Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC #RomanticSuspense A Critical Tangent by @reily_garrett

Today’s challenge reviewer is Alex Craigie

Alex has been reading A Critical Tangent by Reily Garrett

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Keiki Tallerman, a student in her final year, has a talent for designing drones. In the opening scene she is flying one of her latest prototypes from her student room and communicating through its microphone and camera with her friend Shelly in a field by a wooded area. As Keiki puts the drone through its paces she witnesses Shelly’s brutal murder and becomes a target for the killer.  Past experiences have instilled a distrust in the police which undermines the growing attraction between her and Nolan, the detective whose protective instincts towards her are sometimes at odds with the evidence stacking up against her.

There are so many characters in the beginning that I did find it hard at first to keep track of them. As this is the first in the series, it shouldn’t be a problem in successive books for readers already familiar with them.  The first scene packs quite a punch and sets the tone for the rest of the novel and kept me turning the pages to find out what happened next.

The personalities are well drawn and the spark between Nolan and Keiki fairly zings off the page. The author uses the device of letting different characters narrate the chapters so that you see the situation from a variety of viewpoints and perspectives. Keiki is feisty but vulnerable, Nolan is strong and caring, and the killer is sadistic and terrifying.

The dialogue and interactions between the characters keep the plot moving on but occasionally the language used would pull me out of the scene. “Rare was the occasion she incurred awkward emotions around men” is one example where the vocabulary seemed clunky and unconvincing. This may simply be down to differences between the American and British market and, having said that, these were rare blips in an otherwise fast-paced and genuinely thrilling narrative.

I particularly like the insight I was given into drone technology and police procedure and I’m sure this is the beginning of a gripping series. A third of the way in, I’d have given this book a 3* rating but once the characters kicked in and I became caught up in the plot I rounded it up to a 4.

Book description

She doesn’t trust cops…
He’s an iron-willed detective who doesn’t know whether to cuff her or kiss her.

Keiki Tallerman is a strong-willed tech prodigy whose life is shattered when her drone captures video of her best friend’s bizarre murder.

Experience has taught her good reason to not trust any police officers, especially when the hard-boiled detectives come knocking on her door. Their suspicions narrow when the second of her trio of friends disappears without a trace from their small urban community.

Conflicting evidence at a disturbing crime scene leaves gossamer threads weaving a complicated web of lies and deceit. Every clue Detective Garnett finds steers the investigation to a deep, dark network entangling the young coed in a labyrinth of cunning subterfuge.

Unable to piece the evidence together, Garnett is torn between following the letter of the law and protecting the amateur sleuth determined to clear her name. Add a large dose of mutual attraction and sparks fly.

Can he earn Keiki’s trust in time to save her life, or will the psychotic killer destroy the woman who is crushing his emotional defenses?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #Historical #Mystery Set In 16th Century Poland, MIDNIGHT FIRE by @pk_adams

Midnight Fire (A Jagiellon Mystery #2)Midnight Fire by P.K. Adams

4 stars

Midnight Fire is book two of the Jagiellon mystery series set in Poland during the 1500s. You can read my review of book one here (link).

Set twenty-five years after Book One, Caterina returns to Poland after a married life in Italy. She comes seeking medical assistance for her ailing son, and hopes that one of the queen’s physicians may be able to help.

Queen Bona is pleased to be reunited with Caterina, but her best doctors are with her own son in Lithuania. This is because the queen and her son are currently estranged over his relationships with his mistress. However, the queen is happy for Caterina to visit the royal doctors but she does ask Caterina to act as her envoy in imploring her son, the Duke, to see sense over his desire to marry his mistress. It is a delicate matter, but Caterina agrees for the sake of her own son’s health.

While in Vilnius, an attempt to poison Barbara Radziwiłł, the duke’s mistress, fails, but a servant girl dies instead. Caterina’s reputation for solving mysteries is well-known, and the duke asks her to find the culprit to prevent a second attempt. Once more, Caterina finds herself embroiled in solving a murder case for the Polish royal household.

I enjoyed this story more than I thought that I would; compared with book one in the series, this one had less characters, which helped. Another factor may have been that I was already familiar with many of the names. The mystery was easy to follow with more emphasis on the historical elements than a complex case with twists, so this would probably suit historical fiction lovers more than avid crime fiction readers.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

In the summer of 1545, Caterina Konarska undertakes the long journey from Bari to Kraków in search of a cure for her ailing son Giulio. In Poland, she finds a court far different from the lively, cultured place she remembers from twenty-five years ago. The old king lies on his deathbed, and the once-charming Queen Bona has aged into a bitter, lonely woman—isolated from power and estranged from the heir, Zygmunt August.

Haunted by memories of a crime she solved long ago, Caterina approaches the queen with caution. Bona promises medical assistance for Giulio, but at a price: Caterina must travel with her son to Vilnius where, in exchange for a medical consultation with a royal physician, she will attempt to dissuade Zygmunt August from marrying his scandal-ridden mistress, Barbara Radziwiłł.

Caterina agrees, but she soon learns that Zygmunt August listens to no one, especially when it comes to his love life. And when a puzzling murder shakes the Vilnius court, the duke immediately suspects his mother’s agents. Caterina is thrust into yet another investigation, but as bodies and clues pile up, she realizes that in trying to clear the queen’s name, she has placed her and Giulio’s lives in grave danger.

The second Jagiellon Mystery, Midnight Fire explores the nature of duty and sacrifice and the unpredictable ways in which personal and political events can trigger buried traumas, with explosive and deadly consequences.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #Historical #Mystery Set In Early 16th Century Poland, SILENT WATER by @pk_adams

Silent Water (A Jagiellon Mystery #1)Silent Water by P.K. Adams

4 stars

Silent Water is the first book in the Jagiellon mystery series, which is set in Poland during the 1500s.

Told from the point of view of Contessa Caterina Sanseverino, a lady-in-waiting to Poland’s Queen Bona, the story revolves around a murder during the Christmas celebrations of 1519. Caterina becomes involved in solving the murder, a job made more difficult because she must also oversee the other younger ladies-in-waiting. Keeping them in hand during the Christmas period is especially hard in a court filled with exuberant celebrations, and it hampers Caterina’s investigations.

I’ve read a few medieval stories, but I have never come across the history of Poland from this era. The historical elements were well-written and easy to follow as was the murder mystery. The hardest part for me was keeping up with all of the characters, mainly because I found the Polish names hard to pronounce to myself. However, the author provides a list of names with helpful pronunciations at the beginning for those, like me, who may find them a challenge.

A solid piece of historical fiction; my only complaint was the quantity of characters, as I struggled to remember who they all were.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

It is Christmas 1519 and the royal court in Kraków is in the midst of celebrating the joyous season. Less than two years earlier, Italian noblewoman Bona Sforza arrived in Poland’s capital from Bari as King Zygmunt’s new bride. She came from Italy accompanied by a splendid entourage, including Contessa Caterina Sanseverino who oversees the ladies of the Queen’s Chamber.

Caterina is still adjusting to the life in this northern kingdom of cold winters, unfamiliar customs, and an incomprehensible language when a shocking murder rocks the court on Christmas night. It is followed by another a few days later. The victims have seemingly nothing in common. Gossip, speculation, and suspicion are rife, but the perpetrator remains elusive as the court heads into the New Year.

As the official investigation stalls, Caterina—aided by Sebastian Konarski, a junior secretary in the king’s household—sets out to find the killer. With clues beginning to point to the queen’s innermost circle, the pair are soon racing against time to stop another murder.

Silent Water is a story of power and its abuse, and the extremes to which a person may go to find redress for justice denied. Although set at the dawn of the Renaissance era, its themes carry uncanny parallels to some of the most topical social issues of the 21st century.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Fiction THE INCONVENIENT NEED TO BELONG by Paula Smedley

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

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading The Inconvenient Need To Belong by Paula Smedley

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I found this book a difficult one to review. On the one hand there was much to enjoy about the story, it’s an interesting account of a man’s life: the friendships and relationships formed over a lifetime, the honest self realisation of someone nearing the end of his life, living within the controlled regime of a care home. A regime he rebels against in small ways, which emphasis the greater rebellion in his earlier life when he left home and the controlling rigid rules of his father. On the other I think an extra edit would have shortened and tightened the story, making it much stronger.

On the plus side I liked the portrayal of the protagonist, Alfie. Nicely rounded, the internal dialogue adds layers to the character as he recounts his life story. Unfortunately I didn’t get much of an insight to a lot of the other characters and I wonder if this is because there are too many minor ones, whose limited input add little to the story. However, there is another storyline that runs parallel to Alfie’s story, that of Julia. This is a much stronger portrayal and I think this character is worthy of a separate story of her own. But this is only my thought.

On the whole, the dialogue is good and differentiates the characters. And there are evocative descriptions to give a few of the settings a good sense of place. And it is a poignant easy read that, I’m sure, will appeal to any reader who enjoys what reads as a fictional memoir.

3*

Book description

In the summer of 1953, twenty-year-old Alfie steals away from his troubled childhood home in London to start a new life in Exeter. His own life. And at first it’s everything he ever dreamed it would be. For the first time in his life Alfie feels like he belongs.

Today, in a care home in the Midlands, eighty-six-year-old Alfie is struggling to come to terms with his dark past.

Alfie’s story is one of regret, the mistakes we make, and the secrets even the most unassuming of us can hold. But it is also a story about family, friendship, the things we should treasure and protect, and how the choices we make can shape our lives and the lives of others.

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Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #Horror Novella THE BLEDBROOKE WORKS by John F. Leonard

Today’s book review comes from challenge reader VT Dorchester, he blogs here vtdorch.wordpress.com

VT has been reading The Bledbrooke Works by John F. Leonard

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The Bledbrooke Works: A Cosmic Horror Story by John F Leonard

This short novella follows Donald Hobdike, Manager of Works in a small town with secrets, and Michael Bassey, the young offender assigned to him as part of community service, as they venture into the old sewers below town. There is a blockage somewhere, causing somewhat disgusting problems in town, and they need to resolve whatever the problem below ground may be. The viewpoint alternates between the human characters, and a strange Other-Thing, possibly of extra-terrestrial origin, which is a bit menacing.

I picked this book to review during Rosie’s Review-A-Book-Challenge because I was intrigued by the promised setting. I think it’s hard to go very wrong setting a horror story inside confined, mysterious-to-most, English and Victorian sewage works.

And I did enjoy the atmosphere and suspense of this book. It’s spooky without being all-out terrifying, maintaining a nice balance between enjoyable suspense and foreboding, and providing some character development, and holds back from veering into too much gross-out horror or intensity.  I don’t like my horror stories too intense.

However, I did unfortunately ultimately find myself somewhat disappointed in this story. The short-sentenced, snapped off style of writing took me a little aback, and I never quite got used to it, although it does help keep the pace moving. Most readers should have little trouble reading this novella in an hour and a half or so. There is some use of obscenities, and a little bit of violence, although it is not particularly graphic, and there are far far fewer poop jokes then there could have been. (I’m not complaining about that at all.) There is also some allusion to domestic and sexual abuse.

The two human characters are each fun, with cranktankerous Hobdike getting a few particularly amusing comments to share with us. There is a twist ending, which did take me by surprise. The ending is also rather dark. I prefer stories that end with more of a sense of hope, even in horror stories. This is of course a question of personal taste, but the bleakness at the end of the story was a disappointment to me.

Regular horror readers will likely enjoy the somewhat unusual setting and moodiness of the story, and I recommend it to horror fans looking for a quick read.

I want to thank both Rosie and the author for arranging a free copy for me to review. I give this novella 3 stars out of 5.

Book description

Ever notice how some places don’t feel right? No rhyme or reason, they’re just unsettling, without you being able to pinpoint the cause. The vaguely suspicious demeanour of the locals. The pewtered quality of light. The old and indefinably alien smell that blows on the breeze… difficult to say for sure, but there’s definitely something.

Bledbrooke is one of those places. It’s always been different to other towns. Quaint and quiet, a little backwater with a somehow dark charm all of its own. Once you get used to it, you wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

It’s not all sweetness and light though. There are problems. A new one has just appeared. The drains on Cinderlake Drive are bubbling unsavoury water onto the street. Even worse, the toilets are blocked and spitting nastiness at some affluent backsides. The town council reckon it’s a fatberg – one of those awful accumulations of wet wipes, grease and other unmentionables.

There’s only one man to call… Donald Hobdike, world-weary and well past his prime, this sort of issue inevitably ends up on his chipped desk. When it comes to the sewers in Bledbrooke, he’s seen it all and more besides. Knows them better than he knows the back of his wrinkled hand.

Or so he thinks.

Maybe the labyrinthine warren beneath Bledbrooke still has some surprises in store for him…

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Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC Aidan reviews Dystopia WASTELAND by @TerryTyler4

Today’s review comes from Aidan, who joined our Review-A-Book Challenge. Find Aidan here https://ricketttsblog.wordpress.com/

Aidan has been reading Wasteland by Terry Tyler

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Wasteland just got better and better as I was reading. It might start off slowly, since it’s worldbuilding is monumentally ambitious, but once it gets going it never slows down. The book has plenty to say about family, poverty, activism and democracy, social media, liberty… the list just goes on. I could spend all day dissecting its multifaceted themes. For me, it felt very reminiscent of the Children of Men film.

The novel is set in a dystopian version of the UK far in the future. Most of the population has moved or been moved into megacities – vast urban centres that can meet all needs, so that their residents never have to leave. The government controls almost every aspect of its citizens’ lives, and they are taught not to question. Outside the megacities is the wasteland, home to those who have escaped the government’s iron fist.

The story centres on Rae, a young woman who has grown up in the orphanage system within a megacity. Upon learning that her family might still be alive, she starts to question what it is that she wants. Along her journey, there is a constant flow of diverse characters – it’s a real strength of the book. We can see the effects of the harsh world upon a whole host of characters, which gives small insights into a whole host of differing viewpoints and allows for interesting discussions of the various themes.

While Rae’s story was great, and she evolved seamlessly throughout the book, it was Dylan’s journey that was a highlight. His part was relatively small, since he was a secondary character, but I believe it to be crucial to understand the human aspect of the government’s policies. He encapsulates the idea that luck has a lot to do with your position in the world, and I found it impossible not to feel for him.

I found that the themes of the book mesh together to act as a study of humanity. It painted a poor picture of us, often being very cynical. Yet, despite all the flaws it exposed, it manages to maintain a spark of hope throughout – the idea that no matter what, humanity will find a way. I also don’t feel that Terry Tyler’s exploration of themes in any way impeded the overall flow of the story, something I’m always wary of when books have a strong message. However, the ambitious nature of the novel did mean that some themes are only touched on at a shallow level. I didn’t find this an issue personally though, since there is more than enough food for thought.

In my opinion, the book really comes into its own in the last 3rd. There was a twist that I didn’t see coming at all, which was great, and then the pace is relentless from there on out. It’s one of those that I just couldn’t put down, since the tension and stakes are so high and I was hugely invested in the characters.

Overall, this book has made me really excited to read more of Terry Tyler’s work. It was really easy to read as a standalone book, despite kind of being a sequel (it’s set in the same world as another book, but many years later). My only small criticism is that the writing occasionally was a bit awkward, so I had to reread bits which I misunderstood because I’d missed a word that was in an unexpected place. However, it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment, and would suggest that you don’t let it put you off in any way. Therefore, I give the book 6 out of 7, and would easily recommend it to lovers of sci-fi and dystopia. I’d also recommend it more widely, but warn that it can be quite bleak in places, so don’t go for it if that’s not your thing.

Book description

‘Those who escape ‘the system’ are left to survive outside society. The fortunate find places in off-grid communities; the others disappear into the wasteland.’

The year is 2061, and in the new UK megacities, the government watches every move you make. Speech is no longer free—an ‘offensive’ word reaching the wrong ear means a social demerit and a hefty fine. One too many demerits? Job loss and eviction, with free transport to your nearest community for the homeless: the Hope Villages.

Rae Farrer is a megacity girl through and through, proud of her educational and career achievements, until a shocking discovery about her birth forces her to question every aspect of life in UK Megacity 12.

On the other side of the supposedly safe megacity walls, a few wastelanders suspect that their freedom cannot last forever…

Wasteland is the stand-alone sequel to Hope, and is the second and final book in the Operation Galton series.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of Calligraphies Of The Desert by @hassan_massoudy @SaqiBooks #TuesdayBookBlog

Calligraphies of the DesertCalligraphies of the Desert by Hassan Massoudy

5 stars

Calligraphies Of The Desert is a compilation of writings, proverbs, words of wisdom and poetry from people who have written about the deserts across Africa and Arabia, set to a background of beautiful calligraphy artwork.

There is a real cross-section of words, from passages and texts collected by Isabelle Massoudy, the artist’s wife, some of which are half a page in length, while others are just one sentence or a few words, but each is about the writer’s feelings and respect for the desert.

I liked the themes that the authors chose, which included the paths, the winds, the light, contemplation, the tents, beauty, the sand, the oasis, water and the silence, all of which made the desert come alive on the pages.

Some of my favourites included:

‘He who strays discovers new paths’ (Nils Kjaer 1870-1924)

‘Man. Know when to fall silent and listen to the song of this place. Who may say that light and shadow do not speak?’ (Tuareg proverb)

‘It’s not the rest that reduces the distance, it’s the walking’ (Bantu proverb).

My favourite longer piece was a from a Dervish tale about a river that wished to cross the desert.

I’ve always been drawn to Africa and its mysteries, and over the years I have read many books in a range of genres that have settings in Africa, so I was particularly delighted to recognise both the Tuareg and Dervish people’s names which may be less well-known. This is the first book I’ve read by these authors and it would make a lovely gift or coffee table book; the writing and the calligraphy are beautiful.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

 

Celebrated master calligrapher Hassan Massoudy carries the desert within him. Through majestic, sweeping strokes, he depicts its breath-taking beauty and wonder. Massoudy draws inspiration from the words and wisdom of some of our greatest poets and writers – Rumi, Paul Bowles, Goethe, Baudelaire, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Khalil Gibran – who have lost themselves in the mysteries of the desert.

Beautifully illustrated, Calligraphies of the Desert offers inspiration for meditation. Speaking to the senses, it is a treasure for travellers, poets and dreamers.

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Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge Cosy #Mystery MADAM TULIP by @DaveAhernWriter

Today’s challenge reviewer is Sherry, she blogs here https://sherryfowlerchancellor.com/

Sherry has been reading Madam Tulip by David Ahern

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This book was a delightful read. It starts a bit slow and this reviewer wasn’t sure it would be enjoyable, but luckily, it picked up speed as well as the reader’s interest by the second chapter. Don’t give up on this one based merely on the first few pages. Keep going for a richly described tale with compelling and fully fleshed-out characters.

Derry O’Donnell is a financially strapped actor and, needing to earn some cash, with some help from her friend, recreates herself as Madam Tulip. She naturally has the gift of premonition and can read cards intuitively and accurately. What better way to try to make a living when her mother threatens to stop her financial assistance?

Little does Derry know she’s about to get herself in way more trouble than just her mother cutting off her funding.

When someone dies at an event where Madam Tulip is reading cards, Derry finds herself in the middle of the drama—certainly not like a stage drama—this is real. Life and death.

She gets by with some help from her gay former navy SEAL friend and her outrageous painter father.  She also stumbles upon an old love who is operating under cover. Friend or foe? That is something she can’t tell even with her psychic gifts.

The heroine is plucky and irreverent. Her internal dialogue is wonderful. The father and SEAL friend are both unique characters and so well-done personality-wise, this reader wanted to hang out in the pub with them all.

The author clearly has a wonderful sense of humor. There were a number of places that made this reviewer laugh out loud. I love a smart story and this one fits the bill. An adventure with serious moments as well as humor to lighten the mood. A perfect read- not great, heavy literature, but an amusing way to spend some time.

I was glad to learn there’s a whole series of these stories as I’m not ready to let them leave my life yet. This one is a keeper. Highly recommended for a fun read.

Book description

Suspense, mystery, action, a little romance and lots of laughs.

Derry O’Donnell, out-of-work actress, is talented, a teeny bit psychic … and broke. Spurred on by an ultimatum from her awesomely high-achieving mother, and with a little help from her theatrical friends, Derry embarks on a part-time career as Madam Tulip, fortune-teller to the rich and famous. But at her first fortune-telling gig – a celebrity charity weekend in a castle – a famous rap artist will die.

As Derry is drawn deeper into a seedy world of celebrities, supermodels and millionaires, she finds herself playing the most dangerous role of her acting life. Trapped in a maze of intrigue, money and drugs, Derry’s attempts at amateur detective could soon destroy her friends, her ex-lover, her father and herself.

Madam Tulip is the first in a series of Tulip adventures in which Derry O’Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and reluctant detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life.

AmazonUK | AmazomUS

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Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC @SueBavey reviews #Histfic THE LAST PILGRIM by @NAGrangerAuthor

Today’s review comes from Sue, who joined our Review-A-Book Challenge. Find Sue here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Sue Has been reading The Last Pilgrim by Noelle Granger

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Since 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth, UK to Plymouth, MA, I was interested in reading this account of the life of Mary Allerton Cushman. Mary was only four years old during the arduous journey made by the separatists, who later became known as pilgrims. Their story is well known in Massachusetts and taught from an early age.  I was keen to read this account written for an adult audience and was rewarded by a narrative filled with a great deal of well-researched historical detail. Some of the events were relayed in a slightly unemotional manner, there could have been more excitement during the description of John Howland having fallen overboard and his rescue, and also an episode in which one of the cross beams of the Mayflower cracks during a heavy storm. These events, the illness and death below decks must have been terrifying.

The beginning of the book introduces us to Mary in 1699, as an elderly woman, looking back on her life. We then switch to her father, Isaac Allerton, in whose voice most of the early chapters are written, switching to Mary occasionally, as she gets a little older. When Mary reaches the age of 8 she is put out to live with another family, that of the Governor of the Plymouth colony. Mary’s behaviour is unruly and her father has struggled to tame her since the death of his wife on the Mayflower. This event is useful since the narrator is now a party to the majority of conversations held within the Governor’s house and through these we learn of relations with the local natives, the problems relating to debt which follow the settlers and the subsequent trade deals set up by Mary’s father, which have detrimental effects on his relationship with the governor and eventually lead to his leaving the colony.

It was interesting to hear in detail the processes which Mary must learn in order to become a goodwife: soap making, cooking, spinning flax into cloth and how to catch leeches in a bottle from a river, to name but a few. The author clearly spent plenty of time researching every possible aspect of life in the colony and describes it in an engaging manner.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Historical Fiction.  4.5/5

Book description

This book captures and celebrates the grit and struggle of the Pilgrim women who stepped off the Mayflower in the winter of 1620 to an unknown world – one filled with hardship, danger and death. The Plymouth Colony would not have survived without them.
Mary Allerton Cushman was the last surviving passenger of the Mayflower, dying at age 88 in 1699.
Mary’s life is set against the real background of that time. The Last Pilgrim begins from her father’s point of view – she was, after all, only four when she descended into the cramped and dank living space below deck on the Mayflower – but gradually assumes Mary’s voice, as the colony achieves a foothold in the New England’s rocky soil.
What was a woman’s life like in the Plymouth Colony? The Last Pilgrim will tell you.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction BURKE IN THE PENINSULA by @TomCW99

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

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Burke In The Peninsula by Tom Williams

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Having read The White Rajah by Tom Williams several years ago I knew that this book set in the long-lasting Peninsular War, in Portugal and Spain, would be an action-packed story told in an approachable style.

We meet Major James Burke in 1809, an experienced soldier with particular skills in working under cover. Having returned from South America he is hoping to rejoin his regiment accompanied by his loyal Sergeant William Brown.  Instructed to report to General Hill he finds that he is needed to reconnoitre with some of the guerrilla bands of Spaniards who seem to have more success than their army. He soon finds that some of the gangs are only out to loot, rape and murder, so he is relieved to find one trustworthy group lead by El Gato.  Burke is involved in several dangerous skirmishes as he travels disguised as a priest.

When Sergeant Brown returns to the British army, he discovers that he is needed to lead a squad into battle at Talavera de la Reina. Written in the third person, we are given a clear description of the lines of infantrymen firing their muskets but also of the mayhem when they are attacked by canon-fire.  Meanwhile Burke continues to work independently, in increasingly dangerous circumstances alongside an old flame.

Although at times quite upsetting, the violence and death reflects events accurately.  I found William Brown easier to empathise with as Burke sometimes appears detached. The only female character, Bernadita, is quite inscrutable though fascinating. The atmosphere of the countryside in central Spain is effectively described and seemed familiar to me even visiting in the present day.

Although part of a series this book works well as a stand-alone story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it even though the ending came rather suddenly.

Book description

Things getting a bit messy in Spain. Lots of irregulars. Civilians joining in the fighting. That sort of thing. Wellesley needs all the help he can get. They need a man who can pass for a Spaniard. Someone who can make himself useful with the irregulars. Someone who is prepared to fight dirty if it gets things done.

1809 and Burke has barely returned from South America when he is sent off again, this time to join the war being waged by Spanish guerrillas against the French. It’s not long before he’s fighting for his life, but which of the Spaniards can he trust?

Burke faces new adversaries and finds old allies in a dramatic tale of adventure during the Peninsular War, set against the background of the bloody battle of Talavera.

It’s real history – but not the way you learned it in school.

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