🏕 #TravelStories Alison Reviews It Never Rains… But It Paws! by Jacqueline Lambert, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Alison.

She blogs here https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Alison has been reading It Never Rains…But It Paws by Jacqueline Lambert.

It Never Rains…But It Paws

I chose to read this book because we are planning to buy a campervan in the next few years when we retire and travel with our four dogs – so this sounded like a very good way to find out what the reality of that dream might be.

And it didn’t disappoint. The book is full of the ups and downs of a life on the road, and doesn’t shy away from telling it like it is – there are problems and mishaps galore, and life isn’t always a comfortable idyll.

But despite the often terrible weather, the financial worries, the sometimes seemingly insurmountable problems caused by ridiculous politics, the genuine love that Jackie and Mark have for their life and their dogs shines through.

There are wonderful descriptions of glorious countryside, and some interesting history too, along with some very entertaining anecdotes. This is a very light-hearted and enjoyable read.

And it certainly hasn’t put me off my dream!

Four stars

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Book description

Five years after giving up work to travel full time, Dog-ma Jacqueline (Jackie) and Dogfather Mark race against time to leave the UK before Britain exits the EU. If Brexit happens, their four Cavapoos (Cavalier/Poodle cross) Kai, Rosie, Ruby, and Lani will lose their puppy passports, and the Lambert Family will be unable to travel together. But Brexit isn’t their only obstacle. A few months into their adventure, the pandemic suddenly shatters their plans, and leaves them trapped in the epicentre of Europe’s No. 1 coronavirus hotspot.

The fourth road trip Europe adventure in author Jacqueline Lambert’s “inspirational and hilarious” series of true travel memoirs invites you to join the couple as they discover even more amazing and little-known places, this time in France and Italy. However, this isn’t just a priceless escape travel story filled with humorous mishaps and mountain adventure. The coronavirus pandemic separates the family from their loved ones at home, and leaves Jackie stranded alone during a blizzard in a remote Italian village, with Mark thousands of miles away, back in the UK.

Between terrible weather, political mayhem, and a global pandemic, Jackie and Mark try to take lessons from each hardship. Yet, even with a positive attitude, a sense of adventure, and a caravan full of loved ones, you can’t stop all the obstacles life rolls your way. These “amusing and informative” travel stories are certainly proof that It Never Rains… But It Paws!

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📚’New Orleans has a rich and bloody history’. @AlisonW_Editor reviews Ash Tuesday by @AriadneBlayde for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Alison.

Alison blogs here https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team
Book cover from Ash Tuesday by Ariadne Blayde set against a picture of a Mardi Gras mask from a free photo from Pixabay.
Ash Tuesday by Ariadne Blayde

New Orleans has a rich and bloody history, so it’s hardly surprising that its streets and buildings should be full of ghosts. And the author of ‘Ash Tuesday’ has found a wonderful way of telling those stories, along with the stories of an eclectic cast of characters, the ghost tour guides of Spirits of Yore.

It is Mardi Gras, and the city is full of tourists. We follow each of the guides as they give their tours, and then stay with them, learning about their lives, their struggles, their hopes, loves, dreams and pasts. And watching over it all is Kat, whose story is saved for the bittersweet ending.

This is one of the most beautifully crafted books I’ve read, every page, every paragraph a pleasure to read. I didn’t know much about New Orleans, but now I feel as though I know it well, and can see it so clearly from the author’s evocative descriptions – descriptions that never interfere with the narrative but provide a clear sense of time and place, conveying the atmosphere of chilly, eerie nights and bright carnival parades with equal skill.

The characters are brought to life with love and honesty. I adored Veda, and lovely Max, and wished so much for the other guides to understand Angela a bit more. The interactions between them all felt so real.

This is a book that will appeal not just to those who enjoy a good ghost story (although there are plenty of those), or those who are interested in history or in New Orleans. Because this is a novel that is fundamentally about people, their faults and their flaws, their mistakes and their victories, their love (and sometimes their hatred) for each other, and the ways in which we can let the past, and the people in the past, break us, or we can find our own ways forward, with people who love us for who we are.

A wonderful book.

Five stars

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Book description

In New Orleans, the dead talk and the living listen. 

Giving ghost tours on the decaying streets of the French Quarter isn’t exactly a high-profile career, but the guides at Spirits of Yore Haunted Tours are too strange and troubled to do anything else. They call themselves Quarter Rats, a group of outcasts and dreamers and goths who gather in hole-in-the-wall bars to bicker, spin yarns, and search for belonging in the wee hours of the night after the tourists have staggered home. 

Through the ghost stories they tell, their own haunted lives come into focus. Like the city they call home, these tour guides are messy with contradiction: they suffer joyfully, live morbidly, and sin to find salvation. 

Weaving together real New Orleans folklore with the lives of eleven unforgettably vibrant characters, Ash Tuesday is a love letter to America’s last true bohemia and the people, both dead and living, who keep its heart beating. With her debut, Blayde has carved out a deep and uber-readable interpretation of what it means to live, love, and grieve in New Orleans.

“There’s something about New Orleans. Maybe you can trace it to Latin America or the Caribbean or maybe not, maybe you can’t define it at all. The divine? The diabolical? I don’t know what to call it. But there’s magic, here.” 

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‘Wonderful descriptions of food’. @AlisonW_Editor Reviews Pasta Mike by @andrewcotto

Today’s team review is from Alison. She blogs here https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Alison has been reading Pasta Mike by Andrew Cotto

Pasta Mike is loosely based on the author’s long-term friendship with his childhood friend, Mike, and mixes fact with fiction to give a truly authentic story of love, loss, grief and recovery.

There are some gorgeous moments here, full of genuine feeling. The narrator’s sense of loss and bewilderment, the effect it has on those around him, his life and his addictions, go a long way towards showing the reader how grief can really have an impact, and shows too why we need to take those emotions seriously, be open about our feelings, and not be ashamed to grieve.

I enjoyed the wonderful descriptions of food – I’ve read previous books by this author and knowing that food would be involved here drew me to the book!

This is, however, a novella, and, as such, I don’t feel that there was really enough room to explore all these interesting and important themes completely. I wish the author had made this into a full-length novel – there is so much here that would benefit from that, particularly memories of childhood, the narrator’s marriage, and the realities of depression

So a really great read, well-written, authentic and emotional – but, in my opinion at least, a novella that was crying out to be a full-length novel.

Four stars.

Desc 1

Mike O’Shea and Andy Cotto knew each other their entire lives. Born days apart on the same block, baptized in the same water, the two friends were inseparable growing up and into adulthood.

After celebrating their 40th birthdays together, Mike falls ill and dies shortly after. The impact on Andy is enormous, and he spirals into a depression that threatens everything he holds dear.

Through memory and support, Andy is able to reconcile his grief and appreciate the power of male friendship and the beauty of life.

Pasta Mike is a testimony to the bonds men share and the vulnerabilities beneath the stoic surface.

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‘A very creepy and threatening feel to the narrative.’ @AlisonW_Editor reviews #Crimefiction Fault Lines by Tsveti Nacheva @guelphed

Today’s team review is from Alison. She blogs here https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Alison has been reading Fault Lines by Tsveti Nacheva

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I really enjoyed this novel. The characters are very well-written, the writing flows well, and there’s enough intrigue and twists and turns to keep you turning the page.

Laurie’s best friend vanishes after a Halloween party out in the backwoods of Canada. Laurie having gone to bed drunk, can’t remember the night clearly, but what she does remember is that her boyfriend Nate’s clothes were covered in blood – surely he can’t have anything to do with Ashley’s disappearance?

They split up, but years later, Laurie’s work takes her back to her past, and she’s finally forced to confront the truth.

As the story unfolds, our ideas about the characters and their motivations unfold too, and they reveal things about themselves that add to the intrigue of the story. That said, I did feel that Erin was a bit of a missed opportunity – I was expecting more from her and her potential didn’t feel realised.

Laurie, though, is a great character; it’s very easy to believe in her and the way she behaves and to sympathise with her. Her confusion and her emotions are so well portrayed.

The settings work very well too, and there’s a very creepy and threatening feel to the narrative.

One of the strengths of the novel for me was the smaller storyline around Ashley’s mum and her frustration and fear around her daughter’s disappearance. She’s another really well-written and fully realised character.

There are a few issues with tense, however, with lots of switches from past to present that don’t really work, and some of the dialogue feels rather formal.

But overall this is a very well-written and enjoyable novel

Four stars

Desc 1

When the unthinkable happens…
When her best friend disappears from a party at a haunted house attraction, Laurie Arbo fears the worst. Ashley would not just up and leave. As days turn into weeks, it becomes clear that she is not coming back. But without a body, proving that a crime has been committed—let alone unmasking the culprit—is a tall order.

The truth should come first.
All eyes are on Ashley’s boyfriend, who is being cagey. But Laurie’s own partner, Nate, is keeping secrets too. On that fateful night, his clothes were covered in blood, which he swears wasn’t Ashley’s. Refusing to accept the man she loves might be a murderer, Laurie decides to believe him. Yet, unable to put the past behind them, they drift apart.

But what if it’s ugly?
Seven years later, while working on a TV documentary about a local family drama, she reconnects with Nate, and the pieces start falling together. As Laurie draws closer to learning what happened that night, she realizes the truth might be the one thing she doesn’t want to uncover.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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‘A powerful and moving story’. Alison reviews #contemporaryfiction The Bodies That Move by Bunye Ngene, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Alison. She blogs here https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Alison has been reading The Bodies That Move by Bunye Ngene

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This is a powerful and moving story of a young man who wants so much to improve his life, to provide for his family, to be safe and happy – the basic things that we all want.

For Nosa there isn’t a way to do this if he stays in Nigeria. Although intelligent, well‑qualified, and ambitious, he can’t get a job because he doesn’t know the right people. He has no future in Nigeria, so he has no choice but to try and make a future elsewhere, even if that means risking his life.

His journey is horrifying, the things he sees and experiences terrible. Women raped, men beaten, people left to die. Exploited, abused, treated like nothing, these people are desperate.

It’s a sobering story. And one that needs to be shared. It’s all too easy, from your sofa, or behind your keyboard, to judge refugees and asylum seekers. But it could just as easily be you or me, had we been born somewhere else, in different circumstances.

The author tells Nosa’s story unflinchingly, without sentiment, and the result is a really well-written, and important novel.

Four stars

Desc 1

The Bodies That Move tells the riveting story of a man who embarks on a journey in search of greener pastures.

Abandoned by his father as a child, Nosa is forced to bear the responsibility of caring for his mother and siblings. Seeing no future in Nigeria, he is persuaded by an old schoolmate to migrate to Europe. In order to achieve this, he employs the services of smugglers.

His journey takes him through many transit cities, safe houses and detention camps in Nigeria, Niger and war-torn Libya, and sees him cross the Sahara Desert. On his journey, he meets other travellers, each with unique stories. They are all united, however, by the desire for a better life in Europe.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Fall In Love With Italy’s Food And Scenery. Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Brings You Cucina Tipica by Andrew Cotto

Today’s team review is from Alison. She blogs here https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Alison has been reading Cucina Tipica by Andrew Cotto

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I’ve only visited Italy once, a few days in Rome followed by a week by the sea down the coast from Naples. It was a fabulous holiday – it isn’t clichéd to say the people are incredibly friendly, the weather is fabulous, the scenery stunning and as for the food, it’s wonderful. So this book, although set in a different part of Italy, had a lot that appealed and that was enjoyable.

I love my food, and some of the descriptions of the meals were wonderful. And the descriptions of the countryside and the people really made you feel as though you were there. The author can certainly write, and write well, and this would be a lovely book to take on holiday.

That said, the descriptions did begin to wear a little thin after a while and, to be honest, the book could be a great deal shorter. I didn’t feel that invested in the characters, and there were a couple that I didn’t like at all. I do think the book would be improved with less detail about the food and more depth to the characters.

That said, it’s an enjoyable read.

3.5 stars

Desc 1

Escaping to Italy was the easy part. Figuring out how to stay forever is where the adventure begins…


When disheartened American Jacoby Pines arrives in Italy on vacation, he has no idea that a family photograph from the previous century would start a search for ancestry through the streets of Florence and the hills of Tuscany.


Jacoby’s quest includes encounters with a septuagenarian ex-pat, an elusive heiress in hiding, a charming Australian museum guide, a Pearl Jam-crazed artisan shoemaker, malevolent hunters, a needy border collie and one very large wild boar. Along the way there are magnificent, wine-soaked meals at every turn and immersion in the sensory splendor and la dolce vita of Il Bel Paese.


At the end of the novel, on the morning of Jacoby’s dreaded return to America, a chance of remaining in Italy arrives in stunning news from abroad. But is it too late?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #ComingOfAge Everything That Came Before Grace by Bill See

Today’s team review is from Alison. She blogs here https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Everything That Came Before Grace by Bill See

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Benjamin is a single father, bringing up his daughter Sophia alone. He is struggling with his mental health, coming to terms with the impact his mother’s issues had on his childhood, and also getting over the fact that his past ‘true love’ has ended up marrying his best friend.

So he’s struggling  in the face of loss, betrayal, stress, all those ups and downs of normal life, and then some.

The narrative spans the years of Sophia’s childhood, with flashbacks to Benjamin’s time in college, his friendship with love of his life Anna and their best friend  Keith and his relationship with Sophia’s mother. He’s one of those characters that you don’t know whether to hug or shake! But he is honest, about his faults as well as the faults in those around him.

One of the most poignant things about the narrative was the way in which he has to accept that Sophia is growing up, and, as a result, growing apart from him. This is written with honesty and empathy.

The author has a background in the music business and he includes references to lots of bands, albums and songs throughout. I have quite an eclectic taste in music and I did enjoy this aspect – to an extent. There were times when it got in the way of the story and did feel as though it was there for the author’s benefit not the reader’s – not for the purpose of the story.

There were times too when things were a bit slow, a bit drawn out, and I did occasionally find myself skipping ahead. All in all though this is a very good read, heartfelt, honest, and engaging.

Four stars

Book description

A single-father comes of age as he discovers whether it’s love or fatherhood that could save him. Haunted by his mother’s death and a series of serendipitous events from his past, Benjamin Bradford desperately tries to keep his mental illness under control while raising his daughter Sophia. Set against the iconic streets of Los Angeles, there’s music always playing, heavy therapy sessions and private emails to discern, shattered friendships and betrayal, and the specter of a true love that got away. An insightful and unique male perspective on the inner struggles of parenting seldom on display. Think: “Silver Linings Playbook” meets “High Fidelity” with a dash of “Eighth Grade.” Can Benjamin find redemption? Can he escape his demons and find love again? Come along for the ride and find out. 

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Mystery JANE IN St. PETE by @CynthiaHarriso1

Today’s team review is from Alison. She blogs here https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Jane In St. Pete by Cynthia Harrison

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As a woman of fifty-one, it’s nice to read a novel now and then where the female protagonist is someone I can really relate to. Jane is an experienced, intelligent woman, looking to finally live life for herself, to be herself. While I’m not on the verge of leaving my husband and living alone, it’s always good to see woman of a certain age portrayed as having a lot to live for, and with a lot going for them.

This is an entertaining mystery, well-plotted, with an interesting murder case moving the narrative forward. But while the case was important, well-written and held my interest, for me the real story here was Jane and her gradual settling in to her new life and what it could offer her. She’s a fabulous character and I look forward to reading more about her.

I enjoyed the descriptions of Florida too – they made me long for some sunshine!

Well-written, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Book description

Widowed art lecturer Jane Chasen is not an impulsive woman. Why, then, does the formerly methodical workaholic quit her job, sell her house, and move from Detroit to Florida? Instead of pondering her atypical behavior, she takes a closer look at a neighbor’s intriguing outdoor art installation. Days later, Detective Jesse Singer discovers the murdered artist in his studio. With Jane’s help, Singer finds the victim’s bloody shirt, inexplicably located within Jane’s gated community. Singer knows nothing about art, and as he closely questions Jane, she offers to help with the art angle of the case. Singer soon takes Jane up on her offer. Then, Jane begins to receive anonymous threats. Singer, determined to protect Jane, keeps her closer to his side than ever—she’s not complaining.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Domestic Abuse Story GRACE AND SERENITY by @AnnalisaCrawf

Today’s team review is from Alison. She blogs here https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Grace And Serenity by Annalisa Crawford

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This is a really well-written novel, full of emotion, and it’s good to read a story involving domestic abuse that doesn’t hold back, and that really traces Grace’s story from an innocent and hopeful young girl to someone manipulated into making decisions that ruin her life.

Grace is very well-drawn and her feelings and frustrations are depicted clearly, making the reader really care about her and what is happening to her.

However, I found it quite difficult to accept that Grace’s parents would react the way they did towards the man who treated their daughter so badly. They are supportive and loving and interested in their daughter, so it didn’t seem realistic at all that they would behave the way they do – this really spoiled the story for me, unfortunately. While I could completely understand and believe that Grace could be so manipulated, I didn’t believe that her parents could be, and that they would trust a man who had hurt their daughter.

That said, this is a thought-provoking, sensitive and well-written novel.

Four stars

Book description

Living on the streets is terrifying and exhausting. Grace’s only comforts are a steady stream of vodka, and a strange little boy who’s following her around.

At nineteen, Grace has already had a child and endured an abusive marriage. But she’s also had her baby abducted by her vengeful husband and been framed as a neglectful mother. Even her own parents doubted her version of the story. So she did the only thing that made sense to her—run away.

The streets are unforgiving. Winter is drawing in. And Grace isn’t prepared for the harsh realities of survival. At her very bleakest, a Good Samaritan swoops into her life and rescues her. With a roof over her head and food in her stomach, she longs to see her baby again.

But nothing ever comes for free.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Historical Saga Set In Wales THE COVENANT by @ThorneMoore @honno

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

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading The Covenant by Thorne Moore

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What a fabulous book! The way women were expected to live in the not all that distant past has always fascinated me, and I love stories about those who endeavour to live their best lives in the face of so much misogyny and poverty.

The location appealed to me too as the novel is set close to where I live – the villages of Cilgerran and Boncath are both ten minutes away so it was very easy for me to imagine Leah’s world.

The author depicts this world so clearly, with beautiful, evocative description that doesn’t weigh the narrative down. There’s such a strong sense of time and place and a real authenticity throughout.

The novel shows how precarious life was for tenanted farmers; an accident, an illness, and everything could be lost. And no matter how strong, how intelligent, how capable, if you were a woman, your life was defined by duty – to your father, to your husband, your brother, the church.

Despite this, Leah is so full of life – she’s an absolute pleasure to read. She’s strong, she’s intelligent, she’s resourceful and determined, but she also dreams and laughs and loves. You’re willing her to find the life and the happiness she so deserves.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and it definitely won’t be the last.

Highly recommended.

Five stars.

Book description

The Owens are tied to this Pembrokeshire land – no-one will part them from it.

Leah is tied to home and hearth by debts of love and duty – duty to her father, turned religious zealot after the tragic death of his eldest son, Tom; love for her wastrel younger brother Frank’s two motherless children. One of them will escape, the other will be doomed to follow in their grandfather’s footsteps.

At the close of the 19th century, Cwmderwen’stwenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches are hardwon, the holding run down over the years by debt and poor harvest. But they are all the Owens have and their rent is always paid on time. With Tom’s death a crack is opened up and into this chink in the fabric of the family step Jacob John and his wayward son Eli, always on the lookout for an opportunity.

Saving her family, good and bad, saving Cwmderwen, will change Leah forever and steal her dreams, perhaps even her life…

The Covenant is the shocking prequel to the bestselling A Time For Silence.

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