A Story About Secrets And Life. @CathyRy Reviews Sugar And Snails by @Annecdotist For Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Sugar And Snails by Anne Goodwin

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Diana Dodsworth is a psychology professor at Newcastle University. After a confused, unhappy childhood and making a decision in her mid teens that impacted on her in ways she didn’t expect, leaving her with a host of insecurities, she chooses now to live alone with her cat and tends generally not to get too involved with people. Privacy is very important to Diana and her past is something she keeps very much to herself.

Meeting recently divorced Simon at her friend’s birthday party is the catalyst for an upheaval in Diana’s somewhat lonely and reclusive lifestyle, particularly when he invites her to join him on a trip to Cairo during his sabbatical.

‘When I pointed out my red front door I expected Simon to stop in the middle of the road and let me hop out. Instead he reversed into a space a few doors along and switched off the engine. Was I supposed to invite him in and, if I did, would he assume there was more on offer than coffee? Did he even want more-than-coffee? Did he think I did? Or was there no deeper meaning to his parking the car than a wish to avoid blocking the road while we got my bike out of the back.’

Diana’s story is revealed in alternating flashbacks, and the more we get to know her, the more understanding and sympathy she generates. It’s sad that her decision all those years ago didn’t really lead to a happier life. She wants to keep her secret at all costs and has effectively stalled her life. Meeting Simon has made her begin to re-evaluate the way she lives, and how confiding in the people closest to her might affect her going forward.

Sugar and Snails is a remarkable and poignant story, covering several significant topics, particularly the main one, which Anne Goodwin deals with sympathetically. I like the fact that we witness events unfolding from both Diana’s perspective and also that of her parents…the confusion, uncertainty, not knowing how to deal with the position they find themselves in. The characters are wonderfully drawn and realistic. It’s only when Diana’s secret is revealed that things, or situations read about previously, fall into place. I had no idea until then, although looking back perhaps there were subtle clues.

Sugar and Snails is described as ‘A triumphant mid-life coming-of-age story about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.’ That sums it up in a nutshell but there’s an awful lot going on in between those gaps.

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At fifteen, she made a life-changing decision. Thirty years on, it’s time to make another.

When Diana escaped her misfit childhood, she thought she’d chosen the easier path. But the past lingers on, etched beneath her skin, and life won’t be worth living if her secret gets out.

As an adult, she’s kept other people at a distance… until Simon sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, the city that transformed her life. She’ll lose Simon if she doesn’t join him. She’ll lose herself if she does.

Sugar and Snails charts Diana’s unusual journey, revealing the scars from her fight to be true to herself. A triumphant mid-life coming-of-age story about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Is this a case of copy-cat crime? @CathyRy reviews #crimefiction Dark Is The Grave by T. G. Reid

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Dark Is The Grave by T.G. Reid

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Dark Is The Grave opens with a horrific prologue. PC Hazel Garvey has been abducted and buried alive, a crime which is reminiscent of the Peek-a-Boo serial killer who was killed in an explosion. Also caught in the explosion and seriously injured was DCI Duncan Bone. He was lucky to be alive. Left to cope with PTSD and a ruined home life, he was physically and mentally damaged, which probably accounts for his general irascibility.

When Bone receives a package, ostensibly from his colleagues at the Rural Crime Unit, and finds a video of a woman being murdered, he’s assailed by memories he’d rather not be reminded of. Given that Bone has detailed knowledge of the Peek-a-Boo case, and this appears to be a copycat crime, he is ordered back to lead the investigation.

‘“The digger’s been here.” She pointed at some tracks in the mud that led to a clearing between two or three pallets stacked high with concrete blocks. The trio clambered through the pallets and reached a ten-foot patch of freshly turned clay that stood out against the hard compacted surrounding soil.

“Oh shit. Looks like we’re going to need a warrant,” Walker said.’

“And forensics.” Bone sighed.

I’ll get the negatives out of the way first. My pet peeve. Non speech based dialogue tags such as sneered and smirked and especially those that are equivalent to animal sounds such as snarled and barked. They always pull me right out of a story and make the dialogue and speaker seem unnatural and forced.

Other than that the plot, although gruesome in parts, was good. I didn’t have the slightest idea of the perpetrator until well into the story which is always a bonus. There’s a diverse group of characters, both in Bone’s team and generally—most likeable, others not so much, so a good mix. And I always enjoy short chapters when they build tension and suspense.

3 stars.

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A dead cop. A damaged detective. A copycat killer on the loose.

When the chief suspect in the notorious Peek-a-boo cop killer case blew himself up, almost taking lead investigator DCI Duncan Bone with him, the psychologically damaged detective thought his days on the force were over. But when another PC is abducted and murdered in the same deranged Peek-a-boo fashion, Bone is persuaded to return to lead the new investigation. But as Bone and his team hunt a copycat killer, and with time running out before yet another cop is slain, Bone’s terrifying past returns to tear open old wounds and push him to very edge of the abyss.

Can DCI Bone end the killing before the killing ends him?

Set among the dramatic hills and glens of Scotland’s Campsie Fells, Dark is the Grave is the first in a series of edge-of-your-seat crime thrillers that will keep you guessing right up to the nail-biting, heart-stopping climax.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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‘A beautifully written and emotional story’ @CathyRy Reviews In This Small Spot by Caren Werlinger

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading In This Small Spot by Caren Werlinger

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In This Small Spot is a beautifully written and emotional story following the life choices, ups and downs, and introspections of Dr Michele Stewart, a renowned oncology surgeon. Several years after losing her much loved partner, Alice, to cancer, she questions her role as a doctor and her place in the medical profession.

After leaving school Michele (Mickey) toyed with the idea of becoming a nun but decided to go to university and later met Alice. Now, needing something to give her life some meaning she again contemplates the life of a nun. Many conversations with Mother Theodora later, Mickey decides to enter St Bridget’s Abbey as a postulant.

‘Several seconds passed as Mother Theodora searched Mickey’s eyes. “I know you mean that, Mickey. But remember that an abbey is not a place where you can run away from yourself. Quite the contrary. Having stripped away the disguises and distractions of the outside world: clothes, career, material possessions, the true you is most often magnified, for better or for worse.”’

The story is multi-layered, very atmospheric, written with depth and told in the present with flashbacks to Mickey’s life with Alice, showing the kind of woman she was before shock and grief began to chip away at her confidence and belief in her work. She feels the need to re-assess, to try and work out where she belongs, hoping this spiritual journey will help to clarify what is important and the right path to take, even though she’s aware it’s likely to be a struggle.

The characters are wonderfully drawn, complex and in the main sympathetic, finding themselves at St Bridget’s Abbey for various reasons and not all of them, including Mickey, finding it easy. There are questions and sometimes doubts arise. Human emotions are evident — homophobia, envy and intolerance, to name a few — although in some cases tightly controlled. There is drama, bonds formed, humour, love and unexpected and shocking events, along with the structured everyday life of the nuns, which is fascinating.

Mickey is a realistic and relatable character, struggling with her emotions and choices. As time passes she becomes more adaptable and aware, and always ready to help others as the sense of community deepens. But the world outside the abbey creeps in, testing Mickey and forcing her to make choices she wouldn’t have imagined.

I had to sit with this story for a while and it’s one that will stay with me for a good while. I’ve only read one of Caren Werlinger’s books before this one, but it’s something I’ll be rectifying as soon as I can.

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“Here, the true you is most often magnified, for better or for worse.” Abbess Theodora

In a world increasingly connected to computers and machines but disconnected to self and others, Dr. Michele Stewart finds herself drowning in a life that no longer holds meaning. Searching for a deeper connection after losing her partner, Alice, she enters a contemplative monastery, living a life dedicated to prayer, to faith in things unseen. Though most of her family and friends are convinced that she has become a nun to run away from her life, she finds herself more attuned to life than she has been in years. Stripped of the things that define most people in the outside world – career, clothing, possessions – she rediscovers a long forgotten part of herself. But sooner than she expects, the outside world intrudes, forcing her to confront doubts and demons she thought she had left behind. The ultimate test of her vocation comes from the unlikeliest source when she finds herself falling in love again. As she struggles to discern where she belongs, she discovers the terrifying truth of Abbess Theodora’s warning. For better or for worse.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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‘A quirky and enjoyable cosy mystery.’ @CathyRy reviews Bells, Tails & Murder by @KathyManosPenn, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Bells, Tails & Murder by Kathy Manos Penn

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Leta Parker’s life changed irrevocably when her husband was killed in an accident while they were out biking. Eighteen months later she had fulfilled her dream of retiring to England and has a pretty, restored and cosy cottage in the Cotswolds. All she needs now is to pick up Dickens, a dwarf Pyrenees and Christie the black cat, from the airport. They both have a moan (literally) and Christie particularly has plenty to say about being crated for the journey. Leta is a female Dr Doolittle and can actually communicate with animals. It’s a fun twist, I’ve often thought it would be perfect I could understand ‘dog speak’. I’m glad, however, that the animals were portrayed and treated as pets and not given human traits (apart from the obvious)

‘How life has changed for the three of us. A new home, a new country … and a new life … without Henry. I wondered whether the animals missed him as much as I did.’

Leta has settled into her new life and made some good friends, including fellow ex-pat, Wendy. One morning, on a walk with Dickens, she is shocked and distressed to discover a body in suspicious circumstances. After speaking to the police, Leta feels the need for Wendy’s company and the discussion makes them, and Wendy’s mum Belle, aware they don’t really know the victim, although most people in the village see her in one capacity or another.

‘After Wendy helped her mum into the kitchen, she asked me to tell the story again. Every time I repeated it, I found the telling got a bit easier. I almost made it through this time without tears. Belle braced herself on her cane and leaned over to give me a hug.’

Leta and Wendy discover there are multiple potential suspects, even as they shy away from the awful thought of one of their friends being the culprit.

A steady initial build up allows the reader to get acquainted with the characters and form mental images. I enjoyed how J.M. Barrie and his works were written into the story, with a plot line that wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility. And, as always, I love being familiar with the places mentioned in the story. They brought back lots of memories. A quirky and enjoyable cosy mystery.

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A Cotswolds village . . . a grieving heroine . . . two furry sidekicks . . . and a murder!

Do you like heroines who’ve lived a little? Who’ve suffered life’s ups and downs but kept on trucking? Then you’ll love Leta Parker and her new friends in the Cotswold village of Astonbury.

When tragedy strikes Leta Parker’s life, the successful banker and closet sleuth chases a lifelong dream to retire to England. Leaving her friends and neighbors in Atlanta, she settles into Astonbury with her talkative dog and cat, Dickens and Christie. 

Picture her driving a refurbished London taxi to the bookshop and the tearoom, enjoying leisurely walks with Dickens the dog, and sipping coffee in the garden with Christie, her sassy cat.

When Leta stumbles across the dead body of a new acquaintance, her inner Nancy Drew comes out. Before you know it, she’s enlisted the help of Wendy, a retired English teacher friend—and even Wendy’s elderly mum.

Two whipsmart retirees, one spunky senior citizen, and a feisty dog and cat are on the case!

Who better to unearth clues from their friends in the village? Even Dickens and Christie get in on the act gathering intelligence from their four-legged friends and pointing out the obvious to Leta.

What do authors A. A. Milne, Arthur Conan Doyle, and J. M. Barrie have to do with all this?

Is their connection with the Cotswolds merely an interesting bit of trivia, or is it more? Will Leta and Wendy let their literary noses lead them astray?

You’ll be captivated as this unlikely team chases clues and ferrets out a long-buried secret—a scenario that would make any BBC cozy mystery producer proud.  No matter the clues uncovered by Dickens and Christie, you’ll be hard-pressed to guess who the villain is unless, like Leta, you’re able to “talk to the animals.” 

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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‘Someone Stole A Dead Body’. A new case for Stride and Cully. @CathyRy reviews Desire And Deceit by @carolJhedges for #RBRT

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Desire And Deceit by Carol Hedges

Desire & Deceit (The Victorian Detectives Book 9) by [Carol Hedges]

London during 1868 is experiencing the hottest summer on record, wilting under the relentless heat and resulting odours. Detective Inspector Leo Stride, feeling the lack of his daily caffeine from the usual coffee stalls holders who have forsaken London for the much cooler countryside, is summoned along with his colleague DS Jack Cully to the morgue. There was a problem. A body had gone missing.

“You are seriously telling us that someone stole a dead body?” Cully asks.

“Unlikely as it may appear, that would seem to be the case,” Robertson replies drily. “Nos non habemus corpus as it were. I am sure I do not need to provide a translation. And I would hardly tell you such information frivolously, detective sergeant.”

Try as they might, a lack of evidence and motive hampers and eventually stalls the investigation.

Elsewhere, two despicable brothers are intent on ingratiating themselves with their rich, elderly aunt who is dying, each trying to outdo the other to be the recipient of her fortune and jewellery collection.

Miss Lucy Landseer has set herself up as a Private Consulting Detective and it’s no time at all until she receives her first client. Then we have Micky Mokey and Little Azella, variety artists appearing nightly at the Varieties Music Hall for the summer season. But who is the real Micky behind his stage persona?

The Replacement, newly appointed private secretary to the Honourable Thomas Langland MP, a position previously occupied by his good friend who seems to have disappeared. The Replacement’s bland appearance and subservient attitude disguises his intelligence and the real reason he has secured this post.

The intricate plot threads are woven together cleverly and seamlessly with engaging, descriptive prose and several twists. Crimes and machinations are resolved convincingly and in a very satisfactory manner. The characters are well rounded, easy to picture. I loved young Harriet and her no holds barred parrot, as well as the regulars. London and it’s inhabitants are evocatively depicted as always. Another very enjoyable addition to The Victorian Detectives series.

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t is 1868, and the body of a young man has gone missing from the police mortuary at Scotland Yard, an event that has never happened before. Who was the mysterious corpse, and why was he spirited away in the night? These are the questions baffling Detective Inspector Stride and Detective Sergeant Cully as they set out to uncover the truth.

Meanwhile, two greedy, unscrupulous, inheritance-seeking brothers, Arthur and Sherborne Harbinger, descend upon London and their very rich dying aunt, each determined to get whatever they can out of her, and prepared to use whatever methods they can to win her favour. And over in her newly rented rooms in Baker Street, Miss Lucy Landseer, consulting private detective, has been presented with her first ever proper case to investigate ~ and finds it is one that will defy even her imaginative and inventive mind.

Set against the hottest summer on record, Desire & Deceit, the ninth outing for this popular Victorian Detectives series, explores how the love of money really is the root of all evil. Once again, Victorian London is brought to life in all its sights, its sounds, its sordid and gas-lit splendour. Another must-read book, teeming with memorable Dickensian-style characters.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Desire & Deceit (The Victorian Detectives Book 9) by [Carol Hedges]

‘A talented and tortured artist about to have her first exhibition’ @CathyRy reviews Small Forgotten Moments by @AnnalisaCrawf

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Small Forgotten Moments by Annalisa Crawford

Small Forgotten Moments by [Annalisa Crawford]

Small Forgotten Moments tells the story of Jo McKye, in her own words, a talented and tortured artist living in London and about to have her first exhibition. Her paintings all feature a mysterious woman she’s named Zenna who invades her thoughts whether she is awake or asleep. Jo has no idea who the woman is, but feels compelled beyond any reason she can fathom to recreate her on each canvas, one after the other.

‘Painting Zenna over and over wasn’t intentional. In the beginning, I had no concept of what I was creating, I just allowed the paints to flow, the ideas to flower.’

Jo suffers from long term memory loss and can’t recall much of anything beyond several years ago. She knows she has a mother in Cornwall but can’t remember why they’re not in touch. Her best, almost only friend and house mate, Nathan, looks out for her as much as she allows him to.

Jo knows she can’t live a ‘normal’ life with so much of her past missing. Without memories to ground her, or a sense of self, she feels adrift. Added to that, Zenna seems to be taking over her life and affecting her health, both physically and mentally. It’s time to try and take control, break free of Zenna’s hold over her, learn what she can of her past, before she descends into total madness. On the spur of the moment she decides to go home, to Cornwall and her mother.

‘All the answers are here—in the crevices and shadows of my brain. Perhaps I should give up the search. Yet Zenna remains, taunting me. Her eyes burrow into me, her smirk troubles me. Lurking in my closed-door memory, concealed in my past.’

I enjoyed the psychological slant on the memory loss aspect, giving more depth to the theme. The angst and confusion that dominates Jo’s life is depicted extremely well, haunting and heartbreaking in it’s intensity, particularly so in the last quarter when all comes to a head in a way I wasn’t expecting. The Cornish coast is the perfect setting for the storm of emotions and revelations that batter Jo.

Small Forgotten Moments is character driven, dark, expressive, fascinating and very well written.

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Is Zenna a muse, a sleep-deprived apparition, or something much more sinister?

Suffering long-term amnesia, artist Jo Mckye is ready to start a fresh, new project after the success of her debut exhibition. But the fictional subject of the collection, Zenna, won’t let go so easily. Infiltrating Jo’s dreams—and increasingly, her waking hours—Zenna is fast becoming a dangerous obsession.

Jo is confident the answers lie at her childhood home, an idyllic Cornish village on the south-east coast; she just doesn’t know why. Only when she walks into the sea and almost drowns does the past start to unravel.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Small Forgotten Moments by [Annalisa Crawford]

A Gothic, Paranormal Retelling of Jane Eyre. @CathyRy reviews John Eyre by @MimiMatthewsEsq, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading John Eyre by Mimi Matthews

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John Eyre is quite a different offering from from Mimi Matthews. In a very good way. It’s a gothic and paranormal retelling of Jane Eyre, with genders reversed and another classic tale thrown into the mix. The broodingly dark atmosphere of evil and menace is palpable.

After the devastation of a shocking death, John leaves his home and job weighed down by guilt. He has secured a post as tutor to the widowed Mrs Rochester’s two wards who reside at Thornfield Hall in Yorkshire. John is surprised and a little taken aback when he first meets the boys, who are small and undernourished, with shorn heads.

Bertha Rochester was not in residence as she travels abroad frequently. John has sole care of the boys and wonders why Mrs Rochester bothered to adopt children if she was rarely at home. He begins to implement changes to the arrangements Mrs Rochester left in place regarding the boys, despite her orders, becoming certain her regime could do them no good.

I liked the way the novel was structured with the narrative coming from John’s perspective in the present, told in the third person. He’s a worthy hero, with a kind heart as is shown through his sympathetic treatment of the two boys.

Alternating chapters chronicle Bertha’s story as her character is fleshed out through letters written to her good friend Blanche Ingram. Her letters and journal entries as she traveled document the places she visits and her eventual meeting with Edward Rochester. Her strong and fiercely independent spirit is evident throughout, even during the final, very chilling part of her journey before returning to Thornfield Hall and meeting John.

The whole ambience is quite creepy as befits a darkly gothic tale, with unexpected mists appearing randomly and repeatedly surrounding the estate and nearby area, strange noises and other disturbing occurrences.

All is far from what it seems at Thornfield Hall and Bertha’s return is the catalyst that sets terrible events in motion. A perfect read for Halloween…if you can wait that long.

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Yorkshire, 1843. When disgraced former schoolmaster John Eyre arrives at Thornfield Hall to take up a position as tutor to two peculiar young boys, he enters a world unlike any he’s ever known. Darkness abounds, punctuated by odd bumps in the night, strange creatures on the moor, and a sinister silver mist that never seems to dissipate. And at the center of it all, John’s new employer—a widow as alluring as she is mysterious.

Sixteen months earlier, heiress Bertha Mason embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Marriage wasn’t on her itinerary, but on meeting the enigmatic Edward Rochester, she’s powerless to resist his preternatural charm. In letters and journal entries, she records the story of their rapidly-disintegrating life together, and of her gradual realization that Mr. Rochester isn’t quite the man he appears to be. In fact, he may not be a man at all.

From a cliff-top fortress on the Black Sea coast to an isolated estate in rural England, John and Bertha contend with secrets, danger, and the eternal struggle between light and darkness. Can they help each other vanquish the demons of the past? Or are some evils simply too powerful to conquer?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #Shortstories Backstories by @SimonVdVwriter

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Backstories by Simon Van der Velde

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4.5 stars

Backstories comprises fourteen intriguing tales of life changing moments in the lives of well known characters. The author has given his imagination free rein to pen concise but evocative descriptions, giving impressions, something that just might have some truth in it, of certain people before fame or notoriety claimed them. The twist being they are not fully named, in some cases not at all or not named as we might know them. It’s up to the reader to guess their identities.

Some are fairly easy, but I admit to not guessing a couple (Past Time and The Blank Face come to mind, even after a re-read. I’ll probably kick myself once I know who they are) which ramped up the curiosity factor. I could think of people they might be but no-one definitive. Each account was enjoyable to read and actually extremely plausible.

‘No doubt about it, he was a bright kid, talented even. He was quick on his feet and with his mouth too, and he could smack a baseball out of the park. But he was a Jew, and he was short. I mean like really short. The kid was the size of your average third grader when he was twelve years old. When he was taking those first steps towards manhood. When it mattered most.
And this was back in the fifties, with Sinatra top of the charts, John Wayne High and Mighty on the big screen and New York thrusting itself into the heavens, one skyscraper taller than the next. It was a one-size-fits-all sort of time, but it didn’t fit him.’

The above quote is the beginning of the first story and it wasn’t until the end I realised who it was.

These are all people who you could know, but perhaps not with the backstory you had in mind. Some are sad, some chilling, all thought provoking. I read most of them a couple of times, the second time with the knowledge of who they were, which added another layer to the narrative.

An original idea, written in keeping with each situation and setting, and a unique approach to short stories. I enjoyed it very much.

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Dreamers, singers, heroes and killers, they can dazzle with their beauty or their talent or their unmitigated evil, yet inside themselves they are as frail and desperate as the rest of us. But can you see them? Can you unravel the truth? These are people you know, but not as you know them.Peel back the mask and see.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #FamilyDrama Birds Don’t Cry by @sandeetweets

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Bird’s Don’t Cry by Sandy Day

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Birds Don’t Cry explores the sibling relationships in the dysfunctional Sullivan family, mostly from Kaffy’s perspective. A traumatic past shaped Kaffy into a loner who finds it difficult to engage. She has carried on running her grandparents’ inn after their deaths with the invaluable help of her sister-in-law, Sylvia, the only person she feels anything like comfortable with. Sylvia is married to Red Sullivan, Kaffy’s brother, who is doing some renovation work at the inn.

Maxine, their older sister makes short appearances when she believes there could be something to her advantage.

With the prospect of a prestigious reviewer from The Lonely Tripper visiting the inn, Kaffy is aware this could make or break the business, so some TLC is called for. But when Sylvia doesn’t show up for work one morning, Kaffy is at first confused. Sylvia is never late.

” “Red, where’s Sylvia?” Kaffy called to her brother from the back door of the inn.

Red shrugged. He fiddled with the tailgate of his truck. Infuriating—he was always tinkering and fidgeting.

“Isn’t she coming to work today?”

Red looked at Kaffy, his face expressionless but somewhat grim. “I haven’t seen her.” What did he mean by that, he got out of bed earlier than she did? “

As time goes on Kaffy’s confusion turns into worry. She reports Sylvia as missing and begins her own random, disjointed search, desperate to find Sylvia. Apart from her feelings of anxiety, Kaffy knows she’ll not be able to get the inn ready in time by herself. Red doesn’t seem particularly concerned about his wife’s disappearance which baffles Kaffy. Sylvia isn’t her only reason for worrying though, as she discovers what her brother and sister may be up to.

Birds Don’t Cry is an intriguing title. I wondered how it could relate to the story and it’s quite a poignant link. This is a character driven tale of siblings who are uncomfortable in each others company, unable or unwilling to share their feelings, an incident in Kaffy’s youth, buried deep, at the root of it all.

The well written plot and characters develop slowly and steadily, as more is revealed and the characters are brought to life. I enjoyed it.

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Sometimes sisters and brothers don’t get along – even when they’re middle aged.

Kaffy Sullivan lives and works in the business her grandparents began in the 20th century. Reclusive and offbeat, Kaffy hopes to inherit the inn and, with the help of her sister-in-law, operate it for the rest of her life.

When an important publication makes a reservation, Kaffy is under pressure to get Sullivan House spruced up in time for the review. But Sylvia, who Kaffy depends on, has disappeared. She hasn’t shown up for work, and Kaffy’s bad-tempered brother doesn’t seem to care that his wife is missing.

Cracking under the pressure to get the inn ready, and more urgently, find Sylvia, Kaffy struggles through a harrowing nest of repressed memories and traumatic family rivalries.

For readers of women’s fiction and domestic thrillers, Birds Don’t Cry is a page turner that drops you directly into one family’s conflict and search for survivors.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Musical novella SONGWRITER NIGHT by @DGDriverAuthor

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Songwriter Night by D.G. Driver

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Nashville, Tennessee is still the Country music capital of the world for those who want to do things the old fashioned way, while soaking up the atmosphere of the city. Aspiring singer/songwriter Trish is no exception. She’s working on the lyrics of a song as she quietly hums along, catching the attention of one of the two other occupants of the coffee house. Lyle, a Tennessee native, is distracted by Trish and can’t focus on his writing. Noticing she had just finished her latte he seizes the opportunity and buys her another.


Trish and Lyle start chatting and, since Trish is new to the area and has no contacts, Lyle invites her to the songwriter night he and his friend host every month at their house. 

Concentrating on how she looked and how to get there kept her from thinking about the real issue: singing her songs in front of strangers. Not just strangers. Nashville songwriters. Was she ready for this? Sure. She’d sung her songs in front of people before, but they were her family, friends, and coworkers.’


Songwriter Night is a sweet, easy to read novella, also available as an audio version with a full cast and original songs. Even with the kindle version it’s interesting to read the lyrics and the poetry from the eclectic and distinct group of people who gather at Lyle and Neil’s house, and that’s where the majority of the story takes place. 


Trish and Lyle are likeable from the start, both a little unsure of themselves and their musical abilities, but the dedication of each is apparent. The songwriter night is going well until Aiden, a previous member who made good, decides to honour the group with his presence, and stir things up at the same time. 

Book description

In this sweet romantic novella, Lyle and Trish are two aspiring Country music songwriters that meet at a Nashville coffee house. With Trish being new in town, Lyle invites her to his monthly gathering of songwriters to get to know her better. The evening of quirky characters and light-hearted singing is interrupted by the arrival Aiden Bronson. He’s got a hit song on the radio, and he’s back to show off, stirring up some rivalry while he’s at it. How will Lyle compete against Aiden’s charisma and talent in order to win Trish’s heart?

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