Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT TURN OF THE TIDE by @margaretskea1 #HistFic #wwwblogs

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Turn Of The Tide by Margaret Skea.

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Initially, I wasn’t too sure about this book. There are a lot of characters, and their allegiances, to keep track of, which I found it a little confusing at first. Writing them down as a quick reference helped as it’s not so easy to keep referring back on a kindle. The more I read, the easier it became and the story took hold. Set in Ayrshire in the sixteenth century it tells of a notorious feud that lasted almost two centuries, between the Montgomeries and the Cunninghames. In the middle of these two warring clans is Munro and his family. Munro owes his loyalty to the Cunninghames, even as he is ever more uncomfortable with their actions and behaviour, and his understandable failure to comprehend the reasoning behind the feud.

After an ambush and horrific massacre, not to mention several terrible retaliations, the two families are charged by King James VI to publicly declare a truce and with members of each family vying for the King’s favour, it’s not long before tensions erupt again. Munro escapes retribution for his part in the ambush but his conscience, his wife and his gradual friendship with several Montgomeries, make him reassess his priorities, regardless of the fact his association with the rival clan would be condemned out of hand by certain members of the Cunninghames.

The story is firmly rooted in the time and place by skilful, descriptive writing and evocative dialogue. It’s a complex tale of politics and intrigue, with basically one main, and despicable, miscreant – William Cunninghame, Glencairn’s heir. Despite the truce, he has no intention of even attempting to keep the peace. He is vicious, overbearing and completely intolerant of perceived slights, as Munro’s family learn to their cost. Anyone who offends him is in a very precarious position.

It’s a harsh and dangerous time, when hatred and revenge is rife. Munro walks a fine line between the two families, always having to be on the alert while just wishing to live his life quietly, at home with his wife and children. Always conscious of the choices he makes, and the resulting actions, as to how they might affect his family. This is shown extremely well by the vast chasm between daily family life on the farm and the conflicting violence and tragedy.

Margaret Skea creates a good balance between fact and fiction, blending both seamlessly. Munro especially stands out, and initially it was his character that helped draw me into the story, which, to all appearances is a convincing and representational account. The characters, both real and fictional, are well defined and believable and the story well crafted – I can only imagine the depth of research this took. I love the tense build up to a very unexpected ending.

Book Description

Old rivalries…new friendships…dangerous decisions. 
Set in 16th Century Scotland Munro owes allegiance to the Cunninghames and to the Earl of Glencairn. Trapped in the 150-year-old feud between the Cunninghames and the Montgomeries, he escapes the bloody aftermath of an ambush, but he cannot escape the disdain of the wife he sought to protect, or his own internal conflict. He battles with his conscience and with divided loyalties – to age-old obligations, to his wife and children, and, most dangerous of all, to a growing friendship with the rival Montgomerie clan. Intervening to diffuse a quarrel that flares between a Cunninghame cousin and Hugh Montgomerie, he succeeds only in antagonizing William, the arrogant and vicious Cunninghame heir. And antagonizing William is a dangerous game to play…

About the author

Margaret Skea

Margaret Skea grew up in Ulster at the height of the ‘Troubles’, but now lives with her husband in the Scottish Borders. 

An interest in Scotland’s turbulent history, and in particular the 16th century, combined with PhD research into the Ulster-Scots vernacular, led to the writing of Turn of the Tide, which was the Historical Fiction Winner in the 2011 Harper Collins / Alan Titchmarsh People’s Novelist Competition and the Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best First Time Author 2014. 

An Hawthornden Fellow and award winning short story writer – her recent credits include, Overall Winner Neil Gunn 2011, Chrysalis Prize 2010, and Winchester Short Story Prize 2009. Third in the Rubery Book Award Short Story Competition 2013, a finalist in the Historical Novel Society Short Story Competition 2012, shortlisted in the Mslexia Short Story Competition 2012 and long-listed for the Historical Novel Society Short Story competition 2014, the Matthew Pritchard Award, the Fish Short Story and Fish One Page Prize, she has been published in a range of magazines and anthologies in Britain and the USA.
New collection of short stories – including some those from competitions mentioned above available for pre-order now.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Goodreads | Twitter also available on kindle unlimited

ANOTHER YOU by @JaneCable #Contemporary Romantic #Mystery #TuesdayBookBlog @RNAtweets

Another YouAnother You by Jane Cable
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another You is a contemporary romantic mystery set in Dorset, England.

Marie Johnson is a chef at The Smugglers pub in Studland Bay. She runs the business with her estranged husband. Their son Jude works the bar in between studying art.

It has been sixty years since the D-Day landing and the local area is taking part in the celebrations. Studland had been used as a practice ground for many of the original D-Day invasion plans. Exercise Smash, tanks designed to float through water had been trialed off the coast.

Marie and her husband argue all the time and the stress causes Marie severe migraines. When walking along the coast Marie meets Corbin an American she assumes is here for the D-Day reenactments.

Another American Paxton from the local Bovington camp offers Marie an escape from her worries and they have a fling. Ex-British soldier George is also over on Studland reliving some of his war years with his son Mark. They also befriend Marie and offer support and advice with her business decisions.

All the while Marie’s thought return to the mysterious Corbin and his old world mannerisms and speech.

A ghostly mystery and a romantic triangle for an older women with plenty of domestic turmoil to muddy the waters. I know Studland and Swanage so the setting was a delight to read, it’s great when you can nod your head and think – yes I know where that is, I’ve been there, it helps you picture the setting.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

Sometimes the hardest person to save is yourself… 
Marie Johnson is trapped by her job as a chef in a Dorset pub and by her increasingly poisonous marriage to its landlord. 
Worn down by his string of affairs she has no self-confidence, no self-respect and the only thing that keeps her going is watching her son, Jude, turn into a talented artist. 
But the 60th anniversary of a D-Day exercise triggers chance meetings which prove unlikely catalysts for change. 
First there’s Corbin, the American soldier who she runs into as she’s walking on the cliffs. He is charming and has a quaintness about him, calling her an ‘English rose’. 
Then there’s George the war veteran, who comes to dine at the pub, and his son Mark. George fascinates Marie with his first-hand accounts of the war, whilst Mark proves helpful in making sense of the pub’s financial situation. 
And there’s Paxton. Another American soldier with an uncanny resemblance to Corbin. Young, fit and very attractive, Marie finds him hard to resist. But little does she know Paxton is also battling some inner demons. 
As the heat of the summer intensifies, so do the issues in Marie’s life. 
Why is Corbin so elusive? Why is the pub struggling to make ends meet? Why has Jude suddenly become so withdrawn and unhappy? 
Can she help Paxton open up and begin to deal with his pain? 
Or will she be shackled to the pub and her increasingly spiteful husband forever? 
But as events unfold, Marie finally realises that she is not trapped, but stuck, and that it is down to her to get her life moving again. 
Perfectly blending the complexities of twenty-first century life with the dramatic history of World War Two, Another You is a charming tale that will warm your heart. 

About the author

Jane Cable

Perhaps writing is in my blood. My father, Mercer Simpson, was a poet; my cousin, Roger Hubank, a novelist; Roger’s uncle, John Hampson was also a novelist and fringe member of the Bloomsbury Group. And it’s even rumoured that John Keats is somewhere back there in the family tree.
No wonder that I have always scribbled. But it took me until I was in my forties to complete a full length manuscript. And then another, and another… Writing stories became a compulsive hobby. I could lose myself in my characters, almost live their lives, and I started to long for readers other than my mother and a few close friends to be able to do the same.
It was reaching the final of The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition in 2011 which made me take my writing seriously. The Cheesemaker’s House, a gripping romance-suspense, saw the light of day in September 2013 and I was delighted when it received great reviews from book bloggers and, just as importantly, from the people who bought and read it. My second novel, The Faerie Tree, came out in March 2015 and is a suspenseful romance about the tricks memory plays.
Shortly afterwards The Cheesemaker’s House won the independent novel of the year prize awarded by Words for the Wounded and as a result of this I was signed by the Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency and then by Endeavour Press who published Another You at the end of 2016.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter also available free from kindle unlimited

FOXDEN ACRES by Madalyn Morgan #WW2 #HistFic #FamilySaga #Bookreview @actscribblerdj

Foxden Acres (Dudley Sisters Saga #1)Foxden Acres by Madalyn Morgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Foxden Acres is book one of the Dudley Sisters Saga, WW2 Historical fiction with a romantic theme.

The book opens with a prologue, a family group wait at the station for the arrival of the train bearing soldiers coming home from the war.

Chapter one turns back the clock; pre-war, New Years Eve 1939. Bess is a trainee teacher in London, her father works on the Foxden estate, she has grown up riding the horses on the estate. Allowed to borrow books from the estate library, Bess is caught tip-toeing out by James.

Keen to get to know the grown up Bess more, James suggests they meet in London, but this isn’t their destiny, war breaks out and Bess is offered the job turning Foxden into a productive farm supplying home grown food for the nation. She finds herself busy with land girls and a makeshift hospital for war veterans.

Whenever James visits their friendship blossoms, despite social barriers, but will he ever be free to love Bess in the way she wants? And will Bess ever feel good enough for James?

This is a cosy read for those who like light war time family sagas.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

On the eve of 1939 twenty-year-old Bess Dudley, trainee teacher and daughter of a groom, bumps into James, heir to the Foxden Estate. Bess and James played together as equals when they were children, but now James is engaged to the more socially acceptable Annabel Hadleigh.

Bess takes up a teaching post in London but when war breaks out and London schoolchildren are evacuated she returns to Foxden to organise a troop of Land Girls. 

Traditional barriers come crashing down when Flying Officer James Foxden falls in love with Bess. But by this time Bess has come to know and respect Annabel. Can she be with James if it means breaking her best friend’s heart?

And besides, Bess has a shameful secret that she has vowed to keep from James at any cost…

About the author

Madalyn Morgan

Madalyn Morgan has been an actress for more than thirty years working in repertory theatre, the West End, film and television. She is a radio presenter and journalist, writing articles for newspapers and magazines.

Madalyn was brought up in a busy working class pub in the market town of Lutterworth in Leicestershire. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live. There were so many wonderful characters to study and accents learn. At twenty-four Madalyn gave up a successful hairdressing salon and wig-hire business for a place at E15 Drama College, and a career as an actress.

In 2000, with fewer parts available for older actresses, Madalyn learned to touch type, completed a two-year course with The Writer’s Bureau, and began writing. After living in London for thirty-six years, she has returned to her home town of Lutterworth, swapping two window boxes and a mortgage, for a garden and the freedom to write.

Madalyn is currently writing her third novel, China Blue, the third of four books about the lives of four very different sisters during the Second World War. First and second novels, Foxden Acres and Applause, are now available.

Visit Madalyn Morgan online:

The Foxden Acres Website: https://sites.google.com/site/foxdena…

Non-Fiction Blog: http://madalynmorgan.blogspot.co.uk/

Fiction Blog: http://madalynmorgansfiction.blogspot…

Actress website: http://www.madalynmorgan.com/

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter    available free from Kindle Unlimited

THE LADY ANNE (Above all others Book #2) by G Lawrence @TudorTweep #Tudor #HistFic #AnneBoleyn

The Lady Anne (Above all Others; The Lady Anne Book 2)The Lady Anne by G. Lawrence
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Four Point Five Stars.

The Lady Anne is book #2 in this series of historical fiction based on the life of Anne Boleyn. In book #1 La Petite Boulain, we read about the early years of Anne’s life spent abroad growing up in the Royal courts of Burgundy and France.

Book #2 begins with Anne returning home to England, saddened to leave her beloved friends and the French courts she is unhappy about the return especially when she hears of a potential marriage partner for herself, until she is reconciled with childhood friend Tom Wyatt, her older sister Mary and her brother George. These three make Anne’s life more bearable and soon she is placed as a maid-of-honour and servant of the Royal Wardrobe to queen Katherine.

Anne’s French style of clothing and her manner soon attracts many admirers and would-be suitors, yet it is the King who truly makes her heart flutter. Anne’s older sister Mary is currently Henry’s mistress and Anne looks instead towards a possible new marriage arrangement with Henry Percy. However she soon finds that this is disapproved of by both Cardinal Wolsey and King Henry.

As the storyline progresses Henry becomes obsessed with Anne, pleading with her to become his mistress. But Anne vows that she will save herself for her husband and she bravely fends off the King. Her refusal to take him to her bed only fuels his determination to find a way to be with Anne. The book ends with a common known historical point where Henry seeks to divorce Katherine and Anne’s tale will continue on book #3.

Once again the author fills the pages with rich description of Tudor life, immersing the reader into the daily life of Anne and her companions. Her internal struggle to hold out on Henry is a dangerous route but one you can understand and admire her for. These books are a joy to read and to learn a little more about lesser publicised part of Anne Boleyn’s life.

Book Description

1522, England. 
Anne Boleyn has lived an adventurous youth in the glittering courts of Europe, now, promised in marriage to a man she knows nothing of, Anne has been called home by her ambitious father. She will enter the English Court, to find many admirers courting her. Anne finds potential for love in three men, but there is one… more unexpected than all the others, who claims her heart. 
The beginning of a love which would change the course of English history, and shake the foundations of the Church… 
The courtier’s daughter who captured the heart of a King; Anne Boleyn. 
The Lady Anne is book two of Above All Others: The Lady Anne by G.Lawrence.
 

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com also available free from Kindle Unlimited

Twitter @TudorTweep

View all my reviews on Goodreads

MAKTUB: IT IS WRITTEN by Rosemary Gallagher @rosemarysangels #womensfiction #Romance

Maktub: It Is WrittenMaktub: It Is Written by Rosemary Louise Gallagher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Maktub: It Is Written is the sequel to I Listened To My Heart, the story of Rose O’Connell. Rose set out to follow her heart and find her soulmate, she talks to her Angels, watches the universe for their advice and reads the Tarot. She is a strong believer in psychic mediums and has many friends who follow spirituality.

In the first book Rose went to London, found and lost her twin-soulmate, wrote a song about it, wrote her book and made a good life for herself, finally finding another soul to love.

In this book, Rose begins with her interview on the Ellen DeGeneres TV show, then we go back in time for her to share with us, what’s gone on in her life since the end of book one. Psychic Leanne Rees had predicted that at the age of 50 Rose would write a book and have to make a choice between her twin-soulmate and a soulmate. Rose knows who these two men are and has a tough time making her choice. In the end one makes it for her and she sets out with the other to a new life in Boston with its own set of challenges and successes.

These books are fun and uplifting written in a chatty style. If you enjoy books about Angels, fate and the universe mixed with a good dose of women’s fiction, then this series might be for you.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com also free on Kindle Unlimted

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

Maktub: it is written: is the long awaited sequel to I Listened To My Heart. Rose O’Carroll is fifty something, funny and fabulous; with an infectious zest for life. She talks to angels, reads tarot cards and has an unwavering faith in love…it conquers all. We reconnect with Rose as she returns home from Chicago, happy and excited about her book publishing contract for her debut novel. She’s finally at peace with herself and the love she held for the infamous Joe DeMarco. Rose is now ready to move her life forward with the dishy Dr. St Claire. But what she found waiting for her when she returned home was more than she expected! “What is meant for you won’t pass you by.” A favourite Irish proverb and words Rose O’Carroll lives by.

I Listened To My Heart Book #1 of the series

Rose O’Carroll has been single for most of her 40 years. In her search for love she packs up her life in Melbourne and moves to London. Guided by her special friends – her angels, she soon lands a great job, makes great friends and begins her spiritual journey. 

It doesn’t take long for Joe DeMarco, the handsome American, to turn Rose’s world upside down and change it forever. Rose intuitively knows she has met her twin soulmate. But how does she cope when he tells her “it’s just the wrong time.”

Everything happens for a reason and soon Rose discovers why she had to meet Joe DeMarco when the timing was wrong. She had someone else to meet first… and it wasn’t only the dishy Dr St. Claire!

About the author

Rosemary Louise Gallagher

I was born in Melbourne, Australia and aside from my many wonderful travels, I spent most of my life there, until moving to London in 2000. I was at a turning point and felt like I needed a change of lifestyle. I took advantage of my Irish passport and bravely packed up my happy life down under to see what the other side of the world was offering.  That was nearly 14  years ago and I haven’t looked back!

For most of my professional career I have work as a Receptionist which was a role I enjoyed immensely, although I’ve now left the corporate world to concentrate on my creative and spiritual endeavours. Another decision I haven’t regretted. I’ve always held a strong interest in the metaphysical, especially the tarot cards and the angelic realm.  After settling into my new life in London I began formal tarot studies at the Psychic College of London. I have been reading the tarot professionally ever since. 

My creative development started late in my life – but better late than never. I now enjoy spending my days at home writing and doing readings. In addition, I also started writing song lyrics. I’ve written over 40 songs so far and I’ve had many of them recorded to music. I’d be happy to have you listen to them at my songs page. I am very excited that a few of my songs have already received high acknowledgement in various song writing competitions world-wide and also a few of them are under consideration for selection by top country music artist.  I am  hoping one day to write a #1 hit and maybe even win a Grammy!  Oh yes, I’m a dreamer all right… but a girl has got to have dreams. I mean, if you don’t….how can they come true!

Website | Twitter

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Humour GRAFFITI HACK by @ElenGhulam #fridayreads

Today’s team review is from Chris she blogs at http://cphilippou123.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Chris has been reading Graffiti Hack By Elen Ghulam

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Interesting and fun, this is a book about assumptions and … design.

Nelly arrives in the US from a culture obsessed with decorations and inanimate beauty. Working as a graphic designer, she attempts to inspire her colleagues with fairy tales, and strikes up a friendship with an elevator. She then turns her hand to hacking websites to beautify them…

The storytelling method was an embellished one and, although giving the feeling of being over-written at the start, begins to work on the reader. The story of loneliness is strong, but unfortunately gets lost in the narration and slow pace. But the quirkiness was interesting and, if you’re up for a ‘different’ read, this may be for you.

*I received a review copy of this book from the author via Rosie Amber’s Review Team

Book Description

Nelly Nasah grew up in a culture obsessed with decoration. In her native country, straight lines are anathema. Letters are hand-written into anthropomorphic shapes. Even heart monitoring machines are covered with colourful mosaics. So when Nelly arrives in Washington, D.C. she has a mission—to make the Internet beautiful. She lands a job as a graphic designer in Georgetown, and gets to work trying to inspire her colleagues —aloof boss Jack, talkative middle-aged Ashley and Don Juan-wannabe Ralf — to greater heights of embellishment with her unique brand of storytelling. Her modern fairy tales are misinterpreted by the three, with hilarious results. Despite all her efforts, Nelly’s only friend in this new country is a rickety old elevator, who communicates with her through the language of his gentle sways and flickering lights.

After a failed presentation at the office, Nelly turns to the dark world of hacking. When lavish designs begin to appear on unsuspecting high-profile websites, the Internet starts to pay attention. Nelly’s latest “hits” go viral as the multitudes read political and social messages into her digital decorations. Is Nelly headed for deep trouble?

Graffiti Hack is a wild ride into a collision of art, internet, obsession, culture, fairy tales and loneliness. Buckle up! 

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com also available free from Kindle Unlimited

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT TROUBLE IN NUALA by @harrietsteel1 #Mystery #SundayBlogShare

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Trouble In Nuala by Harriet Steel

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The story is set in 1930’s Ceylon when it was still a British colony. Inspector Shanti de Silva has left the big, bustling city of Columbo behind with no regrets. He and his English wife, Jane, an ex governess, have settled in the much more peaceful town of Nuala where de Silva runs the local police station with the aid of Sergeant Prasanna and Constable Nadar.

De Silva is called to a meeting with Archie Clutterbuck, the assistant government agent, at his home and asked to investigate a plantation owner who allegedly flogged one of his workers. Charles Renshaw, the plantation owner, is opinionated and unpopular, with a younger, vulnerable wife and stepson. The investigation progresses at a steady pace and as the case evolves there’s a death which turns out to be suspicious. De Silva refuses to be less than efficient regardless of Clutterbuck wanting the case solved with the minimum of fuss. Perhaps, after all, life isn’t going to be as restful as De Silva hoped.

The author’s representation of Ceylon and evocative descriptions conjure up immediate images; the weather, food, scenery and social climate are evident. I can just see de Silva’s sitting in splendour in his pride and joy, the Morris Cowley 2-seater Tourer.

‘Rickshaws darted between bullock carts laden with sacks of rice; piles of bananas and coconuts; and mounds of other fruits and vegetables. Stalls offering cooked food lined the dusty streets and passers-by stopped to purchase bowls of curry and rice or paper cornets of sticky sweetmeats.’

An enjoyable, well written cozy mystery with a cast of well defined characters. Shanti de Silva is an engaging and wonderfully drawn protagonist. A man of principle, practical and not averse to following his own instincts if the situation warrants. The wonderful setting sets the story apart and allows a look back at a fascinating way of life and culture. I love the relationship between De Silva and Jane and look forward to the next book.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com also available free from Kindle Unlimited

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT MURDER & MAYHEM by @carolJhedges #HistFic #WeekendBlogShare

Today’s Team Review is from Noelle, she blogs at http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Murder & Mayhem by Carol J Hedges

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I’ll start by telling you how much I enjoyed this mystery. It’s a bit different from the mysteries I’ve read to date, but it is a smashing historical who dunnit.

Set against an exquisitely detailed Victorian London – I could see myself there – the story is told from multiple points of view, each character fully developed. It begins with the discovery of the corpses of infants in the basement of an abandoned house on a street in the middle of demolition for the railway system. Inspector Lachlan Greig of the Bow Street Police has become aware of dark practice of baby farming (women and men who will take someone’s child and a sum of money for “looking after” on a permanent basis) and it falls to him to find the murderers.

A second thread involves two school friends – Daisy Lawton, daughter of a wealthy physician who lives in the lap of luxury and wants for nothing but marriage to a handsome man of social standing, and Letitia Simpkins, daughter of a penurious widower who treats her like a servant. She disdains marriage but craves for higher education and the employment that would bring, in order to get her away from her family. Daisy becomes engaged to a wealthy young man headed for Parliament but with a shadowy life with prostitutes and a decent woman carrying his baby. Letitia meets a librarian, Sarah Lunt, who believes Ladies should be educated and trained for a profession, and she quickly becomes the only light in Letitia’s gloomy life.

Add in a couple of anarchists with catchy names — Edwin Persiflage and Danton Waxwing – who work as clerks but who have deep grievances against the rich and privileged and who are determined to blow up parts of London, and Inspector Greig has another problem on his plate.

I loved the rounding of all the characters, major and minor, and especially gas-lit, crowded and filthy Victorian London, a character unto itself. The author is at once humorous and heart-breaking in her descriptions, never more so than in the plight of women in that time. The depth of her research and the colorful details with which she decorates the story lines is exceptional.

Ms. Hedges breaks the wall and talks directly to the reader at the beginning of the book (which is when it should be done, if at all), and most charmingly pulled me into the story.

Every aspect of this read was a delight, and I am looking forward to the next book!

Five stars

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com also available free from Kindle Unlimited

 

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE LADY ANNE by G Lawrence @TudorTweep #Tudors #HistFic

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading The Lady Anne by Gemma Lawrence

The Lady Anne (Above all Others; The Lady Anne Book 2) by [Lawrence,G.]

I write this review as one of the members of behalf of Rosie’s Books Review Team. I was provided with a free copy of the book as part of the team.

I have read and enjoyed La Petite Boulain, the first book in the Above all Others series and really enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Anne Boleyn’s childhood, and particularly, the way the story was told, in the first person from the point of view of young Anne, or, to be more precise, the young Anne as remembered by the older Anne at the moment of awaiting her death in the Tower.

Here we see Anne return to England after spending part of her childhood and teenage years in courts abroad. She is sad to leave France, as she feels by now more French than English, and the weather and the difficulties of her trip don’t help make her feel at home. Luckily, things take a turn for the better quickly. She meets Thomas Wyatt, a neighbour, accomplished poet, and a childhood friend, and once she joins the court, becoming one of Queen Katherine’s ladies in waiting, she soon meets interesting people, makes new friends, rekindles old friendships, and becomes a fashion icon and very admired for her style, accomplishments, and her personality.

I was curious to see how this novel would portray Anne as a young woman, in an era more familiar to most people than that of her early years. She is presented as an interesting mixture of a clever and intelligent woman, with far wider knowledge and experiences than many of the women her age she meets, but still a young girl at heart, who loves the idea of courting, handsome and romantic knights, and has to admit to being proud of the way men are attracted to her and women copy her dresses and jewels. She changes her mind often and she thinks she is in love with Tom Wyatt one day, although it’s an impossible love, but then decides it’s only friendship. She falls in love with Henry Percy (of much higher standing than her as he’s due to become the Earl of Northumberland) and with her father’s approval pursues a marriage that would have been very advantageous for her family, but when Cardinal Wolsey and Henry’s father forbid the match, her disappointment makes her hate him. And then, there’s King Henry…

I must confess that I enjoyed the discussions about Anne’s ideas and her education in religion and philosophy in the first book, and there were only passing references to it here (partly because she worried about the company she keeps and how they would react if they were aware of her opinions, and partly because there are other things that occupy more of her time), and there is much more about romance and romantic ideas. King Henry seems to notice her following an accident (although perhaps before that) and her behaviour and her refusal to become his mistress seem to spur him on rather than make him forget her and move on. If Henry Percy gave up on her without a fight, this is a man who would risk everything (even the future of his kingdom) for his own enjoyment and to prove himself, and in Anne, he meets a challenge. Not being a big reader of romance, the pull and push of the relationship and the will she/won’t she (especially knowing how things will turn up) part of it was not what interested me the most, although the scenes are well done and I found the fights and disagreements between the couple enjoyable. I became intrigued by King Henry’s portrayal, not so much by what he does and says, but by how others see him. There is a very apt warning her brother George gives her, recalling how King Henry was walking with his arm around a nobleman’s shoulders one afternoon and two days later the said nobleman’s head was topping a pole on the King’s orders.

I was more interested in matters of politics and alliances (confusing as they were), the inner workings of the court, marriages and births, and Anne’s reflections about the roles of women and men in the society of the time, that she struggles against but ultimately feels obliged to follow. I was also intrigued by the depiction of her family, her brother George, always close to her, her sister Mary, who although Anne always saw as too free and easy, she comes to understand and appreciate (and who manages to achieve a happy existence in her own terms, eventually), her mother, who suffers from a strange illness, and her father, who appears to be only interested in the family’s advancement (although claims that it is not for himself, but for those who’ll come after). He seemingly has no respect for morality if it can get in the way of achieving his goals, and at times he treats his daughters as pawns or worse. In the novel, Anne is portrayed as having much of the initiative, at least at the beginning, regarding her relationship with King Henry, but I was very intrigued by the role her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, would come to play, and how much he influenced later events and the rise of Anne to become Queen.

This volume made me wonder, more than the first one, how reliable a narrator is Anne supposed to be. She makes a very interesting comment about wearing masks and the fact that we all perform our roles in public, whatever our feelings or thoughts might really be. After all, this is Anne remembering her life and trying to distract herself from her likely dark fate. Sometimes she does protest too much, when talking about her accomplishments, intelligence and fashion sense, and insists that she does not believe in false modesty. She also talks about Tom Wyatt’s affections and how she had not encouraged him, but she evidently enjoys his attentions. At other times, she describes events and scenes as if she were at the same time protagonist and observer (from telling us what she was feeling and her concerns, she will go on to describe what she looked like or what she was wearing). She does highlight the behaviours she thinks show her in a good light and easily finds ways in which to dismiss some of her more selfish or problematic behaviours, but at a time such as the one she’s living through, after having lost everything and everybody, it’s only understandable. If anything, it shows her as a complex and contradictory individual and makes her appear more real.

The writing is once more fluid and beautifully detailed, bringing to life places, customs and times long past.

Although I know what will happen next, I’m intrigued to read Anne’s version of events and look forward to the next book. I highly recommend this series to anybody interested in Anne Boleyn who enjoys historical fiction, and to anybody who is considering reading about such a fascinating historical figure.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com also available free from Kindle Unlimited

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT THE SEVEN YEAR DRESS by @MahurinPaulette #WWII #HistFic

Today’s team review is from Wendy, she blogs at http://booklovercircumspect4.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Wendy has been reading The Seven Year Dress by Paulette Mahurin

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This is a story that involves a Jewish teenager, Helen Stein, and her family who lived through Hitler’s deranged views of annihilating the Jewish population. Helen was born during the early stages of Hitler’s rise to power. As a younger child, Helen was shielded from most of what was happening in her country by her parents. However, Helen had a friend who had joined Hitler’s army as a young man and kept Helen informed of what was going on. As Hitler’s power grew, so did his relentless pursuit against the Jews and Helen’s family has no choice but to face what is happening in their country and to their culture.

Helen was able to evade capture by Hitler’s army for a period of time but was eventually found and taken to Auschwitz. To keep through the early times of Hitler’s reign, Helen learned to sew to help supplement her family’s income. Because of this, she was able to live upon her arrival to Auschwitz, was tattooed, and endured several hours of hard labor every day, was given little edible food, and forced to sleep in unimaginable living conditions.

Although Hitler and his army was able to force Helen and others into these conditions, he couldn’t take away Helen’s will to live and her ability to see the good in others that were also there. This is what helped Helen throughout her time in Auschwitz until she was later freed. Hitler’s army tried to cover up what they had done but it was Helen and other survivors that were a true testimony to what had occurred to them. Thankfully, allowing many of Hitler’s soldiers to be held accountable for their actions. Helen was able to leave Auschwitz and relocated to America. This is just one story of many Jewish survivors of this horrific period in our history.

The story is very well-written and it was as if I was with Helen throughout the story and enduring her pain and heartache along with her. I couldn’t put this book down and read it in one night. I actually had to wait a few days to write a review as the book has really touched me deeply. I would highly recommend this book to others.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com also available free from Kindle Unlimited