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.

Desc 1

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.

Desc 1

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?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Short Story Collection: Historical Stories of Betrayal @tonyriches #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Historical Stories Of Betrayal

Betrayal: Historical Stories by [Judith Arnopp, Cryssa Bazos, Anna Belfrage, Derek  Birks, Helen Hollick, Amy  Maroney, Alison Morton, Charlene Newcomb, Tony Riches, Mercedes Rochelle, Annie Whitehead, Elizabeth St.John]

Historical Stories of Betrayal is a wonderful collection of short stories written by a variety of authors, with dates ranging from AD 455 when Roman leader Ambrosius needs people around him he can trust, up to 1849 and the present when Carina must discover the ancestor who betrayed the family or it will result in devastation for the family.

A couple of my personal favourites include Heart of a Falcon by Amy Maroney which tells the story of Estelle, a young Frenchwoman, whose family live in Rhodes town where her father is falconer to the Grand Master. When Estelle is invited by the King of Cyprus to be companion to his daughter and tutor his forthcoming grandchild her dreams are dashed as she soon discovers the underlying reason behind her being sent away.

Road to the Tower by Elizabeth St. John tells of events in 1483 when Lady Elysabeth Scrope stood as godmother to the young Prince Edward. When she received an urgent summons for herself and her husband from the Duke of Gloucester, her husband was not at home. King Edward IV was dead and the prince was in danger. He must be taken to London immediately for the coronation. Elysabeth believed in Sovereynté – the right of women to make their own decisions…so she undertook the journey to London.

All the stories are of a high standard, offering a glimpse into the past when treachery, injustice and treason were rife, and includes historical figures such as Thomas Percy who is trapped in a no-win situation, Francis Drake coping with trouble at sea, Margaret Beaufort found guilty of treason, and pirates Anne Bonny and Calico Jack to name but a few. Anyone who loves historical fiction would find stories to enjoy in this collection.

Book description

Read twelve tales by twelve accomplished writers who explore these historical yet timeless challenges.

AD455—Roman leader Ambrosius is caught in a whirlpool of shifting allegiances
AD940—Alyeva and cleric Dunstan navigate the dangers of the Anglo Saxon court
1185—Knight Stephan fights for comradeship, duty, and honour. But what about love?
1330—The powerful Edmund of Kent enters a tangled web of intrigue
1403—Thomas Percy must decide whether to betray his sovereign or his family
1457—Estelle is invited to the King of Cyprus’s court, but deception awaits
1483—Has Elysabeth made the right decision to bring Prince Edward to London?
1484—Margaret Beaufort contemplates the path to treason
1577—Francis Drake contends with disloyalty at sea
1650—Can James Hart, Royalist highwayman, stop a nemesis destroying his friend?
1718—Pirate Annie Bonny, her lover Calico Jack, and a pirate hunter. Who will win?
1849/present—Carina must discover her ancestor’s betrayer in Italy or face ruin.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

Betrayal: Historical Stories by [Judith Arnopp, Cryssa Bazos, Anna Belfrage, Derek  Birks, Helen Hollick, Amy  Maroney, Alison Morton, Charlene Newcomb, Tony Riches, Mercedes Rochelle, Annie Whitehead, Elizabeth St.John]

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Writedown: Lockdown in the Galloway Glens at the Time of Covid by Margaret Elphinstone et al @marysmithwriter

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Writedown: Lockdown in the Galloway Glens at the Time of Covid by Margaret Elphinstone et al

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Writedown is a book that will serve well as a historical insight of shared experiences during a very unusual and difficult time. A group of people in Galloway, Scotland write of their concerns for loved ones, fears and general reactions to living in the midst of what would turn out to be the first lockdown during a worldwide pandemic.
Many of the emotions, adjustments to daily life and worries are all too relatable – coping with isolation, not being able to see family, except via a device/computer screen or talking on the phone, especially hard for those living alone or those without any outdoor space – as a ’new reality’ became the norm.

‘Time becomes strange. A week feels long. Yet each day rushes past.’ — June

The individual entries showed people did what they could to fill time, which should have been spent doing other things, spending time in nature, gardening, reading, writing, even making scrubs for hospital staff – luckily the weather was generally very good during those months.
Many emotions were expressed, including anger, grief, humour, anxiety and loneliness, and the effects of it all, both mental and physical. On the other side of the coin, it was also a time to slow down, not be tied down to an agenda, a chance to appreciate the beauty of nature which thrived, and with little to no traffic on the road or in the air the earth people were pleased to see the earth showing definite signs of recovery.

‘There are no planes in the sky. The air is clear, even in Beijing: I saw it on the news. How long have we campaigned for this.’ — Margaret

And then of course, there was the awful political news from other countries, plus our own government’s inefficiency and the emotional and horrific reality of the deaths nearer to home, which caused anger, sadness and distress.

‘I don’t often cry, but tears well up when I hear of people dying alone in hospital, with no family around them. A 17-year-old carer gives a client a gift of a cushion on which is imprinted his late wife’s photo. He cries. I cry.’ — Mary

Writedown certainly isn’t all doom and gloom though, there’s humour and lighter moments, appreciating the pleasure of simple things like the beautiful landscapes, flowers, having time to plant and grow. Taking time to listen to the birdsong, admiring the world for its flora, fauna and natural beauty. It’s an intriguing glimpse into how a community coped during an unprecedented time.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #ContemporaryFiction GRACE & SERENITY by @AnnalisaCrawf #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Grace & Serenity by Annalisa Crawford

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This was quite a dark, although sensitively addressed story, and one that emphasises how easily someone can get sucked in to situations they feel unable to control.

Grace was just sixteen when she met Neil, and not much older when she became pregnant. Neil had charmed Grace from the beginning but she saw another side of him when she told him she was expecting their child. He didn’t want to know and made his feelings plain. This was the first sign of his true character and a precursor of what was to come.

A moment ago I was fifteen, lying on my bed watching Rihanna and Katy Perry on YouTube, my legs swinging in time with the music.

A moment ago I was meeting Neil for the first time, at some stupid party.

Run, run away.

In an about face, Neil decides to take responsibility and asks Grace to marry him. Grace’s plans for university morph into dreams of a happy home life with a loving husband and beautiful baby, but real life is nothing like she imagined. Instead Grace becomes exhausted with a fussy baby and no help from her husband who acts like he’s still single.

Grace descends into an abusive and manipulating relationship, which sees Neil’s cruelty and deviousness escalate, making it look like Grace is at fault. Although Grace tries to take back control of her life, things get even worse as Grace feels betrayed by her parents and spirals into a desperate situation that includes homelessness, alcohol abuse, prostitution, physical and mental abuse.

Grace and Serenity is hard hitting, shocking and emotional. Events are seen through Grace’s eyes  in all their stark reality. Annalisa Crawford pulls no punches in this all too plausible and heartbreaking story. The writing is full of imagery with a touch of the paranormal and without going into unnecessary, gratuitous details, evoking a myriad of emotions.

It’s a compelling story and, although I couldn’t see how, I really hoped Grace would somehow get her life back on track. 

Book description

Living on the streets is terrifying and exhausting. Grace’s only comforts are a steady stream of vodka, and a strange little boy who’s following her around.

At nineteen, Grace has already had a child and endured an abusive marriage. But she’s also had her baby abducted by her vengeful husband and been framed as a neglectful mother. Even her own parents doubted her version of the story. So she did the only thing that made sense to her—run away.

The streets are unforgiving. Winter is drawing in. And Grace isn’t prepared for the harsh realities of survival. At her very bleakest, a Good Samaritan swoops into her life and rescues her. With a roof over her head and food in her stomach, she longs to see her baby again.

But nothing ever comes for free.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Vintage #Mystery HIGH WIRE IN NUALA by @harrietsteel1

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading High Wire In Nuala by Harriet Steel

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The racecourse in Nuala was busy, but not for the racing. The Russian circus had come to town with its colourful wagons and big top. Excitement had built with the appearance of posters advertising trapeze artists, jugglers and high wire, even a snake charmer—de Silva’s dislike of the reptiles causing him to shudder at the thought—along with several other acts.

It was full house for opening night and all was going well with the dance troupe opening the show, followed by the rest of the acts, until there was what looked like a terrible accident during the high wire walk. Inspector Shanti de Silva was in the audience with his wife, Jane and their friends, Doctor and Mrs Hebden, so de Silva and Dr Hebden were able to be first on the scene.

“So tense that you could almost touch it, a hush had fallen over the audience. The low, pulsing beat of the drums heightened the apprehension that filled the air. Every time Tatiana paused, there were gasps of alarm. A pain throbbed behind de Silva’s eyes. He felt as if he was making the slow walk with her. At last, the end of the wire was not far away. Tatiana turned her head a fraction towards the audience; he glimpsed a smile of mischievous triumph on her face. She took another step closer to the tower, and the audience exhaled a collective sigh of relief. Soon she would be safe. Clapping began to swell.
And then it died.”

De Silva suspects this was no accident and that he was looking at a murder, but wonders if his hands are tied as his superior, Archie Clutterbuck, believes the suspicious death of a foreigner isn’t a matter for the Nuala police. But as de Silva was questioning the circus folk another body was discovered.

High Wire in Nuala is another enjoyable mystery, set in the evocatively described Ceylon of the 1930s, capturing the sense of place and the contrast between cultures. The rich, multicultural way of life is still evident but also with the possibility of changes on the horizon. It was lovely once again to get reacquainted with the engaging characters at the heart of the series.

The well thought through plot unfolds at a steady pace as de Silva’s investigation leads him to uncover much more than he initially expected.

Book description

Much to the delight of the locals, a colourful Russian circus rolls into Nuala, but the fun ends abruptly when, on the opening night, a tragic accident takes place.
Shanti de Silva and his wife, Jane are among the crowd to witness the accident. Or was it an accident? Inspector de Silva senses murder, and soon, he’s juggling with the evidence. Will the trail lead to the circus’s dashing stunt rider and master of horse, Alexei Goncharov, or to Alexei’s brother Boris, its boisterous ringmaster? Throw a string of jewel thefts and some deadly snakes into the mix and the list of suspects grows.
De Silva will need to keep his wits about him to unravel yet another absorbing puzzle in this charming and addictive mystery series set in the 1930s in exotic Ceylon.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Histfic #Romance GENTLEMAN JIM by @MimiMatthewsEsq

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Gentleman Jim by Mimi Matthews

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Maggie Honeywell, the only child of Squire Honeywell and raised more as his son and eventual heir than an indulged daughter, had a happy childhood spending most of her time with Nicholas Seaton, the illegitimate son of scullery maid, Jenny Seaton. Now a groom in Squire Honeywell’s stables, Nicholas had incurred the wrath of Frederick Burton-Smythe, whose estate borders the Honeywell’s and the man her father wants Maggie to marry. Their fathers had agreed years ago the two would marry, thereby joining the two estates. Maggie had other ideas. Nicholas was the only man for her and the feeling was mutual.

Determined to get rid of Nicholas, cowardly bully Frederick accuses him of stealing pieces of Maggie’s jewellery, beats him and locks him in a loose box to await his fate when Frederick returns with the magistrate.

‘Beaten and bloody, Nicholas Seaton sat on the straw-covered floor of the loose box, his legs drawn up against his chest and his forehead resting on his knees. There was no possibility of escape. The doors of the loose box had been bolted shut and the wooden walls were made strong and thick, built to hold the most powerful of Squire Honeywell’s blooded stallions.’

Thanks to Maggie, Nicholas is able to escape, vowing to try and find the man he believes to be his father and return for Maggie. Ten years on and Maggie has all but given up hope and suffers lingering symptoms from a bout of influenza. Her father had passed away and the terms of his will stipulate she has to marry someone Frederick approves of in order to keep her beloved Beasley Park, or after two years the entire estate passes to Frederick. As he also controls the purse strings and wants to control Maggie, she has to ask his permission for anything she needs. A visit to an old friend in London opens up new opportunities for Maggie and she soon recovers her spirit and the will to fight for her right to be happy, although her physical recovery takes longer.

I’m a recent convert to Mimi Matthews’ books, having only read two previously. Gentleman Jim is actually my favourite so far. It’s a tale of romance, drama, revenge, overcoming obstacles and much more. Lots of wonderfully described detail, in keeping with the culture and etiquette of the period. Maggie and St Clare are charismatic protagonists who develop and adjust as the story unfolds, with the secondary characters adding much to the story. Highly recommended for those who like a good Victorian romance, with elements of danger, secrecy and daring.

Book description

She couldn’t forget…

Wealthy squire’s daughter Margaret Honeywell was always meant to marry her neighbor, Frederick Burton-Smythe, but it’s bastard-born Nicholas Seaton who has her heart. Raised alongside her on her father’s estate, Nicholas is the rumored son of notorious highwayman Gentleman Jim. When Fred frames him for theft, Nicholas escapes into the night, vowing to find his legendary sire. But Nicholas never returns. A decade later, he’s long been presumed dead.

He wouldn’t forgive…

After years spent on the continent, John Beresford, Viscount St. Clare has finally come home to England. Tall, blond, and dangerous, he’s on a mission to restore his family’s honor. If he can mete out a bit of revenge along the way, so much the better. But he hasn’t reckoned for Maggie Honeywell. She’s bold and beautiful—and entirely convinced he’s someone else.

As danger closes in, St. Clare is torn between love and vengeance. Will he sacrifice one to gain the other? Or with a little luck—and a lot of daring—will he find a way to have them both?

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Child Adoption Drama THE LOST BLACKBIRD by @LizaPerrat

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading The Lost Blackbird by Liza Perrat

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The story begins in January 1962 when Lucy and Charly Rivers’ father comes home drunk, as he often does, and a fall leaves him dead at the bottom of the stairs. Their mother, who was out at the time, was charged with his murder and the sisters were sent to Easthaven Home for Girls. The home was run by authoritative and heartless Mrs Mersey, who spared no kindness or pity for the unfortunate girls in her supposed care.

“Because once Mrs Mersey rang the meal bell, you had to stop talking, sniffing and coughing. And there was definitely no crying. You had to go to the toilet and wash your hands. And on the next bell you had to go to the dining room, and if you even sneezed Mrs Mersey would dart you the crow-eyed look that knocked your knees together. You were only allowed to speak to say Grace or answer if Mrs Mersey — Mrs Merseyless the Seniors called her, behind her back — spoke to you, which she only ever did to tell you off or punish you.”

When the girls were offered the chance of what seemed like a wonderful new life in Australia, with its sunshine, long, sandy beaches, fruit that can be eaten straight from the tree, parks and play areas, not to mention the kangaroos and koala bears, Lucy was concerned it sounded too good to be true and their mother would never be able to find them. But they had no choice in the matter. They were shipped out, along with Lucy’s best friend, Vinnie, and several others. Lucy hoped the life described to them would benefit Charly, who wanted her mum and was having a hard time coping at Easthaven.

The children bloomed on the six week trip across the ocean, with fresh air, good food, new clothes and lots of time for activities. Their idyll came to an abrupt end when they reached Australia. Despite being promised siblings would be kept together, Lucy and Charly were separated and were taken to different areas of the country.

The Lost Blackbird is a fictionalised account based on real events and exposes a dark and terrible time in a not too distant past. Vulnerable children, who were not necessarily orphans, were shipped off to Australia, in most cases without their parents’ knowledge or consent, and very often with a life of drudgery and servitude ahead. No better off, in fact, than life in Easthaven, and in some cases worse. Carly, at five years old, was adopted. Lucy, twice her age, wasn’t so lucky. The story is told from both Lucy’s and Charly’s perspectives, Lucy’s harsh life on a farm in the outback and the contrast of Charly’s life with her adoptive parents. But even then things weren’t as they seemed and had adverse effects.

Liza Perrat has obviously researched the historical facts extensively and consequently the story reflects the abuse, both physical and mental, in England and Australia, that children were forced to endure. Characters are extremely well defined, their personalities evident and believable in the way their experiences shaped them and were easy to visualise, in some cases hard to forget.

The writing is wonderful, the setting perfectly realised. Liza Perrat has the knack of pulling the reader in and giving a sense of involvement. A compelling, moving and powerful read, all the more so because we know it actually happened. I’m very glad Lucy and Charly’s story ended they way it did, although I’m sure this wasn’t the case for many of those deported.

Book description

A powerful story of sisters cruelly torn apart by a shameful event in British-Australian history. Clare Flynn, author of The Pearl of Penang
London 1962. A strict and loveless English children’s home, or the promise of Australian sunshine, sandy beaches and eating fruit straight from the tree. Which would you choose?
Ten-year-old Lucy Rivers and her five-year-old sister Charly are thrilled when a child migrant scheme offers them the chance to escape their miserable past.
But on arrival in Sydney, the girls discover their fantasy future is more nightmare than dream.
Lucy’s lot is near-slavery at Seabreeze Farm where living conditions are inhuman, the flies and heat unbearable and the owner a sadistic bully. What must she do to survive?
Meanwhile Charly, adopted by the nurturing and privileged Ashwood family, gradually senses that her new parents are hiding something. When the truth emerges, the whole family crumbles. Can Charly recover from this bittersweet deception?
Will the sisters, stranded miles apart in a strange country, ever find each other again?
A poignant testament to child migrants who suffered unforgivable evil, The Lost Blackbird explores the power of family bonds and our desire to know who we are.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Victorian #Mystery FAME & FORTUNE by @carolJhedges

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Fame & Fortune by Carol J Hedges.

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Fame & Fortune is the eighth outing for DS Jack Cully, DI Lachlan Greig and DI Leo Stride, otherwise known as the Victorian Detectives. Carol Hedges immerses us once again in a London peopled with the sad and the bad, the rich and the poor, and the evocatively described back alleys, slums and more fashionable thoroughfares they inhabit.

When a body is found hanging from the scaffolding on a bridge, Detective Inspector Greig doesn’t agree with the presumption of suicide by the attending constable. It didn’t add up in Greig’s eyes but the ineptitude of the constable regarding the scene of the crime, as Greig believed that’s what it was, didn’t help.

Then we have Gerald Daubney, a collector of antiquities who has been robbed of his priceless netsuke collection and, it seems, his manservant has also disappeared.

In a shabby, cobbled passageway in Bloomsbury we find ten year old Izzy Harding, scraping a living of sorts and existing off very little, painting furniture for dolls’ houses, one of the many children working at the long tables. Her second job washing dishes in a diner at least comes with food, such as it is.

The indomitable Miss Lucy Landseer makes another appearance when she comes to the aid, not only of novelist, Mrs Riva Hemmyng-Stratton, but also a lady in an intolerable position, in a situation that would perhaps make a good plot for one of her books.

The villainous Black brothers, Herbert and Munro, encompass all that is bad and whose shady dealings have serious and continuing repercussions throughout the city.

I enjoy these books immensely and Carol Hedges’ writing and plotting never fails to draw me in, with witty and engaging prose. Characters are extremely well drawn, giving an immediate visual image and the existing cast continue to develop. And as always, London features as a character in its own right with atmospheric descriptions and the distinct social divide between all levels of society.

Book description

When the body of a man is discovered hanging from some scaffolding under one of London’s bridges, Scotland Yard’s detective division is called in to solve the mystery of his identity & how he died. What they discover is a web of crime and extortion, and at the heart of it, two evil brothers, Munro and Herbert Black. Their inquiries will bring them into contact with the strange world of Gerald Daubney, collector of Japanese curios, whose priceless collection of netsuke has disappeared.

Facing a similar loss is Mrs Riva Hemmyng-Stratton, writer of ‘silver-fork’ novels, who suddenly finds herself embroiled in a court case when she is sued for defamation and libel by Lord Edwin Lackington. Her priceless reputation as a writer is on the line. How on earth can she prove her innocence when the only person who could vouch for it is incarcerated in a private asylum?

Many old friends make appearances in the novel … and a certain meaningful relationship finally reaches its conclusion.

AmazonUk |