Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #HistFic The Forsaken Queen by @Mexisue1 #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Forsaken Queen by Susan Appleyard

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Susan Appleyard is the award-winning author of six books of historical fiction. Her latest, The Forsaken Queen, is about Queen Isabella of England, wife of the feckless Edward II.

Isabella’s reputation is not sterling – she has been called the ‘She-wolf of France’ – in part because of her contravention of custom and her extravagant lifestyle, plus her determination not to be the victim of corrupt men.

Isabella was the youngest surviving child of Phillip IV of France and Joan I of Navarre. She was married in 1308 at the age of 12 to Edward, a handsome young king. At that time England was experiencing a period of growing conflict between the king and powerful baronial factions. Despite that, her early married years were happy and productive – she and Edward had four children, one of whom would rule as Edward III of England and another as Queen Joan of Scotland. When Edward came under the spell of a charismatic young man, Piers Gaveston, with whom he was rumored to have a romantic relationship, the Queen continued to support Edward, forming a working relationship with Piers and using her relationship with the French monarchy to bolster her own authority and power. During this time, Isabella was known for her beauty, diplomatic skills, and intelligence.

Gaveston was killed by the barons in 1312, only to be replaced by a new favorite of Edward’s, Hugh Despenser the Younger. Edward was a weak king and, ruled by Hugh Despenser, tried to take revenge on the barons, resulting in internecine warfare and internal repression across the country. Isabella hated Hugh Despenser and considered him to be the cause of her disintegrating marriage. Hugh turned Edward against her and persecuted her, keeping Isabella as a virtual prisoner – until she took destiny into her own hands.

Historically, Isabella is not an endearing character; elsewhere she has been compared to Cercei in Game of Thrones! Nevertheless, the author makes her worthy of the reader’s sympathy, creating a three-dimensional character who is all too human, with understandable foibles and the need for love and support. She is a fierce mother not only to her children but to her adopted country, England, becoming the first person to depose a sitting king and serving as regent and advisor to her son until he is old enough to become an effective leader.

I do love a good historical novel, especially one with a strong woman character and Appleyard does not disappoint. She brings the age to life with great attention to detail. Her characters live and breathe passion, romance, ambition, greed, evil, and duplicity. There is also a sizzling romance which develops into a life long love. This book is not a dense read, as some historical novels I have read have been, but it entertains, teaches history, and makes you feel a connection to Isabella. If you like historical novels, this is a must read. It reminded me of the novels of Phillipa Gregory, who is a favorite of mine.

Book description

Isabella Queen of England, often called the ‘She-wolf of France’ has been compared to Cercei in Game of Thrones. Persecuted by her husband Edward II and his ‘favourite’ the infamous Hugh Despenser, she escaped only when she was sent to France to negotiate a peace treaty. No longer prepared to be a victim of corrupt men, Isabella took her destiny in her own hands and refused to return unless Despenser was banished from her husband’s side. While in France she met the exiled Roger Mortimer, one of her husband’s bitterest enemies. With Mortimer and other supporters, Isabella gambled on her husband’s unpopularity to invade England with the determination to dispose of Despenser for good. But the question then arose: What to do about King Edward?

About the author

Susan Appleyard was born in England, which is where she learned to love English history. She now lives in Canada in the summer. In winter she and her husband flee the cold for their second home in Mexico. Susan divides her time between writing and her hobby, oil painting. Writing will always be her first love. She was fortunate enough to have had two books published traditionally and is very excited about publishing ebooks.

She is the author of six other historical novels including This Son of York, Queen of Trial and Sorrow,  The First Plantagenet, and The Remorseless Queen.

Susan Appleyard

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #HistFic The Silver Horn Echoes: A Song Of Roland By @MichaelEging

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Silver Horn Echoes: A Song Of Roland by Michael Eging and Steve Arnold

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I chose to review this book because I am largely ignorant of most of the history of the Dark Ages, except for some marginal knowledge of Charlemagne, King Charles the Great. However, I am acquainted with The Song of Roland (La Chanson de Roland), an epic poem based on the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in 778, during Charlemagne’s reign. It is the oldest surviving major work of French literature. This book is an homage to that epic.

The Dark Ages was a time of great turmoil and the collision of empires. As the young Frank kingdom, led by King Charles, prepares to defend itself against the Saxons in the east, Roland, heir to the Breton March, has been relegated to guard duty. Everything changes when a foreign emissary entrusts him to bring Charles vital word of a new threat to the kingdom from a Muslim invasion from the south. Roland joins the king’s retinue and discovers there are traitors plotting regicide within the peerage and knights. Roland is well-acquainted with one of them – his step-father, whom he suspects of killing his father on the battlefield to assume his lands and take Roland’s mother as his wife.

The story is written from an omniscient point of view, which sometimes breaks the train of the main story, but is necessary to understand the many obstacles faced by Charles as he works to hold his kingdom together. Nevertheless, the focus is on Roland’s development into a great warrior and the right hand of Charles, along his deepening love for the sister of his good friend and the plots of his step-father and others who desire to seize the throne. It revisits an age of court intrigue, chivalry and valor, the clash of arms, and a final, fateful decision made before the Battle of Roncevaux.

I enjoyed this book. It is filled with superb medieval historic detail as it pulls together various threads in the life of King Charles and Roland. I particularly liked the visitations of Roland’s father William in ghostly form, to advise Roland and counsel him. While Charles remains a less formed character, Roland’s progression from an impetuous youth seeking revenge to a canny and powerful warrior is well limned. Most of the other main characters – the stepfather Ganelon and his equally treacherous son Gothard; Saleem, the son of Marsilion, the Muslim king; Oliver, Roland’s good friend; Aude, Oliver’s sister and Roland’s love – are also three-dimensional and unforgettable. There are many minor characters, related to various aspects of the story, who require vigilance on the part of the reader to keep in mind, but they added to the richness of world the authors have created.

The Silver Horn is reminiscent of the stories of King Arthur, with courtly love, knightly honor and dark treachery; it also reminds me of a favorite book of my youth, Ivanhoe. The unrelenting battle scenes, although a necessary part of the story, can be overwhelming: their descriptions are not for the faint of heart and bear witness to the brutality of waging war in medieval times. I could still hear the clash of swords and the screams of dying men after I put the book down.

With its sacrifice and loss, the ending was deeply affecting, and the discovery of the silver horn in the distant future was reassuring testament to the endurance of Roland’s legend. This is a truly epic tale which will resonate with many readers and which does honor to La Chanson de Roland.

Book description

The Dark Ages—a time of great turmoil and the collision of empires!

As the Frank kingdom prepares for war, Roland, young heir to the Breton March, has been relegated to guard duty until a foreign emissary entrusts him with vital word of a new threat to the kingdom. Now Roland must embark on a risky journey to save all he loves from swift destruction.

And yet while facing down merciless enemies, he must also reveal the hand of a murderer who even now stalks the halls of power and threatens to pull apart a kingdom reborn under the greatest of medieval kings, the remarkable Charlemagne.

For Roland to become the champion his kingdom needs, he must survive war, intrigue and betrayal. The Silver Horn Echoes pays homage to “La Chanson de Roland” by revisiting an age of intrigue and honor, and a fateful decision in the shadows of a lonely mountain pass—Roncevaux!

About the author

Michael Eging wanted to write since he was very young. His earliest memories are of carrying a battered old notebook around full of illustrations and stories. While in college, he was inspired by professors and visiting writers. Literary classics such as Song of Roland and Inferno were often in his backpack, along with Russian textbooks. Recently, Eging has pursued an interest in writing screenplays for feature films with his first option being The Song of Roland. He continues to focus on a variety of script/movie projects, most recently a horror thriller, Feast of Saint Nicholas, and a political thriller, The Prince. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, Lori and his children.

Steve Arnold grew up on a farm in Northeast Ohio where he spent his free time reading Burroughs, Lovecraft, Zelazny and Tolkien, and his earliest writing efforts were creating adventures for his Dungeons & Dragons group. After several years of supporting his family through blue-collar jobs he joined the military and returned to school in his thirties, obtaining a BS in mathematics and then an MD. A veteran of the Army and the Navy, he is currently a Family Medicine physician near his hometown where he lives with his family, their dog, cat and two geckos, and relaxes by creating pencil illustrations, working on other literary projects with Mike Eging, and dreaming of building an airplane.

Eging and Arnold have previously co-authored Anwyn’s Blood, a dark fantasy tale with elements of the undead.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Thriller A Kiss Before Killing by @keithpmccarthy @EndeavourPress

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading A Kiss Before Killing by Keith McCarthy

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As written in the book description: This is not for the faint-hearted reader of crime thrillers — it shines a light into the darkest recesses of the human soul.

I will state at the outset there are parts of this mystery which are grisly. The author is a physician/pathologist and clearly knows about dissection and forensics, which lends great reality to his story. I am a trained anatomist and have done many cadaver dissections, so I could deal with the descriptions, but there may be some potential readers who couldn’t. Fair warning.

As for the story itself, it is multi-layered and the reader needs to pay close attention to detail. The main characters – Beverly Wharton, John Eisenmenger (with whom she had had a relationship), and Tom Bayes, the rookie, are well-drawn and compelling. Wharton’s relationship with Eisenmenger is interesting and nuanced and I enjoyed watching the gradual maturation of Bayes as Wharton’s partner. Superintendent Lambert was clearly intended to be an irritant as he oversees Wharton’s work, and he certainly is, but I found his interactions with somewhat over the top and not particularly professional.

Dr. Claire Woodforde, by contrast, was pale and indeterminate. I never really got a feeling for her as a person, and the part of the mystery concerning the unexpected deaths in the hospital proceeded at a lethargic pace. The portrayal of the hospital administration was all too real, but even though this aspect of the book ultimately tied into the search for the murderer of the owners of the headless and limbless bodies, it never really captured my interest.

While there is great tension towards the last third of the book, there was an overall lack of emotion on the part of the characters with regard to the deaths. The dialogue was realistic and the author did a good job carrying the story forward, although at drastically different paces.

Overall, this book was a competent and occasionally compelling read, with enough twists and turns to hold your interest.

Book description

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.

About the author

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.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Speed Bump Himalayas by @mark_mgiblin #Travel #Memoir

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Speed Bump Himalayas by Mark Giblin

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The reader knows there will be some fun in this book from the introduction by Sean Lock, a well-known British comedian who just happened to share a part of this travel adventure with the author. However, this is definitely not your average travelogue: it is gritty and horrifying for much of the time.

I will admit I was not entertained – except by the humor – for the first third or so of the book, which was basically the wanderings of a 20- something young man and his friends on a drug-infused trip through India and Nepal in the late 1980s. However, I was drawn in to Giblin’s gruesome story of survival, trekking out of the Himalayas, and his equally disturbing and unpredicted recovery from the undiagnosed illness that drove him home. Quite a contrast. The dry jocularity made it all palatable and ultimately, a page-turner.

Mark’s adventure begins at a time when young Englishmen were drawn to India and Nepal with the promise of cheap drugs, free love and high adventure. He is traveling solo in Nepal and in a dumb and dumber move, decides to cross a glacier with only his slick-soled shoes and no other equipment. He nearly loses his life escaping the glacier, but his adventures in India and Nepal send him home to earn enough money to return. He talks his friend Sean Lock into accompanying him, but they choose the wrong time of year for their trip. Sean becomes nearly unhinged when they arrive in a steamy, humid, pre-monsoon Dehli. When the two go looking for fellow travelers, liquor and drugs, all they find is boredom, mosquitoes, and snakes with nothing but humor, getting high and/or drunk and the occasional book to keep them occupied. Until they reach Katmandu…

Once there, with Sean healed from a bout with what is nicely described as arse-boils, they decide to try a four-week trek into the mountains, even though Mark is not feeling quite right. By the time they are halfway to their destination, Mark is feeling bad enough to send Sean to continue on his own. What began as ‘not feeling right’ turns into monumental pain and frightening, continuous loss of body fluids. At this point, it became a book not to be put down, even though you know the author survives.

I had my suspicions about what he suffered from, but that’s because of my medical background. Turns out I was close, but not quite on spot.

I was awed by Mark’s bravery, humor and determination to survive despite the increasing odds that he wouldn’t. The story of how he managed to get back to England in incredible pain, with no sleep, no food and little water, and most especially without any treatment (there were no MDs qualified to treat him) is unbelievable. His ability to make interesting observations, find kindness in strangers and even make fun of his situation may have helped him survive and definitely helps the reader! Even after getting to a hospital at home did not guarantee his survival, as his treatment threatens to kill him.

This book begins as a series of travel misadventures, but quickly morphs into a remarkable journey, seasoned with dry humor, and a testament to the human spirit, which runs strong and true in the author.

Book Description

It’s 1986. Mark Giblin discovers the ideal escape from the brawling pubs and concrete towers of Thatcher’s Britain.
India. Its vast scope for travelling mayhem suits Mark perfectly. His mate – a young Sean Lock – joins him after a carefully plotted eviction from acting school.
Once Sean regains his senses from landing in steaming hot, pre-monsoonal Delhi, the pair stumble aimlessly through Kashmir and Nepal. But on a remote mountain track, Mark discovers something far worse than the terrifying boredom of English suburbia, and is thrown headlong into a journey few could survive.
Speed Bump Himalayas will have you in stitches and tears as Mark charts the true tale of his remarkable journey, and his is fight to stay alive.

About the author

Mark Giblin

Mark Giblin is a cartoon making, song writing, guitar playing, banjo twanging English man. He also makes classic motorbike and car art for his company Revs And Threads.

Sean Lock is successful British comedian and TV personality. His TV appearances include QI, 8 Out of 10 Cats, TV Heaven, Telly Hell, Live at the Apollo, 15 Stories High. He also won the Perrier Comedy Award.

Speed Bump Himalayas has a forward by the English comedian Sean Lock. I had to check him out on You Tube, and he IS hilarious. It seems he shared this adventure with the author Mark Giblin, and I am glad he survived to write about it!

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Noelle reviews #YA Nondula by @AnaSalote #KidsLit #wwwblogs

Today’s second team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Nondula by Ana Solote

Nondula is a YA book, the second in the Waifs of Duldred series by Ana Salote. I reviewed Oy Yew, the first in the series, and was totally enchanted with the story. Nondula follows the adventures of the children who at the end of Oy Yew have escaped on a raft from their slavery in Duldred: Oy, Alas, Gritty, Gertie and Linnet.

Nondula opens with the children awaking in a haystack in the country of that name, having been picked up and blown there by a tornado. The children view this peaceful land and its gentle inhabitants as a land of milk and honey, but they soon learn that Nondula’s neighbors, the cruel and primitive Felluns, are in the process of destroying it in the search for a healer who can treat their queen, Fellona.

Each child is assigned a duty: Gerties and Gritty become assistants to the librarian in the Sajistry, a large, underground complex; Linnet, who is pale and colorless is assigned to the weaving barn to make dyes for their yarns; Alas is to be a jack of all trades, and Oy is left to find his way. Eventually he becomes an apprentice healer.

Linnet, Oy’s closet friend, falls deathly ill, and Oy works feverishly to find something to restore her color, trying to find a source of the correct yellow color that will make her well. When all the healers of Nondula have been captured by the Felluns, the half-trained Oy is the only one left. Oy decides to go to their land to look for the yellow herb but is captured and thrown into the pits where the animals are kept – the animals being the only source of Fellun food. He is trapped there, cleaning out the pits. Gertie goes after him, joining a dancing company in the hopes of finding him.

More than this I don’t want to say; I’d hate to give the story completely away.

There are many magical things in Nondula – how could there not be, since the author’s imagination is complex, colorful, and enthralling? She is talented at creating new names from words that we recognize: Sajistry – Sacristy; husbeaus, husbinds, and husbeens, for future, currents and past husbands, for example. Those made me smile. Her five waifs are fully developed into complex individuals in this book, and she limns the other characters so well as to develop the reader’s emotional attachment…or revulsion.

Salote has an extraordinary and wondrous voice, painting color and wonders and worlds in lyrical and compelling words. Like the last one, Nondula is a children’s classic for adults, too. It tickles the brain as a fairy tale and an adventure story with ogres. The Felluns are definitely its dark side, but the adventure of it all keeps you reading. Like Oy Yew, I will probably read it again.

Because this book focused on the five children, rather than primarily on Oy Yew, as the first one did, I found it very, very, slightly less enjoyable. On the other hand, having the development of all of them will expand the possibilities for the third book, which I anxiously await. I recommend this book highly for anyone from 10 to 100. It takes you on a journey to a wondrous place.

Book Description

Oy and his friends cannot believe their luck when their escape from Duldred leads them to Nondula, a land of sweet air and gentle people. All seems well till Oy’s dear friend, Linnet, falls seriously ill. With his newly found healing skills Oy works desperately to save her. But when Nondula’s cruel neighbours, the Felluns, come to visit, Oy discovers that a healer is a very dangerous thing to be. Soon both Linnet’s life and the future of Nondula come to rest on his small shoulders.

About the author

An image posted by the author.

I love all things wild. I forage and grow anything that will survive the wild haven that is my allotment. I gave up on surplus some years ago to do what I love, roam the Mendips and write.

I am currently working on The Waifs of Duldred fantasy trilogy. Book 1, Oy Yew, and book 2, Nondula, are published by Mother’s Milk Books. Book 3 is due for release in 2018. The books are suitable for all ages from 9 to 90.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Thriller Ryan Kaine by @KerryJDonovan #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Ryan Kaine: On The Run by Kerry J Donovan

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Book Review – Ryan Kaine: On the Run @JKerryJDonovan #RBRT #thriller #suspense

This is the second book by Kerry Donovan I’ve read, the first being a DCI Cryer. That book didn’t disappoint and this one didn’t either, even though it is a far cry from the police procedural and mystery of the first one.

Off the coast of England, Ryan Kaine balances himself in the swells rocking the boat he hired, trying to establish a lock on his target. Information comes in, and he programs the SAM missile and sends it on its way. Moments later there is an orange explosion in the night sky. Then Kaine notices there is another timer on the targeting display, one indicating an explosion about to occur on the boat. The force of the blast throws him and he hits his head and shoulder but manages to get himself off the boat before it sinks. It’s a six-mile swim in the dark to shore. Is that not a great start? From there it is non-stop action.

The target of the SAM turns out to be a passenger plane. Eighty-three people die, and Kaine is responsible, even though he was told by the people who hired him he was only testing the SAM on a drone. As a result, Kaine, a decorated ex-Royal Marine, becomes the target of a nationwide manhunt. While the police want him on terrorism charges, he is in far more danger from the ruthless organization that hired him. They want him dead to cover their tracks and misdirect the media from the one person on board that plane they wanted to eliminate.

Kaine has his eyes on finding the men who set him up and exacting revenge, while proving his innocence. He must rely on two women to do that: a country vet who treats his wounds, the other an IT expert working in that organization who has a secret of her own.

The story is a barn-burning page-turner, with more twists and turns than a maze. Kaine battles overwhelming guilt and life-threatening injuries, and his hunt for the people who turned him into a mass-murderer is complicated by his own, inflexible moral code. Romance, conspiracy, treachery, danger around every corner – this book has it all.

If I had any quibble with this book, it was the larger than life abilities and healing powers of the protagonist. Time and again, I thought he’d reached his end, but he bounced back in amazing form. After a while, I thought Kaine was Superman. But then Jack Reacher is much the same, and I love his character as well.  The author does a good job of drawing the characters in the book – not too much detail, spare prose, and crisp dialogue. It’s a man’s book, for sure, but women who like non-stop action will also enjoy it.

The ending leads directly to the next book, which I’ve already pre-ordered.

Book Description

A passenger plane explodes. Eighty-three people die. One man is responsible.
When a routine operation ends in tragedy, decorated ex-Royal Marine, Ryan Kaine, becomes the target of a nationwide manhunt. The police want him on terrorism charges. A sinister organisation wants him dead.
Kaine is forced to rely on two women he hardly knows: one, a country vet who treats his wounds, the other an IT expert with a secret of her own.
Battling overwhelming guilt, life-threatening injuries, and his own moral code, Kaine hunts the people who turned him into a mass-murderer.
Can Kaine’s combat skills, instincts, and new-found allies lead him to the truth and redemption?
Ryan Kaine: On the Run—a powerful, action-packed novel set against the backdrop of the international arms trade.

About the author

Kerry_J_Donovan

Kerry J Donovan was born in Dublin. He spent most of his life in the UK, and now lives in the heart of rural Brittany with his wonderful and patient wife, Jan. They have three children and four grandchildren (so far), all of whom live in England. An absentee granddad, Kerry is hugely thankful for the advent of video calling.

The cottage is a pet free zone (apart from the field mice, moles, and red squirrels).

Kerry earned a first class honours degree in Human Biology, and has a PhD in Sport and Exercise Sciences. A former scientific advisor to The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, he helped UK emergency first-responders prepare for chemical attacks in the wake of 9/11. This background adds a scientific edge to his writing. He is also a former furniture designer/maker.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #crime The Last Meridian by @HefferonJoe

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Last Meridian by Joe Hefferon

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The Last Meridian begins with a great sentence: “The coroner’s wagon had a flat tire.” It was a good hook for this noir detective novel, the author’s first. Unfortunately, for me, it went downhill for a quarter of the book. However, I persevered and eventually became drawn into the story. In the end, it was an enjoyable read.

Hefferon has a good eye for the mid-60s in Los Angeles and Chicago. He sets the scenes in these two cities with just enough detail to let the reader feel the atmosphere and he writes with sparse prose but dialogue varying from snappy to rich, like an overstuffed éclair – reminiscent of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and even Elmore Leonard. I grew up on old detective movies, and this one just moved me twenty years from the 40’s.

The story begins in Chicago with a murder, then jumps back seventeen years to the exodus of Lynn Killian, who wants to leave her life there behind and embarks on a cross country trip to LA. There she reinvents herself as Nina Ferrer and becomes the interior designer to the rich and famous. The wall she erected around her new life is breached by a telegram from the mother of the boy Nina gave up for adoption sixteen years earlier. No one knows about the boy, not even Nina’s cigar-smuggling, unfaithful husband. Her son is in trouble, and to maintain her façade, Nina hires an out-of-town, wise-cracking,  private detective to find out the circumstances of her son’s arrest and murder charge. His dialogue with Nina reminded me of Bogie and Bacall. Nina’s life unravels further when she discovers a friend (a Hollywood-style friendship) and customer, shot in the head and lying on a divan in her Nina-decorated living room. Nina’s character is described through the eyes and experience of an author, who wants to find fame in the story of her life. She is sitting in jail, charged with the murder of her friend, as she tells it.

The author does a good job creating all these various threads and then tying them together, clearly influenced by his 25 years in law enforcement in Newark, New Jersey. The characters are gritty, as is the scenery, but are well drawn.

My difficulty getting into the book was the back and forth in time and place at the beginning. The content of these first chapters only falls into place later, and I ended up re-reading them before I went on. Once I figured out where everyone fit in, the plot carried me forward. There were times when the dialogue became long and unbelievable, but I enjoyed the forays into the minds of the characters.

I strongly recommend this book for readers who like this genre.

Book Description

A telegram sets off a chain of events that destroys five lives, throwing Hollywood insider Nina Ferrer’s life into turmoil. The infant boy she gave up for adoption in Chicago sixteen years earlier has been arrested for murder. A plea from the boy’s adoptive mother pushes her to act, but Nina has a big problem—she never told her husband about the boy.

Nina must come to terms with her guilt, while accepting the reality of her fragile life and her cheating husband, who’s embroiled in another deadly plot. As her life unravels, the boy’s fate grows ominous. Set against the backdrop of the Hollywood heyday of the early 1960s, the quick-witted, smart-talking Nina, a designer for the well-heeled of Los Angeles, hires a private detective to uncover the facts about what happened back in Chicago, and save her boy. Maybe… just maybe… he can save her, too.

Or perhaps Nina will have to save herself, the most frightening prospect of all. To do that, she must cross The Last Meridian, the place beyond which life as she knows it will no longer exist.

About the author

Joe Hefferon

Retired law enforcement. Enjoying the process of creating a second career as a writer

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Spirit Of Lost Angels by @LizaPerrat French Revolution #HistFic

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Spirit Of Lost Angels by Liza Perrat

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After reading reviews of The Silent Kookaburra by some of Rosie Amber’s book review team, I decided to read Spirit of Lost Angels by the same author. This book is the first in this author’s French historical trilogy, The Bone Angel series.

The Spirit of Lost Angels is the story of Victoire Charpentier, who lives with her parents and siblings in a rural village in the years before The French Revolution. The family is poor but happy, until a series of devastating tragedies occurs. First, her young twin siblings die in a house fire that destroys their home, then her father is run over and killed by an aristocrat. Finally, her mentally distressed mother, a midwife and a herbalist, is killed by the villagers for being a witch. During this time, the old king dies and Louis XIV marries Marie Antoinette, and the country sinks even deeper into poverty with new taxes.

The village priest arranges for Victoire to become a servant in the home of the Marquise de Barberon in Paris, where the nobleman repeatedly rapes her; she becomes pregnant. She manages to hide her pregnancy with the help of the Marquise’s cook, Claudine, and after she gives birth, she leaves the baby on the steps of a church. There the baby is picked up by Matron, the head of a large, state-run orphanage.

Victoire’s experiences leave her with a deep and abiding hatred of royalty and the aristocracy (no surprise). As whispers of revolution run rampant through Paris, Victoire returns to her village to marry a kind and good man, many years her senior, who is willing to overlook the fact she is no longer a virgin. For a period of time she is happy. But it isn’t to last…

I have to admit, while this book is a barn burner, at this point, the unending tragedies in Victoire’s life were wearing me down. And there are more to come. Here I will stop and allow potential readers to find out what happens next, but I will tell you that Victoire returns to revolutionary Paris, and actual historical figures, one of them Thomas Jefferson, make an appearance in the book.

The author is a meticulous historian who describes village life, Paris, and the Revolution in colorful and compelling detail – the sounds, the smells, the colors – with an unsparing introduction to the mores of the time. I think that, more than anything, kept me reading. There is plenty of politics once the idea of revolution takes hold in Paris as more than just an intellectual concept, and the danger of living there at the time is very real. My one other less than positive comment concerns the amount of the book devoted to the Revolution. After the breathless pace of Victoire’s life, once she returns to Paris, her story slows to a sedate pace, which I found distracting. Too much of politics and the Revolution frustrated me.

There are many, many characters,, but with rare exception they are well drawn and realistic. To mention just three: Victoire can be frustratingly indecisive one minute and a strong and determined the next. The cook, Claudine, is a flour-sprinkled tower of strength, and the Marquise, although brief in appearance is suitably ignorant and evil.

I strongly recommend this book – it is a great summer read. For any reader with a love for historical fiction, especially about women at the time of the French Revolution, this is the book for you!

Book Description

Her mother executed for witchcraft, her father dead at the hand of a noble, Victoire Charpentier vows to rise above her impoverished peasant roots.
Forced to leave her village of Lucie-sur-Vionne for domestic work in Paris, Victoire suffers gruesome abuse under the 18th century old regime.
Imprisoned in France’s most pitiless madhouse, La Salpêtrière asylum, the desperate Victoire begins a romance with fellow prisoner Jeanne de Valois, infamous conwoman of the diamond necklace affair. With the help of the ruthless and charismatic countess, Victoire carves out a new life for herself.
Enmeshed in the fever of pre-revolutionary France, Victoire must find the strength to join the revolutionary force storming the Bastille. Is she brave enough to help overthrow the diabolical aristocracy?
As this historical fiction adventure traces Victoire’s journey, it follows too, the journey of an angel talisman through generations of the Charpentier family.
Amidst the intrigue and drama of the French revolution, the women of Spirit of Lost Angels face tragedy and betrayal in a world where their gift can be their curse.

About the author

An image posted by the author.

Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years.
When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her family for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist.
Since completing a creative writing course ten years ago, several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004 and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine, France Today and The Good Life France.

Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in the French historical “The Bone Angel” series set against a backdrop of rural France during the French Revolution. The second in the series, Wolfsangel, set during the WWII Nazi Occupation of France, was published in October, 2013. The third, Blood Rose Angel, set during the 14th century Black Plague years was published in November, 2015.
Friends, Family and Other Strangers is a collection of humorous, horrific and entertaining short stories set in Australia.
Liza is a founding member of the Author Collective, Triskele Books and regularly reviews books for Bookmuse.

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Rosie’s Team #RBRT Clash Of Empires- The Mallory Saga by Paul Bennett #HistFic @hooverbkreview

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Clash of Empires – The Mallory Saga by Paul Bennett

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I chose to read this book for Rosie’s book review team because my knowledge of the French and Indian Wars is limited to what I learned reading The Last of the Mohegans by James Fennimore Cooper and Northwest Passage by a Maine author I revere: Kenneth Roberts. I hoped to increase my knowledge with Clash of Empires and the book did not disappoint.

This first book, The Mallory Saga, is modestly described as follows: “In 1750, the Mallory family moved to the western Pennsylvania frontier, seeking a home and a future. Clash of Empires reveals the harrowing experiences of a colonial family drawn into the seven-year conflict between the British and French for control of the continent – the French and Indian War.”

What an understatement this blurb is! The book is so much more, populated by three-dimensional characters, embedded in a story that has you on the edge of your seat wondering when the next tomahawk will fall, and stimulating me to do a little more reading on the various historical events.

By 1754, both the British and the French were well established in the ‘New World,’ and families from England were encouraged to go there for a better life, with the promise of land. Both France and Britain ignored the fact this land was already inhabited by many Native American tribes, treating them more or less like wayward children, plying them with gifts or promises never kept to pay them for their land. The Mallory family from Ireland is already established in Eastern Pennsylvania, when Thomas decided to move his family to the western frontier. At this time, the frontier is just west of the Allegheny mountains and in French- controlled territory. They establish a trading post on the Kiskiminetas River, a tributary of the Allegheny River in western Pennsylvania. Hard to think of western Pennsylvania as wilderness!

Mallory brings friends with him, all of them interesting, and the author draws the reader into the harshness of life on the frontier, especially with rumors swirling of raids by the French and their allies, the Shawnee, to destroy British forts and English settlements. The Mallory family – daughter Liza and sons Daniel and Liam – each have a story line that winds in and out of strategic events that marked this period. There are losses of people along the way to the brutality of war at that time, and I found myself grieving right along with the other characters. The main story line concerns Liam, a wanderer by nature, who is adopted by a Mohawk tribe and marries the chief’s daughter. He acquires two mortal enemies amongst the Shawnee, much like Hawkeye’s deadly enemy Magua in The Last of the Mohegans, and his story is one of anger and revenge.

From this novel comes a comprehension of the vast and different tribes of Native Americans and one can’t help but wonder how different the story might have been if there had been any respect and understanding of their cultures. The reader also gets the sense of the early beginnings of this country, and the courage of settlers to put their lives on the line for the promise of a better life for their families.

The history is excellent, weaving in the events of the war and historical figures – such as the young George Washington, Daniel Boone, and the British Generals Braddock and Munro – to create a real world, worth visiting.

I very much look forward to the next novel in this series.

Book Description

In 1756, Britain and France are on a collision course for control of the North American continent. The eventual result can be described as the first world war, known as the Seven Year’s War in Europe and the French and Indian War in the colonies. The Mallory family uproots from eastern Pennsylvania, and moves to the western frontier, where they find themselves in the middle of war. Daniel, Liam, and Liza (the three Mallory siblings) become involved in the conflict in ways that lead to emotional trauma for each. The story focuses on historical events and includes historical characters. Clash of Empires is an exciting look at the developments leading to the events of July 1776, which are chronicled in the sequel as we follow the exploits and fate of the Mallory clan.

About the author

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Paul Bennett focused more on his interest in history during his education, not just the rote version of names and dates but the causes. He studied Classical Civilization at Wayne State University with a smattering of Physical Anthropology thrown in for good measure. He spent four decades working in large, multi-platform data centers, and is considered in the industry as a bona fide IBM Mainframe dinosaur heading for extinction. He currently resides in the quaint New England town of Salem, Massachusetts with his wife, Daryl. The three children have all grown, in the process turning Paul’s beard gray, and have now provided four grandchildren; the author is now going bald.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT This Parody Of Death by William Savage @penandpension #HistFic

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading This Parody Of Death by William Savage

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Book Review: This Parody of Death by William Savage @penandpension #RBRT #Georgian Mystery

This is the third book in the Ashmole Foxe series, about a Georgian dandy, bookseller, and occasional unofficial investigator. I reviewed both of the previous books and like this character. Of the three, this book is my favorite.

Ashmole Foxe, a man about town and known for his foppish ways, moves easily through Georgian Norwich because of his ownership of a popular bookstore. He has also developed something of a nose for investigation. When a miserly, curmudgeonly undertaker and bell ringer is found with his throat cut, Foxe is sought out by the local grocer, Foxe’s friend Captain Brock, and Alderman Halloran to find the killer. There are more tracks to follow in the investigation than a dog has fleas: a group committed to a secret heresy, a son who betrayed his father, a house with deep and deadly secrets, a woman determined to protect the great passion of her life, a daughter scorned, and a group of bell ringers with axes to grind. Foxe has to unwind a web of lies, false leads, and decades-old deceits to find the killer.

There were no giveaway hints in this book, and I was kept guessing almost to the end. The characters are wonderfully individual, from the urchin whom Foxe befriended, with his own army of street minions, the widow who runs his store, to the seafaring Captain Brock, who may soon be landlocked by a woman. The Georgian world created by the author is authentic to minuscule details, and the reader is immediately immersed in its colorful activity. What I liked most about This Parody of Death was the growth of Foxe. He engages in serious self-examination about the nature of his life, his over-the-top fashion, and possible goals for the future. This character is truly three dimensional and real.

There are a few drawbacks I have noted before: some repetition, over-long discussions between characters and Foxe’s lengthy considerations. However, these are minor compared to the enjoyment of this read. Who knew I would learn about the mathematical patterns of the change-ringing of church bells?

I recommend this book as a great read, as are all of William Savage’s books.

Book Description

Eighteenth-century Norwich bookseller and dandy, Ashmole Foxe, is asked by the local bellringers to look into the death of their Tower Captain, who has been found in the ringing chamber with his throat cut. Since the victim had a foul temper, as well as being a notorious miser, killjoy and recluse, there’s no shortage of suspects. Yet with everyone lying about themselves and their relationships with the dead man, Foxe knows it will take even more cunning than usual to dig out the truth. When, on top of all that, he discovers nothing about the victim is what it seems, he realises he must dig into the man’s past as well as his present. Can he ever separate truth from pretence and the genuine from the fake?  

On the track of the killer, Foxe encounters many of his city’s 18th-century inhabitants along the way, including a sharp young whore, several frightened tradesmen, a reclusive miser, an unlucky attorney, a desperate Ship’s Mate and a woman who gets the better of him nearly every time they meet. Bit by bit, Mr Foxe reveals a tale of greed, bitter family strife and unexpected love. A tale that ended in the church tower in an explosion of anger and death.

About the author

William Savage

William Savage grew up in Hereford, on the border with Wales and too his degree at Cambridge. After a career in various managerial and executive roles, he retired to Norfolk, where he volunteers at a National Trust property. His life-long interest has been history, which led to research and writing about the eighteenth century.  But his is not just a superficial interest in history, but a real desire to understand and transmit the daily experience of living in turbulent times.

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