Inspiring And Empowering Women Feature In The No Woman Is A Island: Pandora’s Box Set #1 Reviewed by @lfwrites for #RBRT. @LizaPerrat @helenahalme @clarefly

Today’s team review is from Lynne. She blogs here

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Lynne has been reading the No Woman Is An Island Box Set which includes the following 5 books.

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Blood Rose Angel by Liza Perrat

Set in Lucie-sur-Vionne, France in the year of our Lord, 1348, it follows the life of midwife Héloïse.

Over the years, Héloïse has fallen foul of many locals, who blame her for the death of their father, mother, child, dog, rat and fleas – in fact, anything they can blame her for, they will. Fortunately, more see her as the competent, respectful and caring person that she is.

However, when things take a turn for the worse, it is the naysayers who seem to have the power to control her fate, and she must use all her strength and faith in her mother’s talisman to fend them off. But it’s not easy, and her life is endangered by these suspicious and vengeful folk.

Without spilling any of the beans – plot wise – let me just say that I defy you not to be transported back in time by this book, and to feel immersed in the daily life of villagers in Lucie. Héloïse is a woman to root for, as injustices pile upon her, yet on she goes.


Hidden by Linda Gillard

I read a lot of historical fiction, mainly the WWII era. What I haven’t come across before is a story such as that told in Hidden. Esme has lost her brothers and her fiancé during The Great War but she takes the selfless – albeit naïve – step to enter into a marriage with a wounded soldier who might otherwise have no family to support him. An advertisement sees her meet with Guy Carlyle, a Captain whose mind and face has been ravaged by life in the trenches and for whom the horror of being buried alive will continue to torment and warp his mind.

Esme’s story is bookended by a modern-day story. The owner of Myddleton Mote, an actor, has died, leaving the house to a daughter who never knew of him as her father. Miranda Norton has herself escaped an abusive marriage and moves her family into the Mote which houses her father’s art collection – the Painted Ladies by Esme Howard (Carlyle)

Esme’s story is powerful, captivating and all-engrossing. I don’t think I’ve read anything so absorbing. The author presents a story so eloquent in portraying the terrors of the mind and how shell shock (as it was then deemed) can change a person so thoroughly and completely.

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The Chase by Lorna Fergusson

For me, The Chase was not as engaging as the previous books in the collection mainly because I simply couldn’t get to grips with the gothic element of the dual timeline narrative. That said, the language was very moody and evocative.

The more modern story was, however, something I could get immersed in. Gerald and Netty Feldwick sell their Oxford home and make the move to France, to a region heaped in both history and British homeowners.

The overriding theme, for me, was that actions have consequences. Even when taken out of their ordinary lives, there was a clear void between Gerald and Netty, and their neighbours (new and old) were instrumental in exposing how far apart they had grown.

I enjoyed aspects of this story, and felt the author handled the Feldwick’s tragic past with sensitivity. Readers more in tune with Gothic themes will surely get more from it than I did.


The Chalky Sea by Clare Flynn

The story starts in 1940; WWII has begun and with it national conscription. Gwen must say goodbye to her husband, Roger as he leaves for a role that will mean she’ll never know where he is or if he is safe. She joins the WVS and begins to see the impact of war through the eyes of those who have far less yet seem to value what they do have so much more, especially when it comes to their family and friends.

Across the pond, in Ontario, Jim signs up and joins a Canadian battalion heading for England. Anything to put the shock of betrayal between his brother and his fiancée behind him, he doesn’t even care if he lives or dies.

When Jim’s battalion is posted to Eastbourne, he’s hopeful of a playing a proper role in the war only to find he is billeted at Gwen’s house and, unbeknownst to him, robbed her of a job translating radio messages.

Flynn’s descriptive writing beautifully brings the region alive and the sea’s mood compliments the dilemmas faced by the characters. There are certain aspects of the relationships that are quite easy to predict but I enjoyed how the author unravelled the details. A great read and a real saga to be enjoyed.

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Coffee and Vodka by Helena Halme

Set in Finland and Sweden, Coffee and Vodka spans thirty years of the life of Eeva and her family.

The story is an easy read, well-written and crafted at just the right pace to draw you into Eeva’s life and hold your attention as she moves from child- to adulthood, from Finland to Sweden, from observing to understanding. It has a coming-of-age feel to it mingled with history and “a slice of life” family drama. It doesn’t pull overly dramatic punches but rather deals with themes that readers can relate to in a way that compels you to keep going to unravel the threads that weave through this tapestry of family life. There are issues of domestic abuse, alcoholism, teenage angst all of which are beautifully offset the existence of a wonderfully uniting matriarch whose passing delivers the “aha!” moment that holds everything together and promises a better future.

Subtle and compelling, it makes for a fitting final book to a strong collection of impressive women throughout history. I look forward to reading more by this author who has mastered the art of telling a simple story so very, very well.


AmazonUK | AmazonUS

‘The perils and exploitation of refugees’. @lfwrites reviews The Bodies That Move by Bunye Ngene

Today’s team review is from Lynne. She blogs here

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Lynne has been reading The Bodies That Move by Bunye Ngene

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The story begins with Nosa stranded in a dinghy on the Mediterranean sea, heading for Italy in search of a better life for himself (and his family back in Nigeria). Alongside him are equally desperate passengers, none more so than a young woman willing life into the body of her dead baby. Instantly, the reader is aware of the risks these people are taking and how fortunate we are to have not faced such a struggle.

Then, the story heads back in time to explain and illustrate why and how Nosa ended up in that boat.

Nosa is an excellent student, top of his class, destined for great things. But coming from a single-parent family with little in the way of money, he’s immediately at a disadvantage even when it comes to simply progressing through the interview stages for a job at the bank – where, incredulously, a fee is required to permit him through despite his outstanding resumé.

Nosa is obliged to contact the father who left him and his mother many years, and who is now a wealthy man, albeit one who has played no part in his son’s life since. Contact made, and money for the fee acquired, Nosa learns from a ‘friend’ he met at the bank that he wouldn’t get the job anyway since it would be awarded to some rich man’s son, regardless of merit.

And so the journey to Europe becomes a reality. Of course, it’s not as simple as boarding a flight. Nosa will pass through many places, including detention centres, as well as being “sold” to work as a gardener before he can even get close to the ocean. He’ll travel through his home country, onto war-torn Libya, and across the Sahara desert beforehand. He’ll meet people from across the continent, some who are rejected partway through the journey as their agent (smuggler) has not paid for the full trip. He’ll go hungry, get beaten, and robbed. He’ll see women led away to be raped, men kicked to death, people abandoned in the desert, left to die. And many a time he’ll wonder if it will be worth it. But there’s no turning back.

The Bodies That Move is a most moving story, encapsulating the perils and exploitation that refugees must encounter to find that so-called better life. I found it to be a compelling read, filled with every emotional circumstance possible: friendships are formed and lost, hopes are raised then dashed, but despite everything there is a determination that keeps Nosa and those like him going.

An important story given the headlines we’re used to seeing, and one that paints the true picture of the human cost of these journeys, and the extent of the exploitation of those who feel they have no choice but to leave everything and everyone they know for a chance at a better life.

Highly recommended!

4 stars

Desc 1

The Bodies That Move tells the riveting story of a man who embarks on a journey in search of greener pastures.

Abandoned by his father as a child, Nosa is forced to bear the responsibility of caring for his mother and siblings. Seeing no future in Nigeria, he is persuaded by an old schoolmate to migrate to Europe. In order to achieve this, he employs the services of smugglers.

His journey takes him through many transit cities, safe houses and detention camps in Nigeria, Niger and war-torn Libya, and sees him cross the Sahara Desert. On his journey, he meets other travellers, each with unique stories. They are all united, however, by the desire for a better life in Europe. 

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team Art Themed #HistoricalMystery LOST CHILDREN by Willa Bergman

Today’s team review is from Lynne. She blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Lynne has been reading Lost Children by Willa Bergman.

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Art, history and a very clever mystery – Could this book be any more “up my street”? I seriously doubt it.

Despite what might be for some a slow start, I loved the time the author spent to lay the foundations for this story. With a particularly addictive writing style, she had me hooked.

The background specifics of the main character’s childhood in France – and what she and her mother and brother subsequently had to do – set the scene beautifully (or should I say set the scene perfectly for misdirection LOL) , and it was no surprise that Eloise (Elle) went on to work in the industry of finding lost art and antiquities, after all she had been surrounded by beautiful pieces for years.

At times, it was as though I were in the midst of an art history lesson, with sumptuous details about the painting at the centre of the story, and its fascinating history.

And then, wham! Elle is commissioned to find the Portrait of the Lost Child for an unidentified buyer. Why choose her? She’s not the most senior within her department, but she does have a good track record. However, it soon becomes apparent that she has a particular association with the painting, and finding it before others do becomes vital if she is to keep her family’s secret from getting out.

They say you always have a choice. But what is my choice here? The choice between hurting the ones I love, or helping the ones I hate

Eloise (Lost Children)

From here on, the pace picks up dramatically and it becomes addictive reading, being both informative on the art front and insightful on the personal, family front. Can she find the painting before competitors within her field? And then what? Hand it over and risk exposure to something that could have dire consequences for her family, herself included.

Without disclosing any spoilers, let me just say this is an original and inventive mystery with an extraordinary ending that is both dramatic and satisfying.

My thanks go to the author and Rosie’s Book Review Team for my e-copy of this, which I have reviewed voluntarily and honestly (and loved every minute of it!)

Book description

A celebrated painting, the Portrait of the Lost Child, has been missing for over a decade. Eloise Witcham is commissioned to find it, but if she does she will have to confront a past she thought long behind her and face up to the dark fears that still haunt her dreams.

A stylish, intelligent, contemporary thriller set in the secretive world of high end art.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS available from May 11th 2021

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Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC @lfwrites Reviews #Tudor #HistFic NEST OF ASHES by @TudorTweep #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s review challenge post comes from Lynne, she blogs here

Lynne has been reading Nest Of Ashes by G. Lawrence

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I’ve always loved historical fiction and have two favourite periods that never fail to catch my attention. The first is WWII and the other is The Tudors. As author Gemma Lawrence states, there is so little told about Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII. It’s a huge understatement to say I was intrigued as to how she would portray a story based on someone about whom so little actual “history” is known. Indeed, following Anne Boleyn as Henry’s queen must surely have been a daunting time for Jane, after all was not Anne the original viper in the nest that led to the break with Rome and to Henry’s marriage with the dignified and most-popular Katherine of Aragon.

Nest of Ashes is the first in a trilogy of Jane Seymour’s life, and it is probably in book one where the author has the most scope to create Jane’s story. The author’s has imagined situations from Jane’s early years that are in keeping with the world she inhabits, its traditions and customs. So believable is her creation that you could be forgiven for thinking it is not historic fact, and so engaging is the story that you are instantly drawn into its fictional realm. The very best of both worlds.

When we meet Jane, she is the only daughter (so far) born to the Seymour couple. Her plain appearance marks her out as a disappointment to her mother who had longed for a daughter to grace the King’s Court as she had once done herself. As such, Jane becomes almost invisible to them, particularly when her brother Thomas is around. For Thomas can do no wrong, and despite Jane’s objections to the contrary, it is always she who is on the receiving end of any punishment. Knowing what we do about Jane’s future, it felt as though Karma was watching over her: the invisible daughter who would be queen.

Jane’s world is shaken for the first time when her beloved brother Edward takes a wife, Catherine. This beautiful and vivacious young woman is everything Jane’s mother had hoped for in a daughter, and the Seymour household is soon captivated by her charms. For Jane, that charm quickly wears off when she realises Catherine is not the sweet young woman she professes to be, but rather is intent on seducing Jane’s (and her husband, Edward’s) father. From here on, all doubt as to Catherine’s true nature is cast aside, and Jane sees her only as making a cuckold of her brother. Being invisible to everyone else in the household, Jane has no-one to tell, let alone anyone who might believe her. Confronting Catherine only makes things worse for her.

Jane can only hope her brother will find a place for her at Court, away from her family and the lies she has to ignore daily. When Edward does come through for her, and Jane is called serve Mary, the King’s sister, only then does her mother recognise how much she relied on Jane.

Jane arrives at Court, quiet and reserved and not at all confident of her position. It is her shy nature that catches the eye of Queen Katherine, who takes a liking to the young woman and appoints Jane to her own staff.

Jane’s mother is torn between fury and pride; Jane has usurped her own position at Court and without all the fuss and fancy. She begs Jane to meet with her cousin, Anne Boleyn, which she reluctantly agrees to; they are never going to be close but who would have thought they would be rivals for the King’s affections?

Jane’s future at Court is about to change her life and the history books. Forever.

As Nest of Ashes came to an end, my appetite for the next book only increased. In today’s society we are used to binge-watching complete series, so biding my time until the next instalment will be a challenge. Suffice it to say, I’m ready when you are, Gemma Lawrence! (No pressure LOL)

Book description

October 1537

At a time of most supreme triumph, the moment of her greatest glory, security and power, a Queen of England lies dying.

Through dreams of fever and fantasy, Jane Seymour, third and most beloved wife of King Henry VIII remembers her childhood, the path forged to the Tudor Court; a path forged in flame and ashes. Through the fug of memory, Jane sees herself, a quiet, overlooked girl, who to others seemed pale of face and character, who discovered a terrible secret that one day would rain destruction upon her family.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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