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

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Irex by Carl Rackman

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

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

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

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

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

Book Description

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

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

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

About the author

Carl Rackman

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

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

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

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT GHOST VARIATIONS by @JessicaDuchen #SundayBlogShare

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Ghost Variations by Jessica Duchen

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Ghost Variations is created from real people and true events which occurred during their lives; history dramatised into a rich and enchanting narrative.

Jelly d’Arányi, the central character, is a renowned Hungarian violinist, living in 1930s London with her sister, Adila and her family. Jelly has been the muse for several famous composers and is dedicated to her music, to the exclusion of her personal life, especially since she lost the man she loved at the Battle of the Somme during WWI. The sisters have lived in London since Jelly was sixteen and now as she approaches her fortieth birthday, Jelly is aware she is (unfairly) considered past her prime as a musician.

Adila’s close friend, Baron Erik Palmstierna, is involved in aspects of psychic research and spiritualism, and often play what they call ‘the glass game’, a form of the Ouija board. It was during one of these sessions, with Adila, Jelly (against her better judgement) and her assistant, Anna, that a message came through about a lost violin concerto by Robert Schumann.

This is an extraordinary and vividly written story when, as the author says, the truth is stranger than fiction. That the concerto should come to light in such a fashion is incredible. Jelly is finding the changes, within herself and the distant rumblings in Europe, difficult to come to terms with. How can there be another war, and so soon? Finding the concerto becomes Jelly’s quest and her lifeline.

Jelly is a very sympathetic and engaging character, not without flaws, but warm-hearted and genuine. Her kindness is shown in her behaviour toward Anna and the free cathedral concerts she performed to allow music and pleasure into the lives of those less fortunate. Jessica Duchen brings the characters to life and captures the atmosphere of the era perfectly. I like the realistic way Jelly’s life as a touring musician is portrayed and her intense enthusiasm for her craft despite the hardships.

The story is told mostly from Jelly’s perspective in the third person, with several segments from Ulli Schultheiss, a music publisher from Germany (one of the few fictional characters) who falls under Jelly’s spell during his stay in London. Persuaded to help in the liberation of the concerto, Ulli returns to Germany only to be met with a wall of bureaucracy, followed by interference by the Third Reich who wish to use the manuscript for their own purposes.

There are several subjects in this intriguing story which give pause for thought, not least the restrictions placed on women; the choice between career or family and the fact women were not allowed to attend certain of the better institutes of learning. The impending Nazi threat and the resulting fascism and growing prejudice against Jews is represented in all its horror. At its heart a touching, sensitively told story creating a wonderful read.

Book Description

Ghost Variations: The Strangest Detective Story In Music by Jessica Duchen. Music, mystery, beautiful writing and a story that proves reality is weirder than fiction

The strangest detective story in the history of music – inspired by a true incident. A world spiralling towards war. A composer descending into madness. And a devoted woman struggling to keep her faith in art and love against all the odds. 1933. Dabbling in the fashionable “Glass Game” – a Ouija board – the famous Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Arányi, one-time muse to composers such as Bartók, Ravel and Elgar, encounters a startling dilemma. A message arrives ostensibly from the spirit of the composer Robert Schumann, begging her to find and perform his long-suppressed violin concerto. She tries to ignore it, wanting to concentrate instead on charity concerts. But against the background of the 1930s depression in London and the rise of the Nazis in Germany, a struggle ensues as the “spirit messengers” do not want her to forget. The concerto turns out to be real, embargoed by Schumann’s family for fear that it betrayed his mental disintegration: it was his last full-scale work, written just before he suffered a nervous breakdown after which he spent the rest of his life in a mental hospital. It shares a theme with his Geistervariationen (Ghost Variations) for piano, a melody he believed had been dictated to him by the spirits of composers beyond the grave. As rumours of its existence spread from London to Berlin, where the manuscript is held, Jelly embarks on an increasingly complex quest to find the concerto. When the Third Reich’s administration decides to unearth the work for reasons of its own, a race to perform it begins. Though aided and abetted by a team of larger-than-life personalities – including her sister Adila Fachiri, the pianist Myra Hess, and a young music publisher who falls in love with her – Jelly finds herself confronting forces that threaten her own state of mind. Saving the concerto comes to mean saving herself. In the ensuing psychodrama, the heroine, the concerto and the pre-war world stand on the brink, reaching together for one more chance of glory.

About the author

Jessica Duchen

essica was born in London. She first tried to write a novel at the age of 12 and found much encouragement from a distinguished author and a literary agent. After studying at Cambridge, she worked as an editor in music publishing and magazines for ten years.

Her latest novel, Ghost Variations, is based on a true incident in the 1930s: the bizarre rediscovery of the long-suppressed Schumann Violin Concerto. “This is a hugely atmospheric and thought-provoking book featuring fascinating characters… It evokes a period pregnant with both promise and menace” (Music & Vision Daily).

The earlier novels focus on the tensions and cross-currents between family generations, including a painful exploration of the effects of anorexia (Rites of Spring) and the rearing of a child prodigy (Alicia’s Gift) to the long-term effects of displacement and cultural clashes (Hungarian Dances and Songs of Triumphant Love). 

Jessica’s journalism has appeared in The Independent, The Guardian and The Sunday Times, plus numerous music magazines. She gives pre-concert talks at venues including the Wigmore Hall, the Southbank Centre and Symphony Hall Birmingham. Having created concert versions of Alicia’s Gift, Hungarian Dances and Ghost Variations, she often narrates their performances. Her play A Walk through the End of Time, introducing Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, has been performed at music festivals in the UK, France and Australia. 

Jessica lives in London with her violinist husband and two cats. She enjoys long walks, cooking, and playing the piano when nobody can hear her. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jessicawords.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT SELF SERVE MURDER by @denaehaggerty cosy #Mystery #wwwblogs

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Self Serve Murder by Dena Haggerty

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As well as being a grad student and working part time at the local youth centre, Kristie Larson helps out as a barista at Callie’s Cakes. When she finds herself in bed one morning with a man she doesn’t know, and soon realises is dead, dazed and shocked she calls her best friend Anna. Kristie has no memory of the previous night, the man or how he ended up at her house, much less in her bed. She and her two friends, Callie and Anna, and their police detective boyfriends, Logan and Ben, begin to unravel the mystery and find out more than they bargained for.

Kristie is cleared of involvement in the death; tests prove she had been drugged and hers wasn’t the first case of this happening. There has been a string of date rapes on the college campus, all with the same approach, and although Kristie comes across as quite diffident and unassuming she’s determined to root out the perpetrator. After accessing a forum dedicated to assault victims and connecting with an online member, she’s in for quite a shock when she finally meets ‘Alex’.

Kristie has depth, tact and is a coffee addict. She’s also keeping a secret from her friends. I enjoyed learning about her life and connection and commitment to the Youth Centre. The three women have a great relationship and are always there for each other. Kristie is easy to like and not as over the top as the other two – Anna, the pink haired pixie and know it all Callie, aka the troublesome twosome.

Reading the previous books would probably have given me a deeper understanding of, and the dynamics between, the characters but having said that I did get a good idea of the personalities. Self-Serve Murder can definitely be read as a standalone. The storyline is emotional given the subject matter, written well and sympathetically, the humour in the appropriate places, and with a suitably creepy and repellent villain.

Told in the first person from Kristie’s perspective, Self-Serve Murder is entertaining, with likeable, sometimes ditzy, female protagonists. I wasn’t too sure about the men. I found Tyler irritating with his continual use of ‘baby’ when talking to Kristie and the insta-love aspect was too much too soon. All three men were a bit too alpha for me….shades of quite assertive cavemen types.

Self-Serve Murder is a cozy mystery with a dark undercurrent which is shockingly all too true. The figure of over 11% of college students subjected to rape on college campuses is correct. And although this is a fun, lighthearted tale the subject of rape is treated very seriously.

Book Description
Book 3 in the Death by Cupcake series. Can be read as a standalone.

Kristie is kind with a capital K, so it’s quite the surprise when she wakes up next to a dead man with no recollection of the previous night. Even worse? She’s naked. Kristie may be a sweetheart out to save the world, but sticking her nose into an investigation of rapes across campus makes her the target of a murderer. Before she knows it, Callie is smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation with her colleagues Callie and Anna. If that’s not enough to drive a sane person up the wall, a friend has decided he’s going to keep her safe whether she wants him to or not. And, oh yeah, he’s her man and that’s that. 

Come join us at Callie’s Cakes, where murder investigations are on the menu. You are most welcome, but you may need to serve yourself as our barista Kristie is busy trying to save the world. 

Warning: Although there are plenty of moments that will make you shake your head and laugh at the antics of the ladies of Callie’s Cakes, the subject matter – rape on college campuses – is very real and somewhat darker than your usual cozy mystery.

About the author
D.E. Haggerty
I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage, every once in a while, to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t my thing either. I decided to follow the husband to Istanbul for a few years where I managed to churn out book after book. But ten years was too many to stay away from ‘home’. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book. 

Did I Meet You In 2016? A Year in Review #NewYearsEve #WeekendBlogShare

Hello Lovely Readers – Did we meet in 2016?

On this New Year’s Eve: My 2016 year in review

I think many folks will be looking back at 2016 and wondering what it all meant to them. I’ve handpicked some of the highlights for me.

meet-ups

In April I had a planned meet up in Glasgow with Barb Taub, Cathy Ryan and Alison Williams. These lovely ladies are all part of my review team. Barb is an author and her blog posts are just the best to entertain you. Cathy is a book reviewer and her book reviews are extremely popular, check out her blog here. Alison is an author and editor, check out her rates and recommendations from satisfied customers.

In June I went to the Bloggers Bash in London and met lots of faces from social media. Sacha Black, Ali Isaac, Hugh Roberts and Geoff Le Pard are the bash organisers. It was the second year of this event and if you can get to London easily and want to meet a variety of bloggers and network, this annual event is a great opportunity. Next year’s date is June 10th, more details here. I chatted with Shelley Wilson, Christina Philippou, Mary Smith, Lucy Mitchell (Blondewritemore), Sarah Hardy and Suzi from Suzi Speaks, the founder of #SundayBlogShare.

Shelley is a very inspirational blogger and author, splitting her work between fantasy and non-fiction self help. I’m thrilled that she will be running a four week guest series on ways to motivate yourself here on the blog every Wednesday this January.

In August had I an enforced two weeks off as I was required to do jury service, not something I wanted to attend, but you can’t wriggle out of it very easily these days. However is was interesting to see how the system works, how strict it all felt and how sad that the case I had, ever came to court. On a positive note, whilst in Guildford I made a renewed contact with Christina Philippou and this lead to me attending her book launch in September.

At Christina’s book launch for her debut novel (Lost In Static), I met Neats from the Haphazardous Hippo ( lilac Hippo) a book blogger who lives near by and we met Chris’ publisher Matthew from Urbane Publications. This is small up and coming publisher check it out here.

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My links with Chris and Neats took me to a Blogger/author meet up in London. Event organisers; Kim Nash @kimthebookworm and Holly Martin @hollymartin00  run these events alternating between London and Birmingham. This was a fun afternoon with a mix of authors and book bloggers all chatting in a relaxed atmosphere. I particularly enjoyed chatting to; Author Jessica Norrie, Book bloggers Susan Hampson, Anne Williams and  Jo Robertson, authors Barbara Copperthwait,  Jan Brigden and Steven Hayward

Another day I met book reviewer Liz Lloyd for an Autumn walk around a local village.

Late November Neats invited me to a book launch. We spent a Saturday afternoon in Farnham meeting author Kristen Bailey as she launched book #2 of her contemporary women’s fiction  “Second Helpings”. We also networked and by chance met another Urban Publication’s author Shirley Golden.

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December saw me heading to Leicester to meet Lizzie Lamb, June Kearns, Adrienne Vaughan, Margaret Cullingford and several other members at their monthly RNA meeting. Lizzie, June, Adrienne and Margaret are also know an the New Romantics Four. With me came author, reviewer and Twitter Queen Terry Tyler, Cathy Ryan, Shelley Wilson, and Proofreader Julia Gibbs. It was great to meet Terry’s sister Julia, who was recently on the TV quiz show Pointless. If you need recommended help with copy editing or proofreading do check out her site here.  In the evening we met with authors Mark Barry and Georgia Rose. Mark runs workshops in schools encouraging reluctant readers to pick up books and Georgia has been a guest speaker for Mark, she also runs her own self publishing workshops.

The 2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge tells me I’ve read 175 books this year, however I’ve also beta read 4 books and have read others which aren’t yet on Goodreads, this bumps the number up a little.

What am I going to do next year? Perhaps I’ll meet you. I plan to go out and meet lots more authors and bloggers, nothing beats a face to face meeting.

I’d like to wish all my readers and reviewers a very Happy New Year.

Here are useful Twitter handles of people I’ve met this year.

@barbtaub

@CathyRy

@AlisonW_Editor

@sacha_black

@aliisaac_

@HughRoberts05

@geofflepard

@ShelleyWilson72

@CPhilippou123

@urbanepub

@marysmithwriter

@Blondewritemore

@sarahhardy681

@suzie81blog

@lilac_hippo

@KimTheBookworm

@hollymartin00

@jessica_Norrie

@susanhampsom57

@Williams13Anne

@jocatrobinson

@BCopperthwait

@JanBrigden

@stevieboyh

@LizanneLloyd

@baileyforce6

@shirl1001

@lizzie_lamb

@june_kearns

@adrienneauthor

@CullingfordMags

@newromantics4

@TerryTyler4

@ProofreadJulia

@GreenWizard62

@GeorgiaRoseBook

@rosieamber1

Stepping Out From Behind the blogging computer #wwwblogs

Stepping out from behind the blogging computer

Our group

Our group

What does it take to dig a book blogger out from behind their computer? About as much effort as it does to dig out an author!

In a bid to step out of my book reviewing bubble, I’ve been pushing myself to go out and meet new bloggers and authors, and I’ve been inviting along several others, too.

Our latest road trip was to Leicester to meet with the ladies from the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA). Joining them at their monthly meeting in the Belmont Hotel, we were made to feel very welcome by Lizzie Lamb and our hosts. From my book review team came: Terry Tyler, Cathy Ryan and Shelley Wilson, and Terry’s sister Julia (Proofreader Julia) asked if she could come too. We also managed to get Georgia Rose and Mark Barry to meet us in the afternoon.

Speaking to people face to face that you’ve only met virtually is wonderful, and being able to talk about all things bookish is even greater; it gives a depth to your friendship. Yes, it’s networking, but it doesn’t feel like work when you’re having fun.

There were five of us who stayed the night, but even twenty four hours wasn’t long enough to talk about all the books in the world, so we’ll be planning another trip soon. I have ambitions for 2017, perhaps, to head to Wales and the North East, plus have a meet up closer to home in the South or London.

Big thanks to Terry for the photos, you can read her own post about our trip here do click through it is a brilliant post.

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The #RBRT Reviewer Profiles – Cathy Ryan @CathyRy #MondayBlogs

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Reviewers on the #RBRT are very busy hard working people who give their time freely, so I thought it was about time readers had the chance to meet them and find out a bit more about them.

Cathy Ryan

 

Cathy Ryan lives in Somerset, UK

You can find Cathy’s book reviews at: http://betweenthelinesbookblog.com

Cathy’s reviews can also be found here:

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/7796704-cathy-ryan?order=d&sort=review&view=reviews

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/cdp/member-reviews/?ie=UTF8&ref_=ya_your_reviews&sort_by=MostRecentReview

Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/?ie=UTF8&ref_=ya_your_reviews&sort_by=MostRecentReview

Genres Cathy enjoys are:  Crime, mystery, paranormal, some sci-fi, contemporary, some historical, Cathy says she’ll try most anything once and go from there.

Book Formats Cathy prefers for the review team are;  mobi or Amazon gift

Hobbies &interests? My hobbies and interests include blogging and book reviews – obviously 😉 – walking, photography, theatre, music and my dog.

Reading Soft edge

I asked, “What new genres have you tried from the review team list?”

I’ve chosen more contemporary women’s fiction that I would normally, also post apocalyptic/horror.

“What genres make you step out of your comfort zone?”

Straight chick lit/romance, without another element such as paranormal or crime. High epic fantasy is another genre I’m not comfortable with.

“What do you look for in a book?”

Empathy with the characters is a must, they must have depth as well. If I can’t like characters the book falls flat. Also believable dialogue and a good plot which leads in unexpected directions.

“Book Styles you don’t enjoy?”

I can’t actually think of a book style I don’t enjoy, so far anyway! If I had to choose one it would probably be epic dramas.

“Do you read & review Non-Fiction?”

I may read a non fiction book very occasionally but I don’t review them.