Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Medical #Thriller A Kiss Before Killing by Keith McCarthy

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here http://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading A Kiss Before Killing by Keith McCarthy

A Kiss Before Killing: Nothing can keep the doctor away... by [McCarthy, Keith]

My Review:

From the start it is obvious that the author knows a great deal about cadavers and forensics; there is a lot of detail about the dissection of bodies and the necessary criminal investigation. I didn’t mind reading about those sections; in fact I can deal with grisly as much as the next reader of this genre but it felt rather clinically shown so, as a reader, the dreadfulness of the murders, the horrendous dismemberment, was, for me, portrayed too clinically; there was something emotionally missing.

I liked some of the characters; most were multi – layered. Beverley Wharton is well rounded and the relationship between her and John Eisenmenger is interesting. And we get some insight into her sergeant, Tom Bayes and his background. We also get a good understanding of their  professional environment.  All of which shows that these characters and their relationships to one another could lead to further stories. But I couldn’t quite get a handle on the character of Dr. Claire Woodforde. (I did think this was perhaps what the author intended as, although portrayed as a professional person her interaction with other characters was hesitant and not what I would have expected)

On the whole the dialogue is realistic and shows who was speaking, though it is a little stilted, less realistic, at times.

It’s a good plot. And, generally, well told. The author has a good writing style that carries the story along. But there are too many cliches in the narrative and far too many  metaphors and similes. (and these also slip over into the dialogue occasionally. Which would be fine if it were an idiosyncrasy of only one or two of the characters).

My whole problem with this book was with the editing and the proof reading. I think the book needs another good edit and, certainly, a more exact proofreading.

Once this is done I would certainly recommend A Kiss Before Killing.

Each man kills the thing he loves…

Edward Marsham is admitted to the Royal Infirmary having hung himself in his prison cell.

As predicted, he dies.

In the wake of several unexpected deaths at the hospital, however, Dr. Claire Woodforde suspects there is a killer amongst the staff. As Detective Chief Inspector Beverley Wharton and her new sergeant Tom Bayes begin to investigate Marsham’s death, they too start to wonder if it was natural or whether someone…

helped him along.

But as they start to make headway on the case, something much more sinister comes to light.

A body is found in an empty house.

A body without its limbs. And head.

Dr. John Eisenmenger is tasked with examining the torso to uncover clues which will lead to its identity and cause of death; a grisly job even for the most hardened of pathologists.

But as the investigation unfolds, the team discovers that there is much, much worse to come, and in addition, there is growing suspicion that there is a link between the two cases.

This not-for-the-faint-hearted crime thriller shines a light into the darkest recesses of the human soul.

Keith McCarthy is a pathologist and writer of crime fiction, known for his Eisenmenger-Flemming Forensic Mysteries. He also writes under the name Lance Elliot.

GoodreadsAmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Advertisements

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #HistFic Everybody’s Somebody by @berylkingston @EndeavourPress

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here http://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Everybody’s Somebody by Beryl Kingston

35918826

 I was really looking forward to reading Everybody’s Somebody. This is my kind of book, set in an era I have read and researched. I wasn’t disappointed; the story has  a true sense of the time, the place, the people. Told with great attention to period detail, there are some lovely passages of descriptive writing, particularly in relation to the interior scenes of buildings and houses.

The characters are well drawn: Rosie Goodison, the protagonist, has many layers; loyalty, love, pride, independence, and holds a great sense of self-preservation. I empathised with her from the word go. I had reservations sometimes with Jim, Though sensitive to a point with Rosie, I found him to be slightly self-centred and self-indulgent. But, for me, this was a sign of good writing, he is brilliantly  rounded. As is his sister, Kitty. And I liked the friendship and solidarity the two women are shown to share.

One of the themes running throughout the book is that of these two women, as well as others, fighting to asserting themselves, both within relationships and in society. This struggle is carried out before a backdrop of patriarchy,  poverty, unemployment and the devastation of the First World War. It is obvious that the author has researched both the social, economical and political backgrounds and changes: the book covers the Suffragette movement, WW1,the London floods of 1928,.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and the few problems I had with Everybody’s Somebody are slight and two of the reasons are purely personal. But to balance the review, I will mention them here.

The first is with the dialogue. I found the overuse of dialect a bit irritating and, for me, there was little to distinguish the voice of one character from another,especially between Rosie and Kitty. This wasn’t helped by the ‘head-hopping ‘ between them; in the middle of one character’s point of view, the voice of one of the other character would pop in.

And, for me, the dropping in of so many names of famous people in real life at that time felt contrived. One or two would have worked. As far as I was concerned so many were not needed; it’s blatantly obvious the author knows this era like the back of her own hand.

And, also, sometimes I felt as if time was skimmed over; I was just settling into a certain scene or set of circumstances and  the story moved on. However this is a personal thing; I so love this era I just wanted to read more about particular scenes or circumstances. I do realise that this could have made the book impossibly long,.. though it did cross my mind that Everybody’s Somebody could have stretched to a sequel… even a trilogy.

But, as I’ve said, I’m only adding the above to balance the review.  I really liked this book, the plot is excellent with many twists and turns and Beryl Kingston has an easy to read writing style.

I would recommend Everybody’s Somebody to any reader who is interested in history, feminism and family sagas with a hint of mystery.

Book Description

“Life’s for real an’ you got to get on with it.”

Rosie Goodison is not one to shy away from life’s problems. Whether it’s finding work or challenging injustice, Rosie squares her shoulders, sets her chin high and faces it full on.

Born at the end of the nineteenth century, in the rural south of England and sent into service aged just twelve, Rosie quickly discovers that many good people spend their lives toiling for very little reward, whilst others ‘have it all’.

She decides it won’t be like that for her. Why can’t she ride in a car? Why can’t she work when she’s pregnant? Why can’t she live in a nice flat? Why can’t she be an artist’s model?

Whilst working as a housekeeper for two upper-class boys, Rosie starts to learn more and more about the world, gleaned from overheard conversations and newspapers left lying around. This triggers an ongoing thirst for knowledge, which shapes her views, informs her decisions and influences her future.

Rosie aspires to have a better life than that of her parents: better living conditions, better working conditions and pay, better education for her children, to be able to vote, to be able to control how many children she has…

Without realising it, this young woman is blazing a trail for all those who are to come after.

Whilst working in London, Rosie meets her sweetheart Jim, but the The Great War puts paid to their plans for the future, and matters worsen afterwards, as she, along with the rest of society, tries to deal with the horrors and losses.

This heart-warming story follows the events of the early twentieth century – the impact and horrors of WW1, the financial crisis and the rapid social and political changes that took place.

All that remains of Rosie now is a quartet of paintings in an art gallery. The artist, now famous but the model, unnamed and forgotten; nobody of consequence.

But everybody has a life story. Everybody leaves some kind of mark on this world.

Everybody’s somebody.

About the author

Beryl Kingston

I was born in 1931 in Tooting, and when I was four was enrolled at a local dancing school run by a lady called Madam Hadley, which I attended until I was eight when the war began. Because of the war my school career was – shall we say – varied. I was evacuated twice, the first time to Felpham which is near Bognor Regis and the second to Harpenden in Hertfordshire, and consequently went to ten different schools. I ended up at Streatham Secondary School, an LCC grammar run on the Dalton system, which offered a few lessons as sparking points and then required pupils to be responsible for their own learning, either in study rooms with their teachers on hand to help and advise, or on their own in the library or the school hall. It suited me to a T. Then to King’s College London, where I read English and enjoyed myself a lot, but wasn’t particularly distinguished, having other things on my mind by then.

I am proud of the fact that I was in Tooting for the first four months of the blitz, and only left it to be evacuated again when our road was bombed and our house was uninhabitable. I spent the middle part of the war in Harpenden and returned to live in London again at the end of the war at the time of the V2’s, this time without my family.

When I was just sixteen I met the love of my life, who arrived on my doorstep in Air Force blue one February evening in the coldest winter on record. Despite heavy opposition from my parents, we married three years later during my first year at King’s and spent the next 53 years 11 months and 6 days living more and more happily together. We had three much loved children and five much loved grandchildren and once I’d embarked on my career as a novelist, researched all the books together, which was great fun. We finished work on ‘Gates of Paradise’ six weeks before he died. So this publication is special to me.

I have enjoyed two careers in my life – as a teacher from 1952 to 1985 (with ten years off to bring up my family, which some might consider a third career) and as a published writer from 1980 to date. I am also, although it sounds immodest to say it, an easy and charismatic public speaker, usually unfazed by any audience no matter how big or how small or what questions they might throw at me.

In the two schools where I was head of the English department, I deliberately covered the full range of age and ability, believing that as I was paid the largest salary I should carry the heaviest responsibility. My work was filmed by KCL Education Department for use in their PGCE course and I have given talks at various colleges and schools on a variety of educational subjects, from teaching poetry to ‘tackling’ sex education. I have never subscribed to the Gradgrind theory of education which is current now, but always believed that the job of a teacher is to enable her students to learn.

I have always been a political animal, taking part in street demonstrations, walking from Aldermaston to London, involved in the 1945 election despite the fact that I was only fourteen, taking to the streets again, along with a million others, to protest against the Iraq war when I was 72.

And as a last and rather lighter touch, I was a beauty queen in 1947. It wasn’t all protests!

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT @barrow_judith reviews Alt #Rome Inceptio by @alison_morton

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here http://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Inceptio by Alison Morton

17328184

My Review:

I need to say from the start, that I may not have been in the right frame of mind to read what, to me, is a book with a complex and fantastical plot.  I wanted to like INCEPTIO; I started off really enjoying the book but as I read on I found the plot erratic; sometimes dragging, sometimes rushing by. So I struggled to be totally engaged with the story.

Told mainly from the point of view of Karen Brown, a modern New York resident, it is to the author’s credit that the protagonist is quickly built into a rounded character and it is easy to empathise with her in the rapid change in her circumstances. But, as the story progresses it becomes quite obvious that Karen,  soon renamed Carina Mitela as the most important resident of Roma Nova, wasn’t going to be beaten by any antagonist nor fail in any of the tasks she was given to complete. I felt there  were too many (and sometimes what I thought were ‘tongue in cheek’ ) attacks on the protagonist, designed to persuade her to sign away her  inheritance of vast amounts of money and, more importantly, a very successful business before her twenty-fifth birthday.

I did like the way the author built up some of the other characters: Karen/ Carina’s grandmother, Nona/Aurelia, the attractive, soon to be lover, Conrad. (I would have liked more time spent on the building of the relationships between the protagonist and these two characters – I am always more won over by character-driven tales ). And I also enjoyed characters such as Lurio, Apollodorus and Aelia. Even the antagonist, Renschman (told from a third person point of view, so we were a little distanced from him but could still see, if not empathise, his mindset – he has personal reasons for hating Karen) had his moments of depth were true evil for me. Of necessity there needed to be a lot of characters to populate this alternative country. But I did find myself shuffling back and forth sometimes to find out who fitted where.

Must admit though, I did like the idea of a country where the women ruled and called the shots!!

One of Alison Morton’s strengths is dialogue, both internal and spoken; there is never any doubt which character is speaking, even without dialogue tags. Yet even here I tended to be pulled out of the story by the constant use of Latin (Yes, I l know it adds to the validity of the country but still… . I have to confess this might have brought back too many memories of the language from a certain teacher in my schooldays! Don’t ask!!)

There is a lot of dense detail and some quite long descriptions of the fictitious state of Roma Nova. These build up a good sense of place of this civilisation that exists as a left over land of the long ago Roman Empire. Interesting- but I found they slowed the plot for me and I have to admit I did skip over some of them. And I found some of the narration, in parts, also dragged a little.

Loved the cover, by the way. I see this is a theme throughout the Roma Nova Thriller series.

Would I recommend? Well, yes to readers who enjoy alternative historical fiction with lots of action and lots of description.

Having written this review and then gone onto Amazon and seen how many 5* this book has been given, I think I’d like to read more of  Alison Morton’s work. Perhaps this just wasn’t for me at the moment

Book Description

INCEPTIO plunges you into a 21st century Roman world. Apart from kidnapping, heartache and a close encounter with Latin grammar, New Yorker Karen Brown must contend with a fascinating Praetorian elite forces officer. Oh, and a crazy killer pursuing her for a very personal reason.

Karen flees to her dead mother’s homeland, Roma Nova, the last remnant of the Roman Empire. Founded sixteen hundred years ago by Roman exiles and now ruled by women, it gives Karen safety and a ready-made family – but at a price.

In this adventure thriller set in an alternative timeline, Karen grows from a girl anybody might know into a strong female character not only intent on staying alive but also on finding out why the killer is hunting her.

A coming of age story, where an ordinary girl discovers there is a great deal more lying under her mundane existence, but also lethal danger. At what stage does she stop running from it?

About the author

Alison Morton

Even before she pulled on her first set of combats, Alison Morton was fascinated by the idea of women soldiers. After six years in a special communications regiment, she left as a captain, having done all sorts of interesting and exciting things she can’t talk about, even now…

The mosaics at Ampurias (Spain) and their creation by the complex, power and value-driven Roman civilisation made her wonder what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women.

Now, she writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with tough heroines, tends a Roman herb garden and drinks wine with her husband of 30 years.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Rusticles by @rlgransden #Shortstory collection

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

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Rusticles by Rebecca Gransden

35643268

My Review:

I am unfamiliar with this author’s work so the first time I read each story two thoughts struck me: they are unique in that they are written in an oblique style difficult to grasp initially; much is implied within phrases and partial , seemingly unfinished dialogue. And secondly, that  these tales are almost poetic prose. I say almost, because for me, they stopped just short of creating flowing images; the pictures they create are elusive. And this, I think, is what Rebecca Gransden is aiming for in Rusticles; that tenuousness grasp of understanding. So that the readers is forced to interpret each story in their own way. This place, Hilligoss, is filled with characters that tell a tale, a moment in their time, of their lives, through an individualistic, idiosyncratic point of view. I suppose there is no right or wrong way for the reader to decode what they are reading.

I liked the cover; the blending of the colours, the vague images. The way the eye is led to the light. The rust shades that reflect the title. Said aloud the title rolls of the tongue. I had to look up the meaning of the word. The interpretation is as follows:

A rusticle is a formation of rust similar to an icicle or stalactite in appearance that occurs underwater when wrought iron oxidizes. They may be familiar from underwater photographs of shipwrecks, such as the RMS Titanic and the German battleship Bismarck. Rusticles are created by microbes that consume iron.

So it’s a clever title. I just wasn’t sure of the stories. They weren’t really to my taste as a reader. But I may be missing the whole point of this book. I’d be interested to see what other readers think.

Book Description

In Hilligoss, a tired man searches for a son, a flamingo enthrals the night, and fireworks light up the lost. In these stories and more, Rusticles offers a meandering tour through backroads bathed in half light, where shadows play along the verges and whispers of the past assault daydreams of the present. Walk the worn pathways of Hilligoss.

About the author

Rebecca Gransden

This author has always lived by the sea.

She tends to write about the edges of things so if you inhabit the fringes you may find something to like.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Contemporary Skin Deep by Laura Wilkinson @scorpioscribble

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

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Skin Deep by Laura Wilkinson

34685635

My Review:

I have previously read Public Battles, Private Wars by Laura Wilkinson and admired her writing style,  so was looking forward to delving into her latest offering. I wasn’t disappointed, even though it is completely different  from what I expected.

In a way it’s a strange, almost uncomfortable tale, told in both present time and flashback. But it is one I came to understand; so many times we are judged by how we look and the author skilfully handles the characters; they come to life slowly but surely as the story progresses.

The dialogue is realistic and natural; the internal monologues of Cal as an adult are fascinating.

Some sections of the Northern setting in the 1980s were familiar for me  and gave a good sense of place. The descriptions of the darkest parts of the city and the living conditions of the characters were well written and gave an insight to the seedier side of Manchester at that time.

Less than a plot and more of a thoughtful unravelling of the interior lives of both the protagonist, Diana, and the other main character, Cal, Skin Deep is a book that left me pondering on the rights and wrongs of Diana’s actions on how her relationship with Cal. progresses.

Loved the ending by the way.

Book Description

Art student and former model Diana has always been admired for her beauty, but what use are good looks when you want to shine for your talent? Insecure and desperate for inspiration, Diana needs a muse.

Facially disfigured four-year-old Cal lives a life largely hidden from the world. But he was born to be looked at and he needs love too. A chance encounter changes everything and Cal becomes Diana’s muse. But as Diana’s reputation develops and Cal grows up, their relationship implodes.

Both struggle to be accepted for what lies within.
Is it possible to find acceptance in a society where what’s on the outside counts for so much?

About the author

Laura Wilkinson

Laura Wilkinson grew up in a Welsh market town and now lives in Brighton with her husband and two boys. Her novels: Skin Deep, The Family Line, Public Battles, Private Wars and Redemption Song are published by award-winning Welsh press, Accent. What does all her work have in common? Compelling stories, fascinating characters, and ideas that make you think a little. At least she hopes so! As well as writing fiction, she works as an editor & mentor for literary consultancy, Cornerstones, and The Writing Coach.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The Darcy Monologues #Anthology @JenettaJames

Today’s Team review is from Judith, she blogs here http://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading The Darcy Monolugues anthology by various authors

34188549

My Review:

I chose this anthology both out of curiosity and because I’m short on time at the moment so reading short stories suits me. I’m so glad I did. The Darcy Monologues is a collection of fifteen short stories told from Darcy’s point of view and is an outstanding read. The book is divided into two;  The Regency’and Other Eras, I found it difficult to decide which section I liked best.

I don’t give spoilers, especially in this case. I think it would be unfair to pick out individual stories to review and not others as, from my perspective, they are all excellently written, Some are portrayed from the first person point of view of Darcy, others from a third person viewpoint. Unusually the reader accompanies Darcy into various eras, various places and various predicaments. There is some humour, some pathos, some – quite a lot, obviously – romance. I loved each and every one. The slants on all the tales are clever and absorbing and threaded throughout is that one issue; that one age-old theme; two people who move inexorably from dislike to love. I’m sure Jane Austen would approve of these diverse stories of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet .

I would definitely recommend this anthology to lovers of Pride and Prejudice and all readers who enjoy short stories.

Book Description

“You must allow me to tell you…”
For over two hundred years, Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has captivated readers’ imaginations as the ultimate catch. Rich. Powerful. Noble. Handsome. And yet, as Miss Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is established through Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, how are we to know his mind? How does Darcy progress from “She is tolerable: but not handsome enough to tempt me” to “I thought only of you”?
In this romance anthology, fifteen Austenesque authors assemble to sketch Darcy’s character through a series of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times—from faithful narratives to the fanciful. Herein “The Darcy Monologues”, the man himself reveals his intimate thoughts, his passionate dreams, and his journey to love—all told with a previously concealed wit and enduring charm.
Stories by: Susan Adriani * Sara Angelini * J. Marie Croft * Karen M Cox * Jan Hahn * Jenetta James * Lory Lilian * KaraLynne Mackrory * Beau North * Ruth Phillips Oakland * Natalie Richards * Sophia Rose * Joana Starnes * Melanie Stanford * Caitlin Williams

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS |

 

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Fall Out by @LizzyMumfrey #WomensFiction #wwwblogs

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here http://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Fall Out by Lizzy Mumfrey

34856134

My Review:

I read this book twice in consecutive sessions because I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. And I have to say that although I liked the idea of Fall Out (clever play on words with the title, by the way) and enjoyed certain parts  of the book, I struggled with it for so many reasons.

Don’t get me wrong; Lizzy Mumfrey can write, it’s a good plot and there are scenes that certainly bring a sense of empathy to the characters.The first chapter caught my attention straight-away with the introduction of the main character, Susie Cole. I was intrigued. But then we are immediately taken to another scenario with two other characters, Susie’s husband, Peter and his friend, Richard Hughes, who reveal the threat of terrorism that the world is under, the fact that Peter has achieved a high rank in the police force and that there will be a dinner party to celebrate this promotion.

On my second read it occurred to me that the first chapter would have worked well (better) as a Prologue. Because it’s quite some while until we actually discover why this foreshadowing of the whole plot is revealed.

There is then quite a long section giving the inner thoughts of the protagonist of how she sees herself and the people she will invite, and the menu for the meal. This not only slows the story down but there are also chunks of information dumps, giving descriptions of these other characters and their lives; their jobs, their houses, their children. Good depictions of them all but I would have liked them not to be in such detail and these passages are something that I feel would be better drip-fed into the story.

And these meticulous  narratives  through  Susie’s internal thoughts continue. I wanted to like her; her dialogue is as intrinsically slapdash (sometimes irritatingly so) as her lifestyle. And this is the whole crux of the plot; the way she is, is why she becomes the target of  “irrational suspicions, prejudice and misunderstandings lead to blame and persecution.”  It’s a brilliantly thought out  set of circumstances that is threaded throughout the book.

Sections of the book are told through the points of view of some of the other characters, though, and these gave a good insight to them, their backgrounds and their role in Fall Out. And they give an alternative understanding to their personalities than that of Susie’s.

But there are other situations  that I felt could be whole different novels and that I would have liked to have been explored and dealt with. Two such are those of the family stories of a couple of the students in the school: Ellie and, Charlie. Both from dysfunctional families. Charlie’s mother is absent; he’s a lonely lad struggling to survive and letting no one know he is on his one. And there is one point in Ellie’s story that brought me up short and I was waiting for it to develop. But, although it did hover around in the story, it got submerged by the larger plot.

And, perhaps, this is why I had some reservations about Fall Out; that there are so many brilliant, intriguing characters that I felt deserved their own stories.

And then there is the terrorist attack itself. Now I know the whole idea of the novel is the affect on the village of Charlton.  There are many evocative descriptions of the way the characters deal with the situations and of various places. And it is perfectly clear that life for the residents of Charlton will never be the same again. So, as this the crux of the book, it certainly succeeds.  But somehow I didn’t sense the devastating scenario to the whole country that followed such a traumatic event.

However, as I said earlier, I do like Lizzy Mumfrey’s writing and look forward to reading another of her books.

Book Description

WHAT IF THE TIES THAT HOLD TOGETHER A COMMUNITY ARE IRREVOCABLY DESTROYED? The sociable commuter village of Charlton is an ordinary neighbourhood, typical of many, home to a colourful range of residents, many of whose teenagers go to the local academy. An ordinary day becomes extraordinary when a school trip to London coincides with an appalling terrorist attack and everyone’s cosy, humdrum life is shattered. The fallout affects every resident in dramatically different ways. Who lives and who dies is just the start – irrational suspicions, prejudice and misunderstandings lead to blame and persecution. Buried secrets are revealed, friendships fractured and trust destroyed. IS IT POSSIBLE THAT LIFE WILL NEVER BE NORMAL AGAIN.

About the author

Lizzy Mumfrey

I am a Maid of Kent, born and brought up on a farm with my three older sisters in a quintessentially English community. An idyllic and cloistered childhood.
On leaving school I briefly went to Bristol University (I was asked to leave) and flew to London and had an irresponsible time doing all sorts of unsuitable and impetuous things. This included getting married and moving to the South West which proved to be rather rash. It didn’t last but I was blessed with my two fabulous, funny and brilliant girls so no regrets.
I worked stoically and extremely long hours for years in IT, clawing my way up the career ladder for financial advantage and to give my girls the best childhood that I could.
Meeting and marrying my beloved Bob changed my life and I became a full time farmer’s wife (full circle?). I indulged myself in charity fundraising and creating a life skills course for children with special needs. Bob and I had the made idea of crossing the Atlantic in a yacht – which we did – and then spent many happy years cruising around the Caribbean where I wrote a blog which got me writing again.
They say that everyone has a novel in them – I hope in my case more than one – and encouraged by my family I put pen to paper… and hence my debut novel, Fall Out. It has been a fantastic experience so the next one is being brewed.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT In A Gilded Cage by Susan Appleyard @Mexisue1 #HistFic

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

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading In A Gilded Cage by Susan Appleyard.

30623584

I like this author’s style of writing; In a Gilded Cage is a compact, detailed read that need a lot of concentration but is so worth it. And, as in Queen of Trial and Sorrow it is obvious that the author has research in great detail has preceded the writing of this book. It is an enthralling read of the time and the two countries.;the sense of the politics and machinations, threaded throughout reveal the tumult that the characters live through

Told in first person point of view from Elisabeth Empress of Austria The reader lives through all the emotions the protagonist feels: the uncertainties, the ,contentment, the wretchedness, the distress,the love. It’s easy to empathise with the changes in ‘Sisi’s’ life.

At the front of the book there is a long list of the principle characters that is quite complex and I often had to go back and refer to it which interrupted my reading. But that’s a small quibble. On the whole the characters are well rounded and believable; I liked those the author intended me to like and disliked those who made the protagonist unhappy or afraid. If a book does this for me as a reader… it works.

Susan Appleyard has a knack for capturing the sounds and syntax of an historic period; she doesn’t disappoint in this novel. For me the dialogue gives a real flavour of the era as I imagine it to be.

Again, as in Queen of Trial and Sorrow, although there is a wonderful sense of place through the descriptions of the countries, the buildings, the costumes, I did feel that they were sometimes a little arduous and I was tempted a few times to skip through them. (although I didn’t, knowing I needed to review honestly and fairly)

Would recommend In a Gilded Cage? Yes, I would; the book suit readers who enjoy first person accounts of historical fiction.

Book Description

In a Gilded Cage is a B.R.A.G. Medallion winner! Sisi enjoyed a carefree lifestyle in the hills of Bavaria until she was chosen by Franz Josef to be his wife. At the age of sixteen she became Elisabeth Empress of Austria and moved into the imperial palaces of Vienna, where a hostile court disdained her for her low birth, and strict protocol ruled her every act. She had no other purpose than to adorn the emperor’s arm on ceremonial occasions and to make babies who were taken from her at birth to be raised by her domineering mother-in-law. Of too sensitive a spirit, and dazzlingly beautiful, she was often ill and anorexic and had to flee the court to distant places in order to heal. She struggled to adjust to her new life in an alien environment until she found a cause into which she could pour her heart and soul: Hungary. Like Sisi herself, Hungary struggled to find its place in the world, where it would not be subsumed by a soulless empire. Having found her salvation, she also found a man she could love in the great patriot, Count Andrassy.

About the author

Susan Appleyard

I was born in England where I learned to love English history. Now I live in Canada in the summer with my three children and three grandchildren. In winter I flee the cold for Mexico where I enjoy the sun and sea, restaurants on the beach and Happy Hours with my friends.
I don’t think I have a particularly unique writing method. I always write in the mornings in a place where I can work relatively undisturbed. I never read over what I’ve written until the manuscript is finished so I can approach it with a fresh eye.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

 

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #WomensFiction Walls of Silence by @helen_pryke #fridayreads

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here http://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Walls Of Silence by Helen Pryke

33260723

My Review:

First of all, I’d like to say how fascinating the Book Description is. Just enough to tempt the readers in without giving away the story, as so often happens.

I always try not to give spoilers with my reviews but with Walls of Silence I found it difficult to write the following without giving any of the story away. I hope I’ve succeeded.

To say I enjoyed the whole of this book isn’t totally true; I enjoyed Helen Pryke’s writing style and the fact that all the way though she convinced me of the danger to the protagonist, Maria, if she revealed what was happening to her. There are deeply disturbing sections and the actions of some of the characters are distressing. It is a dark book.

I did have a few problems with pace of Walls of Silence. After being instantly drawn into the story through the Prologue, it then slowed, drastically. I love Prologues and this one was strong; I was intrigued by Pietro’s story. But then the abrupt change to Maria’s story; the flashback, left me a bit stranded. I kept wanting to know the reactions of both Pietro and  his and Maria’s daughter, Antonella, who, presumably , were learning about Maria’s life together. I have to be honest though; I’m not at all sure how else the author could have written it. I just wanted more of these two characters after such an interesting introduction to them

I felt the first half of the first chapter was too drawn out (although I realised later that it was to introduce some of the characters we, as readers, would meet again towards the end of the book). But  I did like the second half; Maria’s early family life in Sicily and the descriptions of the characters in her community, ruled so completely by the Catholic Church during the era of the 1950/60s.

This variation in the pace of the plot, some parts too drawn out, others too quickly passed over, was, I felt, a little awkward.

But I thought the characters that Maria met throughout her difficult life were well drawn and the dialogue was believable and rounded out most of them.

However I did have a problem with the relationship between the protagonist and Pietro; it did feel a little contrived and unsatisfactory. to me as a reader.

Still, as I’ve said I did like the author’s style of writing, I found the descriptions of the settings brilliantly evocative and the story very moving. And Walls of Silence is an excellent title; it gives the claustrophobic sense on enclosure, secrecy, despair that Maria and the other women experience.

And, I must say i do like the cover; to me it embodies the whole story.

After I wrote this review I read the book description. Part of the proceeds from this book will go to a women’s centre in the UK. This kind of statement always gives me a problem; I feel guilty if I don’t rate the book higher. But then I always try to give an honest review, so will leave the above as written.

What I can say yet again, is that Helen Pryke writes well and I look forward to reading more of her work.

Book Description

Living in the mountains of Sicily, Maria has the perfect childhood until the tragic accident that changes her life forever. The events that follow will take her away from her home town to the streets of Milan, in an ever-increasing spiral of abuse and deception. Will she ever be able to trust anyone ever again? Set in turbulent 1960s Italy, Walls of Silence is the story of a girl who must find the courage and strength to survive her family’s betrayal and the prejudices of her country.

About the author

Helen Pryke

I moved to the north of Italy 26 years ago, without knowing a word of Italian! I picked it up pretty quickly, mostly by watching cheesy American soaps dubbed in Italian with Italian subtitles… but was too shy to speak for about a year!
26 years later, I now work as a translator, from Italian to English. It’s a job I love, especially when I got the chance to translate a children’s book and screenplay written by an Italian author. The screenplay is now winning awards at American film festivals!
I have always written short stories and books from an early age – I still have a short story I wrote when I was 10 that was published in the school magazine!
I love reading – I’ll read almost anything! I tend to spend most of my free time relaxing with my husband and two sons, and eating delicious Italian food!
The only thing I don’t like about Italy is the climate – cold and damp in the winter, hot and humid in the summer. With infestations of mosquitoes in the summer and stink bugs in the autumn…
but all in all, it’s a great place to live.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

 

Rosie’s Review Team #RBRT The Mistress Of Blackstairs by Catherine Curzon #HistFic @MadameGilflurt

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here http://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading The Mistress Of Blackstairs by Catherine Curzon

34674325

My Review:

Although the story has a slow start for me, I thoroughly  enjoyed this book once I  persevered. Catherine Curzon has obviously researched the era well and I do like her style of writing.

 The characters come alive on the page with the excellent, drip-fed descriptions of their appearances. Even minor characters are well rounded and easily envisaged. I especially liked the many layered portrayal of the protagonist, Georgina Radcliffe aka Madam Moineau whose back story is revealed in a steady and interesting style throughout. And her foster daughter, Molly, shown to be a child of the streets, behaves just as I would expect; living where and how she exists. Interestingly she is portrayed with a mixture of pathos and humour. Anthony Lake; an empathetic and charming character, even though shown to be a  bit of a rogue, I liked as soon as he put on an appearance. As for the  Viscount Polmear…instantly dis-likeable, as all good antagonists should be.

A lot of the story is carried on dialogue which is strong and it is easy to follow who is speaking even without dialogue tags.

 Although it is a time- honoured and steadily paced plot (most of the time) of ‘ boy meets girl’ and initially disliking each other, the story is so multi-faceted and played out in such an intriguing way that I read it in one sitting.

I so wanted to give The Mistress of Blackstairs  five stars but there were a couple of disappointments for me.  I love novels that give me a sense of place through descriptions using all five senses and although the interior settings were brilliant I got little sense of the streets, of the places in London at the at time (except for the lovely descriptions of the fires on the corners of the streets), that the characters move around in.

 And, although the lead up to the ending is exciting, the actual denouement feels too rushed and, I’m afraid, a little predictable, although I accept it would be disappointing (for me anyway) if it hadn’t factually ended as it did.

 All in all though, an excellent read and one I have no hesitation in recommending to readers who enjoy historical fiction.

Book Description

Everyone thought she was dead…
In 18th century Covent Garden, Madam Moineau, is the mistress of Blackstairs, an establishment catering to the finest clients in London.
The mysterious, veiled lady of Paris was better known in the past as a former courtesan and went by the considerably less exotic moniker of Georgina Radcliffe, or Georgie to her friends. 
In the winter of 1785 two men appear in Madam Moineau’s life.
Rogue artist Anthony Lake has recently returned from Europe. Lake is on his own assignment, searching the streets of London for the daughter he only recently discovered he had fathered.
He learns that the child’s mother is dead, brutally killed and Anthony finds himself on an unexpected mission to avenge his ex-lovers’ murder.
Nearly ten years after he left Madam Moineau, then known as Georgina, for dead, Viscount Edmund Polmear returns to London.
He has a new fiancé in tow and is soon to be found around Blackstairs, seeking a further mistress for his own pleasure.
His sudden appearance is a shock for the victim that he believed he left for dead, forcing Madam Moineau to face the horrors of her own past head on.
Anthony Lake and Madam Moineau’s lives become inevitably and inextricably entwined as they find themselves up against the fearsome and unforgiving Viscount Polmear.
 

About the author

Catherine Curzon

Catherine Curzon is a royal historian better known as Madame Gilflurt, the author of A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life (www.madamegilflurt.com), where she blogs on all matters 18th century. 
She has been published on matters as diverse as Marie Antoinette’s teeth and Grace Kelly’s love life. Her work has been featured by BBC History Extra, All About History, History of Royals, Explore History and Jane Austen’s Regency World, the official magazine of the Jane Austen Centre. She is thrilled to provide an online home for An Evening with Jane Austen, and her additional material for the show was performed at the V&A. 
Catherine has performed the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, as part of An Evening with Jane Austen, and spoken at Dr Johnson’s House and Lichfield Guildhall. 
Catherine holds a Master’s in Film Studies from the University of Nottingham. When not dodging the furies of the guillotine, she writes fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London. 
She resides atop a steep hill in Brontë country with a rakish colonial gentleman, a hound, and a feline.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter