Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT OUTBACK PROMISE by @maggiebolitho #SundayBlogShare

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

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Terry chose to read Outback Promise by Maggie Bolitho

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Outback Promise by Maggie Bolitho

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team

I liked this book a lot. Maggie Bolitho has the sort of innate gift for the written word that makes my editing/critiquing hat fall off unnoticed, allowing me to just read and enjoy, which is, of course, the best way.

Outback Promise is about the marriage of Ros and Grady. Six years after their four year old son, Cadel, was killed in a tragic accident, their marriage has faltered, and they decide to go on a three month trip across the Australian Outback to ‘find each other’ again.   This story was not one that immediately appealed to me as a story about a family losing a child is possibly the last sort of book I’d want to read (I am childfree and like to read for escapism, mostly!), but the Outback aspect appealed a great deal, as it’s something I’d love to do.

I was pleasantly surprised. The first half of the book follows one of my favourite structures: alternating chapters between past and present, to show how the characters got to where they’re at now. I didn’t find the bits about Cadel’s death and Ros and Grady’s subsequent pain to be something I had to wade through at all, as I’d feared; Ms Bolitho’s writing is clear and spare, never wordy or contrived, and it was actually very moving.

The Outback trip starts approximately half way through and at first I feared that I was about to read pages and pages of emotional zig-zagging, but it picked up quickly, with two notable highlights: a ghastly couple called Nestor and Max who they met at one campsite (I loved them, a terrific piece of writing, they were drawn so perfectly I could actually see them!), and an encounter with a couple of poachers.

I very much enjoyed reading about the trip; I would have liked to read more description about the landscape and how they reacted to it, but that’s only personal preference; the book is about the marriage, after all. My favourite characters tended to be the secondary ones, but they all ‘worked’. I didn’t particularly warm to Grady, and only a little more to Ros, who I found a trifle self-absorbed, though this isn’t a criticism of the book; Ros is a woman with much ‘baggage’, and she began to understand herself better as the story came to a close. There was one incident near the end that really spoke to me. Grady had been out on a boat with friends, she’d stayed behind because she suffered from seasickness. Afterwards she was expecting him home and wanted to do the romantic dinner thing, but he stayed in the pub, having a rip-roaring time with his friends. He wanted her to join him, but she said no, because it didn’t fit in with her idealistic image of how their evening would be. I wanted to shout at her, “Go! He wants you to be there, think about what he wants and be spontaneous!” ~ because Grady didn’t want a ‘romantic’ meal, he just wanted her to join him.

I was completely absorbed in the story all the time I was reading this book, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a well-written, contemporary, relationship-based drama. I’ll certainly read more by this author.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT The Promise Of Provence by @patricia_sands

Today’s team review comes from Luccia, she blogs at http://lucciagray.wordpress.com

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Luccia has been reading The Promise of Provence by Patricia Sands

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The Promise of Provence is an innovative and unusual type of novel because the heroine is not an innocent or feisty young woman in search of a career or a companion. The main character is a middle-aged woman, in her late fifties, who finds that the life she was living and had planned to continue leading disintegrates unexpectedly before her eyes. As a result, she is forced reinvent herself and redesign her future.

The first part of The Promise of Provence carries us through the traumatic events, which will shatter Katherine’s life. As all life-changing experiences, the difficult moment must first be overcome in order to move on to the following stage. The rest of the novel deals with how she recovers from the loss and renews her faith in herself.

I enjoyed the interior monologue of a mature woman, facing life choices, normally associated with younger women, such as coping with men’s sexual advances, finding a place to live, and meeting new friends. Katherine has the intelligence and experience to realize what she wants, and the courage to leave her comfort zone and attempt to get over the sadness she feels and recover her self-esteem.

She does something she has always dreamed of doing; she visits Europe. When she takes part in a home exchange holiday in the South of France, it will change her life forever, because she finds new incentives in life. Katherine’s journey is spiritual and emotional as well as geographical.

‘I thought I was coming on this exchange to run away from something, but now I feel I was really running toward something – a new me.’

I enjoyed her travels in Europe. She carried me away with her curiosity and sense of adventure, showing me the scenery, the delicious food, and museums, chateaux, and historic sights of France, Monaco, Budapest, and Italy.

Throughout her travels, she meets some wonderful people, but she also has some unfortunate experiences. There is romance, and there are some nasty characters, too. The romance, which eventually evolves, is not a whirlwind, and it is not the central issue in the novel, but it is solid, because it has potential to develop. Presumably it will be one of the main storylines in book two, Promises to Keep (Love in Provence Book 2).

It is a well-written and moving story, which transmits hope and optimism. A person’s happiness is in his/her own hands. As Francois tells Katherine:

‘Life is full of choices. Don’t be afraid to make them when you know they are right for you. You are much younger than I and have so much to live. Live it well.’

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT THE SICKNESS by @dylanjmorgan #Horror #wwwblogs

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

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Terry chose to read and review The Sickness by Dylan Morgan

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The Sickness by Dylan Morgan

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team

 

First of all I have to say what a terrific cover this book has!

James Harris is a divorced, part time dad, living on a run down London estate. He has a warm, close relationship with his wayward, punky daughter, Ruth – which goes a long way to make up for the horror of his childhood and the breakdown of his marriage. But something’s happening in the isolated village of Nash, where he grew up, and a phone call from his sister moves him to return….

Dylan Morgan is so adept at writing the underlying sinister atmosphere of the one horse town or small, ‘Straw Dogs’ type village – he did the American version in his excellent ‘Flesh’, which I read earlier this year. Travelling through Nash, I felt the silence, the claustrophobia, the despair, from the depressing mood of the sparsely populated pub, to the darkness of his former family home; there almost seems to be a sepia tone over the whole book

This book is subtly rather than in-your-face creepy, at least at first, and the story unfolds at a steady pace, the supernatural element and details about James’s dreadful childhood being released gradually, building up to an explosive end; this is a writer who totally ‘gets’ suspense. The characters are so well drawn, even the minor ones, particularly Ruth’s creepy stepfather. I loved Ruth, she’s a great kid, tough and ballsy but with a sometimes most mature outlook, and James is very likable, too.

Definitely recommended for all lovers of supernatural horror.

Find a copy here form Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT LETTING GO by @kimberlywenzler

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

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Terry chose to read and review Letting Go by Kimberly Wenzler

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Letting Go by Kimberly Wenzler

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber’s Review Team

 

I was confused as to how to review this book as it’s difficult not to give the whole theme of the story away, so I’m going to tiptoe through it.  Suffice to say that there’s a great surprise very early on that made me think, “oh, clever!”, and I imagine it will have the same effect on you!

Set in Long Island, New York, Letting Go shows wife and mother Lucy observing how the shocking event of 2007 (I’m not telling you!) affects husband Max, son Sam, best friend Hope, and even the troubled babysitter, Benjamin, whose story runs concurrently.  It’s a great idea, and Kimberly Wenzler has made a good job of it.

The novel is very well presented and nicely written, the characterisation very good, particularly Max, I thought.  He’s a writer whose creativity is facing a brick wall; his emotions zigzag through many highs and lows.  I thought he was so realistically written.

The people in this story live a conventional, middle class life, with conventional attitudes, a little too much so for me; Lucy describes her ‘picket fence’ existence.  She’s quite a ‘girly’ sort of woman (who went down in my estimation when she described the brilliant ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy as ‘incredibly dreary’!), but you couldn’t not like her.

The only problem I had with this novel was that it was a bit short on plot; not much happens.  It’s emotionally driven, an exploration of family relationships, to a large extent.  That’s not to say there isn’t a proper plot, there is, and it has several strands, but domestic detail, incidental conversation and Lucy’s observations/impressions form a large part of it; elements of conflict are touched on only lightly, and I kept thinking there was going to be something to get my teeth into only to find that the drama I hoped for didn’t happen.  However, it’s well put together and is a book you can put down and pick up again without having to remember the kind of intricate detail that has me searching back over previous pages.  There was one relationship I saw brewing very early on (and I was glad I was right, I wanted it to happen!), and a mystery is solved at the end in an unpredictable and very convincing way.

One very positive aspect of this story is that the subject could have been oozing with schmaltz, but it’s not.  I don’t do tearjerkers at all, and wondered if this might become overly so, but it didn’t, it’s the sort of book that makes you feel a little bit sad and smile a little bit, but doesn’t slap it on with a trowel.  

I think this will be greatly enjoyed by people who like a slow-paced, emotionally orientated study of family relationships, with plenty to ponder over.  It’s certainly an original idea, and is very well executed.  

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

Reviews from the October Readathon – 3 books chosen by @ShelleyWilson72

Readathon

Shelley Wilson took part in the October Readathon, here are her chosen books. Find out more about Shelley on her blog http://shelleywilsonauthor.com/

October Reviews – Rosie Amber

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine.

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5 out of 5 stars

Blurb:

Welcome to Morganville.  Just don’t stay out after dark.

Morganville is a small town filled with unusual characters – when the sun goes down, the bad come out.  In Morganville, there is an evil that lurks in the darkest shadows – one that will spill out into the bright light of day.

For Claire Danvers, high school was hell, but college may be murder.  It was bad enough that she got on the wrong side of Monica, the meanest of the school’s mean girls, but now she’s got three new roommates, who all have secrets of their own.  And the biggest secret of all isn’t really a secret, except from Claire: Morganville is run by vampires, and they are hungry for fresh blood…

My Review:

After reading Rachel Caine’s latest novel, Ink and Bone, I was advised by my favourite book blogger, Rosie Amber, to take a look at the Morganville Vampire series.  How had I missed this series?  As an enthusiastic vampire fan, I was like a kid in a sweet shop on Rachel’s Amazon page.  Starting at the beginning of this fifteen book series, I devoured book one, Glass Houses, in one day.

Morganville is a small college town where sixteen (almost seventeen) year old Claire is trying to settle in to dorm life.  Unfortunately, Claire manages to upset the evilest girl on campus and becomes a target of harassment that could cost her her life.  She moves out of the dorm and is thrust into the dark side of Morganville, with its secrets – the town is run by vampires.  Finding a ‘Gone with the Wind meets The Munsters’ mansion, with a room to rent, turns out to be a lifesaver – in more ways than one. We meet Eve, Shane and Michael, who are Claire’s eighteen year old roomies. They know the town’s secrets, and they know how to handle the vampires, but they also have a few secrets of their own.

I do enjoy a good vampire novel, but many of the books I’ve read show the ‘good’ side of vamps (Twilight and Vampire Diaries anyone?).  The dark and dangerous aura of Caine’s vampires put the bite back into this mystical race.   The town and its politics are well crafted, and the characters are immensely likeable (or disagreeable if you’re a bad guy).  Claire accepts the bombshell of a vampire town a bit too well, but it certainly doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of this tale. I’ve already bought book two, The Dead Girls’ Dance.  This series is an easy read for the winter months, and I’m grateful I found them.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward

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4 out of 5 stars

Blurb:

When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops.

A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

Enter Samantha Kemi – an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam’s family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they’ve fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company?

Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime? And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news. No big deal, then.

My Review:

A fantasy tale set in modern times, The Potion Diaries is a fun read about princesses, magic potions and dangerous adventures.  I feel that it’s aimed at the lower age range of young adult, and I know my thirteen year old daughter was impressed with Zoe Sugg’s (aka Zoella) seal of approval.

I read this in one sitting as it was incredibly captivating, and a lot of fun.  There are plenty of epic adventures that test the main character, Sam Kemi, but they are carefully interwoven with typical teen life – she constantly checks her social media for updates on her competitors’ progress. The big bad is a love potion gone ary. However, we also meet Emilie, the princess’s aunt who has been exiled from the Kingdom.  I had high hopes that this character was going to be more magical – a bit like Maleficient, but as the hunt for the cure progresses, she turns into more of an evil Lara Croft.

The Potion Diaries does have the obligatory teen romance and the will-she-won’t-she tug on the heart strings.  All in all, this was a fun, enjoyable read, with a cast of characters you can bond with.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

The Faerie Guardian (Creepy Hollow Book 1) by Rachel Morgan

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4 out of 5 stars

Blurb:

Enter a hidden world of magic, mystery, action and romance …

Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale has one job: protect humans from dangerous magical creatures. It’s a job she’s good at—until her latest assignment, a cute human guy who can somehow see through her faerie glamour, follows her into the fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild law and risked her future as the top graduate of her class.

The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the guy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he’s discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? Not when you factor in evil faeries, long-lost family members, and inconvenient feelings of the romantic kind. Vi is about to find herself tangled up in a dangerous plot—and it’ll take all her training to get out alive.

My Review:

Vi is a refreshing heroine.  She is a Guardian in training, with a chance of hitting the number one spot on her course, that is until she breaks two rules.  Rule number one – never be seen by a human, and rule number two – never let a human into the fae world. When Vi is sent on assignment, to save a human from a repticilla (I love the creativity of the creatures), she doesn’t expect the handsome Nate to be able to see through her glamour.  She also doesn’t expect him to follow her through to the fae realm.

As the story progresses, we learn that Nate has a history that overlaps with the world of the fae, leading them into danger.  I struggled to picture Nate in my head, although I liked his dialogue, I could connect with Vi straight away, and I loved her feisty nature.  They have a comedic rapour with one another at times.

Morgan’s descriptive style of writing carries the pace along nicely.  There are vivid details throughout, fast action scenes and humourous dialogue. This is the first book in the Creepy Hollow series, and I look forward to reading the others.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT An Unlamented Death by William Savage @penandpension

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

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Liz chose to read and review An Unlamented Death by William Savage

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An Unlamented Death by William Savage

Entering into An Unlamented Death is like stepping into an 18th century drawing room. The environment is civilised and calm and its hero Adam Bascom uses his intelligence and deductive powers to solve the mystery of, “An Inconvenient Corpse.” A young, country doctor, Adam is establishing himself as a respectable and trustworthy member of the community in Aylsham, Norfolk. As he travels the county visiting patients and family, he soon makes some good friends.

But one day, he is shocked to discover the body of a clergyman lying in a churchyard in suspicious circumstances. Strangely, at the inquest, the authorities seem anxious to stress that it was a case of accidental death. Adam cannot understand why the victim, Dr. Nathaniel Ross, Archdeacon of Norwich, was so far from home. Rumours circulate of smugglers in the area and Adam is warned not to pursue his enquiries.

The delight of this book is the characterisation. Sober Adam is contrasted with his erstwhile friend, apothecary Peter Lassimer, a womaniser and gossip. When Adam visits his sociable mother, she introduces him to her elegant, blue-stocking companion, Sophia LaSalle. Meanwhile on his travels, Adam has struck up a friendship with Captain George Mimms, a retired seafarer who keeps his ear to the ground and aids Adam with his investigation.

Though slow in pace, the novel is lightened by the author’s sense of humour. When Adam is called to his mother’s parlour to meet her female friends he feels like, “one of the early Christian martyrs being summoned to face the lions in the arena.” The historical details of the story are impeccable and we learn much of the concerns in coastal areas about the French, following the Revolution and leading up to the Napoleonic war. At times the social history can be too lengthy such as the theatrical interlude in the Feathers Inn Yard, when I was anxious to discover the next event.

It is possible that some readers might find the authentic eighteenth century style of reading difficult to attune too, but I found it a pleasure. I could imagine myself walking in the country towns of Norfolk alongside the inquisitive doctor. Adam Bascom is a likeable detective, even if you sometimes feel you want to shake him, and I look forward to reading about his next adventure in The Fabric of Murder.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Grumpies On Board by @carolewyer @BrookCottageBks

Today’s team review is from Amanda, she blogs at https://ajbookreviewclub.wordpress.com/

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Amanda has been reading Grumpies On Board by Carol E Wyer in conjunction with Brook Cottage Books

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What I say
This is the first book I had the pleasure of reading by Carol wow I never laugh so much it just so funny I loved all the tongue in check humour
The book just packed with humour I enjoyed all the jokes they will make you laugh so much
I loved Mr Grumpy his recommendations were so great Carol got a fabulous way with her words that just make you smile as you read you will love all his tips and advice I bet your want to try a few for your self i did
I got to say this book been very well researched and it very well written I could picture it all in my mind
I do feel we all should try to live are life’s to the full we should just go out and do things
I can not praise enough a very entertaining read with brilliant humour and a lovely couple
I liked the bright cover of the book but I sorry to say I do not feel it does this fabulous read justice
Please enjoy reading
4 stars

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

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Book reviews in November FleetLife @FleetLife #Bookreviews

November has some of my book reviews featured in Fleet Life

For the online edition go to http://www.fleetlife.org.uk, load the online directory and find my reviews on page 36.

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This month the following books are featured

When the Crows Fly Low by V.J Patterson

Runes by Ednah Walters

Fetch Nurse Connie by Jean Fullerton

A Boy Named Rabbit by Marcia Meara

and The Dead Detective by J.R Rain

Touched To The Soul by Elsa Winckler @elsawinckler #Romance @etopiapress

Touched to the SoulTouched to the Soul by Elsa Winckler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Touched To The Soul is book #2 in a romance series around strong women from the Sutherland Family and powerful handsome men from the Cavallo family. The books are primarily set in South Africa and are quick easy read romances with popular storylines and happy ever after endings.

The story takes off at the wedding of Caitlin Sutherland and Don Cavallo, and is the tale of Zoe and Dale. Zoe is a successful interior designer and Dale is a hotel owner. There is already an underlying interest between the couple but when they share a kiss at the wedding reception, sparks start flying. Sensible headed Zoe, needs to put some distance between herself and this man that she can’t stop thinking about. She’s already refused to be his new interior designer and she hot foots it off to London for several months.

But time and distance do nothing to dampen the flames of desire they both feel. When she returns to South Africa, she finds Dale has already signed her company contract and she is forced to work closely with him. The next few working days are a dance around their emotions until they finally get together, but it’s not going to be an easy ride.

A sweet romance with a dose of heat for readers and a satisfying ending.

This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by the author.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT The New Mrs D by @Hell4Heather #Bookreview

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

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Terry chose to read and review The New Mrs D by Heather Hill.

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The New Mrs D by Heather Hill

3.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team

Summer holiday mature chick lit… Bernice is on her honeymoon in Greece. It’s her second marriage, and she has two grown up daughters. The problem is that her husband, David, loves her but doesn’t fancy her – several days into the holiday they still haven’t had sex – he’s been getting his kicks from porn websites. Oh, and he had a picture of four of her bikini clad friends in his wallet. Not Bernice, just her friends…

Bernice decides she can’t take it any more, and will spend the rest of the holiday alone. She meets up with David’s friend Chris, an artist who lives nearby, and makes several new friends.

This is a smart, well written, lighthearted-with-serious-undertones sort of book, and I enjoyed the Greek holiday atmosphere. I thought the whole subject of Bernice’s dilemma was most interesting; her relationship with her mother that led to the low self-esteem, that led to her making a first unwise marriage, then becoming a Facebook ‘friend’ of the woman for whom Husband #1 left her, and, finally, marrying a man who didn’t want to sleep with her. I think many women would be able to relate to Bernice’s tendency to ‘people please’, which in itself had a detrimental effect on her self-esteem, but I wondered if the story might have been better suited to a slightly edgy, contemporary drama, rather than chick lit mode, with all its zany incidents – I do sometimes wonder if anyone’s ever written a chick lit heroine who isn’t ludicrously accident prone!

I was pleased that the ending wasn’t predictable (I liked it alot, it made me smile!), and I thought the message of the book, about learning to love and accept yourself, was sincerely and sympathetically executed. The whole thing was a bit too ‘whoo-hoo, you go girl, let’s all be sassy real women’ for me (and a bit too naked), but that’s only personal taste; Bernice and her new friends were appealing characters and I think this book will appeal to many women. I can imagine it being an inspiration to others caught in the low self-esteem trap; haven’t most of us been there at some point?

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com