THE ALCHEMICAL DETECTIVE by @KirstenWeiss #Paranormal #Romantic #Mystery #TuesdayBookBlog

The Alchemical Detective (Riga Hayworth, #2)The Alchemical Detective by Kirsten Weiss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Alchemical Detective is book #2 in the Riga Hayworth paranormal romance mysteries. The book is easily a stand alone read.

Metaphysical detective Riga Hayworth has come to Lake Tahoe for some rest and relaxation as she works on regaining her lost magical abilities (from book #1, but it didn’t matter that I hadn’t read it). Urged to consider alchemy by a French stone gargoyle, Riga finds her studies disrupted by a reality TV show offer; to investigate into tales that the lake is home to Tessie, an unknown monster.

Peace and quiet is also shattered when a local palm reader is found murdered. Riga finds herself “a person of interest” to the police and suddenly she’s asked not to leave town. Her own investigations lead her to daemon involvement in the murder and as the body count rises Riga considers the Tessie project might well be linked to the murders.

I loved the paranormal aspects of the book, they were explained well and I didn’t feel lost, the magic was very believable. I also liked the ghosts who were part of the story, I’m a big fan of interactive ghosts. Riga was an easily relatable character, I like her sassy independence and no-nonsense attitude. Lots of suitable lose ends to leave the reader thinking and it has me running to Amazon looking up the next book in the series.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

Where Alchemy, Demons, and Good Wine Collide… with a Lake Monster Named Tessie. A psychic has been murdered in an occult ceremony and the police pay a visit to Riga Hayworth, metaphysical detective. But this time, she’s not a consultant on the case. She’s a suspect.

There’s a storm on the horizon.

Riga’s lost her magic and has come to Lake Tahoe to recover and spend quality time with her new love. But life for Riga is never that simple. A psychic’s been murdered, and the police believe Riga has a connection to the crime.

They’re right.

And if that’s not enough, Riga is drafted as the host of a reality TV show about the local lake monster, and her niece is rejecting her metaphysical abilities. Juggling demons, daimons, and angry tarot card readers, Riga must catch a killer before she becomes the next target.

The Alchemical Detective is an urban fantasy exploring the world of alchemy and the imagination.

About the author

Kirsten Weiss

I worked overseas for nearly twenty years in the fringes of the former USSR, Africa, and deep in the Afghan war zone.  My experiences abroad not only gave me glimpses into the darkness and light of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.

 Now based in San Mateo, CA, I write genre-blending novels: urban fantasy/mystery, steampunk/suspense, and cozy mysteries with a touch of paranormal. The mix just makes things more fun!

 I believe that life is as magical as you want to make it. I’ve never met a dessert I didn’t like, and my guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer reruns and drinking red wine.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter | Website get a free copy fo this book when you sign up to Kirsten’s newsletter

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE PORTAL by Caren J Werlinger #YA #Fantasy #Irish

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

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been reading The Portal by Caren J Werlinger

33013221

Like many ancient societies, early Ireland has a rich history of what we’d call magic and fantasy. From our modern viewpoint, we may find it hard to believe that so much of their society was influenced by the belief that supernatural forces controlled and influenced almost every aspect of their lives. Only…what if that was exactly what was happening? What if there were people with special gifts, trained and honed over a lifetime to wield tools we can’t understand? What happens when that supernaturally-based belief system crashes against the equally supernaturally-based system propagated by Christian missionaries?

This conflict forms the basis for Caren J. Werlinger’s Dragonmage series. Set in an ancient Ireland steeped in magic traditions, it tells the story of a young girl who is the one chosen to fill ancient prophecies while her entire world is crashing against the rapidly spreading new Christian beliefs.

This is the second book in the series, and —while the story arc can stand alone—to really understand the large cast of characters, it would be helpful to read Ash’s story in Book 1 first. Adopted by badgers (badgers!) as an infant after her village is destroyed by invaders, Ash survives because of her ability to communicate with animals. Although discovered and accepted as apprentice by mages, Ash and her new friends’ existence is threatened by the increasing influence of the Christianity introduced to Ireland by Saint Patrick in the fifth century.

Bonded with the baby dragon Péist, Ash receives her true name—Caymin—and discovers  her destiny as a dragonmage, one chosen to travel through a time Portal to save other mages and their dragons, prevent a horrific war, and keep the spreading Christians from destroying Ireland’s magic heritage. But Caymin is torn between accepting her role as the one chosen to save her world, and the certainty that doing so will cost everything she holds most dear.

In a way, it’s like reading stories about the Titanic, because we already know how the tragedy plays out. But author Caren Werlinger continues to balance delicately  between the magic lore taught and practiced by her fictional mages and the reality that we know the Christians were eventually successful.

As with Book One, the world building is wonderful. Not only do we get the strong sense of the realities of everyday life, but we also see the lure of the “what if”. Caymin and Péist each must consider whether their task really justifies the personal toll. This plays out in a very real sense, as Caymin is offered the ultimate “what if”—the chance to grow up with her family, to see them alive and happy instead of murdered when she was a baby. But everything comes at a price, and the cost for that one is a life lived without the magic and the defining bond with her dragon. Both the young mage and her dragon face trials as this version of the classic hero’s quest sets their coming of age crucibles against a backdrop of a world we as readers know will change despite them.

It’s always tough to create a believable middle book in a series arc, but Caren Werlinger succeeds brilliantly. The story arc takes Caymin and Péist both through adventures and through moral dilemmas, resolving them while still leaving enough threads open and a developing crisis to take us to the next book. I enjoyed the way Caymin’s character develops and grows, even as the slightly more alien dragon also tries to find his path as he matures. Caymin’s confusion about her attraction to another girl is sensitively and beautifully handled, fitting well into the context of the strong women who have guided her.

I wouldn’t hesitate to give The Portal five stars, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA fantasy, adventure, and coming of age stories. And I can’t wait for the next book in this terrific series.

Book Description

The Dragonmage Saga continues as Caymin and Péist return to Ireland. Together, mage and dragon seek allies to try and stop a pending war with a fanatical monk determined to rid Éire of magic. But the spreading tide of Christianity isn’t the only threat. An ancient evil – one that dates back to the last dragon war a thousand winters ago – threatens the present. The Portal into the otherworld is the only way to the past, but the otherworld is the realm of the gods and goddesses and other creatures of the old stories, and it is not forgiving to those who do not belong. Caymin and Péist soon learn that, in the otherworld, the deepest desires of their hearts become traps. While there, the young dragonmage and her dragon realize they are pawns in a struggle for power that was set in motion long before they were born. Even those they trust have been using them. Only through their bond with each other can they hope to survive to the trials awaiting them and find their way back through the Portal to this realm. But returning may not be an option if they have to sacrifice all to bring peace to a world that no longer holds a place for dragons and mages. Book Two in The Dragonmage Saga

About the author

Caren J. Werlinger

From the author’s website: I was raised in Ohio, the oldest of four children. Much of my childhood was spent reading everything I could get my hands on, and writing my own variations on many of those stories where I could play the hero, rescuing the girl and winning her love. Then I grew up and went to college where I completed a degree in foreign languages and later another in physical therapy where for many years, my only writing was research-based, including a very dry therapeutic exercise textbook. 

In the mid-nineties, I began writing creatively again and re-discovered how much fun it is. My first novel, Looking Through Windows, was published in 2008 and won a GCLS award for Debut Author. In 2012, I decided to begin publishing my own books under my imprint, Corgyn Publishing. Corgyn’s first release, Miserere, followed in late 2012 to excellent reviews.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS

#NewRelease ONE LITTLE MISTAKE by @emmacurtisbooks @RosieMargesson #Thriller #SundayBlogShare

One Little MistakeOne Little Mistake by Emma Curtis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One Little Mistake is a psychological thriller. The main setting is the London area, the year 2010. Running alongside is another story, set in 1992, which ties in at the end. The book chapters alternate between the two.

The story opens with baby Josh having a morning nap, the third child of Vicky Seagrave. Sleepless nights and a fractious baby leave her strung out, so she’s vulnerable when little distractions occur.
A moment of a poor decision, a break-in and the quick action of her friend leads Vicky down a path of destiny she would not have chosen in hindsight. Vicky and Amber met at anti-natal classes; they’ve become best friends, but the friendships is not without problems, mostly based around Amber’s complex emotional issues.

In the second storyline, Katya was in the care of social services, but her social worker, Maggie didn’t listen when she tried to tell her that Luke was abusing her.

When one lie leads to another Vicky’s life begins to spiral out of control. Others have seen something in Amber they don’t quite trust, but Vicky has been blinded by their friendship. Can she turn things around and keep control? Or will one tiny error be her downfall?

I thought the author portrayed really well the stress new mothers feel when they have demanding babies who don’t sleep at night, and when they also feel they have to cope with social pressure to do everything ‘right’. The story was well developed, with small cracks in the relationship between Vicky and Amber slowly drip-fed to the reader. The pull of a thriller or a mystery, for the reader, is to try to solve the mystery themselves, and this gave a satisfying balance between mystery and clues.

The building of Amber’s character was stealthy, taking her full circle from devoted best pal to jealous friend, and, finally, to shocking stranger. Revelations about her past were a great surprise, and gave another, fascinating angle to the reader’s understanding of her.

Closing messages from the book will have readers thinking about the friendships they currently have and perhaps some they’ve lost on the way, and made me think about how little we know, sometimes, about those we consider friends. The playground gossips at the school of Vicky’s older children had me nodding in recognition, as they will with most mothers.

A good, well-written debut novel. In order to give this book 5* I would have needed to see some really unexpected twists of the jaw-dropping kind to keep the reader on the edge of their seat in this popular genre, but I was impressed with what I read.

A thriller to pull at the heartstrings of mothers, and, perhaps, to make others question their closest friendships.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

Vicky Seagrave is blessed: three beautiful children, a successful, doting husband, great friends and a job she loves. She should be perfectly happy.

When she risks everything she holds dear on a whim, there’s only person she trusts enough to turn to.

But Vicky is about to learn that one mistake is all it takes; that if you’re careless with those you love, you don’t deserve to keep them . . . 

About the author

Emma Curtis

Emma Curtis was born in Brighton and brought up in London. Her fascination with the darker side of domestic life inspired her to write One Little Mistake, her first psychological suspense. She has two children and lives in Richmond with her husband.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT DCI JONES CASEBOOK: CRYER’S VIEW by @KerryJDonovan #Crime

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The DCI Jones Casebook: Cryer’s View by Kerry J Donovan

32738530

This the first book I have read by Kerry Donovan and I was definitely not disappointed. There are three other books in this series, and I plan to read them all.

The murder of Detective Sergeant Richard Juno at the end of a long solo tail of a low-level suspect is the latest in a series of police operations in southeast England that have ended in disaster. Juno is a member of the Organized Crime Task Force.

Detective Philip Cryer, recovering at home while his smashed femur knits following two surgical procedures, is asked to replace Juno in the OCTF by Chief Superintendent Knightly, a senior office from the National Crime Agency. Detective Chief Inspector David Jones, an old friend of Knightly and Cryer’s immediate superior, presses the issue, because both he and Knightly are convinced there is someone in that unit selling police intelligence – a dirty cop. Cryer is the best person to find the mole quickly because of his ability to scan and sort vast quantities of information, using his photographic memory.

Despite the fact he is still in considerable pain from his injury, Cryer agrees to their request and is dispatched to the OCTF with a cover story. There he meets the members of the team, among them a gorgeous blonde secretary who immediately has designs on Cryer, the unit leader Detective Chief Inspector Bee Endicott, and Detective Inspector William Hook, who takes an immediate dislike to Cryer. Hook is a nasty character with a personal interest in finding the killer of Richard Juno, who was his best friend from childhood and was married to his sister. Nevertheless, Cryer begins to think Hook is the mole, code named Alpine. When the mole is revealed, I was surprised, along with all the characters in the book. These characters are wonderfully wrought and the reader is never confused as to who is who. Cryer is particularly three-dimensional; the author lets us into his mind and his way of thinking from the beginning.

The policies, procedures and hierarchies within the National Crime Agency are laid out in detail, woven nicely into the story. This is the first time I have read a mystery where the police do not carry guns, and the awkwardness with which that obstacle is handled was surprising.

The pacing is very fast, and the book is a page turner with lots of twists and turns in the plot. Hard to put down, and I highly recommend it.

Book Description

The explosive fourth instalment in the DCI Jones Casebook series of crime thrillers—this is CRYER’S VIEW. 
For more than five years police operations in the southeast of England have been failing. Chief Superintendent Knightly, a senior member of the National Crime Agency, suspects that someone is selling police intelligence. When one of his junior officers dies before he can attend clandestine meeting with him, Knightly is certain—there’s a dirty cop inside his organisation.
Unable to trust anyone under his command, Knightly turns to an old friend for help—Detective Chief Inspector David Jones.
When Detective Sergeant Phil Cryer, answers his doorbell to find CS Knightly and DCI Jones on his doorstep, he knows things are about to get interesting—and dangerous. 
Phil Cryer, on sick leave after suffering an injury in the line of duty, soon finds himself deep undercover inside the NCA hunting the dirty cop, codename Alpine. He faces his most difficult and dangerous assignment. 
Alone, injured, and armed only with his phenomenal memory, Phil must identify the rogue cop before he escapes … or kills again. 

About the author

Kerry J. Donovan

Kerry J Donovan was born in Dublin. Kerry earned a first class honours degree in Human Biology, and has a PhD in Sport and Exercise Sciences. A former scientific advisor to The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, he helped UK emergency first-responders prepare for chemical attacks in the wake of 9/11. This background adds a scientific edge to his writing. He is also a former furniture designer/maker. He is the author of a sci-fi/thriller, The Transition of Johnny Swift, which reached #1 on the Amazon Bestsellers List in December 2014.

A citizen of the world, he now lives in the heart of rural Brittany with his wonderful and patient wife, Jan. They have three children and four grandchildren (so far), all of whom live in England. An absentee granddad, Kerry is hugely grateful for the development of video calling.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter available free from Kindle Unlimited

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT GHOST VARIATIONS by @jessicaduchen musical mystery

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Ghost Variations by Jessica Duchen

32053103

I’m writing this review on behalf of Rosie’s Book Review Team. I was given an ARC copy of this book and I voluntarily chose to review it.

I enjoy reading in a variety of genres but have recently realised that I really enjoy historical fiction, as it offers me both, great stories and a background that’s interesting in its own right and that often offers me insight into eras and situations I know little about.

When I read the description of this novel I thought it sounded very different to what I usually read, but fascinating at the same time. A mystery surrounding a piece of music (a violin concerto) by a famous composer (Robert Schuman) that has been hidden for a long time. I love music but I’m not a deep connoisseur, and I didn’t realise when I read about the novel that the story was based on facts (it follows quite closely the events that took place in the 1930s, involving Hungarian (later nationalised British) violinist Jelly d’Arányi, and a concert Schuman wrote whilst already interned in an asylum) and included an element of the paranormal. It’s one of those cases when reality upstages fiction.

Despite the incredible story, that’s fascinating in its own right, Jessica Duchen does a great job of bringing all the characters to life. The story is told in the third person mostly from Jelly’s point of view, although later in the book we also get to hear about Ully, a character that although not based on a real person brings much to the equation, as it offers us a German perspective on the story. Jelly, who lives with her sister, brother-in-law, niece and their dog, despite her many admirers and some failed romances, is single and dedicated heart and soul to her music. I easily identified with Jelly, although our vocations and personal circumstances are very different, but I appreciated her dedication and love for music and for her family, her horror at the social and historical circumstances she was living through, her difficulties fitting in, as a foreigner living abroad, and her awareness of the challenges and limitations she was facing due to her age. There are very touching moments, for example when Jelly goes to visit her secretary and friend at the hospital and gives an impromptu concert there, when she organises a tour of concerts in cathedrals, free for everybody, not matter their social class, to collect funds for the poor, and when she becomes plagued by self-doubt, due to her personal circumstances and to her failing health. Jelly is not perfect, and she appears naïve at times, showing little understanding of issues like race or politics, limited insight into her own beliefs about the spirit world, her feelings and hesitating about what to do in her personal life, but she is a credible and passionate human being, and she gets to confront many of her fears by the end of the book.

Apart from the gripping story and the background behind the discovery of the concert, there is the historical context of the 1930s. As Schuman was a German composer, somehow it became a matter of national importance to recover the concert and claim it as a German work. The changes in Germany, the atmosphere of menace and threat, the rise of dangerous nationalism, and how that was also reflected in Britain, where the sisters lived, was well reflected and built into the book, especially when, at first sight, it seems to be only marginally relevant to the central mystery. As several characters observe in the novel, a piece of music is not ‘just a piece of music’ any longer and everything becomes vested with particular significance, thanks to manipulation and propaganda, no matter what the original intention of the composer might have been. I suspect most people who read this book won’t be able to resist comparing the historical situation then to our current times and worry.

This novel is a joy to read, one of these cases when the story and the writing style are perfectly matched and one can almost hear the music flowing from the pages. A wonderful novel that I recommend to anybody interested in the period and in good writing. I’ll be closely watching this author in the future.

Book Description

Ghost Variations: The Strangest Detective Story In Music by Jessica Duchen. Music, mystery, beautiful writing and a story that proves reality is weirder than fiction

The strangest detective story in the history of music – inspired by a true incident. A world spiralling towards war. A composer descending into madness. And a devoted woman struggling to keep her faith in art and love against all the odds. 1933. Dabbling in the fashionable “Glass Game” – a Ouija board – the famous Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Arányi, one-time muse to composers such as Bartók, Ravel and Elgar, encounters a startling dilemma. A message arrives ostensibly from the spirit of the composer Robert Schumann, begging her to find and perform his long-suppressed violin concerto. She tries to ignore it, wanting to concentrate instead on charity concerts. But against the background of the 1930s depression in London and the rise of the Nazis in Germany, a struggle ensues as the “spirit messengers” do not want her to forget. The concerto turns out to be real, embargoed by Schumann’s family for fear that it betrayed his mental disintegration: it was his last full-scale work, written just before he suffered a nervous breakdown after which he spent the rest of his life in a mental hospital. It shares a theme with his Geistervariationen (Ghost Variations) for piano, a melody he believed had been dictated to him by the spirits of composers beyond the grave. As rumours of its existence spread from London to Berlin, where the manuscript is held, Jelly embarks on an increasingly complex quest to find the concerto. When the Third Reich’s administration decides to unearth the work for reasons of its own, a race to perform it begins. Though aided and abetted by a team of larger-than-life personalities – including her sister Adila Fachiri, the pianist Myra Hess, and a young music publisher who falls in love with her – Jelly finds herself confronting forces that threaten her own state of mind. Saving the concerto comes to mean saving herself. In the ensuing psychodrama, the heroine, the concerto and the pre-war world stand on the brink, reaching together for one more chance of glory.

About the author

Jessica Duchen

essica was born in London. She first tried to write a novel at the age of 12 and found much encouragement from a distinguished author and a literary agent. After studying at Cambridge, she worked as an editor in music publishing and magazines for ten years.

Her latest novel, Ghost Variations, is based on a true incident in the 1930s: the bizarre rediscovery of the long-suppressed Schumann Violin Concerto. “This is a hugely atmospheric and thought-provoking book featuring fascinating characters… It evokes a period pregnant with both promise and menace” (Music & Vision Daily).

The earlier novels focus on the tensions and cross-currents between family generations, including a painful exploration of the effects of anorexia (Rites of Spring) and the rearing of a child prodigy (Alicia’s Gift) to the long-term effects of displacement and cultural clashes (Hungarian Dances and Songs of Triumphant Love). 

Jessica’s journalism has appeared in The Independent, The Guardian and The Sunday Times, plus numerous music magazines. She gives pre-concert talks at venues including the Wigmore Hall, the Southbank Centre and Symphony Hall Birmingham. Having created concert versions of Alicia’s Gift, Hungarian Dances and Ghost Variations, she often narrates their performances. Her play A Walk through the End of Time, introducing Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, has been performed at music festivals in the UK, France and Australia. 

Jessica lives in London with her violinist husband and two cats. She enjoys long walks, cooking, and playing the piano when nobody can hear her. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jessicawords.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE REPLACEMENT CHRONICLES by @HarperSwan1 #HistFic #Mystery

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Replacement Chronicles by Harper Swan

33539455

 

I previously reviewed the first part of this saga (https://saylingaway.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1354&action=edit), which was published as a novella. The story has now been expanded into a saga – a meticulously researched story of the interaction of an early Homo sapiens woman, Raven, with a Neanderthal man she calls Longhead, who was captured by her tribe. Raven is a healer, and in treating the captive for a dislocated shoulder and seeing to his care, she develops a bond with him.

The chronicles weave back and forth from the present to the past, continuing the story of Mark Hayek in the present. Mark is an introverted scientist of Lebanese ancestry and has a larger than normal proportion of his DNA identified as Neanderthal. About 1-2% of our DNA is Neanderthal, as the result of Neanderthal-Home sapiens interbreeding (see my post: How Much of Us is Neanderthal? at https://saylingaway.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1361&action=edit). Mark is unusual in that his DNA is 3% Neanderthal. Is it because of this that he develops a real interest in early modern man and seeks to feel their presence in places where they lived?

When the Neanderthal captive is released, Raven follows him and when they meet, they engage in a moment of passion before he treks on, back to his people. Raven becomes pregnant and first tries to hide her pregnancy, then get rid of it. When that fails, she pretends that the child is from her sister’s husband, Bear, who has been co-habiting with her as well. Although she is treated as a slave by most of the tribe, she has a talent for finding and honing just the right stone for spear points. Finally, she decides to leave the tribe with the help of Leaf, a young brave who loves her. She fakes her death so Bear, who treats her brutally, will not follow. She and Leaf then begin the long trek across the steppes and find the father of her baby.

Mark’s story begins with the request from his mother that he go to Turkey to collect the ashes of her brother, Sami. Although Sami had a son, Anton, he made his sister the executor of his estate, and asked that she bring his ashes back to Israel. Although both Mark and his mother question why Anton was not made the executor, the inheritance will bring financial relief to them both. Mark agrees to go and is met at the Ben-Gurion airport by Anton and is immediately suspicious of him. Anton’s off-again on-again bonhomie reinforces Mark’s disquiet, which is only mitigated by Anton’s taking him to various caves in Israel where early humans were known to live. In one that is privately owned and where both Neanderthal and modern human bones have been found, Mark discovers a bladed stone of quartz hidden away in an invisible niche, possibly for thousands of years.

You absolutely need to read the Chronicles to find out what happens to Raven. Will she eventually find the baby’s husband? Will she and Leaf become a couple? Will she be accepted by the Longhead tribe? Will Bear find her?

And what happens to Mark? When Anton takes him to Turkey to collect his father’s ashes, he lures him to a cave with the promise of more prehistoric artifacts, but instead delivers him to kidnappers demanding a million-dollar ransom before they will let him go. How does he escape and how does the skull he finds in the cave where they hold him relate to the spear point? Is there a possible link of Mark to Raven, who lived during the late Pleistocene?

I loved the saga, and hated it when I had to leave one line of the story to return to the other, only to be drawn into the other with as much interest. For anyone who wonders about our prehistoric ancestors, this book is perfect. The characters are well-limned and the historical detail right up there with Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series.

The author writes the present-day story line in present tense, to differentiate it, and I will admit I found it jarring to switch from past to present initially. Also, the thought processes of Raven and the other Homo sapiens might be more sophisticated than those of an early modern human, although more of their brains were devoted to cognitive function that those of Neanderthals. But then the story would not be nearly as interesting, right?

Hopefully I haven’t given too much away. This is a book I can enthusiastically recommend and I’m looking forward to more from this author!

Book Description

This omnibus edition of The Replacement Chronicles contains Raven’s Choice, Journeys of Choice, and Choices that Cut. 

Two Lives… separated by millennia but nevertheless linked irrevocably. 

What possible link could Mark Hayek, an introverted twenty-first century research scientist, have to Raven, a young healer who lived during the late Pleistocene? It has everything to do with an injured Neanderthal man taken captive by Raven’s band while he and his brothers were hunting bison. 

After Raven heals the captive, he leaves for his tribe, and she tries to forget him as she struggles to remain within the band. But it’s not possible to stay when several band members make her life with the group untenable. Seeking the Neanderthal man she’d helped and facing her fear of being alone on the dangerous steppes, she begins crossing that grassy land—but a woman like Raven isn’t destined to be by herself for long. 

In the future, Mark Hayek is forced into making his own journey when his uncle dies in the Levant. His travels place him firmly in the footsteps of his Neanderthal and Early Modern Human ancestors, crossing the same ancient lands as he struggles against the fate a wayward kinsman has imposed. He’s been made a pawn in a cruel game, but when he encounters a woman being held prisoner in a cave, he seeks a way to save her. Help arrives for the pair, flowing from an unexpected, ancient source, igniting a struggle deep within Mark to accept that the illogical as well as the logical make up existence. 

Peoples come and go, one group replacing another over time, and echoes from ancient events have always affected the future, but Mark and Raven discover that in certain environments echoes are able to bounce back and forth, blurring their origins. 

About the author

Harper Swan

Harper Swan lives in Tallahassee, Florida with her husband and two sweet but very spoiled cats. She is the author of has Gas Heat, a story of family angst taking place in the Deep South, and found the inspiration in the books by Jean Auel. She has drawn on her interests in archaeology, genetics, ancient history and archaeological finds from Paleolithic sites to create the world of the Replacement Chronicles.

 

GoodreadsAmazonUk | AmazonUS Twitter  available free on kindle unlimited

 

 

DOMINION by C.J Sansom #WW2 and 1950’s Alternative historical timeline #Thriller #wwwblogs

DominionDominion by C.J. Sansom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dominion is a thriller in an alternative timeline. It opens in the war cabinet room at 10 Downing Street, London on the 9th of May 1940, a meeting of the chiefs and a decision to be made, Prime minister Chamberlain is stepping down, there are too candidates for the job, Churchill and Lord Halifax.

The storyline then continues as an alternative world for Britain, Churchill was sidelined, Britain signed a peace treaty with Germany. The book then jumps to 1952. Germany dominates Europe has a strong hold of Britain and has been pouring men and resources into a long battle with Russia.

Churchill has gone to ground and is rumoured to be leading the resistance, more and more people are angry and there is much civil unrest. Jews are still being rounded up and sent to secret extermination camps.

David Fitzgerald works in the Dominions office as a civil servant, he organises meetings between representatives from international governments, disillusioned he is recruited by the resistance to leak secret documents.

Doctor Frank Muncaster is a scientist, his brother a scientist over in America returns for their mother’s funeral. Fueled by drink he tells Frank secrets about atomic bombs that he is working on. Shocked at the potential threat to man, Frank and his brother fight. The police are called and Frank is placed in a lunatic asylum, but he has become a man of great interest because of what people believe he has been told. Both the resistance and the German high command want that valuable knowledge.

David and Frank shared rooms at University and he is the ideal man to speak to Frank, but time is short with the German’s wanting Frank too. Supported by the Americans the resistance swipe Frank from under the noses of the Germans and a cat and mouse game of chase begins.

This is a huge book coming in at nearly 700 pages, a well laid out land of possibilities if Churchill really had not taken office on that fatal day back in 1940. The setting was suitably bleak, and the choking smog from all the heavy industrial work was dramatic. I’m late coming to read this book, it was first published in 2012, but I’m glad I made the time to read it.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

1952. Twelve years have passed since Churchill lost to the appeasers, and Britain surrendered to Nazi Germany after Dunkirk. As the long German war against Russia rages on in the east, the British people find themselves under dark authoritarian rule: the press, radio and television are controlled; the streets patrolled by violent auxiliary police and British Jews face ever greater constraints. There are terrible rumours too about what is happening in the basement of the German Embassy at Senate House.

Defiance, though, is growing. In Britain, Winston Churchill’s Resistance organisation is increasingly a thorn in the government’s side. And in a Birmingham mental hospital an incarcerated scientist, Frank Muncaster, may hold a secret that could change the balance of the world struggle forever.

Civil Servant David Fitzgerald, secretly acting as a spy for the Resistance, is given by them the mission to rescue his old friend Frank and get him out of the country. Before long he, together with a disparate group of Resistance activists, will find themselves fugitives in the midst of London’s Great Smog; as David’s wife Sarah finds herself drawn into a world more terrifying than she ever could have imagined.

And hard on their heels is Gestapo Sturmbannfuhrer Gunther Hoth, brilliant, implacable hunter of men . . .

At once a vivid, haunting reimagining of 1950s Britain, a gripping, humane spy thriller and a poignant love story – with DOMINION C. J. Sansom once again asserts himself as the master of the historical novel.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS

BLUE WATERS by @TheIndiaRAdams @UFBooks #NA #Romance #TuesdayBookBlog #Valentine read

Blue Waters (Tainted Water #1)Blue Waters by India R. Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blue Waters is a novella, book #1 in a NA romance series called Tainted Water. The book is set in Connecticut.

It opens with an intriguing underwater scene which gives the impression that someone is about to drown. It posed so many questions it had me hooked as a reader.

Chapter one introduces us to Link and Whit two baddass teenagers from privileged elite families. Rebel kids on paths of destruction just to push the boundaries their families have set up for them. Link is being groomed for Yale and law, Whit for Harvard and medicine.

Yet here they are goofing around, acting bad. All link wants, apparently, is to be a footballer and Whit wants to dance. Best friends, best buddies, they’d do anything for each other. Their relationship is so close they could well be lovers or if not, certainly on the brink of changing their situation. Yet Link has a serious girlfriend and Whit just doesn’t think of Link that way.

Whit is sassy, fun and hugely entertaining, her conversation running on the fly is terrific and her friends all know her so well that they fall in line wherever her train of mad thoughts go. At the movie theatre Whit meets Mr Lickable, a guy she finds instantly attractive, yet in fun Whit style their conversation is sassy and warped with her allowing him to call her Frankie and she implying she has children of her own. Amused by this hot running mouth he catches up with her after the movie, but rather than being caught out, Whit does what Whit does best and runs her entertainment at full volume.

Crash, as Mr Lickable has been nicknamed, pursues Whit, but they are both hiding from families and the past. They paint a facade for the world, but their secrets worm their way to form a bond. Through all this, Link is there to protect Whit, always, and when he finds out more about Crash and how he is connected to Whit’s past, the friendship road crashes in style, but their feelings for each other live on.

The intensity of the break-up was immense with emotions deeply felt, I was reminded of the despair felt by Bella in Twilight’s New Moon. The break-up of Crash and Whit pushed the pair to extremes in their daily lives. The story built to an ending which suited the book, it was raw and painful.

I liked this book, the novella length fitted the insta-love, no time to spend on slow burning build-ups, the language was emotional and I was easily there, deep in the book with the characters. Whit’s sassy dialogue and thoughts were a pleasure to read. The dance storyline was weakest for me, feeling a little cliched and a few typos still need attention if you want to be picky, but a very enjoyable quick read. Book #2 I believe, is Link’s tale of the events but told from a very different angle.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

banner-for-blue-water

Book description

“The blue water I sank through was angelic, quiet, peaceful…”

Whitney is a vivacious, highly spirited 17-year-old girl. Her motto, “Live life to the fullest” is derailed when the young man, who’s captured her attention, turns out to be the son of a drug tycoon- the same that provided the drugs that killed her brother. Whitney believes she simply needs to heal from her first heartache, not knowing she is a part of a devious trade, one against human rights, and she has been… since the day age was born.

Blue Waters is the first Novella in a Tainted Waters, and begins a story of deception, corruption, self-discovery, and love with all that it demands you sacrifice…

“There was a beauty in dying that day…” 

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.

India was born and raised in Florida but has also been so lucky as to live in Idaho (where she froze but fell in love with the small town life), Austin Texas (where she started her first book, Serenity, and met wonderful artist), and now Murphy, North Carolina (where the mountains have stolen a piece of her heart).

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.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter | Website | Facebook |  UFBooks on Twitter | UFBooks website

Enter below for a chance to win an e-copy of India’s Fantasy Tale Rain – Book #1 of A Stranger In The Woods series

Rafflecopter Giveaway

29957486

Rain – Book Description

What if you knew you had just met the other part of your soul—the one who could take away all the pain and loneliness—but no one believes you because the rugged stranger from the woods is nowhere to be found? Would you search for him? Would you be strong enough to believe he exist somewhere out in the darkness where he found you? And if you were to finally find the stranger from the woods and learn he is like no other tale that has ever been told… would you still have the courage to love him?

Rose has no time for romance because her father has passed away from an illness plaguing her small town, and now her mother has also contracted the illness, leaving Rose’s two younger siblings to be her responsibility. But when her best friend forces her to be young for a night and celebrate her twentieth birthday with a bonfire and friends, Rose meets a stranger from the woods, and Rose soon learns he is no stranger at all. In fact, this magical being is trying to keep her… alive.

Two bloods of one will bring down the shadows, to cast, no more..

ufb-banner-2017

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT GHOST VARIATIONS by @jessicaduchen #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Ghost Variations by Jessica Duchen

32080260

Set in 1930s Britain and strongly based on real events, Ghost Variations is resonant with attitudes and feelings relevant to us now. Jessica Duchen tells the story of renowned violinist Jelly d’Aranyl towards the end of her career. At 42, she feels the need for a new purpose which is partly fulfilled by a series of free concerts, open to everyone, in the finest cathedrals in the land.

Jelly and her sister had been brought to England from Hungary, when she was in her teens and Jelly’s considerable talent had already been acknowledged. She had been the muse of Bartok and Ravel and was in great demand for concert venues. But while her sister, Adila chose marriage to a prominent diplomat, Jelly decided that the demands of her art meant total devotion, excluding marriage. But this decision may have been finalised by the tragic death of Sep Kelly, her one true, but unconsummated love, during the First World War.

One cannot help feeling empathy for Jelly, who shows great affection for her erstwhile assistant and companion, Anna and kindness to strangers such as a Jewish pianist who has fled from Germany. Her life is taken over by the desire to obtain and perform the long hidden violin concerto of Robert Schumann, a close friend of her great-uncle, violinist Joseph Joquem. The manuscript is traced to Berlin but Jelly’s partially Jewish ancestry makes it impossible for her to follow up, so against her inclinations she enlists the help of her sister’s close friend Erik Palmstierna, the Swedish ambassador to England.

The novel recreates the glamorous environment of the London cognoscenti, where Jelly and Adila socialise with pianist, Myra Hess, Sir Adrian Boult and all the fashionable people of culture. In contrast we glimpse through a window into Hitler’s pre-war Germany, seeing the manipulation of values made by Goebbels. The increasingly anti-foreign atmosphere in England and the corrosive effect of newspaper articles, build up the tension as the story moves towards 1938.

This novel provokes thought on so many topics; the problems for a female artist in her mature years, the sad waste of lives in both wars and in Hitler’s Germany and observations of the philosophies of spiritualism and eugenics. But it is also the story of the fascinating Jelly d’Aranyl, her friends and her passions, at perhaps one of the most interesting times in history.

Book Description

The strangest detective story in the history of music – inspired by a true incident.
A world spiralling towards war. A composer descending into madness. And a devoted woman struggling to keep her faith in art and love against all the odds.
1933. Dabbling in the fashionable “Glass Game” – a Ouija board – the famous Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Arányi, one-time muse to composers such as Bartók, Ravel and Elgar, encounters a startling dilemma. A message arrives ostensibly from the spirit of the composer Robert Schumann, begging her to find and perform his long-suppressed violin concerto.
She tries to ignore it, wanting to concentrate instead on charity concerts. But against the background of the 1930s depression in London and the rise of the Nazis in Germany, a struggle ensues as the “spirit messengers” do not want her to forget.
The concerto turns out to be real, embargoed by Schumann’s family for fear that it betrayed his mental disintegration: it was his last full-scale work, written just before he suffered a nervous breakdown after which he spent the rest of his life in a mental hospital. It shares a theme with his Geistervariationen (Ghost Variations) for piano, a melody he believed had been dictated to him by the spirits of composers beyond the grave.
As rumours of its existence spread from London to Berlin, where the manuscript is held, Jelly embarks on an increasingly complex quest to find the concerto. When the Third Reich’s administration decides to unearth the work for reasons of its own, a race to perform it begins.
Though aided and abetted by a team of larger-than-life personalities – including her sister Adila Fachiri, the pianist Myra Hess, and a young music publisher who falls in love with her – Jelly finds herself confronting forces that threaten her own state of mind. Saving the concerto comes to mean saving herself.
In the ensuing psychodrama, the heroine, the concerto and the pre-war world stand on the brink, reaching together for one more chance of glory.

About the author

Jessica Duchen

Jessica was born in London. She first tried to write a novel at the age of 12 and found much encouragement from a distinguished author and a literary agent. After studying at Cambridge, she worked as an editor in music publishing and magazines for ten years.
Her latest novel, Ghost Variations, is based on a true incident in the 1930s: the bizarre rediscovery of the long-suppressed Schumann Violin Concerto. “This is a hugely atmospheric and thought-provoking book featuring fascinating characters… It evokes a period pregnant with both promise and menace” (Music & Vision Daily).
The earlier novels focus on the tensions and cross-currents between family generations, including a painful exploration of the effects of anorexia (Rites of Spring) and the rearing of a child prodigy (Alicia’s Gift) to the long-term effects of displacement and cultural clashes (Hungarian Dances and Songs of Triumphant Love). 
Jessica’s journalism has appeared in The Independent, The Guardian and The Sunday Times, plus numerous music magazines. She gives pre-concert talks at venues including the Wigmore Hall, the Southbank Centre and Symphony Hall Birmingham. Having created concert versions of Alicia’s Gift, Hungarian Dances and Ghost Variations, she often narrates their performances. Her play A Walk through the End of Time, introducing Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, has been performed at music festivals in the UK, France and Australia. 
Jessica lives in London with her violinist husband and two cats. She enjoys long walks, cooking, and playing the piano when nobody can hear her. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jessicawords…

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

#Bookblogger bashing: in the end, you’re only hurting yourself #MondayBlogs

Today I’m hosting a post written by Terry Tyler which I feel strongly about aswell.

bMBCGi9O_400x400

#Bookblogger bashing: in the end, you’re only hurting yourself.

I’ve read a few posts lately about book bloggers being bullied or ‘trolled’ by writers for whom they have received bad reviews, or whose books they have rejected.  For more on this, here’s a heartrending post from The Happy Meerkat, and an associated one on Fictionophile about whether or not reviews should be objective or personal opinion, amongst other things.

Like 99% of the rest of the online writer/reader/blogger/reviewer community, I’m appalled that bloggers who give up their time to read books by total strangers, for no payment, are receiving such harassment.

I write this from the point of view of a writer, and a book reviewer.  Although my own book review blog is mostly for my own reading choices, I’m also a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team. There are 20-30 of us, who select books from those submitted by authors and publishers.  If we’ve reviewed the book (and we sometimes decline after reading a section), we then deliver the results to Rosie for inclusion on her blog.

On the submission guidelines, Rosie clearly states that we don’t provide a 5* only book review service, and that we pride ourselves on being honest, unbiased, balanced and constructive.  If we were to give only praise for every book submitted, the blog would be a) dishonest and b) therefore not worth reading.  Yet still she’s had to deal with complaints from writers who haven’t received the glowing recommendations for which they’d hoped. Some ask her not to post them, despite the hours of (unpaid) work that have gone into considering the submission, reading the book and posting the reviews.

Book bloggers are a gift to the self-published or indie press published author.  They do what they do simply for the love of reading/blogging/the book world.  They should not be given a hard time because they do not give a wholehearted, 5* thumbs up to what they’ve read.  Since being on Rosie’s team, I’ve heard of reviewers being accused of personal grudges against the author, lack of understanding of the author’s apparent brilliance, snobbery, and even not reading the book. A couple of years ago, one writer was extraordinarily rude, on Goodreads, about Rosie’s 3* review.  He slagged her off in public. She didn’t owe him anything.  He wasn’t paying her for her time.  He submitted his book for an honest review, which he received.  All he did was make himself look like an egotistical idiot.  Less than positive reactions are a fact of life for a writer. All reviews bring the book to the attention of the public and add to its ‘visibility’ on Amazon.

To book blogger bashers everywhere: have you ever watched The X Factor, or American Idol, or any of those shows?  You know the mediocre singer who can’t cope with the fact that he isn’t good enough to make it through to the next round, and is abusive towards the judges?  That’s what you look like when you harass book bloggers who don’t tell you what a wonderful writer you are.

The book blogger community is close and supportive.  If you start throwing your toys out of your pram every time you get a 1, 2 or 3* review, you’re likely to get a bad reputation.

Reading Soft edge

(Please note: in the following section, I’ve referred to the book blogger as ‘she’, rather than ‘he/she’, for simplicity).

If a book blogger rejects your submission it might be for any of these reasons:

  • You have sent a generic request rather than looking at the blog to see if your book is suitable.
  • You have come across as demanding, or unprofessional, or not even bothered to find out her name.
  • She has a busy life and does not have the time to read it right now.
  • Her to-read list is ten miles long already.
  • She not interested in your particular genre.
  • She has read the blurb, and the subject matter of your book doesn’t appeal to her.
  • She has read the blurb and considers it badly written.
  • She’s read the ‘look inside’ sample on Amazon and does not consider the writing to be of the standard she wishes to review.

All these elements can be summed up by this: she doesn’t want to read your book.  That’s okay.  She’s not obliged to.

If a book blogger accepts your book, but gives it a less than positive review, it’s for this reason only:

  • She didn’t think it was very good.

She’s not being snobbish, or vindictive, and she’s not too stupid to understand your art, she just didn’t like it much, for the reasons stated.  Most book bloggers assess with a combination of objectivity and personal opinion.  If more than two reviewers say the book has unrealistic dialogue, or cardboard characters, or an unfeasible plot, or it’s too long, or it needs editing, or proofreading, it’s likely that they’ve got a point.  Deal with it. Learn from it.

But, most of all, don’t give the book blogger a hard time for pointing it out. It’s arrogant, it’s nasty, and, in the long run, the only person who will suffer is YOU.