcomed by a compelling, diverse crowd. Tucker is like Maverick, fiercely protective of his sister and determined to do the right thing for others too. Viola throws out sharp retorts but there’s also a soft side; she is wise beyond her years and was one of my favourite characters.

There’s much for Maverick to learn about his new friends, but they offer him support and the chance to just be a teenager. There’s pain too; Delilah is reeling from the death of her boyfriend, Viola’s had her own family losses and Tucker vowed to protect those he could. Maverick is drawn to Delilah and is determined to peel away her layers of hurt. He becomes the key to her recovery and the group of friends do all they can to bring the couple together. Their story takes them through the end of high-school, college and to their early twenties.

Part two is Tucker’s story: the loss of his own mother, the role he took in standing up for Delilah and Viola, his best friend Kenny’s tale and Tucker’s own sense of failure when he ran away from his perceived responsibilities. It’s about how events shaped, moulded and taught a hot-headed boy about life. Beginning when he was still a child, it takes us through to his life after college. I easily felt empathy for Tucker as I did for Maverick as each story unfolded; however, soon after Tucker began talking I lost Maverick from my head. I put this down to both of their dialogue styles being similar. They are both great characters, but I would have enjoyed a sharper distinction between the two.

Warning! There is a cliff-hanger ending, but I didn’t mind. Yes, I was itching to find out what happened next, but I can see that it was a good time to break from the intense story, allowing the reader to breathe and mull over all they have read. The characters and this story are here with me in my head as I write this. I was very taken with the themes of abuse, loss and suffering which these teenagers turned into strength, resilience and support. But don’t roll your eyes, thinking that the next book will give a happy ever after ending; these people feel too real for the standard, neat HEA. Instead, I think they’ll stay with you and haunt you for a little while.

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Book Description

“Some relationships have hidden truths that few can survive. Only us strong ones can dare listen to, and have the balls to stay and bear witness to, the result of irrevocable damages. So tell me, Maverick, are you one of the strong?”

Maverick, unfortunately, is well aware of Tucker’s meaning. Mav has recently lost his father, his mother is slipping into a depression, and his little sister is in desperate need of a parental figure. But now he’s losing his heart to Tucker’s mysterious sister, Delilah. As Maverick squints into the sun, looking at the beauty standing in front of the lake, he wonders if his heart is crazy for begging him to take on yet another tragedy. 

About The Author

India R. Adams

India R. Adams is an author/singer/songwriter who has written YA and NA novels, and the music for the Forever series.

Being a survivor of abuse, has inspired India to let others know they have nothing to be ashamed of. She put her many years of professional theater background to the test and has written fictional stories with a shadow of her personal experiences. She says, “I’m simply finding ways to empower perfect imperfections.”

Another cause India feels needs change, is Sexual Slavery. She has joined forces with jewelers to design beautiful ways to raise money for non-profit organizations. 

Even though India writes about serious subjects such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, and Human Trafficking, she has a magnificent sense of humor, as do the characters she creates. Perfectly balanced between laughter and tears, her readers see how to empower their own perfect imperfections.

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For a limited time e-copies of all of India’s books can be downloaded between March 31st and April 2nd at the following event

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT ECHOES OF TIME by @AnneAllen21 #TuesdayBookBlog #WW2 #HistFic

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs at http://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Echoes of Time by Anne Allen

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My Review;

A quick word on the cover. I loved both the evocative image and the title

And I love books that give a sense of place; of an era.  Anne Allen’s  writing in Echoes of Time certainly does that. Her descriptions use all five senses to create a setting; there are some wonderful portrayals that instantly took me into the characters’ world.

But, sometimes, I felt that they slowed the action down and add nothing to the story.

Although well written, the plot itself is a little predictable: boy meets girl next door; Natalie and Stuart  And I would have appreciated knowing much more about Natalie’s previous relationship with her old boyfriend. His appearance and then disappearance felt a little contrived and there only to show Stuart’s ‘knight in shining armour’ side. Yet this glimpse into Natalie’s past did  parallel the historic tragedy in Stuart’s family, which I thought clever.  I liked the idea of a dark past coming back to haunt the present. And these sections  did make me stop and think about how the walls of old buildings are steeped with their history.

It is this past, this history that makes up the  secondary plot-line; that of Olive (Stuart’s grandmother), Bill and Wolfgang. And I really do love these characters, multi- layered and believable, their  story is poignant and credible. I wanted so much more of  their  story. And, for me, the way Wolfgang went out of the story was disappointing; it felt too prosaic.

Overall it was the author’s writing style that persuaded me to give Echoes of Time four stars; the way the story is told from the alternate point of view of the main characters (I always love this; it gives different aspects to a narrative), the descriptions, the pace of the sub-plot, the presentation and dialogue of the characters, all make for a good read. I’d recommend this novel..

Book Description

Betrayal, injustice and revenge echo down the years… 

1940. Olive marries farmer Bill Falla. The Germans occupy Guernsey. 
All too soon Olive realises she’s made a mistake. 
Her life changes when she meets Wolfgang, a German officer- 
but there’s a price to pay. . . 

2010. Natalie Ogier returns to Guernsey to escape an abusive relationship – only to be plagued by odd happenings in her beautiful cottage on the site of a derelict and secluded farm. Disturbing dreams, disembodied voices and uncanny visions from the past. She becomes increasingly ill at ease as someone else’s past catches up with her own… 
Her only immediate neighbour, Stuart, is the grandson of the original owners, Bill and Olive. 

Thrown together in a bid to find out what really happened to Olive, can they each survive the repercussions of the past and move on? 

About the author

Anne Allen

Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby. She was born in Rugby, to an English mother and Welsh father. As a result she spent many summers with her Welsh grandparents in Anglesey and learnt to love the sea. Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.
By profession Anne was a psychotherapist but has long had creative ‘itches’, learning to mosaic, paint furniture, interior design and sculpt. At the back of her mind the itch to write was always present but seemed too time-consuming for a single mum with a need to earn a living. Now retired from the ‘day job’, there’s more time to write and Anne has now published five books in The Guernsey Novels series (as at August 2016). A sixth will be published in 2017.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT SERENGETI by @Rockwell_JB #SciFi Artificial Intelligence

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Serengeti by JB Rockwell

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This book is not your usual sci-fi outing. For those who were anticipating something hard-core, it will disappoint. For me, the humanity of the main character (an Artificial Intelligence or AI) and her two sidekick robots were the compelling draw.

The Meridian Alliance battle fleet is tasked with finding and destroying the ship of the Dark Star Revolution, which have been attacking Alliance members and with whom they have had a decades-long war. The ships constituting the Meridian Alliance fleet are varied, from the humongous and stubborn battle group commander Brutus to Serengeti, the Valkyrie-class warship and her sisters, who are equipped with the latest iteration and most highly developed AI. The star ships themselves are the bodies of these AIs, but ships still have a human crew, ostensibly for their ability to solve problems intuitively. It is clear from the outset that the human crews are subservient to the AIs, and while some captains have difficulty accepting their roles, Hendrickson, Serengeti’s captain, has a solid working relationship with her. Serengeti admires many of Hendrickson’s qualities, which she comes to emulate.

Underestimating the strength of the Dark Star fleet, the Meridian Alliance ships are decimated and the decision is made by Central Control to withdraw. As the ships leave one by one via hyperspace jumps, a booby-trapped vessel explodes near Serengeti just as she makes her jump, and she is forced to drop out of hyperspace in an unknown and empty location – her body wrecked and most of her crew dead. She herds the remaining crew, including Captain Hendrickson, into an escape pod, where they are cryogenically frozen so they can be slung into space. The escape pod is unfortunately stuck within the ship, and over the next decades, we follow Serengeti as she and TIG-442, a worker robot whose body she can inhabit, work to free the pod and save her humans. Confounding her efforts are the loss of the ship’s energy cells and the appearance of a ship reclaiming space junk, with the threat to take her apart.

The character of Serengeti is all too human, as her devotion to the remaining crew and her robot sidekick demonstrate and the relationships evolve. That is what drew me to the book. There are some drawbacks: TIG creates a mate, then grows a family with the addition of a third smaller version of itself – this and perhaps their mannerisms are a bit too cute. The initial battle sequence continued too long, frustrating me (as well as Serengeti) and the repeated descriptions of the wreckage of Serengeti became a little monotonous. However, the concept of the book and the good storytelling kept me reading and the drawbacks are minor compared to my reading enjoyment!

I think there are many readers, both sci-fi fans and not, who will like this book!

Book Description

It was supposed to be an easy job: find the Dark Star Revolution Starships, destroy them, and go home. But a booby-trapped vessel decimates the Meridian Alliance fleet, leaving Serengeti-a Valkyrie class warship with a sentient AI brain-on her own; wrecked and abandoned in an empty expanse of space. On the edge of total failure, Serengeti thinks only of her crew. She herds the survivors into a lifeboat, intending to sling them into space. But the escape pod sticks in her belly, locking the cryogenically frozen crew inside. Then a scavenger ship arrives to pick Serengeti’s bones clean. Her engines dead, her guns long silenced, Serengeti and her last two robots must find a way to fight the scavengers off and save the crew trapped inside her.

About the author

J.B. Rockwell

J.B. Rockwell is a New Englander, which is important to note because it means she’s (a) hard headed, (b) frequently stubborn, and (c) prone to fits of snarky sarcasticness. As a kid she subsisted on a steady diet of fairy tales, folklore, mythology augmented by generous helpings of science fiction and fantasy. As a quasi-adult she dreamed of being the next Indiana Jones and even pursued (and earned!) a degree in anthropology. Unfortunately, those dreams of being an archaeologist didn’t quite work out. Through a series of twists and turns (involving cats, a marriage, and a SCUBA certification, amongst other things) she ended up working in IT for the U.S. Coast Guard and now writes the types of books she used to read. Not a bad ending for an Indiana Jones wannabe…

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