Recommended to foodies. Rosie’s #Bookreview of #Memoir Find Freedom In The Lost Kitchen by Erin French @thelostkitchen #TuesdayBookBlog

Finding Freedom in the Lost KitchenFinding Freedom in the Lost Kitchen by Erin French

4 stars

Finding Freedom In The Lost Kitchen is the memoir of Erin French, owner and chef of The Lost Kitchen restaurant in Freedom, Maine which has now become a world-famous place to eat.

Erin learnt how to cook from her family; she worked in her father’s diner from the age of twelve.  Later, she moved away from rural life to attend college, but life’s twists and turns brought her home once more.  Soon she was raising her son alone, and began to find outlets for her cooking skills. Through the ups and downs of earning a living, opening her first restaurant and an unhappy marriage, Erin takes the reader on a candid journey through her life.

The book title intrigued me; I had not heard of Erin or her restaurant before now. The ‘Lost Kitchen’ made me want to find out more. I was really pleased to read how things have progressed and are working out for Erin. Her passion for cooking shines through and there are so many mouth-watering descriptions of food on the pages of this book, that they made me want to get baking myself. I particularly liked the idea that reservations at her restaurant are by postal ballot, as it suited the ethos of the home-style roots that Erin maintains. There is so much for the reader to discover in this book as you travel with Erin from early childhood to the point where her restaurant is a great success. I truly wish her dreams never stop growing.

Recommended to foodies and those who enjoy a memoir with a happy ending.

View all my reviews on Goodreads


Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

From Erin French, owner and chef of the critically acclaimed The Lost Kitchen, comes a life-affirming memoir about survival, renewal and the pleasure of bringing joy to people through food.

Erin French grew up barefoot on a 25-acre farm in Maine, fell in love with food as a teenager working the line at her dad’s diner and found her calling as a professional chef at her tiny restaurant The Lost Kitchen, tucked into a 19th century mill–now a world-renowned dining destination.

In Finding Freedom in the Lost Kitchen, Erin tells her story of multiple rock-bottoms, from medical student to pregnant teen, of survival as a jobless single mother, of pills that promised release but delivered addiction, of a man who seemed to offer salvation but ripped away her very sense of self. And of her son who became her guiding light as she slowly rebuilt her personal and culinary life around the solace she found in food–as a source of comfort, a sense of place, as a way of creating community and making something of herself, despite seemingly impossible odds.

Set against the backdrop of rural Maine and its lushly intense, bountiful seasons, Erin French’s rollercoaster memoir reveals struggles that have taken every ounce of her strength to overcome, and the passion and courage behind the fairytale success of The Lost Kitchen.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Living With Amnesia. @em_banks reviews Small Forgotten Moments by @AnnalisaCrawf, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Elanor.

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Elanor has been reading Small Forgotten Moments by Annalisa Crawford

Small Forgotten Moments by [Annalisa Crawford]

Small Forgotten Moments is the story of Jo Mckye, an emerging artist celebrating her debut exhibition. But her fictional subject, Zenna, has become an obsession. We see Zenna infiltrating every part of Jo’s life and her unconscious as Jo increasingly struggles with telling the real from the fictional. She is driven to return to her childhood home and learn about her past in an effort to understand Zenna’s origins, and try to rid herself from this malevolent influence.

We are told early on that Jo suffers from amnesia, meaning she can’t remember any of her life before 3 years ago. Amnesia is a trope that is fairly well explored in the psychological thriller genre but I felt that the perspective here is interesting and stays on the right side of cliche. I occasionally asked myself “How would that even work?” – only to be given some insight and a whole bunch of new questions in the next chapter.

The novel focuses not on a disorientating early confusion stage of amnesia, but on Jo’s long-term experience, asking what it means to try to live a normal life, to create and plan without reference to a past – “I know I’m not who I’m supposed to be. How can I be, with so much of myself nestled so deeply within?“. In this context, Jo’s art appears as both therapy and a feverish necessity, as she wrestles unconsciously with her past.

The first person narration is so tight and unreliable that I felt some secondary characters were robbed of airtime. I wanted more of the best friend and the housemate, and in particular I felt I didn’t get a handle on Jo’s mum – though this probably reflects Jo’s own uncertainty and mental fog during her time at home.

The Cornish sea is almost a character in its own right. I loved the way Annalisa Crawford illustrates Jo’s confused mental state using the language of water as primal, uncontrollable and dangerous – foreshadowing a dramatic, psychological climax that was definitely not what I expected.

I read this book so quickly! It kept me entertained and guessing to the end. I would absolutely recommend it to fans of the genre.

4 stars.

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Is Zenna a muse, a sleep-deprived apparition, or something much more sinister?

Suffering long-term amnesia, artist Jo Mckye is ready to start a fresh, new project after the success of her debut exhibition. But the fictional subject of the collection, Zenna, won’t let go so easily. Infiltrating Jo’s dreams—and increasingly, her waking hours—Zenna is fast becoming a dangerous obsession.

Jo is confident the answers lie at her childhood home, an idyllic Cornish village on the south-east coast; she just doesn’t know why. Only when she walks into the sea and almost drowns does the past start to unravel.

Haunting and melodic, fans of Daphne du Maurier and Daisy Johnson will adore this.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Small Forgotten Moments by [Annalisa Crawford]

Any Summer Sunday at Nacho Mama’s Patio Cafe: Drag, Songs, Friends, Laughs, Lies, Danger & Redemption by Steve Schatz @AnySummerSunday @gaybookpromo

Any Summer Sunday at Nacho Mama’s Patio Cafe: Drag, Songs, Friends, Laughs, Lies, Danger & Redemption by [Steve Schatz]Any Summer Sunday at Nacho Mama’s Patio Cafe : Drag, Songs, Friends, Laughs, Lies, Danger & Redemption by Steve Schatz

4 stars

Any Summer Sunday at Nacho Mama’s Patio Cafe: Drag, Songs, Friends, Laughs, Lies, Danger & Redemption – a story set in a gay bar in Magawatta, Indiana. The whole story takes place on one summer Sunday evening; a group of friends gather each week at Nacho Mama’s patio café to catch up on news, and to listen to the drag artists sing at the bar next door. The singers are led by Miss TiaRa del Fuego.

The story is narrated by BB and on this particular night Miss Tia has announced that this will be her last performance as she has met the love of her life online and he has promised to make her a star in Tallahassee, Florida. Miss Tia’s announcement deeply worries the group of friends; while they sip drinks and eat nachos, they discuss the possible outcomes.

The narrative meanders through stories, bawdy comments, come-backs and digressions as the group navigates downstream and the evening sails towards Miss Tia’s departure. At first I wasn’t sure about the writing style, but once I got to know the characters I became fully engaged in their commentary and their worry for Miss Tia’s future.

This is a book full to the brim with a rich language about a group of friends and their concerns for each other, all set against a colourful drag setting.  There is another book set in Megawatta, due out at the end of July which sounds just as entertaining, especially if you’re not afraid of one or two lewd comments and you are ready for some escapism reading.

View all my reviews on Goodreads


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Boys in the Band meets La Cage in an Indiana gay bar. A joyous dance of song, drag queens, laughs, lies, friends and a touch of tawdry, grabs you, shakes…stirs, then sets you down with a smile and a kiss. A kaleidoscope of weird jobs, loves, hopes, dreams, rage, loss, music and more. It’s a book for anyone who has ever felt different.

Every Sunday evening, TiaRa del Fuego’s Parade of Gowns drag show presents the best entertainment in our little, Indiana college town in Hoosier Daddy, the only gay bar around. Between sets, we gather for drinks and nachos at Nacho Mama’s Patio Cafe. Trading lies, jokes, adventures, celebrations and sorrows, our merry band celebrates the life of the small town gay, safe in the bosom of long-time friends.

However, one evening, TiaRa announced she had found “true” love – yet again and was leaving to be with her latest amour. Disaster loomed. We had to face the question: How far will you go to save a friend from her own desires?

Over the course of the evening, the Entrepreneur, the Lush, the Boys, the Spy, the Southern Belle, the Fixer and the Storyteller struggle to help TiaRa find joy because that is what friends do for friends.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

A #Biography The Real J.R.R. Tolkien: The Man Who Created Middle-Earth by Jesse Xander @penswordpub

The Real J.R.R. Tolkien: The Man Who Created Middle-EarthThe Real J.R.R. Tolkien: The Man Who Created Middle-Earth by Jesse Xander

4 stars

The Real J.R.R. Tolkien is a biography of the life and works of the man who created Middle Earth. I have yet to read The Lord Of The Rings series; having only read The Hobbit and now that I know more about Tolkien and what may or may not have influenced the world of Middle Earth I am intrigued to read the books.

I was very interested in Tolkien’s background knowledge of ancient languages and dialects and how this evolved through his time in academia. I also liked how the author linked events and experiences with details from Tolkien’s writing.

There are a few black and white photographs to break up the writing, they were just enough to leave me with some images in my mind of the author. I expect that diehard Tolkien fans already know most of the details from this book, but if you are like me and know the author’s name and very little else, then this book may be useful to read.

View all my reviews on Goodreads


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The Real JRR Tolkien: The Man Who Created Middle Earth is a comprehensive biography of the linguist and writer; taking the reader from his formative years of home-schooling, through the spires of Oxford, to his romance with his wife-to-be on the brink of war, and onwards into his phenomenal academic success and his creation of the seminal high fantasy world of Middle Earth. “The Real JRR Tolkien” delves into his influences, places, friendships, triumphs and tragedies, with particular emphasis on how his remarkable life and loves forged the worlds of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Using contemporary sources and comprehensive research, “The Real JRR Tolkien” offers a unique insight into the life and times of one of Britain’s greatest authors, from cradle to grave to legacy.

Pen And Sword Books| AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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New Tasty Good Reads! Books and Cheese from @Fromage_Fiction @cheesecuisine

I now have a guest post from the creators of Fromage Fiction who are offering readers a book and cheese package. If this sounds exciting there is also a £10 discount code (Deluxe edition only) for readers of this blog post (more info lower in the post)

About Fromage & Fiction

Fromage & Fiction is an exciting new club for cheese, wine and book lovers across the UK, and the brand-new project was launched in July by Cheese Cuisine, an online cheese retailer and community who have created an innovative collaboration with the world of British authors by perfecting wine and cheese pairings to compliment contemporary novels. The Fromage & Fiction cheese, wine and book club supports new and emerging British authors while championing British artisan cheese and independent wineries. 

Working with specially selected original and thought-provoking novels, Cheese Cuisine collaborates with the authors to pair British artisan cheese and independent wines centred around the story, as well as creating interesting and engaging content and special events with the Fromage & Fiction authors themselves. Each novel has three styles of cheeseboards, perfect for individuals, book clubs and also makes a great gift for the book enthusiasts in your life. 

The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson

Genres: Coming-of-age story, Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction

Blurb: “One of those gorgeous books that completely lifts your spirits and restores your faith in humanity Ruth Jones, co-creator of Gavin and Stacey and bestselling author of Us Three”

It was a journey they would always remember . . . for a friend they’d never forget. Norman and Jax are a legendary comedic duo in waiting, with a five-year plan to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe by the time they’re fifteen. But when Jax dies before they turn twelve, Norman decides a tribute act for his best friend just can’t wait, so he rewrites their plan:

1. Look after mum | 2. Find Dad | 3. Get to the Edinburgh Fringe

Sadie knows she won’t win Mother of the Year and she’s not proud she doesn’t know who her son’s father is. But when she finds Norman’s list, all she wants is to see her son smile again… So they set off on a pilgrimage to Edinburgh, making a few stops to find Norman’s dad along the way.

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman is an inspiring, feel-good novel about a small boy with a big heart – and even bigger dreams.

Julietta quote; “I am really excited to be collaborating with Cheese Cuisine on their new project, Fromage & Fiction, pairing wonderful wine and British cheese connected to the storyline of my novel. I loved the idea of avid readers and book clubs alike experiencing the cheeseboard put together for The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman – what better way to spend an evening?” 

Book extract, this really is one paragraph that perfectly sums up the book!

Chapter 9


‘Finding out Norman wanted to find his father was almost as much of a shock to me as finding out I was pregnant had been. In fact, it managed to evoke pretty much the same feelings, from what I can remember. Same order, even. Bewilderment, denial, terror, followed by how the hell did this happen, and how am I going to do this without losing my mind or getting arrested. Throw in the news that it appeared Norman was aiming to get a solo gig at one of the world’s most famous comedy events, and there was every possibility that both of those things would happen. And probably more.’

Three different products

Each book will have different products, but quantities will be similar:

Norman Foreman Cheeseboard Edition

The perfect gift for the bookworm in your life or an indulgent treat for yourself.

For 1 to 2 people

What you get:

One hardcopy edition of The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman

Three cheeses (around 400g): Fat Cow, Miss Muffet and Perl Wen

Two accompaniments: Global Harvest Pear and Peter’s Yard Original Crispbreads

Option to add the authors selected wine


Norman Foreman Deluxe Edition Cheeseboard 

Our deluxe edition includes a hard copy of the book as well as a ticket to an exclusive event over zoom with the author.

For 1 to 2 people

What you get:

One hardcopy edition of The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman

Three cheeses (around 400g): Fat Cow, Miss Muffet and Perl Wen

Two accompaniments: Global Harvest Pear and Peter’s Yard Original Crispbreads

Option to add the authors selected wine

Ticket to the exclusive online event with the author.


Norman Foreman Book Group Edition 

Our book group edition is perfect for when it’s your turn to host the next book for the group. We will send a copy of the book at purchase, or on its release date (whichever is first) then you tell us when to send you the cheeseboard for 6 to 8 people for the book group. (Must be delivered within one year of purchase).

What you get:

One hardcopy edition of The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman

Three cheeses (around 1200g): Fat Cow, Miss Muffet and Perl Wen

Four accompaniments: 2x Global Harvest Pear and 2x Peter’s Yard Original Crispbreads

Option to add the authors selected wine


How we work with the authors to create cheeseboards and content

We work closely with each author on the content we produce and the products we offer. We work together with the author to choose the perfect cheeses and accompany wine relevant to their preference and the theme of their book. Each book that we feature in our book club is different, therefore the products that are chosen are personalised and carefully chosen.

The three cheeses on The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman cheeseboard come from different locations on Norman and Sadie’s road trip up to Scotland. Similarly, the cheeses on the When We Were Young board are from farms located along the Thames Path!

When We Were Young book by Richard Roper.

Richard Ropers second novel, set against the idyllic backdrop of The Thames path, takes you on a darkly comical tour narrated by the two main characters Joel and Theo, who reconnect after a one terrible night fractured their friendship. Roper’s homage to the British sitcom, backed by his two flawed, yet endearing and relatable leads, alongside his natural prose and comical whit, lead us to select When We Were Young for Fromage and Fiction. With an abundance of great artisan cheese producers along the Thames to choose from, it was a joy to create these parings with Richard.  the perfect combination for a picnic and read by the river!

Richard Roper says; “I couldn’t be happier to be partnering with the excellent team at Cheese Cuisine. I can’t wait for people to hear more about my new book When We Were Young, and, more importantly, to do so while tasting excellently paired cheese and wines inspired by the book itself.” 

Richard’s cheeseboards contain: (Including the book and etc as above)

Three Cheeses: Witheridge, Oxford Isis and Cerney Ash

Plus Clare’s Preserves Carrot & Garlic Chutney and Stag Original Water Biscuits

How often it will run/how it works

Fromage & Fiction is an ever-growing library of newly published novels, and although we will be continuing to work with different authors on their new book, each past novel’s cheeseboard will always be available to purchase along with the book (while stocks last). Therefore, our book club is always on the go! We will be doing 9 – 10 books per year, approximately 1 every 6 weeks or so. This time frame may vary slightly as we depend on seeking out newly published books that fit our model and audience. We aren’t a subscription service, as we don’t like the idea of tying people down, so you can dip in and out when a book interests you! No subscription, no gimmicks, just great books and great cheese.

Where people can find us

Head to our website where you will find our first two novels and the cheeseboards for each of them. We are also on social media and Goodreads:

Twitter: @Fromage_Fiction / @CheeseCuisine

Instagram: @cheesecuisine / @fromageandfiction

Facebook: Fromage & Fiction / Cheese Cuisine

Pinterest: @cheesecuisine

Youtube: Cheese Cuisine

TikTok: @Fromage_and_Fiction

Goodreads: Fromage & Fiction Group

Discount code for readers.

ROSIEAMBER10 for £10 off either Norman Foreman Deluxe Edition Cheeseboard or When We Were Young Deluxe Edition Cheeseboard

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #SouthAfrica Drama The Wilderness Between Us by @PennyHaw

Today’s team review is from Terry. She blogs here

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Terry has been reading The Wilderness Between us by Penny Haw

The Wilderness Between Us by [Penny Haw]

4 stars

A close-knit group of friends set off on a hike in the remote, mountainous Tsitsikamma region of South Africa. Three couples, one father and his daughter. From the beginning there are problems; one person falls ill, and another takes no notice of the rangers’ weather warnings, leaving them stranded in various locations.

This interesting and highly readable drama centres around Clare, the daughter, who has anorexia, and Faye, the wife of Derek, whose own insecurities manifest themselves in the psychological abuse he bestows on Faye; he uses a version of the ‘gaslighting’ technique, lying to her about things she has said and done in order to make her doubt her own emotional stability. Although I understood the situation, I did find it frustrating that she was such a complete doormat and appeared never to have stood up for herself about anything in her entire married life.

Clare’s story was most compelling; how the anorexia began, the reasons behind it, the way in which it took hold and the repercussions. Clare’s self-awareness made her likable, and I thought the whole subject was dealt with sensitively and intelligently, while still making for a good story in which I was totally engrossed.

I liked that this was set in South Africa, not a part of the world I know much about, and I enjoyed the occasional South African/Afrikaans word, even when I wasn’t sure what it meant. I thought there could have been more of a sense of desperation, fear and hunger, considering the precarious situation everyone was in, but the intricate emotional dynamics kind of made up for this, from a reader’s point of view. I particularly liked Faye’s feeling of connection with her environment, near the end.

I had a few issues with some of the content (such as a few instances of the word ‘convince’ that should have been ‘persuade’ – it’s one of my pet peeves!), but nothing major. I enjoyed this book; it’s a thoroughly good read – and the cover is gorgeous!

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Faye Mackenzie and her friends’ anorexic daughter, Clare are thrown together when a flood separates them from their hiking group in the remote, mountainous Tsitsikamma region of South Africa. With Clare critically injured, Faye is compelled to overcome her self-doubt and fear of the wild to take care of the younger woman, who opens her heart to Faye.

As their new friendship takes the women on an unexpected journey of discovery, the rest of the group wrestles with the harrowing aftermath of their own near tragedy. When the hiking party is reunited, their number is reduced by one.

Juxtaposing physical and psychological suspense, The Wilderness Between Us is a tale of two fragile women who unexpectedly find clarity, independence and renewed purpose as they fight to survive. It is a vivid, moving story about family, friendship, adventure and the healing power of nature and compassion. It also expounds the author’s love for animals and the outdoors.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

The Wilderness Between Us by [Penny Haw]

Rosie’s #Bookreview of #NewRelease #HistoricalFiction The Girl With The Silver Clasp by @julietgreenwood @orionbooks

The Girl with the Silver ClaspThe Girl with the Silver Clasp by Juliet Greenwood

4 stars

The Girl With The Silver Clasp is historical fiction set in a small coastal village near St. Ives in Cornwall.

The story begins just before World War One and introduces us firstly to Jess, the daughter of the harbour master, who spends much of her time at the local forge. Here she learns the art of blacksmithing as well as the intricate metalwork skills needed to make and repair jewellery.

Secondly we are introduced to Rachel, who is the daughter of the family who own the harbour; during the war Rachel goes to France to drive an ambulance, but after the war her family’s fortunes change

In the post-war years, Jess is forced to help her aunt with dressmaking, but it is the metalwork which still calls to her and Jess squeezes in as many hours as she can, creating unique pieces of jewellery

This is the story of women who embraced the post-war changes in society; they made their own decisions and worked for themselves supporting each other’s efforts. Although this book started slow, once we reached the post war years I became fully engaged with the lives of Jess and Rachel and really enjoyed the remainder of their stories. Some of my favourite parts were reading about life in London as well as the growth of the artists in the St. Ives area.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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St. Ives, 1916.

Jess Morgan always hoped to become a celebrated silversmith, but when the men return from war she’s forced to return to her job as a seamstress. All she can cling to is the memory of that delicate, unique silver clasp she created for a society bride.

Rachel Bellamy served as an ambulance driver on the front line during the Great War but now it’s up to her to save the family home and picturesque harbour from her wealthy brother-in-law, before it’s too late.

Giselle Harding fought her way up from poverty to become a Hollywood movie star. Yet even the most beautiful jewels she owns will never fill replace the man she lost.

As the lives of the three women collide, will they be able to overcome their differences and fight together for the dreams they once held so close?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

The Girl with the Silver Clasp: A sweeping, unputdownable WWI historical novel set in Cornwall by [Juliet Greenwood]

A Gothic, Paranormal Retelling of Jane Eyre. @CathyRy reviews John Eyre by @MimiMatthewsEsq, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Cathy. She blogs here

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading John Eyre by Mimi Matthews

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John Eyre is quite a different offering from from Mimi Matthews. In a very good way. It’s a gothic and paranormal retelling of Jane Eyre, with genders reversed and another classic tale thrown into the mix. The broodingly dark atmosphere of evil and menace is palpable.

After the devastation of a shocking death, John leaves his home and job weighed down by guilt. He has secured a post as tutor to the widowed Mrs Rochester’s two wards who reside at Thornfield Hall in Yorkshire. John is surprised and a little taken aback when he first meets the boys, who are small and undernourished, with shorn heads.

Bertha Rochester was not in residence as she travels abroad frequently. John has sole care of the boys and wonders why Mrs Rochester bothered to adopt children if she was rarely at home. He begins to implement changes to the arrangements Mrs Rochester left in place regarding the boys, despite her orders, becoming certain her regime could do them no good.

I liked the way the novel was structured with the narrative coming from John’s perspective in the present, told in the third person. He’s a worthy hero, with a kind heart as is shown through his sympathetic treatment of the two boys.

Alternating chapters chronicle Bertha’s story as her character is fleshed out through letters written to her good friend Blanche Ingram. Her letters and journal entries as she traveled document the places she visits and her eventual meeting with Edward Rochester. Her strong and fiercely independent spirit is evident throughout, even during the final, very chilling part of her journey before returning to Thornfield Hall and meeting John.

The whole ambience is quite creepy as befits a darkly gothic tale, with unexpected mists appearing randomly and repeatedly surrounding the estate and nearby area, strange noises and other disturbing occurrences.

All is far from what it seems at Thornfield Hall and Bertha’s return is the catalyst that sets terrible events in motion. A perfect read for Halloween…if you can wait that long.

Desc 1

Yorkshire, 1843. When disgraced former schoolmaster John Eyre arrives at Thornfield Hall to take up a position as tutor to two peculiar young boys, he enters a world unlike any he’s ever known. Darkness abounds, punctuated by odd bumps in the night, strange creatures on the moor, and a sinister silver mist that never seems to dissipate. And at the center of it all, John’s new employer—a widow as alluring as she is mysterious.

Sixteen months earlier, heiress Bertha Mason embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Marriage wasn’t on her itinerary, but on meeting the enigmatic Edward Rochester, she’s powerless to resist his preternatural charm. In letters and journal entries, she records the story of their rapidly-disintegrating life together, and of her gradual realization that Mr. Rochester isn’t quite the man he appears to be. In fact, he may not be a man at all.

From a cliff-top fortress on the Black Sea coast to an isolated estate in rural England, John and Bertha contend with secrets, danger, and the eternal struggle between light and darkness. Can they help each other vanquish the demons of the past? Or are some evils simply too powerful to conquer?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #ContemporaryFiction The Wilderness Between Us by @PennyHaw #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Noelle. She blogs here

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Noelle has been reading The Wilderness Between Us by Penny Haw

The Wilderness Between Us by [Penny Haw]

The story: A close knit group of long-time friends plan a several days’ hiking trip together in the remote and mountainous Tsitsikamma region of South Africa, along its southern border. When one of the group members, Michelle, can’t make the trip because of her duties as a high court judge, she has her daughter Clare go in her place. Clare is an anorexic, which is a poorly guarded secret, and has isolated herself from people because of her disorder. She agrees to go, so she can spend time with her father, Geoffrey, but it is clear from the outset that she feels and wants herself to be apart from the group.

Although the story is Clare’s, it is also that of Faye, the middle-aged wife of Derek, who emotional batters her. Faye has little belief in herself or her independence after years of marriage to him and feels fearful and helpless. When Clare develops a migraine, she stays behind at the group’s first overnight camp. The rest head off on a long hike, unaware that Derek has not told them that unseasonal rains have been predicted, which could create dangerous floods of the rivers they have to cross. After a few hours of hiking, Faye, feeling guilty about leaving Clare alone and wanting to be away from the ever-badgering husband, decides to head back alone to the first camp. The rains do come and the rivers flood, wreaking havoc with the hiking group, and Clare is seriously injured when she falls from an overlook of a river near the first camp. Faye takes control for both of them, building a shelter when she finds Clare is too badly injured to return to camp, nursing the young woman and sleeping by her to keep her warm. Together, they discover that they share a common emotion – shame – which keeps them trapped in their situations. Despite the differences in their ages, both women, but Faye especially, uncover the reasons for their shame and also find courage through their growing relationship.

This is a terrific book, entwining and describing with flashbacks the intricacies of the interpersonal relationships of the group and the lack of personal awareness in both Faye’s and Clare’s lives. Faye’s manipulation by Derek, who is wonderfully created as an overbearing person acting out his insecurities, and Clare’s extreme control of her life through her anorexia, develop through the backstory so the reader comes to understand how they reached this point. Anorexia is by its nature difficult to understand, and the author does a brilliant job explaining Clare’s descent into the illness. The reader can feel the physical challenges facing the members of the hiking group and the stark, isolated and challenging environment in which they find themselves. And one can’t help but cheer as Faye’s newly discovered resilience and resourcefulness helps to support Clare, as she faces increasing weakness and the possible outcome.  

The story is gripping, tense and well-wrought, in terms of the characters’ complex narratives, the beauty of the South African wilderness, and the constant danger surrounding the hikers. Spoiler: Not all will survive. 

This book is a powerful celebration of human resiliency, and I highly recommend it.

Five stars.

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Faye and her friends’ anorexic daughter, Clare are thrown together after a flood separates them from their group during a hike in a remote, mountainous region of South Africa. When Clare is critically injured, Faye takes control, builds a shelter and nurses the younger woman. Her resilience and resourcefulness prove to Faye that she is not the fearful, helpless person her husband has long insisted she is. As they battle the elements and Clare’s failing health, the women discover they share a demon; shame. Their new friendship and growing appreciation of the wilderness take Faye and Clare on an unexpected journey of recovery and self-discovery—but not everyone survives.

THE WILDERNESS BETWEEN US is a portrait of two broken women who reclaim their independence and strength as they fight for survival—and renewal. It is a vivid, moving story about family, friendship and adventure, which reveals the effects of gaslighting and anorexia, the associated shame and the healing power of nature and compassion.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

The Wilderness Between Us by [Penny Haw]

Grisly #Crimefiction In Edinburgh. Sherry reviews The Book Of Skulls by David Hutchison, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Sherry. She blogs here

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sherry has been reading The Book Of Skulls by David Hutchison

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Let me start by saying how much I love Edinburgh and historical novels so this was right up my alley. I think I was already half-inclined to love it just from the cover and the setting. The author did the rest. His writing is visual and visceral. Some parts were a bit gruesome but the story called for it, in my opinion. This was not a lovely picnic on Arthur’s Seat on an early fall day. This was a murder mystery with a number of grisly murders….all in the name of science. A touch of Burke and Hare and their life of crime/murder adds to the historical feel of the book.

The protagonist, Liz, is a medical student who happens to be female. An uphill battle in the 19th Century for sure. She makes friends with another female student as they fight for their rightful place in the school. She also makes friends with a young man and the local police medical examiner. She’s accepted as an assistant with the coroner and gets some valuable experience in actual medical science, albeit on dead bodies, not living patients. But then she is also asked to assist in a local clinic and learns valuable skills. She seems to be on her way to being successful as a doctoress even though the powers that be at the school want the females out.

The story has many twists and turns and a number of exciting sequences where the reader fears for the protagonist and her friends’ safety. It was a ride for sure. The author is excellent at building suspense and even though I figured out the villain early, the book was still a page turner and very enjoyable. The side plot with the medical examiner is a great addition to the tale.

Overall, this was a delightful read…even with the violence and macabre parts. I give it 4.5 stars.

It seems there will be more adventures with this protagonist and I, for one, plan to be on the lookout for the next volume.

Desc 1

A Victorian tale of gender-bending, hidden identity, obsession and gruesome murder, set in Edinburgh’s Old Town.

1875. Liz Moliette; a poor orphan of unknown heritage, and Amulya Patel; from a wealthy Indian family, are the only female students at the Edinburgh Medical School, where a hostile attitude towards women is driven by Professor Atticus. However Liz and Amulya have allies in fellow student Campbell Preeble, The Reekie reporter Hector Findlay and the charming Dr Paul Love.
In dire need of funds, Liz becomes assistant to gruff lecturer and police surgeon Dr Florian Blyth. When a series of grisly murders take place the doctor and Liz help Inspector Macleod in his investigation, which leads to the Edinburgh Asylum, the Burry Man festival and the quack science of phrenology.
The search for the killer comes dangerously close to Liz as she uncovers her own family secrets.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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