Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Memoir Viking Voyager by @Sverrir_Sigurds

Today’s team review is from Liz. She blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Viking Voyager by Sverrir Sigurdsson

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From a childhood in wartime Iceland to retirement in Chesapeake Bay, Sverrir Sigurdsson followed the life of a modern-day Viking. Working and travelling widely in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa through turbulent times he has given us a life story full of fascinating encounters and observations. The development of Iceland from its simple, traditional lifestyle to the modern successful country of today is shown in the lives of Sverrir’s family and friends and you can’t help but admire his personal adaptability and skills. The range of languages he has acquired have enabled him, as a trained architect and later project manager of educational developments all over the world, to gain satisfaction in his achievements. There have been problems along the way in his personal life, but he has two successful children and happiness with his second wife Veronica Li who co-wrote this biography.

I learnt a great deal about world history in the second half of the twentieth century from this informative book and the extraordinary escapades Sverrir experienced driving his family through remote parts of Asia and southern Africa are amazing to read. The inclusion of maps and photographs enhance the content.  I would certainly enjoy sitting next to this energetic Viking at a dinner party, as I suspect he has many more tales to tell.

Book description

This vivacious personal story captures the heart and soul of modern Iceland. Born in Reykjavik on the eve of the Second World War, Sverrir Sigurdsson watched Allied troops invade his country and turn it into a bulwark against Hitler’s advance toward North America. The country’s post-war transformation from an obscure, dirt-poor nation to a prosperous one became every Icelander’s success. Spurred by this favourable wind, Sverrir answered the call of his Viking forefathers, setting off on a voyage that took him around the world. Join him on his roaring adventures!

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Vintage #Mystery HIGH WIRE IN NUALA by @harrietsteel1 #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading High Wire In Nuala by Harriet Steel

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Returning to Nuala in 1930s Ceylon is always a pleasure. The courteous Inspector Shanti de Silva and his delightful wife Jane have an active social life in the pleasant Hill town and on this occasion, it includes a visit to a travelling Russian circus. Shanti is not looking forward to the performance of the snake charmer, but he enjoys watching the clowns and the high wire act, until there is a disaster. Shanti’s boss, Archie Clutterbuck, does not consider the death of a Russian a relevant problem to the local police force, but the detective is determined to check the circumstances.

This volume of the series involves Shanti in undercover work and his Sergeant, Prasanna, excels himself. Add in the fear of poisonous snakes, rivalry between two female performers and another case involving jewellery burglary and you have an exciting, action-packed tale. The story is further enhanced by detailed descriptions of parts of the locality.

Quote

“The vicarage’s mellow stone walls basked in the afternoon sunshine. As if to remind viewers of its inhabitants calling, the tall windows were set in pointed Gothic arches decorated with carvings that were more modest versions of those at the church. A vigorous soft-pink rose spread its branches between the windows, also scrambling over the roof of the deep entrance porch. The latter was decorated with a fleur-de-lis pattern of faded blue on a yellowish-cream glaze, well-worn by many years of footsteps; the front door was a massive piece of oak.”

The escapades of kittens, Billy and Bella, are a pleasant interlude between progress in the case and dire danger to our hero. I particularly enjoyed this novel and can see it as an episode in a cosy crime TV series similar to Death in Paradise.

Book description

Much to the delight of the locals, a colourful Russian circus rolls into Nuala, but the fun ends abruptly when, on the opening night, a tragic accident takes place.
Shanti de Silva and his wife, Jane are among the crowd to witness the accident. Or was it an accident? Inspector de Silva senses murder, and soon, he’s juggling with the evidence. Will the trail lead to the circus’s dashing stunt rider and master of horse, Alexei Goncharov, or to Alexei’s brother Boris, its boisterous ringmaster? Throw a string of jewel thefts and some deadly snakes into the mix and the list of suspects grows.
De Silva will need to keep his wits about him to unravel yet another absorbing puzzle in this charming and addictive mystery series set in the 1930s in exotic Ceylon.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Anthology Writedown: Lockdown in the Galloway Glens at the Time of Covid by Margaret Elphinstone et al @marysmithwriter

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Writedow: Lockdown In The Galloway Glens At The Time Of Covid by Margaret Elphinstone et al.

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Writedown provides a unique record of life in Galloway, south west Scotland during lockdown through the work of 22 writers in a collection of lyrical poetry, desperate rants, humour and quiet endurance. They tell the story of a community encountering unprecedented times

My Review

I came to this book wondering if these writers would have shared my experiences of Spring 2020 and they did. They speak as Everyman expressing our shared responses to unprecedented times. Through diary entries from March 23rd until June 15th we are reminded of the day lockdown began, of the shortages in the supermarkets, the difficulties arranging food deliveries and of the grief at being cut off from our loved ones.  Some had accidents which were more worrying than they would normally be, operations were postponed, yet the skies became quiet and unpolluted and the birds sang.

We lived in virtual reality. There were zoom calls with family, quizzes with friends on Kahoot and, my shared experience, reading to my grandchild on Facetime, even though she told me I was an imaginary Gran. As one of the writers said, “How acute is the isolation when my screen shuts down.”

I loved the reference to “The Subjunctive World,” where a calendar showed where we would have been or the appointment we would have kept. I empathised with Mary’s feelings of  the “lightness” of having no commitments, only time to ourselves but also with the “weight” of guilt because no-one in my family has the virus and I have a garden to enjoy. Everyone enjoyed the beautiful weather and the time to garden and Leonie’s detailed description of the wildflowers, insects and birds is magnificent. And yet it was difficult to ignore politics. The murder of George Floyd in America and the massacre in Kabul were also part of life at that time and we shared not only clapping for the NHS but also the feeling that, “our government floundered like numpties.”

Individual anecdotes lit up the entries. I have great admiration for Cath who made scrubs for hospital staff. Several of the writers are widows and they recalled moments of their lives with their husbands. Sharing a phone call with a friend you have known most of your life was something many of us did but one elderly writer decided to phone lonely people in the parish to cheer them up. Little things like having a banana to eat or finding somewhere to swim gave great pleasure.

Perhaps most sad was that although we hoped, “the pandemic would lead to a fundamental shift in society, maybe kinder, and in politics they’d be honest, maybe actually work for the good of the people once it was over,”  one of the writer realised, “Maybe that’s a step too far into the realms of Utopian fantasy.”

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE HUNTED: An RJ Fox #Thriller By @jo_mccready

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading The Hunted by Jo McCready

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When a rich, successful businessman dies in an accident on a large Highland estate, the Kingfisher undercover organisation is called in by his next of kin. For R J Rox it is only her second assignment as a well trained but inexperienced agent. She is reluctant to return to Scotland, her former home, as it is also a place of personal tragedy, but she is keen to prove herself. Unfortunately, she has to work with a man who has reason to dislike her.

Calling themselves Riley and Stuart Black, they explore the Buchanan estate under cover of darkness, but they soon find themselves in serious trouble. They are unsure who to trust but are sure there has been foul play. The characters with whom they interact are complex people reflecting the tensions of the situation. Knowing the west of Scotland personally I enjoyed the authenticity of the midges and the description of the countryside is clear and vivid.

As R J and her partner become closer, the danger increases, leading up to a thrilling, murderous conclusion.  This exciting, taut novel promises more thrills in future volumes of the series and I am hoping that we will learn more about R J’s feelings and her past.

Book description

On the vast Buchanan Estate in the wilds of Scotland, tech billionaire James Sullivan dies a suspicious death. Rookie agent RJ Rox is drawn back to a homeland to which she’d sworn she’d never return. She soon realizes the present is far more threatening than her past as she hunts the killers and the powers that unleashed them.

The close-knit community surrounding the estate is the perfect place to hide secrets and lies. RJ finds herself searching for the weakest link that will allow her access into Buchanan’s sinister world.

Thrown together with a partner who clearly hates her makes RJ even more determined to prove herself to the elusive Kingfisher organization.

Remote, desolate, and beautiful, the hills hide a killer lying in wait. Can RJ close the case before anyone else is subject to the same fate as Sullivan? Before she is hunted herself?

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction BURKE IN THE PENINSULA by @TomCW99

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Burke In The Peninsula by Tom Williams

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Having read The White Rajah by Tom Williams several years ago I knew that this book set in the long-lasting Peninsular War, in Portugal and Spain, would be an action-packed story told in an approachable style.

We meet Major James Burke in 1809, an experienced soldier with particular skills in working under cover. Having returned from South America he is hoping to rejoin his regiment accompanied by his loyal Sergeant William Brown.  Instructed to report to General Hill he finds that he is needed to reconnoitre with some of the guerrilla bands of Spaniards who seem to have more success than their army. He soon finds that some of the gangs are only out to loot, rape and murder, so he is relieved to find one trustworthy group lead by El Gato.  Burke is involved in several dangerous skirmishes as he travels disguised as a priest.

When Sergeant Brown returns to the British army, he discovers that he is needed to lead a squad into battle at Talavera de la Reina. Written in the third person, we are given a clear description of the lines of infantrymen firing their muskets but also of the mayhem when they are attacked by canon-fire.  Meanwhile Burke continues to work independently, in increasingly dangerous circumstances alongside an old flame.

Although at times quite upsetting, the violence and death reflects events accurately.  I found William Brown easier to empathise with as Burke sometimes appears detached. The only female character, Bernadita, is quite inscrutable though fascinating. The atmosphere of the countryside in central Spain is effectively described and seemed familiar to me even visiting in the present day.

Although part of a series this book works well as a stand-alone story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it even though the ending came rather suddenly.

Book description

Things getting a bit messy in Spain. Lots of irregulars. Civilians joining in the fighting. That sort of thing. Wellesley needs all the help he can get. They need a man who can pass for a Spaniard. Someone who can make himself useful with the irregulars. Someone who is prepared to fight dirty if it gets things done.

1809 and Burke has barely returned from South America when he is sent off again, this time to join the war being waged by Spanish guerrillas against the French. It’s not long before he’s fighting for his life, but which of the Spaniards can he trust?

Burke faces new adversaries and finds old allies in a dramatic tale of adventure during the Peninsular War, set against the background of the bloody battle of Talavera.

It’s real history – but not the way you learned it in school.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Techno #Thriller SENTINEL by @CarlRackman

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Sentinel by Carl Rackman

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It is sometime since I read Voyager so picking up this next part of the trilogy I thought I would have forgotten the characters but as each person appears in the sequel the author reminds us of their role in past events so that you could easily read this action packed adventure without having read the first novel.

Former pilot, Matt Ramprakash, is well placed as the MI5 aviation expert dealing with an inbound hijacked plane, but is the plane held by terrorists, criminals, or asylum seekers? As it appears that an old foe is responsible, he awaits assistance from Sentinel, a private anti-terrorism group who have the trust of the FBI. Discovering that Sentinel is organised by Brad Barnes, who had shared his worst experiences 10 years earlier, he soon becomes aware that he must also work with Mirage, the genetically-engineered super soldier who had tried to kill him and his wife, Callie.

Dramatic events at the airport reveal the link to their old enemy, the shadow group, Triumvirate, and soon he and Callie are part of the Sentinel group travelling to Antarctica. Callie’s work has continued to involve investigation of the Voyager Mission and the evidence of extra-terrestrial life. Now, as the Sentinel team come into conflict with the well-armed Triumvirate in a harsh, dangerous environment, are the Visitors about to arrive?

This is not a book you can put down easily as the revelations and terrifying events keep you mesmerised to the text. A great read!

Book description

The Voyager story continues…

Four years have passed since Voyager One sent back chilling photos of a spaceship from deep in interstellar space.

A shocked world prepared to meet the Visitors, but terrorism, pandemics, and global political turmoil have now consumed it. Discredited as a hoax, the Visitors have faded from public attention.

But the powerful global conspiracy known as the Triumvirate is behind much of the chaos. Creating a screen of subterfuge and misdirection, they prepare a clandestine welcome for the Visitors, whose origins may be more sinister than the aliens of popular fiction.

Standing in their way are the few brave men and women who foiled the Triumvirate’s last attempt to upset the world’s fragile balance of power:

Former FBI agent Brad Barnes leads Sentinel, a private intelligence and counter-terrorism operation founded in the wake of the Triumvirate’s last deadly plot.

Alex Ephraim – the former Triumvirate assassin known as Mirage – is Sentinel’s major weapon against terror.

Matt Ramprakash, former airline pilot and now an officer of the British intelligence agency MI5, is embroiled in a deadly standoff when an airliner is hijacked.

Callie Woolf, once the project manager of the Voyager mission, struggles against the sceptical government’s bureaucracy to continue the search for the elusive Visitors as her time and funding runs out.

Sentinel is the only organisation capable of taking the fight to the Triumvirate’s door – flexible, unorthodox well-funded and free of government red tape.

But as they pursue the Triumvirate from the streets of London to the wild, deadly wastes of Antarctica, Brad will need Matt and Callie’s help to stop the Triumvirate, which has its own plans for putting Sentinel – and especially Alex – out of the picture for good…

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Sentinel (Voyager Book 2) by [Carl Rackman]

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #ContemporaryDrama FACE THE WIND by Caren Werlinger

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Face The Wind by Caren Werlinger

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On the small island of Little Sister off the Atlantic coast of Maine, Kathleen is beginning to feel settled in her relationship with part-time Sheriff, Molly, and is now an important member of the close-knit community. But another young woman is on her way to the island from the other side of the States. Teacher, Meredith Turner finds her dreams filled with a dramatic shipwreck and identifying the ship from a picture she believes it happened near to Little Sister. Her mother shares the same dream and a surprise Ancestry DNA result causes the two women to question the past.

Louisa is the much-loved, retired island schoolteacher. She is lonely but has many friends to help her. As she waits out her days, she thinks back to her youth at college wondering if her life could have been different.  Molly is very happy with Kathleen but sometimes there are misunderstandings. She would love her brother, Aidan, to find happiness but he is scared of committing himself to another person.

The island’s population receive a portent, but will it be a disaster or merely a change in their customs? This magical place attracts many tourists but the last thing they want is an influx of newcomers. It is a pleasure to share the dramatic events and consequences, in my return visit to the island and to see characters I care about struggling to achieve their dreams. Another delightful story by Caren Werlinger.

Book description

Kathleen Halloran has never been happier. She and Molly Cooper have built a life together, living in her grandmother’s cottage. The family drama of the past has calmed down. She and Molly will soon be aunts. Life on Little Sister Island is everything Kathleen could wish for… until the island begins to send ominous signals that change is in the wind.
Living beside a different ocean, Meredith Turner tries to make sense of her dreams—dreams of an island she’s never seen but can’t forget. After an ancestry test throws her family into chaos, the tempest that follows blows Meredith and her parents clear across the country, to the island of her dreams.
For Louisa Woodhouse, it feels the end is near. With no one to follow after her, she’s the last of her line on Little Sister, and her secrets will go with her. Soon, the Woodhouse name will join the others that now exist only in the island’s genealogy records.
But Little Sister Island has its own magic—rhythms and seasons and tides and currents that even the best-laid human plans can’t fight. And in that magic is a warning—a storm is coming.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #Mystery FAME & FORTUNE by @carolJhedges

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Fame & Fortune by Carol J Hedges

Once more I have explored the sordid streets of mid-Victorian London to follow the investigations of the determined team of police detectives, Stride, Cully and Greig. Carol Hedges has taken me into grand homes, crowded slums and insalubrious pubs, down by the docks. I have seen poor Izzy Harding spend all day painting tiny dolls’ furniture with little or no food, sat near to Riva Hemming-Stratton over tea while she turns her observation of other people into imaginative stories and I have suffered with the lonely Gerald Daubney as he mourns the loss of his netsuke Edo cat.  And the struggle of intelligent women to gain an education is shown by Maria Barklem, a vicar’s daughter soon to be made homeless because of the death of her parents.

Meanwhile in Russell Square two evil brothers, Herbert and Munro Black, exploit young girls dreams to lead them into prostitution across the sea.  Their tentacles of crime reach out across the city but somehow the police force must find evidence and witnesses to bring them to justice.

This is a much darker tale than Ms Hedges earlier novels, with more sad lives unfulfilled but characters from past books such as Lucy Landseer appear, providing solutions, and help at least some of the victims.  And through it all is a tiny grain of goodness in enough characters, such as Inspector Lachlan Greig, to give us hope.

Book description

When the body of a man is discovered hanging from some scaffolding under one of London’s bridges, Scotland Yard’s detective division is called in to solve the mystery of his identity & how he died. What they discover is a web of crime and extortion, and at the heart of it, two evil brothers, Munro and Herbert Black. Their inquiries will bring them into contact with the strange world of Gerald Daubney, collector of Japanese curios, whose priceless collection of netsuke has disappeared.

Facing a similar loss is Mrs Riva Hemmyng-Stratton, writer of ‘silver-fork’ novels, who suddenly finds herself embroiled in a court case when she is sued for defamation and libel by Lord Edwin Lackington. Her priceless reputation as a writer is on the line. How on earth can she prove her innocence when the only person who could vouch for it is incarcerated in a private asylum?

Many old friends make appearances in the novel … and a certain meaningful relationship finally reaches its conclusion.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Steampunk #Mystery OUT OF THE LONDON MIST by Lyssa Medana

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Out Of The London Mist by Lyssa Medana

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This steam-punk mystery is set in a Victorian-style London of pea-souper fog.  Danger lurks in the East End for the unwary passer-by. John Farnley has recently returned from an archaeological expedition in Greece where he has been the pilot in his “jalopy”. His world has been upturned by the sudden death of his brother Nicholas, Lord Farnley. Now he must take care of his widowed sister-in-law Clara, discover what Nicholas has been doing with the family business and discover the cause of his brother’s death.  Visiting the workshop of his mechanic on a dark night, near the site of Nicholas’s death, John comes under attack, but luckily his capable friend Sylvia Armley turns up to help him.

The story has all the ingredients of a mysterious adventure. Both women prove to have depth of character and determination and the team has the addition of a Police Inspector of the old-school and an expert Professor. As one murder after another occurs, the suggestion of a statue that moves is likely to cause mass hysteria. Is there a connection to the aether which powers John’s jalopy as well as many other modern conveniences such as the lamps?

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There is plenty of action as the plot reaches a crisis but there is also interesting communication between the characters who show empathy and understanding. My only disappointment was the very sudden ending. I am hoping that this is the first of many such adventures for John Farnley.

Book description

When news of his brother’s murder reached him, aether pilot John Farnley raced back to his old family home.

While he comforts his bereaved sister-in-law, and tries to sort the family business and holdings, he also wonders why his brother, Lord Nicholas Farnley, had ventured into the cramped streets of the East End of London where he had met his violent end. The slums are a deadly place where life was cheap and murderous thugs preyed on the weak and lost.

Now, in the midst of a thick, London fog, something even more monstrous is waiting in the mist-shrouded shadows. Something that has been brought to life by the refugees crowding Bethnal Green and Mile End. Something his brother might have had a hand in creating.

Aided by his friend, the resourceful Miss Sylvia Armley, his own understanding of the aether lines that flow above London, and guided by the erudite advice of Professor Entwistle, John is forced to find his way through the darkest part of London to avenge his brother and stop whatever aether powered monster is lurking there.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #CrimeFiction LISTED DEAD (Bunch Courtney Investigations #3) by @Jancoledwards

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Listed Dead by Jan Edwards

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You can tell from the title that this volume of investigations by Bunch Courtney and Chief Inspector Wright involves more than one fatality. Not only are people losing their lives in combat or in city air raids but now there is a murderer about, working through a list of rich young people whose supper club meets up at the Café de Paris in London.  When the first deaths occur close to Bunch’s home, she discovers she knows the victims so she will be indispensable, assisting William Wright with his investigations. He doesn’t seem keen for her to follow up leads but that is probably because she is putting herself in great danger.

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The lifestyle of these self-centred young people contrasts with the suffering of the military forces and also with the ordinary folk, but it reflects the social structure of the Sussex countryside before the war. Now in 1940 there is another dimension and people like Bunch put many hours of hard work into the war effort.  She juggles care for her Land Girls who run the estate, worry about her sick mother and determination to find the murderer.  Her relationship with William moves between close companionship and detachment reflecting the complex social rules and busy working life they have.

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This series gives an interesting picture of the home front during World War Two and the difficulties experienced when people’s homes and land were taken over by the military authorities. We feel the fear and danger of a London air raid and the attempt to continue country life as it had been pre-war.  In Listed Dead, Bunch finds herself in several frightening situations as she gradually works out the complex mystery. A most enjoyable read.

Book description

November 1940. The Battle of Britain has only just ended and the horror of the Blitz is reaching its height.

Two deaths in rapid succession on the Sussex Downs brings Bunch Courtney and Chief Inspector Wright together once more. What could possibly link a fatal auto accident with the corpse in a derelict shepherd’s hut? The only clue the pair have is a handwritten list of the members of a supper club that meets at London’s Café de Paris.

Two of those on that list are now dead and the race is on to solve the mystery before any more end up on the mortuary slab.

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