Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT SELF SERVE MURDER by @denaehaggerty #SundayBlogShare

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

#RBRT Review Team

Suzanne has been reading Self Serve Murder by Dena E Haggerty

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First of all I love the colour of the cover! I like the design as well.

I had no idea what to expect with this book as I’ve never read a cosy mystery before (watched plenty of TV shows though). It was clear from the start that this was not a serious mystery book, and once this is established it’s easy to sit back and enjoy the escape from reality.
I hadn’t read the previous two books in the series, but wasn’t worried as it stated this could be read as a standalone. The crime itself was resolved in this book, but because the characters are so settled in their world and relationships well established, I found myself wishing I had read the previous books first.
The constant reference to coffee was clever and inventive, but at times when the situations were more serious I found it distracting.
I thought I’d guessed the culprit early on, but a few red herrings along the way had me second guessing myself.
 
My only hang-up with this novel was the way the men treated ‘their’ women. The men were very bossy and macho all the time. I also found the way Kristie’s love interest literally forced his way into her life while she did little to stop it, very unrealistic.
Apart from that it was a fun, easy read and should appeal to people who enjoy cosy mysteries like Agatha Raisin, Murder She Wrote and Rosemary and Thyme (opinion based on tv viewing).
 
Note – I reviewed an ebook copy supplied by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Book Description

Book 3 in the Death by Cupcake series. Can be read as a standalone.

Kristie is kind with a capital K, so it’s quite the surprise when she wakes up next to a dead man with no recollection of the previous night. Even worse? She’s naked. Kristie may be a sweetheart out to save the world, but sticking her nose into an investigation of rapes across campus makes her the target of a murderer. Before she knows it, Callie is smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation with her colleagues Callie and Anna. If that’s not enough to drive a sane person up the wall, a friend has decided he’s going to keep her safe whether she wants him to or not. And, oh yeah, he’s her man and that’s that. 

Come join us at Callie’s Cakes, where murder investigations are on the menu. You are most welcome, but you may need to serve yourself as our barista Kristie is busy trying to save the world. 

Warning: Although there are plenty of moments that will make you shake your head and laugh at the antics of the ladies of Callie’s Cakes, the subject matter – rape on college campuses – is very real and somewhat darker than your usual cozy mystery.

About the author
D.E. Haggerty
I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage, every once in a while, to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t my thing either. I decided to follow the husband to Istanbul for a few years where I managed to churn out book after book. But ten years was too many to stay away from ‘home’. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book. 

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT THE LUCKY HAT MINE by @jvlbell #Western #HistFic #Romance

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

#RBRT Review Team

Jessie has been reading The Lucky Hat Mine by J.V.L. Bell

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“Ahhhhhhh”  (That’s the sigh of a contented reader who just found a book that was exactly what she hoped it would be.)

The Lucky Hat Mine is a classic old west tale complete with miners, murder and mail order brides.

But… the mail order bride’s husband-to-be was the murder victim and all the miners are lining up to propose.

Literally.

And repeatedly.

Fortunately, our heroine is made of stern stuff and despite the fact that she spouts off rules of etiquette at every occasion and constantly reminds the men to watch their language, she gets along just fine, and even thrives, in the Colorado mining town she has landed in.

Would I recommend it? There is a goat in this book! A fainting goat. So, clearly, yes. Also there is a great strong female lead, humor, a smidgen of romance, a murder mystery all wrapped up in a western. What’s not to love!?!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I discovered this book because I’m a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team!

Book Description

A recipe for true love or murder? Ingredients: one Southern belle, one Colorado gold miner, a wife wanted classified, and a fainting goat. Let simmer.

What’s a Southern belle to do in 1863? Wife-wanted ads are always risky business, but Millie Virginia never imagined she’d survive the perilous trip across the Great Plains to find her intended husband in a pine box. Was he killed in an accident? Or murdered for his gold mine? Stuck in the mining town of Idaho Springs, Colorado territory, without friends or means, Millie is beleaguered by undesirable suitors and threatened by an unknown assailant. Her troubles escalate when the brother of her dead fiancE, Dominic Drouillard, unexpectedly turns up.

Dom is an ill-mannered mountain man who invades Millie’s log cabin, insists that his brother was murdered, and refuses to leave until he finds the killer. Compelled to join forces with her erstwhile brother-in-law, Millie discovers the search for Colorado gold is perilous, especially with a murderer on their trail.

The Lucky Hat Mine interlaces the tale of a feisty heroine with frontier legend and lore making for an arousing historical murder mystery.

About the author

J.V.L. Bell

Author J.v.L. Bell is a Colorado native who grew up climbing 14,000 ft. mountains, exploring old ghost towns, and backpacking through the back country. She and her family love to hike, raft, and cross-country ski together.

She loves reading and researching frontier history and incorporating these facts into her novels. Her historic mysteries are interwoven with amusing historical stories and lore, interesting characters, and historic events.

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THE HERETIC (Templar Chronicles #1) by @Jnassise #Paranormal #Thriller #fridayreads

The Heretic (Templar Chronicles, #1)The Heretic by Joseph Nassise
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Heretic is book #1 of The Templar Chronicles, a paranormal urban fantasy series.

The Knights Templar have long been documented throughout history and many stories woven about their survival in the modern world.

In this book, a Templar stronghold in Connecticut is mysteriously attacked. There are no visible signs of; entry, skirmish or attack, but all the Knights are killed.

Cade Williams and his elite team are called in; a Templar Knight known as the “Heretic”, Cade has the power of sight which he has used on many occasions during military operations. To his trusted team he adds Sean Duncan.

More Templar strongholds are attacked. Cade can read spiritually from recent people or places, but his team find few clues until Cade visits the “beyond”, a place where spirits dwell. He asks the shade of a Knight for help.

Duncan’s eyes are opened to a whole new form of combat—this new enemy employs paranormal entities as soldiers. Cade has been fighting these beings for some time; his wife was taken from him during a violent attack by a supernatural being. Cade was left with deep permanent scars, his psychic powers woken and revenge driving him forward.

Cade’s team discover that a secret group of Knights are protectors of precious relics owned by the Vatican. The Necromancer leading these attacks is after a spear renowned for the power it gives to its master. With the target known, an exciting battle unfolds for the reader.

I’m always interested in stories involving the Knights Templar; throw in a good paranormal mix of ghosts, demons and psychometry to the thriller storyline and it works for me. The military battle scenes were of less interest to me, but I can see their use in opening the book to a wider audience. There are plenty of loose ends for the series to continue, and I shall look forward to more visits to the “beyond” and more adventures against The Adversary.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

Boston SWAT officer Cade Williams didn’t believe in the supernatural until a chance meeting with a fallen angel left his wife dead and him hanging on to life by the thinnest of margins. When he was discharged from the hospital he discovered that not only was he scarred, body and soul, but that the encounter had left him with a few otherworldly talents of his own.

Now, several years later, Knight Commander Cade Williams runs the elite Templar combat unit known as the Echo Team, which puts him in the perfect position to search for the creature that so viciously attacked him and his family that night. His efforts yield little success, however, until a cabal of necromancers attempts to seize an ancient Templar artifact for their own nefarious purposes and gives him the first real lead he’s had in ages. Cade sets out to find the necromancers and, through them, the Adversary, only to encounter something much worse…

About the author

Joseph Nassise

Joseph Nassise is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than a twenty-five novels, including the Templar Chronicles series, the Jeremiah Hunt trilogy, and the Great Undead War series. He has also written several books in the Rogue Angel action/adventure series from Gold Eagle. He is a former president of the Horror Writers Association, the world’s largest organization of professional horror writers, and a multiple Bram Stoker Award and International Horror Guild Award nominee. 

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT DCI Jones Casebook: CRYER’S VIEW by @KerryJDonovan #Crime @CathyRy

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

#RBRT Review Team

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

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Detective Sergeant Phil Cryer is recuperating from a serious knee injury sustained in a rooftop chase during a previous investigation. He’s feeling frustrated and helpless at being on sick leave, so when he has a visit from Chief Superintendent Knightly from the National Crime Agency who has reasons to suspect corruption, Cryer jumps at the chance to go undercover.

When Detective Sergeant Richie Juno is killed in a hit and run while tailing a suspect, just after he arranged to meet with CS Knightly on an urgent matter, questions are raised. Was DS Juno targeted and murdered and, if so, why? Unable to place his trust with anyone in the NCA until the double-dealing is exposed, Knightly contacts his old friend DCI David Jones, Cryer’s boss. Jones believes Phil Cryer has the perfect talents for undercover work – incredible IT skills and an eidetic memory.

This is number four in the DCI Jones series and an excellent addition. The story begins in the third person with Ritchie Juno, then moves to the first person from Phil’s perspective as he takes centre stage. The covert operation gets off to a bad start with an antagonistic attitude directed at Phil from one of the members of the NCA team. Added to that he has to downplay his skills while keeping his cover intact. With no immediate back up, Phil faces a difficult and dangerous task.

I’ve enjoyed all the books in the DCI Jones series and this is no exception. The story unfolds with a timeline heading each chapter, giving an awareness of the increasing tension and suspense. Kerry Donovan creates a very credible and convincing picture of the procedures within a specialist police unit.

I liked Phil Cryer from the start and enjoyed getting to know him, and David Jones, more. It’s a refreshing change to have a well-adjusted, easy-going and easy to relate to family man as the protagonist. And one who is able to voice his feelings, whether they are for his wife and children, or apprehension and concerns about the situation he’s in. He and DCI Jones compliment each other, both are engaging in their own ways and are developed skilfully, creating an attachment with this reader. I also very much enjoyed the addition of the ‘villain’ from the first book.

The storyline is written and structured extremely well, character driven with lots of action offset by Phil’s surreptitious desk investigations into the team members using his formidable skills via the internet. The explosive culmination was a complete surprise. A really strong addition to the series.

Book Description

The explosive fourth instalment in the DCI Jones Casebook series of crime thrillers—this is CRYER’S VIEW. 

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

About the author

Kerry J. Donovan

Internationally bestselling fiction author, Kerry was born in Dublin. He spent most of his life in the UK, and now lives in the heart of rural Brittany with his wonderful and patient wife, Jan. They have three children and four grandchildren (so far), all of whom live in England. An absentee granddad, Kerry is hugely thankful for the advent of video calling.

The cottage is a pet free zone (apart from the field mice, moles, and red squirrels).

Kerry earned a first class honours degree in Human Biology, and has a PhD in Sport and Exercise Sciences. A former scientific advisor to The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, he helped UK emergency first-responders prepare for chemical attacks in the wake of 9/11. This background adds a scientific edge to his writing. He is also a former furniture designer/maker.

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GYRE by @JessGunnAuthor #YA / #NA #SciFic Ancient Atlantis and Lemuria travellers #wwwblogs

Gyre (Atlas Link, #1)Gyre by Jessica Gunn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gyre is Young Adult/ New Adult Scifi and book #1 of the Atlas Link series. The book opens in Boston, but most of the action takes place aboard a top secret Navy vessel known as SeaSatellite5.

Chelsea, an archaeology student and rock singer, meets Trevor Bancore one evening. He stops Chelsea being assaulted. Trevor is on the run; for him, there is no escaping a war over time travel, fought between two ancient races.

Three months later Chelsea is confronted by her cheating boyfriend, and her anger unleashes a hidden power within her. She teleports to a top secret naval vessel, where a serious security breach occurs and she is rescued by the intervention of Dr Helen Gordon.

Helen believes Chelsea has an ancient Atlantean gene. However, Chelsea knows nothing of such an ancestry link. Seasatellite5 is currently searching the oceans for ancient artefacts; to keep Chelsea safe and train her, she is offered an internship, helping with the archaeology finds. Chelsea has few choices and is also strongly attracted to Trevor, who works on the vessel, so accepts the post.

The team discover an ancient outpost, but news of the discovery draws interest from others. Trevor has not been totally honest with Chelsea about his own background; when the sub is hijacked by a group of Lemurians, Chelsea discovers just who the enemy is.

As with the start of any series, there is a lot of background information to digest. I enjoyed the theme of Atlantis and the war with Lemuria being documented in history books with connections to lost cities. The association with ancient artefacts becoming travel portals is good, and I can see this leading into the next books in the series.

There is a large cast of characters; I wanted the secondary significant players to be easier to picture, especially for later scenes involving fast action and multiple characters. Currently these were weaker areas of the book, and I found it hardest to picture scenes featuring Lemurian powers.

The scifi fantasy genre allows for creativity of both characters and new worlds. Chelsea is transformed from student to super soldier. Trevor creates and plays computer games like many teenagers, but holds down a top engineering job. I don’t think we’ve seen his real strength yet; in this book he holds much of the storyline together, but has a far lesser role than Chelsea. Were they believable? On the whole I think they were; a few times I would have liked to see their dialogue tightened, and some of the high emotion scenes didn’t work for me. The strength of the book, however, is the possibility of Atlantis and Lemuria being real, and how the author will develop this throughout the series.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

Chelsea didn’t try to teleport. All she wanted was to play the Battle of the Bands show. But after accidentally teleporting onto classified Navy vessel SeaSatellite5, all she’s rocking is the boat. 

Once it’s sorted out that Chelsea’s not a threat, SeaSat5’s top scientist offers Chelsea a position on the crew as an archaeology intern. Dr. Gordon studies people with powers, believing them to be descendants of Atlantean refugees, except Chelsea’s powers are beyond anything on previous record. 

While great for everyone else onboard, the miracle of Chelsea is Trevor’s worst nightmare. The same girl who’d given him a brief lifeline to sanity three months ago literally fell from the sky, under a mile of ocean, and onto the very station where he’s employed. Making matters worse, Trevor’s family are Lemurians, Atlantis’s enemy, and Chelsea’s presence is unpredicted—a wrench in an already unstable situation. But Trevor wants no part of his family’s war. The only thing he wants is Chelsea, Atlantean or not. 

Days into Chelsea’s sudden appearance, SeaSatellite5 uncovers Atlantean ruins and a massive artifact cache, placing its entire, hundred-man crew in the crosshairs of an ancient war. There are those who want the Atlantean relics inside the ruins destroyed, and only Trevor knows the treasures for what they really are: Link Pieces, tools used by the ancient civilizations for their time-travel war. 

With lies and shifting alliances abound, Chelsea and Trevor will have to think fast in order to save the station. If they don’t, the Lemurians will seize the artifacts and Atlantis will be destroyed forever.

About the author

Jessica Gunn

Jessica Gunn is a New Adult author and avid science-fiction and fantasy fan. Her favorite stories are those that transport the reader to other, more exciting worlds. When not working or writing, she can be found binge-watching Firefly and Stargate, or feeding her fascination of the ancient world’s many mysteries. Jessica also holds a degree in Anthropology.

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PERFECT REMAINS by @Helen_Fields @AvonBooksUK #CrimeFic #Thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

Perfect Remains (D.I. Callanach, #1)Perfect Remains by Helen Sarah Fields
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Perfect Remains is book #1 of the DI Callanach police crime thriller series, set in Edinburgh. I discovered this book and author after reading an article in The Basingstoke Gazette, one of my local papers.

The story opens with a gruesome sacrifice of a woman’s body in a bothy up in the Cairngorm Mountains. Local police believe the body might be that of Elaine Buxton, a missing city lawyer. Detective Inspector Luc Callanach is a recent transfer to Scotland’s Police from Interpol. His arrival has met with some hostility amongst the ranks.

A second woman’s body is found; again, that of a professional woman. Once again, the killer leaves an almost unidentifiable body. With few clues, Callanach is forced to accept help from Professor Harris, a character profiler. However, Callanach feels that Harris distracts the team from the real hunt for the killer.

The murderer leaves only clues he wants the police to follow, but his treatment of the victims becomes erratic as the net closes in.

The storyline flowed well, with plenty of red herrings and plot twists, and a hint of potential romance. DI Callanach was a clichéd flawed detective with baggage to deal with, and the Scottish setting for police crime dramas is a bit hackneyed; however, the book did have me reading long into the night. Callanach’s background is dripfed to the reader, which I liked, and it brought up a few welcome surprises. I enjoyed DI Ava Turner’s character, too; her straight-talking dialogue was fun and refreshing.

I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys police crime books, or those who like a Scottish setting for a book and are happy to read about gruesome murders! I must just add that, unlike most police procedurals, in this story the reader discovers early on who the killer is, and the storyline centres around how the police finally get their man – I know for some people the ‘whodunnit’ aspect is all important, so I think this needs mentioning.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.
In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness.
Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.
It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

About the author

Helen S Fields

Helen Fields lives in North Waltham, Hampshire. Helen has been a barrister and drew on her experience when writing. Perfect remains is the first book in this three book detective series, with book two due out in the summer of 2017. Helen has revealed that the TV rights for this series have already been sold to a big TV company.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT IREX by @CarlRackman Victorian Seafaring HistFic #Thriller

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Irex by Carl Rackman

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Book Review: #Victorian historical mystery #psychological thriller #seafaring tale

 Irex is Carl Rackman’s debut novel, and in terms of creating a feeling of doom and tension in totally bleak surroundings, this author succeeds too well!

Set in the late Victorian era, the story alternates between the maiden voyage of the steel hulled, tall ship Irex, and the investigation into the causes of its wreck and the fate of the survivors amongst her passengers. The settings: The Firth of Clyde, the North Atlantic and the Isle of Wight – all in late winter with unceasing rain, snow and sleet.

Will Hutton, a good and decent married man, has been chosen to captain Irex on this voyage, the ship carrying a cargo of three thousand tons of pig iron to Rio de Janeiro. Hutton has decades of sailing experience, having served on such ships since he was a boy. In addition to the cargo, there are three passengers on Irex: Salvation Army missionaries George and Elizabeth Barstow and a mysterious man of means, Edward Clarence. Captain Hutton’s developing relationships with each of these passengers is a complex subplot, more so when he discovers that one of them hides a horrifying past and none of them are who they seem. The unending storms preventing Irex from making headway on her journey and an early death of a crew member foretells an ill-fated voyage. Lack of sleep, his physical attraction to Mrs. Barstow, challenges to his authority and blackmail all threaten Hutton’s ability to save his ship and challenge his sanity.

Irex wrecks off the Isle of Wight six weeks after sailing from Scotland, and a county coroner, Frederick Blake, is sent to the island to hold an inquiry into the cause. The inquiry is compromised from the start by the existence of a mole within the procedure, and with a disturbing lack of information and witnesses, Blake finds he himself must unravel the events dooming the ship, as well as the character of the crew and its passengers, to reach a finding. When he discovers that powerful forces within the British aristocracy are working to impede his investigation, he is more determined than ever to find out what actually occurred aboard Irex.

The atmosphere of this mystery is exceptional and the author’s attention to detail, especially in the chapters dealing with the voyage and the sailing of such a large ship, show an incredible depth of research. The ship, its crew, and their responsibilities are finely delineated – as a sailor myself, I appreciated the descriptions.

The author has created a rich Victorian world and spun the tail with colourful, unforgettable characters, weaving in intrigue and mystery. When the truth about Clarence is revealed, the plot unveils a deeper depravity – for me a light bulb moment.

My only complaint is the slow pace at which the plot unfolds. The book is dense, very dense, and there were stretches that could have been shortened significantly without affecting the content. I truly wanted to digest it all but wanted more to get to the resolution!

Mr. Rackman is an exceptional writer and this is a superb first outing – a psychological thriller, a seafaring adventure, and first rate murder mystery. I look forward to his next book.

Book Description

In the harsh winter of December 1889, the sailing vessel Irex leaves Scotland bound for Rio de Janeiro. She carries three thousand tons of pig iron and just three passengers for what should be a routine voyage. But Captain Will Hutton discovers that one of his passengers hides a horrifying secret. 

When the Irex is wrecked off the Isle of Wight six weeks later, it falls to the county coroner, Frederick Blake, to begin to unravel the events that overtook the doomed ship — but he soon finds that powerful forces within the British Establishment are working to thwart him. Locked in a race against time and the sinister agents sent to impede him, he gradually discovers that nothing aboard the Irex is what it first seemed… 

Irex is an atmospheric mystery, set in a rich Victorian world, packed with intrigue, twists and colourful characters — the spellbinding first novel by Carl Rackman.

About the author

Carl Rackman

Carl Rackman is a former airline pilot with interests in seafaring and mysteries. His reading is multi-genre – historical, sci-fi, fantasy and techno – but psychological thrillers are prime. He started writing in 2016 and Irex is his first novel. He lives in Surrey, UK.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT GHOST VARIATIONS by @jessicaduchen #SundayBlogShare @AlisonW_Editor

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

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Ghost Variations by Jessica Duchen

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There are so many strands to this book, so many different things that have their own unique appeal. Firstly, it is beautifully written and an absolute pleasure to read. Secondly, its subject matter is intriguing, and a book that mixes fact and fiction is something that really appeals to me. The mystery of the concerto, the story around its discovery, the back story about Schumann himself which is heart-breaking, and the historical detail that seems so particularly relevant today – all these things are brought together in an intelligent, compelling narrative.

The story is told mainly from the viewpoint of Jelly herself, a violinist from Hungary, living in London, and, later on, from the point of view of Ulli, a young music publisher, in love with Jelly, living in Germany as the Nazis climb to power.

This sense of impeding horror and war is portrayed so clearly. These people don’t just suddenly come to power – they take it, little by little, piece by piece. For Ulli, in the midst of it, the realities become terrifying. For Jelly, feeling the rise of anti-Semitism and fascism in her adopted home country, the prejudice and intolerance is subtle, but still horrifying.

So this is a timely book too. This is what one character says about the Daily Mail, who have published an article with the headline ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’:

‘”This paper’s feeding us nothing but lies, lies, lies,” Alec said, “yet we gulp it down without questioning it, while there’s real suffering, real danger, out there.”’

And on the appeal of the Blackshirts themselves:

‘Anybody could be drawn to them, Alec said, from the unemployed to Eton lads, some believing they had the answer to keeping out the communists, others determined to restore the glory of British imperialism, or some such guff, which meant reasserting their superiority over filthy foreigners.’

While the author has obviously researched thoroughly, and also has a formidable knowledge of the world of which she is writing, this isn’t highbrow, or inaccessible – it is intelligent and knowledgeable, lyrical in places, but it is also very readable.

There is a real sense of time and place, with little details that bring authenticity to the story. Jelly is warm, talented, intelligent but not perfect – she has her flaws, her insecurities, she makes mistakes. But she comes across as wholly believable, a talented, intelligent woman, striving for success and happiness both personal and professional.

An excellent book.

Five stars

Book Description

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

About the author

Jessica Duchen

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

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

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

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

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

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT SKYJACKED by Shirley Golden @Shirl1001 @urbanepub #SciFi

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

#RBRT Review Team

Lilyn has been reading Skyjacked by Shirley Golden

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Skyjacked was a good effort by Shirley Golden.  It was an enjoyable read, but it wasn’t an exciting one. I never got swept up in it. Actually, I felt on a few occasions like I had to force myself to finish it. And that’s not really the reaction this book deserved. But like I said: It was okay. It never thrilled me, but it was competently told. 

I think maybe I was expecting too much. “Motley band” “ultimate adventure”, etc, had me expecting something filled to the bursting with wise-cracking wit, impression-leaving characters, and tons of action. There was a good bit of action, but the only character that really stood out to me as interesting was the robot. It took about 65% of the book (Kindle format) before I became adequately invested enough to care about what was going on. I feel like, at that point, no matter how interesting the rest of it is, it’s just a bit lacking.

I do give Shirley Golden props for fleshing out her story with believable bits of history and side notes. I’m ashamed to admit it took me a little too long to realize the Niaz/Nazi thing. On the other hand, that made it into a delightful surprise when I did see it. Like an Easter Egg hidden in the book.  I also did enjoy how she was able to pull in a few threads I thought were unconnected in ways I wasn’t expecting. I also enjoyed watching one of the characters get what was coming to him and seeing the other come into herself. I can’t say that I bought all of it, but I bought enough.

I was happy with the ending. I do think she did a great job of picking the perfect ending for this book. Most of the time I’m the person who argues against the type of ending Skyjacked had. However (probably partly because it was unexpected), it worked really well for this book. Actually, the ending was the strongest part of the book. If more of the book had been as well-written as that ending was, I’d have been much happier.  I wish I could say more, but I don’t want to spoil anything!

Overall, not a bad book, but not an outstanding one.  Still, I think most sci-fi readers would enjoy it. 

Book Description

Separated from his son, only a galaxy stands between him and home… The year is 2154, and Corvus Ranger, space pilot and captain of the Soliton, embarks on a penal run to Jupiter’s prison moon, Europa. It should be another routine drop, but a motley band of escaped convicts have other ideas. When Soliton is hijacked, Corvus is forced to set a new destination, one which is far from Earth and his son. Unable to fight (or smooth talk) his way to freedom, Corvus finds himself tied to the plans of the escapees, including their leader Isidore and a gifted young boy who seems to possess strange abilities. Desperate to return to Earth and the son he left behind, Corvus is thrown into the ultimate adventure, a star-strewn odyssey where the greatest enemy in the universe may very well be himself.

About the author

Shirley Golden

Shirley Golden has fiction publications in anthologies and magazines. Some of her stories have won prizes, and many have been shortlisted in competitions. She is a novelist who writes historical fiction and fantasy. Her debut novel, ‘Skyjacked’, a space fantasy, will be published by Urbane Publications in the spring of 2016.

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THE LUCKY HAT MINE by @jvlbell #historical #Romance 1860s fun #western #Mystery #fridayreads

The Lucky Hat MineThe Lucky Hat Mine by J.V.L. Bell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Lucky Hat Mine is a fun historical Romance, set in the 1860s in Colorado. Millie is twenty three; answering a “Wife wanted” ad, she leaves life as a family servant in New Orleans and heads out west. She may have escaped the raging War of Independence, but soon experiences a loss of civilised comforts and standards as she knew them.

After a mighty three month travelling ordeal, Millie arrives in Idaho Springs to fulfil her role as the new wife of miner J W Drouillard. However, she soon discovers that Mr D recently died in a mining accident; luckily he had already bequeathed his cabin and mine to Millie as a precaution.

What should Millie do? Head back east straight away? Sell the mine and find a place to live, perhaps in Denver? Or marry one of the many townsmen eager for her hand? Wisely Millie decides to take her time and not rush into any decisions. Mr D’s cabin surprises and delights Millie; once an orphan she now owns her first home. Mr D had previously installed some new mod cons at great expensive, in preparation for his new wife.

There is a sense of fun to the storyline: Millie is proposed to on a daily basis by a stream of miners, all anxious to buy Mr D’s mine and take a wife. However, there is also a more sinister side as Millie receives threats from an unknown source, trying to scare her away. Another danger comes with the arrival of a man who knew her father; parents whom Millie never knew. Her illusion of them is shattered when the bandit explains he’s after the silver her father stole. Resourceful and independent Millie deals with him and has him arrested.

When Mr D’s brother turns up, Millie must tell him about her fiancé’s death, but Dom refuses to believe it was an accident and is determined to find the truth. With Millie’s fiery red headed temper and Dom’s ability to constantly ruffle her feathers, the two share the cabin on uneasy terms. Yet they have a common bond in the need to seek the truth behind Mr D’s demise.

The book was a good old western delight. The constant drama of Buttercup the goat kept the scenes light. The details about rocks and early gold mining were interesting, although the news about the war was more stilted and tended towards info dumping. I enjoyed the descriptions of the area and the hot springs, and knew some of the place-names from travelling in Colorado, which gave me a personal link to the tale.

I would recommend this to those who like a fun read, enjoy early US western style colonisation tales, and like a little romance in the story they read.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

A recipe for true love or murder? Ingredients: one Southern belle, one Colorado gold miner, a wife wanted classified, and a fainting goat. Let simmer.

What’s a Southern belle to do in 1863? Wife-wanted ads are always risky business, but Millie Virginia never imagined she’d survive the perilous trip across the Great Plains to find her intended husband in a pine box. Was he killed in an accident? Or murdered for his gold mine? Stuck in the mining town of Idaho Springs, Colorado territory, without friends or means, Millie is beleaguered by undesirable suitors and threatened by an unknown assailant. Her troubles escalate when the brother of her dead fiancé, Dominic Drouillard, unexpectedly turns up.

Dom is an ill-mannered mountain man who invades Millie’s log cabin, insists that his brother was murdered, and refuses to leave until he finds the killer. Compelled to join forces with her erstwhile brother-in-law, Millie discovers the search for Colorado gold is perilous, especially with a murderer on their trail.

The Lucky Hat Mine interlaces the tale of a feisty heroine with frontier legend and lore making for an arousing historical murder mystery.

About the author

J.V.L. Bell

Author J.v.L. Bell is a Colorado native who grew up climbing 14,000 ft. mountains, exploring old ghost towns, and backpacking through the back country. She and her family love to hike, raft, and cross-country ski together.

She loves reading and researching frontier history and incorporating these facts into her novels. Her historic mysteries are interwoven with amusing historical stories and lore, interesting characters, and historic events.

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