Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Notes Of A Naive Traveler by @JSAauthor #Travel #Nepal

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Notes From A Naive Traveler by Jennifer S Alderson


4 out of 5 stars

This is quite a short book, written in semi-diary format, partly in emails, about the author’s travels in 1999.  The then 26-year-old Jennifer plunges in at the deep end, living first with a Nepali family, trekking around the country, then teaching Nepali children, after which she hits the tourist trail in Thailand.

This book would be most useful as a guidebook for those hoping to travel to Nepal, as it certainly paints a realistic picture; any traveller with whimsical dreams of entering a spiritual heaven as soon as they get off the plane should read the account of Thamel, of the families who assume Westerners are fair game, and of the bloody temple sacrifices ~ the lunch of goat’s blood will stay with me, I think…

I grew to like Jennifer more and more as the book went on (important when reading a memoir!), especially when she described the father of one of her Nepali families as ‘kind of a schmuck’ and the son as a ‘little shit’ – I have a fondness for those who dare to tell it like it is!  Her youthful enthusiasm is charming – everything is ‘amazing’, ‘gorgeous’, ‘incredible’, etc, though now and again I felt I would have liked to read about the place as seen through more mature eyes.  The most interesting parts of the book, for me, were her observations about the day to day habits and culture of the Nepalis and just little incidents that happened.  Her ‘characters’ really jumped off the page.  

On to Thailand, and Jennifer experiences the westernised tourist route of the famous Khao San Road and rejects it for more of the ‘real’ Thailand, though she was disappointed that the hill tribes lived not in mud huts but in shacks with corrugated tin rooves, with motorbikes and trucks parked outside, and that the caves where the Buddhist monks worked were strewn with electric cables.  Generally, though, her time in Thailand sounded so wonderful it almost made me whimper with longing.

I’d say that anyone who is thinking of visiting these countries, Nepal in particular, should take time to read this warts-and-all account, especially if they’re signing up for the volunteer work that entails being placed with a family.  Jen comes across as a very open-minded and non-egotistical sort of person; maybe why she felt like a fish out of water in the working world of Seattle, and wanted to experience different lifestyles.  I’d definitely read more about her travels; I liked the conversational tone of this book very much.

There are pictures, too ~ always a plus, with a travel guide!

Book description

“I never thought I would have reason to say to someone, ‘Sorry I’m late, it took longer to dismember the goat than originally planned.'”

I was twenty-six years old, worked at a well-paid job, rented a fantastic apartment, and enjoyed a large circle of friends. I had everything, except I didn’t. I couldn’t shake the feeling I was missing out on the experience of living.

Part guidebook on culture and travel, part journey of self-discovery, this travelogue takes you on a backpacking adventure through Nepal and Thailand and provides a firsthand account of one volunteer’s experience teaching in a Nepali school and living with a devout Brahmin family.

Trek with me through the bamboo forests and terraced mountaintops of eastern Nepal, take a wild river-rafting ride in class IV waters, go on an elephant ride and encounter a charging rhinoceros on jungle walks in Chitwan National Park, sea-kayak the surreal waters of Krabi, and snorkel in the Gulf of Thailand. Join me on some of the scariest bus rides you could imagine, explore beautiful and intriguing temples, experience religious rituals unknown to most Westerners, and visit mind-blowing places not mentioned in your typical travel guides.

Notes of a Naive Traveler is a must-read for those interested in learning more about – or wishing to travel to – Nepal and Thailand. I hope it inspires you to see these amazing countries for yourself.

Related subjects include: travel, adventure, memoirs, non-fiction, backpacking, volunteering, travelogue, travel writing, solo travel, culture, journals, cultural heritage, cultural travel, Asia, Nepal, Thailand.

About the author

Hi! I worked as a journalist and website developer in Seattle, Washington before trading my financial security for a backpack. After traveling extensively around Asia and Central America, I moved to Darwin, Australia, before finally settling in the Netherlands. There I earned degrees in art history and museum studies. Home is now Amsterdam, where I live with my Dutch husband and young son.

My travels and experiences color and inform my internationally-oriented fiction. Down and Out in Kathmandu: A Backpacker Mystery is a travel fiction adventure through Nepal and Thailand. The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery is a suspenseful ‘whodunit?’ which transports readers to wartime and present day Amsterdam.

Both novels are part of an on-going yet stand-alone series following the adventures of traveler and culture lover, Zelda Richardson. The third installment, another art-related travel thriller (working title: Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery) will be released in the January 2018.

My travelogue, Notes of a Naive Traveler: Nepal and Thailand, is now available as paperback and eBook. A must-read for those interested in learning more about – or wishing to travel to – Nepal and Thailand.

Jennifer S. Alderson

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Mystery The Maori Detective by by @crossmanDA

Today’s team review is from Karen O, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Karen has been reading The Maori Detective by D.A. Crossman


My Opinion

This book introduces you to Carlos Wallace and Virginia ‘Ginny’ Andrews, brought together to run Prince Investigations.

With The Maori Detective, D. A. Crossman has created a detective story combining several plot lines. It is at first on the slowish side, introducing the main characters and their pasts. After a few chapters, the story settles at a nice and steady pace. D. A. Crossman created a good suspense story with some twists, action, and interesting insights in the Maori culture. Focus is not on procedurals, rather on solving cases. I enjoyed the story, even if I could not get very close to it – I felt rather distant. It is a good read with believable characters, interesting turns, and a good flow.

This is a book for you if you like suspense with interesting turns and sidelines, believable characters, and if you appreciate the art of forgoing excessive details.

Book description

He’s lost his wife, his job, and his mana. So what now? A PI? He really couldn’t get used to it. Traipsing around after unfaithful wives and little old ladies’ lost dogs? Was this the future for Carlos Wallace? And what of the beautiful matakite? Wasn’t it a sin to fall in love with your cousin?

Carlos has spent thirteen years living in Australia, eight of them as a serving officer with the New South Wales Police. But when he kills a man in the line of duty, Carlos’ life begins to unravel. His wife is subsequently murdered in mysterious circumstances, and Carlos is dismissed from the force. A devastated Carlos returns home to his Christchurch whānau and takes up a job as a private detective.

When Carlos investigates the disappearance of a young French girl, missing since the February earthquake, the detective becomes embroiled in a sinister conspiracy. Carlos must solve the case, and pick up the pieces of his life among the ruins of a devastated city.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT @OlgaNM7 reviews #Horror Freaky Franky by @wblackwell333

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Freaky Franky by William Balckwell


I have been reading a book called Paperbacks from Hell  and when I saw this book, it reminded me so much of many of the covers and topics I had been reading about that I could not resist, although I was not sure about the title (was it horror, humour, or something else entirely?).

The novel begins with quite a bang. A strong scene where we are introduced to la Santa Muerte (Saint Death) a religion/cult (depending on whose point of view you take) that has flourished in Mexico and is spreading to many other places. Although we all have heard about the Mexican Día de los Muertos, this might cover new ground for many of us, but the author is well informed and provides good background into the history and the various opinions on Saint Death, that is an interesting topic in its own right.

But don’t get me wrong. This book is not all tell and not show. We have a number of characters who are linked (unknowingly at first) by their devotion to Saint Death. What in the beginning seem to be separate episodes, which show us the best and the worst consequences of praying to Saint Death, later come together in an accomplished narrative arc. Whilst praying for health and good things can result in miracles, praying for revenge and death carries serious and deadly consequences.

The story, written in the third person, alternates the points of views most of the characters, from the main characters to some of the bit actors, good and bad (although that is pretty relative in this novel) and it moves at good pace. It is dynamic and full of action, and this is a novel where the plot dominates. The characters are not drawn in a lot of detail and I did not find them as cohesive and compelling as the story, in part, perhaps, because they are, at times, under the control of Saint Death (but this is not a standard story of satanic possession). Although none of the characters are morally irreproachable,  Anisa and Dr. Ricardo are more sympathetic and easier to root for. Yes, Anisa might resent her missed opportunities and the fact that she is stuck in Prince Edward Island looking after her son, but she goes out of her way to help her friend Helen and her brother Franklin and warns them not to pray for revenge. Dr. Ricardo threads a fine line between helping others and protecting himself, but he does the best he can. Franklin, the Freaky Franky of the title, is a much more negative character and pretty creepy, especially early in the novel. Although we learn about his past and the tragedies in his life, he is Anisa’s brother, and she’s also gone through the same losses, without behaving like he does. He uses Saint Death’s power mostly for evil, although he seems to change his mind and attitude after Anisa’s intervention (I was not totally convinced by this turn of events). I found Natalie, the American tourist visiting the Dominican Republic with her fiancé, Terry, difficult to fathom as well. Perhaps some of it could be explained by the love/lust spell she is under, but she clearly suspects what Franklin has done to her, and her changed feelings towards a man she has known for five minutes makes no sense, at least to me (sorry, I am trying to avoid spoilers). Much of the action and events require a great deal of suspension of disbelief, but not more than is usual in the genre.

The novel keeps wrong-footing the readers. At first, we might think that everything that is going on can be explained by self-suggestion and that all the evil (and the good) is in the mind of the believer. These are desperate characters holding on to anything that offers them a glint of hope. And later, when bad things start to happen, it seems logical to believe that the characters we are following have acted upon their negative thoughts and impulses (and even they have doubts as to what they might have done). But nothing is quite as straightforward as it seems.

Although there is plenty of explicit violence and some sexual references (those not as explicit), I did not find it frightening or horrific as such. However, it is a disquieting, dark, and eerie book, because of the way it invites readers to look into the limits of morality and right and wrong. Is revenge ever justified? Is it a matter of degrees? Who decides? It seems la Santa Muerte has very specific thoughts about this, so be very careful what you wish (or pray) for.

An eye-opener with regards to the Saint Death cult and a book that will be enjoyed by readers who don’t mind supernatural novels with plenty of violence, and prefer their plots dynamic and action-driven.

Book description

When an enigmatic town doctor saves the life of Anisa Worthington’s dying son, she abandons Christianity in favor of devotion to the cult of Santa Muerte or Saint Death. Some believe the mysterious skeleton saint will protect their loved ones, help in matters of the heart, and provide abundant happiness, health, wealth, and justice. But others, including the Catholic Church, call the cult blasphemous, evil, and satanic.

Anisa introduces Saint Death to her friend Helen Randon, and soon one of Helen’s enemies is brutally murdered. Residents of Montague, a peaceful little town in Prince Edward Island, begin plotting to rid the Bible belt of apostates.

Anisa suspects Helen is perverting the good tenets of Saint Death. Before she can act, a terrible nightmare propels her to the Dominican Republic in search of Franklin, her long-lost and unstable brother, who mysteriously disappeared without a trace twenty years ago.

To her horror, Anisa learns Franklin is worshipping Saint Death with evil intentions. As a fanatical and hell-bent lynch mob tightens the noose, mysterious murders begin occurring all around Anisa. Unsure who’s an enemy and who’s an ally, she’s thrust into a violent battle to save her life, as well as the lives of her friends and brother.

About the author

William Blackwell studied journalism at Calgary’s Mount Royal University and English literature at Vancouver’s University of British Columbia.

He worked as a print journalist for many years before becoming an author.

Currently living on an acreage in Prince Edward Island, Blackwell loves to travel and write fiction.

He’s written many titles including: Brainstorm, Nightmare’s Edge, Phantom Rage , Orgon Conclusion, Assaulted Souls, Poison Rage, Infected Rage, Rule 14, Resurrection Point, Black Dawn, The End Is Nigh, Freaky Franky, Assaulted Souls II, Assaulted Souls III, The Strap, Blood Curse, A Head for an Eye, Black Dawn, The End Is Nigh and Freaky Franky.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #WW2 naval #thriller JONAH by @CarlRackman

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading Jonah by Carl Rackman


I am a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team and chose to read Jonah after seeing some other reviews for it. I received a copy of the book from the author but this has not influenced the content of my review.

It gives me great pleasure when an independent author has committed time, effort and money to ensure that when they publish their book it is the best that it can be, and that is the case here. Everything about Jonah’s presentation is professional which means no distracting typos or formatting errors during the read.

Mitch Kirkham, branded Lucky Kirkham, re-boards his ship, the Brownlee, after it has undergone repairs following a kamikaze strike. He just wants to get home but once out on the ocean a mysterious insanity starts to take over the crew and, amid an atmosphere of strange sightings that cause hysteria and suicide, he discovers the cause of the terror, and who’s behind it.

I know very little about naval warfare or the ins and outs of military ships and actually I have little interest in either but I was drawn into this story by the compelling characters Rackman creates and the setting in which he puts them.

I hadn’t read the blurb and knew nothing about the paranormal element and while this wouldn’t usually be my thing when it is incorporated into the storyline so naturally I completely accepted it without issue.  I also really enjoyed the flashbacks into various characters’ lives which gave the background to the visions that haunted them.

There is a fair amount of detail about the ship and crew and with many technical terms the author has provided a glossary at the back of the book. But who has time to go looking for that when this skilful writer manages to impart all the information in a way that makes it clear what is going on, doesn’t slow down the storyline, and provides chapters of a length that make you want to fit in one more before you go to sleep. Well-written and thoroughly enjoyable I have no hesitation in recommending Jonah.

Book description

The North Atlantic, 1940. A British destroyer pounces on a seemingly abandoned U-boat, leading to a spine-chilling encounter.

Five years later, the US Navy destroyer Brownlee grimly prepares to battle a swarm of Japanese kamikazes at Okinawa.

Mitch “Lucky” Kirkham, a young gunner on the Brownlee, wakes up miraculously unscathed after his crewmates are killed in a fearsome kamikaze strike.

Bullied and resented amid accusations of cowardice and worse, Mitch re-boards his patched-up ship for the long voyage back to San Francisco. All he wants is to go home.

But far out in the boundless emptiness of the Pacific, a strange madness begins to seize the sailors on the Brownlee. Terror, hysteria and suicide torment the men amid sightings of ghosts and a terrifying monster that stalks the ship by night.

Mitch stumbles upon a possible explanation for the madness. But as the ship presses on alone, deeper into the vast Pacific Ocean and the grip of insanity, will anyone listen to him before his famous luck runs out for good?

Jonah is a searing, psychological suspense thriller, the latest from Carl Rackman, author of Irex and Voyager.

About the author

Hi! I’m Carl Rackman, a British former airline pilot turned author. I come from a naval military background and have held a lifelong interest in military history and seafaring.

I spent my working life travelling the world and this has given me a keen interest in other people and cultures. I’ve drawn on my many experiences for my writing.

I write suspense thrillers with a flair for evocative descriptions of locales and characters. I enjoy complex, absorbing storylines combined with rich, believable characters, so that’s the sort of fiction I write. I try to create immersive worlds for the reader to explore, and characters who are more than just vehicles for the story.

Carl Rackman

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #TrueLife Living In Italy by Stef Smulders @italie_verhalen

Today’s team review is from Jenny R

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading Living In Italy: The Real Deal by Stef Smulders


 3 Stars

I have often had fancy thoughts of buying a nice little B&B in Italy. I have travelled there before on a road trip and found it such a beautiful, stunning and friendly place. So when I saw the title of this book, it grabbed my attention straight away.

It is a good read and one that I would recommend if you were thinking of taking up a project such as this one. I like the way that the author takes us through the stresses and frustrations of the bureaucratic red tape and the fun that he and his partner Nico experienced.

We often hear or read about dodgy, lazy builders that like to slack off and never seem to get renovations finished either on time or within budget. This certainly proves those points. The builder, Torti and his workers are an absolute nightmare and how on earth the owners managed to put up with them till the end of the project is beyond me. You can see how Italian builders get such a bad reputation.

The description of the Oltrepo region has been written with feeling. I almost felt as though I was driving through the Italian countryside.

At first I was not sure about the way Stef (the author) included Italian words into the dialog, but after a while it began to make more sense and I could see what he was trying to achieve. By the end of the book I found my self thinking that these Italian words would be helpful to those readers that are thinking of going to Italy.

This is an easy and relaxing read. It made me curious to see the final result, so I took a sneaky peak at the B&B website. Maybe I will take another Italian trip and book my stay with Stef and Nico.

Book description

Would you dare to follow your dream and move or retire to Italy? Stef & Nico did, although their dog Sara had her doubts. Now from your comfortable armchair you can share in the hilarious & horrendous adventures they experienced when they moved to Italy to start a bed and breakfast.

For lovers of amusing travelogue memoirs who like a good laugh. And for those interested in practical advice on how to buy a house in Italy there is useful information along the way, pleasantly presented within the short stories.

Glossary of Italian words included! Learn the true meaning of Italian phrases and expressions like “non ci sono problemi”, “di fiducia”, “persone serie”, “tutto a norma” and many more. Learn a bit of the foreign language before going to Italy.

Stef Smulders

Dutchman who moved to Italy in 2008 to live the good life wih husband and dog, welcoming guests in their Villa I Due Padroni B&B in the beautiful wine region Oltrepò Pavese, south of Milan.

Author of the Award winning book “Living in Italy: the Real Deal” with hilarious expat adventures.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Action #thriller Savage Isle by Beverley Scherberger

Today’s team review is from Shelley, she blogs at

#RBRT Review Team

Shelley has been reading Savage Isle by Beverley Scherberger


My Rating: 3 Stars

My Review:

As a child, I remember watching Planet of the Apes starring Charlton Heston and being totally hooked on the principle of monkeys being intelligent enough to rule and fight. In recent years the new Planet of the Apes franchise packs a punch with full on action and adventure which cemented my love for this genre. When I saw the cover for Beverley Scherberger’s Savage Isle I didn’t hesitate to find out more.

The blurb suggests a fast-paced read with plenty of thrills and horror, and the opening chapters don’t disappoint. I instantly connected to Laralee and felt her terror when the monkeys she was working with became the stuff of nightmares. The author opens with a graphic hook and then builds the tension so you can’t possibly put the book down.

Unfortunately, for me, the fabulous spark at the start of the book fizzled out once the scientists were shipwrecked. I was expecting the team to be picked off one at a time by the mutant monkeys. I had expectations of a do or die nature where we saw the survivors grow into their new roles and fight back against their own creations. Instead, the storyline follows the survivors pairing off, building houses, and having babies. We are rushed through years of ‘nothing’ until the characters I’d connected with at the start die and the story follows their offspring with more pairing off, building houses, and having babies. The savage monkeys who had been the hook for me appeared a handful of times and the lovely Orangutan’s we meet at the start are never heard from again. I was hoping they would pop up as a strong family unit to save the day.  

I kept reading in the hope that the fantastic build-up and thrills would return but I was disappointed. Not what I was expecting from such a gripping blurb and cover.

I received a copy of Savage Isle via Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team in exchange for an honest review.

Book description

Carl and Laralee and their team of scientists are hired by the Spanish government to develop a highly secret, revolutionary serum. Their goal—to create an army of carnivorous monkeys that would give Spain an indisputable advantage over its enemies. They succeed beyond their wildest dreams. However, greatly increased intelligence is an unexpected side effect that causes serious complications. The beasts are thinking, reasoning, and increasingly dangerous.

After one death and several serious attacks on workers, the scientific team is relieved to learn their request to move the facility to a larger island with more security and built-in safeguards is approved.

While awaiting news of a moving date, additional experiments with orangutans prove successful as well. James and Julie, the most advanced, skilled, and lovable of the facility’s apes, have mated. Will they produce the amazingly intelligent offspring the team expects?

During the facility’s relocation, a terrible storm wreaks havoc with their plans and the new island turns out to be anything but a safe haven. Carl and Laralee, Doc Gustav and Teresa, and the rest of the team battle for survival against their own nightmarish creations.

About the author

I was introduced to writing in the sixth grade when my English teacher told the class we’d be learning how to write short stories. I remember thinking, “Write a short story? I’m just a kid!” But I loved the experience and knew I wanted to keep on doing it.

Attending Miami University of Ohio at age 40 gave me the unique perspective of being older than most of the students and many of my professors. Not interested in who was dating who or what sorority was doing what, I concentrated on my studies and graduated summa cum laude.

After penning over 200 published non-fiction articles for various magazines and newspapers, I tried my hand at fiction and am now hooked. It’s what I enjoy reading and have found I enjoy writing it, too.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Historical #Mystery The Likeness by @carver22 #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Likeness by Bill Kirton


The Likeness is a sequel to the enormously popular book by this author: The Figurehead. In that book, the readers were introduced the port city of Aberdeen in the mid-19th century and to three of its citizens: the woodcarver John Grant; William Anderson, a rich merchant; and his headstrong daughter Elizabeth.

The Likeness begins with the discovery of the battered body of a young woman in the muck near the wharves where the Aberdeen fishermen bring in their catches. The body is painfully thin and is clothed in the rich garb of someone not normally found in that area.

Grant is doubtful that the town’s constable – who is short-sighted, lacks intelligence, and has a nasty personality — will ever discover what happened to her, and decides to take on the task of finding her killer. At the same time, he accepts a commission to create a figurehead to feature onstage in the melodramas of a newly-arrived theatre group, a commission paid for by a demanding patron.

The love that developed between John Grant and Helen Anderson in the previous book grows stronger and more evident in this one. Helen wishes to become an integral part of her father’s shipping business, an unheard-of thing in those times, and eventually her father acquiesces. This puts her in direct conflict with a merchant wishing to do business with her father — the patron who paid Grant’s commission and an insulting character.

The story weaves in and out of Helen’s challenges in a male-dominated society, Grant’s investigations, and their love story. It proceeds at a leisurely pace, as befits the times, and is filled with historic details of the theater and actors, the city, and most especially Aberdeen’s busy port. The descriptions of waterfront and the wharves, the ships, and the workers there were compelling, and I read some of them twice for enjoyment. The author has captured the sights, the smells, the city and the societal norms in vivid detail.

Helen as a character is quite unique to her age. I wonder if such women – running businesses and rejecting the restrictions of conventional courtship and marriage, especially the idea that a woman is the property of her husband –actually existed at that time. Certainly, her role is one that will appeal to feminists of all ages. I was particularly drawn to the description of her three-day journey on one of her father’s ships, designed to carry passengers to Canada. It gave further insight into Helen’s intelligence and the plight and strength of those immigrating to North America.

John Grant is kind, thoughtful, intelligent, and certainly amenable to all of Elizabeth’s modern ideas. As a man of his time, I would have liked him to be more resistant. The only tension between them is just a misunderstanding.

The mystery of the woman’s death is far more complex than at first view, and the twists and turns of Grant’s investigation left me puzzled to the very end.

All in all, a successful meshing of historical romance and mystery, with rich detail of a bygone era, by an author who knows how to weave a good story.

Book description

Aberdeen, 1841. Woodcarver John Grant has an unusual new commission – creating a figurehead to feature onstage in the melodramas of a newly-arrived theatre group. Simultaneously, he’s also trying to unravel the mystery of the death of a young woman, whose body has been found in the filth behind the harbour’s fish sheds.

His loving relationship with Helen Anderson, which began in The Figurehead, has grown stronger but, despite the fact that they both want to be together, she rejects the restrictions of conventional marriage, in which the woman is effectively the property of the husband.

As John works on the figurehead, Helen persuades her father, a rich merchant, to let her get involved in his business, allowing her to challenge yet more conventions of a male-dominated society.

The story weaves parallels between the stage fictions, Helen’s business dealings, a sea voyage, stage rehearsals, and John’s investigations. In the end, the mystery death and the romantic dilemma are both resolved, but in unexpected ways.

About the author

Bill Kirton was a university lecturer in French before taking early retirement to become a full-time writer. He’s won two 2011 Forward National Literature Awards – ‘The Sparrow Conundrum’ was the overall winner of the Humor category and ‘The Darkness’ was runner up in the Mystery category. His historical mystery, ‘The Figurehead’, was long-listed for the 2012 Rubery Book Awards.

He’s produced material in many different media. His radio plays have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4 and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. His stage plays have been performed in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and the USA and he’s been the visiting artist to the Theatre Department of the University of Rhode Island on four separate occasions. There, he directed stage plays, gave classes on creative writing and theatre, performed in revues and translated three plays by Molière for public performance, one of which won a BCLA prize. Material from his Edinburgh Festival revues was broadcast on the BBC, ITV and French television.

He’s also been a TV presenter and a voice-over artist and his scripts for corporate and educational DVDs and videos have won awards in the UK and USA. He’s been a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, and the universities of Dundee and St Andrews.

Most of his novels are set in the north east of Scotland. ‘Material Evidence’, ‘Rough Justice’, the award-winning ‘The Darkness’, ‘Shadow Selves’ and ‘Unsafe Acts’ all feature DCI Jack Carston. ‘The Figurehead’ is a historical novel set in Aberdeen in 1840. The award-winning ‘The Sparrow Conundrum’, is a spoof spy/crime novel also set in Scotland. His comic fantasy novella, ‘Alternative Dimension’ satirises online role-playing games.

His short stories have appeared in the Crime Writers’ Association annual anthology in 1999, 2005 and 2006. IN 2010, one was also chosen for the ‘Best British Crime Stories, Vol. 7’ anthology edited by Maxim Jacubowski.

His non-fiction output includes ‘Brilliant Study Skills’, ‘Brilliant Essay’, ‘Brilliant Dissertation’, ‘Brilliant Workplace Skills’ and ‘Brilliant Academic Writing. He also co-wrote ‘Just Write’ with Kathleen McMillan.

He writes books for children. ‘Rory the Dragon and Princess Daisy’ was published as a tribute to his great niece, Daisy Warn, who lived for just 16 weeks. Proceeds from its sales go to a children’s hospice in South-West England. ‘The Loch Ewe Mystery’ is a stand-alone novel for children aged 7-12 and he’s preparing a series about a grumpy male fairy called Stanley who lives under a cold, dripping tap in his bedroom.

Bill Kirton

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Amie: African Adventure by @LucindaEClarke #Africa

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Amie: African Adventure by Lucinda E Clarke


3 out of 5 stars

The book starts with a terrific prologue about a girl incarcerated in what I assumed to be an African jail. On to Chapter One, where, back in England, we meet Amie, a rather twee young woman whose husband is offered a job in the fictional country of Togodo.  Amie is concerned that this will interfere with her life-plan, which is, basically, to live as her parents.  Once in Togodo, she expresses much surprise that everything isn’t just like it is back home, but new friends and fellow ex-pats are there to show her and Jonathon the ropes.

The aspect of this book that I liked very much indeed was the insight into the culture of Africa, the political system, the law, or lack of it, and just the day to day domestic life, social problems and customs.  It’s clear the author knows her stuff, and it’s delivered so well.  As the novel progresses, I learned much about the farce of foreign aid, government corruption and the problems facing the aid workers who actually do care.

In fact, I liked the African life element so much that, to a large extent, it made up for the weaker side of the novel: the characterisation.  The expatriates in Africa all talk in perfectly formed sentences imparting the required amount of information; there are no individual nuances of speech.  During a trip home to England, Amie’s family and friends speak as one in either their total disinterest in or their nasty, critical dismissal about her way of life in Africa; I realise that this was a vehicle to give cause for Amie’s feeling of distance from her former life, but I felt it could have been approached more subtly.  I also found the dialogue between Amie and Jonathan stilted, wooden and oddly old-fashioned; the words Amie uses (such as exclamations of ‘Goodness!’ to indicate surprise) and her naïve questions and attitudes/observations did little to portray a 21st century twenty-something who works in the media.

Three quarters of the way through the book a military coup takes place and Amie’s life is turned upside down; the danger and her escape certainly ups the pace and it is well-written, but, alas, by then, I found everything about her irritating.  I do understand that this is just a personal reaction, though; not everyone would find her so.

I’ve looked at the author’s bio and see that she writes non-fiction books as well as fiction.  I think she has such a great voice when it comes to putting over the feel of a country, and she writes about it in such an accessible way; I am sure I would enjoy her non-fiction.  Had the main character in this novel been older, or a bit more worldly, I may have found her more realistic.  Despite my criticisms, though, I do think this book would be enjoyed by those with a particular interest in the African way of life.

Book description

Amie was just an average girl, living in her home town close to friends and family. She was happily married and she had her future all planned out. They would have two adorable children, while she made award winning programmes for television. Until the day her husband announced he was being sent to live and work in an African country she had never heard of. When she came to the notice of a Colonel in the Government, it made life very complicated, and from there things started to escalate from bad to worse. If Amie could have seen that one day she would be totally lost, fighting for her life, and enduring untold horrors, she would never have stepped foot on that plane.

About the author

Born in Dublin, matured in England, wanted to follow grandfather into Fleet Street, family not wildly enthusiastic – unfeminine, unreliable and dangerous. Went to dockland Liverpool – safe, respectable and pensionable. Returned south with teaching qualifications, extremely good at self defence. Went crofting in Scotland, bred Cairn Terriers among other things. Moved to Kenya with 7 week old daughter, abandoned in the bush. On to Libya, surviving riots, public hangings, imprisoned husband and eventual deportation. Queued with the unemployed millions in UK. Moved to Botswana – still teaching – opened and ran the worst riding school in the world,- with ‘How to…’ book in hand.
Moved south to South Africa taught for four years, then in 1986 became a full time freelance writer, for major corporations, UNESCO, UNICEF and the South African Broadcasting Corporation for both radio and television. Moving into video production in 1986, received over 20 awards, specializing in education, documentaries, municipal and government, one script for National Geographic.
Returned UK Jan 1994, back to SA before April elections.
Taught in 7 countries, including Britain, Kenya, France, Libya, Botswana, Swaziland and South Africa. Also found time to breed animals for pet shops, write a newspaper column, publish two books, Heinneman & Macmillan, and work for several years as a radio announcer. Married with two daughters, a stepson and stepdaughter, moved to Spain in 2008. I now write a monthly column and have published two more books, a memoir and an adventure story set in Africa.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #scifi The Happy Chip by Dennis Meredith @explainresearch

Today’s team review is from Lilyn, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Lilyn has been reading The Happy Chip by Dennis Meredith


Dennis Meredith is a solid writer who has turned his talent to near-future, on-Earth science fiction instead of reaching for the stars as so many writers do. I have previously read his book Wormholes and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I was quite happy to pick up The Happy Chip.

The Happy Chip is an interesting, thought-provoking book simply because you could see something like the Happy Chip getting very popular, very fast. The benefits of it sound fantastic, but when you stop to think about it at all, you see how easily it could go sideways. The love of money and control will always encourage people to do horrible things. Some more so than others.

Luckily, the main character and his wife are willing to do whatever is necessary to put a stop to things in The Happy Chip . Speaking of the pair, I loved Brad and Annie. While the implications of the Happy Chip technology is enough to pique your interest and get you to pay attention, it’s the relationship between the husband and wife that really cemented my interest in the book. I loved how they worked together as a team and trusted each other implicitly. I want more characters like these in books, please!

The pacing of The Happy Chip was perfect. The action was constantly going. The science is not unbelievable at all (which makes it scary). There’s a lot of good things to say about this novel, and I recommend it for fans of near-future science fiction scenarios. However, there are some minor problems. I noticed it in Wormholes, I believe, and I saw it in this book as well. While his beginnings and middles are excellent, the end of the stories are a bit weak, and the dialogue during action-packed times can be a little too dramatic. Not enough to turn me off, by any means, but it is an area that feels like it needs some improvement in.

Overall, this was a good, entertaining read from an author who knows how to spin stories that feel like they could happen just a few months from now. If you like Earth-based and/or near future science fiction at all, you should definitely check out The Happy Chip from Dennis Meredith.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review consideration as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Book description

You feel ecstatic! Until you kill yourself.

The Happy Chip is the latest nanoengineering wonder from the high-flying tech company, NeoHappy, Inc.

Hundreds of millions of people have had the revolutionary chip injected into their bodies to monitor their hormonal happiness and guide them to life choices, from foods to sex partners.

Given the nanochip’s stunning success, struggling science writer Brad Davis is thrilled when he is hired to co-author the biography of its inventor, billionaire tech genius Marty Fallon.

That is, until Davis learns that rogue company scientists are secretly testing horrifying new control chips with “side effects”—suicidal depression, uncontrollable lust, murderous rage, remote-controlled death, and ultimately, global subjugation.

His discovery threatens not only his life, but that of his wife Annie and their children. Only with the help of Russian master hacker Gregor Kalinsky and his gang can they hope to survive the perilous adventure that takes them from Boston to Beijing.

The Happy Chip, an edge-of-your-seat thriller, spins a cautionary tale of unchecked nanotechnology spawning insidious devices that could enslave us. It dramatically portrays how we must control our “nanofuture” before it’s too late.

About the author

Dennis Meredith brings to his novels an expertise in science from his career as a science communicator at some of the country’s leading research universities, including MIT, Caltech, Cornell, Duke and the University of Wisconsin. He has worked with science journalists at all the nation’s major newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV networks and has written well over a thousand news releases and magazine articles on science and engineering over his career.

Dennis Meredith

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT naval #thriller JONAH by @CarlRackman #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Jonah by Carl Rackman


Carl Rackman is rapidly becoming one of my favourite authors. His debut novel Irex, was published in 2016, closely followed by Voyager, and now we have Jonah, a suspenseful and compelling thriller.

In a foreboding prologue the crew of the Royal Navy Destroyer, HMS Venator, spot a Nazi U-Boat showing no signs of life, just sitting on the surface of the ocean. Seizing the chance to get rid of the enemy vessel they were not at all prepared for the hair-raising behaviour of the few survivors.

Fast forward to another ship five years later, the USS Brownlee, patrolling a stretch of the Pacific alongside the USS Mattersley, providing an early warning system against air attacks by Japanese kamikaze pilots. Twenty-one year old Mitch Kirkham was one of two gun loaders and when they are again under attack, this time by many more planes than previously, the terrified young sailors could only hope the defending Navy pilots would be able to reduce the force of the attack before the Japanese aircraft reached the ship.

For the second time ‘Lucky’ Mitch Kirkham survives an attack which kills many of his crewmates. The remaining ship’s crew become suspicious of his lack of injuries, among other things, branding him a coward and earning him the nickname Jonah. He’s subjected to victimization and bullying, finding his only real friend in Father MacGready, the ship’s chaplain. Mitch is not looking forward to the long journey back to San Francisco. But that’s only the beginning for Mitch, the troubled ship and it’s crew, as the situation aboard goes from bad to worse when the sailors become afflicted by a strange madness which causes hallucinations, murder and suicide. Mitch finds out to his cost that not everyone is who they seem.

Set towards the end of the Second World War and told in the third person, mostly but not exclusively from Mitch’s perspective, the story is tense and described vividly, particularly the problems caused by the proximity of the living and working conditions, as well as the fear and anxiety of the men. Extremely well written and researched, the plot is plausible, perfectly paced and I had no idea how it would unfold and I certainly didn’t expect that ending, despite the narrative’s ominous build up. I love the flashbacks, which tie in with certain characters, showing how events from the past have never really left them. Characterisations are distinct and well defined and the dialogue authentic. The effects of war, stress, survivor’s guilt and how subordinates are at the mercy of their superiors, are all frighteningly realistic. It’s only January but I can see this featuring in my list of best reads for this year.

Book description

The North Atlantic, 1940. A British destroyer pounces on a seemingly abandoned U-boat, leading to a spine-chilling encounter.

Five years later, the US Navy destroyer Brownlee grimly prepares to battle a swarm of Japanese kamikazes at Okinawa.

Mitch “Lucky” Kirkham, a young gunner on the Brownlee, wakes up miraculously unscathed after his crewmates are killed in a fearsome kamikaze strike.

Bullied and resented amid accusations of cowardice and worse, Mitch re-boards his patched-up ship for the long voyage back to San Francisco. All he wants is to go home.

But far out in the boundless emptiness of the Pacific, a strange madness begins to seize the sailors on the Brownlee. Terror, hysteria and suicide torment the men amid sightings of ghosts and a terrifying monster that stalks the ship by night.

Mitch stumbles upon a possible explanation for the madness. But as the ship presses on alone, deeper into the vast Pacific Ocean and the grip of insanity, will anyone listen to him before his famous luck runs out for good?

Jonah is a searing, psychological suspense thriller, the latest from Carl Rackman, author of Irex and Voyager.

About the author

Hi! I’m Carl Rackman, a British former airline pilot turned author. I come from a naval military background and have held a lifelong interest in military history and seafaring.

I spent my working life travelling the world and this has given me a keen interest in other people and cultures. I’ve drawn on my many experiences for my writing.

I write suspense thrillers with a flair for evocative descriptions of locales and characters. I enjoy complex, absorbing storylines combined with rich, believable characters, so that’s the sort of fiction I write. I try to create immersive worlds for the reader to explore, and characters who are more than just vehicles for the story.

Carl Rackman

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