Inspiring And Empowering Women Feature In The No Woman Is A Island: Pandora’s Box Set #1 Reviewed by @lfwrites for #RBRT. @LizaPerrat @helenahalme @clarefly

Today’s team review is from Lynne. She blogs here https://just4mybooks.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Lynne has been reading the No Woman Is An Island Box Set which includes the following 5 books.

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Blood Rose Angel by Liza Perrat

Set in Lucie-sur-Vionne, France in the year of our Lord, 1348, it follows the life of midwife Héloïse.

Over the years, Héloïse has fallen foul of many locals, who blame her for the death of their father, mother, child, dog, rat and fleas – in fact, anything they can blame her for, they will. Fortunately, more see her as the competent, respectful and caring person that she is.

However, when things take a turn for the worse, it is the naysayers who seem to have the power to control her fate, and she must use all her strength and faith in her mother’s talisman to fend them off. But it’s not easy, and her life is endangered by these suspicious and vengeful folk.

Without spilling any of the beans – plot wise – let me just say that I defy you not to be transported back in time by this book, and to feel immersed in the daily life of villagers in Lucie. Héloïse is a woman to root for, as injustices pile upon her, yet on she goes.

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Hidden by Linda Gillard

I read a lot of historical fiction, mainly the WWII era. What I haven’t come across before is a story such as that told in Hidden. Esme has lost her brothers and her fiancé during The Great War but she takes the selfless – albeit naïve – step to enter into a marriage with a wounded soldier who might otherwise have no family to support him. An advertisement sees her meet with Guy Carlyle, a Captain whose mind and face has been ravaged by life in the trenches and for whom the horror of being buried alive will continue to torment and warp his mind.

Esme’s story is bookended by a modern-day story. The owner of Myddleton Mote, an actor, has died, leaving the house to a daughter who never knew of him as her father. Miranda Norton has herself escaped an abusive marriage and moves her family into the Mote which houses her father’s art collection – the Painted Ladies by Esme Howard (Carlyle)

Esme’s story is powerful, captivating and all-engrossing. I don’t think I’ve read anything so absorbing. The author presents a story so eloquent in portraying the terrors of the mind and how shell shock (as it was then deemed) can change a person so thoroughly and completely.

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The Chase by Lorna Fergusson

For me, The Chase was not as engaging as the previous books in the collection mainly because I simply couldn’t get to grips with the gothic element of the dual timeline narrative. That said, the language was very moody and evocative.

The more modern story was, however, something I could get immersed in. Gerald and Netty Feldwick sell their Oxford home and make the move to France, to a region heaped in both history and British homeowners.

The overriding theme, for me, was that actions have consequences. Even when taken out of their ordinary lives, there was a clear void between Gerald and Netty, and their neighbours (new and old) were instrumental in exposing how far apart they had grown.

I enjoyed aspects of this story, and felt the author handled the Feldwick’s tragic past with sensitivity. Readers more in tune with Gothic themes will surely get more from it than I did.

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The Chalky Sea by Clare Flynn

The story starts in 1940; WWII has begun and with it national conscription. Gwen must say goodbye to her husband, Roger as he leaves for a role that will mean she’ll never know where he is or if he is safe. She joins the WVS and begins to see the impact of war through the eyes of those who have far less yet seem to value what they do have so much more, especially when it comes to their family and friends.

Across the pond, in Ontario, Jim signs up and joins a Canadian battalion heading for England. Anything to put the shock of betrayal between his brother and his fiancée behind him, he doesn’t even care if he lives or dies.

When Jim’s battalion is posted to Eastbourne, he’s hopeful of a playing a proper role in the war only to find he is billeted at Gwen’s house and, unbeknownst to him, robbed her of a job translating radio messages.

Flynn’s descriptive writing beautifully brings the region alive and the sea’s mood compliments the dilemmas faced by the characters. There are certain aspects of the relationships that are quite easy to predict but I enjoyed how the author unravelled the details. A great read and a real saga to be enjoyed.

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Coffee and Vodka by Helena Halme

Set in Finland and Sweden, Coffee and Vodka spans thirty years of the life of Eeva and her family.

The story is an easy read, well-written and crafted at just the right pace to draw you into Eeva’s life and hold your attention as she moves from child- to adulthood, from Finland to Sweden, from observing to understanding. It has a coming-of-age feel to it mingled with history and “a slice of life” family drama. It doesn’t pull overly dramatic punches but rather deals with themes that readers can relate to in a way that compels you to keep going to unravel the threads that weave through this tapestry of family life. There are issues of domestic abuse, alcoholism, teenage angst all of which are beautifully offset the existence of a wonderfully uniting matriarch whose passing delivers the “aha!” moment that holds everything together and promises a better future.

Subtle and compelling, it makes for a fitting final book to a strong collection of impressive women throughout history. I look forward to reading more by this author who has mastered the art of telling a simple story so very, very well.

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‘A fast read with a lot to say about society, women, and progress.’ @deBieJennifer reviews #HistoricalFiction Talk Of Tokyo by @heather_hallman

Today’s team review is from Jenny. Find her here https://jenniferdebie.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Jenni has been reading Talk Of Tokyo by Heather Hallman.

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Where Heather Hallman gave only a taste of her version of turn-of-the-century Tokyo with her brief “Scandals of Tokyo” (the first installment in her Tokyo Whispers series), with Talk of Tokyo she delivers a full banquet. Return with Hallman to sumptuous and scandalous Tsukiji, the foreign quarter of Meiji-era Tokyo, and meet Suki Malveaux, a young woman who is half Japanese, half French, and all determination when it comes to her dream of being an investigative journalist.

For years Suki has nibbled around the edges of journalism, writing a popular gossip column as the anonymous Tokyo Tattler, but finally her editor has given Suki a true story and nothing is going to stop her pursuing it… not even a man (and a westerner at that!) who she may have misjudged, and publicly smeared, in the past.

As for the man himself, Griffith Spenser is an English businessman who has lost a wife to divorce, is in the process of extricating himself from a bothersome socialite girlfriend, and awaits the imminent arrival his orphaned niece and nephew in Tokyo Harbor. The only thing he wants is a proper governess to help the children adjust to their new lives in Japan, and if the intriguing Miss Malveaux can help him in that endeavor, or spend a little time with him until the right caretaker can be found, then all the better.

The two leads are on a collision course as their cultures, preconceptions, and passions tangle in Hallman’s sweeping tale of lies, truths, and love that can see past both. Lush in setting and rich in characterization, Hallman makes 1897 Tokyo glitter with diamonds, cut glass, and broken tinsel as her characters traverse the social strata and a political minefield while Suki pursues her story and Griff pursues her.

Written with a loving attention to detail, Hallman knows her time and place intimately, and it shows in every line. She also seems to revel in writing liminal characters, whether they are perceived as foreigners in their homeland (as half French Suki is), or are Japanese women ostracized for their associations with westerners, or are among the most vulnerable of society for other reasons, Hallman has a heart, and a talent, for bringing these characters to life.

Talk of Tokyo is a fast read with a lot to say about society, women, and progress. Lucky for us, it also happens to be a delicious read by a gifted wordsmith who will, hopefully, be bringing us stories from the land of the rising sun for years to come.

5/5

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CAREFUL WITH YOUR WORDS

1897 Tokyo is no different than anywhere else in the world: men are exploiting women. Specifically, Western men are exploiting Japanese women, and Suki Malveaux holds no punches in her condemnation of their behavior in her weekly column in the Tokyo Daily News.

Suki knows firsthand when Western men arrive at Tokyo Bay there’s only one outcome for Japanese women: a child and new mother left behind as nothing more than discarded shrapnel from the heartless war on love.

Griffith Spenser is her latest target. He’s been seen with Natsu Watanabe, one of Tokyo’s esteemed war widows. Under full anonymity of the moniker “The Tokyo Tattler,” Suki makes sure Griffith knows exactly why his behavior with Natsu won’t be tolerated.

Away from her Japanese mask as a columnist, Suki never intended to meet the cad. When he seeks her out to hire as a tutor for his niece and nephew, she’s faced with seeing him day in and day out without him ever knowing who she really is.

Caught in her struggle for anonymity so she can keep battling for women’s rights, Suki’s about to learn the full impact of her words on the people behind the story, especially on Griff.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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‘A story about isolation, paranoia, and division’. @OlgaNM7 reviews #Horror Golem by @PdallevaAuthor 

Today’s team review is from Olga. She blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Olga has been reading Golem by P.D. Alleva

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I had never read any of Alleva’s books before, but I love horror, and I always enjoy reading something a bit different for Christmas, and this novel fitted the bill perfectly.

The description gives a fair idea of what the novel is about, and it is difficult to say more without spoiling the many surprises and scares. The author has managed to combine elements of a variety of myths and legends that have been adapted and used as inspiration for quite a number of stories before. Apart from the Golem of the title (from Jewish folklore), there are also elements of Pygmalion (the Greek original myth), the myth of Pandora’s box, and also elements of occultism and demonology, but without any heavy reliance on standard religious tropes or discourses, especially as pertaining to organised religions. To those who wish to know more, I recommend reading the author’s note at the end, where he explains the genesis of this book, his influences (he does highlight Frankenstein, as well as other classics and more modern horror stories and authors), and also his research and how he incorporated it into the final novel. It provides a good insight into the author’s process of creation, into his thoughts and motivations, and I found it fascinating in its own right.

As is the case with most genres, there are many subgenres and subtypes of horror stories, and some readers prefer some story topics to others, but I must confess to finding novels and movies about demons and evil possession, like The Exorcist and The Omen, among the scariest. I don’t scare easily, but this story manages to tap into the darkness within, psychological issues, post-traumatic stress syndrome, the worst of human weaknesses and vices, corruption at the highest level, and all kinds of crimes, some pretty extreme. This is a book fairly explicit in its use of extreme violence, with detailed descriptions of torture and abuse, with all kinds of victims (including young children), so any readers worried about violence, abuse, or satanic themes, should avoid it. (There are some sex scenes, although these are far less explicit than the descriptions of violence, but no less disturbing in that particular context).

The narrative follows a detective’s investigation, although it is not a typical police procedural, far from it. As tends to happen sometimes, the story ends up investigating the brand-new detective, John Ashton, as much as the case he is involved in. And, although I cannot reveal much, there are plenty of things about him we discover through the book and not all straightforward. We also get to hear about the world of the high society of New York and the Hamptons after WWII and also the events and places of the era, including references to real buildings, to cases of corruption in the city of New York, and to matters such as McCarthyism; we visit a psychiatric unit of the time and learn about some of the treatments in use, and their devastating long-term effects.

The two main characters are John Ashton, a family man (his wife is pregnant when we meet him, and he is happy to have been promoted to detective), who has survived some terrible experiences, but is not unscathed. The other main protagonist, Alena, we meet in pretty special circumstances, but we get to hear her story in the first person, as she narrates it to the detective. She is fascinating, and although she appears to be an unreliable narrator to Ashton —as she would to any police officer trying to solve the case— we are aware that there are far too many things that challenge a standard rational explanation. Like John, she has experienced terrible loss, and she is neither all good nor evil. She is a victim of forces she does not understand, but she tries to do the right thing, despite the cost to her health and sanity. There are plenty of other characters as well, and Golem is the most important (and a pretty memorable one as well, with many sides to his personality), but I can’t talk about them without spoiling the story, so you will have to read it if you want to find out more.

The way the story is told is quite interesting, as it is divided into three parts and an epilogue, and there is a character introduced at the very beginning of the story, during Halloween in 1951, that makes brief appearances during the novel, but we don’t get to know how she fits into the story until very close to the end. The device worked well for me, and it kept the intrigue going without slowing down the main narrative. Readers get to meet John Ashton next, and we hear about his experiences and events in the third person, although from his point of view, even down to his dreams and his pretty subjective impressions and intuitions. When he goes to talk to Alena, she gets to narrate her version of the story (written in the third person, although, as is the case with the rest of the novel, from her point of view and with direct access to her own thoughts and feelings), although not at first. She insists she will only talk to Ashton, and he (and the readers) get to hear her pretty incredible story, which requires a large degree of suspension of disbelief, but no more than would be expected from this genre. In fact, there is an interesting way of explaining what is behind the mysterious events and crimes, and not one I was familiar with, although some of the characters that make an appearance are well-known within the subgenre. Readers who worry about head-hopping can be reassured. Although the whole story is narrated in the third person, mostly from one of the main characters’ points of view, it is always clear whose point of view we are following. The story is also mostly told in chronological order (apart from Alena’s narration, which starts in 1947, although towards the end of the book we jump ten years into the future), and the pace quickens at the end, with alternating points of view that announce a pretty dramatic turn of events. (And yes, I can’t tell you anything else).

I have talked about the descriptions of violence and events that go beyond the realm of the rational, and the author does a great job with those, without overdoing the use of bizarre or complex language, but can be typical in novels centred on those subjects, but here the choice of register fits the characters and is functional and not overwrought or heavy. At times I noticed the repetition of certain words, adjectives, and expressions, that became pretty noticeable, to the point of being slightly distracting, but the more I read, the more I wondered if it was a stylistic choice befitting the subject, with its reliance on rituals and ceremonies. It does not detract from the story, the plot, or the characters, which are the most memorable elements of this novel.

Having read all this, I’m sure you won’t expect me to be specific when talking about the ending. Yes, it is very fitting and it works well. Of course, it is not a happy ending (this is horror, after all), but considering how the story goes, I think it reaches a difficult equilibrium. And, as is my preference in this genre, it is not a closed and reassuring ending. Good work.

Would I recommend it? With the caveats mentioned above, I definitely recommend it to readers who enjoy horror and like new takes and twists on ancient myths and stories, and especially those who appreciate novels that dig into the psychological depths of the human mind. As usual, I’d recommend readers to check a sample of the book before deciding if it would suit their taste, and, I leave you with the author’s own nutshell description and reflection on the book, as I think it might help you decide:

Golem is a story about isolation, paranoia, and division, and, as unfortunate as it is, reflects our current society in a nutshell. Who opened the front door and invited the devil in? Well, we all did, didn’t we?

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Detective. Angel. Victim. Devil.

A haunting tale of suspense, loss, isolation, contempt, and fear.

On November 1, 1951, war hero John Ashton was promoted to detective. His first assignment: find the district attorney’s missing daughter. But his only lead is Alena Francon, a high society sculptor and socialite committed to Bellevue’s psychiatric facility.

Alena has a story for the new detective. A story so outlandish John Ashton refuses to heed the warning. Alena admits to incarnating Golem, a demonic force, into her statue. A devil so profound he’s infiltrated every part of New York’s infrastructure. Even worse, he uses children to serve as bodily hosts for his demonic army, unleashing a horde of devils into our world.

When Alena’s confidant, Annette Flemming, confirms the existence of Golem, John is sent on a collision course where fate and destiny spiral into peril, and the future of the human race hangs in the balance.

The Devil Is In The Details!

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‘A wonderful wildlife journey with British bees’. Rosie’s #Bookreview of #NaturalHistory Dancing With Bees by @B_Strawbridge #TuesdayBookBlog

Dancing with BeesDancing with Bees by Brigit Strawbridge Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dancing With Bees: A Journey Back To Nature is an extremely readable natural history non-fiction book.

Written by Brigit Strawbridge Howard, this is her wildlife journey with British bees. I was very surprised to learn that there are ‘at least twenty thousand different species of bee’ on this planet. Of those only 9 are honey bees and 250 are bumblebees, the rest belong roughly to two other groups, sting-less bees and solitary bees, but all are important pollinators.

Brigit briefly talks about the large scale commercial beekeeping in North America and questions the wisdom of transporting bees thousands of miles, for various reasons. It certainly opened my eyes and I was intrigued by the alternatives of wild beekeeping.

The largest part of Brigit’s book is taken up with her study of bumblebees and solitary bees with a few interesting characters thrown into the mix. From her allotment and her walks mainly around the Shaftsbury area of Dorset, she talks about the habitats and flowers which each species like, followed by wonderful descriptions about the bees that she spots. There’s also information about their mating and breeding habits.

Everything that I read made me very excited about spring. I want to be more aware of the bees that visit my garden. Some of their names were fun; who wouldn’t want to see a hairy-footed flower bee? Or the handsome ‘moustachioed’ male of this species. I also enjoyed travelling with Brigit to the Outer Hebrides in search of the great yellow bumblebee, a rare species whose habitat is declining. The islands are now on my bucket list of places to visit, particularly to see the wild flora known as the machair.

Brigit also talks about cuckoo bees; as the cuckoo bird lays its egg in the nest of another unsuspecting bird, so does the cuckoo bee. Each variety is associated with a specific variety of host bee which it often tries to imitate. I had never heard of cuckoo bees.

Finally I must mention the clever heath potter wasp which creates a small clay pot and attaches it to the stem of Heather. The female fills it with food for her future young and lays a single egg inside before sealing the jar and then moves on to make another; it was just amazing to read about.

I discovered this book while browsing the internet; the title and book cover appealed but I could never guess at the wonderful detail inside. I am now an even bigger bee lover after reading this, I can’t recommend it enough, especially to nature enthusiasts.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

 

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A naturalist’s passionate dive into the world of bees of all stripes–what she has learned about them, and what we can learn from them.

Brigit Strawbridge Howard was shocked the day she realised she knew more about the French Revolution than she did about her native trees. And birds. And wildflowers. And bees. The thought stopped her quite literally in her tracks. But that day was also the start of a journey, one filled with silver birches and hairy-footed flower bees, skylarks, and rosebay willow herb, and the joy that comes with deepening one’s relationship with place. Dancing with Bees is Strawbridge Howard’s charming and eloquent account of a return to noticing, to rediscovering a perspective on the world that had somehow been lost to her for decades and to reconnecting with the natural world. With special care and attention to the plight of pollinators, including honeybees, bumblebees, and solitary bees, and what we can do to help them, Strawbridge Howard shares fascinating details of the lives of flora and fauna that have filled her days with ever-increasing wonder and delight.

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On January 17th I heard buzzing! Here is a photo of a Buff-tailed bumblebee which I chased around my Mahonia bush so that I could get a picture of my first bumblebee of the year.

‘There is just enough detail to bring a face, a room, or a street to life without over burdening the reader’. Frank reviews Talk Of Tokyo by @heather_hallman

Today’s team review is from Frank. Read more about him here https://franklparker.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Frank has been reading Talk Of Tokyo by Heather Hallman

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I’m not sure why I expected something different when choosing this book. On the other hand, what I got was by no means a disappointment. That it might be better described as historical romance, rather than historical fiction, could provide an explanation, although, to be fair, it is both.

Written in a style full of the wit one might expect from a work by Jane Austen, this exploration of the unlikely relationship between two people from different cultures, set at the end of the nineteenth century, is a delight that can be experienced on several levels. There is the inevitable clash of cultures that took place when the hitherto feudal Japan opened up to trade with Europe and the USA. There is the rapidly evolving role of women in both cultures; there are the erotic possibilities that arise when two people experience a passionate desire to explore each other’s need for sexual fulfilment. Finally there is the corruption and exploitation of human weaknesses that accompanies the pursuit of lucrative trade deals and investment in new infrastructure.

In Talk of Tokyo, all these elements combine to produce an effervescent cocktail of scenes to both educate and delight the reader. The central character, half French, half Japanese, is a young woman whose French father deserted the family whilst she was still a child. She is determined to ‘out’ any foreign male who seems likely to treat Japanese women with equal disdain. Until, that is, she meets an English man whose sensibilities prove he is, at the very least, the exception that proves the rule.

The story is told in alternating first person narratives from both hers and his point of view, a technique that permits the author to indulge her proficiency in wit and irony through the contrast between the two. Both characters mature as the story progresses so that, by the end, two become one, so to speak. Along the way they expose one or two criminal conspiracies, something they are able to do, in part, because of the incompetence and/or lack of commitment on the part of the conspirators.

All of the other characters have substance, too, as do the settings. There is just enough detail to bring a face, a room, or a street to life without over burdening the reader with too much dull description.

The whole book is a delight to read, none more so than the erotic passages which are beautifully handled, and ‘handled’, in this context, very definitely has a double meaning.

Try as I might, I cannot think of a single reason to award fewer than five stars. Highly recommended for anyone who likes romance or history – especially a place and period that remains largely hidden from view in the English speaking world. I congratulate Ms Hallman for bringing it into the light.

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CAREFUL WITH YOUR WORDS

1897 Tokyo is no different than anywhere else in the world: men are exploiting women. Specifically, Western men are exploiting Japanese women, and Suki Malveaux holds no punches in her condemnation of their behavior in her weekly column in the Tokyo Daily News.

Suki knows firsthand when Western men arrive at Tokyo Bay there’s only one outcome for Japanese women: a child and new mother left behind as nothing more than discarded shrapnel from the heartless war on love.

Griffith Spenser is her latest target. He’s been seen with Natsu Watanabe, one of Tokyo’s esteemed war widows. Under full anonymity of the moniker “The Tokyo Tattler,” Suki makes sure Griffith knows exactly why his behavior with Natsu won’t be tolerated.

Away from her Japanese mask as a columnist, Suki never intended to meet the cad. When he seeks her out to hire as a tutor for his niece and nephew, she’s faced with seeing him day in and day out without him ever knowing who she really is.

Caught in her struggle for anonymity so she can keep battling for women’s rights, Suki’s about to learn the full impact of her words on the people behind the story, especially on Griff.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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‘Foxe is one of those unforgettable characters’. Noelle reviews #HistoricalMystery Foxe and the Cost of Wild Oats by William Savage @penandpension

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Noelle has been reading Foxe and the Cost of Wild Oats by William Savage

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This is the ninth in the Ashmole Foxe mystery series by this author, and I will admit front and center that I have read every one of them. I find Foxe to be one of those unforgettable characters and thoroughly enjoy the colorful environment of Georgian times in Norwich, which the author has researched perhaps better than any other author.

Ashmole Foxe is a bookseller in Norwich and is rather well-to-do from the sales of his bookstore and also his ability to find and sell rare books for significant profit. When he was first introduced, he was something of a rake – dressing colorfully, enjoying the theatre, expending some of his physical energies with high class ladies of the night – in other words sowing his wild oats.  As his ability to solve murders gained him a reputation with Norwich’s leaders, he became more refined and somewhat more sedate, leading him to affairs with societally reputable women and eventually to a relationship with a young woman many years his junior, to whom he proposed: Lucy.

This current outing of Norwich’s most famous sleuth is told from two points of view in Foxe and the Cost of Wild Oats: Ashmole’s and Lucy’s. It entails more than just the investigation of the death of a well-liked merchant, brutally murdered, but also the adjustment of both of them to married life. The difference in their ages, the lingering recognition of Ashmole’s previous reputation, Lucy’s steep learning curve as mistress of a substantial household, and her inclusion in Ashmole’s work all figure into the search for the killer.

As I would expect from a book by this author, the merchant. A Mr. Hartley, whose body is found on a quay by the River Wensum, is not what he appears to be. The scandalous behavior of his wife, his closeted life, and his unusual business arrangements created a lot of questions for this reader.

Do I like this book better than the others in the series? On the positive side, the murder, as always in this series, is just the tip of the iceberg. The author overlays it with layers upon layers of confusion, obsessive secrecy and cunning deception, leading the search for the killer to a series of solutions that have the reader believing this is the one – only to be as flummoxed as Ashmole when it hits a dead end.  On this basis, I think this is one of the best books in the series.  Plus the author spends time acquainting his readers with more of Norwich – the streets, the waterfront, businesses and the way they are run –all colorful and interesting.

On the negative side, I found the couple’s interactions occasionally overlong, silly and distracting, especially those leading up to a romp in the bedroom. Lucy can be petulant and childish, which is understandable for a young woman not yet in her twenties but made me wonder why Ashmole chose her for a wife. Lucy is bright and insightful, but I’d personally hoped he would marry the widow Crombie, who runs the bookshop for him – an older, wiser and very smart woman.  But marrying the niece of the Mayor of Norwich, an old friend, gives Ashmole an advantage with regard to his investigations and his position with the city’s leaders.

Ashmole’s detailed involvement with the street children of Norwich is a draw for me as a reader. There was less of that here, although the children provide critical investigative clues from their use in shadowing suspects and stakeouts. Many of the lesser but very colorful characters in the previous tales are nicely reintroduced.

This latest outing of Savage’s Georgian sleuth was a fun read, one which left me unsatisfied and wanting more.

Desc 1

“Remember this. Those who sow their wild oats without thought for others, sometimes live to reap a bitter harvest.”

Foxe and Lucy have had only two weeks to savour the pleasures of matrimony when a well-liked city merchant is found brutally murdered at the quay by the River Wensum. At once, they are drawn into the hunt for his killer. All agree that Josiah Hartley was an inoffensive, upright man and not at all the type to die in such a violent way. Yet someone hated him enough to want him killed. Who was it? His adulterous wife? An angry competitor? Someone he had cheated?

From the start of their investigation, Foxe and his new wife encounter layers upon layers of confusion, obsessive secrecy and cunning deception. Why did Mr Hartley condone the scandalous behaviour of his wife for so many years? What was the reason for the strangely complex way he had arranged his finances? By what means were the ownership and value of his successful business excluded from his Will?

Only after determined efforts, backed by all Foxe’s experience and cunning, are he and Lucy able to thread their way through a bewildering maze of dead ends, irrelevant diversions and carefully hidden pathways to reveal the identity of a vicious killer.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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‘This story is about Diana who made a monumental decision aged just fifteen’. Georgia reviews Sugar And Snails by @Annecdotis

Today’s team review is from Georgia. She blogs here https://www.georgiarosebooks.com

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Georgia has been reading Sugar And Snails by Anne Goodwin

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This story is about Diana who made a monumental decision aged just fifteen and, now aged forty-five, I felt that while that moment changed everything for her, she has still been living in some sort of hiatus for the last thirty years. Existing, rather than living, I suppose, as she wasn’t comfortable sharing who she was, not even with the closest of her friends, let alone with the new man in her life, Simon.

Diana is a psychology lecturer so there is some psychology in the book but it’s well explained, and interesting. I also enjoyed the structure of this story with alternate sections revealing the story of Diana’s childhood. This was so well written there was no chance of getting confused and I found it kept the interest level high, and the pages turning, because you wanted to find out what exactly had happened in Egypt all those years ago.

The depictions of Diana’s family were very well done too. The parents, who I initially thought rather uncaring, were actually, understandably, confused and at a loss as to what to do with their child. Her father, particularly, clearly haunted by what had happened to his friend when they were in the forces together, and later on. His guilt plain to see.

This story covers a highly controversial topic sensitively and the author writes these words at the end of the book, ‘I hope you find my words worthy of your time’. I most certainly did and I highly recommend this most excellent read.

Desc 1

At fifteen, she made a life-changing decision. Thirty years on, it’s time to make another.

When Diana escaped her misfit childhood, she thought she’d chosen the easier path. But the past lingers on, etched beneath her skin, and life won’t be worth living if her secret gets out.

As an adult, she’s kept other people at a distance… until Simon sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, the city that transformed her life. She’ll lose Simon if she doesn’t join him. She’ll lose herself if she does.

Sugar and Snails charts Diana’s unusual journey, revealing the scars from her fight to be true to herself. A triumphant mid-life coming-of-age story about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be. 

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‘Based on the concept of humanoids with artificial intelligence’. Robbie reviews #scifi The Doll by Laura Daleo, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Robbie has been reading The Doll by Laura Daleo

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The Doll is based on the concept of humanoids with artificial intelligence who are capable of perfectly imitating human behaviour and emotions. Jeremy has recently lost his fiancé in a car accident. He is wracked by guilt about Jenna’s death because he asked her to drive to his home late at night, knowing she was tired. The fact that he asked her to do this is an early indication of Jeremy’s character which is a bit spoiled and selfish. Jeremy has a successful career as a restorer of properties which he acquires at good prices due to their run-down states, and sells at significant profits.

Jeremy is wallowing in self pity and has started drinking heavily when he is approached by a man in a bar and given a card for The Dollmaker who, the stranger assures him, can help him overcome his grief. He decides to go ahead and make contact with the company and is introduced to the idea of replacing Jenna with a doll. The doll has artificial intelligence and will be capable of interacting with the outside world in the same way as a human would. It will be programmed as a replica of his dead fiancé, although it would be built to look a bit different so as not to raise unnecessary questions. Jeremy will pass the doll off as his new girlfriend.

Jeremy orders the doll, an expensive piece of electronic equipment, based on the specs he is given by the company. It did require a bit of suspension of belief to accept that a young man would actually think he could replace his girlfriend with a machine and, having received the humanoid, almost immediately substitute his affection for his real life girlfriend with affection for a doll.

The humanoid that Jeremy receives is not a run-of-the-mill specimen. Carley has a greater ability than the other humanoid dolls to make decisions based on her experiences and learnings. She has unusual physical strength and abilities and has more human-like emotions. Jeremy quickly becomes devoted to Carley, the doll, and when it becomes apparent that people are hunting for her, he choses to oppose them and behaves as if Carley is a real person.

The story is entertaining, if a little unbelievable, and the idea of a humanoid like Carley is rather thrilling. Jeremy comes across as a bit wishy-washy and overly reliant on Carley to make any decisions and find ways to protect them both.

I think this concept is to complex for a novella and needs a longer book to develop the ideas more fully, both in the context of storyline and from a character development point of view.

A fun and quick read which will be enjoyed by readers who like a fast-paced plot with less characterisation and detail.

3 stars

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In the wake of Jenna Hess’ sudden death, Jeremy Dillon is devastated. His only hope of easing the pain lies in alcohol…until he meets The Dollmaker.
Meet CR1XY, the Dollmaker’s Elite doll, created especially for Jeremy. But is she?

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‘Written with wit and warmth, and a firm historical grasp’. @deBieJennifer reviews #HistoricalFiction Dolly Pleasance by C.W. Lovatt #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Jenni. She blogs here https://jenniferdebie.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Jenni has been reading Dolly Pleasance by C.W. Lovatt

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Step out of the wings and strike a pose with C.W. Lovatt’s indominable Delores “Dolly” Pleasance, a 19th century actress born to take the London stage by storm in this spin-off of Lovatt’s long-running Charlie Smithers Adventures series. Don’t let the words “spin-off” put you off, while Smithers plays an integral, emotional part to her tale, Dolly’s story is all her own and boy what a story it is.

Sold to the theater by her failed-actor father when she was just a child, Dolly grows up wild backstage, just waiting to take her first steps into the spotlights, and when she finally does, the entire world glows. Follow her career across the decades as Dolly (Did you know Delores is Spanish for sad?) rises, falls, and rises again from the lowliest of stage-scrubbers, to a woman of artistry, and is recognized as such.

Lovingly researched, Lovatt has a true talent for weaving real people and events organically into Dolly’s life. Dolly’s frequent interactions with, and references to, the playwrights of her day and their work is sure to be fun for anyone with a passing knowledge of Victorian literature.

A play is only as good as its players, and Dolly Pleasance is no exception, the titular Dolly is a delight, but she is surrounded by an exceptional supporting cast. Standout is her consummate supporting lady, Fanny Bonham, Dolly’s longtime friend and lover. Fanny, however, is not alone in supporting our heroine as there’s also the gruff Ben Webster, the incorrigibly French Madame Celeste, and the stalwart Peter Collins, among many others. Entrances and exits abound across the course of Dolly’s life, and keeping track of her massive, evolving circle of friends and fans is a full-time job.

All is not spotlights and roses though, there is peril stalking Dolly in the murky London streets, and when a gypsy’s premonition comes true there’s really only question to ask: will Dolly rise above, or be dragged down by those who would destroy her?

Written with wit and warmth, and a firm historical grasp on some of the darker aspects of being among the most vulnerable in 19th century England, Dolly Pleasance is sure to delight fans of the theater, fans of history, and fans of powerful leading ladies all at once.

5/5

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Come, meet the actress, Dolly Pleasance. Born into a life of poverty and abuse in the midst of 19th Century London, Dolly’s only salvation is her passion for the theatre. Follow her career, from rags to riches, over a span of twenty years.

Rejoice as she captures the hearts of thousands, fret as she attempts to avoid the clutches of a murderous madman, and weep over the impossible love she has for one Charlie Smithers.

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There’s a ‘Europe-wide reach of the investigative team.’ @SandraFirth3 reviews #thriller Double Identity by @alison_morton

Today’s team review is from Sandra. She blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sandra has been reading Double Identity by Alison Morton

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Double Identity is the first book in the Mélisende series featuring the highly skilled, special forces intelligence analyst, Mélisende des Pittones. Having recently resigned her commission to marry financial trader, Gérard, she wakes one morning to find her fiancé dead in the bed beside her and no memory of what happened. She immediately becomes the prime suspect. On clearing her name, she is seconded to a special unit, along with DI Jeff McCracken from the Met, to investigate the corruption her fiancé was involved in. She discovers he was not what he seemed, and that she did not really know him at all.

What makes Double Identity stand out from the crowd is the Europe-wide reach of the investigative team. Mélisende is uniquely placed to blend in as she can function effectively in both countries – she is fluent in both languages and familiar with their cultures. She is a strong and capable female lead, who is more than a match for any of her male colleagues, as one or two find out to their cost.

The initial animosity between her and Jeff gives the narrative an edge. They are chalk and cheese; Mélisende is wealthy and from an aristocratic French background, while McCracken is a native Londoner and officer in the Met. They work well together once they get over their prejudices, and I look forward to reading how their relationship develops over the course of the series. Double Identity has obviously been thoroughly researched as the author is very knowledgeable about financial matters, and her experience in the military shines through.

We get the story from multiple viewpoints so get a rounded picture of what is going on. This is a fast-paced thriller, with a feisty lead character, interesting European settings and the promise of  more adventures to come. I have not read any thing by this author before, but have already got the next book in the series, Double Pursuit, lined up on my kindle. Thanks to Alison Morton for a digital copy that I review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT

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Deeply in love, a chic Parisian lifestyle before her. Now she’s facing prison for murder.

It’s three days since Mel des Pittones threw in her job as an intelligence analyst with the French special forces to marry financial trader Gérard Rohlbert. But her dream turns to nightmare when she wakes to find him dead in bed beside her.

Her horror deepens when she’s accused of his murder. Met Police detective Jeff McCracken wants to pin Gérard’s death on her. Mel must track down the real killer, even if that means being forced to work with the obnoxious McCracken.

But as she unpicks her fiancé’s past, she discovers his shocking secret life. To get to the truth, she has to go undercover and finds almost everybody around her is hiding a second self.

Mel can trust nobody. Can she uncover the real killer before they stop her?

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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