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. 

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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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.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #NonFiction GENERATION W: Generation W by Urban Kingdom: 100 women. 100 years since women got the vote. #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Generation W by Urban Kingdom

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There’s so much inspiration to be found in this book, that asks one hundred women the same questions, resulting in some very different answers.

The interviewees come from so many diverse walks of life and all have their own very individual stories to tell. Each woman featured has their own take on what it is like to be a woman in the modern world, what has inspired them, what advice they would give to other women, and how they feel women are portrayed.

It’s lovely to have the voices of so many different women showcased and the interviews provide a varied and inspiring look at just what women are capable of and can achieve.

I do feel that things became a little repetitive and formulaic with the same questions being asked, but I can really appreciate why the authors chose to do this. I think that, because of this structure, this is really a book to dip into, to read two or three interviews and then to dip into again on another day.

I liked that the women were given the freedom to use their own voices and that their replies were included exactly as they were given. That said, the introductions to the interviews and the other sections of the book could have done with a bit of tidying up – the book would really benefit from an edit and proofread, which is a shame, because it does detract somewhat from the interviews.

That said, this is a very thought-provoking book that’s most definitely worth a read.

Four out of five stars

Book description

Generation W is a collection of 100 uncensored interviews with 100 unapologetic and leading British women from all generations who answer the same ten questions about what it was like to live through the 100 years since women began to receive the vote.

Including:
Dr Averil Mansfield – The first British female professor of surgery.
Sally Gunnell – The only female athlete to win Gold at Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth level.
Laura London – At 16 years old Laura was homeless, at 18 years old she was the youngest female magician to be inducted into the Magic Circle.
Alice Powell – on the centenary of women receiving the vote, Alice Powell became the first female racing driver to win a race in Saudi Arabia, in the same year it was finally made legal for women to drive in the country.
Stacey Copeland – growing up, boxing was illegal for women to compete in, in 2018 Stacey Copeland would become the first British woman to win a Commonwealth Title.

ALSO INCLUDING:
The great-granddaughter of legendary suffragette Emmeline Pankurst, HELEN PANKHURST
The first Black leader of a British political party MANDU REID
Former Vogue cover model, leading actress and environmentalist LILY COLE
Beyonce ‘Freedom’ and ‘Runnin’ songwriter CARLA-MARIE WILLIAMS
The first mainstream celebrated female of rock music SUZI QUATRO
Ten times European Gold Medallist Speed Skater ELISE CHRISTIE
BBC Radio 1 DJ JAMZ SUPERNOVAM
PR legend and activist LYNNE FRANKS OBE
Elusive grafitti artist BAMBI
Former Chair of British Library and principal at Newnham College, Cambridge University DAME CAROL BLACK

And many more.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Generation W: 100 women. 100 years since women began to receive the vote. 100% uncensored. by [Urban Kingdom]

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Ya #RomanticSuspense DELETED by @shehir853

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

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Deleted by Sylvia Hehir

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As an editor I read a lot of YA fiction, and one thing that annoys me is when the author clearly doesn’t know anyone who is actually YA! This often comes through in writing that is patronising and preachy. Sylvia Hehir‘s writing is neither of those things. She is a writer who obviously likes her audience and has a great deal of respect for them.

This means she writes characters that are authentic, well-rounded, likeable and easy to identify with. Their concerns feel real and she doesn’t belittle their hopes, fears, anxieties and ambitions.

Dee is a lovely main character and, even as a middle-aged adult, I found her story engaging and interesting. The author portrays Dee’s world so well, it’s easy to imagine the village, the club, the wild countryside. And her relationship with Tom is explored sensitively and thoughtfully.

The writing is excellent and the novel has a lovely pace too.

It’s made me really angry to see young people criticised so nastily by some aspects of the press during this pandemic. All the young people I know are thoughtful, compassionate and really care about the world. A lot of older people don’t seem to grasp how dreadful it is for young adults to see their futures become so uncertain. It’s lovely to read YA by an author who has a real grasp of how much there is to like about the younger generation.

All in all, an outstanding YA novel, and highly recommended.

Five stars

Book description

How much worse can Dee’s life get? Having already suffered a traumatic break up with her boyfriend, her best friend is now warning her off the handsome new boy in the village. And that’s without all the problems she’s having with her mobile phone.
A young adult romance with a hint of mystery.

AmazonUK

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Horror Novella NIGHT SERVICE by @john_f_leonard

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

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Night Service by John F. Leonard.

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I do love a good horror story, and this is definitely a good horror story.

Luke and Jessica take the bus home one night, and find themselves racing through the darkness straight into a nightmare world where Luke has to dodge the horrors around him as he struggles to come to terms with this new reality.

This is a creepy and clever story, with enough twists, turns and shocks to keep you guessing and turning the page. It’s really well-written too, with some wonderful turns of phrase and descriptions that making reading a (very scary) pleasure.

Two things did bother me though. In terms of the story, I wasn’t completely convinced by the final reveal. And in terms of the writing, the predominance of the subordinate clause did start to grate a little. These short clauses work really well to build tension, but they need to be used sparingly and here they seem to be an integral part of the author’s style – and I found it too much, to be honest. Which is a shame, because, on the whole, this is a cracking story, and one I really enjoyed.

Four stars.

Book description

It’s been a great night, but it’s getting late. You need to make tracks and cash isn’t king.

No worries… all aboard the Night Service. It could be the last bus you ever catch.

Every journey is a journey into the unknown, but this trip is an eye-opener, unlike anything that Luke and Jessica have ever experienced. They’re going to learn a few important lessons. Being young and in love doesn’t grant immunity from the everyday awful… or the less ordinary evil that lurks in the shadows.

There’s no inoculation from the horror of the world – it’s real and it’s waiting to touch you.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #RomCom YOU, ME AND OTHER STUFF by L. M. Barrett

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

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading You, Me And Other Stuff by L. M. Barrett

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There’s an interesting idea at the heart of this story and two potentially compelling characters. Sarah and Declan are childhood friends, growing up together and falling in and out of friendship.

They argue, they ignore each other, they look out for each other, but then Sarah really lets Declan down, and neither are sure if this is a situation they can come back from.

There’s romance here, and heartbreak and the awkwardness and anxieties of growing up and finding out about yourself – all the ingredients for a great story.

Unfortunately, the execution doesn’t really do the story justice. The structure, with Sarah telling her story to a man she meets in a bar, and Declan telling his to a fellow hostage, Lisa, doesn’t really work. And some of the situations don’t ring true. The hostage situation is treated very lightly (perhaps it’s not a suitable situation for this genre) and Declan is hardly affected by it at all. Secondary characters are treated horribly by the two main characters which makes it hard to root for them. And the writing itself does need some tidying up.

There’s a great idea here, but it needs a bit of a polish.

Three stars

Book description

Declan’s a tad annoyed. Not only has the love of his life run off with ‘Superman’ but she’s also unwittingly caused his current hostage situation. 

This is the story between two childhood friends and the ‘stuff’ that always gets in the way of their relationship. Mostly the fact that Sarah is engaged to another man and Declan is being held prisoner.

Find out what Sarah did to cause Declan’s current situation and if Declan will ever forgive her. Can things ever go back to the way they were?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction NOT MY FATHER’S HOUSE by Loretta Miles Tollefson

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

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Not My Father’s House by Loretta Miles Tollefson

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This novel is part of a series, but it works very well as a standalone – you very quickly get to know the characters and their backgrounds and what has brought them to the mountains.

Suzanna is that rare thing in an historical novel – a woman who doesn’t fit in with the requirements of the time, who rails against the constraints of her life, but who isn’t allowed to overcome them. She has to conform, as women did, but this leads to frustration and misery.

There is some wonderful description in this novel, description that doesn’t overwhelm the narrative, and it is very easy to picture the beautiful, but often hostile countryside. There are some really horrible and upsetting moments, written without melodrama, that bring home the reality of the fragility and danger of life then, particularly for women.

The writing is polished, professional and technically sound. Characters are authentic and consistent. It’s refreshing to see themes like post-natal depression examined so sensitively here – something not often tackled in historical novels.

My only gripe is that some of the scenes of the mountain man are rather repetitive. He thinks the same things, does the same things, and I did feel that these episodes could have been cut. There is some repetition throughout the novel – while it is undoubtedly well-written, it could do with being cut back a little. I did find myself skipping over some parts.

That said, this was a really interesting read and I’ll definitely read more by this author.

Four stars.

Book description

Suzanna hates everything about her New Mexico mountain home. The isolation. The short growing season. The critters after her corn. The long snow-bound winters in a dimly-lit cabin.

But she loves Gerald, who loves this valley.

So Suzanna does her unhappy best to adjust, even when the babies come, both of them in the middle of winter. Her postpartum depression, the cold, and the lack of sunlight push her to the edge.

But the Sangre de Cristo mountains contain a menace far more dangerous than Suzanna’s internal struggles. The man Gerald killed in the mountains of the Gila two years ago isn’t as dead as everyone thought.

And his lust for Suzanna may be even stronger than his desire for Gerald’s blood.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Mystery Novella An Empty Vessel by @JJMarsh1 #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading An Empty Vessel by J. J. Marsh

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This is such a captivating novella. The author clearly and without sentimentality tells the story of poor Nancy, misunderstood and downtrodden, overlooked by almost everyone in her life. Unattractive and ungainly, Nancy’s options in life are limited, but she pulls herself up, and is successful at what she does. Now she finds herself in a cell, about to be hung for murder.

The book looks back, from Nancy’s point of view and those around her, to the events that have led up to this moment. And you’re kept guessing all the way through. I’m not going to give anything away, but this is a real page turner, and you’ll be desperate to get to the end to find out the truth while all the time not really wanting to leave Nancy, alone in her cell.

So well-written, this story captures your imagination. There is nothing overwrought here, or overdone, and that adds to the emotions you feel – the writing is honest, and your reactions are genuine.

The other characters are fully drawn and believable too with enough detail that you really feel you know them, without unnecessary information dragging the narrative down. It’s a lesson in restraint and shows the skill of a competent and talented writer.

I feel that Nancy could almost warrant a novel by herself, but as the heart of this novella, she is a compelling character, in a powerful narrative that is a pleasure to read.

Five stars

Book description

Today’s the day Nancy Maidstone is going to hang.

In her time, she’s been a wartime evacuee, land-girl, slaughterhouse worker, supermarket assistant, Master Butcher and defendant accused of first degree murder. Now she’s a prisoner condemned to death. A first time for everything.

The case has made all the front pages. Speculation dominates every conversation from bar to barbershop to bakery. Why did she do it? How did she do it? Did she actually do it at all? Her physical appearance and demeanour in court has sparked the British public’s imagination, so everyone has an opinion on Nancy Maidstone.

The story of a life and a death, of a post-war world which never had it so good, of a society intent on a bright, shiny future, and of a woman with blood on her hands.

This is the story of Nancy Maidstone.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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