Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT @CathyRy reviews #HistFic Wolfsangel by @LizaPerrat

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Wolfsangel by Liza Perrat

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We first meet Céleste Roussel as an elderly lady attending a memorial ceremony with the remaining survivors of their village, along with their families. The atrocities and personal losses of WWII still weigh heavily and as Céleste reads the engraved names she is assaulted by memories, the decisions she made, actions she took, the feelings of guilt and sorrow which never truly leave her. Her granddaughter now wears the bone angel talisman passed down through the women of her family for generations.

This second book in The Bone Angel trilogy tells of Celeste’s life in Occupied France. The story, narrated by the young Céleste, gives a personal account of her experiences, as Lucie-sur-Vionne suffers under the rule of German forces. Her father had been taken to work for the Reich, her mother’s income was supplemented by her herbal remedies and her role as ‘angel maker’. Céleste and her mother have a difficult relationship, both are harbouring dangerous and traumatic secrets.

Céleste’s brother, Patrick, is a Resistance fighter with their friend, Olivier, and her sister, a nun, hides Jewish fugitives at the convent. Headstrong and sometimes reckless, Céleste wants nothing more than to fight for France and after proving herself a worthy candidate, she travels to Lyons to join the Resistance. Her courage is tested to its limits with tension filled exploits driven by anger and revenge. All leave their mark but through it all she grows and develops.

Based on historical fact, this powerful and skilfully written tale depicts the dangers, hardships and turbulence experienced by those who lived through the Occupation. Atmospheric and vividly descriptive, we see what an intense and far reaching effect it has on those subjected to unimaginable callousness and fear. The last horrific atrocity carried out by the Germans as the war comes to a close is the most horrendous and leaves Céleste with the literal and figurative scars that will haunt her throughout her life. A moving and tragic end to the story, made especially so by the author’s note at the end of the book.

Book Description

Seven decades after German troops march into her village, Céleste Roussel is still unable to assuage her guilt.
1943. German soldiers occupy provincial Lucie-sur-Vionne, and as the villagers pursue treacherous schemes to deceive and swindle the enemy, Céleste embarks on her own perilous mission as her passion for a Reich officer flourishes.
When her loved ones are deported to concentration camps, Céleste is drawn into the vortex of this monumental conflict, and the adventure and danger of French Resistance collaboration.
As she confronts the harrowing truths of the Second World War’s darkest years, Céleste is forced to choose: pursue her love for the German officer, or answer General de Gaulle’s call to fight for France.
Her fate suspended on the fraying thread of her will, Celeste gains strength from the angel talisman bequeathed to her through her lineage of healer kinswomen. But the decision she makes will shadow the remainder of her days.
A woman’s unforgettable journey to help liberate Occupied France, Wolfsangel is a stirring portrayal of the courage and resilience of the human mind, body and spirit.

About the author

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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 family for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist.
Since completing a creative writing course ten years ago, 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, France Today and The Good Life France.

Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in the French 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 Nazi Occupation of France, was published in October, 2013. The third, Blood Rose Angel, set during the 14th century Black Plague years was published in November, 2015.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT @CathyRy reviews #Thriller Ryan Kaine by @KerryJDonovan

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Ryan Kaine: On The Run by Kerry J Donovan

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Former Royal Marine Captain Ryan Kaine, six miles out to sea in a fishing boat, believes he’s shot down the unmanned drone as per his contract to destroy it, but then he realises the weapon he’d used seems to be on a countdown. With no time to process what was happening he heaved the weapon overboard. As explosions rocked the boat violently he knew his only choice was to swim for his life, before the boat sank and he was caught in the undertow.

Rage at the knowledge he’d been set up, but for what he doesn’t yet know, fuels Ryan’s desperate fight with the ocean and helps him make the shore. Determined to find out what’s going on, he hasn’t travelled very far when he hears a report on the radio that leaves him devastated and wracked with guilt. Now he’s topping the most wanted list – by the police as well as those he trusted, who quite obviously want him dead.

This is a thrilling, action-packed ride from the start. The pace is perfectly managed so the reader is never overwhelmed but always engaged, and the third person narrative, from various perspectives, serves to create a great deal of depth to the characters. Ryan Kaine is an engaging protagonist with a high moral code, driven by guilt and determination to get to the bottom of who and why, and ensure they don’t escape blame and punishment. I enjoyed the cameo appearances of two of my favourites from previous books and the strong female characters Ryan unwittingly finds himself dependent upon. Laura, a vet, becomes involved when she treats Ryan’s wounds and is forced to flee with him. Sabrina is playing a dangerous double game, and such are the intricacies of the plot, I wasn’t sure until towards the end whether or not she could be trusted.

As always, the details in Kerry Donovan’s books, whether it’s the weaponry and military aspects, as in this case, or the police procedural, are all extremely well researched and totally believable. The dialogue is snappy and realistic, particularly between Ryan and his contemporaries, characters have depth and credibility and the storyline is well plotted. A suspenseful and gripping tale from an accomplished writer and storyteller.

Book Description

A passenger plane explodes. Eighty-three people die. One man is responsible.
When a routine operation ends in tragedy, decorated ex-Royal Marine, Ryan Kaine, becomes the target of a nationwide manhunt. The police want him on terrorism charges. A sinister organisation wants him dead.
Kaine is forced to rely on two women he hardly knows: one, a country vet who treats his wounds, the other an IT expert with a secret of her own.
Battling overwhelming guilt, life-threatening injuries, and his own moral code, Kaine hunts the people who turned him into a mass-murderer.
Can Kaine’s combat skills, instincts, and new-found allies lead him to the truth and redemption?
Ryan Kaine: On the Run—a powerful, action-packed novel set against the backdrop of the international arms trade.

About the author

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Kerry J Donovan was born in Dublin. He spent most of his life in the UK, and now lives in the heart of rural Brittany with his wonderful and patient wife, Jan. They have three children and four grandchildren (so far), all of whom live in England. An absentee granddad, Kerry is hugely thankful for the advent of video calling.

The cottage is a pet free zone (apart from the field mice, moles, and red squirrels).

Kerry earned a first class honours degree in Human Biology, and has a PhD in Sport and Exercise Sciences. A former scientific advisor to The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, he helped UK emergency first-responders prepare for chemical attacks in the wake of 9/11. This background adds a scientific edge to his writing. He is also a former furniture designer/maker.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT @CathyRy reviews #Thriller Made Safe by @writingsparks

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Made Safe by Francis Sparks

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When Private Investigator Moses Winter was hired by Sharon Dunsmore to find out if her husband was having an affair, he got way more than he bargained for. What had seemed like a straightforward infidelity case turns into something much darker when Sharon and Moses confront Fred Dunsmore and his girlfriend, Šejla, a Bosnian refugee. Sharon has a gun, which happened to belong to Moses, Šejla has a knife and Fred ends up in hospital fighting for his life, while Moses winds up in jail. When Fred goes missing the case takes on a whole new slant.

DCI Raif Rakić is the officer in charge of the investigation, which becomes personal when he’s confronted with the knowledge Fred’s mistress is his cousin. He’s not above manipulating the evidence to protect Šejla from the law, while continuing to do his utmost to solve the case.

Moses is totally committed to his job, leading him to sometimes make unwise and dangerous decisions as he tries to unravel and follow information received. And as the case develops, Raif and Moses uncover something much more complicated and sinister than they anticipated. Raif thought he’d left all the bad stuff behind when he came to America but evil has tendrils everywhere. The characters, especially Raif and Moses, develop well as the story progresses and more is revealed. Moses is flawed, tenacious and sympathetic but I wasn’t sold on the romantic connection between him and Majka and didn’t think it added to the story.

Adding to the atmosphere, the book is set during a freezing winter in Des Moines, Iowa. Made Safe is a fast paced and gritty crime thriller, with several threads running through the narrative which tie up satisfactorily towards the end. Written in the third person from several viewpoints, with twists I didn’t see coming make this an enjoyable debut.

The subject matter makes compelling if horrifying reading. No matter how many times this topic comes up in storylines, it’s nevertheless appalling to realise it’s still relevant today.

Book Description

For Private Investigator, Moses Winter, the job just got more complicated. His adultery case has taken a violent turn landing the subject of his investigation, Fred Dunsmore, in the hospital and Moses in jail. Moses is held for questioning along with his erratic client, Sharon Dunsmore, and Fred’s mistress, a Bosnian refugee who just happens to be related to the DCI agent investigating the case, Raif Rakić.

After Rakić secures their release, Fred goes missing, and Moses Winter finds himself compelled to find him. With the assistance of Rakic, Moses unravels Fred’s ties to Des Moines’s underworld and is forced to confront the most heinous crimes of his career.

About the Author

Francis Sparks grew up on a farm in Iowa where he spent his days avoiding bulls and other livestock as he created castles in the pasture with odds and ends from the machine shed and his imagination.

In middle school, he fell in love with reading when he discovered TSR/Wizard of the Coast’s treasure trove of fantasy novels and he began to dream of one day becoming a writer. Working as a librarian’s assistant in college, he stumbled upon The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler and quickly devoured all of his novels and Francis’s love of the mystery/detective story was born.

In his early thirties, Francis began chasing his dream of becoming an author and began writing seriously. That dream came true when his debut novel Made Safe was signed by Pandamoon Publishing in late 2015. Francis Sparks currently lives in Des Moines, Iowa with his amazing wife, Kelly. If he’s not working on his next novel or short story, you can find him teaching his children about dragons.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Dark Clouds Over Nuala by @HarrietSteel1 #HistFic #Mystery

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Dark Clouds Over Nuala by Harriet Steel

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Inspector Shanti de Silva and his English wife, Jane, were attending Nuala’s very fashionable horse racing event, the Empire Cup, along with the assistant government agent, Archie Clutterbuck and his wife, Florence. William and Lady Caroline Petrie, were also in attendance with visiting family. The Wynne-Talbots, Ralph and Helen, were on their way from Australia, via Ceylon, to England to visit Ralph’s grandfather. Ralph is in line for the title of the 14th Earl of Axford and as his grandfather is not in the best of health, it seems he may inherit the title sooner rather than later.

At William Petrie’s request, Clutterbuck has organised a hunting party at Horton Plains, which included the Wynne-Talbots and several other people. When a death occurs at the most famous spot at Horton Plains, a precipice with a drop of thousands of feet, it’s generally assumed to be suicide. Shanti de Silva, with no head for heights, has to make a hair-raising trip up the mountain.

‘As the road snaked up through low, scrubby forest in a series of alarmingly tight hairpin bends, he averted his eyes from the sheer drop a few yards from the line of ambling ponies. Once, a monkey leapt from a nearby bush and, gibbering furiously, scampered across their path. De Silva’s pony shied and the reins slipped through his sweating palms. He quickly gathered them again and the animal settled but his heart beat faster for several minutes.’

Dark Clouds Over Nuala is set in the exotic and evocative era of genteel 1930s Ceylon and is the second book featuring the courteous and engaging Shanti de Silva, along with a cast of delightfully diverse and wonderfully developed characters. As with the first book in the series, Harriet Steel paints a vivid picture of the area, the food, culture, and societal undertones and attitudes of the time in the small community, giving the story a real sense of time and place.

Another very enjoyable, cosy mystery, faster paced than previously, and de Silva finds himself in rather more danger as well. Alongside the main plot are a couple of side stories involving Constable Nadar, a new father suffering from sleepless nights, and Sergeant Prasanna whose mother keeps trying to marry him off. The narrative is well written and plotted, and flows smoothly as the mystery unfolds. The relationship between Jane and Shanti is lovely and portrayed well with the differing cultures melding together.

Book Description

Set in Ceylon in the 1930s, this second book in the Inspector de Silva Mysteries offers another colourful, relaxing read as the arrival in the hill town of Nuala of the heir to an English earldom signals more trouble for the hapless Inspector de Silva and a new mystery to solve. Throw in a mega-rich Romanian count, his glamorous countess and an enigmatic British army officer and the scene is set for an entertaining mystery.

About the author

Harriet Steel

Harriet Steel is the author of several historical novels including Becoming Lola and Salvation. Her work has appeared in national newspapers and magazines. She is passionate about history and blogs about it at harrietsteel.blogspot.co.uk

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT @CathyRy reviews Voyager by @CarlRackman #SciFi #Thriller

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

#RBRT Review Team

 Cathy has been reading Voyager by Carl Rackman

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Since Bradley Barnes lost his wife in the 9/11 terror attacks he’s been part of a highly specialised FBI counter terrorism team. As the story opens the team are preparing to assist in a coordinated raid against a suspected source of domestic terrorism. The raid doesn’t go according to plan and there are several fatalities.

Meanwhile in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Dr Callie Woolf, Project Manager of the Voyager Interstellar Mission, and her team are becoming aware of issues on board Voyager 1, billions of miles away in deepest space. They are unsure whether security has been compromised or the irregularity is caused by something entirely different, but the images witnessed by the team as they download cause incredulity and disbelief. Whatever the origin, something untoward is going on and Callie is soon in fear for her life.

In London, airline pilot Matt Ramprakash, who is also a freelance agent for MI5, arrives at the airport for an impending flight to Newark, New Jersey. A regular, easy trip for Matt…until he receives a text. The instructions cause Matt more than moments of doubt and anxiety but he nevertheless he follows the directive from his handler.

Three seemingly unrelated incidents and groups of people destined to collide with deadly force and the atmosphere is tense. The author has created a vivid and compelling scenario.

Carl Rackman has done it again. His debut novel Irex is incredibly good and Voyager, although there couldn’t be more difference in content, is another winner and re-enforces the quality of the author’s writing. This is a fast paced and action packed story. The plot is complex and well thought through, with tension and suspense building as events unfold layer by layer. Well defined characters evolve throughout the narrative.

The story is told in the third person from differing perspectives, which works well, giving a rounded picture of the timeline and intensifying the pressure and intrigue. Add in murders, attempted murder, enhanced humans and plot twists and you have a cracking read. The premise is highly creative and convincing in today’s high tech and power-driven world and has obviously been very well researched, and includes fascinating insights into the workings of NASA and the national security agencies.

Book Description

Voyager One. A tiny probe hurtling through the void of outer space more than twelve billion miles from Earth, it is the remotest human object in existence. Callie Woolf, Voyager Project Manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is stunned when the probe unexpectedly downloads a series of increasingly disturbing images.

Within 24 hours, she is running for her life.

Brad Barnes, a conflicted FBI agent assigned to the case, soon uncovers a deadly plot that could change the balance of power on Earth and bring the United States to its knees. He must fight for survival in a race against time to defeat the conspirators, and confront a potentially explosive reality: that mankind may not be alone in the universe.

Voyager is an action-packed conspiracy thriller by Carl Rackman.

About the author

Carl Rackman

Hi! I’m Carl Rackman, a British former airline pilot turned author. I come from a naval military background and have held a lifelong interest in military history and seafaring.

I spent my working life travelling the world and this has given me a keen interest in other people and cultures. I’ve drawn on my many experiences for my writing.

I write suspense thrillers with a flair for evocative descriptions of locales and characters. I enjoy complex, absorbing storylines combined with rich, believable characters, so that’s the sort of fiction I write. I try to create immersive worlds for the reader to explore, and characters who are more than just vehicles for the story.

I hope you’ll enjoy my books and leave reviews. I try to personally thank reviewers if they’ve particularly enjoyed my books.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Spirit Of Lost Angels by @LizaPerrat French #HistFic

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Spirit Of Lost Angels by Liza Perrat

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Spirit of Lost Angels is the story of Victoire Charpentier. Born in the village of Lucie-sur-Vionne in rural 18th century France during the years leading up to the French Revolution, she lives with her parents and siblings. Madam Charpentier is a healer and the local midwife, her husband a carpenter travelling from town to town plying his trade. A fierce storm when Victoire was six years old brought about a terrible tragedy and the family’s fortunes are about to take a devastating turn for the worst. Victoire is forced to take a domestic position in Paris, with a letter of recommendation from the village priest.

Victoire’s troubles are only just beginning. She is now at the mercy of her employer, the Marquis de Barberon. Her belief in the cruelty and indifference of the aristocracy to the common people, born when her father was killed, only intensified and chafed. It was wholly due to the help of Claudine, the cook, she survived the Marquis’ visits and the eventual outcome.

Victoire’s life is filled with tragedy, loss, betrayal and horror. She also experiences happiness and joy, especially when she is in Lucie at L’Auberge des Anges, the inn she and her husband, Armand, began together. But nothing lasts and Victoire is soon again in the direst of circumstances.

After Victoire’s meeting in the dreaded La Salpêtrière Asylum, and subsequent friendship, with the notorious Jeanne de Valois, her resolve to raise awareness of the plight of women only grew. I enjoyed Victoire’s exchanges of letters with Jeanne and Mary Wollstonecraft, both of whom are not fictional, as another way to convey their thoughts on the state of affairs.

Liza Perrat brings the history (obviously researched in depth), the sights, sounds and vast differences between the rich and poor of pre revolution France to life skilfully. Along with village life and Parisian society, wonderfully drawn and fascinating characters, realistic dialogue and some shocking scenes. Beautifully written and vividly described, the volatility of the political climate and the plight of women are shown to great effect.

Spirit of Lost Angels in the first in The Bone Angel trilogy, following the women of the Charpentier family, named for the bone angel protective talisman given to Victoire by her mother and passed down through the generations.

Book Description

Her mother executed for witchcraft, her father dead at the hand of a noble, Victoire Charpentier vows to rise above her impoverished peasant roots.
Forced to leave her village of Lucie-sur-Vionne for domestic work in Paris, Victoire suffers gruesome abuse under the 18th century old regime.
Imprisoned in France’s most pitiless madhouse, La Salpêtrière asylum, the desperate Victoire begins a romance with fellow prisoner Jeanne de Valois, infamous conwoman of the diamond necklace affair. With the help of the ruthless and charismatic countess, Victoire carves out a new life for herself.
Enmeshed in the fever of pre-revolutionary France, Victoire must find the strength to join the revolutionary force storming the Bastille. Is she brave enough to help overthrow the diabolical aristocracy?
As this historical fiction adventure traces Victoire’s journey, it follows too, the journey of an angel talisman through generations of the Charpentier family.
Amidst the intrigue and drama of the French revolution, the women of Spirit of Lost Angels face tragedy and betrayal in a world where their gift can be their curse.

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 family for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist.
Since completing a creative writing course ten years ago, 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, France Today and The Good Life France.

Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in the French 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 Nazi Occupation of France, was published in October, 2013. The third, Blood Rose Angel, set during the 14th century Black Plague years was published in November, 2015.
Friends, Family and Other Strangers is a collection of humorous, horrific and entertaining short stories set in Australia.
Liza is a founding member of the Author Collective, Triskele Books and regularly reviews books for Bookmuse.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice by Mark Barry @GreenWizard62

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice by Mark Barry

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When Carol Prentice left her home town of Wheatley Fields for Manchester University she had no plans to return. Her father’s death precipitates a change in her and the subsequent return to Wheatley Fields, along with the resolve to address those intimated demons which have blighted her life and made her believe herself to be less than. She had A Plan.

After successfully applying for a job at a local bookstore, Carol and Steve, the manager, become firm friends. It’s an unlikely friendship, but they are both compelling characters, well defined with depth and relatability, even as we see their flaws. Steve, despite his previous failures and tendency to drink too much, becomes Carol’s source of strength, the foundation on which she can build, her rock.

However, it’s not very long before Carol’s demons appear and events are set in motion which spiral into disaster. Whatever happened to Carol prior to her leaving Wheatley Fields has defined her life up to date and is the catalyst that drives everything towards a riveting, and touching, conclusion.

Carol is a complex character, hiding behind a Goth exterior, emotionally damaged and with her feelings under such strict control, she perceives and registers rather than feels. The narrative is written informally in the first person from Carol’s point of view, giving a comprehensive insight into her psyche, and how deeply past events impacted on her. Although her subjective views could cast doubt on her credibility as a narrator, it doesn’t detract from believability and the vividness of her observations. Carol is real, fully developed, so much so that I felt like a spectator and completely forgot this was a man writing from a young woman’s perspective, it was so convincing.

This is the totally unpredictable and powerful story of a dramatic revenge planned down to the last detail. As more of the story is revealed, the more intriguing it becomes. How does Toby fit into Carol’s story and why is he so antagonistic? The disclosure, and learning the meaning behind the shiny coin, is appalling.

Mark Barry is a gifted storyteller with a knack for making this reader feel she’s been put though an emotional wringer (in a good way) every time. The writing is real, gritty and sometimes violent, but always eminently readable. Engaging characters are vividly portrayed and display a realistic range of emotions and reactions. Loved the Carla reference and the small but significant cameo of the author.

Book Description

“I swore that I would never go home,  but in the end, I had no choice.  I had to confront what happened.  And them too.  It was going be icky. And totally scary.” Carol Prentice left Wheatley Fields to attend university in Manchester and not once did she return in four years. Her beloved father visited her whenever he could, but then he passed away and it was up to her to sort his affairs.  She could have done this from a distance, but a woman can run to the far corners of the earth, but, in the end, she can never escape herself She had to come home: There was no other choice. Taking a job at a bookshop for the duration, she befriends Steve – an older man who looks like a wizard and who knows everything in the world.  Carol quickly encounters the demons that forced her to leave in the first place – including Toby, the raffish local villain, with whom she shares the most horrifying of secrets and whose very existence means evil and mayhem for everyone around. Especially the lovable Steve.  Carol finds herself in the middle of a war between the two men:  A war which can only have one victor.  Soon, she wishes she had never come home.  But by then it was too late.  Much too late.

Biography

Mark Barry

Bio: Mark Barry is a multi-genre writer and novelist. His work includes the minor cult hit Ultra Violence about football hooligans at a small Midlands football club and Carla, a quirky, dark, acclaimed romance with shades of Wuthering Heights.  He is the co-designer of the innovative Brilliant Books project aimed at engaging the many, many reluctant readers amongst young people… He has one son, Matt, on the brink of University, with whom he shares a passion for Notts County Football Club.  Fast food, comics, music, reading, his friends on the Independent scene, and horse racing keep him interested and he detests the English Premier League, selfish, narcissistic people and bullies of all kinds.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT The Last Meridian by @HefferonJoe #Noir #Crime

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading The Last Meridian by Joe Hefferon

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Lynn Killian left Chicago in 1948. She wanted a new life in a new place with a new name. With no particular plan in mind she headed west. Who she left behind would never really leave her. She would always wonder.

Fast forward sixteen years and Jimmy Filkins, a reporter captivated and preoccupied by the thought of his ongoing project. A story he desperately wants to write based on his interviews with Nina Ferrer, interior designer to Hollywood’s elite. Nina’s story, as she recounts it to Filkins, begins with murder and a telegram. That telegram changes her life forever. Her now teenaged son, who she left behind in Chicago all those years ago is in desperate trouble. The events set in motion culminated with Nina being incarcerated and the interviews with Filkins taking place in what was known locally as the LA County lock up.

Alongside Nina’s account and the flashbacks leading to her present situation, are the activities of several other key players and how they all converge. Nina’s husband, Arturo, and his shady contact, Morris Canfield. CS, the private investigator hired by Nina to help Steven, the boy accused of murder and, of course, Jimmy Filkins. Recounting the previous months helps Nina to come to terms with what her life has become.

Initially the structure threw me a little. Not sure why because I normally quite like flashbacks driving a story. Maybe because the sections were mostly short, the timeline seemed disjointed and I wasn’t able to engage enough. Anyway, I reread the first 10% or so and it became much clearer and easier to follow. The narrative continued to swing back and forth between past and present, timelines and characters, but I’m glad to say it wasn’t confusing any longer. I was more at ease with the writing style and could settle in to the story.

The setting is 1960s Hollywood and, along with the associated superficiality, the time and place is evident. Once I was over that first hurdle I enjoyed the story and the way Nina’s background unfolded. Her desperation to vindicate her son served to open her eyes to the people around her, who she thought she could trust, and made her realise how futile her life had become. Perhaps it could also become her salvation.

Nina grew on me, she’s strong and forthright. The supporting characters are also well-rounded. The prose tends towards the lyrical (if that’s the right word), with snappy dialogue, which seems in keeping with the narrative.

 

Book Description

A telegram sets off a chain of events that destroys five lives, throwing Hollywood insider Nina Ferrer’s life into turmoil. The infant boy she gave up for adoption in Chicago sixteen years earlier has been arrested for murder. A plea from the boy’s adoptive mother pushes her to act, but Nina has a big problem—she never told her husband about the boy.

Nina must come to terms with her guilt, while accepting the reality of her fragile life and her cheating husband, who’s embroiled in another deadly plot. As her life unravels, the boy’s fate grows ominous. Set against the backdrop of the Hollywood heyday of the early 1960s, the quick-witted, smart-talking Nina, a designer for the well-heeled of Los Angeles, hires a private detective to uncover the facts about what happened back in Chicago, and save her boy. Maybe… just maybe… he can save her, too.

Or perhaps Nina will have to save herself, the most frightening prospect of all. To do that, she must cross The Last Meridian, the place beyond which life as she knows it will no longer exist.

About the author

Joe Hefferon

Retired law enforcement. Enjoying the process of creating a second career as a writer

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Rosie’s review Team #RBRT The Mistress Of Blackstairs by Catherine Curzon @MadameGilflurt #HistFic

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading The Mistress Of Blackstairs by Catherine Curzon

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The mysterious, always heavily veiled in public and very French Madam Moineau, Georgina Radcliffe in a former life, is the mistress of the hugely successful brothel, Blackstairs, in Covent Garden. It’s the winter of 1785 and Georgina’s life is about to be changed by two men. It’s almost ten years since, as Georgina, she was left for dead by her abusive husband and she hasn’t seen him since. Until he turns up at Blackstairs, about to be married and looking for a mistress he can set up for his exclusive pleasure.

Artist Anthony Lake, recently returned from Europe with the realisation he is the father of a young girl, is searching for his daughter. He finds her under Georgina’s care. When Anthony learns his daughter’s mother was murdered, he vows to find the person responsible and avenge her death. The fates of the three become more and more entwined as events unfold and danger looms.

Obviously very knowledgeable about the era, Catherine Curzon portrays the more unsavoury aspects of 18th century London vividly, the atmosphere of the time and place apparent and believable throughout, with realistic dialogue and clothing descriptions. I like the way Molly, Anthony’s daughter, sometimes seems older than her years, due to life she leads, but at other times appropriate to her age. 

Secrets abound and are about to be laid bare. Only a select few know the results of Georgina’s traumatic past and her real identity, but the reappearance of the husband she hoped never to see again forces her to confront the past. Anthony isn’t all he seems, either, and his former life is revealed as the story progresses and the threads are drawn together. The plot is good and I really liked Georgina, Molly and Anthony, but the narrative just felt quite slow in places. Perhaps tightening it up would add to the suspense and keep the reader more engaged.

Book Description

Everyone thought she was dead…
In 18th century Covent Garden, Madam Moineau, is the mistress of Blackstairs, an establishment catering to the finest clients in London.
The mysterious, veiled lady of Paris was better known in the past as a former courtesan and went by the considerably less exotic moniker of Georgina Radcliffe, or Georgie to her friends. 
In the winter of 1785 two men appear in Madam Moineau’s life.
Rogue artist Anthony Lake has recently returned from Europe. Lake is on his own assignment, searching the streets of London for the daughter he only recently discovered he had fathered.
He learns that the child’s mother is dead, brutally killed and Anthony finds himself on an unexpected mission to avenge his ex-lovers’ murder.
Nearly ten years after he left Madam Moineau, then known as Georgina, for dead, Viscount Edmund Polmear returns to London.
He has a new fiancé in tow and is soon to be found around Blackstairs, seeking a further mistress for his own pleasure.
His sudden appearance is a shock for the victim that he believed he left for dead, forcing Madam Moineau to face the horrors of her own past head on.
Anthony Lake and Madam Moineau’s lives become inevitably and inextricably entwined as they find themselves up against the fearsome and unforgiving Viscount Polmear.
 

About the author

Catherine Curzon

Catherine Curzon is a royal historian better known as Madame Gilflurt, the author of A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life (www.madamegilflurt.com), where she blogs on all matters 18th century. 
She has been published on matters as diverse as Marie Antoinette’s teeth and Grace Kelly’s love life. Her work has been featured by BBC History Extra, All About History, History of Royals, Explore History and Jane Austen’s Regency World, the official magazine of the Jane Austen Centre. She is thrilled to provide an online home for An Evening with Jane Austen, and her additional material for the show was performed at the V&A. 
Catherine has performed the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, as part of An Evening with Jane Austen, and spoken at Dr Johnson’s House and Lichfield Guildhall. 
Catherine holds a Master’s in Film Studies from the University of Nottingham. When not dodging the furies of the guillotine, she writes fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London. 
She resides atop a steep hill in Brontë country with a rakish colonial gentleman, a hound, and a feline.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Clay Tongue by @NicholasConley1 #Fantasy novella #wwwblogs

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Clay Tongue by Nicholas Conley

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Clay Tongue is a moving story of a little girl’s belief, determination and courage. Young Katie Mirowitz is a quiet, shy child, except when she’s with her Grandfather. Katie loves talking to him, even now when he can’t form coherent words anymore after his stroke, they always manage to communicate one way or another. But Grandfather is keeping a secret, Katie saw him trying to hide his journal. The knowledge gives her an unfamiliar, and not altogether comfortable, feeling in her heart. 

When a nightmare wakes Katie in the middle of the night, she overhears an emotional exchange between her mother and Grandfather. It seems her Grandfather may not be able to live with the family much longer. Katie waits until the coast is clear and sneaks a peek at her Grandfather’s desk, finding the journal and an old iron key. She sees that her Grandfather has written a description of his experience, when he was much younger, of meeting a golem who had the power to grant wishes.

A delightfully touching story of unconditional love and selflessness, told from Katie’s perspective in the third person. Nicholas Conley portrays Katie, her naturalness and strong, loving relationship with her grandfather, extremely well and sympathetically. The characters are wonderfully defined and very believable, giving an immediate sense of who they are and their feelings. I found myself really caring about them and hoping the situation would be resolved.

The writing is wonderful, sympathetic and effective in conveying anxiety and distress, the fragility and poignancy of the situation they all find themselves in. Descriptive phrasing evokes strong images. I enjoyed the inventiveness of the story very much, and the way the golem’s human characteristics are represented. I love the cover image which is almost ethereal, in keeping with the story. And, of course, the resolution.

Book Description

From the author of the award-winning Pale Highway and the radio play Something in the Nothing comes a short fantasy of love, shyness, and the secrets of human communication. 
Katie Mirowitz is a small little girl with an even smaller little voice. She possesses a deep love for her grandfather, who suffers from aphasia after a bad stroke cuts loose the part of his brain that processes verbal language. When Katie uncovers a miraculous secret inside the pages of her grandfather’s old journal, as well as an ancient key, she goes out into the woods in search of answers — hoping to uncover a mythical being that, if it exists, may just have the ability to grant wishes.

About the author

Nicholas Conley

Nicholas Conley is a novelist, world traveler, playwright, and coffee vigilante. His passion for storytelling is evident in Clay Tongue as well a Pale Highway, the winner of the 2015 Predators & Editors Award for Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel. He has written for Vox, Truthout, The Huffington Post, SFFWorld, and Alzheimers.net, and his original radio play Something in the Nothing was performed live on the radio station WSCA 106.1 FM in 2016. He is a member of PEN America, the writers organization dedicated to human rights and freedom of expression.

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