Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Steampunk OUT OF THE LONDON MIST by Lyssa Medana @Lmedana

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

#RBRT Review Team

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

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I believe Out of the London Mist may be the first steampunk novel I’ve read. The book was purchased for review by Rosie’s Book Review Team.

The story opens with the visit of John Farnley to the East End of London to the shop of a metal worker who has frequently made parts for Farnley’s aether-powered plane. The shop was the last place John’s brother, Sir Nicholas Farnley, visited before being killed in a nearby street. This area of London was one which Sir Nicholas would never visit, and John is determined to trace his last steps and find his murderer.

John is faced with now being a nobleman, Sir John Farnley, and all that entails, plus having to sort out family business and holdings, which entail the mining of aether crystals, a source of power in Victorian England. He must also comfort his sister-in-law, who was a decorative wife to his brother but proves to be a competent household manager of the little-used London home.

A dense London fog is blanketing London, and it becomes a character unto itself, well drawn by the author. She also creates the world of the East End slums, a deadly place where life is cheap and people walking alone are preyed upon.

John discovers that his brother was helping the father of the metal worker, a rabbi involved in creating something monstrous which now lurks in the mist-shrouded corners of the East End. People are dying from being beaten with inhuman force, and John suspects his brother was one of the victims. Aiding him in his investigation is the resourceful Miss Sylvia Armley, brave and fearless. John has an intimate understanding of the aether lines that flow above London and of the advantages and disadvantages of using aether crystals as a power source, and he is helped to understand why his brother was collaborating with the rabbi by the erudite advice of Professor Entwistle, a close friend of the rabbi.

Together with Miss Armley, John travels though the darkest part of London to determine exactly what his brother was doing and to stop the aether-powered monster that killed him. The ending was not at all what I expected, and I can see another book to follow this one.

The author does an excellent job limning her characters and creating a steampunk world. I enjoyed the detail and the dialogue moved crisply along. The most compelling aspect was the way in which she created the foggy world, at once opaque and frightening. The mystery compels you to read on. For my first adventure into steampunk, this book is a winner.

The author tells a good story, and I am going to download some of her other books.

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.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Tudor #HistoricalFiction DRAKE-TUDOR CORSAIR (The Elizabethan Series Book 1) by @tonyriches

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Drake-Tudor Corsair by Tony Riches

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Avast, all you fans of Tony Riches! The author has gone to sea, introducing us to Sir Francis Drake. Having confined himself to land with the Tudor series and other wonderful stories of men and women peopling the Tudor era, the author has found his sea legs.

I am, probably like many, cognizant of the name Francis Drake but know little about him except for a vague colorful impression. Born in Devonshire, England, Drake was the son of a tenant farmer on the estate of the earl of Bedford, but was brought up in Plymouth by his relatives, the Hawkins family. The Hawkins worked as merchants and privateers (pirates) and introduced Drake to sailing. The book opens with Drake’s first posting as crew on the Tiger, a slave ship in the flotilla of Hawkins ships. Drake’s thirst for adventure is satisfied as the flotilla sails to seek fortune and trade goods in the Caribbean after visiting Africa for a cargo of slaves. Riches handles this distasteful aspect of Drake’s life in a straightforward fashion with tact.

He follows Drake through his early voyages and his rise through the ranks to become captain of his own ship. Skirting death and capture by the Spanish during these voyages, he learns of routes used to transport Spanish silver and gold, and risks his life to return to England more than once with a large amount of Spanish treasure, an accomplishment that earned him a substantial reputation along with a fortune.

Queen Elizabeth is intrigued by Drake and secretly encourages his piracy. In 1577, she commissions Drake to lead an expedition around South America through the Straits of  Magellan. Sailing the Golden Hind, he becomes the first to complete circumnavigation of the world in a single expedition, returning with enough Spanish treasure to force the Spanish to assemble an armada to attack England.

Written in first person, the author explores Drake’s motives, audacity, personal disappointments, successes and failures with an objective eye. Riches is terse in detail – something I’ve noticed sets him apart from many of the female writers of the Tudor era – but gives us enough of Drake’s world to put us en scene. As a sailor, I especially liked being at sea with him, feeling the deck roll beneath my feet, the force of a good wind, and the swelling and snapping of the sails.

It was a surprise to discover that Drake was not the swashbuckling, flamboyant figure I thought he was, but a practical man, certainly drawn into Elizabethan court intrigue but not really of it. Riches creates a real person, one whose main pleasure in life is being the captain of a ship, with a purpose for his voyage.

If there is one criticism I would make, it is my frustration with not knowing what the different types of ships mentioned, or on which Drake sailed, look like. A chart or some line drawings at the beginning would have been lovely, along with a map of the Caribbean and the places Drake explored.

Notwithstanding that, I think Tony Riches’ first sea voyage is a successful one that will please not only his usual readers but also anyone drawn to sea adventures.

Book description

From the author of the best-selling Tudor trilogy – the Elizabethan series begins.

1564: Devon sailor Francis Drake sets out on a journey of adventure.

Drake learns of routes used to transport Spanish silver and gold, and risks his life in an audacious plan to steal a fortune.

Queen Elizabeth is intrigued by Drake and secretly encourages his piracy. Her unlikely champion becomes a national hero, sailing around the world in the Golden Hind and attacking the Spanish fleet.

King Philip of Spain has enough of Drake’s plunder and orders an armada to threaten the future of England.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction THE COVENANT by @ThorneMoore

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Covenant by Thorne Moore

The Covenant by [Thorne Moore]

The Covenant is a powerful novel which gobsmacked me with the fierce emotions of its characters and the immutable future of unending work and forced acceptance of their fate, by woman in the period of this story. This is a prequel to the author’s best-selling A Time for Silence, and is a must read.

Written in first person, the author has created in Leah Owen, the middle daughter of a farmer in Wales at the close of the 19th century, a woman burdened by both love and duty. Her father, Tom Owen, is a tenant farmer on twenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches of stony, hilly
land, and together with his oldest son, barely ekes out a subsistence for his family. The farm –Cwmderwen (and I wish I could pronounce it!) and its house are very real characters in the story, setting a grim, rundown background as the result of debt and poor harvest.

Leah has hopes. As the middle daughter, she will be able to marry and leave Cwmderwen to lead her own life. Her oldest sister, a strangely quiet and dour woman, will remain behind to care for her parents. When the oldest son Tom dies, largely because of the ignorance of his father, the father, always pious, becomes a religious zealot. He drives his lazy youngest son, Frank, away. When both the oldest and youngest daughter marry and her mother dies, Leah is left to take care of her increasingly maniacal father, even when love comes her way. She is forced to follow a path of servitude and disappointments to a grim future. Tom Owen’s grandson, John – son of the wastrel Frank – becomes a miniature of his grandfather, claiming his covenant with God in keeping the farm and determined to keep the increasingly unproductive farm.

Farmhouse, Derelict, Ireland, Nature, Field, Farm

What possible future does Leah have? Can she remain dutiful, even to Frank and her nephew, bound as she is by the community, her church and custom? And how can she survive when her every dream is crushed by her family.

The author does an impressive job creating a background of isolated and rural Pembrokeshire, the changing seasons and vicissitudes of farming. The detail never becomes heavy but is integral to the story. Her ability to create depth in her characters, their beliefs and piety, and the changes and occasional joys in their lives is exceptional. The reader lives in Leah’s being and the feelings are at times overwhelming.

This is a book with a wallop, and I recommend it as an exception read.

Book description

The Owens are tied to this Pembrokeshire land – no-one will part them from it.

Leah is tied to home and hearth by debts of love and duty – duty to her father, turned religious zealot after the tragic death of his eldest son, Tom; love for her wastrel younger brother Frank’s two motherless children. One of them will escape, the other will be doomed to follow in their grandfather’s footsteps.

At the close of the 19th century, Cwmderwen’stwenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches are hardwon, the holding run down over the years by debt and poor harvest. But they are all the Owens have and their rent is always paid on time. With Tom’s death a crack is opened up and into this chink in the fabric of the family step Jacob John and his wayward son Eli, always on the lookout for an opportunity.

Saving her family, good and bad, saving Cwmderwen, will change Leah forever and steal her dreams, perhaps even her life…

The Covenant is the shocking prequel to the bestselling A Time For Silence.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

The Covenant by [Thorne Moore]

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Regency #Romance MISS TAVISTOCK’S MISTAKE by @LinoreRBurkard

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Miss Tavistock’s Mistake by Linore Rose Burkard 

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I am not a fan of romance novels but decided to challenge myself and read this one for Rosie’s Book Reviews. I did enjoy this book.

Miss Tavistock’s Mistake reminds me strongly of a Restoration play by William Congreve – The Way of the World – in that it is an examination of the social conventions of love and marriage at the time, with wit, banter and disguises, seasoned by delicate impropriety – in other words, a comedy of manners. This book is perhaps more light and frothy.

The story takes place a century later than Congreve’s plays, during the Regency Period, the decade between 1811 and 1820, a time of particular manners and fashions and of authors such as Jane Austin and Sir Walter Scott.

Dramatis personae:

Feodora Margaret Tavistock, an orphan from America who comes at age nine to live with her uncle, the Duke of Trent. At age nineteen, she wants nothing more than to live in London for the ‘Season’, the time when unmarried young women meet prospective husbands at a series of social events.

Gabriel Rempeare, the Duke’s nephew, who comes to little Miss Tavistock’s rescue when she first arrives. He becomes a captain in his Majesty’s Navy and is betrothed to his cousin Margaret, as she wishes to be called now, by the wishes of both their deceased parents.

Mrs. Filbert, Miss Tavistock’s older lady companion.

The Duke of Trent, a widower who loves his niece and with the right incentive will give refuse her nothing.

Lady X, a mysterious woman who is reputed to be the Duke’s mistress.

Captain Rempear has not seen Margaret in ten years when he returns after being decommissioned from the Navy due to an injury and the loss of his ship. An unfortunate confrontational meeting between them before being re-introduced causes Miss Tavistock to identify herself as Lady X, a woman identified in the newspapers as the lover of her uncle. She finds the Captain infuriating and vows not to marry him.

The plot only becomes more twisted from there, as Miss Tavistock is allowed by her uncle to go with Mrs. Filbert to London, where she sets herself up in an independent household, maintaining her identity as Lady X. Captain Rempear, unable to find his cousin but nevertheless determined keep his word to marry her, also goes to London, where he finds himself increasingly drawn to Lady X.  Secrets, lies, misdirection and misunderstandings created by Miss Tavistock make the reader wonder whether Captain Rempear, with whom she falls in love, can ever forgive her – if he finally figures out who she really is.

The author must have done a good job creating Miss Tavistock because I became infuriated with her continuing lies and deceptions and wanted to whack her upside the head, as they say here in the South. Captain Rempear is suitably handsome and charismatic and I was compelled to feel sorry for the way our heroine toyed with him.

The author’s command of Regency vernacular (which sent me to a computer!) and the period manners, dress and furnishings is excellent and give the story a historical richness.

This book will appeal to historical fiction aficionados and especially to readers who enjoy wholesome, romantic stories laced with comedy.

Book description

Young Miss Tavistock is promised in marriage to Captain Rempeare by the wish of her dearly departed papa. But the captain’s been at sea for a decade. When she finally meets him, tempestuous sparks fly, and she impulsively adopts a daring false identity. Going by “Lady X,” she vows never to marry such an infuriating man.

Captain Gabriel Rempeare is prepared to fulfill his duty and marry Miss Tavistock—if only he can clap eyes on her. One circumstance or another keeps them apart, though he cannot seem to avoid the beautiful, maddening, Lady X. When fate throws them together in London, Miss Tavistock discovers the real nature of the captain, and regrets her subterfuge. But can such a noble man forgive deceit? Or has her mistake already cost her everything?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT 1960s Australian Drama THE LOST BLACKBIRD by @LizaPerrat

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Lost Blackbird by Liza Perrat

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The Lost Blackbird is the third book by Liza Perrat that I’ve read, the others being The Silent Kookaburra and The Swooping Magpie.  This is my favorite.

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Ms. Perrat is an Australian author and she creates the world of that country with wonderful detail and ambience. Here she pays homage to the children brought to Australia from England’s orphanages and care centers in the 1960s, purportedly for a better life. These children were a costly burden to England, and the government’s solution was to ship them off to populate various other countries in its former Empire, often without any documentation of where they came from and whether they were in fact orphans. In Australia they became prisoners, working in slave labor camps with little food, clothing, or education and often beaten, degraded and subject to abuse. This is something I knew nothing about, but it is a story that has to be told.

Five year old Charly and her ten year old sister Lucy are sent to Easthaven Home for Girls in England when their mother is accused of killing their father by pushing him down the stairs and then is sent to prison for her crime. In fact, drunk and in a rage at Charly, he tripped and fell down the stairs, but Charly is too young to understand what had happened.

Easthaven is run in a brutal fashion by unforgiving women, and Lucy considers it a stroke of luck when she and her sister are chosen to go to Australia, freeing them from their awful fate in that institution. After a magical six week trip aboard an ocean liner to Australia, with new clothes, good food, games to play with their fellow migrants, and two women who care for them, Lucy are Charly are wrenched apart on the Sydney docks. Charly is adopted by a privileged family and her new parents do everything in their power to erase her past. Lucy is sent to live at Seabreeze Farm in the interior of the country, where she and some friends she made on the boat live in inhuman conditions, working as slaves, and suffering from lack of food, heat, flies, and the bullying of the sadistic owner of the farm.

As Charly begins to suspect her parents are hiding a secret, Lucy descends into despair and cynicism, although never ceasing to think about Charly and how to find her. How does Lucy survive and will Charly ever learn the truth of her beginnings and the fact she has a sister?

Liza Perrat paints a harsh picture of the orphans’ lives against the brilliant background of Australia. As a reader, my emotions meshed with those of Lucy and I also despaired of her survival, but I read on! I’m glad I did. The story is heart-breaking but told with enormous compassion. The author not only does a wonderful job of presenting the country but also creates well-rounded, real characters whose emotions are easily felt: Charly and Lucy, of course, but also the hate-filled farmer Yates, his beaten wife Bonnie, and the Ashwoods who adopt Charly, both so desperate to replace their dead daughter.

I read the book in two sittings, and it flowed so well and was engrossing. I recommend The Lost Blackbird to everyone with a heart, so everyone!

Book description

A powerful story of sisters cruelly torn apart by a shameful event in British-Australian history. Clare Flynn, author of The Pearl of Penang
London 1962. A strict and loveless English children’s home, or the promise of Australian sunshine, sandy beaches and eating fruit straight from the tree. Which would you choose?
Ten-year-old Lucy Rivers and her five-year-old sister Charly are thrilled when a child migrant scheme offers them the chance to escape their miserable past.
But on arrival in Sydney, the girls discover their fantasy future is more nightmare than dream.
Lucy’s lot is near-slavery at Seabreeze Farm where living conditions are inhuman, the flies and heat unbearable and the owner a sadistic bully. What must she do to survive?
Meanwhile Charly, adopted by the nurturing and privileged Ashwood family, gradually senses that her new parents are hiding something. When the truth emerges, the whole family crumbles. Can Charly recover from this bittersweet deception?
Will the sisters, stranded miles apart in a strange country, ever find each other again?
A poignant testament to child migrants who suffered unforgivable evil, The Lost Blackbird explores the power of family bonds and our desire to know who we are.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Sailing Themed #Thriller DRACA by @GeoffreyGudgion @unbounders #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Draca by Geoffrey Gudgion

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The Draca is a vintage sailing cutter built in 1905. Her owner is Eddie Ahlquist, an old man dying of cancer. She lies beached at a marina, slowly falling to the ravages of time as her owner also fails. Eddie’s grandson, Jack, is a former Marine in his Her Majesty’s armed services, who has returned from service in the middle East minus a foot and part of his leg, beset with PTSD, and carrying a load of guilt from the deaths of two of his fellow Marines, one who died with him and one who died trying to rescue him. Jack is the one member of the dysfunctional Alquist family who truly cares for Eddie and he tries to spend as much time with him as possible.

Eddie has earned the epithet ‘Mad Eddie” because of his wild sailing of Draca before he became too ill to continue. He had found a four-foot-long piece of ancient timber carved into the neck and head of a snarling dragon which he made into the figurehead for Draca. The figurehead now sits in his garden and Eddie talks to it when Jack is not around, thinking he sees the outline of a huge, looming figure coming through the trees toward his cottage.

When Eddie dies, Jack inherits Draca as well as his grandfather’s cottage, his diaries, and his library of Viking literature. Jack’s father, an overbearing and greedy man with whom Jack has an adversarial relationship for his entire life, does not understand why Eddie’s estate did not go to him and vows to fight Eddie’s will in court.

Jack moves into the cottage while the will is in probate and, with a suggestion that restoring the Draca might help him with his lasting emotional and physical problems, takes out loans against Eddie’s estate. He immediately dives into the difficult work of bringing Draca back to her original condition.  As he does, the serpent figurehead seems to capture his psyche as it had his grandfather, and he also sees the looming figure amongst the trees. He is drawn to the figurehead and Draca as if they both have a hold on him.

This is a terrific book on many levels: the struggles of a veteran with physical and emotional baggage for the time of his service; the warped interactions of a family with a bully for a father and husband; Jack’s own crumbling marriage; the exhilaration of sailing, especially on this old, restored schooner; a developing love between Jack and a young woman, George, who runs the boatyard where Draca is moored; and the growing hold of Draca and the figurehead on Jack. There is also interspersed between the chapters excerpts from what is clearly a Viking story, the ‘saga of King Guthrum,’ with a strong indication that the figurehead derives from a Viking ship in the saga and that it is cursed. Will figurehead claim Jack’s life to satisfy the curse?

The characters are wonderfully created. Jack is a finely tuned rendering of a veteran with PTSD, old Eddie is both loveable and frightening in his final madness, and Harry, Jack’s father, is a villain – perhaps a little heavy-handed, but still believable. George is at the same time both incredibly naïve (she doesn’t recognize when Charlotte, Jack’s wife, tries to draw her into a lesbian affair and that left me scratching my head) and equally brave, as she tries to heal Jack and at the end risks her own life to save him in a horrific storm at sea.

As a sailor, all the descriptions of sailing and the rigging and sails of Draca, especially at sea and in the wind, were both familiar and exciting. This might not be so for someone who has never sailed, although I believe any reader can loosely follow the action.  Having the drawing of Draca for reference was a good help.

In short, this is a rollicking tale, both down to earth and also unearthly, combining many elements into a fine story. I strongly recommend it.

Book description

Draca was a vintage sailing cutter, Old Eddie’s pride and joy. But now she’s beached, her varnish peeling. She’s dying, just like Eddie.
Eddie leaves Draca to his grandson Jack, a legacy that’s the final wedge between Jack and his father. Yet for Jack, the old boat is a lifeline. Medically discharged from the Marines, with his marriage on the rocks, the damaged veteran finds new purpose; Draca will sail again. Wonderful therapy for a wounded hero, people say.
Young Georgia ‘George’ Fenton, who runs the boatyard, has doubts. She saw changes in Old Eddie that were more sinister even than cancer. And by the time Draca tastes the sea again, the man she dares to love is going the same way. To George, Jack’s ‘purpose’ has become ‘possession’; the boat owns the man and her flawed hero is on a mission to self-destruct. As his controlling and disinherited father pushes him closer to the edge, she gives all she has to hold him back.
And between them all, there’s an old boat with dark secrets, and perhaps a mind of its own.

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Celebrating 6 Years Of Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT With Team Member @NAGrangerAuthor

Recently we celebrated our review team’s six year anniversary by revealing fourteen of the team’s favourite books.

You can find out which books they were in part one and part two.

I invited some of my team members to tell us more about being part of the book reviewing team.

Welcome to Noelle Granger, who also writes book reviews at Sayling Away

Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team has now been up and running for six years!  I have been one of her book reviewers for much of that time. At first I only read books in my genre, but I gradually expanded to romance, sci-fi and historical fiction. That last is perhaps what gave me the push necessary to write my recent book about Mary Allerton Cushman, the oldest survivor of the Mayflower voyage.

The goal of Rosie’s book review team (RBRT) has been to spread the word about novels, novellas, short stories and non-fiction from self-published authors and independent publishers – to showcase talent found outside the mainstream publishing world.

I have had the enjoyment of corresponding with many of these authors about their books, making new friends along the way.

I highly recommend joining the team – it will challenge your review skills and introduce you to a wide assortment of genres!

Thank you Noelle.

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Depression Era #HistoricalFiction THREADS by @CWhitneyAuthor #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Threads by Charlotte Whitney

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Threads is my introduction to Charlotte Whitney and I have discovered a talented writer. Threads follows the lives of three sisters growing up on a hardscrabble farm during the depression, and the story alternates among their points of view. Nellie is the youngest and in second grade, and she has the most pronounced mid-Michigan farm dialect. Irene is in sixth grade and a definite middle child. She and Nellie attend a one room school. The oldest sister, Flora, is in high school.

Nellie is a real tomboy with a vivid imagination. One afternoon, while she explores the meadows and woods surrounding the farm, she spots a tiny black hand poking out of a mound. Nellie is terrified and listening to her parents talking that night – she can hear them if she puts her ear to the heat register in the floor of her bedroom – she learns it was a baby boy. The sheriff had been called but no one had any idea about whose baby it was. Her parents worry they will be blamed.

Irene is sassy, intelligent, and has become the pet of the school’s teacher Miss Flatshaw. She thinks Nellie is stupid. Flora is on the cusp of adulthood. She is a caring and perceptive young woman who has considerable responsibility in the work of the farm and realizes that her life will be one of a farmer’s wife, despite her desire for a career.

The three girls’ personalities are wonderfully wrought – you can hear their voices in your head. You live with them over the next years, through all the details of running a farm, struggling to put enough food on the table to feed everyone, the penny-pinching and making-do, the sharing of whatever they have with those more in need, and the whims of the weather on which their livelihood depends. The descriptions take the reader into life on a farm, into a loving but stressed family, and through all of life’s transitions: from one grade to another, graduation, first love, surprising traumas. Woven in is the continuing mystery of the dead baby’s origins. I particularly liked the last chapter, which presents us with the girls as adults with lives of their own.

I highly recommend this book. It was a joy to read. The author’s knowledge of, and passion for, this era shines through.

Book description

It’s a boring, hardscrabble life for three sisters growing up on a Michigan farm in the throes of the Great Depression. But, when young Nellie, digging for pirate treasure, discovers the tiny blue-black hand of a dead baby, rumors begin to fly. Narrated by Nellie and her two older sisters, the story follows the girls as they encounter a patchwork of threatening circumstances and take it upon themselves to solve the mystery.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Tudor #HistoricalFiction KATHERINE – TUDOR DUCHESS by @tonyriches

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Katherine – Tudor Duchess by Tony Riches

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I was first introduced to Tony Riches historical novels when I read the books in his Tudor Trilogy, about the founding and growth of the Tudor family. The history is compelling. For Mary – Tudor Princess, and this book, Katherine – Tudor Duchess, the reader experiences the Tudor family from a woman’s point of view. The author hasn’t lost a step in the transition.

Katherine Willoughby was born at Parham Hall in Suffolk in 1519, daughter of the 11th Baron of Willoughby and his second wife, Maria de Salina, who had come to England as a lady-in- waiting to Katherine of Aragon. With her father’s death, Katherine inherited the barony. Her wardship fell to King Henry VII, who sold it to Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk, his brother-in-law.

Her story begins as she is about to leave to join the Duke’s household. Her mother, who will continue in her service to Queen Katherine, sees her daughter as a good match for Henry Brandon, the Duke’s five-year-old son who is in the line of succession to the throne. Katherine is not so sure.

After traveling to the impressive Westhorpe Manor, Katherine becomes a part of the Brandon family, joining Henry and his two sisters, who are close in age to Katherine. She immediately is drawn to the beautiful, clever and elegant Lady Mary, wife of the Duke and sister to the King. (See Mary – Tudor Princess). When Katherine meets the Duke, she is immediately drawn to this rich and powerful man.

When Princess Mary dies after a lingering illness, Katherine mourns her deeply and is surprised when the Duke proposes to marry her. She is but fourteen and he is forty-nine. Beating the odds, theirs is a long and successful marriage, weathering the vicissitudes of the King’s many marriages and the reigns of Henry’s children. Katherine’s quick wit, devotion to learning and outspoken advocacy for the English reformation help her navigate the politics of the time. Through Katherine’s eyes, you meet the famous women of Henry’s court: Anne Boleyn, Katherine Seymour, Catherine Parr. You suffer with the deaths of her children and experience terror when Katherine’s faith puts her and her entire family in danger.

As impressed as I was by the story of Princess Mary, Katherine’s life left an even more indelible vision of an indomitable woman who not only survived a tumultuous time, but thrived. As always, the author’s attention to detail and depth of knowledge of the intrigue of the English court is superb.

I highly recommend yet another well-written and richly ornamented book by Tony Riches.

Book description

She stands up for what she believes in…
but such courage has consequences.

Attractive, wealthy and influential, Katherine Willoughby is one of the most unusual ladies of the Tudor court. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Katherine knows all his six wives, his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, and his son Edward, as well as being related by marriage to Lady Jane Grey.

When her father dies, Katherine becomes the ward of Tudor knight, Sir Charles Brandon. Her Spanish mother, Maria de Salinas, is Queen Catherine of Aragon’s lady in waiting, so it is a challenging time for them all when King Henry marries the enigmatic Anne Boleyn.

Following Anne’s dramatic downfall, Katherine marries Charles Brandon, and becomes Duchess of Suffolk at the age of fourteen. After the short reign of young Catherine Howard, and the tragic death of Jane Seymour, Katherine and Brandon are chosen to welcome Anna of Cleves as she arrives in England.

When the royal marriage is annulled, Katherine’s good friend, Catherine Parr becomes the king’s sixth wife, and they work to promote religious reform. Katherine’s young sons are tutored with the future king, Prince Edward, but when Edward dies his Catholic sister Mary is crowned queen. Katherine’s Protestant faith puts her family in great danger – from which there seems no escape.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Mystery BEYOND THE YEW TREE by @RachelJwalkley #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Beyond The Yew Tree by Rachel J. Walkley

I loved the Women of Heachley Hall, so I jumped at the chance to read another mystery by Rachel Walkley. I enjoyed this one just as much, probably because I like books with women protagonists, and especially if they are a little flawed.

For Beyond the Yew Tree, the author has created Laura Naylor, who has been called for jury duty and who reluctantly shows up on the appointed day. Having been on juries, I immediately related to the descriptions of the process, the jurors, and Laura’s experience. In this case, the man on the stand is accused of defrauding a charity for the blind.

It all seems very mundane, as is Laura’s life, until she begins to hear a hissing sound in the courtroom, one that no one else hears. At the same time she begins to have recurring nightmares of a Victorian jail and a suffering woman somehow connected to it. Laura thinks it’s related to the fact the court is actually within the walls of an old castle, which also houses an ancient prison and an equally old cemetery, where people who had been executed or died in prison were buried.

The author cleverly compounds Laura’s growing misery with anxiety of another sort: her Italian, live-in boyfriend, Marco, left suddenly for Italy because of an unexplained family matter, and his communication with her has dried up.

When the hisses resolve into a child-like whisper, Laura is lead to the prison graveyard and a spot near an old yew tree and also to the site of a long-gone bakery, where she experiences the smell of freshly baked bread. Assistance comes in the form of Sean, the curator of the prison museum, who helps her discover that her dreams and the whisper are related to a woman hung for murder a century earlier.

I won’t say more other than the fate of the man and the child of the hanged woman converge. Will Marco ever come back? Is Sean a serious match for Laura? Who is the wretched woman and who is the child only Laura can hear? You will love following the twists and turns of this story to discover the answers!

The intertwining of history with the present is a skill of this author and one again she has made a place, in this case the castle, a character in her story. Her characters are interesting and believable, with good depth, and the descriptions of places are clear and crisp.

I recommend Beyond the Yew Tree as a satisfying and enjoyable read, especially as a diversion from world events.

Book description

In an old courtroom, a hissing voice distracts reluctant juror, Laura, and at night recurring nightmares transport her to a Victorian gaol and the company of a wretched woman. Although burdened by her own secret guilt, and struggling to form meaningful relationships, Laura isn’t one to give up easily when faced with an extraordinary situation.
The child-like whispers lead Laura to an old prison graveyard, where she teams up with enthusiastic museum curator, Sean. He believes a missing manuscript is the key to understanding her haunting dreams. But nobody knows if it actually exists.
Laura is confronted with the fate of two people – the man in the dock accused of defrauding a charity for the blind, and the restless spirit of a woman hanged over a century ago for murder.
If Sean is the companion she needs in her life, will he believe her when she realises that the two mysteries are converging around a long-forgotten child who only Laura can hear?

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