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

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

#RBRT Review Team

Sandra has been reading Love, Look Away by Lisette Brodey

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

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

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

Book description

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

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

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

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction NOT MY FATHER’S HOUSE by Loretta Miles Tollefson

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

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Not My Father’s House by Loretta Miles Tollefson

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This novel is part of a series, but it works very well as a standalone – you very quickly get to know the characters and their backgrounds and what has brought them to the mountains.

Suzanna is that rare thing in an historical novel – a woman who doesn’t fit in with the requirements of the time, who rails against the constraints of her life, but who isn’t allowed to overcome them. She has to conform, as women did, but this leads to frustration and misery.

There is some wonderful description in this novel, description that doesn’t overwhelm the narrative, and it is very easy to picture the beautiful, but often hostile countryside. There are some really horrible and upsetting moments, written without melodrama, that bring home the reality of the fragility and danger of life then, particularly for women.

The writing is polished, professional and technically sound. Characters are authentic and consistent. It’s refreshing to see themes like post-natal depression examined so sensitively here – something not often tackled in historical novels.

My only gripe is that some of the scenes of the mountain man are rather repetitive. He thinks the same things, does the same things, and I did feel that these episodes could have been cut. There is some repetition throughout the novel – while it is undoubtedly well-written, it could do with being cut back a little. I did find myself skipping over some parts.

That said, this was a really interesting read and I’ll definitely read more by this author.

Four stars.

Book description

Suzanna hates everything about her New Mexico mountain home. The isolation. The short growing season. The critters after her corn. The long snow-bound winters in a dimly-lit cabin.

But she loves Gerald, who loves this valley.

So Suzanna does her unhappy best to adjust, even when the babies come, both of them in the middle of winter. Her postpartum depression, the cold, and the lack of sunlight push her to the edge.

But the Sangre de Cristo mountains contain a menace far more dangerous than Suzanna’s internal struggles. The man Gerald killed in the mountains of the Gila two years ago isn’t as dead as everyone thought.

And his lust for Suzanna may be even stronger than his desire for Gerald’s blood.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Thriller COLLATERAL CARNAGE by Chris Saper

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Collateral Carnage by Chris Saper

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Having worked in the health services (although in the UK) for a number of years, and having treated some patients suffering from PTSD (although I’m no specialist), I was intrigued by this debut novel. I was even more interested when I read the author’s biography and learned of her first-hand experience as a healthcare administrator, as that promised to bring an insider’s perspective into the topic and add complexity to the plot.

This novel is perfect for readers who love conspiracy theory plots and also spy novels. I must confess that I am not much of a reader of spy novels, because I tend to get lost in the huge number of names, where characters often swap identities, and sometimes find it difficult to tell the different players apart. There is some of that here, because we are thrown at the deep end from the beginning. There’s no gentle easing into the subject or much background information provided before we get into the nitty gritty of the story, and the fact that we don’t know what’s happening parallels the experience of the main character, Claire Wilheit.

The story is narrated in the third person, but from a variety of points of view (I’d say almost as many as characters, or at least as many as characters that have some bearing into the outcome of the novel), and although some characters appear often and we become somewhat familiar with them, there are others that only make a fleeting appearance. The point of view, although clearly signalled, can change even within a chapter, and not all readers feel comfortable with so many changes. Chapters are short, the story moves at a quick pace, and although the language is straightforward, and there are no unnecessarily long descriptions, readers need to remain alert and attentive. This is not an easy and relaxed read; the plot has many strands that might appear quite entangled and confusing at first, but if one keeps reading, the story becomes clearer and the subject is both compelling and gripping.

Personally, I felt that this is a story heavier on plot than on characters. There are quite a number of characters I liked (mostly on the “good” side, although I felt some sympathy for the motives of some of the characters on the “bad” side as well), especially Claire, who is determined, intelligent, resourceful, and has managed to overcome pretty difficult circumstances, but because there are so many characters, and they all take their turn, it is difficult to get to know most of them in depth. I think that was in part the reason why, at times, I felt like an observer of the plot and the story, rather than being fully involved and sharing in the experiences of the characters. The end of the novel hinted at the possibility of further adventures involving Claire and some of the other characters (I’m trying to avoid spoilers here), so readers might learn much more about them.

I “enjoyed” (well, it worried me, but you know what I mean), the insight into the pharmaceutical industry, the way the novel spells out the relationship between Big Pharma and politics, and the reflections on how the healthcare system works (or rather, might end up working) in the USA. One of the aspects of the novel that I found captivating was the dystopian edge of the story. I haven’t seen it listed as a dystopia, but it is set in the very near future, with a social order very similar to the current one, but with subtle differences, or perhaps one could call them “developments” that, unfortunately, fit in well with recent events and with the way things are progressing. In the book, the efforts to control costs have resulted in the privatization of ever more services —the police force in Phoenix, for instance, deals with certain kinds of crimes, but at night there is a Militia in charge, and there is a curfew in place—, including the healthcare of the veterans of the many wars that the American military has participated in, and there are large interests involved in all these services. And, of course, those can be manipulated by less than scrupulous people. The most worrying part of the story is that it feels very realistic. It does not take a big stretch of the imagination to see something like this happening, and perhaps with an end far less satisfying than that of the novel (which I liked).

In summary, this is a novel for lovers of conspiracy theories and/or fairly realistic spy thrillers, that like puzzles and complex plots and don’t shy away from hard topics. The author injects her knowledge into the story without overwhelming it and the research is well integrated into the plot. There is no graphic violence and no romance here but a dire warning of how things could end up if money continues to be the governments’ (not only that of the USA) only consideration when dealing with people’s wellbeing. The characters are not as important as the story, but I think there is room for their development in future instalments. As a note to the author, I wonder if a list of characters might help people not to get lost, especially at the beginning of the book. I know that because of the nature of the plot, it might be difficult to do that without spoiling some of the surprises, although there might be ways around it. I will keep a close watch on the author’s writing career.

Book description

Money. Politics. Big Pharma. What could go wrong?As PTSD therapist Claire Wilheit is about to learn, a whole helluva lot. A chance after-hours encounter with a fellow therapist reveals falsified patient files and thrusts Claire into a conspiracy poised to revolutionize treatment for US veterans now and for future generations, with deadly collateral damage.Trapped in an avalanche of events over which she has no control, Claire is locked into a race against time in preventing the sweeping, irreversible and fatally flawed policies that Congress is about to set into play.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Mystery MURDER AT THE COLUMBARIUM by @TheEmilyGallo @ImChrisBarboza

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

#RBRT Review Team

Karen has been reading Murder At The Columbarium by Emily Gallo

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This book focuses on the Columbarium’s caretaker Jed and how his life changes when finding a murdered young woman on the premises.

With “Murder at the Columbarium”, Emily Gallo has created a well-elaborated and intriguing story about Jed and his friends. The story comprises a variety of characters with sufficient depth, interesting turns, food for thought, and a great flow. I was drawn into the story right away, close to Jed, his wife, their friends; captivated by what this story had to offer. I had a great time reading “Murder at the Columbarium”. It is a memorable story; I enjoyed reading about Jed who is warm-hearted and determined.

This is for you if you like steady-paced mysteries, stories that let you follow along and inspire your own train of thoughts, as well as books you would like to read again because their stories are unforgettable.

Recommended.

Book description

Jed’s quiet life as caretaker of the San Francisco Columbarium is turned upside down when he comes upon a dead woman’s body and a crying baby just inside the gate. His search for answers thrusts him into a world of corruption, bigotry and drug trafficking and he becomes one of the principal suspects.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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6 Reasons To Fall In Love With #HistoricalRomance during 2020

Happy New Year & New Decade!

What will you be reading this year?

I’m going to begin by enticing some of you to try a new genre.

6 reasons to fall in love with historical romance.

1) A refreshing change from email, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Historical fiction brings back the art of conversation and hand-written letters. There is no constant checking for updates on social media, no stalking friends via the internet. Words like catfish and ghosting have completely different meanings in a bygone era.

2) Lessons in history that don’t feel like the schoolroom.

Historical romance can give readers insights into the past in the same way as other categories of the history genre, even if the main theme of a book is the romance.

I’ve learnt about real historical characters, social etiquette, smuggling and the Scottish witch trials, to name just a few examples.

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The Dressmaker’s Secret by Charlotte Betts,

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The Kings Elite series by Virginian Heath,

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The Beauchamp Betrothals by Janice Preston

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and The Mermaid and The Bear by Ailish Sinclair.

3) Escapism!

Modern life is fast paced, full of stress and worry. A well-written historical romance can transport you to another era and help you to forget about the outside world for a few hours. You can join characters in London ballrooms, country houses, foreign countries, or travel by horse-drawn coach and ocean steamer. Here are a few titles that I’ve escaped with:

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The 20’s Girl, The Ghost and All That Jazz by June Kearns,

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From Governess To Countess by Marguerite Kaye,

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Secrets Of A Highland Warrior by Nicole Locke,

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The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough.

4) We all deserve a chance on love.

For some readers the thought of a ‘Happy Ever After’ ending will have them running for the hills. However, for others the warm fuzzy feeling that you can get when you read a romance can be as healing as a strong cup of tea with two sugars. Reading about a couple who found love after adversity can be uplifting.

5) If you find a setting that you enjoy, you can stay for the series.

Who doesn’t love a series? If I discover an author that I like, I’m thrilled when I know they’ve written a series. Many authors offer book one of a series for free or at a reduced rate, which helps me to try an unfamiliar author, and once I’m hooked by a series I like meeting characters that I fell in love with when they appear again in later books.

6) You can appreciate romantic elements in other historical works.

I read quite a lot of historical romance and one point that stands out is that it needs to be believable. It has to fit the era and the actual romance, no matter what level of heat is used, it has got to be realistic. A good piece of romance can enhance an historical novel by helping to create passionate, layered characters that the reader wants to invest their time in. The books below had romance which supported the main themes:

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The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull,

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The Alice Network by Kate Quinn,

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Never Say Goodbye by Hilary Green

What books in the historical romance genre can you recommend to me?

 

If you’ve enjoyed this post, then you might also enjoy:

6 Reasons To Read Books That Feature The Paranormal

5 Reasons To Start Reading Urban Fantasy

 

 

 

Rosie’s #BookReview Of #HistoricalRomance The Inconvenient Elmswood Marriage by @MargueriteKaye #TuesdayBookBlog

The Inconvenient Elmswood Marriage (Mills & Boon Historical) (Penniless Brides of Convenience, Book 4)The Inconvenient Elmswood Marriage (Mills & Boon Historical) by Marguerite Kaye

4 stars

The Inconvenient Elmswood Marriage is an historical romance and book four of the Penniless Brides of Convenience series.

This is the story of Kate, an estate manager’s daughter who married a man, only to live separately from him for the next eleven years.

Daniel Fairfax wanted nothing to do with his inheritance and was only too happy to hand the running of his estate over to Kate. For eleven years their only communication were brief letters. But when two men from the Admiralty turned up at his home seeking Kate’s help. She believed it was her wifely duty to pack a bag and go to his rescue.

Having read the previous three books in this series, I was pleased to get the chance to read Kate’s story. I enjoyed the snippets about the agricultural revolution that were slipped into the narrative and appreciated the role Kate played in restoring the estate grounds and gardens.

The romance was expected, but still worked well between the couple, even surprising me a little at times.

Overall, a fine ending to a series.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Their marriage was a solution…
Until passion turns it into a problem!

Lord and Lady Elmswood’s convenient marriage has allowed them to live separate lives for years. Until larger-than-life Daniel almost dies and Kate must nurse the husband she barely knows back to health…and discover how maddeningly attractive he is! With the clock ticking on his departure, they disagree on everything – except the impossibility of resisting each other!

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The Inconvenient Elmswood Marriage (Mills & Boon Historical) (Penniless Brides of Convenience, Book 4) by [Kaye, Marguerite]

Rosie’s #Bookreview of #Paranormal #Thriller TREMBLEATH by Ruth Shedwick

TrembleathTrembleath by Ruth Shedwick

3.5 stars

Trembleath is a paranormal thriller set in Cornwall.

Amelia Scott has come to Creek Bay to start a new life. The first person that she meets is Seth; he saves her life, then, later, he offers her a job at his book shop.

The next day there is shocking news of a murder followed by the disappearance of a young girl. This is no longer the peaceful setting that Amelia had hoped for. After experiencing some hair-raising incidents at her own cottage, she offers to help the police in their investigations. She discovers some odd local behaviour which has her wondering if some of the villagers are perhaps hiding sinister secrets. As the story reaches its denouement it has a very abrupt and open ending which I can only assume will lead into the following book.

I liked the mystery and the way that the paranormal focus built up in this book; the author made me think of several other ‘Beast of Bodmin’ stories. Seth was a mysterious character who alternated between opposing emotions and I enjoyed the tension that built up around him as the story proceeded. However, I was less keen on the romantic parts; this version of the oft-used love triangle plot brought nothing new to the table.

I liked the hints of horror, but felt that they could have been developed further to make the story really creepy. Just when I thought a thread was going to be truly scary, the author took the tale in a different direction.

Overall, the book had lots of potential, but it fell back on the predictable instead of fully using areas of this author’s writing strengths; I was never surprised.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Amelia Scott is a young woman trying to re-build her life in Southern England following a disastrous relationship. It was going to be an adventure, but when there’s news of a young girl found dead and another goes missing, she quickly begins to learn there is more to Creek Bay than she could ever imagine. A village hiding a dark secret, two families at war; newcomer Amelia Scott gets caught up in a murder investigation with dire consequences.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Cosy #Mystery Christmas Cupcakes & A Caper by @dehaggerty

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

#RBRT Review Team

Karen has been reading Christmas Cupcakes & A Caper by D.E. Haggerty

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This book focuses on the ‘Callie’s Cakes’ gang trying to find out who murdered the dead student on their doorstep.

With “Christmas Cupcakes & a Caper”, D. E. Haggerty has created an expertly worded and funny suspense story with a romantic touch. The story comprises a broad variety of believable characters with sufficient depth, hilarious moments, and interesting interactions to solve the case of the murdered college student. I had a great time reading “Christmas Cupcakes & a Caper” – it is a very fun read. I was drawn into the story right away, chuckling about the stubborn protagonists, shaking my head – a lot because of Anna; for me, Callie and Kristie are a great counterpoint for Anna.

This is for you if you like female amateur sleuths, stubborn and determined women, hilarious situations as well as a great combination of cosy suspense, humour, and romance.

A funny and suspenseful book to read again.

Recommended.

Book description

It’s all candy cane cupcakes and peppermint coffee until you find a dead elf on your doorstep.

Only the elf wasn’t a real elf, because elves don’t actually exist – not even at Christmas time. A college student dressed like an elf decided taking a nap on the stoop of Callie’s Cakes in sub-zero winter temps was a good idea. It wasn’t. Anna, the pink-haired baker extraordinaire, is convinced the student’s death was not an accident. She drags Callie and Kristie along with her as she attempts to discover who killed the elf … um… student.

Will the gals of Callie’s Cakes find the killer before Christmas is ruined?

Cupcakes not included, although you’ll find recipes for all the delicious Christmas cupcakes Anna bakes.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #SciFi #ShortStory BEHIND THE FIRE WALL by @AntonEine

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

#RBRT Review Team

Karen has been reading Behind The Fire Wall by Anton Eine.

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This book focuses on mage Sajar Randhar, magic security specialist, who is suddenly suspected of a – major security breach!

With “Behind the Fire Wall”, Anton Eine has created a thrilling short story that kept me glued to my E-reader. This short story comprises two believable characters with sufficient depth and dialogues that sometimes made me grin. I had a great time reading “Behind the Fire Wall” – it is a very thrilling read. I was drawn into the story right away, getting closer to Sahar and Spirit, page by page. I am looking forward to reading more!

This is for you if you like computing, science fiction, savvy protagonists, entertaining dialogue, as well as mysteries and thrillers.

A suspenseful and entertaining short story to read again; it is the very promising first in a new series.

Recommended.

Book description

When the Pentagonal Citadel’s Fire Wall is breached as a result of a robbery, giving the perpetrators access to the most dangerous artifacts stored in the Vault, Magister Sajar Randhar finds himself in hot water.

His security clearance is pulled and he’s placed under house arrest for the entire duration of the investigation. But who could have hacked the most impregnable security system in the entire Murican Empire? How did they manage it in the first place? And why remove Sajar from the investigation instead of having him cooperate with the authorities?

The veteran mage is left with no other choice but to take the investigation into his own hands. The case is incredibly complex, but with his great experience and top-notch skills as a magic security specialist, there’s no better man for the job.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview of #HistoricalFiction SHEPHERD by Catherine Jinks @text_publishing #TuesdayBookBlog

ShepherdShepherd by Catherine Jinks

4.5 stars

Shepherd is historical fiction story set during 1840 in New South Wales.

Tom Clay is barely a teenager when caught poaching in Suffolk, and sent to an Australian penal colony for seven years. Taken on as a shepherd, Tom falls back on all he has learned from his hardened and ruthless father to survive in a dangerous land filled with desperate men.

One of his adversaries is Dan Carver, a murderer. Tom knows how Dan treats any surviving witnesses to his murders and flees to the bush with his dog and an Irish friend, in a perilous chase that can only end in death.

I could easily picture the violent and inhospitable conditions that convicts faced in the era and I understood how dangerous men might go to extremes to endure their punishment. Tom was a likeable character and I enjoyed learning more about him as the author slipped in details of Tom’s life back in Suffolk.

I liked reading about Tom’s poaching skills and how he put them to good use in the inevitable confrontation with Dan. I could also empathise with Tom over his frustrations that no one could teach him about the flora and fauna of this strange land.

Overall, this story is a well-written piece that depicts some of the horrors which, no doubt, faced many of the thousands of men, women and children who were subjected to transportation to the Australian colony.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

My father trained me to silence the way he trained his dogs, with food and a cane. Speech, he said, was poison. It scared the game, alerted the gamekeepers and betrayed your friends and family.

Tom Clay was a poacher back in Suffolk. He was twelve when he was caught, tried and transported to New South Wales.

Now, assigned to a shepherds’ hut out west, he is a boy among violent men. He keeps his counsel and watches over his sheep; he steers clear of blowhards like the new man, Rowdy Cavanagh. He is alert to danger, knowing he is a foreigner here: that the land resists his understanding.

The question is: how fast can he learn?

Because a vicious killer named Dan Carver is coming for Tom and Rowdy. And if Tom can’t outwit Carver in the bush – and convince Rowdy to keep his stupid mouth shut – their deaths will be swift and cruel.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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