Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT A New Year’s Cosy #Mystery DEATH ON THE DANUBE by @JSAauthor

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

#RBRT Review Team

Robbie has been reading Death On The Danube by Jennifer S. Alderson.

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I am a great fan of Jennifer S. Alderson’s Adventures of Zelda Richardson books as I really enjoy the fast pace and wonderfully exotic locations that feature in this series. When this first book in Ms Alderson’s new cozy mystery series became available, I quickly snatched it up to see what this versatile author can do in this slightly different genre. I have recently visited Budapest, so I was also keen to see how this amazing city is featured in this book.

I was not disappointed, either with regards to the genre or the setting of Death on the Danube. As a cozy mystery, this book is shorter than the Zelda books and, as a result, the characters are not as fleshed out. this was not a problem for me as I still got a good feel for Lana, the recently divorced heroine, who finds herself unexpectedly dealing with a murder investigation instead of just assuming the new role of tour guide to a party of wealthy tourists. Lana was previously an investigative journalist and this experience comes in handy when Carl, her fellow tour guide, is found floating in the Danube.

This book reminded me of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express as it had lots of interesting characters. The story dips into each potential suspects life and reveals enough tantalizing details about a few of them to make them a likely suspect and Lana must do some hard work to unravel their stories and how they fit into Carl’s messy life.

Carl was an interesting chap with his involved history of womanizing, gambling and misleading people in order to gain their financial support. He was likable enough for me to not entirely hate him and I felt rather bad about his untimely death even though he was a bit of a rotter.

The introduction of the travel element and virtual tour the author gives her readers separates this book from others in this genre and made it a really interesting read. The depictions of the tourist destinations were interesting and the descriptions of the food, tantalizing.

I would strongly recommend this book to lovers of cozy mysteries and short murder mystery stories.

 

Book description

Who knew a New Year’s trip to Budapest could be so deadly? The tour must go on – even with a killer in their midst…

Recent divorcee Lana Hansen needs a break. Her luck has run sour for going on a decade, ever since she got fired from her favorite job as an investigative reporter. When her fresh start in Seattle doesn’t work out as planned, Lana ends up unemployed and penniless on Christmas Eve.

Dotty Thompson, her landlord and the owner of Wanderlust Tours, is also in a tight spot after one of her tour guides ends up in the hospital, leaving her a guide short on Christmas Day.

When Dotty offers her a job leading the tour group through Budapest, Hungary, Lana jumps at the chance. It’s the perfect way to ring in the new year and pay her rent!

What starts off as the adventure of a lifetime quickly turns into a nightmare when Carl, her fellow tour guide, is found floating in the Danube River. Was it murder or accidental death? Suspects abound when Lana discovers almost everyone on the tour had a bone to pick with Carl.

But Dotty insists the tour must go on, so Lana finds herself trapped with nine murder suspects. When another guest turns up dead, Lana has to figure out who the killer is before she too ends up floating in the Danube…

Introducing Lana Hansen, tour guide, reluctant amateur sleuth, and star of the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series. Join Lana as she leads tourists and readers to fascinating cities around the globe on intriguing adventures that, unfortunately for Lana, often turn deadly.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Cosy Vintage #Mystery ROUGH TIME IN NUALA by @harrietsteel1

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been redaing Rough Time In Nuala by Harriet Steel

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Inspector Shanti de Silva and his wife Jane, were looking forward to an evening at the cinema but an unexpected telephone call from Doctor Hebden meant they had to cancel their plans. There had been a murder at the Royal Nuala Golf Club and de Silva’s presence is required immediately. The body of wealthy local business man and tea plantation owner, Bernard Harvey, had been discovered hidden in the rough by Doctor Hebden’s dog. His caddy was nowhere to be found.

The murder turns out to be a complicated case for de Silva, not least because he has to tread carefully in his dealings with the advantaged British. There seems to be no obvious motive and no possessions were taken but where was the caddy? De Silva’s superior, Archie Clutterbuck was entertaining important visitors and didn’t want a scandal. Luckily, de Silva had the help of Charlie Frobisher, a personable junior member of the Colonial staff. And as always, de Silva’s wife Jane is his sounding board, offering her own insightful suggestions.

I had to smile when Charlie Frobisher described the murder as ‘a nasty spot of bother’ and thought it seemed realistically typical of an understatement by an upper class Englishman of the time.

‘The remark demonstrated a notable British quality, thought de Silva: their unerring ability to minimise drama, even when, in most people’s view, the occasion would justifiably merit it.’

I always enjoy catching up with Shanti and Jane de Silva, and Harriet Steel brings 1930s Ceylon and its inhabitants to vibrant life, with descriptions of places, food and their home life.

It was interesting to note in this book that a little more attention was given to the prejudice issue facing the Sinhalese people as a direct result of British dominance. Additions such as this, plus the local customs and the fact the British make investigation that much more difficult, give more authenticity to the story.

‘He was aware that the club’s hallowed portals didn’t welcome locals like himself; the membership was exclusively British. Deep down, de Silva had to admit that even though he had no desire to play golf, he wasn’t entirely immune to feelings of resentment at being shunned in his own country.’

A lovely, easy to read cozy crime series.

Book description

Inspector de Silva’s peaceful evening is disrupted when he is called up to the Royal Nuala Golf Club where a wealthy member has been found brutally murdered.

Is this a bungled robbery, a private feud, or does the killer have another motive that will cause them to strike again?

With the help of his resourceful wife, Jane, and a new and unexpected ally, de Silva must navigate his way into the heart of the privileged British establishment to find the answer, and there’s no time to lose.

Rough Time in Nuala is another colourful and exciting mystery in this series set in the exotic location of 1930s Ceylon.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Of Mild #Thriller When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson

When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

4 stars

When Will There Be Good News is a mild thriller and the third book in the Jackson Brodie series.

The book opens with a brutal murder of a family where a six-year-old child is the only survivor. The story then jumps forward thirty years, where we are introduced to mother’s help Reggie, to Dr Hunter and her baby boy. We are also introduced to Louise, a Detective Chief Inspector who has become hardened by her years on the force and who struggles to hold down her personal relationships. Lastly, there is Jackson Brodie, an ex-policeman who becomes innocently involved with events in Edinburgh as they escalate around him.

Proceedings transpire to bring all of these characters together, but the story is not straightforward and it requires a good deal of concentration to keep up.

I’ve now read three books by this author, all of them quite different. Atkinson certainly stamps her own style on her writing. The internal dialogue and the multiple snippets of Latin and literature added layers to some of the characters, but I found it quite exhausting to read. However, I was still intrigued enough by the storyline to continue reading and was eager to see how it would all end.

Overall, a good story but I didn’t completely fall in love with the mode of the writing.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

On a hot summer day, Joanna Mason’s family slowly wanders home along a country lane. A moment later, Joanna’s life is changed forever…

On a dark night thirty years later, ex-detective Jackson Brodie finds himself on a train that is both crowded and late. Lost in his thoughts, he suddenly hears a shocking sound…

At the end of a long day, 16-year-old Reggie is looking forward to watching a little TV. Then a terrifying noise shatters her peaceful evening. Luckily, Reggie makes it a point to be prepared for an emergency…

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

Rosie’s #Bookreview Of Historical Spy #Thriller DARK STAR by Alan Furst #TuesdayBookBlog

Dark StarDark Star by Alan Furst

4 stars

Dark Star is an historical fiction spy thriller set in Europe between 1937 and 1940.

As Europe struggles to avoid another war, we meet André Szara, a Russian journalist recruited by a Soviet secret intelligence agency and placed in Paris. He enlists the owner of a factory in Berlin which supplies crucial parts for Germany’s war-planes and sends the monthly production figures back to Moscow. However, he’s never sure if the agent has been compromised and if his figures can be trusted.

Any good spy thriller will be complex and the mix of Russian and German intelligence agencies added extra layers to the story. With an intricate plot, this book needed my full concentration to keep up with the secrets. I liked how Furst painted a harsh picture of life, showing just how precarious and precious it can be.

The story uses Szara’s journalist cover to send him across Europe and I particularly enjoyed the parts that took place in Poland and later when he went off-grid. The horrors of war and life felt very real and it was easy to understand how people grabbed at moments of happiness in the insanity which went on all around.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Andre Szara, survivor of the Polish pogroms and the Russian civil wars, is a journalist working for Pravda in 1937. War in Europe is already underway and Szara is co-opted to join the NKVD, the Soviet secret intelligence agency. He does his best to survive the tango of pre-war politics by calmly obeying orders and keeping his nose clean. But when he is sent to retrieve a battered briefcase the plot thickens and is drawn into even more complex intrigues.

Szara becomes a full-time spymaster and as deputy director of a Paris network, he finds his own star rising when he recruits an agent in Berlin who can supply crucial information. DARK STAR captures not only the intrigue and danger of clandestine life but the day-to-day reality of what Soviet operatives call special work.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT A #Mystery Set In China. The Willow Woman, a Philip Ye Novel by @LWestwoodAuthor

Today’s team review is from Joanna.

#RBRT Review Team

Joanna has been reading The Willow Woman by Laurence Westwood

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4.5 stars.

This is the first in a planned series of books featuring Philip Ye, a Chinese homicide detective.  The protagonist has a chequered past; he is a widower, half English and half Chinese, and his father is the disgraced ex-Mayor of Chengdu. Willow Woman focuses on a missing vulnerable boy and a body found in a back alley; two mysteries Ye tries to unravel against a highly political backdrop.

It is beautifully written, highly evocative of modern china and pulls no punches in exploring the cultural, political and spiritual elements of Chinese society.  The plot itself is pleasingly complex and well-paced and I found myself burning the midnight oil, unable to put it down.

When I opened the book I was greeted by an extensive cast list of Chinese names which almost put me off, however Laurence Westwood breathes life into each of the  main characters and they jump off the page and into your imagination: there’s the  enigmatic Philip Ye; the deeply flawed and beautiful Prosecutor, Xu Ya; Fatty Deng her investigator and seriously oddball Constable Ma.

If there is any criticism, it is that the author occasionally overplays his knowledge of the Chinese political and criminal justice systems making for the occasional stodgy passages. Having said that I loved it and look forward to the next in the series.

Did I enjoy it, Yes

Would I recommend it, Yes.

Would I read it again, Yes.

Book description

Chengdu: a teeming, modern metropolis.

Yet China’s painful turbulent history still leaves its mark on the minds of all who live there.

Philip Ye, half English, half Chinese, is a homicide detective with the Chengdu Public Security Bureau who suffers his own anguish from a life blighted by tragedy and the unsettling appearance of ghosts that often intrude in on his investigations.

On a misty grey morning one such apparition leads him to a busy street corner during the rush hour where he bears witness to a shocking event. Against his better judgment, Phillip is drawn into the search for a missing, vulnerable boy. His investigation brings him into contact with Xu Ya, a brilliant and beautiful public prosecutor. She is new to Chengdu, determined not only to make her mark but to also leave behind her own personal heartbreak. They have crossed paths before. He has no memory of her, but she remembers him very well indeed….

Soon enough Philip Ye has a vicious murder on his hands, and then another – the boy’s disappearance seemingly sparking a chain of violent events. With the help of Xu Ya – dedicated to upholding făzhì, the Rule of Law, in China ‒ and her indefatigable and worldly-wise assistant Fatty Deng, Phillip Ye is quickly on the trail of a mysterious figure known as The Willow Woman. But, unbeknownst to them all, there are secretive and subversive forces at work within the dark heart of the city and tremendous danger awaits….

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Re-Post Authors Reviewing Authors (It’s a Minefield) #WritingCommunity #AmWriting #AmReading

Authors reviewing authors

(it’s a minefield…) Guest post by Terry Tyler

Reviewing advice

 

The scenario: you’re a self-published/indie press published writer who tweets, blogs and is a generally active member of the online writer community. You like to read and review the work of writer friends, if in a genre that appeals. One of these friends (who I will call Friendly Writer and refer to as ‘he’, for convenience), asks you to review his new book, via an ARC. The blurb piques your interest; you say yes. You start to read, with enthusiasm—but there’s a problem. Several of them. The dialogue is unrealistic, the characters are one-dimensional, or tired stereotypes. Maybe the plot is unconvincing, or it’s a bit slow/long-winded/badly researched. If it was a random book by a stranger, you’d abandon it.

If you’ve been active in the online writer community for a while, this might be a situation you’ve already faced. Friendly Writer is expecting a review from you. So do you take the easy way out? Say what a great read it is, and give it 5*?

Do you decide that it’s best to … lie?

Most writers have, at some point, been less than totally frank when reviewing. We think about ourselves in the same situation; sometimes, being kind is more important than brutal honesty. But there are several levels of diplomatic possibility between ‘This guy needs to find a new hobby’, and ‘This is a superb novel by a talented writer, highly recommended!’

Before I get to the helpful hints, though, let’s look at why some authors give dishonest reviews—and why they shouldn’t.

5 reasons why authors give glowing 5* reviews they don’t mean:

  • Because they’re kind. They don’t want to hurt Friendly Writer’s feelings, and would like to give a boost to the book he’s worked so hard on.
  • Because they don’t want to face the possible hassle that might follow an honest review; easier just to provide the required positive one.
  • Because Friendly Writer has given them a 5*, or been generally supportive about their work, and they feel they ‘owe’ him the same.
  • Because other reviewers have been complimentary, and they feel under pressure to agree (‘is it just me?’).
  • Because their own new release is imminent, and they think that if they dole out the 5*, they will be reciprocated.  NB: this might involve not actually reading the whole book…

5 reasons why they shouldn’t:

  • It misleads the reading public.  All over Amazon, you can find reviews that say, ‘I don’t understand the high ratings; was I reading a different book?’, and ‘I bought this based on all the great reviews, and I wasted my money’. Think about it. If you’d stayed at a hotel where you received only mediocre service, would you label it ‘excellent’ on TripAdvisor?  Review a faulty electrical appliance with ‘5*, a great buy’?
  • Many people consider most Amazon reviews to be fake, purchased, written by friends or just generally ill-informed. If you write dishonest reviews, you become part of this problem, which affects us all.
  • The misleading review doesn’t do much for your own credibility. If you say a book is brilliant, when it has wooden dialogue and a dodgy plot, potential readers may think your own work won’t be so great, either.
  • It makes the glowing 5* that you really do mean count for nothing. Who can tell the difference?
  • It doesn’t do Friendly Writer any favours, in the long run.

Remember: Amazon book department is not a cosy writing group for the encouragement of aspiring authors. It is an online shop where the reading public spend money.

Writing tips

Practical problems

Sometimes, your complaint about the book may just be that it needs a better proofread. This is not a criticism of the writing itself, but a practical problem that can be fixed, as is an issue with formatting. A couple of times I’ve started to read friends’ books that were otherwise very good but had considerably more than the acceptable few proofreading errors.  I emailed to tell them, so they could amend if they wanted to, or instruct their publisher to do so. Recently, I read a terrific book with one glaring continuity error that the editor had missed; I let the author know. She was really pleased I had. With regard to the proofreading, I also listed some of the errors I’d found.

But what if the problems are not so easily fixed?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Write the honest review but show it to Friendly Writer before you post it, and ask him if he’d rather you didn’t.
  • Concentrate only on the elements about the book that you did like, and give it 3*, or 4*, depending on the good/bad ratio.  For instance, it might have lousy characterisation but wonderful scene setting. Or a plot full of holes, but delightful dialogue. Contrary to some opinion, 3* is not a bad review; it means ‘it’s okay’ on Amazon, and ‘I liked it’ on Goodreads. I find 3.5* very useful; you can then round up or down. Or up on Amazon and down on Goodreads, as they mean different things.
  • Give 3* and review objectively rather than personally, by saying what the book is about and who might enjoy it. For instance, if it’s a zany chick lit book, give a brief summary of the plot and say something like ‘If you’re a fan of Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, this might be one for you’. Just because a book made you wince, other readers might not be so discerning. For instance, my ‘deal breakers’ are bad grammar, lack of historical research, consistent bad punctuation, unrealistic dialogue, and characters undergoing sudden, unexplained personality changes to fit the plot. Others might not mind or even notice these things. Recently, I read a basically good book with punctuation errors on every page. Out of over 30 reviews, only a handful of others mentioned them.
  • Do nothing. This is actually not as much of a cop out as it sounds. When I published The Devil You Know, I submitted it to lots of book bloggers who had never read me before. Of all those who agreed to take it, two never reviewed. I just assumed they didn’t like it much. Friendly Writer will probably make the same assumption about your own lack of response, and thus save you both embarrassment.

What if you haven’t taken an ARC, but have bought the book and feel obliged to review because of your online friendship?

  • Say and do nothing. See above.
  • Do not mark the book as ‘Currently Reading’ on Goodreads, or tweet that you are reading it, until you have read 20% and are sure you like it enough to continue.
  • If Friendly Writer asks, say you’re sorry, but you weren’t that interested in the subject matter/it wasn’t quite what you were expecting. It’s likely that he will accept this with dignity; in my experience, writers who throw their toys out of the pram every time someone fails to express awe at their brilliance are few and far between. Thank goodness.
  • Be aware of Friendly Writer’s feelings, and imagine yourself in the same position before launching into an detailed critique; if asked, mention the aspects you liked but say that you had some issues with other areas, and do not expand unless invited to. He may already be aware of the book’s weaknesses. 

Any of these suggestions is better than writing dishonest, misleading reviews.

Lastly, if your lack of a glowing 5* results in Friendly Writer getting shirty with you, put it down to experience, and move on; if he gets upset because you are not willing to lie about his book, then perhaps his apparent ‘friendship’ was really nothing more than networking …

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #PostApocalyptic UPON US by Blakely Chorpenning

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Upon Us by Blakely Chorpenning

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3 stars.

I requested this book from the review team list because it looked right up my street – a world in decline, in which governments have agreed to plunge the planet back into the Dark Ages in order to let it recover (I assume).  This book takes place twenty-five years in, when crops are dying and a zombie-esque plague is on the warpath.  It is placed in the ‘New Adult’ in category, ie, aimed at ages 18-30; I’d put it towards the younger end of this range, or possibly even YA.

I’ll start by saying that the author writes well; she uses some lovely descriptive terms, her characterisation and dialogue is mostly fine, the story flows well, and the book – not a long one – has obviously been professionally proofread.  Sadly, though, the world building left me with too many unanswered questions, though it’s an interesting and unusual premise.  Of course, all post-apocalyptic and futuristic, dystopian worlds are products of the author’s imagination, but I think more time needed to be spent on thinking through how this ‘New Beginning’ took place, its orchestration, the events leading up to it and the aftermath, to the extent that I wondered if a more simple plot, like just the virus, might have been easier to work with.

The book starts so well, with the protagonist lying in wait to ambush a man (one of the ‘Privileged’) to help her and these clans obtain food; there has obviously been careful research into survival methods and ancient ways of cooking and growing food, which I liked, and there is no doubt that Ms Chorpenning can write; I think that if she worked with a really good developmental editor to help her create her world in a more fully-rounded sense, this book could be terrific.

Book description

What if the apocalypse was manufactured to save mankind?

Threatened by an ailing planet and insatiable human advancement, world governments agreed to ban the modern way of life, cutting off electricity, technology, and medical services, dismantling the global economy for one hundred years.

Twenty-five years have passed in this self-imposed darkness known as the New Beginning. Crops are dying and the sickness -a zombie-like plague of rotting flesh and fractured minds- is ravishing the East Coast of the United States.

One woman has been entrusted by the clans to remedy their food shortage. Breaking the rules is nothing new, but She -a nameless nomad- must abduct a privileged villager named Ren, bringing her too close for comfort with his entitled world. Together, they discover the root of the plague as their desire for one another grows, even as the differences in their two worlds collide.

Through deception and the horrors of an expanding pandemic, love thrives where a world chose to die.

UPON US is a New Adult post-apocalyptic love story with adult content and gory imagery (because -zombies).

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview of Action #Thriller VALLEY OF DEATH by Scott Mariani

Valley of Death (Ben Hope, #19)Valley of Death by Scott Mariani

4 stars

Valley Of Death is book nineteen in the Ben Hope action thriller series. This story takes place mainly in India.

Ben is an ex-SAS major and his latest adventure involves a kidnapping and disappearance of two brothers from a wealthy Indian family.

Kabir Ray, a leading archaeologist in the continued search for answers about the Bronze Age Indus peoples, recently went missing in a remote area. When his concerned brother Amal returned to India to help find Kabir, he was kidnapped from a city street. With no ransom notes and the police investigations frustratingly inconclusive, Amal’s wife Brooke puts aside her past conflicts with Ben and seeks his help.

I don’t read many action thrillers but I find Mariani’s writing style engaging. My only slight disappointment was that much of this story was set in urban Delhi, whereas I was very keen to learn more about the ancient civilisation and had hoped that more of the action would take place in the remote wilderness.

This story can easily be read as a stand alone or as part of the Ben Hope series, but is ideal for those who enjoy action adventure books.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

This time it’s personal…

People going missing in the remote wilds of India is not unusual. But when the son of a wealthy Delhi businessman is kidnapped just weeks after his brother fell victim to an alleged bandit attack in the mountains of Haryana, it raises eyebrows.

With the local police doing close to nothing, there’s only one man for the job: ex-SAS major Ben Hope. But for Ben, this is no ordinary rescue case. Because this plea for help is coming from a special person from his past, who now has nobody else to turn to.

Ben’s mission will take him into the heart of the arid Indian wilderness, pitting him against ruthless gangs and desperate men. But Ben is determined to save the day. Whatever it takes.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview of #NewRelease #RomanticSuspense A CRITICAL TANGENT by @reily_garrett

A Critical Tangent (Moonlight and Murder, #1)A Critical Tangent by Reily Garrett

4 stars

A Critical Tangent is a romantic suspense story and book one of the Moonlight and Murder series.

Keiki witnesses the brutal murder of her student friend via a camera on a drone―but the two-way communication gave the killer a full view of Keiki and now he’s coming after her.

When a second student goes missing and a third is attacked, Detective Garrett and his partner Coyote’s usual quiet life begins to get complicated. The killer’s evidence all leads to Keiki, except Garrett believes that she is a victim and he attempts to protect her. However, Keiki finds it hard to trust the police; instead, she plans her own investigation.

I really liked the camaraderie and dialogue between Garrett and Coyote and it complimented their mix of modern and traditional policing methods. I also thought that the tension and atmosphere which built-up between Garret and Keiki suited this genre well. In other areas, there was plenty of action during the murder investigation which kept me entertained, and I thought the ending had a very enticing hook ready for the next book in the series.

Overall, a solid start to a new series.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Enter a world where ignorance and darkness mask chaos and deceit.

Keiki’s focus on designing drones shatters one morning when her prototype records the murder of her friend. Captured video detailed the masked killer’s promise to find his witness and finish the job.
Experience has given her good reason to not trust cops, especially when they come knocking on her door. Their suspicions narrow when her roommate disappears without a trace.
Conflicting evidence at a brutal crime scene leaves gossamer threads weaving a complicated web of lies and deceit. Every lead Detective Garnett finds steers the investigation to a deeper, darker network entangling Keiki in a labyrinth of cunning subterfuge.
Garnett is torn between following the letter of the law and protecting the witness determined to clear her name. Can he earn Keiki’s trust in time to save her life, or will a psychotic killer destroy the woman who has demolished his emotional barriers?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #RomCom LOVE, LOOK AWAY by @LisetteBrodey #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Sandra, she posts her reviews here http://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

#RBRT Review Team

Sandra has been reading Love, Look Away by Lisette Brodey

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Set in Swansea (New York not Wales), like her previous novel Molly Hacker is Too Picky!, this is the story of Sage Gordon who owns the gift shop, Sage Earth Gifts. It is not a sequel but does feature some of the same characters. We see the world through Sage’s eyes, and at the start of the book she is not in a good place.

The book opens with a ‘difficult’ customer causing a scene and introduces the other main character, Godiva Genevieve Jones. The two women bond over their recent romantic troubles and become firm friends really quickly. Running through the story is the mystery of Sage’s childhood friend, Jimmy, who just disappeared in the night and was never heard from again. She has tried and failed to trace him, and it’s almost like she can’t move on until she finds out what happened to him. All I’ll say is that it seems like we’ll never know, but in a wonderful, dramatic movie-style ending the truth is finally revealed.

While the new-agey theme of the shop is not to my taste, anyone who has ever worked in retail will recognise the ‘difficult’ customers; unlike real life these ones are also very funny. In fact, there is a lot of humour to lighten the heartbreak, often involving the dogs, Rufus and Vizzy; two cats live above the shop with Rufus but are never seen, which is a shame. The characters are well-written and believable, though some are a bit full-on. The only slight criticism I have is that the dialogue is a bit stilted in places, not quite the way real people speak. Overall Love, Look Away is a very enjoyable read and I look forward to the next instalment of life in Swansea.

Book description

Twenty-nine-year-old Sage Gordon has had it with love. When she’s not busy running her metaphysical gift shop in the old-money town of Swansea, New York, she’s content with the company of her dog and two cats.

Years ago, the boy she thought she’d marry some day disappeared in the middle of the night and was never heard from again. Haunted by the loss of Jimmy, she remains wary about love, until she is set up with a gorgeous NYC marketing executive. Love moves quickly, and she finds herself engaged — but if only he had betrayed her before she sent out the save-the-date cards.

Sage reverts to her former mindset: love, look away. Forever. Despite her best efforts, though, two completely different yet wonderful men enter her life. Still haunted by the past, can she let romance back into her life?

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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