A WARRINER TO PROTECT HER by @VirginiaHeath_ @HarlequinBooks @MillsandBoon #SundayBlogShare

A Warriner to Protect Her (Wild Warriners #1)A Warriner to Protect Her by Virginia Heath
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Warriner to Protect Her is a Harlequin / Mills and Boon regency romance and is due for publication in May 2017. I read an ARC copy for review.

Violet Dunstan is a Tea heiress. Her family wealth was made through the tea trade and she is due to inherit upon her upcoming twenty-first birthday. However, her guardian uncle has other ideas—he agreed to her kidnapping by the Earl of Bainbridge for an enforced marriage at Gretna Green. The pair would then split her inheritance after the marriage.

However, Violet, or Letty as she prefers to be called, is a wilful young lady. She seizes an opportunity to jump from the carriage that thunders through the night, and dashes for the cover in the woods. Hours later, drenched and freezing cold, local landowner, Jack Warriner, discovers her whilst returning home.

Jack takes her to the home he shares with his three brothers, where they bring her back from the brink of death. A cautious Letty tells them essential snippets of her circumstances, and a covert trip to the village reveals that Bainbridge’s men are searching for Letty, with a reward offered for her safe return.

A determined Jack vows they will protect her until her birthday, when they will take her back to London. Letty brings warmth and friendship to the Warriner family home. She soon charms the menfolk, although Jack’s behaviour towards her blows hot and cold. He finds Letty both intriguing and frustrating, yet he battles with his responsibilities to his brothers, the family home and his fears about his family reputation.

Regular readers of this genre know the story arcs: boy meets girl, the ups and downs of their will they won’t they relationship and the expected wrapped up ending. The pull for the reader is how they actually get there, the details of those ups and downs, the break-up and make-up moments.

I enjoyed Jack and Letty’s tale; this is the first of the Wild Warriner series, with books promised for each of the brothers in turn. Look out for book #2 in July.

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Book Description

An heiress in distress and an earl in disgrace…

When heiress Violet Dunston escapes from an abduction she finds an unlikely protector in Jack Warriner―a member of one of England’s most infamous families. Ensconced with mysterious Jack behind his manor’s walls, soon escape is the last thing on Letty’s mind!

Jack may be an earl but his father’s exploits have left him with nothing to offer except a tarnished name. He’s turned his back on the ton, but with Letty tempting him day and night, he finds himself contemplating the unthinkable―a society marriage!

About the author

Virginia Heath

I live on the outskirts of London with my understanding husband and two, less understanding, teenagers. After spending years teaching history, I decided to follow my dream of writing for Harlequin. Now I spend my days happily writing regency romances, creating heroes that I fall in love with and heroines who inspire me. When I’m not doing that, I like to travel to far off places, shop for things that I do not need or read romances written by other people.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT DANGEROUS by Ian Probert @Truth42 #Boxing industry #Memoir

Today’s team review is from Chris, she blogs here http://cphilippou123.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Chris has been reading Dangerous by Ian Probert

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An unexpected read that delves deep into the issues that athletes and fans face when things go wrong in sport.

A few decades after leaving the sport behind following a rather harrowing event, ex sports journalist Ian Probert returns to investigate boxing and all the changes that have occurred since his last foray into the sport. And change it has…

Based on the blurb, I was expecting a book on boxing but, instead, I got a memoir punctuated by meetings, memories, and the good (and bad) that the sport brought out in the author. This was an interesting story that delved into the depths of the human psyche, and charts the effects that wins, losses, and retirement can have on fighters and fans alike. It is not always comfortable or indeed pleasurable reading, but it is a very interesting memoir cum investigation that makes you think about the sport in very different ways.

*Thank you to the author and to #RBRT for my free review copy.

Book Description

A quarter of a century ago journalist and author Ian Probert decided never to write about boxing again. His decision was prompted by the injuries sustained by boxer Michael Watson during his world title fight with Chris Eubank. Now, in common with so many fighters, Probert is making an inevitable comeback. Dangerous sees Probert return to the scene of an obsession that has gripped him from childhood. In the course of numerous meetings with a number of leading figures in the fight game, including Herol Graham, Steve Collins, Michael Watson, Nigel Benn, Ambrose Mendy, Rod Douglas, Frank Buglioni, Kellie Maloney, Glen McCrory and Jim McDonnell among others, Probert takes a look at how lives have changed, developed and even unravelled during the time he has been away from the sport. From an illuminating and honest encounter with transgender fight manager Kellie Maloney to an emotional reunion with Watson himself, Probert discovers just how much the sport has changed during his absence. The end result is one of the most fascinating and unusual books ever to have been written about boxing.

About the author

Ian Probert

Ian Probert has been scribbling down words ever since he learned to spell the phrase: ‘Once upon a time…’. He is the author of Internet Spy, Rope Burns and a bunch of other titles. Internet Spy was a bestseller in the US and made into a TV film. Rope Burns is a book about why books shouldn’t be written about boxing. Ian has also written things for a shed load of newspapers and magazines. When Ian was a student he used to write lots of letters to the bank manager.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Tropical Shadows by @SusieVereker #Suspense #Thriller

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

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Tropical Shadows by Susie Vereker

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My Review:

Firstly,  I’d like to say I think the Blurb gives away  too much of the plot. When I read a book I like to find out for myself what happens; to discover the story for myself.

Tropical Shadows begins interestingly and sets up the story in the long first chapter.  The reader is thrust into the plot right away and I was looking forward to a tense read.  A young girl caught with drugs and imprisoned into a primitive prison in a foreign country has all the ingredients of a disturbing, even sinister tale. Add to that a disquieting parallel plot of a missing child and the expectation of tension grows.

There are quite a few portrayals of interesting characters who add background to Tropical Shadows, some well-written descriptions of the settings that give a good sense of place, and a quite good insight to how Embassies could be run. It’s a good plot.

But, as a whole, I’m afraid it didn’t work for me. I found difficult to have any empathy with both the protagonist or any of the main characters because I didn’t feel I got to know them. And, somehow, the dialogue isn’t emotional enough; it doesn’t show the fear, the anxiety, the hopelessness of the some of the situations.  The words are there but there is no showing of rise and fall of crisis and conflict in the characters or the action. And every now and again the story falls into telling, rather than showing, especially when relating the past.

Perhaps a tighter, final edit  could resolve these issues.

Book Description

Respectable Julia is horrified to receive a phone call from the British Consul saying that her teenage sister Emily has been thrown in jail on a South-East Asian island for alleged drug smuggling.

Immediately she takes the next plane for Maising, leaving her disgruntled husband behind.

Even more bad news, nobody knows the whereabouts of her sister’s child.

Julia visits the jail where Emily insists toddler Rosie is safe because she’s with a trusted friend.

But where the trusted friend is, no one knows.

Emily, a teenage single mum on a belated gap year plus toddler, says she bought a padded cotton bag from an itinerant seller at the bus station.

Yet when she went through airport security, the bag was found to have a false bottom containing cannabis.

Julia believes Em’s claims that she’s been framed, but the young Consul says the penalties for drug smuggling are severe, as in many other parts of South East Asia.

Obviously Julia wants to rescue her sister and find her child as quickly as possible.

The British Embassy vainly tries to help and so does Duncan Hereford, an expat doctor with something of a past, and Julia’s pompous husband keeps phoning with his ideas too.

The Embassy advises it is imperative the British Press don’t get to hear about Emily because the tabloids are bound to write nonsense about backward foreign Maising and offend the Prince, making Emily’s chances of receiving a royal pardon highly unlikely.

But she’s innocent, Julia keeps saying but no one will believe her.

Meanwhile there are constant rumours from the outlying islands that a white child has been seen and Duncan offers to take Julia on several boat trips to investigate, all in vain.

But then the tabloids get hold of the story of the beautiful imprisoned British girl and her lost baby and all hell breaks loose. And Emily’s bad-news ex-boyfriend, the toddler’s natural father, begins to take an interest.

Tropical Shadows is a delightful story of sibling love and loyalty that will capture your heart.

About the author

Susie Vereker

Born in the English Lake District, Susie Vereker has spent much of her life travelling round the world, first as an army daughter then as a diplomat’s wife. She worked in publishing in London, au paired in Germany, taught English in Surrey, and raised her three sons in Australia, Greece, Thailand, Switzerland and France. Now she has returned home to a small village in the south of England, complete with a black Labrador.

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Rosie’s Review Team #RBRT The Old Man At The End Of The World by @AKSilversmith #Zombies

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

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading The Old Man At the End Of The World: Bite 1 by A K Silversmith

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THE OLD MAN AT THE END OF THE WORLD by AK SILVERSMITH @AkSilversmith#BookReview #Zombie

  • Title: The Old Man at the End of the World: Bite No. 1
  • Author: AK Silversmith
  • Published: 2017
  • Started: Wednesday 22nd February 2017
  • Finished: Friday 24th February 2017

The Old Man At The End Of The World is a short story, and the first instalment of a zombie comedy series by AK Silversmith. The plot is simple: 87-year-old Gerald Stockwell-Poulter was simply tending to his allotment when his neighbours, who have been turned into zombies, attack. The ‘zompocalypse’ – that’s zombie + apocalypse – has begun.

I thought this little story was brilliant – there wasn’t too much description to weigh down the plot and the dialogue exchanges between the characters was fast-paced. This allowed for quirky comments and sarcastic quips, which added to the humour of the overall novella.

Comedy was conveyed well, and the mix of jokes, zombies, and a stereotypical British setting reminded me very much of Edgar Wright’s ‘zom-com’ film, Shaun of the Dead, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The Old Man At The End Of The World even has jokes about a Bentley too!

This is a considerably shorter book review, for a considerably shorter book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this short read, and it had me chuckling and smiling throughout. If you liked Shaun of the Dead, I think you’ll really enjoy this!

I look forward to reading Bite No. 2, the second instalment of this series.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Book Description

Gerald Stockwell-Poulter couldn’t help but feel it was extraordinary just how quickly his life had changed. One moment he was earthing up leeks in the West Sussex sunshine and the next he was rooted to the spot as Rodney Timmins from the end allotment ambled towards him, arms outstretched, blood pouring from a hole in his neck and a look in his eye which suggested that he was less after help and more after a helping of Gerald. 

Now, as Gerald’s life takes a quick turn for the worse, he must do things he has never done before. After 87 largely well-behaved years as a model citizen, less than four hours into the ‘zompocalypse’ and he has already killed a neighbour, rescued a moody millenial drug dealer and forged an unlikely allegiance with a giant ginger Scotsman. And it isn’t even tea time. 

Join Gerald as he and his newfound allies navigate the post-apocalyptic English countryside in their hilarious bid to stay off the menu. 

The first installment of the Old Man at the End of the World Series. A novella of 20,000 words.

About the author

AK Silversmith

AK Silversmith is the author of The Old Man at the End of the World; a series of zombie apocalypse Bites centering on the world of 87-year-old Gerald Stockwell-Poulter.

Bite 2 is coming soon…

She was born in Tasmania in 1983 and now lives in western Ireland where the weather is similar but the zombies are still absent.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The Silent Kookaburra by @LizaPerrat #Australian #Thriller

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat

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My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I was provided with an ARC copy that I voluntarily chose to review.

The story —set in an Australia richly brought to life by the writing that describes landscape, animals, trees, food, furniture, cars, lifestyle and social mores— is told in the first person by Tanya Randall. Adult Tanya is back in her childhood cottage and a newspaper cutting from 1973, which her grandmother kept, makes her remember that time when she was only eleven. The story of adult Tanya frames that of her childhood memories, which take up most of the book (I had almost forgotten that fact until the very end of the story).

Young Tanya is quite innocent (of course, she doesn’t think so), overweight (she eats compulsively, seemingly to comfort herself when the situation gets difficult at home, when they call her names, when she has any upsets or… most of the time. There are long lists of biscuits and other foods she consumes at an alarming pace, well-researched for the period, although I’m not familiar with them), and loves her mother, father, cat (that she insists on walking as if it were a dog, even if that brings her even more unwanted attention), dog, true crime magazines, and her friend Angelina, although not so much her grandmother, Nanna Purvis.

Seeing (or reading) things from a child’s point of view is a good way to reflect on how adult behaviour might appear to children and how difficult certain things might be to process and understand. Her mother’s miscarriages and depression (that keeps getting missed until very late in the novel), her secret uncle’s devious behaviour (it’s hard to read the scenes of Tanya with her uncle, as she’s clearly craving for attention and we know from early on where things are headed, but Tanya doesn’t and she finds it more and more difficult to extricate herself from the situation). The author is excellent at making us share her point of view and her thought processes that create an atmosphere of dread and impending disaster. The dualistic life view of young children, for whom everything is black or white is reflected perfectly in Tanya’s reactions to her grandmother (whom at first she doesn’t like at all but later, as she realises she’s the only one to stick by her, goes on to become complicit with) and to her uncle, who goes from being perfect to being a monster (although the novel suggests that he had also been a victim).

The novel is not easy to classify, although it comes under the thriller label, but it is a psychological exploration of childhood, memory, tragedy, the lies we tell ourselves, and also a work of historical (albeit recent history) fiction, as it beautifully recreates the time and place (down details such as hit songs, records of the era, bicycles, toys, cars, magazines, foodstuffs, clothing and hairdos) and even historical events, like the opening of the Sidney Opera House. There is something of a twist at the end, and plenty of secrets, like in most domestic noir novels, but for me, the strong points are the way the story is told, and some of the characters. Nanna Purvis (who is a fantastic character and proves that grandmothers are almost always right) has old-fashioned ideas about relationships, sexuality, religion and race, but manages to surprise us and has good insight into her own family. Tanya reminded me of myself at her age (although I read other types of books, I was also overweight and wasn’t the most popular girl at school, and we also lived with my mother’s mother, although thankfully my home circumstances were not as tragic) and she tries hard to keep her family together. Her point of view and her understanding are limited, and her actions and frame of mind repetitive at times (she munches through countless packets of biscuits, pulls at her cowlick often, bemoans the unattractive shape of her ears, wonders if she’s adopted) as it befits a character of her age and historical period (so close but yet so far. No internet, no social media, no easy way to access information). Real life is not a succession of exciting events; even at times of crisis, most of our lives are taken up by routine actions and everyday tasks. Her mother’s sinking into depression and her bizarre behaviour, which is sadly misunderstood and left untreated for far too long, rang a chord with me as a psychiatrist. It is an accurate portrayal of such conditions, of the effect the illness can have not only on the sufferers but also on the family, and of the reactions of the society to such illnesses (especially at the time). Uncle Blackie is also a fascinating character but I won’t say anything else as I want to avoid spoilers. Although the setting and the atmosphere are very different, it brought to my mind some of Henry James’s stories, in particular, What Maisie Knew and The Turn of the Screw.

This is a great novel that I recommend to those who are interested in accurate psychological portrayals, reflections on the nature of memory, and books with a strong sense of setting and historical period, rather than fast action and an ever changing plot. A word of warning: it will be difficult to read for those with a low tolerance for stories about child abuse and bullying. If you’re a fan of good writing that submerges you into a time and place and plunges you inside of a character’s head, with an edge of creepiness and intrigue, this is your book.

Book Description

All eleven-year-old Tanya Randall wants is a happy family. But Mum does nothing besides housework, Dad’s always down the pub and Nanna Purvis moans at everyone except her dog. Then Shelley arrives –– the miracle baby who fuses the Randall family in love for their little gumnut blossom.

Tanya’s life gets even better when she meets an uncle she didn’t know she had. He tells her she’s beautiful and could be a model. Her family refuses to talk about him. But that’s okay, it’s their little secret.

Then one blistering summer day tragedy strikes, and the surrounding mystery and suspicion tear apart this fragile family web. 

Embracing the social changes of 1970s Australia, against a backdrop of native fauna and flora, The Silent Kookaburra is a haunting exploration of the blessings, curses and tyranny of memory. 

Unsettling psychological suspense blending the intensity of Wally Lamb with the atmosphere of Peter James, this story will get under your skin.

About the author

An image posted by the author.

Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years.
When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her husband and three children for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist.
Several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004 and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine and France Today.

Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in the historical “The Bone Angel” series set against a backdrop of rural France during the French Revolution. The second in the series, Wolfsangel, set during the WWII German Occupation of France, was published in October, 2013. The third in the series, Blood Rose Angel, set during the 14th century Black Plague years was published in November, 2015.

The Silent Kookaburra, a dark psychological suspense novel set in 1970s Australia, was published in November, 2016.

Friends, Family and Other Strangers From Downunder is a collection of 14 humorous, horrific and entertaining short stories set in Australia, for readers everywhere.

Liza is a co-founder and member of Triskele Books, an independent writers’ collective with a commitment to quality and a strong sense of place, and also reviews books for Bookmuse.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT IREX by @CarlRackman Maritime #HistFic #wwwblogs

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs at http://betweenthelinesbookblog.com

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Irex by Carl Rackman

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First of all, I have to say it’s hard to believe this is a debut novel. It’s so good and the quality of the writing is excellent throughout. The story is based in history, the ship, a couple of the main crew members, reason for the wreck and the attempts at rescue, are all fact. Carl Rackman has woven an incredibly imaginative and compelling tale around that tragic event.

Frederick Blake, the County Coroner for Hampshire, arrives in Newport on the Isle of White in February, 1890 to conduct an inquest into the cause of the sinking of the sailing vessel, Irex and, in turn, the fate of the crew and passengers. In Court Room No.1 Blake is welcomed by Mr Peabody, senior magistrate, and Henry Rudd. They are forestalled in their efforts by government interference, the justification for which Blake and Peabody could not fathom, and which left them confused and frustrated. It soon became clear all was not as it had seemed aboard the Irex, and Blake’s inquest becomes more of an investigation. Time is not on their side and it soon becomes apparent someone doesn’t want the truth told.

The Irex’s first attempt at setting sail was defeated by shifting cargo de-stabilising the ship and so forcing the Captain, Will Hutton, to put back into port. And there they stayed to watch for a break in the weather in order to once again attempt to set sail. When the chance finally arrived, the Irex began her ill-fated proposed journey to Rio de Janeiro with, unusually for a cargo ship, three passengers; Major George Barstow, his wife, Elizabeth, Salvation Army missionaries, and Eddy Clarence, unlikable from the first.

The events on board the Irex unfold alongside the ever more complicated and undermined investigation, through alternate chapters. The mood in both parts of the narrative, but especially so aboard the storm-tossed ship, is convincing and portrayed extremely well. Undercurrents of unease and ill feeling steadily intensify the suspense and tension. I enjoyed the writing and the distinctive characterisations. Will Hutton is a sympathetic character, and who could have guessed the terrible secret of one of the passengers. I liked the investigators more and more as the story progressed, particularly the irrepressible news reporter.

Judging by the wonderfully descriptive writing the research must have been very comprehensive. With vivid imagery throughout the narrative it’s easy to picture the terrifying and traumatic journey on the high seas. I can hardly imagine masts of 200 feet in height, much less think about climbing them. A very intriguing and harrowing story, filled with action, adventure, mystery and murder. I look forward to the next novel by Carl Rackman.

Book Description

In the harsh winter of December 1889, the sailing vessel Irex leaves Scotland bound for Rio de Janeiro. She carries three thousand tons of pig iron and just three passengers for what should be a routine voyage. But Captain Will Hutton discovers that one of his passengers hides a horrifying secret. 

When the Irex is wrecked off the Isle of Wight six weeks later, it falls to the county coroner, Frederick Blake, to begin to unravel the events that overtook the doomed ship — but he soon finds that powerful forces within the British Establishment are working to thwart him. Locked in a race against time and the sinister agents sent to impede him, he gradually discovers that nothing aboard the Irex is what it first seemed… 

Irex is an atmospheric mystery, set in a rich Victorian world, packed with intrigue, twists and colourful characters — the spellbinding first novel by Carl Rackman.

About the author

Carl Rackman

Carl Rackman is a British former airline pilot turned author. From a naval military background, he has held a lifelong interest in military history and seafaring. His life spent travelling the world has given him a keen interest in other cultures, and he has drawn on his many experiences for his writing.

Carl’s writing style can best be described as the “literary thriller”, with a flair for evocative descriptions of locales and characters. Complex, absorbing storylines combine with rich, believable characters to create immersive worlds for the reader to explore.

Carl is married with two daughters and lives in Surrey, United Kingdom. Irex is his first novel, published under his own company, Rackman Books.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT EXPOSURE by @RoseEdmunds Finance #Thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Exposure by Rose Edmunds

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The return of Crazy Amy in this nail-biting story, opens with drama and amusement. You have no need to have read Rose Edmunds’ previous book, Concealment as you will soon know a great deal about Amy and her devilish alter ego, Little Amy, within the first few pages. But Amy is a highly intelligent, talented lady who has discovered a conscience and after the loss of her well-paid, city career in London, she needs a project.

Returning to her life is old-flame Toby Marchpole, an investigative financial journalist. While prying into possible fraud at IPT plc, a distributer and retailer of plumbing components, he is shocked to see the firm’s finance director, Venner collapse in front of him, spluttering, “Tell Amy….” He soon discovers that Venner was a former colleague of Amy Robinson and realises that it’s time to renew their friendship.

I know nothing of city finance, but then I also know nothing about spies or murder, so what is important is that the thrilling events keep me reading and the complexities of the fraudulent actions are clearly explained. This is a story which is a worthwhile read for two reasons; Amy’s adventures keep you on a knife edge and at the same time you warm to her flawed personality, longing for her to find happiness.

Adopting a new identity, Amy is unsure whether to trust Toby and she is sometimes unwise in those she does choose as trustworthy. Once again, she encounters DCI Carmody, with whom she had hoped for a relationship, but he is chilly and judgemental, knowing her failings and trying to deny his own feelings.

This book stands alone as an enjoyable, exciting page-turner but I would also recommend Concealment either before or after reading Exposure, and you never know, Amy may return for another adventure after the exciting final twist in this story.
I reviewed this book as a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

Book Description

City high-flyer Amy has crashed and burned. Fresh out of rehab and with her career in tatters, the sudden death of an old friend propels her into an illicit undercover fraud investigation.

But Amy’s in way over her head. The assignment quickly turns sour, pitching her into a nightmare where no one can be trusted and nothing is what it seems.

In mortal danger, and with enemies old and new conspiring against her, Amy’s resilience is tested to the limit as she strives to defeat them and rebuild her life.

About the author

Rose Edmunds

Rose Edmunds lives in Brighton with her husband David. She gained a degree in mathematics at the University of Sussex and a PhD from Cardiff University, before qualifying as a chartered accountant and embarking on a successful career advising entrepreneurial businesses together with their owners. In 2007, after more than 20 years working for leading accountancy firms, she jumped off the corporate hamster wheel and now writes financial thrillers with a strong ethical theme. Her writing draws heavily on her considerable insight into the business world and in particular the uncomfortable conflict between individual and corporate objectives. Rose is also a trustee of Brightside, a charity helping young people to access career and education opportunities they might not have believed were available to them. 

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT BLIND SIDE by @Jennie_Ensor #London setting #Thriller

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Blind Side by Jennie Ensore

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BLIND SIDE by Jennie Ensor

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team

This is the debut novel from Jennie Ensor, and it’s one of which she should be proud. Set in mid-noughties London, it’s a fairly standard spurned-lover-as-stalker plot, but with a lot more to it.  Middle class marketing exec Georgie only ever wanted to be friends with Julian, but when she starts a relationship with Russian immigrant Nikolai, she discovers that she never really knew Julian at all.  Alongside this storyline is the dark shadow of terrorism relating to the London bombings of the time – and Georgie’s growing fears that Nikolai might be involved.

I admit to being slightly underwhelmed by the beginning; both dialogue and narrative are rather bland, with opportunities for more ‘colour’ missed, and, when Georgie succumbs to sex with Julian after a drunken evening, I never got the impression that she was drunk; I actually forgot she was meant to be.  Happily, the pace and intrigue stepped up very quickly, and I began to really enjoy it.  I thought Julian was revolting from the outset, and I didn’t begin to warm to Georgie until later on; Nikolai, on the other hand, was lovely.  The characterisation was very good all the way through. I cared what happened to the two main characters, which is all important.  

The novel is extremely well structured, planned and edited.  I particularly liked that the backstory about both Georgie and Nikolai appeared in dribs and drabs, all the way through, which kept my interest.  There aren’t many surprises, but certainly enough suspense to call this book a thriller, albeit quite a low-key one.  But it’s a love story, more than anything, I think.  It’s intelligently written, with much background about the war in Chechnya and Nikolai’s experiences, which were shockingly fascinating and made the book so much more than just a stalker story.

I was glad that Georgie was not portrayed as a victim, though I found it unrealistic that she didn’t guess, immediately, that Julian was behind threats to Nikolai, too (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s fairly obvious!).  The only other bit that niggled me was minor – Georgie displays a shock-horror attitude when her lover suggests they go camping together, and is, apparently, ignorant of all such practices.  Yet she’s supposed to be a keen, fairly long distance hiker… 

The ending was pleasing, though the odd surprise or revelation wouldn’t have gone amiss; the last few chapters were little more than a wrapping up.  I’d say that Ms Ensor is a talented writer, for sure, and I enjoyed this book.  I felt that it could have done with a little bit more spark, but it’s very well written, and a fine debut.

Book Description

Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable? 
London, five months before 7/7. Georgie, a young woman wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, gives in and agrees to sleep with close friend Julian. She’s shocked when Julian reveals he’s loved her for a long time. 
But Georgie can’t resist her attraction to Nikolai, a Russian former soldier she meets in a pub. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her. 
Then London is attacked… 
Blind Side explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and obsession. An explosive, debate-provoking thriller that confronts urgent issues of our times and contemplates some of our deepest fears. 

About the author

Jennie Ensor

Jennie Ensor is a Londoner descended from a long line of Irish folk. She has worked as a freelance journalist, covering topics from forced marriages to the fate of Aboriginal Australians living on land contaminated by British nuclear testing. 
Ms E lives in London with her husband and their cuddle-loving, sofa-hogging terrier. When not chasing the dog or dreaming of setting off on an unfeasibly long journey with a Kindleful of books, she writes novels, short stories and poetry (published under another name). Her second novel, to be finished in 2017 with any luck, is a dark and unsettling psychological drama.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT WARNINGS UNHEEDED by Andy Brown @SSgtAndyBrown #SundayBlogShare

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Warnings Unheeded by Andy Brown

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My review:

Thanks to the author for providing me with a free copy of his book that I review as part of Rosie’s Books Review Team.

I am a psychiatrist and have worked in forensic psychiatry (looking after patients with a history of dangerous behaviour and, on occasions, criminal records) and therefore when I was approached by this writer about the book, my interest was twofold. Although I’m not currently working as a psychiatrist, I wanted to read the book to see what lessons there were to be learned, especially from the incident of mass shooting, as it was particularly relevant to the issues of mental health assessment and treatment. I was also interested, as a reader, a writer and a member of the public, in how the author would write about the incidents in a manner that would engage the readership. More than anything, I was interested in reading about his personal experience.

As a reader (not that I’m sure I can take my psychiatrist hat off that easily), the book intertwines both incidents, that coincided in the same setting, Fairchild Air Force Base, within a week period. We are given information about previous concerns about the flying acrobatics of Holland, whose antics had worried a number of people at the time, although in his case we don’t get to know much about the person (the information is more about those who reported concerns and the way those were ignored or minimised), and, in much more detail, about the past history and behaviours of Mellberg, that read as a catalogue of unheeded warnings and missed opportunities.

Concerns about Mellberg follow him from school, where he was a loner, suffered bullying, never made friends and showed some odd behaviour and continue when he joins the Air Force. He becomes paranoid, starts harassing his roommate and despite concerns and assessments, he is simply moved from one place to the next, and the mental health assessments are either intentionally ignored or missed. Later on, when somebody decides to take action, there is no evidence of follow-up or organised system to check what happens when somebody is discharged for mental health reasons (some changes ensue, thanks mostly to the efforts of Sue Brigham [the wife of Dr Brigham, one of Mellberg’s victims], after the fact) and readers can feel how the tension builds up to the point where it’s only a matter of time until a serious incident happens.

Brown, the author, shares his background and his career progression to that point, his interest in policing and security from a young age, and he happens to coincide in time and space with Mellberg, being the first to respond to the calls for assistance when Mellberg starts shooting, first the people he blames for his discharge from the air force, and later, anybody who crosses his path. Although we know what’s going to happen, and, in a way, Brown has always been preparing for something like this, the reality is no less shocking.

Brown’s description of events, what the victims did, and what he did is exemplary, and it shows his experience in crime scene investigation. We can clearly reconstruct what happened minute by minute (almost second by second). As the description is interspersed with witness statements and personal detail I didn’t find it excessive, although that might depend on what readers are used to (I know from personal experience of writing reports that accuracy and details are prime, but that’s not what readers of fiction are used to, for example). The book also includes photographs of the scenes of both incidents, diagrams of the sites, etc.

As I said above, although the reader gets the same sense of impending doom when reading about the dangerous and reckless flight manoeuvres Holland does, we don’t get to know much about Holland as a man, only about his experience flying. The issue of warnings not being acted upon is highlighted, but we don’t know if anything else might have been behind Holland’s behaviour, and we’re therefore less personally invested in the case. I must also confess to having little understanding of acrobatics and individual planes capabilities, so I found some of the details about that incident more difficult to follow and perhaps unnecessary for the general reader (the message is clear even if we don’t know exactly how the gs a fuselage can bear might be determined).

Brown’s own reaction to the shooting and his difficulties getting his PTSD acknowledged and treated form the latter part of the book, and they come to illustrate a side of these tragedies that is hardly ever commented upon or discussed in detail, as if sweeping things under a carpet and not talking about them would make them disappear. (As he notes, people don’t know how to react: they either joke about the incident or avoid talking about it completely). He honestly shares his struggle, how long it took him to understand what was happening to him, the less than helpful behaviours he engaged in, and his self-doubt and guilt feelings, not helped by the reluctance of the Air Force to share the information he requests. He had the added difficulty of being removed from service every time he tried to get help, something that he, understandingly, saw as a punishment. He eventually decided to leave active service to try and find peace of mind, but it was a lengthy and difficult process, that might vary from individual to individual. It is always helpful, though, to know that one is not alone and it is not just a matter of getting over it, and that’s why personal accounts are so important.

Brown offers conclusions and lessons on how to keep safe. Although I don’t necessarily agree with some of the comments (the right to bear arms and use them for self-defense is a very controversial subject and I currently live in a country where not even the police carry them regularly), I agree with the importance of being aware of the risks, with the need to be more sensitive to the mental health needs of the population, with the importance of providing follow-up and support to those who experience mental disorders and also the need to see human beings in a holistic way, rather than only treating their bodies and ignoring their minds.

This is an important book that should be read by people who work in law enforcement (either in the military or in a civil environment), provide security to organisations, and of course by psychologist and psychiatrists alike. It is not a book to read for entertainment, and it is definitely not a light read, but I would also recommend it to people who research the subject and/or are interested in real crime and PTSD. I wonder if a shorter version of the book, dealing specifically with the PTSD experience of the author might be useful to other survivors of trauma who might find the rest of the book too difficult to read.

From a professional point of view, I was struck by the similarities between the double-bind and the difficult situation psychologist and psychiatrists in the military find themselves in and that of forensic psychiatrists and psychologists in civil life (as we also have to look after patients and try to establish a therapeutic relationship with them, whilst at the same time having to report to the courts and Home Office or government the risk the patients might pose to specific individuals or to the population at large). It is a delicate balancing act because, ultimately, psychiatry (and psychology) is subjective, and as demonstrated in Mellberg’s case, not everybody will agree on diagnosis or risk assessments. But when the evidence mounts, there is no excuse. And, eventually, we need to listen to our own intuition and gut feeling at times.

Book Description

The true story of two separate mass-casualty incidents that occurred within days of each other at a US Air Force base. Using the words of the people who experienced the tragedies, the book provides in-depth look at the before, during and after of a preventable “active shooter” incident and an avoidable fatal plane crash.

In one tragic week at Fairchild Air Force Base, an “active shooter” terrorized the base hospital and a talented but reckless pilot crashed a B-52 bomber near the flight line. Both fatal tragedies had been repeatedly predicted by numerous airmen and mental health professionals. 
In “vivid and thoroughly researched detail” Warnings Unheeded delivers an unprecedented, in-depth look at the events that led to the twin tragedies. The book follows an “active shooter” as he progresses toward his crime and dispels the myth that these incidents are random acts of violence committed without warning by otherwise normal individuals. 
In a parallel account, Warnings Unheeded tells the story of a veteran pilot who was known for exceeding the maneuvering limits of his B-52 bomber. His reckless flying not only put the lives of his crew at risk, but also the lives of the air show spectators who gathered to watch him perform. When attempts to ground the pilot were unsuccessful, several aviators refused to fly with him and “predicted the worst air show disaster in history.” 

About the author

Andy Brown

Andy Brown is an Air Force law enforcement veteran from Port Orchard, Washington. After serving in Idaho, Greece, Washington, Hawaii and New Mexico, he returned to the Spokane, Washington area where he works for the Department of Homeland Security. He spent seven years researching and writing Warnings Unheeded. The book is part of his ongoing effort to share the lessons learned from the fatal tragedies at Fairchild Air Force Base, the heroic actions of others and his experience with the effects of trauma. 

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HIDDEN CHAPTERS by Mary Grand contemporary fiction set in #Gower #Wales @authormaryg

Hidden Chapters: A powerful novel exploring motherhood, adoption, and family secretsHidden Chapters: A powerful novel exploring motherhood, adoption, and family secrets by Mary Grand
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hidden Chapters is a contemporary story set on the Gower peninsula in Wales. The characters all plan to meet near Rhossili Bay to hold a memorial service for a young man who died on the Worm’s Head eighteen years ago.

They will celebrate the talented young man, who died so young. However, the gathering brings up old wounds for more than one character and secrets from the past are revealed.

Bethan is a skilled musician and her grandfather would like to help her make a rich life in America. Catrin hasn’t been back to the Gower for eighteen years, and she’s never understood her father’s hostility towards her. Elizabeth needs to lay her own ghosts to rest, and the memorial service offers her this opportunity.

I jumped at the chance to read this book because I’ve been to the Gower on several occasions visiting friends and attending weddings, so I was looking forward to a reminder of the area. I particularly enjoyed the parts about the location and its history. I thought that Catrin’s personal story moved well through a strong arc, ending in a most satisfactory way. However, the writing style was a challenge for me. I enjoy a book where dialogue is used to enhance the narrative and give the characters their own unique voices, but much of the plot in Hidden Chapters is related in large chunks of dialogue, which to me felt unnatural. There is much exposition: the characters explain points in order to get them across to the audience when, often, the characters would already have known the points she/he was making. I advise the author to make the most of the strengths of this nicely thought out story by finding a different way of putting information across, so that the reader is being told a story, rather than facts via conversation.

I liked many of the characters, particularly Bethan and how she overcame her challenges. Glamorous Elizabeth was well suited to her lifestyle too and I enjoyed how she evolved. I learnt much about deafness and sign language; however, in places it became repetitive, and at times more like a lecture than a story.

The whole storyline is about discovery of hidden truths and it makes for high emotions amongst the players. For me, the potential to take the reader on a rollercoaster wave was missed. I would have liked to see a wider range of emotions, perhaps going deeper with shock, fear, pain etc rather than using shouting and anger in most of the key moments.

The book has its good points and the Welsh setting will be a plus for some, but I’m afraid it missed the mark for me.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

Whoever said time heals all wounds is a liar 
Haunted by the death of Aled at Worm’s Head, his sister Catrin returns to prepare the family home for sale, accompanied by her adopted Deaf daughter, Bethan. A web of lies and secrets spun by Catrin’s father slowly starts to unravel. Catrin, facing a crisis in her marriage, discovers that she must face this past if she is to heal and take control of her future. 
Nobody expects to meet Bethan’s birth mother, Elizabeth, who they think is dead. Her arrival at a memorial for Aled sends shock waves through the family. 
This is the beautifully told story of a family struggling with ghosts from the past. 
Hidden Chapters is an optimistic novel about the hope and the courage each of us can find within ourselves to own our past and take control of the next chapter of our lives. 

About the author

Mary Grand

I grew up in Wales. Later I taught in London and then worked with Deaf Children in Hastings. I now live on the beautiful Isle of Wight with family and my cocker spaniel Pepper.

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