Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE MAGICIAN’S WORKSHOP by @HansenFehr #YA #Fantasy

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

#RBRT Review Team

Jessie has been reading The Magician’s Workshop by Christopher Hansen and J.R Fehr.

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Having loved fantasy for many years I’m often startled by people who complain about books that dump them into a new world without explaining things. Personally, jumping headfirst into a new mysterious world is one of my favorite ways to start a book.  But the authors of The Magician’s Workshop understand that not everyone (particularly young readers) may enjoy such a thing.  So they start with a bit of a disclaimer as the preface, likening trying a new book to starting summer camp. It might seem scary and uncertain, and you might not know if you’ll like it but you should try it because chances are good you will love it!

Sadly, no doubt because Mom suggested she read it, it didn’t sway my daughter.

Which is too bad because, for a young girl who likes reading books with magic in them, I still think she’d like this one.

The Magician’s Workshop dumps you straight into a pile of characters living in their crazy island world where everyone can work magic. And as the characters go about life projecting magic images, flavors and smells, the authors slowly start to introduce some of the difficulties that come in such a fantastical world. What do you think? Would you bother eating real fruit if you could eat something that tasted like fruit instead?

Would I recommend it? For a magic loving pre-teen/teen audience these books could be just the ticket. And, although I have no credentials to back it up, (remember me? I’m a woman with three daughters) I think that boys would really like these books too.  Fair warning, as it says in the beginning, this is the first of a series of books that is more like a television series. Which is true, at the end there is no real conclusion or even a cliff hanger, just a fade out until you start the next book (which is okay because volume two is available on Amazon already!).

Book Description

Everyone in the islands of O’Ceea has a magical ability: whatever they imagine can be brought into existence. Whoever becomes a master over these powers is granted the title of magician and is given fame, power, riches, and glory. This volume of books follows the journey of a group of kids as they strive to rise to the top and become members of the Magician’s Workshop. 

Layauna desperately wants to create beautiful things with her magical powers, but all she can seem to do is make horrible, savage monsters. For years she has tried to hide her creations, but when her power is at last discovered by a great magician, she realizes that what she’s tried to hide might actually be of tremendous value.

Kai just wants to use his powers to have fun and play with his friends. Unfortunately, nearly everyone on his island sees him as a bad influence, so he’s forced to meet them in secret. When one of the creatures they create gets out of control and starts flinging fireballs at their town, Kai is tempted to believe that he is as nefarious as people say. However, his prospects change when two mysterious visitors arrive, praising his ability and making extraordinary promises about his future.

Follow the adventures of Kai, Layauna, and a boatload of other characters as they struggle to grow up well in this fantastical world.

About the authors

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The first glimmering Chris Hansen had that there was far more to reality than he had ever imagined occurred six days after his ninth birthday. “Christopher!” cried a wise, old sage. “Life is full of deep magic. Miraculous things happen all the time and all around us, if you know where to look for them.” Full of expectation and childlike optimism, Chris began searching for this magic, prepared to be surprised and amazed by it. And he was: he found Wonder! Now he’s chosen to write stories about it.

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When J.R. Fehr popped out of the womb, he knew there was more to the world than the four boring hospital walls that he was seeing. “Zango!” his newborn mind exclaimed as he saw people appear and disappear through a mysterious portal in the wall. As a child he found life wowtazzling, but as he grew older the cold water of reality hit him, and the magic he once knew vanished. After spending some wet and shivering years lost in a joyless wasteland, he once again began to see magic in the world. He writes because the Wonder of true life is far grander than anything he ever thought possible.

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THE 9:45 To BLETCHLEY by Madalyn Morgan @ActScribblerDJ #Historical #Romance #SundayBlogShare

The 9:45 to Bletchley (Dudley Sisters Saga #4)The 9:45 to Bletchley by Madalyn Morgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The 9:45 to Bletchley is book #4 of the Dudley Sisters family WW2 sagas.

This book is about Ena Dudley and her work in a factory making components for top secret Bletchley Park. During WW2 workers in Bletchley were central to the code breaking which British intelligence relied upon.

As with all the books in this series the emphasis is more on the characters and the romantic themes, less so the gritty depth and dark horrors of WW2, that each of the situations the Dudley girls find themselves in.

Once again the book is scattered with nostalgia from the era, as Ena gets herself embroiled in a spy ring whilst appearing to be the love interest for more than one fellow.

Recommended for those who enjoy a light historical romance.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

In the midst of the Second World War, and charged with taking vital equipment via the 9:45 train, Ena Dudley makes regular trips to Bletchley Park, until on one occasion she is robbed. When those she cares about are accused of being involved, she investigates, not knowing whom she can trust. While trying to clear her name, Ena falls in love.

About the author

Madalyn Morgan

Madalyn Morgan has been an actress for more than thirty years working in repertory theatre, the West End, film and television. She is a radio presenter and journalist, writing articles for newspapers and magazines.

Madalyn was brought up in a busy working class pub in the market town of Lutterworth in Leicestershire. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live. There were so many wonderful characters to study and accents learn. At twenty-four Madalyn gave up a successful hairdressing salon and wig-hire business for a place at E15 Drama College, and a career as an actress.

In 2000, with fewer parts available for older actresses, Madalyn learned to touch type, completed a two-year course with The Writer’s Bureau, and began writing. After living in London for thirty-six years, she has returned to her home town of Lutterworth, swapping two window boxes and a mortgage, for a garden and the freedom to write.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT AN UNEXTRAORDINARY LIFE by Jo Hollywood #Paranormal #Romance

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

#RBRT Review Team

Shelley has been reading An Unextraordinary Life by Jo Hollywood

Title: An Unextraordinary Life
Author: Jo Hollywood
Category: Paranormal Romance
Rating: 3*
 
My Review:
 
Romance isn’t one of my favourite genres to read. However, paranormal fiction certainly is, so when I spotted that An Unextraordinary Life was a mix of the two I thought I’d give it a go.
 
The story switches point of view between the main characters, Tess and Jack. Tess is a young woman trying to move on with her life following the sudden death of her husband, and Jack is her dead husband back from the dead and on a mission to help her move on. It’s got many similarities with the 90s film Truly, Madly, Deeply. There are two secondary characters, Jenny the every faithful best friend, and Rob, the handsome work colleague who is conveniently placed to swoop in and ‘get the girl.’
 
The romance was fairly predictable, with an overly long build up to the love triangle between Tess, Jack, and Rob. I did like the idea of a heroine battling with her emotions over the feelings she has for her true love (a ghost) and reality. I would have liked the paranormal aspect to have been explored further. We discover that one character is something more than just a human friend, but the what, how, and why are left relatively unanswered. I wasn’t convinced with the Guardian Angel and her receptionist either.
 
There were sections of the book that were quite boring for me, and I found myself skim reading, but I’m glad I stuck with it as the twist near the end was nicely done.
 
A sweet novel that would appeal to a more die-hard romantic.
Book Description
When Tess unexpectedly bumps into Jack one cold day in March, her world is quite literally turned upside down. Can she make a new life for herself with Jack, based on how happy they were in the past? Or does she need to make a new start and find love in the arms of her new work colleague, Rob? The path of true love never does run smoothly. Meet Tess, a woman who is still in love with her husband, who died five years ago. Meet Jack, the ghost, who wants to make Tess happy again. Finally there’s Rob who wants to win Tess’s heart. Who will she choose?

CHINA BLUE by Madalyn Morgan @ActScribblerDJ #Book #3 Dudley Sisters #WW2 Dramas

China Blue (Dudley Sisters Saga #3)China Blue by Madalyn Morgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

China Blue is book #3 of the Dudley sisters WW2 family dramas. This book is about sister Claire Dudley and her experiences in the armed forces.

Claire Dudley is good at languages and quickly rises through the ranks to Special Ops where she gets dropped into France to send back information on the German forces. Part of her training means staying for two weeks with a French speaking family in the UK and then several weeks training at secret locations.

Captain Alain Mitchell of the Canadian forces oversees Claire and pushed her hard. They are dropped into France together and against all training they fall in love and have a relationship. Claire’s code name is China Blue. But when the pair return to France for a second time Mitch is captured by the Germans. Claire is left to fulfil her role but there are complications. The local resistance take her under their belt, until she is once more taken back home.

This book is packed with nostalgia from the era. This was quite a light easy war time read with a romantic theme and a happy ending.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

CHINA BLUE is the third book in The Dudley Sisters Saga. 
At the beginning of World War II Claire Dudley joins the WAAF. She excels in languages and is recruited by the Special Operations Executive to work in German occupied France with Captain Alain Mitchell, of the RCAF, and the French Resistance. 
Against SOE rules Claire falls in love. The affair has to be kept secret. Even after her lover falls into the hands of the Gestapo, Claire cannot tell anyone they are more than comrades. 
As the war reaches its climax, Claire fears she will never again see the man she loves. 

About The Author

Madalyn Morgan

Madalyn Morgan has been an actress for more than thirty years working in repertory theatre, the West End, film and television. She is a radio presenter and journalist, writing articles for newspapers and magazines.

Madalyn was brought up in a busy working class pub in the market town of Lutterworth in Leicestershire. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live. There were so many wonderful characters to study and accents learn. At twenty-four Madalyn gave up a successful hairdressing salon and wig-hire business for a place at E15 Drama College, and a career as an actress.

In 2000, with fewer parts available for older actresses, Madalyn learned to touch type, completed a two-year course with The Writer’s Bureau, and began writing. After living in London for thirty-six years, she has returned to her home town of Lutterworth, swapping two window boxes and a mortgage, for a garden and the freedom to write.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

APPLAUSE by Madalyn Morgan @ActScribblerDJ #WW2 #HistFic Dudley Sisters series book #2

Applause (Dudley Sisters Saga #2)Applause by Madalyn Morgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Applause is book #2 of the Dudley Sisters series of family saga books set in second world war torn Britain. This can be read as a stand alone book.

Margaret is the only Dudley sister to be currently married. Her husband transports MOD documents around by day and is an ambulance driver by night. But it is the theatre which has always interested Margaret.

The book opens with her almost injured by a partially falling building as she intently hurries for a job interview. The job is only an usherette but it is a start. Margaret’s dream is to become an actress and nothing will stop her passion. She rises through the theatre taking on work in the wardrobe section and grabbing a chance to step in when an actress is ill.

Introduced to the nightclub scene by her acting friends Margaret is offered a chance to sing and it sets off her career as Margo Dudley. At first she tries to hold down several jobs and keeps too many secrets, until she’s found out.

An injury to her ankle puts her out of action for a while and when the theatre is also closed down due to a bomb Margo finds alternative ways to continue performing. With friends she becomes part of the Albert Sisters a group who go around entertaining the troops. But life isn’t all good. Margo drinks and becomes reliant of pain relievers and sleeping tablets which she becomes addicted to.

Her passion for the theatre puts a strain on her marriage on more than one occasion and we see Margot as quite a selfish women, perhaps portraying many a celebrity.

This book is packed with well researched nostalgia from the era, scattered between the pages, however I didn’t enjoy it as much as book #1 Foxden Acres, purely for personal reasons, I’m not a big theatre fan, however for those who know the London theatre world well, I’m sure they would enjoy this book.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

In the early years of World War 2, Margot Dudley works her way up from usherette to leading lady in a West End show. Driven by blind ambition Margot becomes immersed in the heady world of nightclubs, drink, drugs and fascist thugs – all set against a background of the London Blitz. To achieve her dream, Margot risks losing everything she holds dear.

APPLAUSE is the second book in the DUDLEY SISTERS QUARTET.

About the author

Madalyn Morgan

Madalyn Morgan has been an actress for more than thirty years working in repertory theatre, the West End, film and television. She is a radio presenter and journalist, writing articles for newspapers and magazines.

Madalyn was brought up in a busy working class pub in the market town of Lutterworth in Leicestershire. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live. There were so many wonderful characters to study and accents learn. At twenty-four Madalyn gave up a successful hairdressing salon and wig-hire business for a place at E15 Drama College, and a career as an actress.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT TURN OF THE TIDE by @margaretskea1 #HistFic #wwwblogs

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Turn Of The Tide by Margaret Skea.

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Initially, I wasn’t too sure about this book. There are a lot of characters, and their allegiances, to keep track of, which I found it a little confusing at first. Writing them down as a quick reference helped as it’s not so easy to keep referring back on a kindle. The more I read, the easier it became and the story took hold. Set in Ayrshire in the sixteenth century it tells of a notorious feud that lasted almost two centuries, between the Montgomeries and the Cunninghames. In the middle of these two warring clans is Munro and his family. Munro owes his loyalty to the Cunninghames, even as he is ever more uncomfortable with their actions and behaviour, and his understandable failure to comprehend the reasoning behind the feud.

After an ambush and horrific massacre, not to mention several terrible retaliations, the two families are charged by King James VI to publicly declare a truce and with members of each family vying for the King’s favour, it’s not long before tensions erupt again. Munro escapes retribution for his part in the ambush but his conscience, his wife and his gradual friendship with several Montgomeries, make him reassess his priorities, regardless of the fact his association with the rival clan would be condemned out of hand by certain members of the Cunninghames.

The story is firmly rooted in the time and place by skilful, descriptive writing and evocative dialogue. It’s a complex tale of politics and intrigue, with basically one main, and despicable, miscreant – William Cunninghame, Glencairn’s heir. Despite the truce, he has no intention of even attempting to keep the peace. He is vicious, overbearing and completely intolerant of perceived slights, as Munro’s family learn to their cost. Anyone who offends him is in a very precarious position.

It’s a harsh and dangerous time, when hatred and revenge is rife. Munro walks a fine line between the two families, always having to be on the alert while just wishing to live his life quietly, at home with his wife and children. Always conscious of the choices he makes, and the resulting actions, as to how they might affect his family. This is shown extremely well by the vast chasm between daily family life on the farm and the conflicting violence and tragedy.

Margaret Skea creates a good balance between fact and fiction, blending both seamlessly. Munro especially stands out, and initially it was his character that helped draw me into the story, which, to all appearances is a convincing and representational account. The characters, both real and fictional, are well defined and believable and the story well crafted – I can only imagine the depth of research this took. I love the tense build up to a very unexpected ending.

Book Description

Old rivalries…new friendships…dangerous decisions. 
Set in 16th Century Scotland Munro owes allegiance to the Cunninghames and to the Earl of Glencairn. Trapped in the 150-year-old feud between the Cunninghames and the Montgomeries, he escapes the bloody aftermath of an ambush, but he cannot escape the disdain of the wife he sought to protect, or his own internal conflict. He battles with his conscience and with divided loyalties – to age-old obligations, to his wife and children, and, most dangerous of all, to a growing friendship with the rival Montgomerie clan. Intervening to diffuse a quarrel that flares between a Cunninghame cousin and Hugh Montgomerie, he succeeds only in antagonizing William, the arrogant and vicious Cunninghame heir. And antagonizing William is a dangerous game to play…

About the author

Margaret Skea

Margaret Skea grew up in Ulster at the height of the ‘Troubles’, but now lives with her husband in the Scottish Borders. 

An interest in Scotland’s turbulent history, and in particular the 16th century, combined with PhD research into the Ulster-Scots vernacular, led to the writing of Turn of the Tide, which was the Historical Fiction Winner in the 2011 Harper Collins / Alan Titchmarsh People’s Novelist Competition and the Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best First Time Author 2014. 

An Hawthornden Fellow and award winning short story writer – her recent credits include, Overall Winner Neil Gunn 2011, Chrysalis Prize 2010, and Winchester Short Story Prize 2009. Third in the Rubery Book Award Short Story Competition 2013, a finalist in the Historical Novel Society Short Story Competition 2012, shortlisted in the Mslexia Short Story Competition 2012 and long-listed for the Historical Novel Society Short Story competition 2014, the Matthew Pritchard Award, the Fish Short Story and Fish One Page Prize, she has been published in a range of magazines and anthologies in Britain and the USA.
New collection of short stories – including some those from competitions mentioned above available for pre-order now.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Goodreads | Twitter also available on kindle unlimited

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT WARNINGS UNHEEDED by Andy Brown #NonFiction #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Warnings Unheeded: Twin Tragedies At Fairchild Air Force Base by Andy Brown

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WARNINGS UNHEEDED by Andy Brown

4 out of 5 stars

I’ll start by saying that this book is a terrific achievement by the author.  The painstaking and intricate work that has clearly gone into it is to be admired, as is its purpose.

The ‘warnings unheeded’ of the title refer to two mass-casualty accidents that occurred within days of each other on a US air base. “Using the words of the people who experienced the tragedies, the book provides an in-depth look at the before, during and after of a preventable “active shooter” incident and an avoidable fatal plane crash.”  A shooter terrorised the base hospital, and, in a parallel account, a veteran pilot, known for his reckless flying put the lives of both his crew and spectators at risk.

Andy Brown was the hero who ended the hospital killing spree, and intersperses chapters about the build up of fears about Mellberg and Holland with information about his own life and what led him to the position by which he was able to act as he did.  He also writes about the aftermath of the shootings, and PTSD.

I found shooter Mellberg’s story the most interesting, and read almost open-mouthed that the people who could take action did not appear to see that he was a tragedy waiting to happen, with the professionals who predicted this swamped by bureaucracy.  Most chilling was Dr Brigham’s instruction to his wife to keep firearms in the house, because he recognised the sort of patient who would see those who helped him as friends, though could just as easily turn on them.  Although non-fiction, the character of Mellberg, in particular, came across most clearly.  The book is well-written throughout, and the amount of planning that has gone into it is apparent.  For a non-military person (with no particular interest in or experience of the military), I thought that the factual detail was clear and well-explained, though sometimes too detailed, adding facts (and many initials, military terms and the explanations of) that were perhaps not necessary to the story for a layman’s point of view, and made one glaze over a little.  However, for its target audience, I imagine such detail will be admired.

For that target audience, I would say that this should probably be required reading.

Book Description

The true story of two separate mass-casualty incidents that occurred within days of each other at a US Air Force base. Using the words of the people who experienced the tragedies, the book provides an in-depth look at the before, during and after of a preventable “active shooter” incident and an avoidable fatal plane crash.

In one tragic week at Fairchild Air Force Base, an “active shooter” terrorized the base hospital and a talented but reckless pilot crashed a B-52 bomber near the flight line. Both fatal tragedies had been repeatedly predicted by numerous airmen and mental health professionals. 
In “vivid and thoroughly researched detail” Warnings Unheeded delivers an unprecedented, revealing look at the events that led to the twin tragedies.

The book follows an “active shooter” as he progresses toward his crime and dispels the myth that these incidents are random acts of violence committed without warning by otherwise normal individuals.

In a parallel account, Warnings Unheeded tells the story of a veteran pilot who was known for exceeding the maneuvering limits of his B-52 bomber. His reckless flying not only put the lives of his crew at risk, but also the lives of the air show spectators who gathered to watch him perform. When attempts to ground the pilot were unsuccessful, several aviators refused to fly with him and “predicted the worst air show disaster in history.”

Warnings Unheeded is authored by Andy Brown, the man who ended the hospital killing spree, and is a result of more than seven years of writing and research. Brown “masterfully weaves” the two stories and intersperses them with chapters revealing the preparations he made that enabled him to end a pistol-versus-rifle gunfight with a 70 yard shot from his handgun. Brown also writes of his experience with the aftermath of the shooting and encourages others to learn from his mistakes when it comes to dealing with the effects of trauma.

These empowering stories are exhaustively researched and presented in an objective, narrative style that shows what can happen when authorities become complacent, when the precursors of violence are ignored and when the lessons from history are forgotten.

About the author

Andy Brown

Andy Brown grew up in Port Orchard, Washington and joined the Air Force in 1989, shortly after graduating from South Kitsap High School. He served as a law enforcement specialist in the Security Police/Security Forces career field and was stationed in Idaho, Greece, Washington, Hawaii and New Mexico. 
He now lives in the Spokane, Washington area and works for the Department of Homeland Security. 
After seven years of researching, interviewing and writing, he wrote Warnings Unheeded. The book is part of his ongoing effort to share the lessons learned from the Fairchild tragedies and his experience with the effects of trauma.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

 

 

 

TEMPTED BY THE JAGUAR by Cristina Rayne #Paranormal #Romance Book #1 Riverford Shifters @CRayneAuthor

Tempted by the Jaguar: Transformation and Revelation (Riverford Shifters Book 1)Tempted by the Jaguar: Transformation and Revelation by Cristina Rayne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tempted by the Jaguar: Transformation and Revelation is book #1 of the Riverford Shifters series of paranormal romance.

It takes place in Riverford, Texas and opens with the abduction of Kylie Moore by a ruthless serial attacker. When faced with her attacker and his cutting knife, Kylie’s fear sets off a primal animal soul hidden deep within. Kylie shifts into a Jaguar and almost kills her attacker.

Stopped by a second Jaguar, Kylie runs away in fear. Utterly exhausted she calls Paul for help and drags herself home. Next day Hunter Rivera shows up at her door, because he followed her scent, he was the second Jaguar and he opens her world to were-folk.

Hunter takes her to his clan and is asked to protect her in her early days on self discovery, but Kylie holds her own secrets. Paul is not her real father, he’s been helping to her find her parents. Kylie can use Hunter to find answers, where her own investigations have stopped.

Some interesting changes heighten the attraction between Hunter and Kylie which they try to fight at first. If Kylie is who the clan think then she is, she’s a prize that more than one clan will want. However as the book ends on an exciting cliff hanger, Kylie reveals an even bigger shock to Hunter.

This book is for you if you enjoy the supernatural fantasy worlds of were-folk mixed with hot romance. The story will continue in book #2

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

Kylie Moore has a secret, one she and her adoptive father have carefully guarded for over a decade since the night her parents disappeared. However, when she is randomly attacked one night in her apartment complex’s parking lot, that one violent act sets in motion events that reveal not only her long-dormant shifter heritage in the worst possible way, but could also railroad her efforts of finding out what really happened to her parents. 

Suddenly finding herself the center of attention among Riverford’s shifter clans, Kylie’s only hope of navigating such a dangerous minefield of politics and perpetual battles over territory is Hunter, a too-sexy-for-her-peace-of-mind jaguar shifter that might be her key to gaining insider access to the hidden and secretive shifter society. 

Now Kylie must decide whether to integrate more deeply into Hunter’s jaguar clan in order to take advantage of this rare opportunity or to run while her secret still remains uncovered. To stay would mean deliberately putting herself in more danger than Kylie may be prepared to handle, especially when Hunter, the person she must rely on, may be hiding something as well. 

About the author

I live in West Texas with my crazy cat and about a dozen bookcases full of fantasy worlds and steamy romances. I also have a degree in Computer Science which totally qualifies me to write romances. Fantasy is my first love, and if I can inject a little love into the fantastical, along with a few steamy scenes, then all the better.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

If Paranormal Romantic Suspense appeals to you, I have also read and reviewed Book #2 and #4 in this series and you can read my reviews here.

Book #2 Accepting the Jaguar

Book #3 is a standalone novella about a minor character which I chose not to read.

Book #4 Tempted by the Tiger

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT GIRL IN A GOLDEN CAGE by @lucyBranch11 #Alchemy #Italy

Today’s team review is from Judith W, she blogs here https://readandreview2016.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Girl In A Golden Cage by Lucy Branch

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#RBRT: GIRL IN A GOLDEN CAGE by LUCY BRANCH @lucyBranch11 #BookReview #CrimeThriller

  • Title: Girl In A Golden Cage
  • Author: Lucy Branch
  • Published: 2016
  • Started: 19th December 2016
  • Finished: 31st December 2016

Girl In A Golden Cage is about Francesca Milliardo as she discovers she has an extraordinary and supernatural talent. She visits her rich father in Milan, and enjoys a life of glitz and glamour – a refreshing change from her home in the UK, but slowly begins to feel more unsettled.

From my understanding, Girl In A Golden Cage is the sequel to A Rarer Gift Than Gold, which I’m only just realising now. I haven’t read A Rarer Gift Than Gold, which, according to Amazon, is about Abigail Argent, a skilled craftswoman, who can enhance the beauty in metal sculptures. She discovers her craft is linked the art of alchemy, and uncovers a dangerous secret.

Although Abigail features in Girl In A Golden Cage, I don’t think I’ve missed out, despite not reading the first book. Francesca is a new character, and we explore the seemingly luxurious and wonderful Italian through her eyes – not Abigail’s – and watch her gradually uncover her father’s deception.

There are lots of Italian references (obviously) and a lot of artistic language and description. I didn’t really understand these parts – I’m not a very artistic or multi-cultural person, but I am confident Branch knows what she’s talking about. Amazon lists some of her achievements, such as studying at University College London, The Royal College of Art and Victoria Albert Museum and being a restorer of public sculptures and historic features.

My favourite aspect of this book were Francesca’s “out of body” experiences; they were supernatural, but not scary. While I don’t believe in “out of body” experiences in real life, I think it’s a fascinating subject to write fiction about, and made the storyline enjoyable.

While I liked the character of Lorin, I thought his motivations for involving himself Francesca were a little predictable. I didn’t feel that their connection was “real”, despite Francesca believing she was in a genuine and trusting relationship.

Also, I’m not sure what genre Girl In A Golden Cage is meant to be – it’s very difficult to pin down. There’s suspense, but it’s not wholly a mystery novel. There are some violent moments, and criminal activity does crop up, but I don’t feel like there’s enough to classify it as a crime novel. If anyone has any suggestions as to a genre which best fits this book, I’d be glad to hear them.

For me, the main let-down of Girl In A Golden Cage was a little too much unnecessary dialogue and the subsequent description of speech acts (e.g. he said/she said). I’m a strong believer in not overusing dialogue (or obvious narration) to convey basic information. For example (this is not lifted from the book, but an exaggerated example), I prefer to interpret a speaker’s body language, for instance, based on the way they speak and the character traits that have already been assigned to them, rather than a descriptive line of dialogue such as: “I am very annoyed” said the man, in a frustrated tone of voice, folding his arms and scowling.

On the whole, despite not reading A Rarer Gift Than Gold, I managed to enjoy Girl In A Golden Cage and thought it was a good book, although I can’t put into words exactly why that is!

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

A Rarer Gift Than Gold is available to buy as an e-book or paperback from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

Girl In A Golden Cage is available to buy as an e-book or paperback from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

Book Description

She has an eye for detail but can she see the truth? Making decisions is not one of Francesca Miliardo’s strengths so when something mysterious starts unfolding in her father’s mansion in Milan – it’s no surprise that she’s unsure what to do. Francesca dreams of becoming a star in the contemporary art world and she has all the right connections, though what should be a summer of fun is turning out to be anything but.

Crippling migraines have always been a burden, now strange happenings are making her question whether they really are a curse. It’s not the best time to fall for someone, but who could resist a man with wolf’s eyes? Knowing who to trust is vital when those closest to you are suddenly not all they seem. It’s the time in Francesca’s life to make some hard choices: follow her own path or step into somebody else’s story.

About the author

Lucy Branch

Lucy Branch’s fiction has been featured on Radio 4, Timeout London and The BBC World Service. She is an expert in the conservation of public sculpture and has worked on some of the UK’s highest profile projects including Nelson’s Column, Eros and Cleopatra’s Needle. She studied at University College London, The Royal College of Art and Victoria Albert Museum. Her knowledge and passion for the art world is poured into her fiction which she weaves together with myth, conspiracy theory and fantasy.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT ARDENT JUSTICE by Peter Taylor-Gooby @PeterT_G #WeekendBlogShare

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Ardent Justice by Peter Taylor-Gooby

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Ardent Justice is a novel that brings to light the corruption in the financial world of the City.  After a brutal rape by a rich financier, tax inspector Ade becomes involved with Paul, an activist who works with homeless people.  Together they become modern day Robin Hoods, determined to expose the fraud within the City and help the poor, fighting the power of money and influence of back-hander paid officials.  The novel is billed as a character-led feminist thriller.  

I found the explanation of how fraud works within the city fascinating, and certainly confirmed much that I suspected; alas, this is how business has been done for hundreds of years, after all, the only difference being that today it is on a much larger scale and has more devastating and widespread consequences.  There is no doubt that the book brings to light societal problems that will be an eye-opener for some, but I’m afraid that, for me, it didn’t work as a novel.  The characters were one-dimensional; Ade came over as bitter towards the world rather than feminist, though aside from this she was never more than words on a page for me; I didn’t believe the characters as, on the whole, the portrayal of emotion was not convincing, dialogue was unrealistic, and I found the narrative disjointed.

The proceeds of the book will go to Shelter, the charity for the homeless, so I am sorry not to be able to be more positive.

Book Description

Ade is a tax-inspector. She hates the City of London. She hates the endless corruption, the bland assumption that tax is for the little people. She hates the casual sexism, the smug self-assurance, the inviolability of the men she deals with, and the cold certainty that nothing you can do will ever touch them.
She finds herself in the world of the rootless, marginal street homeless who live meagre lives in the shadow of the office blocks that house the rich. She meets Paul, an Occupy activist who works with homeless people. As their love for each other grows, they find real fulfilment in fighting for the rights of ordinary people, such as Gemma, a homeless single parent.
Ardent Justice is a gripping feminist thriller, endorsed by Polly Toynbee, the leading Guardian columnist. It tells the story of Ade’s struggle against the City and for her own integrity, and of her love for Paul, and of how hard it is to live a morally good life in a corrupted world. It has been inspired by Zoe Fairbairns and Lionel Shriver and will appeal to fans of character-led thrillers. Profits will be donated to Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity.

“Good to find a novel with a strong social message about the way we live now”

Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

About the author

Peter Taylor-Gooby

My novels deal with how people live their lives in a diverse globalised capitalist world. In ‘Ardent Justice’, Ade struggles against the corruption of the City of London, where high finance and street homelessness flourish cheek by jowl. In ‘The Baby Auction’ Ed and Matt struggle to lead a passionate, humane and generous life in a world dominated by the market.
In my day job I’m an academic. My research shows how market capitalism generates inequalities between haves and have-nots and promotes a corrosive individualism that stunts our capacity for empathy, charity and love.
I enjoy hill-walking, riding my bike, holidays and looking after my grand-daughter (not in that order). I became interested in social policy issues after working on adventure playgrounds, teaching, claiming benefits and working in a social security office in Newcastle. I’ve worked in the UK, most European countries, Canada, the US, China, Korea and Japan, Australia and South Africa.

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