📚A Story Of Those Who tried To resist The Norman Conquest. Noelle Reviews In the Shadows of Castles by G. K. Holloway, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Noelle.

Noelle blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Noelle has been reading In The Shadows Of Castles by G. K. Holloway

The novel is book two in the 1066 saga.

Book one, 1066: What the Fates Impose, is about the atmosphere leading up to and following the Battle of Hastings in 1066 between the Norman-French army of William, Duke of Normandy, and an English army under the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson. It began the Norman Conquest of England.

In the Shadows of Castles, William of Normandy is enforcing a new, brutal, and bloody regime of Norman rule throughout England, creating feudalism as the dominant social and economic system. William spreads his soldiers throughout the kingdom, killing, raping, and pillaging to force the Anglo-Saxons to bend to his rule. His plan includes the construction of castles in all the main cities to secure the Norman foothold, hence the title of this novel, and he creates a ruling class of Norman nobles and arranges the appointment of his supporters as bishops and abbots in the Norman church. But these sudden changes in the English political, religious, and cultural landscape create resistance. Dispossessed, driven from their homes, the members of an English network of resistors have the courage to fight, but scattered across the land, can they coalesce to defeat William? Can they entice the Danes to join them?

This seemingly endless turmoil is populated by many characters, which the author – fortunately for the reader – introduces at the beginning of the book. The main ones are two sisters, a thane (a freeman who had his own land), and a soldier. These characters are likable and real. Intrigues, kidnaps, battles, escapes, murder, destruction, and death face them as the resistance takes shape and their fates intertwine in love, hope, and their fight for survival.

The author has a monumental knowledge of the history, politics, and turmoil of the time. He unflinchingly portrays the brutality of William and his reasoning behind it, as well as the anger and needs for vengeance by those resisting him. Thus this novel is a powerful lesson for its readers. So powerful that I wanted William to fail and wanted justice for all those murdered. But history tells the tale: his plan worked, which allowed him to spend the greater part of his reign at his home in Normandy.

This is an accomplished historical novel, challenging to the reader only in the number of players on the stage. Anyone interested in English history and this historical period in particular, will love this book and should definitely read it. I look forward to his next book.

Orange rose book description
Book description

It’s the 1060s, and William of Normandy is establishing a new and brutal regime in England, but there are those who would defy him. As Norman soldiers spread like a plague across the land, resistance builds, but will it be enough to topple William and restore the rightful king to his throne? The English have the courage to fight, but the Normans, already victorious at Hastings, now build castles seeking to secure their tenuous foothold in these lands.

And what of the people caught up in these catastrophic events? Dispossessed but not defeated, their lives ripped apart, the English struggle for freedom from tyranny; amongst them, caught up in the turmoil, are a soldier, a thane and two sisters. As events unfold, their destinies become intertwined, bringing drastic changes that alter their lives forever.

Firmly embedded in the history of the Conquest, ‘In the Shadows of Castles’ is ultimately a story of love, hope and survival in a time of war.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

📚Victorian #Mystery With A Dickensian Sub-Theme. Noelle Reviews Murder & Mischief by Carol Hedges @riotgrandma72 for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Noelle.

Noelle blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Noelle has been reading Murder & Mischief by Carol Hedges

I’ve read and reviewed Murder and Mayhem, a previous book by this author, and liked it so much I jumped at the chance to review this one.

Ms. Hedges has cleverly entwined two stories in this, the tenth outing of her Victorian mystery series. The setting is London in 1868, and the city itself quickly becomes a main character because of the colorful, detailed descriptions the author creates for the reader.

In the plot, Detective Inspector Grieg of Scotland Yard is called to Hill House, the upper class residence of Mr. Barrowclough, a very wealthy real estate developer. A ‘snowman’ has been found in his garden by his two sons. The ‘snowman’ is a man’s frozen body, covered thickly from a recent snowfall. Mr. Barrowclough denies knowledge of the man, although one of his old hats is part of the snowman’s clothing. Grieg is convinced the dead man is linked to Barrowclough’s business, which entails buying land near where the London underground railway is planned to plough through, putting up cheap houses and selling them at a high price because of location. But he has to probe into Barrowclough’s history to get to the truth. The second story is pure Dickens – two children, Flitch and Liza, escape from the workhouse where they were forced to go with their mother after their father left them for work in America. The mother died there, and Flitch is determined to make a life for himself and his sister in London. They are trailed there by their father who returns to claim them and also by the managers of the workhouse, once the father offers a reward for finding them. Also on their trail is a female detective the father hires.

The reader is faced, along with the main characters, with some challenging questions? Can Flitch and Liza survive in London when they arrive with only the clothes on their backs? Who will ultimately find them – their father, the detective, the greedy workhouse managers? Why is Barrowclough receiving parcels containing dead birds, which frighten him? How are they linked to the dead man?

I loved this book. Ms. Hedges writes in the present tense and breaks the wall by talking directly to the reader at various times, usually to presage a jump from one plot to the other. Some readers may not like this technique but I found it pulled me directly into the action and setting. Her background descriptions of the rich and the poor sides of London are exceptional: public houses, the docks, the Chinese enclave, fashionable stores, mansions, apartments, and hovels. And all without excessive detail. The poverty, dirt, noise and smoke are very real. She also makes clear the role of women at the time, the consequences of poverty, the rapacious nature of real estate developers, and a host of other societal problems, but by inference and not preaching. Even the minor characters are well drawn with the nuances of life in London for the various strata in society.

The plots take the reader hither and yon and the resolution of each is unexpected and satisfying.

A resounding five stars for this book. If you like Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, this is for you.

There are nine other books in this series, each of which is related by the characters but this is a stand-alone in terms of reading. I highly recommend reading all of them!

Orange rose book description
Book description

It is January, a time of year when not much crime usually happens. But when Inspector Greig is unexpectedly summoned to the opulent Hampstead residence of Mr. James William Malin Barrowclough, a rich businessman, he embarks upon one of the strangest and most bizarre investigations that he has ever been involved in.

Why has Barrowclough been targeted? What is inside the mysterious parcels that keep arriving at Hill House, and why won’t he cooperate with the police? The case will take the Scotland Yard detectives on a journey out of London and into the victim’s past, to uncover the secrets and lies that haunt his present.

Murder & Mischief is the tenth novel in the series, and in the great tradition of Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, it entices the reader once again along the teeming streets and dimly gas lit thoroughfares of Victorian London, where rich and poor, friend and foe alike mix and mingle.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

📚#HistoricalMystery Set in the Georgian era. Noelle reviews Foxe And The Black Beast by William Savage, for Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Noelle.

Noelle blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Noelle has been reading Foxe And The Black Beast by William Savage

Foxe and the Black Beast is the tenth in the Ashmole Foxe series, and I’ve read every one of them and reviewed most because I find the central character, Ashmole Foxe, so compelling. I’ve enjoyed the way he has evolved from a dandified, hedonistic, man-about-town to a settled, newly married man with a beautiful and very intelligent wife. In this latest adventure, the Dean of Norwich calls on Foxe, a rare bookseller and now recognized as the premier investigator in the city, to find the killer of a member of the clergy. The man, Reverend Bing, who insists on being called Prebendary Bing (a type of canon who has a role in the administration of a cathedral), is found dead at the base of the front steps, his head bashed in.

Bing is a thoroughly unlikeable character – greedy, ignorant, pretentious, disagreeable, penurious, and immune to the needs of the people who are in his spiritual care. The book begins with two chapters devoted to the parishes from which Bing collects tithes that contribute to his income, whether the parishioners can afford it or not. The first is a very poor one, consisting largely of fishermen, the second, a richer one which he also ignores. He has risen to his position of Prebendary and overseer of two parishes largely through toadying to the Church’s higher ups. He imagines himself on the way to becoming a bishop, if he marries well and prevails upon the right people.

I especially enjoyed the first chapter, which described in flowing and evocative prose the northern coast of Norfolk, where the poorer parish is found. The author is at his absolute best in his wonderful descriptions of the countryside and also the city of Norwich.  The following chapters describing Bing and the questions surrounding him had me hooked perhaps more than any other book in the series.

Foxe is frustrated with this case, which poses an endless list of questions. Bing was dressed up and went out for the night, but where had he gone and why did he return so late? Why did he frequently venture out dressed as a bishop, when he is really nothing more than a common reverend? And where is his ebony walking cane with the silver knob, which he is never without?

The street children of Norwich are eyes and ears for Foxe and he uses them to help answer some of these questions, but not before hearing that they call him the Black Beast because he is always dressed in black and he frightens and threatens them.

Many of the characters in the previous books return: Foxe’s wife, the clever and much younger Lucy, who helps him when he hits a dead end in his investigations; the Cunning Woman, Mistress Tabby, an herbalist and the source of much information from the street, who took care of a street boy beaten to death by Bing; Mrs. Crombie, an entrepreneurial widow who runs his bookshop very profitably; and Alderman Halloran, Lucy’s uncle and the city’s former mayor, with whom Foxe spends time discussing his investigations and also for whom he purchases rare books.

Foxe finds there are a number of possible murderers with the means and motive to kill Bing, and he follows them in a logical sequence, ending at many dead ends. Some readers might find Foxe’s methods of investigation a bit plodding, but these are Georgian times and life moves at a different pace. The pace is actually enjoyable because it allows the reader to think about the mystery and Foxe’s next steps.

I deduced the killer before the end of the book, but as one who writes mysteries, this is normal. I suspect everyone else will be left hanging until the end. The killer’s identity is unlikely, to say the least.

What more can be said? Mr. Savage’s plots are complex and believable, his settings beautifully described and historically precise, and his characters three-dimensional and compelling. I am a devourer of his mysteries and when I finished this one, it was like finishing a slice of chocolate cake. When will I get the next serving?

Foxe and the Black Beast is one of the best, if not the best, in this series and I highly recommend it.

Orange rose book description
Book description

Ambition, cruelty, arrogance, despair and violent death echo in the silence and darkness of night in the ancient Cathedral Close of Norwich.

A message reaches the Dean of Norwich that a well-known member of the clergy has been found dead close by his doorstep in The Cathedral Close, the side of his head a bloody pulp. The dean’s immediate response is to send for Ashmole Foxe to ask him to investigate and bring the culprit to justice.

Thus begins one of Mr Foxe’s most baffling and frustrating cases. Where had the dead man been that evening to return alone so late at night? Why was he dressed like a bishop, though he was essentially only a country parson? Why live in Norwich when his two parishes were miles away in the Norfolk countryside? Why was nothing taken from the body but an ebony walking-cane with a silver knob on the top? Why were the street children sufficiently frightened of him to name him “The Black Beast”? Who might have hated him so much that violent murder was the only possible action?

Foxe follows trail after trail, each one ending in disappointment, until an unexpected remark sets him on the right path to discovering the answers to these questions and the identity of an unlikely and unwilling killer.

Foxe and The Black Beast is the latest episode in the adventures of Ashmole Foxe, a wealthy 18-century Norwich bookseller and occasional crime solver.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

📚’Two hundred years into the future’. Noelle reviews #Scifi Making Waves by @ThorneMoore for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Noelle.

Noelle blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Noelle has been reading Making Waves by Thorne Moore

Making Waves by Thorne Moore

I truly believe Thorne Moore could write a five star book about a paper bag. She has challenged herself by writing books in different genres and her readers (including myself) have found them all compelling. I did not read the first book in this series (Inside Out) but no matter, this book qualifies as a stand-alone. I chose it because I wanted to see how the author fared with science fiction, and she fares very well indeed.

The setting: Two hundred years into the future, human civilization has populated various moons and planets in what is collectively called the Outer Circle. Triton station, the Outer Circle headquarters of Ragnox, Inc., on the moon of Neptune, is as far as the intrepid can go unless exploring. Ragnox is the unassailable villainous corporation ruling over the territory with its psychopathic boss, Pascal. One of the activities he oversees, in addition to mining, uses so-called mutants, generations born in the Outer Circle of the solar system who have enhanced psychic abilities, as guinea pigs for horrendous scientific experimentation. The only challenges to Pascal’s ruthless pursuit of money and power are Pan, a rival, but less powerful, company and a dissident news organization called Ocean Waves, which makes public the excesses and evils of Ragnox.

The author manages to create the setting with a minimalist approach to its description. She does not spend a lot of time on the scientific details – the atmosphere for O2-breathing creatures, space suits, gravity establishment etc – but lets the reader imagine it from various names (leviathans and the Ark, for example).

The Characters: There are a lot of characters in this book, and I wish the list of them with their roles was placed at the beginning of the book rather than at the end. I became somewhat lost trying to sort them all out until I discovered the list, a problem for an e-book reader.

Tod Fox, captain of the freighter Heloise, delivers six foolhardy volunteers to Triton for seven years of servitude in return for a monetary windfall at the end of their service. Most volunteers don’t survive, so it’s a win-win for Ragnox. These volunteers get to know each other well during the long voyage out and form the nucleus of a family with Tod at its head. Among them is Yasmin Gwynn, who is delivered to Triton but then taken away. She becomes the head of Ocean Waves and a pain in the side of Pascal, who lives to find and eliminate her. The others are Smith, a communications wizard who becomes a member of Pascal’s star chamber and a threat to Pascal when he escapes; Clytemnestra, who rises through the ranks to run the Triton brothel; Merrit Burnand, who works as a medical assistant and sees all of the horror of Triton laboratories and forced labor; and Peter Seldon and Abigail Dieterman, engineers. All survive their servitude to become involved in the effort to bring Ragnox to its knees.

The characters are all really well developed, so the reader has no difficulty sorting them out. Their emotions are very real and the reader can easily form a strong connection with each of them. The dialogue is crisp and even occasionally humorous.

The plot: The book jumps from main character to main character (another reason for knowing who they are at the beginning, along with their supporting personae) and brings each one forward at a time. The plot is full of twists and turns, so the reader needs to pay attention. It’s complicated so I won’t give more away, but know that it is classical tale of good vs evil, of greed and lust for power and of the human desire for justice. And there’s even a super weapon, which makes the book a nail biter towards the end.

Thorne Moore is an exceptional writer.  With this book she delivers, as usual, a real sense of place – even without a lot of detail – and her characters are compelling. Her plot is complicated and clever and keeps the reader engrossed in the story. 

Highly recommended, and I am looking forward to the third book in the series and will go back to read the first!

Orange rose book description
Book description

Two hundred years in the future, with the Solar System in the hands of mega-corporations…
Tod Fox, commander of the Heloise, has delivered six rash volunteers to Triton, control centre of Ragnox Inc. But then he took one away again.
Now volunteers and crew face a new chapter in their lives, as human resources at the mercy of Ragnox Director, Jordan Pascal, or as allies of Pan, under Benedict Darke, the relentless enemy of the Triton regime.
Where will their allegiance lie? There is no middle ground in Arkadia. It is war. No mercy. Victory at any price.
Volume II of Salvage. Sequel to Inside Out.

AmazonUK AmazonUS

📚’In short, this is a terrific read’. Noelle reviews #HistoricalFiction The Invincible Miss Cust by @PennyHaw for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Noelle.

Noelle blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Invincible Miss Cust by Penny Haw.

The Invincible Miss Cust by Penny Haw

This is the heartwarming and remarkable story of Aleen Isabel Cust, England’s first female veterinary surgeon, and a book I thoroughly enjoyed. The author explains that while the main character is real and many of the events in her life are recorded, this is not a biography. But what she’s created is completely believable.

Aleen Cust’s first memories are of her life in Ireland with her aristocratic family. She loves their animals, especially the horses, and delights in racing and hunting on horseback with her brothers. She is also unusually educated for the time because she gets to share her brother’s tutor. But she also knows that many of the opportunities given to her brothers she can’t share because she is a girl. Nevertheless, when she first meets a veterinary surgeon, she is struck with the idea that this is what she wants to be.

When her father dies, the family has to leave Ireland for England because he had been an overseer of land owned by someone else. Leaving their beloved horses and dogs behind, Aleen vows to return once she achieves her dream.  When she tells her mother of her plans for her future, and the family, especially her mother, is appalled by the idea and emphatically forbids it, citing the shame it would bring on them.

When she meets and is drawn into a family that is friends with her own, she finds their daughter shares her same passion for her own life and career. This young woman is allowed to go hunting and will train as a nurse, and Aleen’s dream is reignited. But the only thing her overbearing mother will allow her to do is train as a nurse, which she soon finds is stultifying and stifling. Working in the city instead of the country and the patriarchal relationship between physicians and nurses makes her resentful. She quits.

After some years, the heavens align (I can’t reveal how!) and she finds a way to attend the New Veterinary College in Edinburgh, which sets her on the path to her dream but which alienates her from her family forever. The trials of school and her training thereafter make a wonderful read, but what she does with the rest of her life is nothing short of amazing.

Using available research, the author has crafted a wondrous story of Aleen’s ambition, determination against all odds, and battle for equality that is won with courage, passion and friendship. The storytelling is riveting and filled with tension. The reader is left wondering How could she have done this?  when reading about Aleen’s daily challenges and obstacles and the years it took her to accomplish her goal.

Each of the characters comes alive and the reader becomes invested in their lives as well, and one can’t help feeling the same about the dogs and horses that run through the Aleen’s life. The complexity of Aleen’s relations with various members of her family, especially her mother and older brother, is both frustrating and difficult to absorb, so different from the present day, and the reader can feel the conflict between Aleen’s loyalty and love for them and her absolute certainty that the family’s plans for her future are not something she can accept.

 The historical background of England and Ireland from the late 1800s through WWI is meticulously presented and I learned a great deal about the treatment of the horses that were central to the war. The author did considerable research on veterinary surgery of the time – I am very impressed.

In short, this is a terrific read about a woman in the trenches of the war against historical patriarchy and appallingly unequal societal norms. It is also colorful, personal and filled with warmth and passion.

I reviewed the author’s previous book, The Wilderness Between Us, and gave it five stars. The same for The Invincible Miss Cust.

Orange rose book description
Book description

Aleen Cust has big dreams and no one―not her family, society, or the law―will stop her.

Born in Ireland in 1868 to an aristocratic English family, Aleen knows she is destined to work with animals, even if her family is appalled by the idea of a woman pursuing a veterinary career. Going against their wishes but with the encouragement of the guardian assigned to her upon her father’s death, Aleen attends the New Veterinary College in Edinburgh, enrolling as A. I. Custance to spare her family the humiliation they fear. At last, she is on her way to becoming a veterinary surgeon! Little does she know her biggest obstacles lie ahead.

The Invincible Miss Cust is based on the real life of Aleen Isabel Cust, who defied her family and society to become Britain and Ireland’s first woman veterinary surgeon. Through Penny Haw’s meticulous research, riveting storytelling, and elegant prose, Aleen’s story of ambition, determination, family, friendship, and passion comes to life. It is a story that, even today, women will recognize, of battling patriarchy and an unequal society to realize one’s dreams and pave the way for other women in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

📚A Serial Killer Comes Back From The Dead. @NAGrangerAuthor reviews Haloed by @SueColetta1 for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Noelle.

Noelle blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Noelle has been reading Haloed by Sue Coletta.

Book cover for Haloed by Sue Coletta set against a free photo of balloons form Pixabay.
Haloed by Sue Coletta

This is the second book I’ve read by this author – the first was Pretty Evil New England and not part of the Grafton County series — so really my first foray into her murder/thriller stories.  I have to admit, this author knows how to create tension and keep you turning the pages.

Eight years ago, a serial killer attacked Sage Quintano and she lived. The killer died that year. In present day Alexandria, New Hampshire, where Sage lives with her sheriff husband, a string of gruesome murders occurs with the traits of that serial killer: red and pink balloons and victims staged to resemble dead angels. The problem is, Sage can’t convince her husband that the serial killer really didn’t die and that he’s come back to get her – his only victim that he didn’t kill.  Even when a red balloon appeared out of nowhere in her bedroom. Even when two pink balloons are tied to a tree in her yard. Even when she is framed for the latest killing and taken into custody by the state police.

Sage is now a writer and the stay-at-home mother of a toddler son, still guarded by the dog that was shot protecting her eight years before. She is also suffering from severe rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, which leaves her weakened and in pain much of the time. How will she find the strength to face the Romeo Killer, who is frightening her with these murders. Is this a lead-up to his enjoyment of killing her?

I appreciated the chapters that were devoted to the mind of the killer. They explain a lot of the why of what was happening and revealed what a sick individual he is, truly a loathsome individual!

The characters in the book are very well drawn and enjoyable with their quirks and contributions: Niko, Sage’s strong and loving husband; Frankie, his number one deputy and a hot tomato; even the dogs have great personalities. The dialogue is fun and believable, and Sage is the prototypical hero – smart, quick-thinking, determined and strong despite her physical weakness.

The author has done her research, which permeates the book, and the twists and turns are very creative and unanticipated. And the tension! I don’t think I’ve read another author in this genre who can maintain and ramp up tension like Sue Coletta.

If there was one drawback to this book, it was the occasional lengths of ‘telling’ about the forensics, Roman calendar and numerology. Even in conversations, these explanation seem very long and I wonder if this would detract for the usual reader.

Haloed was, nevertheless, an enjoyable and at-the-edge of your seat read, and I recommend it as the latest in the long line of Sue Coletta’s rich thrillers.  

Orange rose book description
Book description

She may be paranoid, but is she right?

A string of gruesome murders rocks the small town of Alexandria, New Hampshire, with all the victims staged to resemble dead angels, and strange red and pink balloons appearing out of nowhere.

All the clues point to the Romeo Killer’s return. Except one: he died eight years ago.

Paranoid and on edge, Sage’s theory makes no sense. Dead serial killers don’t rise from the grave. Yet she swears he’s here, hungering for the only angel to slip through his grasp—Sage.

With only hours left to live, how can Sage convince her Sheriff husband before the sand in her hourglass runs out?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

🕵🏻‍♀️#CrimeFiction Noelle Reviews Easy Street – The Reluctant Hustler Book #3 by J Gregory Smith for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Noelle.

Noelle blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Noelle has been reading Easy Street – The Reluctant Hustler Book 3 by J Gregory Smith

Book cover for crime fiction, Easy Street by J Gregory Smith, set against a picture of a street lamp from a free photo from Pixabay.
Easy Street by J Gregory Smith

Although this can be a stand-alone novel, I reread the first chapter trying to make sense of place and past events. I think a clear intro or prologue would have helped my confusion or perhaps a directive to read the previous two books first.

The story, as I perceive it: Kyle Logan is the unwitting inheritor of a dubious business, shady contacts, and a house following the death of his friend Ryan.  Two years later Kyle has divested himself of most of that part of that business involving illegal hustles and is now the head of a company called Global Imported Crafts, a legitimate business run out of the city’s port and managed by Ali. In addition he has become the de facto leader of a band of misfits. Together they work just outside the law to help people who have nowhere else to turn, which means they occasionally work with the city’s Irish mob to get things done. This involves favors. Every favor Kyle calls in results in yet another obligation, at a time when he is trying to rebuild his life and go legit.

The characters are well enough described: Sandy, Kyle’s girlfriend is a physical therapist; Rollie is a retired Marine sniper; and VP is a super hacker. The reader is introduced to how this group works when they are asked by Sandy to do something about crooked lawyer Clark LeSuer, who has been fleecing customers out of their lawsuit settlements, one of whom is her client.  Then Charlie and William O’ Brien enter the scene – two Irish thugs who are being squeezed by arch villain Milosh, head of an Albanian mob that is trying to take over the O’Brien’s territory. Kyle owes the O’Briens, but this time he may be in over his head, trying to help with too few hands on deck.

Caught between the two warring gangs, Kyle and his merry band face seemingly unsurmountable obstacles, and there is lots of lots of action, often violent. Background details are minimal but sufficient and carry the story. The only thing I found a little over the top were the names the gang assumed during an operation. They seemed more childish than integral.

Nevertheless, I did enjoy the read, after I’d parsed the story. It does not lack for action and clever plot twists. This yarn will definitely appeal to men who enjoy the crime genre. I’m not so sure about women.

Orange rose book description
Book description

Walking the Tightrope
Nearly two years after the death of his friend, Ryan, Kyle Logan finds himself the unlikely leader of a group of misfits who operate outside the law as they target crooks and scammers. In the past, Kyle had to rely on his friend’s shady contacts just to survive violent competitors and complete prior deals.
Now he’s starting to realize that these connections earn him power and respect but also drag him deeper into the life. Every favor he receives comes with strings and cutting those strings usually involves fresh obligations.
In order to help others who have nowhere else to turn, Kyle sometimes works with criminals like the Philly Irish Mob but he tries to avoid getting involved with the gangster’s more intense activities.
When not running his hustles, Kyle has taken the opportunity to leverage his connections to finance and acquire a legitimate (if dull) import facility at the Port of Philadelphia. The port represents a great opportunity to rebuild his life but he’s about to learn the hard way that shady friends come with enemies who see Kyle as one more obstacle to be crushed.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

📚1950 London. Noelle Reviews Post-War Fiction The Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT.

Today’s team review is from Noelle

Noelle blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner.

Book cover for post war fiction Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner, set against a black and white picture of a vintage book store from a free photo from Pixabay
Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

This is the second book by Natalie Jenner, the first – The Jane Austin Society — having received much critical acclaim. I haven’t read that book, but based on the publicity expected something special.

The year is 1950, and the feminist movement is just beginning.

Bloomsbury Books in London has existed as a store for both new and rare books for over a hundred years. Little has changed in the running of the store, with men in leadership positions and women employees living under their rules. Fifty one unbreakable rules generated by the general manager. The chapters are organized by a rule heading, and perhaps that is why the book begins so slowly and plods along for a good while.

The story concerns three women who work in the store. Vivian Lowry is highly intelligent, creative and stylish. Her plan is to become the Head of Fiction, for which she has new ideas. Fiction is currently run by Alec McDonough, who rules the book choices with an old-fashioned hand, and with whom she had a night of passion early in her employment.

Grace Perkins is married with two sons and a husband basically unemployable because of PTSD caused by his service in WWII. Thus as secretary to the store’s general manager, she is the breadwinner of the family and her family lives more or less hand to mouth. She would like nothing better than to move to the front of the store from her place in his office.

Evie Stone is the subject of the prologue and was a character in the author’s first book. She is a member of the first class of female students at Cambridge permitted to earn a graduate degree, but she was denied an academic position because of the male chauvinism of the faculty. Without the possibility of entrance to academia, she is lucky to land a position at Bloomsbury Books, based on her experience in cataloguing a library donated to Cambridge. She is fascinated with the writing of late eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century women writers and longs to have a real career, rather than cataloguing the thousand plus rare books at the store.

These three characters are very well drawn, as well as the male characters: Lord Baskin, the earl who owns the bookshop, the general manager Mr. Dutton and his partner Frank Allen, and Alec McDonough. The reader will follow the developments in their lives, especially when the general manager leaves his position, unfortunately only temporarily, which allows the women to take on new and leadership roles. These women have to work within the complex web of relationships that keep the bookstore running. Despite the male hierarchy and their different lifestyles and circumstances, their goal is to create for themselves a richer and more rewarding future.

The author cleverly has them interacting with various famous literary figures and publishers of the time – Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others.

There is mystery and there is romance, but this reader found that despite her interest in the book, the pace was a problem to be reckoned with. The topic of feminism became preachy at times, another aspect that did not appeal, and I wasn’t really sure where the story (ies) were going from chapter to chapter. Thus I was somewhat underwhelmed by this read, especially given the hype preceding its release. .

Nevertheless, on balance, this is a good, solid novel and one which should appeal to many different readers, especially women with a background in the history of literature and a penchant for great character development and for stories of women pulling themselves up in the world.

Orange rose book description
Book description

The internationally bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society returns with a compelling and heartwarming story of post-war London, a century-old bookstore, and three women determined to find their way in a fast-changing world.

Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare book store that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager’s unbreakable fifty-one rules. But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:

Vivien Lowry: Single since her aristocratic fiance was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances – most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.

Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she’s been working to support the family following her husband’s breakdown in the aftermath of the war. Torn between duty to her family and dreams of her own.

Evie Stone: In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she’s working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.

As they interact with various literary figures of the time – Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others – these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

📚Set in France in 1969. Noelle reviews #Histfic Lake Of Echoes by @LizaPerrat, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Noelle.

Noelle blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Noelle has been reading Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat.

Book cover for Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat
Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat

Juliette lives with her father, Bruno, and her mother, Lea. Her father is headmaster at a local school, and her mother runs L’Auberge de Lea, where they live, together with her father’s mother. The marriage is gradually falling apart, both from Bruno’s apparent infidelity and also Lea’s laser focus running on the auberge, which takes all her time and most of her attention.  The mother-in-law contributes to the turmoil by her unquestioning support of everything her son does and her unending criticism of Lea.

Juliette is witness to the arguments and frequently flees the house to get away from the ugliness. One day she does not return. Neighbors and people from the nearby village are organized into search parties led a local gendarme, who at first thinks Juliette will come home. At time goes by, Lea is tormented by thoughts of what has happened to her daughter but by necessity must continue to run the auberge and face the pity of the villagers. Her sister and her neighbors, one of whom is a self-proclaimed psychic, are her only support.

As the seasons pass, Lea’s despair deepens and Bruno finally moves out, leaving his wife for the teacher with whom Lea thought he was having an affair. The reader is introduced to various men in the village, raising one question after another about who took Juliette. The author creates various paths that never seem to lead to the perpetrator!

Liza Perrat can create complex and compelling characters, and she definitely does here. The reader is privy to the mind of an eight-year-old, to the feckless Bruno, to the apparently tireless and but always prim and proper mother-in-law, and to the mad workings of the mind of Juliette’s captor. You are drawn into Lea’s anguish over her lost child, which only strengthens as time passes. She is willing, as any mother would, to hold onto any sliver of hope, no matter how tenuous, despite the months passing, and the additional impact of the breakup of her marriage. Her inner strength is remarkable. The author truly understand her characters.

This emotional tension is set against the colorful local traditions of rural France, the workings of the auberge, and sumptuous description of the changing seasons around the lake which it overlooks.  And since this in an auberge, there is always tempting French cuisine, the descriptions of which made me dig out my French cookbooks.

Orange rose book description
Book description

A vanished daughter. A failing marriage. A mother’s life in ruins.
1969. As France seethes in the wake of social unrest, eight-year-old Juliette is caught up in the turmoil of her parents’ fragmenting marriage.
Unable to bear another argument, she flees her home.
Neighbours joining the search for Juliette are stunned that such a harrowing thing could happen in their tranquil lakeside village.
But this is nothing compared to her mother, Lea’s torment, imagining what has befallen her daughter.
Léa, though, must remain strong to run her auberge and as the seasons pass with no news from the gendarmes, she is forced to accept she may never know her daughter’s fate.
Despite the villagers’ scepticism, Léa’s only hope remains with a clairvoyant who believes Juliette is alive.
But will mother and daughter ever be reunited?
Steeped in centuries-old tradition, against an enchanting French countryside backdrop, Lake of Echoes will delight your senses and captivate your heart.

Universal link: mybook.to/LakeofEchoesEbook

⚓’From his days as an impoverished law student to the lively and glittering court of Elizabeth I.’ Noelle reviews #Tudor #Histfic Raleigh by @tonyriches, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Noelle.

Noelle blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Noelle has been reading Raleigh by Tony Riches.

Book cover for Raleigh: Tudor Adventurer by Tony Riches
Raleigh: Tudor Adventurer by Tony Riches

I was first introduced to Tony Riches when I read his Tudor Trilogy, about the founding and growth of the Tudor family. With his latest series – the Elizabethans – he populates the Elizabethan court with some of the outstanding characters of the day. The first book had the reader sailing with Sir Francis Drake, the second in the middle of rebellion with Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. In this book, the reader accompanies Sir Walter Raleigh (or Rawley as he was earlier called) from his days as an impoverished law student to the lively and glittering court of Elizabeth I. He doesn’t dance or joust, doesn’t come from a noble family, nor marry into one. He just has an overweening ambition to be a courtier, to wear the rich clothes, and to have the ear of the Queen.

Raleigh is an adventurer from the start, taking part in the religious civil wars in France in his late teens, then in the suppression of a rebellion in Ireland. Raleigh proceeds to finish his education in the Inns of the Court and then is admitted to Middle Temple, which is one of the four Inns of the Court exclusively entitling him as a member of the English Bar as a barrister. He has absolutely no interest in the law and decides he can most easily attain his goals by adventure and piracy. With financial backing from his family – his cousin Sir Richard Grenville and a younger half-brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert – he opts for sea-going adventures to fill his coffers with Spain’s gold, along with those of the Queen, in an attempt to get her attention. He is successful enough to become one of the principal landowners and colonists in Munster, Ireland, for seventeen years. His Irish estates ran into difficulties that contributed to a decline in his fortunes, but he finally becomes a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I because of his efforts at increasing the Protestant Church in Ireland. In 1585, Raleigh is knighted by Queen Elizabeth, whose ear he did have from time to time. She grants Raleigh a royal charter authorizing him to explore, colonize and rule any heathen lands in the New World, in return for one-fifth of all the gold and silver that might be mined there.Most of us know the story of Raleigh in the New World and the lost colonists of Roanoke. No gold and silver are found by the expeditions he funded, but he himself leads expeditions to the Orinoco river basin in South America in search of the golden city of El Dorado, which he never finds.

The author has done an amazing amount of research to bring the people in Raleigh’s circle to life and to let the reader experience the highs and lows of his time at court, and his longer time away from it. Raleigh loved Queen Elizabeth and his choice of his life’s paths are always made with her in mind, to the detriment of himself and his family. Riches introduces such notable nobles as Sir Francis Walsingham and the poet Edmund Spenser, and sets the years of Raleigh’s life against an authentic backdrop of the Court, its unending intrigues, and the history of the time. The clothing, food, and customs do not elude the author’s attention, so the reader becomes embedded in the times.

The book ends with the death of Elizabeth, and perhaps that is for the best because the remaining years of Raleigh’s life under the rule of James I were unfortunate. The reader is left with the image of a man who seeks adventure – who, despite or perhaps because of his lowly origins, is determined and focused in his pursuit of wealth and a courtier’s life – and who is also in love with his Queen.

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

Orange rose book description
Book description

Tudor adventurer, courtier, explorer and poet, Sir Walter Raleigh has been called the last true Elizabethan.

He didn’t dance or joust, didn’t come from a noble family, or marry into one. So how did an impoverished law student become a favourite of the queen, and Captain of the Guard?

The story which began with the Tudor trilogy follows Walter Raleigh from his first days at the Elizabethan Court to the end of the Tudor dynasty.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS