Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #horror novella A Plague Of Pages by @john_f_leonard #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs here https://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading A Plague Of Pages by John F Leonard

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If anyone follows my reviews they will have noticed I am something of a fan of Leonard’s work by now. This can prove problematic when you then read something not quite on a par with the previous work by that author, which could have been the case here as A Plague of Pages is considerably longer than the previous short stories. However fortunately A Plague of Pages does not disappoint. In fact, quite the opposite, given the longer format Leonard has greater opportunity to hook the reader in with his excellent writing and to develop the storyline into something that keeps those pages turning.

The story starts with the police attending a rather bizarre death in a library and I enjoyed the relationship, or rather the lack thereof, between Detective Sergeant Adi Shadwell and the decidedly charmless constable, Ricky Douglas.

We then go back a little in time to meet Anthony Eames who has been brought low, from being married and having a successful estate agency, by those who should have been there to support him. He has turned his back on all that and in a bid to start over has decided to write instead. He chooses to do this with a pen left to him by his father. It is only when the consequences of doing so start to be revealed that the true horror of what he has unleashed comes home to him. Or does it? Maybe he is just having a breakdown? There is only one way to find out. Write something where he can check the outcome.

I won’t say anything further for fear of spoiling this excellent read for someone else, suffice to say there is plenty to frighten you and Anthony has to revisit his family history to uncover the provenance of the pen while protecting it from those who view it with green-eyed envy.

Not for the squeamish perhaps but otherwise it’s an excellent story I’d recommend to all.

Book description

Ah, the perils of writing …it can bring out the worst in you.
Anthony’s world has fallen apart. The good times have gone, the things he treasures have been torn away. Life in tatters, he needs to press the reset button and begin again. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
He’s going to pursue his dream of becoming a writer.
Trouble is, some dreams turn into nightmares.

AmazonUS | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Scifi #Shortstory The Cleansing by @AntonEine

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs here https://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading The Cleansing by Anton Eine

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An outsiders view of our world makes for interesting reading, and this is what this story is all about. Only 18 pages long the story is told from the viewpoint of the occupants of some sort of spacecraft whose mission appears to be to cleanse planets of inhabitants that these occupants consider to be debris.

Much in this tale was of interest to me. The fact that it is entirely written as dialogue between two individuals, with not one dialogue tag. And that I found myself smiling on occasion as I recognised descriptions contained in the data received about our world that clearly perplexed the onlookers. When you look at it from their point of view, yes, it is all a little baffling.

“I don’t even understand the point of them saving all these banal moments from individuals’ day-to-day lives. It seems pointless.”

So true. Anyway, this is an enjoyable, if short, tale and I note it is a translation, from what I’m not sure… maybe not a language currently on this planet? Recommended for a quick read.

Book description

Will beauty save the world? Not this time…
This sci-fi short story gives us a view of our world from perspective of alien invaders that just arrived to destroy any life on Earth. Can we do anything to save our fragile peace, to protect our home and the very existence of the humankind?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Shortstory Mild #Horror CALL DROPS by @john_f_leonard #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs here https://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading Call Drops by John F Leonard

Call Drops is the story of Vincent Preece, a self-made man, who now in retirement has everything he could want for materially but is bored and lonely, his wife and daughter having left him long ago.

Vincent loves browsing for second-hand stuff and one day at a car boot sale he finds a mobile phone, a very special one and one like nothing Vincent has ever seen before. And he knows his phones, they were how he made his fortune.

Thinking it had nothing more than an aesthetic beauty to offer he bought it and took it home. Shocked when first it rang. Trilling like an antique. The message he received was equally shocking but essentially good news, or would be eventually, for Vincent at least. The second call… well, that was something entirely different…

I love the way Leonard writes, it’s as simple as that. Although in shorter form it reminds me of one of my favourite authors, Mark Barry. Descriptions are sparse and yet luscious, Vincent, and his life, captured in every carefully chosen word. I’m a fan of short stories anyway and at the moment they are mostly all I can read so if you’re a fan too, and even if you’re not, give this a go, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Book description

Vincent likes nothing more than rootling round second-hand shops in search of the interesting and unusual. Items that are lost and forgotten.
Why not? He needs the diversion. Time on his hands and money to burn. His life is affluent and empty. Little on the horizon and memories tinged bittersweet.
That’s all about to change. He’s about to find something that is perhaps better left unfound.

CALL DROPS is a darkly swirling mix of horror and mystery that will stay with you long after the reading is done. It’ll maybe make you think twice about impulse buying, those moments when you simply must have something, even though you don’t need it.
It might cause you to look again at the apparently mundane and everyday …and possibly, just possibly, wonder at what twisted marvels lurk within your mobile phone.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Call Drops: A Horror Story by [Leonard, John F]

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Horror #Shortstory DOGGEM by @john_f_leonard

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs here https://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading Doggem by John F. Leonard

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Doggem, is a short story from John F Leonard and is a tale of a toy dog and dark deeds. I chose to read this as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and received a copy from the author but that has not effected my review in any way.

In a bid to encourage literacy Mrs Snady encourages the pupils in her primary class to take the class toy dog, uninspiringly called Doggem, home for a week at a time. The child who has him in their possession is meant to document his time in their care. George Gould, age 5, is chosen to take him home for the whole of the summer holidays.

George’s parents, Cath and Tom, are taking him, and Doggem, to stay with his grandmother in her cottage in Jordemain Wood. However, it is clear that all is not well with the relationship between his parents and the grandmother, but she has asked to see her grandchild so the trip is on.

And this is where the story takes a darker turn as while Cath and Tom cook up a plan, a level of perception has been brought to Doggem by George’s abilities which, while hidden from his parents, have been spotted from afar by his grandmother.

Doggem gets to see and hear things he probably shouldn’t because no one suspects a toy dog and after what happens in the holidays things take an even more sinister turn when Doggem returns to school and life gets creepy for Mrs Snady as his powers increase.

This short story is very well written, thoroughly enjoyable and I’d highly recommend it to everyone who wants a fairly quick read. Excellent!

Book description

All the kids adore Doggem, the class cuddly toy.
They each get to take him home. Hug him and love him and show him their world outside of school.
All they have to do in return is write his diary.
It’s George Gould’s turn and he’s going to introduce Doggem to a rather unusual family.
Before we go any further, it’s worth pointing out that both the stuffed toy and little boy are far from ordinary.
Doggem is no longer your run-of-the-mill snuggle doggy. Designed to fall apart after a few years. Perfect for squishing and squashing into a comfort blanket.
He’s a million miles from that now. Doggem has just become a living creature. Thinking and reasoning. Trying to make sense of an unexpected existence.
Strange places and scary experiences are in store during this sojourn with his latest custodian. Things no respectable fluffy dog should ever have to witness. It might end up in deadly territory.
Make no mistake, there is magic here. Some of it as black as a starless night.
And George?
Well, George is descended from decidedly dicey stock. There are folk in delightful George’s lineage who have indulged in practices of a somewhat shadowy nature. The ramifications of which aren’t ready to be consigned to history. They want to spill out of the past and have their say in the future.

DOGGEM is a spooky little tale about toy dogs and dark doings. A gently disturbing horror story. But beware, this charming cocktail of witchcraft, imagined folklore and paranormal fantasy might just bewitch you.
Not easy to pin down genre. Without doubt it has a certain heart-breaking beauty to it. Maybe it’s a modern fairytale. A scary one, flavoured with a dash of the occult, written for an adult audience. After all, fairy tales feature the supernatural and have a magical aspect to them.
They often have old cottages and eerie, unnerving woodland settings.
Wickedly enchanting women and innocent children.
Ancient evil and everyday greed.

Doggem is a short story, one in a series of sinister tales from the Dead Boxes Archive.
The Dead Boxes?
Some objects are frightening things and the Dead Boxes definitely fall into that category.
They can be easily overlooked. Ordinary on the surface. At first glance anyway. A mobile phone, a piece of art …a child’s plaything.
Take a closer look. You’ll see something unique.
You could very easily have one and not know it.
Exercise caution.
They hold miracle and mystery. Horror and salvation.
None are the same. Except in one regard.
You don’t need one.
You might think you do, but you really don’t.
Believe me.

A Short Story.
From the Dead Boxes Archive.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #shortstories The Christmas Ghosts by G. Lawrence @TudorTweep

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs here https://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading The Christmas Ghosts by G. Lawrence

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Guardian – Henry is on his way to stay in a cottage with his fiancée, Billie, when he gets lost on Bodmin Moor in the snow. Help arrives unexpectedly but Henry is even more surprised when he finds out who his rescuer was.

Hot Toddy – This was a lovely story of an elderly woman’s special tradition at Christmas. She has all her family staying with her, or at least nearly all, and this ritual is all about that missing element. Thoughtful and wonderfully written and I really enjoyed this one.

Rodger Reed and the Road Kill Rabbit – Rodger is a horrible, horrible man. He is on his way home for Christmas, not because he wants to see his family but because he wants to make sure his father is leaving him exactly what he wants in his will, as he should. He kills a rabbit on the way with little remorse but lives to regret his lack of care.

Old Man Symmonds – Hayley is having a horrendous time under her new boss, Carol. She leaves and gets a temporary job in retail. Given the task of locking up one night she gets some overtime to clear up the stock room on the strict understanding she is to leave by 7pm. However, Hayley loses track of time, something she soon bitterly regrets.

The Christmas Ghosts – Eloise has made a career out of housesitting and is booked to look after a wonderful Victorian, very large cottage on the Cornish coast. She is a writer working on her first novel and is planning on getting a lot done on it during that month. It sounds idyllic to me – a writers’ retreat, you get paid to go to? What’s not to love!

Eloise was planning to spend Christmas Day with her family but after a row with her mother she returns to the cottage, and is astonished by what she finds going on there.

These stories are all very well written and are an entertaining and enjoyable read I’d highly recommend.

Book description

Have a Very Merry, Ghostly Christmas!
G. Lawrence presents a collection of five short ghost stories, all based in Cornwall and Devon for Christmas. Spooky, amusing, and touching by turns, these ghost stories are a great seasonal buy!

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #shortstory Christmas Once Again by @dk_deters

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs here https://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading Christmas Once Again by D.K. Deters

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I didn’t do any investigations so had no idea what this story was about, other than Christmas, until I read it. Actually it is not a particularly Christmassy story at all, although it does take place on Christmas Eve.

Madison Knight is broke and working for Once Again Antiques when she gets a call from a Zachary Murdock because his grandmother’s painting has been sold to the shop by mistake and he wants to buy it back.

That initially appears to be no problem until Madison discovers that the painting has already been sold on. The weather is atrocious with heavy snow but Madison goes above and beyond the call of duty to get the painting back.

This is a well-written story with a time travel twist, which I always struggle to get my head around, but it worked well and delivered a nice ending which is just what you want in a Christmas story.

Book description

She’s dead broke. And eviction looms. On Christmas Eve antique consultant Madison Knight takes a phone call from local rancher Zach Murdock. Through a mix-up at an estate sale, Madison’s company purchased his grandmother’s beloved painting. He offers double the money for its return.

Madison risks her job to track down the artwork, but success falls short when she’s stuck in a blizzard. Stranded, she seeks help from a frontier family. Are they living off the grid, or did she somehow travel through time?

Zach’s the only person who knows her plan. He also knows a secret about his gran’s painting. It’s up to him to rescue Madison, but maybe he’s not cut out to be a hero.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Relationships book The Men by @fannycalder

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs here https://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading The Men by Fanny Calder

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I chose to read The Men as a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team and received a copy from the publisher. That has not altered my opinion of this book or my review in any way.

The minute I opened The Men I knew I was onto a winner. This is not a story, there is no beginning, middle and ending, although technically, of course, there is. It’s more a series of relationship studies and it is compellingly written.

I imagine the narrator to be an exotic creature, impossibly glamorous and self-aware in a way I have never managed to be. This book is intelligently written with such an eye for the minutiae of the many relationships the narrator experiences that for someone who has had a more limited knowledge of the opposite sex it was incredibly interesting. 

The writing though, that was the clincher for me, I loved it. Spare, honest and extraordinarily good. There were so many beautiful lines and phrases I couldn’t wait to get back to reading it each night. Thank you Ms Calder, it has been a joy.

Book description

A darkly brilliant debut novel by Fanny Calder, and arguably essential reading for the feminist hedonist woman in your life. City life in the 1990s. Anonymous, intense, paradoxical and sometimes lonely. A young, haunted woman falls in love with a singer. She finds she has been consumed by the relationship and when it ends – as it inevitably does – she feels unable to quite rediscover herself. Cities can draw you into even darker places, and she embarks on a series of intense relationships with thirteen men of very different types, from a rough sleeper to a millionaire, and from a transvestite to a leading politician. As she is propelled through a series of extraordinary adventures and wild parties she finds she begins to lose her own identity. Is there a way out? A raw and unflinchingly honest narrative with stripped down language that is liberating and sometimes challenging. It is a tale of urban human connections crafted with no judgement or deep introspection – a window on the author’s own life at that time that will resonate and stay with you.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #crimefiction Dilemma by Stephen Bentley

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs at http://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading Dilemma by Stephen Bentley

Dilemma (Steve Regan Undercover Cop Book 2) by [Bentley, Stephen]

I chose to read this book as a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team. 

This novella has a gripping opening as it starts with three bombs simultaneously exploding in three Italian restaurants in three different cities. The deaths caused and the fallout from these explosions resonate throughout the story.

Bentley is a former undercover cop and therefore writes his main character, Steve Regan, with great insight. It is also clear that he has lived in, and is very familiar with, Thailand although I felt at times there was a little too much telling rather than showing me this knowledge.

It may be the name of the main character that instigated this thought but as I read the book I was reminded of cop shows of the 70s. The writing was stark and brutal with little emotion and as the state-of-the-art comms room towards the end is described as having typewriters I guess I could be about right with when it was set.

I did finish the read but felt it would have benefitted from tighter editing and possibly a proofread as well to help avoid some distracting typos. This is the second part of a planned trilogy which might interest those readers who like crime fiction but this author has also written a very well received memoir of his part in Operation Julie which I think they would also find fascinating.

Book description

Steve Regan is back and this time he’s alone and undercover in a seedy area of Thailand on the trail of a Texan expatriate, Les Watkins, the biggest drug smuggler in South East Asia.

Using himself as the bait, Regan attempts to score a $50,000 deal with the Thai mafia in an effort to get closer to his target.

As he finds himself embroiled deeper into the operation, Regan suspects Watkins may be connected to Regan’s nemesis, ruthless Mafia boss Carlo Vitale, who has fled the United States following a triple bombing and assassination of three crime family heads.

Besides staying alive, Regan has other problems when he suddenly finds himself facing the worst dilemma an undercover cop can face.

Dilemma is an edgy, suspenseful tale with a twists and turns plus a sprinkle of romance.

If you like hard-boiled crime fiction, there is nothing earthier or more realistic than the Steve Regan series. Crime fiction about an undercover cop written by a former undercover cop!

About the author

Stephen is a former UK Detective Sergeant, undercover cop and barrister (trial attorney). Now a writer, author and Huffington Post UK blogger.

Stephen’s memoir Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story was published in September 2016 and rapidly became an Amazon UK #1 Best Seller in two categories. It tells of his undercover role in infiltrating one of the world’s largest ever drug rings.

Keeping in tune with the undercover theme, Stephen has now published the first book in a trilogy based on his undercover cop days.

When he is not writing, Stephen follows Liverpool Football Club from afar and enjoys the beaches of the Philippines. He is often to be found on the beach with a book and a cold beer.

Stephen Bentley

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Metaphysical Love-story Remember by @ShervinJamali

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs here http://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading Remember by Shervin Jamali

I chose to read this book as a proud member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team. I had no idea what to expect as the book had not yet been released but I was intrigued by the blurb.

Grace and Daniel met in later life and when she dies, right at the start of the story, he falls off the wagon and descends back into his previous life of alcoholism. He finds he cannot forget Grace’s last words because when he had expressed a wish that he’d known her when he was young, she answers, “But you did, my love. Don’t you remember?”

Daniel meets a hypnotherapist in a bar and eventually turns to him for help in regressing him back through life so he can see where and how he’d met Grace before. 

Jamali has a nice style of flowing writing which makes the read easy and the book is divided into short, sometimes very short, chapters, which means it’s tempting to fit in just another one or two before you turn the light off at night.

I don’t know why but I didn’t expect to enjoy this read as much as I did. There are humorous moments which manage to lift the darker stuff going on, of which there was plenty, and there were great characters but most of all it was interesting, original and those pages kept turning, so it’s a definite recommendation from me.

Book description

As Daniel watches the life ebb from Grace’s body, he wishes they had more time, knew each other when they were young. His wife surprises him by insisting that they did. And then she’s gone. Daniel knows this can’t be true. Can it? They only met later in life, so why would Grace’s departing words hint at a shared youth? Haunted by this notion, Daniel journeys into the past to discover the truth. ‘Remember’ is a unique love story. Find out how it really began… ‘Remember’ is dedicated to the brilliant Scottish author Brendan Gisby and his late wife, Alison.

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Rosie’s Review Team #RBRT #Romance That Summer At The Seahorse Hotel by @adrienneauthor

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs here http://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

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

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The romance in this novel is not only in the plotline or between the characters but for me it was in the fabulous setting. A crumbling estate on the dramatic coast of Ireland, what’s not to love.

Mia is a dresser on film sets (I thoroughly enjoyed the attention given to the detail of her work) and is the favourite of an aging film star, Archie Fitz, who has been great friends with Mia’s mother, Fenella, another film star, for many years. Sadly, Archie is dying and as friends and family gather around him at Galty House, once known as The Seahorse Hotel, the dynamics in the relationships come to light along with the truth as secrets from the past are at long last revealed.

Adrienne Vaughan’s characterisations are very good. Mia was terrific and I particularly liked Archie, I’d loved to have known him he was such fun. I was curiously drawn to the green-eyed cat that arrived towards the end of the book too but shall say no more on that.

There was a lot that happened in the storyline, which I won’t go over, and Mia faced betrayal along with her grief at losing Archie. I was pleased the estate went where it should have done and with the plans eventually made for it. As for the romance, well that was nicely done. Realistic and not slushy, just the way I like it!

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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