🎹’Six historical #shortstories which all share a connection’🎹Rosie’s #Bookreview of A Room In Blake’s Folly by J. Arlene Culiner.

Book cover for A Room In Blake's Folly by J. Arlene Culiner, set against a background of an old western style saloon from a free photo from Pixabay.

A Room In Blake’s Folly by J. Arlene Culiner

  A Room in Blake’s Folly by J. Arlene Culiner

  3.5 stars

  A Room In Blake’s Folly is a set of six historical short stories which all share a connection. All the stories are set in the American silver mining town of Blake’s Folly and the focus is on a couple of saloons called The Red Nag and The Mizpah. The stories are set in 1889, 1926, 1948, 1972, 2021 and 2022.

In 1889 Blake’s Folly was enjoying a boom time and the reader is introduced to Sookie Lacey, a saloon girl, and journalist Westley Cranston. Although the couple enjoy each other’s company, they don’t form a permanent relationship; however, it is their descendants who appear in the later stories.

Each new story has a new relationship and a new set of characters to get to know. I did find this a distraction and by the end I was struggling to remember how everyone was related as quite a lot of kin were mentioned after one hundred and thirty years.

I was rather surprised when I began reading and I discovered that these were short stories; I think that the book blurb would benefit from including this aspect, particularly for readers who like or dislike the short story format. I enjoyed reading about how the town of Blake’s Folly evolved and how it attracted those from each of the generations mentioned. The author has included historical details to help give the stories a place and setting, but I felt that those parts often overpowered areas where the characters could have been developed to make them more memorable.

  View all my reviews on Goodreads

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Book description

If only the walls could speak…
In one hundred and fifty years, Blake’s Folly, a silver boomtown notorious for its brothels, scarlet ladies, silver barons, speakeasies, and divorce ranches, has become a semi-ghost town. Although the old Mizpah Saloon is still in business, its upper floor is sheathed in dust. But in a room at a long corridor’s end, an adventurer, a beautiful dance girl, and a rejected wife were once caught in a love triangle, and their secret has touched three generations.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

🛕A Middle-East Epic Paranormal #Fantasy🛕 Jenni reviews The Seal of Sulayman by @LayaVSmith and @Kyro_Dean @EightMoonsPub

Today’s team review is from Jenni

Find out more about Jenni here https://jenniferdebie.com/

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Rosie’s Book Review team

Jenny has been reading The Seal of Sulayman by Laya V. Smith & Kyro Dean

Book cover for epic paranormal fantasy The Seal Of Sulayman by Kyro Dean and Laya V. Smith, set against a background of a desert from a free photo from Pixabay.
The Seal Of Sulayman by Kyro Dean and Laya V. Smith

Return to the moon-steeped lands of djinn and magic in Kyro Dean and Laya V. Smith’s second entry into The Fires of Qaf series with The Seal of Sulayman. Following the first novel, Prince Jahamil and his human bride, Ayelet have married for love, breaking the societal mores of djinn culture in the process. This may be all very well and good to the heir to Shihala’s throne and his one-day queen, but the other courts of Qaf, including the tempestuous Queen Qadira, Jahmil’s former fiancée, need to be pacified. Enter Sezan, Jahmil’s sister, and Bakr, a half human djinn, and Jahmil’s most trusted adviser. As ambassador and her escort respectively, Sezan and Bakr are dispatched to Qadira’s court, ostensibly to smooth ruffled feathers and maintain diplomatic ties between two of the most powerful countries in all of Qaf.

Appearances are not all they seem though. Sezan and Bakr have a tumultuous history all their own, full of betrayals, secrets, skeletons, and demons – both literal and figurative. Deals have been struck on all sides and nothing can be certain in love and magic as the pair struggle to protect each other, and themselves, when the sum of their myriad mystical debts comes due.

Written with the same lush texture as The Covenant of Shihala, but with fresh characters and new corners of Qaf, its histories and mysteries to explore, The Seal of Sulayman feels like Smith and Dean are “growing up” within this world they have created. The sweeping, breathless romance of the first entry to this series was excellent, but now readers are given a glimpse into the consequences of marrying for love in a society ruled by precedent and the stratification of the royal court. Where do a woman who wants to be more than a political pawn in a marriage game, and a half-human half-djinn warrior fit into a society that wasn’t built for either of them? How can they contribute to their country and protect their friends? And most importantly, how does their inability to stay away from each other (or in their clothes when they’re alone together) throw a wrench into even the best laid plans?

Satisfying in ways that I was not expecting, and just as deliciously twisty as the first, the second Fires of Qaf introduces readers to two, fantastic new personalities to follow and fall in love with in The Seal of Sulayman.  

5/5

Orange rose book description
Book description

Rekindling a broken romance is hard when love burns hot and words ruin everything.

A half-human living in Qaf, the world of djinn and magic fire, General Bakr has always felt like an outsider with everyone but his first love. After two grueling years fighting a war that tore him away from his true love, Bakr is anxious to return to Earth and bask in the sunlight among his own kind.

But when he is reunited with his young love, Sheikha Sezan, he realizes his feelings for her still burn hot. But Bakr returned from the war with more than scars. A lilith demon has made him her pet and the last thing she wants is to see him rekindle romance with his old flame.

Sheikha Sezan, dis-enamored by her first love’s abrupt departure and equally sudden return, is forced to come to terms with the terrible deal she made with the demon to keep him alive while at war. The demon, having kept up her side of the bargain, comes for Sezan’s magic djinn fire as payment, but soon makes it clear she had no intention of giving up her love affair with Bakr.

Determined to save herself and Bakr from torment, Sezan sets out to find the Seal of Sulayman, a magical talisman that controls all magic in both the human and djinn worlds.

The demon torments Bakr and Sezan in the meantime, weaving a web of deception to keep their wild love apart. With rival courtiers, love triangles, mystical monsters, a clever sphinx, the flaming Rukh bird of legend, and both of Allah’s worlds working against them, only trust can rescue Bakr and Sezan from the demon’s caprice.

But communicating enough to trust each other is a difficult task when words ruin everything.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

🕵️‍♂️’The seamier side of London is brought to the fore here’🕵️‍♂️@SueBavey reviews supernatural #mystery Eat The Poor by @TomCW99

Today’s team review is from Sue.

Sue blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

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Rosie’s Book Review team

Sue has been reading Eat The Poor by Tom Williams

Book cover for supernatural mystery, Eat The Poor by Tom Williams, set against a picture of a gargoyle, from a free photo from Pixabay.
Eat The Poor by Tom Williams

Eat the Poor is the second supernatural detective fantasy featuring the unlikely pairing of Chief Inspector John Galbraith and the vampire, Chief Inspector Pole, following on from Something Wicked which I read and reviewed last year. This time Pole and his mysterious police department “Section S” are on the trail of a creature that has been attacking deer in Richmond Park, dogs and more recently a human. Could the offender be a werewolf?

Once again I enjoyed the unlikely camaraderie of the two main protagonists, thrown together by the unusual nature of the local murder case. They are very different characters, Pole a 500 year old strait-laced vampire with refined tastes and Galbraith a down to Earth middle-aged detective whose waistline is spreading and hair is greying, beginning to consider his next steps within the police force. Seconded to Section S for the duration of this peculiar murder case, he soon finds himself dining with Pole at his abode most nights as they go over the particulars of the case and the body count begins to rise.

In addition to this fantasy series, the author is a writer of historical fiction and he often includes historical details in the story which make it richer and lend authenticity to the world in which the story is set. The seamier side of London is to the fore here, with murder victims coming from the ranks of the serial unemployed, their bodies being unceremoniously dumped in the garbage areas of the tower blocks of the seedier neighbourhoods in which they live.

We are told fairly early on who the perpetrator of the crimes is and are then able to watch the detectives follow clues until they figure it out for themselves and the pace speeds up until the final “edge of the seat” confrontation. What happens after this confrontation, I found to be quite surprising – it was not what I expected in terms of a conclusion to the case at all. This light-hearted police procedural and its surprising ending was a breath of fresh air and since it is a novella and therefore fairly short, it was quick to get into the action of the story and to grip my attention. I particularly liked how odious the Conservative MP Christopher Garold was. Anyone following British politics lately will not find the idea of a murderous werewolf that far-fetched when it comes to the dirty little secrets of those in power:

“…though the staff were good at turning a blind eye to peculiar behaviour from MPs, the sight of a wolf strolling through the corridors of power would, he thought, be too much for them to ignore.”

Anyone who likes a detective story with a little supernatural edge should give this book a try!

Book #1 Something Wicked was previously reviewed on Goodreads by Sue.

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Book description

A werewolf is on the loose in London.

Chief Inspector Pole, the vampire from the mysterious Section S, teams up once again with his human counterpart to hunt down the beast before the people of the city realise that they are threatened by creatures they have dismissed as myths.

Time is short as the werewolf kills ever more recklessly. Can Galbraith and Pole stop it before panic spreads through London?

Galbraith and Pole start their search in Pole’s extensive library of the arcane, accompanied by a couple of glasses of his excellent malt whisky. All too soon, though, they will have to take to the streets to hunt the monster by the light of the moon.

But the threat is even greater than they think, for in its human form the werewolf is terrifyingly close to the heart of government.

This is Tom Williams’ second tongue-in-cheek take on traditional creatures of darkness. Like the first Galbraith & Pole book, Something Wicked, this will appeal to fans of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London.

You never know when the forces of darkness may be released and there will be no time for reading then. Buy Eat the Poor before it’s too late.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

🛸’A fine example of the #postapocalyptic genre.’ @TerryTyler4 reviews What Was Once Home by @B_K_Bass, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog🧟‍♂️

Today’s team review is from Terry.

She blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Terry has been reading What Was Once Home by B K Bass.

Book cover for What Was Once Home by B.K. Bass set against an orange sky and a green bridge
What Was Once Home by B.K. Bass

4.5 out of 5 stars

Jace Cox is a young teenager when the ‘twigs’ invade – and after one August day in 2034 his life will never been the same.  Fast forward a few years and he’s part of the militia fighting against them.  A few more years, and the town of Lewisburg has been reclaimed by its inhabitants, with Jace as its the sheriff – but the troubles are far from over.

Although I’m first in line when it comes to a post apocalyptic book, I wasn’t sure I’d like one about an alien invasion, thinking it might be too comic book-like.  But this isn’t.  B K Bass has made the subject totally convincing, and I really enjoyed it.  It’s got a great structure that kept my attention throughout – although the main story is told from Jace’s third person point of view in the early 2040s, there are occasional flashbacks to earlier, and also excerpts from the autobiography he wrote as an old man.  Aside from this, I loved the ‘interludes’ – sections told from other points of view in other areas, for a wider look at the situation.  These diversions from the main story were perfectly placed, and I could see how well thought-out the whole book is.

Bass has an easy writing style, creating good dramatic tension with a feeling of foreboding.  Every aspect of the book feels feasible, from the people who take charge in the new Lewisburg, those who want to be guided and given instructions, the fighting force, to the independent who want to do their own thing outside the walls – and, of course, the opportunity for the power-hungry to take over.

One small aspect I appreciated was how Jace, having been so young when the twigs arrived, knew little about life outside his immediate environment.  At one point an older person referred to a settlement as a ‘hippie commune’, and Jace didn’t know what he meant.  I loved that!

This book gives food for thought about war versus murder, what is ‘right’ when it comes to defending your home and your people, what it takes to live in harmony alongside those who are different from you, and leaves a couple of unanswered questions, which made me think that another book, perhaps after Jace’s time, would be most welcome.  I’d most certainly recommend What Was Once Home as a fine example of the post-apocalyptic genre.

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

When his world is suddenly torn apart, one man must learn to survive in What Once Was Home.

Jace Cox’s life is changed when an overwhelming alien force invades the Earth with no warning or provocation. In the years that follow, he must not only fight to survive, but also learn what it means to be a man and a leader. As the situation grows more dire and the weight of loss bears down on Jace, he realizes his greatest challenge isn’t the alien invaders or even his fellow man.

It is holding onto his own humanity despite living in a world gone mad.

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💕Filled with ‘family love and friendly understanding’. Liz reviews My Corfu Love Story by Effrosyni Moschoudi @FrostieMoss, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT💕

Today’s team review is from Liz.

Liz blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Liz has been reading My Corfu Love Story by Effrosyni Moschoudi

Book cover for My Corfu Love Story by Effrosyni Moschoudi
My Corfu Love Story by Effrosyni Moschoudi

This appealing novella transports you to the beautiful island of Corfu where Spyri has returned to visit her much loved grandmother. She has many wonderful memories of holidays in the village of Moraitika but one summer in her early teens stand out more than others. That had been when she fell for Markos, who was staying with his aunt, but she has never seen him again.

Despite her grandmother’s advancing age, she maintains the same lively spirit and Spyri loves conversations and eating with her. Making the most of the beach she describes the features of the village, bringing it to life for the reader. But when she discovers Markos may be returning for the funeral of his aunt she wonders if he will remember her.

As they rekindle their feelings for each other, they explore the area, increasing our enjoyment of the story. We know there will be a happy ending but there is a spiritual incident which clarifies the future for Spyri. A life-enhancing read for those who enjoy a simple romance without eroticism but with lots of family love and friendly understanding.

Desc 1

Spyri forever lives in the past, haunted by old memories. This summer, she meets a man she once loved, and he is about to change everything…

Spyri, a half-Greek restauranteur in her early thirties, is back on the island of Corfu, staying in her grandmother’s village home for a few days to decompress from her busy life in London. Her nostalgia for the good old summer days hit her upon her return. When she hears that Markos, the one she never forgot, is staying at the village, she becomes excited.

Sparks begin to fly when they meet, but Markos has his own hurts of the past to deal with…

Do you love Greek romances? How about clean love stories about second chances with a happily ever after? This novella will take you straight to Corfu, to experience the warmth of Greek summer, and the sweetness of rekindled love from old summer days of innocence.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

😎Summer Time From My English Country Garden. #SixOnSaturday #GardeningTwitter #Flowers #Gardenflowers🌼

The second week in June and the evenings are still quite chilly. But the flowers are blooming and the bees are humming. Let’s get straight on with Six On Saturday.

Photo of Flowers for June 11th Six On Saturday
Flowers for June 11th Six On Saturday

Photo one is of these gorgeous deep mauve (Or blue, or purple ) Anemones. My mixed pack are now really flowering well. I just need to keep the pigeons from dead-heading them, they especially like the red ones.

Two purple Anemone from my garden
Purple Anemone

Photo two is of the frothy Hawthorn flowers from a tiny bush in the front garden. I tried to take a close-up of the tiny flowers. They look all spotty this close up.

Photo of Hawthorne from my garden
Hawthorn

Next up is what I think is a Viburnum, although I’m not too sure. I’ve looked it up against the flowers and it is my best guess. I am guilty of chopping this back in other years thinking it was a self-seeder, which it might still be as it’s so close to a Cyprus that they vie for space.

Viburnum

Fourth photo is of the delicate pink tea rose which I split last year and overwintered in a pot with violas. Originally the rose was given as a house-warming pot plant three years ago and I have kept it alive. Both now are beginning to put on a good display with the violas coming back into flower after a feed..

Photo of a pink tea rose and violas in my garden
Pink Tea Rose and Violas

Fifth photo is of another plant that I am guessing the variety of – I think this is a Chinese Privet. It hosts one of the Honeysuckles and both are now in flower.

Photo of Chinese Privet from my garden
Chinese Privet

Lastly the delicate blue flowers of the Borage, one of my wild plants that I’ve grown from seed for the pollinators. The flowers look almost bird-like with the centre seeming as if it is the head and beak of the flying bird.

Borage grown from seed from my garden
Borage

Thank you for joining me for this #SixOnSaturday post. I hope that you enjoyed it. If you would like to know more about this hashtag, read founder Mr Propagator’s post here also find him on Twitter here.

Happy gardening

Rosie

Photo of Flowers for June 11th Six On Saturday
Flowers for June 11th Six On Saturday

Links:

  1. Graeme’s plot has lots to see.
  2. Meme linky on founder Mr P’s post.
  3. Green gardener has been to the garden centre.
  4. Noelle’s offering Cyclamen seed to s few Uk gardeners.
  5. Sel’s diagnosing plant pests.
  6. Tony has a superb Whale’s Tongue Agave.
  7. Lots happening in Chris’ Ontario garden.
  8. News from the allotment on My Secret Garden’s blog.
  9. I always enjoys visiting Fred’s garden. Check out his Kumquats!

🌻’Recounting the lives of three generations of women in Ukraine’. Noelle reviews #HistoricalFiction Sunflowers Beneath The Snow by @TeriMBrown1, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT🌻

Today’s team review is from Noelle.

Noelle blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Noelle has been reading Sunflowers Beneath The Snow by Teri M Brown.

Book cover for Sunflowers Beneath The Snow by Teri M. Brown
Sunflowers Beneath The Snow by Teri M. Brown

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow recounts the lives of three generations of women in Ukraine: grandmother, mother, daughter. This is the author’s first book, and she has created a deeply emotional portrayal of each of these women. ‘Sunflowers beneath the snow’ is phrase spoken by the grandmother, but to me these three women are the sunflowers.

Ivanna, the grandmother, has spent the majority of her life under Communist rule, where everything from food to housing is strictly regulated. She doesn’t know her husband, Luyaksandro, is spying for an anti-Communist group, and when the group informs him he’s been identified, they give him the choice to be sent out of the country or be outed, which would lead to the arrest and possible death of his family by the state police. He chooses to leave without a word to his family.

When her husband disappears, Ivanna is told he is dead at the hand of his lover’s husband, and she feels bitterly betrayed. She now must to try to support herself and her daughter with nothing but a menial job, scarce food, and cold, mean living quarters. She uses ingenuity and determination to ensure their survival, but somehow she never stops believing in necessity and fairness of the Communist government.  Her daughter, Yevtsye, grows up, she develops political, religious and societal opinions different from those of her mother, from whom she becomes estranged. She meets and marries Danya, a teacher of physics at the university, and after years to trying, they have a daughter, Ionna.

Ionna is born into a different world than either her grandmother or her mother, since by that time, Ukraine has been independent from Russian for some years – although the country is still dependent of Russia for virtually everything and is run by corrupt politicians. She proves a to both her mother and grandmother. Ionna dreams of seeing and experiencing the world outside of Ukraine, and her eventual travels lead to a surprising outcome.

The author writes with great realism of living in Ukraine during that period of time. She reaches deep to portray the tenacity, determination, and deeply felt emotions of these women, in the face of the different and continual challenges in their lives. This book should be of particular interest to readers, given the current Russian invasion of Ukraine. The history described by the author explains a great deal of what is happening now.  This reader lived in Czechoslovakia when it was part of the Soviet Union, and the author has hit the nail on the head of what it is like to live in a country under Russia’s control.

The only problem I had with this book were some prolonged descriptions of the women’s emotional states or considerations of Ukrainian politics. This slowed the forward progress of the story and tempted me to read ahead.

This is the author’ first book and, overall, I think she’s written a winner. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys women’s fiction in a historical setting, and especially in the recent history of Eastern Europe.

Desc 1

A Ukrainian rebel. Three generations of women bearing the consequences. A journey that changes everything.

When Ivanna opens the door to uniformed officers, her tranquil life is torn to pieces – leaving behind a broken woman who must learn to endure cold, starvation, and the memories of a man who died in the quintessential act of betrayal. Using her thrift, ingenuity, and a bit of luck, she finds a way to survive in Soviet Ukraine, along with her daughter, Yevtsye. But the question remains, will she be strong enough to withstand her daughter’s deceit and the eventual downfall of the nation she has devoted her life to? Or will the memories of her late husband act as a shadow haunting everyone and everything she loves, including Ionna, the granddaughter that never knew him?

In Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, Teri M. Brown explores the tenacity of women, showing that even in grueling circumstances, they can, and do, experience all the good things life has to offer – compassion, joy, love, faith, and wonder.

AmazonUK AmazonUS

🌍’Raleigh: a man not unlike a modern entrepreneur’. Frank reviews #Tudor #Histfic Raleigh by @tonyriches, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT🌍

Today’s team review is from Frank. Find out more about him here https://franklparker.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Frank has been reading Raleigh by Tony Riches.

There are prize winning books based on the lives of the Tudors. I’m thinking of Hilary Mantell and Alison Weir among others. And then there is Tony Riches. Raleigh is the ninth book about various Tudors from this prolific writer of historical fiction.

The first thing to say about this book is that it is meticulously researched and carefully avoids the myths and legends that surround the Elizabethan adventurer. What we get instead is a portrait of the man and his career. One of the myths that Riches destroys is that Raleigh was Queen Elizabeth’s favourite. On the contrary, he is constantly disappointed at her rejection of his plans and her preferment of others, especially Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex and, later, Robert Cecil.

In this interpretation of Raleigh’s life he comes across as a man not unlike a modern entrepreneur: able to persuade others to invest in his adventures on the promise of excellent returns, equally able to delegate responsibility for the management of his estates and other enterprises to others.

It is difficult to understand how men like William Langherne, his first secretary, lost overboard off the coast of Ireland, and Thomas Harriot who became Langherene’s replacement, after serving for years as the principle organiser of his North American expeditions, were able to remain loyal to him.

He has little regard for the orders of his superiors, willing to disobey if he can see a better way to achieve the desired objective. Many of his ambitions are either thwarted or end in failure. Settlers recruited for his ‘colonies’ in Ireland and Virginia are decimated by ‘native’ rebels.

Admirers of Hilary Mantell would no doubt be unimpressed by the lightness of this portrait. That is not to belittle Riches’ work. On the contrary, the simplicity of his style makes the stories he tells accessible to a much wider readership. It is a reason he has earned the accolade as Amazon best selling author, why his blog has over a million views and his podcasts 150,000 downloads.

I’m happy to recommend this book to anyone interested in the Tudors and to award it four stars.

Desc 1

Tudor adventurer, courtier, explorer and poet, Sir Walter Raleigh has been called the last true Elizabethan.

He didn’t dance or joust, didn’t come from a noble family, or marry into one. So how did an impoverished law student become a favourite of the queen, and Captain of the Guard?

The story which began with the Tudor trilogy follows Walter Raleigh from his first days at the Elizabethan Court to the end of the Tudor dynasty.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

🧙‍♀️’Some of my absolute favorite book friends’. @barbtaub reviews #cosymystery Madam Tulip And The Rainbow’s End by @DaveAhernWriter, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT🧙‍♀️

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Barb has been reading Madam Tulip And The Rainbow’s End by David Ahern.

My Review: 5 stars out of 5

The cast of the Madam Tulip series includes some of my absolute favorite book friends, starting with the young actress, Derry O’Donnell—permanently broke and scratching for the next job in the Dublin theater scene, consistently dating the wrong flavor-of-the-week, while waiting for The Big Break—and her alter ego Madam Tulip*, celebrity psychic and fortune-teller. (*That’s Madam without an “e”, because she’s not married to Monsieur Tulip.)

As always, Derry’s supporting cast includes her parents, long-divorced but tied by bonds far deeper than mere matrimony—Vanessa is agent to internationally-famed painter Jacko, and their epic battles and schemes constantly threaten Derry’s finances and, with alarming frequency, her life.

In fact, experts have established that the murder of artists by their agents and vice versa exceeds even the shocking homicide rate between couples in television dance competitions, although well below that between partners in bridge.

This episode opens with Derry being roused from a well-earned rest in a hotel in the North West coast of Ireland where she and her fellow actors had celebrated their brilliant performance the night before. There is a mysterious text from her friend Bella, the show’s co-producer. Then Derry’s friend Bruce (gay ex-Navy Seal, actor, computer expert, and total eye-candy) breaks the bad news. The main producer has disappeared with the box office takings which were supposed to have been disbursed that day. The rest of the troop discretely decamps in the night as well, leaving Derry and Bruce with massive hotel bills they couldn’t hope to pay. Derry is considering a quick exit via fire-escape, but her best friend Bruce—not only an officer and a gentleman, but also an American and thus subject to unfortunate fits of integrity—insists on facing the music. Derry realizes that can mean only one thing: Madam Tulip must come out of retirement.

With a back-story involving recovery of Jacko’s early (and thus valuable) paintings, Derry agrees to allow Madam Tulip to tell fortunes for a local fundraiser, partly to repay the hotel owner, and partly to get her parents off her case.

Madam Tulip, a character created by Derry with the help of her theatrical friends, was a fortune-teller of elegant dress and mature years. She had an uncanny ability, whether with Tarot, cards or crystal, to help her clients answer those questions asked by people of all ages, genders and orientations since the beginning of human history. ‘Does he or she love me?’ ‘Will I be happy?’ ‘Will I be rich?’ What’s more, Madam Tulip was no kind of fraud. As the daughter of the seventh son of a seventh son, Derry O’Donnell had inherited modest abilities some would call psychic, although she had once described her gift as being about as useful as a lipstick in the shower.

But now that Derry has grudgingly accepted the accuracy of Madam Tulip’s fortune-telling, she begins to see the darker side of the people she meets, including a recently bereaved family who own several of the paintings her parents want to recover, and a devastated sister seeking answers in her brother’s death.

Madam Tulip’s adventures are full of humorous takes on the people Derry and Bruce meet, and The Rainbow’s End is no exception. But Derry’s growing belief in her alter-ego Madam Tulip’s predictions make her suspect almost everyone of sinister motives, a darker outlook that worries the naturally-optimistic Derry. “She wondered what was wrong with her. Had she always been so mistrustful of everyone? Of herself? Her innocence seemed to have ebbed away unnoticed while she had been doing other things.”

Madam Tulip and the Rainbow’s End is faithful to the tropes of the (slightly paranormal) cozy thriller. Like trope-definer Nancy Drew, Derry is captured, tied up, and rescued. But this adventure goes darker, their adversaries more chillingly amoral, Derry’s dark moment truly terrifying. Interestingly, Madam Tulip takes on a more three-dimensional reality even as the hunt intensifies for the missing code to accessing the physical unreality of a bitcoin fortune. When Derry dons her disguise, it’s Madam Tulip who speaks her own truths. “More than once she felt the shiver of recognition as that vista shyly revealed itself. And in those moments, Tulip felt the peace of knowing that the future could be befriended but never tamed.”

As I’ve said about earlier books in this wonderful series, for anyone who enjoys plenty of wisecracking banter, a cast of offbeat characters willing to risk their lives for each other, and a rollercoaster thriller plot, I really can’t recommend this series enough.

Desc 1

On the private island of a wealthy banker, a young and talented stonemason falls from a cliff. A tragic accident? Or murder?

The dead man’s sister is obsessed with justice and will stop at nothing.
A glamorous French widow and her heart-throb son are certain they have been cheated of their legacy.
A daughter is bequeathed an island mansion beyond her means.
An enigmatic letter hints at a hidden fortune.

After the collapse of her theatrical tour, actress Derry O’Donnell must work to pay her way in a West of Ireland village. As Madam Tulip, she tells fortunes for a local charity only to be drawn into a maze of mystery and intrigue.

Madam Tulip and the Rainbow’s End is the fifth in the Madam Tulip series of mystery-adventures, in which out-of-luck actress Derry O’Donnell finds the promise at the End of the Rainbow may not be what it seems.

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🧬’Inspiring, hopeful, beautifully descriptive and heart-wrenching at times.’ @OlgaNM7 reviews #SciFi Ending Forever by @NicholasConley1 for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog🧬

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Olga has been reading Ending Forever by Nicholas Conley.

This is the third book by Nicholas Conley I read and reviewed, and having loved both, Pale Highway and Knight in Paper Armor, I was eager to check his newest work. His books are never run-of-the-mill or formulaic, and they don’t fit easily into a genre, and that is the case here as well. They also make readers question their beliefs, thoughts, and assumptions, in this particular book, about life and, especially, about death. Not an easy topic, and not one many books discuss openly, and that makes this unique book, all the more extraordinary.

The description included with the book provides a good idea of the plot without revealing too much, although this short book —which probably falls into the category of science-fiction for lack of a more suitable one— is not a mystery or an adventure story, and a detailed description wouldn’t provide true spoilers. But there is something to be said for discovering its wonders without being prewarned in advance. For that reason, I’ll only add that grief (as mentioned) and guilt are behind the main character’s feelings and many of his actions. He’s been pushed (by life and by his own decisions) to desperation, to the point of no return —or so he thinks— and the experiment he signs himself for offers him money, evidently, but perhaps something else, something or someone that will bring him peace.

Apart from grief, guilt, loneliness, depression, trauma, the nature of memory, family life, becoming an adult orphan, losing a child… if those topics were not enough to make it a must-read, the novel also comments on human greed, arrogance, and the immaturity and silliness of some of those mega-rich people who come up with self-aggrandising vanity projects, sometimes hiding behind the gloss of some future venture with commercial possibilities, or under the guise of research useful to humanity at large. I don’t think I need to name any names, here, as I’m sure a few will easily come to mind. And, of course, this is a book that explores our relationship with death and our reluctance to look closely at it.

Axel is the central character, and Conley presents him without any embellishments. This is a broken man, and although the story is narrated, mostly, in the third-person; we only see things from his point of view. The main story takes place over a few days (the ending, though, reveals the after-effects of what happens during Axel’s deaths and is set at a later date), but there are fragments in italics that clearly represent the memories of the character, and there are also brief interjections and thoughts we are allowed to see that come directly from his head. It is impossible not to sympathise with the character, because of all he has gone through, from early childhood onward; and the more we learn about him, the more we get to empathise with him as well. There are other characters, and although we don’t spend so much time with them, it is evidence of the author’s talent that they all feel real and complex nonetheless. I loved Brooklyn, whom Axel meets at the experiment, and who is truly his kindred spirit. Her little girl, Gwendolyn, is wonderful as well, and that makes their part of the story even more poignant. Malik, Axel’s friend and always supportive, keeps him grounded and real. Dr Kendra Carpenter is a more ambiguous character. She is on the wrong side of things, and her attitude is less than exemplary, but her reasons make her less dislikeable and more nuanced than a true baddie would be. We don’t meet the people financing the whole scheme, but that is not necessary to the story, as this is not about them. There are some important characters whom we only meet through Axel’s memories, both from his recent and from his more distant past, but they also become real to us.

The author writes beautifully. I have said already that this book probably falls within the science-fiction category, but not into the hard sci-fi subgenre, as it does not provide any details about the science behind the experiment. The novel is speculative in the sense of exploring and coming up with fascinating ideas and insights into what the other life (death) might look like, and the Deathscape and its inhabitants (for lack of a better word) are described in gorgeous (and sometimes scary) detail, with a pretty limitless imagination. Although the “real life” events taking place in the “now” of the story are narrated in third-person past, what happens while he is dead is narrated in the present (third-person again, apart from the odd moment when we hear his thoughts directly), but the changes in tense felt organic and in keeping with the nature of the story. Of course, one needs to suspend disbelief when reading such a book, but that is to be expected. I was completely invested in the story, and there was nothing that suddenly jolted me and brought me back to reality. Apart from the wonderful description, and the memories that are so vivid they pull at one’s heartstrings, the feelings of the main character are so recognisable, understandable, and so compellingly rendered, that one can’t help but share the way he is feeling, and that applies to both, when he is feeling devastated and when he is feeling hopeful.

Those who want to get a better idea of what the writing is like, remember that you can always check an online sample.

I struggled to decide what to share, but I decided to include the introduction and a couple of fragments:

Dedicated to everyone I have ever lost. Every sunset precedes a sunrise, and what the dead leave behind shapes the future. May the memory of you —each of you—be a blessing.

Here, Axel is talking to his father, as a young child. His father has lifted him on his shoulders and is showing him the lake.

…when Ax said that they were on the edge of the world, Papa said, “no, son. That out there, on the horizon.” He pointed. “It’s the beginning of the world. And it’s all yours to explore. To dream. Remember that.”

“On the other hand, big machines don’t run unless all the little pieces work, right? And infinity… we might be small, Axel, but y’know, maybe we’re still totally vital to the whole thing running. Every decision we make influences every other part of it, I think. Even after we die. Might as well make the most of it while we’re still alive, I say.” (This is Brooklyn talking to Axel).

What a beautiful ending! Conley has a way of making readers experience the highs and lows of existence, of asking them to look into the abyss and to face subjects that make them uncomfortable, like death, but he always rescues them and offers them hope and a positive ending. And this story is no different. Do take the time to read the author’s acknowledgements at the end of the book. They offer an insight into the book’s creation and the author’s own world.

So, would I recommend it? Well, what do you think? Of course! I have mentioned the themes, and although the story is ultimately one of redemption and hope, there are some emotionally difficult and extremely sad moments as well, and it might be a tough read for people who are facing or have recently had to deal with some of the topics mentioned. I’d leave this to the judgement of the individual, but I’d say that most people will finish the book with a smile on their faces and feeling more hopeful and confident about the future.

Another great book by Conley, one of a group of authors I am happy to read and recommend without any hesitation.

Desc 1

Axel Rivers can’t get his head above water. Throughout his life, he’s worn many hats — orphan, musician, veteran, husband, father—but a year ago, a horrific event he now calls The Bad Day tore down everything he’d built. Grief-stricken, unemployed, and drowning in debt, Axel needs cash, however he can find it.

Enter Kindred Eternal Solutions. Founded by the world’s six wealthiest trillionaires and billionaires, Kindred promises to create eternal life through mastering the science of human resurrection. With the technology still being developed, Kindred seeks paid volunteers to undergo tests that will kill and resurrect their body—again and again—in exchange for a check.

Axel signs up willingly, but when he undergoes the procedure—and comes back, over and over—what will he find on the other side of death?

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