Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #childrensfiction Jimmy The House Spider by Raymond T Davies

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Jimmy The House Spider by Raymond T Davies


I read Jimmy the House Spider with my five year old grandson, or more accurately he read it to me. There’s quite a lot more to read in this book as opposed to the reading books he brings home from school, but we read it in three short sessions. There are several words that I thought were quite advanced for the target age group, such as instinctively and laboriously, so help was needed with some pronunciations and explanations of the meaning, which isn’t a bad thing. That aside, he was very pleased with himself when he’d finished the book and wanted to take it into school. The teacher read it to the class and I’m told most of the children were entertained by it.

To be honest, I was surprised at how much he enjoyed it, as his reading choice when he’s at our house, at the moment anyway, mostly consists of dinosaurs, dinosaurs and more dinosaurs. Jimmy the House Spider kept his interest and was a welcome change. The fact that a spider lived in Grandpa’s top pocket caused much amusement and Jimmy’s adventures and the dangers he faced added to the enjoyment, which was enhanced by very good illustrations.

It’s a cute story with facts about other insects and animals woven into the narrative, and an underlying message which hopefully will encourage, and help children to lose their fear and/or dislike of spiders. The way it’s written educates in a fun way and shows spiders in a harmless and engaging light.

Book description

‘I have spent a good deal of time teaching my children and grandchildren to respect the other creatures we share our world with. Many children and even many grown-ups, suffer from arachnophobia with unfortunate results for themselves and the spiders; particularly those who inhabit our homes. My hope is this house spider adventure will dispel some of those fears and influence children and their parents to look kindly on these useful and harmless little creatures and indeed, all life forms which make up our world. They all have their part to play in ensuring our unique planet and the life it supports, will continue.’

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Romantic #suspense Cash Valley by Ryan Nelson

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Cash Valley by Ryan Nelson


Set in 1950s Utah, FBI Agent Alex Travis is assigned to the Cache County bank robbery case. The distinction of hopefully solving a robbery that had eluded his predecessors appeals to him very much. He decides to make the most of the opportunity, especially when he receives an anonymous phone call from someone, on behalf of another party, who apparently has information about the robbery. He’s in two minds whether to believe it but nevertheless the following day he drives to Green Canyon in Logan, the specified meeting place. There he meets Jack Pepper and hears his story.

I think, from a reader’s point of view, the narrative would have flowed better, and added to the suspense and action, had we had Jack and Kate’s story from their perspectives as it happened, rather than be told about it through conversations with Agent Travis. For the first 50% of the book, the story line was built first by Jack and then Kate, each relating the events of the previous two years regarding their encounters with the bank robbers. I must say, like Agent Travis, I was a little sceptical that the leader of a dangerous gang of bank robbers would immediately confess to the crime and relate the whole story of how it was accomplished to two people they happened to stumble across in the woods. The second half of the story, set in the present, picked up the pace and there were some unexpected twists.

The setting and descriptions are interesting, and the feel of the area comes across. I enjoyed the glimpse into the historical aspects too. The three main characters are likable and portrayed well but the language used, particularly the dialogue, was overly detailed and a little unnatural. ‘After a necessary sigh, Agent Travis conceded and reached for the phone. “Agent Travis,” he said, speaking with forced authority’. Unfortunately, I think the book has been let down by the editing and proofreading processes, which is a shame because the basic idea of the story could work well.

Book description

When FBI Agent Alex Travis receives an anonymous phone call on a September morning in 1954 with a tip concerning the now cold case of the Cache County Bank robbery, it has his undivided attention. The tip leads Travis to the top of the secluded Green canyon in Logan, Utah, where a young man named Jack Pepper proceeds to tell a story spanning the two years from the time of the robbery, when he and his girlfriend, Kate Austin, stumbled upon the crime of the century for the Cache valley. Travis must decide if he is dealing with the suspects or the victims of one of the largest bank robberies in U.S. history.

To get the answers, it will take one more trip up the canyon, to the entrance of the Spring Hollow mine, where the daylight ends and the cold dark begins.

About the author

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Ryan now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He released his debut novel, Cash Valley, in 2016 to critical acclaim, including earning a spot as a finalist for a RONE award and making the Shortlist in the Chanticleer International Book Awards.

Ryan K. Nelson

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Modern #fairytale The Royal Deal by @DGDriverAuthor

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading The Royal Deal by D.G. Driver


Princess Faith is well aware of the circulating whispers after she turned down an offer of marriage from Prince Jaeger of Aronsite. But she was determined she would marry someone of her choosing, not be forced into a union with a man more concerned with what cloak he should wear while riding than the fate of the people in his kingdom, despite her father’s displeasure. She had counted on marrying the prince’s elder brother, Mikhail, but he has been missing since a battle with the Northerners.

Faith is not a typical, spoiled princess. She’s well aware of her practical shortcomings but in a last ditch attempt to avoid the unwanted marriage, Faith comes up with a plan and decides to try and make a deal with her father.

Faith wasn’t ready to give up, however, and put her idea to her father. If she can survive on her own in the outside world for three months and return without having suffered any ill effects, she can choose her own husband. If she fails, she gives her promise to marry as her father wishes. The King agrees, confident his pampered daughter will be back in no time.

This modern take on a fairy tale was a quick and very pleasant way to while away an hour or two. Faith was a lovely, genuine character, I was willing her to succeed even though it looked very unlikely. She knows she has weaknesses but believes in herself and wants to take control of her own life. Faith is made of strong stuff for someone who has been cosseted all her life, and despite being completely ill-equipped, the hardships, difficulties and failures, she is courageous and doesn’t give up easily. Lessons are learned during her time in the forest, about herself and what is important in life – anything worth having is worth fighting for.

Book description

A pampered princess is told she must marry a prince she doesn’t like, let alone love, on her nineteenth birthday. Desperate to find a way to stop this arranged marriage, she makes a bargain with her father. If she can survive for three months in the forest with no help of any kind and return healthy and unharmed, then she can choose the man she will marry. The King accepts the wager, knowing he can’t possibly lose. Princess Faith knows she must win this deal, but once she ventures into the forest, she has no idea how she can possibly succeed.

About the author

D. G. Driver likes to write about diverse people dealing with social or environmental issues, but she likes to include a touch of fantasy or fun, too. She primarily writes middle grade and young adult fiction. She is the award-winning author of the YA eco-fiction series The Juniper Sawfeather Novels, which includes Cry of the Sea, Whisper of the Woods, and Echo of the Cliffs. She has stories in a variety of anthologies, and her newest book is a middle grade story about bullying and Autism awareness called No One Needed to Know. When she isn’t writing, she is teaching, performing in a local community theater musical, or probably watching TV.

D.G. Driver

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Rosie’s review Team #RBRT That Summer At The Seahorse Hotel by @adrienneauthor #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading That Summer At The Seahorse Hotel by Adrienne Vaughan


With a cast of wonderfully realised characters, this story transported me to Ireland and Galty House, set in the beautifully described coastal location of Rosshaven. Archie Fitzgerald, legendary actor, is dying, but determined to depart on his own terms. He wants Mia, the daughter of his close friend and fellow actor, Fenella Flanagan, to come home to Galty House for what will be their last summer together.

I love the almost ethereal quality of the cover image which compliments the theme of the book perfectly. Reminders of a past long gone, reminiscences and repercussions play a big part in the story. Whatever happened all those years ago has been a closely guarded secret, long buried and never spoken of. But now things are changing. Fenella is terrified Archie will feel compelled to break his promise and Bernice, Archie’s sister, wants to know what’s going to happen to Galty House when Archie is no longer there. Added to that is the mystery of the small island in the bay, with its atmosphere of secrecy and darkness.

Mia has only ever wanted to know who her father was, and why her mother would never say, but she gave up asking years ago and was content with the people she loves and who love her–her mother, Archie, Bernice and unconventional housekeeper Leela. But now, the desire to know has reasserted itself. When Archie lets her know she will inherit his estate, it makes her wonder if he is her father.

Newcomers to Rosshaven, Ross Power, Chief Executive of the new Harbour Spa Hotel in the village, and his niece, Pearl, quickly become involved with the family, and the stage is set for a very eventful summer of joy, heartbreak, tragedy, romance and surfacing revelations. Secrets are exposed, as is the greed and selfishness of certain people.

Sections from the past are scattered tantalizingly throughout the narrative and, as the small group spend time together, layers are uncovered, feelings laid bare and several threads are woven into the storyline. As with her previous books, Adrienne Vaughan’s knack of creating engaging and compelling characters who completely captivate, in a fabulous setting, is evident. Archie is outwardly theatrical and colourful, wanting to make the most of the time he has left, but understandably frailty shows through. I love Mia, the bond between her and Archie and the developing one with Pearl, another wonderful character.

Written with confidence, delightfully authentic dialogue and style, this was a joy to read.

Book description

Mia Flanagan has never been told who her father is and aged ten, stopped asking.

Haunted by this, she remains a dutiful daughter who would never do anything to bring scandal or shame on her beautiful and famously single mother.

So when Archie Fitzgerald, one of Hollywood’s favourite actors, decides to leave Mia his Irish estate, she asks herself – is he her father after all?

That Summer at the Seahorse Hotel is a tale of passion, jealousy and betrayal – and the ghost of a secret love that binds this colourful cast yet still threatens, after all these years, to tear each of them apart.

About the author

Adrienne Vaughan has been making up stories since she could speak; primarily to entertain her sister Reta, who from a very early age never allowed a plot or character to be repeated – tough audience. As soon as she could pick up a pen, she started writing them down. It was no surprise she wanted to be a journalist; ideally the editor of a glossy music and fashion magazine, so she could meet and marry a pop star – some of that came true – and in common with so many, still holds the burning ambition to be a ‘Bond Girl’! She now runs a busy PR practice and writes poems, short stories and ideas for books, in her spare time. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a founder member of the indie publishing group The New Romantics4. Adrienne lives in Leicestershire with her husband, two cocker spaniels and a retired dressage horse called Marco.

Adrienne Vaughan

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT @CathyRy reviews vintage #mystery A Clerical Error by @newwrites

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading A Clerical Error by J New


This is the third book in the cozy mystery series set in the 1930s, featuring
Ella Bridges and her ghost cat, Phantom. Ella’s life has taken a very unexpected turn. Having believed her husband, John, had died two years ago, she now knows that to be false after a telephone call out of the blue and a conversation with the Home Secretary. With the help of her Uncle Albert, Ella finally learns the truth about John and his activities. Her housekeeper, Mrs Shaw, also proves not to be who, or what, she had claimed. A visit with her Aunt Margaret goes someway to helping Ella to absorb the shocks, put her feelings of anger and distress in perspective and restore her composure.

Ella returns home feeling much more positive and looking forward to a return visit from her aunt. A near miss while out on a bicycle ride brings about an acquaintance with two ladies involved in raising funds for the church and Ella is soon persuaded to run a stall at the May Day Fete. Sergeant Baxter, the policeman Ella has worked with previously was attending the fete, along with the vicar, Father Michael, recently returned from a sabbatical. The fun was cut short drastically when a suspicious death occurred.

Another entertaining mystery, well written with a well crafted and twisty story line. As with the previous books the atmosphere of the era is brought to life perfectly, with suitable dialogue, lifestyle and descriptive prose. Realistic, developing characters and relationships add to the appeal. Despite Ella’s personal problems, she and Sergeant Baxter work together and follow the clues, some of which, understandably, take Ella a little longer to process this time round. It’s useful, however, having friends in high places who are only too willing to help.

There’s less of the paranormal in this story but I was glad Phantom made several appearances. A well thought through and interesting mystery, the reveal coming as a complete surprise. The threads running through the main story line were all wrapped up too, which was good. These are the perfect cozies; engaging characters, no sex or gratuitous violence and a very enjoyable story in a vintage setting.

Book description

When the crime scene is pure coincidence and there’s no evidence, how do you prove it was murder?

Ella Bridges faces her most challenging investigation so far when the vicar dies suddenly at the May Day Fete. But with evidence scarce and her personal life unravelling in ways she could never have imagined, she misses vital clues in the investigation.
Working alongside Sergeant Baxter of Scotland Yard, will Ella manage to unearth the clues needed to catch the killer before another life is lost? Or will personal shock cloud her mind and result in another tragedy?

‘A Clerical Error’ is set in 1930’s England, and is the third of The Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery series.
‘Miss Marple meets The Ghost Whisperer’ – Perfect For Fans of Golden Age Murder Mysteries, Cozy Mysteries, Clean Reads and British Amateur Sleuths

About the author

J. New is the British author of The Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery series. Set on the fictitious island of Linhay in the south of England during the 1930’s, they are an homage to the Golden Age mysteries but with a contemporary twist.

J. New

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT naval #thriller JONAH by @CarlRackman #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Jonah by Carl Rackman


Carl Rackman is rapidly becoming one of my favourite authors. His debut novel Irex, was published in 2016, closely followed by Voyager, and now we have Jonah, a suspenseful and compelling thriller.

In a foreboding prologue the crew of the Royal Navy Destroyer, HMS Venator, spot a Nazi U-Boat showing no signs of life, just sitting on the surface of the ocean. Seizing the chance to get rid of the enemy vessel they were not at all prepared for the hair-raising behaviour of the few survivors.

Fast forward to another ship five years later, the USS Brownlee, patrolling a stretch of the Pacific alongside the USS Mattersley, providing an early warning system against air attacks by Japanese kamikaze pilots. Twenty-one year old Mitch Kirkham was one of two gun loaders and when they are again under attack, this time by many more planes than previously, the terrified young sailors could only hope the defending Navy pilots would be able to reduce the force of the attack before the Japanese aircraft reached the ship.

For the second time ‘Lucky’ Mitch Kirkham survives an attack which kills many of his crewmates. The remaining ship’s crew become suspicious of his lack of injuries, among other things, branding him a coward and earning him the nickname Jonah. He’s subjected to victimization and bullying, finding his only real friend in Father MacGready, the ship’s chaplain. Mitch is not looking forward to the long journey back to San Francisco. But that’s only the beginning for Mitch, the troubled ship and it’s crew, as the situation aboard goes from bad to worse when the sailors become afflicted by a strange madness which causes hallucinations, murder and suicide. Mitch finds out to his cost that not everyone is who they seem.

Set towards the end of the Second World War and told in the third person, mostly but not exclusively from Mitch’s perspective, the story is tense and described vividly, particularly the problems caused by the proximity of the living and working conditions, as well as the fear and anxiety of the men. Extremely well written and researched, the plot is plausible, perfectly paced and I had no idea how it would unfold and I certainly didn’t expect that ending, despite the narrative’s ominous build up. I love the flashbacks, which tie in with certain characters, showing how events from the past have never really left them. Characterisations are distinct and well defined and the dialogue authentic. The effects of war, stress, survivor’s guilt and how subordinates are at the mercy of their superiors, are all frighteningly realistic. It’s only January but I can see this featuring in my list of best reads for this year.

Book description

The North Atlantic, 1940. A British destroyer pounces on a seemingly abandoned U-boat, leading to a spine-chilling encounter.

Five years later, the US Navy destroyer Brownlee grimly prepares to battle a swarm of Japanese kamikazes at Okinawa.

Mitch “Lucky” Kirkham, a young gunner on the Brownlee, wakes up miraculously unscathed after his crewmates are killed in a fearsome kamikaze strike.

Bullied and resented amid accusations of cowardice and worse, Mitch re-boards his patched-up ship for the long voyage back to San Francisco. All he wants is to go home.

But far out in the boundless emptiness of the Pacific, a strange madness begins to seize the sailors on the Brownlee. Terror, hysteria and suicide torment the men amid sightings of ghosts and a terrifying monster that stalks the ship by night.

Mitch stumbles upon a possible explanation for the madness. But as the ship presses on alone, deeper into the vast Pacific Ocean and the grip of insanity, will anyone listen to him before his famous luck runs out for good?

Jonah is a searing, psychological suspense thriller, the latest from Carl Rackman, author of Irex and Voyager.

About the author

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

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

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

Carl Rackman

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT @CathyRy reviews #Paranormal #Thriller MARKED by B.E. Balfinny

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs at

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Marked by B.E. Balfinny


The short first chapter telling of an old woman gathering items together before leaving the house to complete a task she wasn’t looking forward to, but something that had to be done, is a great hook and gives the immediate sense that something untoward is in the offing.

As the only living relative, Dubliner Kate Murray has inherited her great aunt’s cottage in Westcove, County Kerry. Kate couldn’t believe her luck and she and her husband David were on their way to see what state the old cottage was in. Pleasantly surprised to find it liveable, and with a spectacular backdrop, they set about settling in. Kate wanted to swap city for country living and hoped she could persuade David, then Kate could live her dream.

‘She turned to him and followed his gaze. He had his back to the front of the cottage and was staring out over the front garden to the view beyond. Her breath caught. How had she not noticed that a minute ago? The view was stunning. The hillside plunged out of sight below the end of the front garden but there was an uninterrupted view over the lower land along the coast and out to sea. A shard of sunlight sliced through the cloud-crowded sky and fell on the rock-strewn pasture, the purple crags of the shore and the blue-grey sea.’

Kate’s enthusiasm and feeling for the cottage is clear and it does seem idyllic. Even Dave seems to be coming round to the idea of living there. While exploring their immediate vicinity, they have a strange encounter with the old woman who lives in the last cottage at the end of their lane. She does her best to make sure they keep their distance and stay away from that end of the lane. Kate and Dave learn a little more about the old woman from the proprietress of the village shop when they go to stock up on supplies. Kate’s curiosity is aroused when she learns there’s a stone circle on the hill past the old woman’s cottage. Old Fingal’s Rocks. One evening, as she finds the gap in the hedge leading up the hill to the standing stones, Kate has no idea of the danger and the nightmare that will be unleashed after her visit.

Written in the third person, the narrative flows well and is easy to read. B.E. Balfinny’s descriptive prose certainly conveys Kerry’s ancient and rugged beauty, as well as the atmosphere of an unforgiving, wintry and mystical landscape. The existence of the supernatural seems entirely possible and believable. The feeling of menace and evil is distinct, it gave me goosebumps. As things became more sinister Kate was either very brave or very foolish, I’d have been out of there quick smart…. although it may have already been too late. Great writing and an excellent debut. If you like supernatural horror without the gore this could be for you. I’ll be interested to see what the follow up offers.

Book description

When freelance writer Kate Murray’s Great Aunt bequeaths her a cottage in remote south Kerry, she is overcome with the peace and beauty of the little stone house. Set high up a hillside overlooking the ocean, even David, her architect husband, falls in love with it.

Determined that they should swap city for country, Dubliner Kate decides to try living her dream.

Curiosity draws her to the ancient circle of standing stones at the end of the lane – stones that her elderly neighbour is strangely yet fiercely determined to keep everyone well away from.

Little realising the grave danger she faces, Kate visits the stones at sunset and her life is set on a terrifying course that will bring her face to face with an ancient evil.

As her dream of the country life rapidly turns into a nightmare, events at the cottage become more and more sinister.

Why is the old lady so determined to keep people away?

What does the Parish priest know that he isn’t telling her?

Will Kate discover the secret to her personal haunting before it’s too late?

Set in the ancient and atmospheric surrounds of rural Ireland in the winter time, this paranormal thriller will leave you reluctant to turn out the lights.

About the author

B. E. Balfinny lives and writes in an old stone house in the wilds of southern County Kerry, Ireland, an area steeped in myth and tradition. Here, stories are passed from parent to child and survive centuries intact, connecting the present with a dark and misty past.

Whether walking the narrow lanes at twilight, listening to tales of the unexplained around a peat fire whilst an Atlantic sou’wester rattles the windows, or wandering alone amidst the mystical ringforts and standing stones of the ancient Celts, south Kerry never fails to supply ample chilling material for students of the supernatural.

The Kerry region, its people and its folklore provided the inspiration for Balfinny’s first novel, Marked, set in the fictional south Kerry village of Westcove.

Those who enjoyed Marked should look out for the second instalment of The Kerry Horrors series, scheduled for release on Amazon in Spring 2018.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT @CathyRy reviews MY SWEET FRIEND by @HALeuschel

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading My Sweet Friend by H. A. Leuschel


Following in a similar vein to Manipulated Lives, My Sweet Friend explores how much first impressions and appearances sometimes count in someone’s favour and the devastation that can be caused by deliberate manipulation of other people. Told from the alternating perspectives of Alexa and Rosie, we see how quickly their friendship develops when Alexa joins the PR firm Rosie works for. It’s mostly down to Alexa’s persuasiveness and outgoing nature that they quickly become best friends. Rosie is more reserved. Aways ready to help and easy to get along with, Rosie is quickly swept up by Alexa’s enthusiasm and friendliness.

As the story unfolds it’s obvious something isn’t quite right between Alexa and Rosie. They both have personal problems, a sick mother and a stalking boyfriend, but it’s only when Alexa takes sick leave that things begin to unravel in earnest and the whole truth becomes known.

‘Here, no one knew me. No one would judge me for skipping my usually elaborate make-up routine. No one would notice that I’d chosen unremarkable outfits on purpose to blend into the crowd, and had donned a pair of comfortable sandals instead of the achingly-high heels that complimented my typically carefully selected office clothes. If I’d learned one thing over the years, it was the fact that both immaculate looks and controlled behaviour could go a long way towards influencing people’s impressions of me.’

This quick but thought provoking read packs a lot in, mainly, I think, because it’s driven by the characters, mostly through their dialogue, with little to no telling of events. We learn, little by little, who is doing the manipulating, as it isn’t obvious to begin with, showing a darker side to friendships and how easy it can be for some people to be drawn in without realising what’s actually happening. Manipulators have a wide-reaching effect, encompassing not only the victim but others in their lives.

I enjoyed the more unusual locations of Paris and Biarritz. The characters are well defined and portrayed extremely well, each individual and realistic with flaws and weaknesses. H.A. Leuschel obviously has a very good understanding of the human psyche in all its complexities, and it just goes to show that people aren’t always what they seem. It’s a little scary to think someone might go to those lengths to keep up a deceit, which is starkly apparent between the work and home personas.

Book description

A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives
A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?
Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.
But is Alexa all she claims to be?
As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?
In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.

About the author

Helene grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh.
She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.

H.A. Leuschel

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Mystery Offstage In Nuala by @harrietSteel1 #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Offstage In Nuala by Harriet Steel


I’m enjoying this very entertaining and colourful series very much and it was lovely to get reacquainted with the engaging and genteel Inspector Shanti de Silva and his charming wife, Jane. Not to mention Sergeant Prasanna and Constable Nadar. De Silva met Jane in Colombo, where he began his career as a police officer, and Jane was a governess. When they married, De Silva was offered and accepted the position of Inspector in the much more pleasant and quieter small hill town of Nuala.
Offstage in Nuala opens with the de Silvas attending a play performed by a visiting professional theatre company. There they meet up with Archie Clutterbuck, the assistant government agent for the area, and his wife, Florence.

It’s not long before there’s another case for de Silva to solve – the murder of Alexander Danforth, actor and head of the theatre company. De Silva needs to harness all his determination and persistence as he feels Archie Clutterbuck is hampering the investigation, giving the impression he may have something to hide. Clutterbuck was not about to share the reasons for his behaviour with de Silva. Nevertheless, de Silva explores every development thoroughly, even if it means climbing to dizzying heights in the theatre, and helped by his always supportive wife.

As with the previous books, Harriet Steel sets the scene and paints a vivid picture of the rich and multi cultural way of life in 1930s Ceylon, with authentic dialogue and expressive prose, which completely captures the feel of a bygone era. A well crafted plot with fascinating historical details and a smoothly flowing narrative. Descriptions of the food are enticing although I’m not quite sure I would be able to eat curry for breakfast. I can’t resist finding pictures of dishes I’m not familiar with.

I also love the descriptions of de Silva’s beloved garden and how much he enjoys it…’Meringues of cloud drifted across the blue sky and a breeze as light as a cream puff cooled him. Hidden among the trees, a golden oriole sang.‘ It sounds delightful.

Book description

In this third instalment of The Inspector de Silva Mysteries, there’s great excitement when a professional theatre company comes to Nuala. However matters take a dark turn when the company’s actor manager is murdered. Inspector de Silva has a new case to solve and he has to consider some very unpalatable motives for the crime. He will need all his persistence, coupled with his wife, Jane’s, invaluable help to unmask the villain of the piece. Set on the exotic island of Ceylon in the 1930s, The Inspector de Silva Mysteries provide a colourful and relaxing read spiced with humour and an engaging cast of characters.

About the author

Harriet Steel published four historical novels before turning to crime with the Inspector de Silva mysteries. Her work has also appeared in national newspapers and magazines.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT @CathyRy reviews Sitting Murder by @awright51 @EndeavourPress

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Sitting Murder by A.J. Wright


Set in a North-Western English town during the late 19th century, this murder/mystery whodunnit brings the history of the era to life with the terraces of houses, local dialect and a community living in close proximity to one another. The main source of work were the cotton mills and the mines. Alice Goodway, only married a year, has lost her husband, Jack, in a mining accident, which also took the life of her friend’s husband. Since her husband’s death, Alice has become a medium, offering comfort to those who have lost loved ones, through her spiritual contact with Jack.

Jack’s obnoxious aunt Doris has moved in with Alice, supervising the séances and taking payments. When Alice receives a threatening note and her aunt is murdered in her bed, Detective Sergeant Brennan of the Wigan Borough Police Department and his side kick Constable Jaggery are tasked with the investigation.

Although this is the fourth book in the Lancashire Detectives series it works perfectly well as a stand alone and it’s such an enjoyable tale. DS Brennan thinks perhaps Doris wasn’t the intended victim as she was sleeping in the main bedroom. There are several suspects to choose from, including the self-righteous Inspector of Nuisances, who is forcibly against Alice’s séances. As Alice’s notoriety spreads, there are secrets and old wounds to be uncovered in the close knit town, as we follow Brennan’s investigation. Brennan and Jaggery must sift through the clues, information and traumatic memories as they begin to eliminate the suspects one by one.

The writing is accomplished and easy to read, in keeping with the area and time, descriptive and detailed enough to give a real sense of place. The story has the feel of a vintage whodunit with a host of possible culprits and several unexpected twists. A well paced and plotted story line, with believable, diverse and quite rounded characters, although I’ve perhaps missed the greater depth of Brennan and Jaggery from not having read the previous books. Nevertheless, they are both likeable and engaging characters, making me want to go back and find out more.

I enjoyed Sitting Murder very much and was kept guessing until the surprise ending tied everything together nicely.

Book description

With a myriad of motives, the question is who?

Detective Sergeant Michael Brennan of the Wigan Borough Police has no time for tales of ghosts and the afterlife, or of the dead contacting the living.

So, when he finds himself investigating the case of a recently widowed young woman, Alice Goodway, who has suddenly developed ‘the Gift’ of mediumship and has received a threatening letter, he embarks on the inquiry with no small degree of scepticism.

But just as Brennan and his burly colleague, Constable Jaggery, consider how to proceed with the case, something much more sinister takes place… a murder, in Alice’s own home.

Who would commit such a crime?

Could it be one of the seven ‘visitors’ who had been to sittings with Alice and not liked what they had heard?

Or the interfering and sanctimonious Inspector of Nuisances who strongly disapproved of the séances?

There are a lot of old wounds opened and painful memories shared with Brennan and Jaggery as they meticulously gather the information they need to solve the case. The challenge will be narrowing down the suspects, using clues from both the living and the dead…

This devilishly plotted Victorian whodunnit keeps the reader guessing right to the end, with red herrings aplenty scattered along the way.

About the author

In 2009 A. J. Wright won the 2010 Dundee International Fiction Prize for his Victorian murder mystery Act of Murder. His writing is inspired by his two major interests: all things Victorian and classic works from the Golden Age of crime fiction. He lives near Wigan.

A.J. Wright

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