Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #Mystery INTRIGUE & INFAMY by @carolJhedges #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been redaing Intrigue & Infamy by Carol J Hedges

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My Review: 5 out of 5 stars

One of the biggest problems for authors of a detective series is moving a story forward, allowing your detective and cast to evolve, but still retain the world you’ve built. In Book 7 of her Victorian Detective series, Intrigue & Infamy, author Carol Hedges gives a master class in just that.

Detective Inspector Leo Stride, protagonist of the early books, is now trapped in an administrative role, the victim of his own success. “Detective Inspector Stride is a long-standing officer, now reduced to an officer of long sitting.” The only mystery now facing Stride is how a certain green folder documenting thefts of barnyard animals keeps ending up on his desk, the only conflict his longstanding skirmishes in the neverending war with journalism in general and reporter Richard Dandy in particular.

It is Stride’s colleagues at the Metropolitan Police—later known as Scotland Yard—Detective Sergeant Jack Cully and Detective Inspector Lachlan Grieg who take on the real crimes facing the Detective Division. At the same time, the detectives are dealing with very real issues in their personal lives—Cully as a sleep-deprived young father, and Grieg, a newly-minted Detective Inspector whose courtship is dramatically different from the minutely-planned society alliances.

At the same time, the hallmarks of the earlier books provide the bones of the new one. As before, author Carol Hedges employs the tropes of Dickens, but avoids the wordy sentimentality of the original. Still present are the myriad of twisting plots so beloved by Dickens, that have Cully and Grieg investigating murder, assault, burglary, and pure bloody-mindedness.

Side-by-side with these are the social observations so often central to Dickens. The upper classes’ pursuit of each other’s wealth via the London Season and its attendant Marriage Mart, the political realities that make “justice” into very different things depending on social caste, the barely concealed racism and misogyny bubbling beneath the surface—all are described in a way that acknowledges their ongoing existence and echoes our disturbingly-similar present.

‘I thought we’d consigned this sort of thing to history,’ Stride says disgustedly.

‘Ah well, maybe history isn’t just something that is behind us; it also follows us,’ Grieg says thoughtfully.

There are also flashes of humor which echo Dickens at his very best, but also the sharp dry wit of Jane Austen at her most socially sarcastic:

  • Beautiful young debutants working tirelessly at their assigned role of achieving a socially advantageous marriage observe the lessons of one wrong step. Choose the wrong partner? “As far as anyone knows, poor Rosamund is now a governess in some faraway barbaric location. Possibly Yorkshire.”
  • Senior officers at the fledgling Metropolitan Police optimistically trying  to professionalize the young police force? “It is from one of the night constables, for whom spelling and punctuation are optional extras.”
  • Following clues in depths of London? “The Rat & Bottle is the sort of low dive that gives low dives a bad name…It is the sort of pub where nobody will know your name because frankly, they can’t be bothered to ask it.”
  • Romance for young girl? Juliana—“Tonight Juliana is absolutely and quite deliberately irresistible.”
  • Romance for young man? Harry—“It is hard work living up to everybody’s expectations, though admittedly, the expectations of his father are so low he probably couldn’t even crawl under them, let alone live up to them.”
  • Young love? “The guests look on fondly, because young love, even if it has been planned and carried out like a military manoeuvre, is still delightful to witness.”
  • Society? (My personal favorite as it deliberately echoes the traditional marriage service, evoking the force of divine providence into the pursuit of ensuring social position, power, land, and especially keeping all that lovely money in the family.)

A ball, as everybody knows, is like a marriage. It should never be entered into lightly or frivolously, but soberly and reverently, considering the purposes for which a ball is intended. Firstly, it is intended to show off the finery and figures of single young women, thus indicating that they are available for suitable alliances with single young men. Secondly, it is for the mutual encouragement of the Mamas of the single young women, whose one desire is their happily married future. And thirdly it is to ensure the papas of the single young women dispense as much money as is necessary to show off the finery and figures, and secure the happy marriage.

 

Carol Hedges’ intricate plots show off a deep knowledge of London, both past and present. But she also conveys a love of her city so tangible, London itself emerges as a main character—beautiful, terrible, flawed, and wonderful.

It is a clear night, the vast scoop of velvet black sky full of pin-bright sars. The air smells of damp and soot and horse shit, the familiar London smells. Cully walks the silent streets in search of the nearest post box, while the Sleeping beauty city murmurs and shifts, mutters and groans, waiting for the rough kiss of dawn to wake her and the jingling clattering morning carts to fill her streets once more.

At the risk of spoilers, I have to say one of my favorite parts of Intrigue & Infamy is the inspired ending. When the flexing of powerful society muscles threatens to allow a murderer to walk free despite the brilliant detective work of Cully and Grieg, Detective Inspector Leo Stride takes completely unprecedented action. I wanted to stand up and cheer.

This continues to be one of my favorite series. Not only does the writing contain a degree of clarity that—for me anyway!—sets it well above the Dickens it channels, but the subtle humor, social commentary, character growth, and clearly salutary references to current events in both the US and UK makes Intrigue & Infamy a must-read even as a stand alone. But do yourself a huge favor: if you haven’t read the earlier books, now is your chance to enter a wonderful, funny, thoughtful, and above all beautifully written world. You’re so lucky!

Book description

It is 1866, the end of a long hot summer in Victorian London, and the inhabitants are seething with discontent. Much of it is aimed at the foreign population living in the city. So when a well-reputed Jewish tailoring business is set aflame, and the body of the owner is discovered inside, Detective Inspector Lachlan Grieg suspects a link to various other attacks being carried out across the city, and to a vicious letter campaign being conducted in the newspapers.

Can he discover who is behind the attacks before more people perish?

Elsewhere, Giovanni Bellini arrives in England to tutor the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Haddon, ex-MP and City financier. But what are Bellini’s links to a dangerous Italian radical living in secret exile in London, and to beautiful Juliana Silverton, engaged to Harry Haddon, the heir to the family fortune?

Romance and racism, murder and mishap share centre stage in this seventh exciting book in the Victorian Detectives series.

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Intrigue

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction THE CONFESSOR’S WIFE by Kelly Evans @ChaucerBabe

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Confessor’s Wife by Kelly Evans

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The Confessor’s Wife is an engaging tale of the wife of Edward the Confessor. Edith of Wessex , daughter of Godwin, the Earl of Wessex, spends her early years in a household with two older brothers, Harold and Sweyn, and a beloved younger brother, Tostig.  Her father, knowing that she must make a good marriage in support of her family, sends her as a teenager to the royal abbey of Wilton. There she is to be educated in the running a household, along with the artly skills of the high-born and with fluency in various languages. Despite her despair at having to leave her home, she finds a friend in Aethel, also the daughter of a nobleman but who has taken her vows as a nun, and also in the Abbess. After years, during which she comes to feel at home at the abbey, her brother Sweyn, a pompous, self-centered man, comes to retrieve her. She is to be married – to Edward, the King of England.

Edith’s nemesis in her marriage is her mother-in-law, Emma, who despises Godwin and his family, believing Godwin is responsible for her oldest son’s death. Edith finds herself in an untenable situation – married to an older man, hated by her mother-in-law who thwarts her at every turn, and her family obligations. She must prove herself worthy to all of them.

In time, her relationship with Edward becomes respectful and deeply caring, yet she bears him no children – a cause for a man to cast his wife aside. Royal politics sway this way and that, and at one point Edith is sent back to the abbey, when her family falls from grace. And yet Edward does not remarry.

How does she navigate the political waters that swirl around the king? How can she ensure the promotion of her family’s men to the highest offices in the land, and help raise her brother to the throne? And how can she do this, when criticized over many years for being a barren wife?

Kelly Evans has taken a woman who is little more than a footnote in history and created a story around her that makes her real and emphasizes the perils of a queen in that period.

I had not known of Edith prior to reading this book and had barely heard of King Edward the Confessor, so the history of the story fascinated me. The strength of the author’s writing is definitely in the dialogue, which gives three-dimensionality to the speakers and had me drawn in from the beginning. I felt the love of Edith for her brother Tostig, even when he proved feckless and disloyal, through her dislike of the ceaselessly critical Sweyn, and her tolerance of the scheming Emma and her simpering mother, Gytha.

While much less descriptive than the writings of other authors of historical fiction – and there were times when I absolutely yearned for more detail – the dialogue kept me reading. The author made Edith’s life and the obstacles she faced very real despite the sparseness of the background elements. There were a few lapses into modern expressions, which brought me up, but not enough to drag me away!

The author has written several other historical novels. One of them is The Northern Queen about Edith’s mother-in-law, Emma. I think readers of historical fiction will enjoy this book, and I am definitely interested in reading The Northern Queen.

Book description

In the 11th Century, when barren wives are customarily cast aside, how does Edith of Wessex not only manage to stay married to King Edward the Confessor, but also become his closest advisor, promote her family to the highest offices in the land, AND help raise her brother to the throne? And why is her story only told in the footnotes of Edward’s history?

Not everyone approves of Edward’s choice of bride. Even the king’s mother, Emma of Normandy, detests her daughter-in-law and Edith is soon on the receiving end of her displeasure. Balancing her sense of family obligation with her duty to her husband, Edith must also prove herself to her detractors.

Edward’s and Edith’s relationship is respectful and caring, but when Edith’s enemies engineer her family’s fall from grace, the king is forced to send her away. She vows to do anything to protect her family’s interests if she returns, at any cost. Can Edith navigate the dangerous path fate has set her, while still remaining loyal to both her husband and her family?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview #Team #RBRT #Horror novella HUMAN FLESH by Nick Clausen

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

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Human Flesh by Nick Clausen

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Human Flesh is the third book by Nick Clausen I’ve reviewed this year – clearly, I enjoy his work.

Human Flesh is a narrative formed from fictitious evidence from a murder case. The suspect, Otha’s grandfather, is a man who behaves strangely whenever winter descends. This is somewhat understandable; winter reminds him of losing his wife. Yet, Otha’s grandfather adamantly refuses to admit how she died – almost as if he has something to hide.

As I’ve been reading more of Nick Clausen’s books, I’ve found I really enjoy the many ideas he has for horror stories. Human Flesh is no exception. The story is inspired by legends of the Wendigo, a cannibalistic creature or spirit which lurks in Northern America. I really enjoyed following this mysterious murder case, and I was drawn to keep reading. It’s definitely a creepy little story.

However, when I say little, I do mean little.

Human Flesh is very short. On the one hand, this could tie nicely to the fact the book is meant to be a collection of police evidence and, consequently, a small amount of evidence could reflect the mystery behind the story and how much is still unknown. On the other hand, practically speaking, when I read it, I was disappointed the story ended so soon.

I did like Clausen’s choice to present the narrative as a collection of evidence from the past though, adding some realism because it treats the Wendigo and the mysterious deaths as real crimes. Furthermore, it leaves the reader in the dark, as we have no idea who has survived the ordeal and who has not until the end of the book. However, I do have some constructive feedback about this choice of narrative style too.

Firstly, as Human Flesh largely consists of informal evidence such as blog posts and text messages, the story was also informal. As a result, I thought that in places, the story lacked detailed or literary narration and description. I partly understand this, as the bulk of the narrative is from a teenager’s perspective, which is bound to be more informal. Yet, it also felt a shame that some opportunities for fantastically scary or Gothic language and descriptions were missed.

Secondly, I’m not convinced an e-book was the best format for Human Flesh; at present, it is only available to buy as an e-book. I appreciate it can be harder to publish physical copies of a book but, in this instance, I think a physical book would have lent itself to the format. For example, the pages could have been designed and printed to look like an email browser, a police report, or a text message exchange. It would have looked like a more convincing scrapbook or folder of collected written evidence. In an e-book, however, it is very obvious that you’re not actually reading a text message, for example. I know this is a nit-picky comment to make, and I know the story itself is fictitious – but when the narrative partly relies on convincing you, the reader, of the realism of the situation, I found that this format pulled me out of the story a little.

These comments may sound a little critical, but I only mean them in a constructive way. I still genuinely enjoyed Human Flesh and, in general, I particularly like Clausen’s creative and interesting horror story ideas, even if I do wish these stories were longer!

For anyone looking for a small and succinct yet chilling read, I would recommend Human Flesh.

Star Rating: 3.5/5 Stars 

Book description

They never caught it

During the winter of 2017, a series of strange occurrences took place in a small town of northern Maine. A rational explanation for what happened has still not been presented. Now, for the first time, all the available written evidence is being released to the public from what is commonly know as the Freyston case.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #Mystery INTRIGUE & INFAMY by @carolJhedges

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Intrigue & Infamy by Carol J Hedges

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Trouble is brewing in the capital as the London Season nears its end. Detective Sergeant Jack Cully and Detective Inspector Lachlan Greig are investigating an outbreak of vandalism attacks on businesses owned by anyone classed as an immigrant. One such arson attack results in a death, soon to be declared a murder. And while Cully and Greig are out and about Detective Inspector Leo Stride, much to his dismay, is stuck at his desk with a mountain of paperwork in front of him.

Elsewhere, in a very upmarket area of the city, Miss Juliana Silverton has secured an excellent catch in the form of young, handsome (and sole heir to his father’s fortune) Harry Haddon, who proposed to her the previous evening. Their engagement will soon be announced in The Times. But if a past indiscretion becomes public knowledge all will be lost.

[Quote] For Fiona Blythe, the engagement of Juliana Silverton means that she alone of their little set is un-matched at the end of the Season. There is also another reason for her discontent, which she cannot divulge to anybody, as it consists of certain embarrassing incidents involving her attempts to attract the man who has now plighted his troth to Juliana. [End Quote]

Also added into the mix is Angelo Bellini, who has travelled from Italy to take up his position as the new tutor for Lord and Lady Haddon’s young son, Danny. Former MP Lord Haddon determines to make sure Danny doesn’t end up like his feckless step brother. However, all is not quite as it seems with Señor Bellini.

The characters are drawn so well that there’s an immediate mental image and sense of their personalities. One aspect I really enjoy about a series is the development and growth of existing characters. The divide between the well to do and the poorer element is detailed in all its grimness, with the evocatively described city of London as the backdrop where prejudice, bullying and cruelty isn’t just confined to the lower classes. There is an appreciable understanding of life at that time, across all levels of society.

I’ve been looking forward to a new mystery with Stride, Cully and Greig, and Intrigue & Infamy certainly doesn’t disappoint. Carol Hedges masterfully weaves several story threads together with engaging, witty, present tense prose, keeping the reader immersed in the story and creating an atmospheric and vividly depicted visit to 19th century London with its colourful inhabitants.

Book description

It is 1866, the end of a long hot summer in Victorian London, and the inhabitants are seething with discontent. Much of it is aimed at the foreign population living in the city. So when a well-reputed Jewish tailoring business is set aflame, and the body of the owner is discovered inside, Detective Inspector Lachlan Grieg suspects a link to various other attacks being carried out across the city, and to a vicious letter campaign being conducted in the newspapers.

Can he discover who is behind the attacks before more people perish?

Elsewhere, Giovanni Bellini arrives in England to tutor the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Haddon, ex-MP and City financier. But what are Bellini’s links to a dangerous Italian radical living in secret exile in London, and to beautiful Juliana Silverton, engaged to Harry Haddon, the heir to the family fortune?

Romance and racism, murder and mishap share centre stage in this seventh exciting book in the Victorian Detectives series.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Intrigue

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT From The 1920s and 30s Paris art scene, PICASSO’S REVENGE by Ray Foulk

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Picasso’s Revenge by Ray Foulk

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The author describes this book as ‘historical fiction’ and that is correct, but this novel leans more heavily towards the research side of things than towards the fictionalisation, and when we read the author’s explanation and the epilogue, it’s easy to understand why. Ray Foulk’s PhD dissertation focused on an element that appears in the novel (I’m not sure talking about it would be a spoiler, but just in case, I’ll be discreet), and it is evident that he felt the topic was too fascinating to be confined to academia. So much so that he first worked on a movie treatment of the same, and now it has become a novel. Therefore, it is not surprising that the book is packed with factual details, with quotes from historical characters, from novels, art critics, newspapers and magazines. But, although the character at the centre of the book, Jacques Doucet (yes, Picasso is central as well, but not the main character) existed in real life, and most of the information the book shares about him is true, we do not have access to his personal notes and papers (these were destroyed shortly after his death at his request), and therefore we can only speculate as to his thoughts and his reasons behind some of his projects, which seemed extravagant at the time, and would likely raise a few eyebrows even now.

Although I’ve read about the period (particularly in regards to Paris as a cultural centre and a meeting place where artists, writers, patrons of the arts, philosophers, musicians… met and exchanged influences and ideas) and studied a course called ‘The Exotic and the Primitive in American Literature’, and I’m therefore somewhat familiar with some of the concepts and ideas discussed in the book, I didn’t know much about Doucet before reading this novel. He was a famous couturier as a young man, and later became a collector of books and art, moving on from XVIII c. art to the Impressionists and eventually to what became known as Modern Art, becoming a patron of some of the best-known artists of the time. In the novel, we meet him when he is advanced in years and has lost interest in dressmaking  (dressmaking has also lost interest in him), and has become focused on his collecting. The book is narrated in third person omniscient person, interspersed with parts when we hear directly from a variety of characters in the first-person, most of all from Doucet himself. Although the main events in the book follow a chronological order, in his search for the truth (or for understanding, or… well, I’ll leave it to your judgement), Doucet talks to many people, and they sometimes recall events from the past, as does he, so there are moments we keep coming back to, again and again, and see them from different perspectives, and we get to slowly build up a picture of what might have actually happened. But some of the witnesses and the narrations/confessions, are far from straight-forward and reliable, so this is far from a standard mystery, where we follow the clues and get to a clear answer.

This is a book about an obsession, or several, that seem to mirror each other. It is a book about Doucet’s obsession with a painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, by Picasso, a painting he purchased due to its connection with a lady he knew and was obsessed with as well. The painting, which supposed a break with the previous art movements and gave birth to modern art, was controversial at the time (1906-1907, and was not fully appreciated until much later. Doucet feels that if he can get to understand the painting and why Picasso painted it, it will help him come to terms with what happened to the lady he was infatuated with. I couldn’t help but wonder if such obsession is not mirrored by the author’s obsession with the story and the reasons behind Doucet’s final project, but this is only speculation on my part.

The book is full of wonderful descriptions of art objects, of buildings, locations, and as I mentioned, includes plenty of factual information about events and people of that period, from a variety of sources, all identified at the end of the book by the authors. Each chapter opens with a quote that always bears a relation to the content, even though the connection is not always direct and straight-forward. This is a long book that seems to meander and swirl, slowing down to contemplate a particular moment or artwork and then moving on again; there is plenty of telling (although as I’ve said there are also many detailed descriptions that will delight art lovers and connoisseurs, and will make them feel as if they were there); there are events we go back to again and again, to study them from all possible angles (imitating, in a way, what the cubist art movement tried to do, deconstructing and putting the pieces together to gain a new understanding of what happened and why); there are plenty of secrets and mysteries, but none that fit in the standard mystery genre; and although the main character is complex and engaging at an intellectual level, I am not sure he is easy  to empathise with. Personally, I found him fascinating, and I was intrigued by his struggle for meaning and his moments of insight (sometimes he resists accepting what might be evident to others and is horrified when he realises how others might see him), but I am not sure he’s the kind of hero most readers will appreciate or feel at ease with.

This is a book for art lovers, especially lovers of the Paris art scene of the 1920s and 30s (a fascinating era and the place to be, for sure), who appreciate lengthy descriptions and are not looking for a straight-forward narrative, full of adventures and action, where all becomes clear and all secrets are eventually revealed. This is a novel about enjoying the intellectual journey and the process of research and the beauty is of the findings along the way, and although there is an ending (one that reminded me of Henry James’s The Beast in the Jungle, my favourite story by James), for me, this is by the by.  I recommend readers to keep reading after the ending, because the epilogue and the author’s notes and acknowledgements add plenty of value to the text, explaining the background to the project and providing also a bibliography for those who want to track back the information and keep on researching. The ARC version I had access to (in e-book format) contained a couple of images, but I do wonder if the paperback version will contain more images, or if the final version in e-book will perhaps contain links to the many artworks mentioned, as I think having access to images would enhance greatly the understanding and the enjoyment of the book. (I was familiar with many of the artists and some of their works, but not always with the ones mentioned. Not an easy read, not a book for everybody, but a festival for the senses and the minds of those interested in the topic and not afraid of going on a journey through a man’s obsession with art and love). If you love Picasso, Paris circa 1920s and 1920s, and enjoy rich descriptions and digging beyond the surfaces of human behaviour, you must read this novel.

Book description

In the early 1920s, immaculate gentleman, Jacques Doucet descends into the world of anarchist art, the occult and the dark turmoil of his past – involving the death of his beloved Madame R.
A disastrous journey leads the couturier and patron of the arts to confront the celebrated bohemians of the city, including Max Jacob, Andre Breton and Pablo Picasso. When troubled Doucet acquires the world’s most dangerous painting, it causes him to hack at the root of Picasso’s darkest secrets. Doucet showcases a fabulous art collection with such frenzied energy he destroys himself. Unwittingly in the process he discovers modern art’s incredible genesis.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview of #HistoricalRomance THE BARON AND THE ENCHANTRESS by @PaullettGolden #TuesdayBookBlog

The Baron and The Enchantress (The Enchantresses #3)The Baron and The Enchantress by Paullett Golden

4 stars

The Baron And The Enchantress is book three in the Enchantresses series of historical romances.

This book can be read as a stand-alone, but I would recommend reading the series in order as in each new book you get to reunite with characters from previous ones.

This is the story of Lilith, a parish midwife and now a teacher at the orphanage that she was raised in. A year ago her brother, who thought she had died, came back into her life. Lilith was shocked to discover she was the long lost sister of Sebastian, the Earl of Roddam. Although happy to know she has a brother, Lilith refuses to leave her humble home. She vows that the carefree and empty life of a society lady is not for her.

However, during her time as midwife for her brother’s wife, Lilith meets Walter (Lord Collingwood), who has an estate in Devon. He and his mother represent the aristocracy that Lilith despises, but as they get to know each other she finds them both quite different from her expectations.

This is a story filled with doubts and insecurities, family, bloodlines and people’s fear of imperfection. I liked this twist on the rags-to-riches theme. Lilith’s struggles to find a way she could be comfortable as Lady Lilith were believable and I sympathised with her when she struggled to find a place where she felt she belonged. Walter too, had personal issues he needed to work through, even though he thought his love alone would be enough for Lilith.

Some of my favourite parts were when Lilith chose to learn to be a lady and how her new household helped her transformation.

Overall a good edition to the series and I shall look forward to reading the next book.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Lilith Chambers’ quiet life as a parish midwife shatters when the brother thought responsible for her death discovers she’s alive and well. Having been raised in an orphanage, she has few memories of her real parentage or the circumstances of her disappearance from the life she ought to have. As she reorients herself in a new life, she meets the one man she can’t have.

Walter Hobbs, Baron Collingwood, is struggling to assume the mantle of his untimely inheritance. Then he meets Lilith Chambers, the long-lost daughter of the 15th Earl of Roddam. He is struck by love at first sight. She is everything he could ever want in a woman, except for two inconveniences: she is illegitimate, and she wants nothing to do with him.

This is the love story of Walter and Lilith as they discover themselves through each other.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #TimeTravel Fiction THE UNDOING OF ARLO KNOTT by @Heatherika1

The Undoing of Arlo KnottThe Undoing of Arlo Knott by Heather Child

4 stars

The Undoing Of Arlo Knott is a time travel contemporary fantasy.

Arlo Knott has the ability to go back in time so that he could change an outcome of an event. He first discovered this ability as a teenager, when he moved time during a school class. With practice he learns how to ‘unknot’ time for longer periods.

The story follows Arlo between the ages of thirteen and thirty-six. As he sought ways to feel adored and appreciated, his ‘undoing’ was not used for the most altruistic of purpose, and it wasn’t until later in life that he used it to help others when he joined the police force.

Haunting Arlo throughout all this is the universe with its cause and effect principles, and every ripple that Arlo causes in time begins to nibble at the edges of reality.

At first I wasn’t keen on this book, as the first three chapters of scene setting didn’t capture my attention as much as I’d expected. However, once Arlo began experimenting with ‘undoing’, I became much more interested in reading on. At the height of his unfastening of events, there was a chance that the story would become so complex that it became too hard to follow, but the author did a good job and I didn’t feel lost. In fact Arlo had my sympathies, at times, with how hard he struggled to produce, what he hoped was, the best outcome for a scenario. I thought the twelve weeks working in Colombia clearing landmines was a very interesting chapter and I liked the questions that it later left about what happened to Arlo’s team when they all returned home.

Towards the end of the book there are hints about the consequences and other alternatives that surround the ‘unknotting’ of time which I was interested in.  However I felt that they were only briefly dealt with, while leaving the ending very open and a little disappointing.

Overall an interesting topic which considered ‘what if’ questions that so many of us ask at times.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

What if your life had an ‘undo’ button?

Arlo Knott discovers he can rewind time – just by a minute or two – enough to undo any mistake, say the right thing or impress his friends with his uncanny predictions…

But second chances aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. As wonderful as his new life is, a mistake in Arlo’s traumatic childhood still haunts him and the temptation to undo, undo and keep undoing is too much to resist.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #CrimeFiction THE PAPERBOY by @DianaJFebry

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

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading The Paperboy by Diana J. Febry

The Paperboy: A rural detective mystery (Peter Hatherall Mystery Book 6) by [Febry, Diana J]

This standalone detective story begins with a tragic event but already we know that cause of this sudden stabbing is another murder 24 years earlier.  Readers of the previous Peter Hatherall mysteries will enjoy seeing Peter as a young inexperienced copper and as we read of the mismanaged case in 1994, we begin to see the connection to this new investigation.  DI Fiona Williams, who is first on the scene, cannot understand why her boss DCI Hatherall is linking an old case solved in the past, to this event, when there are other leads to follow.

As we read about the movements of the culprit, we also observe the careful detective process.  Handicapped by accusations that he is using old resentments to cloud his judgement, Peter tries to convince his friend, Fiona, that the answer lies in a blurred photo kept by the recent victim.  Before they can solve the case there are two abductions, while Fiona and Peter deal with major problems in their home lives.  The characters of the detectives and the victims are strongly drawn and I became involved in their believable predicaments.

Although a good read on its own I am now tempted to read earlier books from the series to learn more about this likeable detective.

Book description

A stand-alone murder mystery featuring DCI Peter Hatherall.
A young mother brutally stabbed in a busy park in front of her son.
A paperboy shot in an isolated farmhouse twenty-four years previously.
DI Fiona Williams is baffled when her senior officer, DCI Peter Hatherall makes a connection between the two cases.
As details of Hatherall’s involvement in the old case emerge, her loyalty is tested to breaking point and she starts to question his decisions.
When the murdered woman’s son does missing the time for hesitating is over.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Horror novella HUMAN FLESH by @NickClausen9

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Human Flesh by Nick Clausen

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I am a fan of horror, had read great reviews of one of Clausen’s collections of short stories, and I liked the sound of this one (and the cover is pretty impressive as well).

This is a short horror novella that works at many levels. Its topic is fairly well known (especially to lovers of the genre, and as a psychiatrist I’m also aware of its diagnostic implications, although I won’t elaborate on that), but despite its short length, the author manages to capture the atmosphere of the story, the cold, the darkness, the weirdness and the horror (more psychological than graphic, although it has its moments) in the few pages available, using also a pretty interesting way of telling the story. As mentioned in the description, rather than a standard narration, we have what appears to be a compilation of documents pertaining to a mysterious case, and this will appeal as well to lovers of crime stories and police procedural novels (although if they are sticklers for details, they might be bothered by the supernatural aspects and by some bits and pieces of information that don’t seem to quite fit in, but…). This peculiar way of narrating the story forces readers to do some of the work and fill in the blanks, and that is always a good strategy when it comes to horror (our imagination can come up with pretty scary things, as we all know). It also gives readers a variety of perspectives and some background that would have been trickier to include in a story of this length otherwise. Does it make it more difficult to identify with any of the characters? I didn’t find that to be the case. The story (or the evidence) starts mildly enough. An accident means that a family cannot go skiing as usual for their winter holidays, and the father decides to send his two children (and older girl, Otha, and a younger boy, Hugh) to stay with their grandfather, Fred, in Maine.  Things start getting weird from the beginning, and Otha (who has a successful blog, and whose entries create the backbone of the story, making her the main narrator and the most sympathetic and easier to identify with for readers) is not the only one who worries about her grandfather, as some of the neighbours have also been wondering about the old man’s behaviour. The secret behind their grandmother’s death becomes an important part of the story and there are eerie moments aplenty to come.

The novella manages to combine well not only some legends and traditional Native-American stories with more modern concepts like PTSD, survivor’s guilt, but also the underlying current of grief that has come to dominate the life of the children’s grandfather. It also emphasises how much we have come to rely on technology and creature comforts that give us a false sense of security and cannot protect us again extreme natural conditions and disasters. Because of the age of the main protagonist, there is also a YA feel to the story with elements of the coming-of-age genre —even a possible love interest— and I’ve seen it listed under such category, but those aspects don’t overwhelm the rest of the story, and I don’t think they would reduce the enjoyment of readers who usually avoid that genre.

Is it scary? Well, that is always a personal call. As I said, there are some chilling scenes, but the novella is not too graphic (it relies heavily on what the characters might or might not have seen or heard, and also on our own capacity for autosuggestion and suspension of disbelief). There is something about the topic, which combines a strong moral taboo with plenty of true stories going back hundreds of years, which makes it a very likely scenario and something anybody reading it cannot help what reflect upon. We might all reassure ourselves that we wouldn’t do something like that, no matter how dire the conditions, but how confident are we? For me, that is the scariest part of the story.

In sum, this is a well-written and fairly scary story, with the emphasis on atmosphere and psychological horror rather than on blood and gore (but there is some, I’m warning you), successfully combined with an interesting way of narrating a familiar story. As a straight mystery not all details tie in perfectly, but it’s a good introduction to a new voice (in English) in the horror genre. I’m sure it won’t be the last of Clausen’s stories I’ll read.

Book description

They never caught it

During the winter of 2017, a series of strange occurrences took place in a small town of northern Maine. A rational explanation for what happened has still not been presented. Now, for the first time, all the available written evidence is being released to the public from what is commonly know as the Freyston case.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Shortstory My New Superjob by @AntonEine

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

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading My New Superjob by Anton Eine

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This short story is basically an interview, but one with a difference. Taking place in an unusual setting, which is very well described, Samantha meets Mark who tells her he’s something of an expert in human resources.

What follows is unusual in terms of an interview and revealing in the questions asked and answers given.

I liked it a lot. There was great insight into the characters and the story ended very well so that it was finished off nicely but the reader is left wanting to know what happens next.

Fortunately there is a next as this is the beginning of a series, a promising one at that.

Book description

Did you ever want to be a superhero? The city’s defender against crime, violence, and all forms of sicko nastiness?
When one day she stumbled upon a strange help wanted ad claiming that the city was looking for a superhero, Samantha Washington, a former Ranger commander, was sure it was a joke. And she sent in her resume.
Will the ad turn out to be somebody’s dumb idea of a joke, a practical stunt, a cunning maniac’s clever trap, or… a real opportunity leading to a difficult and dangerous future occupation?
Now that she has let herself be drawn inextricably into the chain of events, Samantha will have to figure it all out on her own. And she’ll have to do it face to face with her own deepest fears.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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