Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Fiction The Inconvenient Need to Belong by Paula Smedley

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

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading The Inconvenient Need to Belong by Paula Smedley

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Alfie Cooper is in his mid-eighties and lives unhappily in the Pinewood care home, but with no family to look after him he has no other option. The Inconvenient Need to Belong is the story of Alfie’s life told in a series of flashbacks either during his Saturday morning escapes to the park to feed the ducks where he chats to a young man, Fred, or via the computer at the library where he starts up a penpal conversation with a young, single mother in America, Anne.

Alfie leaves his home in London, keen to be away from his domineering father, and ends up in Exeter where he quickly finds work, somewhere to stay and friends. Other than him missing his family, well, his mother and younger sister Betty, his new life goes smoothly. He even finds a girl he likes, if only he could pluck up the courage to ask her out. Sadly, things sour when Alfie drinks more than he should, then sees the girl out with another man.

This is a well written story and steadily paced throughout. There isn’t a lot of action but the story unravels gently and as you get to know the younger Alfie and he faces the challenges of life you end up willing him on, hoping against hope that what you suspect might be up ahead for him isn’t really going to happen.

I really enjoyed the dedications Alfie made up for Rosalind each week and they showed a fun side of him that as a grumpy octogenarian was hard to see at times as he mulled over his life and reflected on the regrets he had about it. Recommended for all those who enjoy a gentler tale that draws you in.

Book description

In the summer of 1953, twenty-year-old Alfie steals away from his troubled childhood home in London to start a new life in Exeter. His own life. And at first it’s everything he ever dreamed it would be. For the first time in his life Alfie feels like he belongs.

Today, in a care home in the Midlands, eighty-six-year-old Alfie is struggling to come to terms with his dark past.

Alfie’s story is one of regret, the mistakes we make, and the secrets even the most unassuming of us can hold. But it is also a story about family, friendship, the things we should treasure and protect, and how the choices we make can shape our lives and the lives of others.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #ShortStories Of Reality And Dream by Loredano Cafaro

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

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading Of Reality And Dream: Tales Of Underground by Loredano Cafaro

Of Reality and Dream: Tales for Underground by [Loredano Cafaro]

This book is made up of short stories and flash fiction written by the author somewhere between high school and his mid-twenties. This is a tricky review to write because there were parts of this book I liked and some that I didn’t really get. The book was also originally written in Italian and has been translated and I found some of it difficult to read, I assume, because of that.

I’ll pick out the bits that I enjoyed, and that made it an okay read for me. The Book, the opening story, was really interesting and I enjoyed the premise of it. When Angels Die, I wasn’t sure I was going to get but the ending made it come together.

The Rain, seemed a little odd but then again the ending made it clear what was going on. On the Loch Ness – short but sweet. Untitled – a very interesting take on being given a second chance. Quasi-human demigods would not have been my usual choice of read but it was short and had an unexpected ending that I liked. The Mortal and the Eternal and The Lament were both good and again the endings made them.

Okay, so when I came to write this review and flipped through the book again I found I liked far more than I struggled with so that’s great. It’s also clear this author does endings well because in a world where we’re so often used to our stories ending the right way, for our characters to step up and be heroes this is a series of stories that go against the grain. I found it a challenging read but that is helped by the fact the stories are short and I’d encourage anyone who fancies something different to give it a try.

Book description

“If life were a movie, the soundtrack would be enough to inform us what is about to happen and, who knows, maybe we could even lull the conviction that we choose the music ourselves. Did I ever tell you about the illusion of free will?”

“Of Reality and Dream” is a collection of flash fiction and short stories suspended between the real and the imaginary, in which different atmospheres and genres share the absence of answers, heroes or winners; an introspective narration that unfolds in a dreamlike dimension, at times ironic, with predominantly dark tones. It was first introduced to the public in 1997 through an independent label that promoted the works of debutant authors on a stall in the historic Via Garibaldi in Turin, obtaining an appreciable acclaim. Part of the collection is re-edited in 2018, when some of the stories are included in the web app “Tales for Underground”, a project by Osmotica. Supplemented by “The illusion of Free Will”, an unpublished novella in seventeen cinematic-style scenes, in December 2018 this selection was published on Amazon in Kindle format, keeping the title of the original collection from 1997. In May 2019 it was translated into English.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

Of Reality and Dream: Tales for Underground by [Loredano Cafaro]

Celebrating 6 Years Of Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT With Team Member @GeorgiaRoseBook

Recently we celebrated our review team’s six year anniversary by revealing fourteen of the team’s favourite books.

You can find out which books they were in part one and part two.

I invited some of my team members to tell us more about being part of the book reviewing team.

Welcome to Georgia Rose, who also writes book reviews at Georgia Rose Books

Regular readers of my blog will already know about #RBRT but I have been a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team since… well, I can’t actually remember when I joined, or how, but I suspect it had something to do with Terry Tyler. I think I’d started posting reviews for books I read and it seemed like a natural fit to join the team. And I’ve never regretted it.

I don’t accept review requests on my site, choosing instead to review any book that’s my choice to read, and that I finish. If I can’t finish it I don’t review it as I don’t think that’s fair. I also don’t give below three stars. If I was minded to give below that, I wouldn’t have finished the book, and I think you can see where I am going with that.

I like reviewing to be a positive experience. As we know, no book can please everyone and just because I didn’t like it I don’t want to slam it in case it is someone else’s favourite book ever…

Anyway, what I like with Rosie’s team is that there is no pressure. Authors regularly send their books to Rosie for review. Thankfully Rosie does all the admin (thank you, Rosie!) and they get put on a list. We are all busy, isn’t everyone, so we do what we can. I aim to choose at least one book per month from that list. I also belong to a reading group in my village so with the monthly book there and then one of my own choosing, three is about my limit for a month.

Also by joining this group I have read books in all sorts of genres I would never normally have chosen and thoroughly enjoyed myself doing so, discovering some real gems along the way, so it has broadened my reading experience considerably.

I have become stuck a couple of times, finishing books I perhaps should have stopped reading and then feeling obliged to review when I’m not so sure I can be as positive about them as I’d like. That’s where the support of being a team comes in as Rosie and Terry have always helped me out so that I have been able to give an honest review, as tactfully as possible.

You also don’t have to write anything elaborate by way of a review. Mine are not particularly sophisticated or in depth. Not like some that I am in awe of. I simply say how a book made me feel and what I liked about it. It’s easy. Imagine reading a book, enjoying it and wanting to tell your friends about it. I write that.

Plus, we get to use the photo below on our posts to distinguish the team reviews, and we have a cool hashtag to use for sharing, #RBRT.

Nowadays I don’t get to hang out on social media or in the blogging world perhaps as much as I once was able to but my closest online blogging friends are all part of this group and I’m delighted to be able to support them whenever I can in sharing their posts. They are a great group of people, some of whom I’ve met in real life now too, so if you fancy giving book reviewing a go you will find Rosie’s Book Review Team a friendly place to be, and authors will love you for it. Plus, there are, of course, free books! What’s not to like?

Thank you Georgia, it is a pleasure to have you as part of our team.

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Memoir Plumas de Muerte: Tequila Journals and Dreams by @philmotel

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

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading Plumas de Muerte: Tequila Journals and Dreams by Phil Motel

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The reader is warned at the beginning of this book that it is unrevised for authenticity and, for what follows, that is exactly as it should be. These are typed and handwritten journals set mostly between Phil’s motel room and his place of work. The dreams segment fills probably the last 20% of the book and I wasn’t so interested in that part. But the journals absolutely drew me in.

The book journals the life of this author while he was writing his novel, Rum Hijack (which I highly recommend), and it shows an increasingly unhappy life both at home, which the motel isn’t, really, and work. The writer is under considerable pressure in his work life but I enjoyed the tales he told of day to day life with his colleagues and the politics involved.

Throughout this writer is struggling. He drinks enough to affect him at work and to a lesser extent takes drugs. However, his life completely spirals out of control when a former girlfriend gets in touch, brings happiness back into his life, then does something to break his battered heart completely. His grief is visceral and pushes him over the edge. That this book has been published shows he was saved from the abyss and I am thankful for that.

This writer is tremendously talented. He makes the most mundane conversation or scene interesting and there is plenty here for those who appreciate excellent writing to enjoy.

Book description

Life in a long-stay motel, overseen by the on-site muscle: ‘if this was a movie, he’d be played by Steve Buscemi’. Twelve-hour shifts at a mundane job alongside a host of strange characters with their own struggle to make it to the end of the day. Anecdotes from journals of adventures past: wannabe musicians, ill-fated relationships and the bottom of a bottle.

Musings on life, death, dreams, and the frustrations of the writing process: the journal entries were written while during the creation of the author’s debut novel, Rum Hijack.

Dream Diary
The second part of Plumas de Muerte is as it says: a small collection of dreams: what goes on while we are asleep?

A raw ride that makes no attempt to gloss over the darker side of the author’s life at the time, while acting as a cautionary tale about the nightmare of substance abuse – and the final road of alcoholism/addiction.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Dark Humour RUM HIJACK by @philmotel

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

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading Rum Hijack by Phil Motel

Rum Hijack by [Phil Motel]

I enjoy stories told in the first person, I like getting right inside a character, being privy to all their thoughts and emotions and those of the unnamed narrator of this tale are extraordinary. Our protagonist believes himself to be the all-conquering author of a masterpiece of literary magnificence. The only problem being that he hasn’t written one word of it…yet. He lives an eccentric lifestyle in his flat and tries to channel his Grandfather’s spirit as if believing this will funnel some sort of divine inspiration that will overcome his writer’s block and allow his words to be unleashed upon the waiting world.

 I thoroughly enjoyed Motel’s writing. Graphically descriptive it’s sharply quick witted and highly perceptive of this would be writer’s unusual lifestyle. An emergency potato – why haven’t I ever thought of having one of those? I loved the dark humour throughout this tightly written story and there were many, many priceless moments which made up a fabulous read.

 Our narrator eventually comes up the name Inkker Hauser, in unusual fashion. His relationships are disastrous and you would never want to have him as your neighbour but I liked him very much. However, you do need to buckle up to take on the ride that is Inkker when he goes on a date with the lovely Tylissa.

 He drinks a staggering amount and wanting to impress her with his intellectual and literary genius spouts all sorts of what to most people would be nonsense but which Inkker is earnestly serious about – this ‘A psychonaut. A sailor of the soul, a navigator of the mind. I happen to be something of one’ is how he describes himself to her. As the drink takes hold his behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and you can only sympathise with poor Tylissa and admire her tenacity for hanging on in there particularly when he does something that is a definite no-no in my book!

 Many pages of this darkly humorous novel are taken up with the date. That might seem like a lot of words just to describe a date but every one of them is needed in order to convey the sheer craziness as it descends into mayhem for Inkker. There are so many reasons why you shouldn’t like this narrator and yet I really do. In some bizarre way, considering how he behaves, he comes across as fragile and endearing and I feel protective of him, especially when he is aware of being mocked by others.

 Because it’s written in the first person we are exposed to his thoughts, feelings and anxieties and these show his vulnerability and increasing desperation as the night unravels. But nothing that has gone before compares to the pain you can feel Inkker going through when he meets his new neighbours.

They are, Claire, who calls him Inky, and Adrian, a writer of novels, and they invite Inkker to a flat warming party telling him to ‘dress fancy’ a term he misunderstands but I loved the amount of planning that went into his appearance.

 Inkker’s behaviour becomes increasingly wild. He’s banned from his local, The Laughing Goat, but when he goes to make the peace in an attempt to be allowed back in he can’t help but cause more trouble. His eccentric domestic habits become more and more surreal, I mean, the mannequin, what is going on there? Towards the end his violent thoughts and destructive actions escalate to levels that wreak havoc on his life and then there is a devastating setback for him, the desperate grief that follows all consuming. And you feel it, you really do.

 Excellently written I would recommend this to everyone who fancies reading something highly original and totally entertaining – and don’t we all want to do that? I truly hope to read much more from this terrific writer in the future.

Book description

A frustrated loner and book lover, convinced he is destined to write a best seller and become a literary legend – before even typing a single word – begins taking out his “writer’s block” on the local community.

Depressed and volatile, his explosive outbursts within the privacy of his own home begin to manifest in public as his increasing creative frustrations and disastrous romantic relationships pile up, causing him to become a source of amusement among the regulars at local pubs and bars – but who will have the last laugh?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rum Hijack by [Phil Motel]

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT A #Football #Horror Novella BURNTBRIDGE BOYS 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 Burntbridge Boys by John F. Leonard

Burntbridge Boys: A Football Horror Story by [John F Leonard]

Sammy Rafferty is past his prime. Having gained notoriety for violence within football where his fearsome reputation came in handy as a player, and an afterlife in management slick with slippery schemes, he now found himself at a ground he’d never heard of. The home of Burntbridge Palmers.

The stadium is decaying, not unlike Bill Stroat, groundsman, and his dog, Auger. Bill assumes Sammy is there as the new gaffer and takes him on a tour.

Through this story there are flashbacks to Sammy’s life as a professional footballer and his time in management where he was taken under the wing of Ray McEvoy and entered a world of dirty dealings and criminal activity. All of which he was paying for now.

I have read several of Leonards books, this being another short one at around 80 pages, and this was just as well written with tight, engaging prose and a way with words I find appealing. It is probably not as fast-paced or filled with horror as some of his others and the focus is on the football but the ins and outs of that made for a great story. Recommended for all with a passion for the game, who like their reading on the darker side and who enjoy good writing.

Book description

It’s 1979 and Sammy Rafferty is on the run. From the past. From the police. And, perhaps more importantly, from some rather unfriendly criminal types.
He thinks his football dreams are over, but that might not be the case. He’s run to Burntbridge Lye. A place where dreams don’t always die.

Sammy “the butcher” Rafferty has long since kissed his playing days goodbye. Never kicking a competitive ball again was a hard pill to swallow and he’s not ready for his managerial career to come to an untimely end. The thought of forever being shut out of football makes his heart sink and feet itch.

There isn’t any choice. The cards have been dealt and you have to play the hand you’re given. Sammy grits his teeth and gets on with it. Life settles into monotony and offers only boredom and frustration …until he comes across an old football ground nestled in the back of beyond.

He can almost hear the roar of the crowd as he parks at the gates of the deserted Burntbridge Palmers, a decaying stadium on the outskirts of Bledbrooke Town.
The club that won’t die could be just the place for a man who still has a gleam in his eye. After all, they’re both ghosts that won’t go away.

Burntbridge Boys is about a lot of things.
Horror, for sure. No doubt there. Old school horror, with a twist. A ghost story where the ghosts aren’t really dead.
A fond reminiscence of football, back before football became completely commercialised? Yes, definitely, soccer plays its part. Although, it has to be said, the beautiful game is sometimes less than beautiful in Burntbridge Boys. It can be somewhat ugly and …disturbing. And often more than a game.
Deceit and double-dealing? Yeah, there’s a fair-sized chunk of that.

It might also be about power passed into hands too fragile for the holding. The darkness hidden in human hearts which is best kept hidden and secrets that are better not revealed. Society and its cruel attitudes, before society became an equally dreadful click-driven social media experiment.
You’ll draw your conclusions – that’s one of the joys of reading.

On a more prosaic level, is there such a thing as a football horror story? Let alone one set in the past which wallows in a darkly imagined history of the game.
Who knows? When the Dead Boxes are involved, anything is possible. Such items have always been scary things.
Even in the swinging Sixties and glam-shock punk revolution of the Seventies, they contained a terrifying mix of horror and salvation. Throw the Scaeth Mythos into the mix and stuff gets decidedly multi-dimensional.

There are different realities and the walls which separate them can be paper thin. The tiniest tear can allow horror and madness to bleed through.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Burntbridge Boys: A Football Horror Story by [John F Leonard]

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Novella HEAD ON BACKWARDS, CHEST FULL OF SAND by @sandeetweets

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

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading Head On Backwards, Chest Full Of Sand by Sandy Day

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Livvy (definitely not Libby!) is a young woman who goes to stay with her aunt, Donna, in Cape Breton. She describes it as a wildly romantic and artistic place, not unlike Livvy herself, who is a poet and besotted with the love of her life, Kane.

The idea is, as far as Livvy is concerned, that she will write to Kane, back in Ontario, telling him all about the place and he will follow her out there. No one knows of their intention to stay out in Cape Breton together, especially not her parents who are not supportive of the relationship, and Livvy is relieved to get to be with Donna, one of her best friends, and someone who understands her.

Livvy spends time with her cousins, Hellah and Piers, and where one relationship strengthens the other becomes more distant, and it’s not hard to see why. Livvy is obsessed with Kane and I could imagine those around her rolling their eyes as yet another tale about him began. She writes to him every day, at least once, as well as penning copious amounts of poetry. The cracks soon start to appear though as we see that all is not as it seems with this relationship.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s relatively short at 121 pages but filled with teenage angst and I felt for Livvy as it became clear, to the reader at least, what was going on. The writing is excellent and flowed with wonderful light touch descriptions that told me all I needed to know. Recommended for all those who like a well told tale.

Book description

Teetering on the edge of womanhood, clinging to the first love of her life, 17 year-old Livvy is torn between suppressing herself or claiming her identity and independence.

A tale of love-obsession, Head on Backwards, Chest Full of Sand chronicles a young woman’s coming of age during the height of the 1970s women’s liberation movement.

When Livvy, lovesick and artistic, spends the summer with the aunt she adores, she crosses paths with a cast of memorable characters in the coastal community of Margaree, Cape Breton Island.

While Livvy’s cousins torment her, house renovations disturb her, an annoying young islander tries to befriend and teach Livvy to disco dance, Livvy prepares for the much anticipated arrival of her boyfriend, Kane.

This deep dive into the dire and agonizing crannies of a love-obsessed young woman will establish Head on Backwards, Chest Full of Sand as a memorable coming of age story.

For fans of The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Lives of Girls and Women, and The Bell Jar, Head on Backwards, Chest Full of Sand immerses the reader in the world of a troubled young woman coming slowly to terms with love, life, and all its messy relationships.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Memoir MY LIFE IN HORSES by @JanRuthAuthor

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

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading My Life In Horses by Jan Ruth

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My Life in Horses is a memoir and as such was hugely nostalgic for me. So many memories of my own life with horses resurfaced with its reading. Although I have to say that Jan Ruth was, for the most part, riding in considerably more beautiful parts of the country than I.

Jan Ruth’s riding was done at numerous riding stables, a sad fact being that over the years more and more of these have changed to become livery yards and it makes you wonder where people without access to horses in the future will be able to learn.

This relatively short book is full of stories that will bring a smile to your face and Jan Ruth’s telling of them keeps you reading as she builds in settings and atmosphere. If you love horses or have had any sort of background with horses, you will love this read. If you don’t then read it anyway, you might discover what you’ve been missing out on!

Book description

This is the memoir of an ordinary horse-girl. Fifty years of riding schools, borrowed horses and long lost dreamscapes. Fifty years of a passion which has seen considerable changes from the gradual demise of the public riding school, to the loss of access to safe bridleways. But My Life in Horses is not filled with sad nostalgia, it’s also a kaleidoscope of hope and inspiration. From the dappled sunlit lanes of Cheshire to the rugged mountains of North Wales, and beyond.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Paranormal Novella DARK MAGIC by @TomCW99

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

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading Dark Magic by Tom Williams

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Dark Magic is a short book at around 96 pages and has a terrific hook right from the first line.

The Maestros of Magic are rightly envious to see that a rival group of magicians have sold out at a theatre in the West End, for three solid months, and are no longer on the road as a touring group like the Maestros still were. They are also deeply suspicious about their freakily good magic… it’s almost like real magic…

 I thoroughly enjoyed this read. I liked all the information about the different forms of tricks and loved how slightly sniffy each magician was for other forms of the art.

For me this is a book about consequences. About contracts and deals and what happens when you don’t fulfil them. And there are deep consequences when the Maestros interfere too.

I thought there was an unanswered question that stemmed right from the opening hook but as I rescanned a couple of pages searching for a detail to write this review the answer was right there. Good job.

Well written, this is a terrific story for anyone but if you are interested in magic too then that’s even better.

Book description

Baby’s blood… Virgin’s tears… Chainsaws… It’s remarkable what some magicians keep back-stage.

Two magic shows: the Maestros of Magic touring the country, playing provincial theatres; the Carnival of Conjurors successful in the West End. When the Maestros learn that the Conjurors are using real magic – Black Magic – to do their tricks they decide that they must use their own, distinctly unmagical, stage skills to stop them. Soon people are dying on stage – but can the Maestros really beat a team that has the devil on their side?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Historical #Mystery A SICKNESS IN THE SOUL by @penandpension

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

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been redaing A Sickness In The Soul by William Savage

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A Sickness in the Soul is part of The Ashmole Foxe Georgian Mysteries, a series of British historical mysteries set between 1760 and around 1800.

This is the first in this series that I have read and I enjoyed getting straight into the story as well as settling into the setting and circle of friends and acquaintances that make up Ashmole Foxe’s world.

Ashmole Foxe is feeling a little bored with life at the start of the story but within a matter of days he has three possible murders brought to him and I thoroughly enjoyed his investigations in his pursuit of the truth in each case as they, together with the characters themselves, are authentically and wonderfully written.

Running alongside the mystery storyline is Ashmole’s private life and he is a pretty lively fellow with the ladies and, I thought, a touch fortuitous with the way things panned out in a certain aspect of his love life at the end, until that final twist. Ah, now that can only make life considerably more complicated for Mr Foxe in the next book methinks.

Highly recommended for anyone who likes historical fiction but also for all those who just enjoy a good, well written story with terrific characters.

Book description

“Many people wear masks. Some to hide their feelings; some to conceal their identity; and some to hide that most hideous plague of mankind: a sickness in the soul.”

Ashmole Foxe, Norwich bookseller, man-about-town and solver of mysteries will encounter all of these in this tangled drama of hatred, obsession and redemption.

This is a story set in the England of the 1760s, a time of rigid class distinctions, where the rich idle their days away in magnificent mansions, while hungry children beg, steal and prostitute themselves on the streets. An era on the cusp of revolution in America and France; a land where outward wealth and display hide simmering political and social tensions; a country which had faced intermittent war for the past fifty years and would need to survive a series of world-wide conflicts in the fifty years ahead.

Faced with no less than three murders, occurring from the aristocracy to the seeming senseless professional assassination of a homeless vagrant, Ashmole Foxe must call on all his skill and intelligence to uncover the sickness which is appears to be infecting his city’s very soul.

Can Foxe uncover the truth which lies behind a series of baffling deaths, from an aristocrat attending a ball to a vagrant murdered where he slept in a filthy back-alley?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS