‘A lighter styled mystery story.’ Robbie reviews Billy Bean’s Ghost by John York, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Robbie has been reading Billy Bean’s Ghost by John York.

I chose to read this book because I was attracted to the blurb which made it sound like a fun and light hearted read. I was not disappointed. Although this is a murder mystery novella it is told in a delightfully enjoyable manner.

Billy Bean is a young man who has been disappointed by life. His father died in a nasty work accident when he was young and his mother is over-bearing and a bit clingy. Billy flung himself into his music and piano playing as a way of dealing with his grief over his father unexpected death. When he failed to gain acceptance to a well known music school, he’s life fell apart and he spiraled into a depression. He undertook tertiary training in finance and is working as a bank teller at the beginning of the story. He finds the work mundane and unrewarding, but it pays his bills and allows him to live in a small apartment attached to a large and empty manor house.

In exchange for a reduced rental, Billy is responsible for looking over the house on a weekly basis to ensure there are no issues that require attention. The house is creepy as most of the furniture is covered with sheeting and some of the rooms are locked. Billy discovers a beautiful piano in one of the rooms and is drawn to it. He succumbs to temptation and starts playing the piano. Before long, Billy starts hearing a voice in his head asking him for help.

Naturally, Billy thinks he is having some sort of break down and he seeks medical assistance from a newly establish psychiatrist, Abigail Applebee. Gradually, it becomes clear to them both that something strange is going on in the manor house and the pair set out to unravel the mystery together.

I enjoyed the character of Billy Bean and felt sorry for the disappointment he had suffered. He was a kind soul and just needed a break to come out of his shell and show his true colours. His romance with Abigail, who sees past his shyness to the lovely person inside, is sweet and feel-good.

Abbie and Billy’s romance and the unravelling of the mystery of the mysterious voice go hand in hand and lead to a lot of personal development by Billy. His relationship with Abbie, who has been neglected by both her parents her whole life, gives him a new perspective on his own relationship with his mother and he comes to appreciate how much she cares for him. Abbie also helps him to take a step towards reigniting his musical career by performing for his mother and her neighbours.

This is an entertaining book and the author’s style of writing is interesting and enjoyable. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy a lighter styled mystery story.

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Billy Bean lives alone in the small attic apartment of an old, unoccupied mansion. His cheap rent is subsidized by an agreement to watch over the place while the owner is away. A bank teller and chronic introvert, Billy’s life is one boring, mind-numbing day after another. Since the age of four, at the exclusion of all the normal social interaction of activities other children his age enjoyed, he worked toward becoming a concert pianist. But, at age 18, after the horrific death of his father and then a rejection from the San Francisco Music Conservatory, Billy had plunged into a deep depression. He no longer felt the passion, the drive, or the need to play the piano, so he quit.
During his weekly inspections of the old mansion, Billy discovers a treasure, a beautiful Steinway concert grand piano. He is so inspired by the magnificent instrument that he tentatively begins playing again, but there is a slight catch. Each time he plays this marvelous piano, he hears an imploring voice inside his head.
The mysterious voice compels Billy to visit psychiatrist, Abigale Applebee, who agrees to help him sort out what kind of mental health problem he’s experiencing. They soon discover the voice is not the result of a psychosis, but rather something far more sinister. Led by the voice, Abby and Billy unexpectedly uncover the horrific secrets of a long-forgotten cellar below the house. But who is going to believe them?

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‘This series has a lot of potential’. Robbie reviews #Histfic The Winds Of Morning by @AuthorGMacShane

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Robbie has been reading The Winds Of Morning by Gifford MacShane

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This story is set in Ireland during the potato famine. Molly O’Brien and her two brother have been left orphans following the deaths of their parents. Molly has taken her father’s job and is working to build a road in order to try and feed her brothers. The road goes no-where, and is merely a ploy by the authorities to force the starving Irish to work for their money in accordance with the mindset of the day. Her job as a stone breaker doesn’t bring in enough money to feed them and they are all in a bad way.

In desperation, Molly is in the process of making a decision to become a prostitute in order to feed her brothers, when a young man from a wealthy family, John Patrick, sees her. He intervenes to save Molly who he believes is planning to commit suicide. Molly is incredibly attractive, despite her circumstances and starvation and John Patrick chooses to save her and her brothers by marrying her.

His choice and Molly’s decision go ahead with a marriage to a stranger she does not love, changes the paths of both of their lives.

I have read other stories about the Irish famine and found them equally compelling to this book, however, this short story really charmed me. The author writes beautifully and the story has some nice and happy parts which offer relief from the horror of this historical era.

John Patrick is an honorable and upstanding fellow and despite his actions requiring a little suspension of belief due to their selflessness, he is a delightful character.

A lovely and entertaining short story. This series has a lot of potential and I would certainly be interested in reading more about these characters.

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1848: the third year the potato crop failed in Ireland. The Protestant landlords have absconded back to Britain, leaving the Catholic peasants to fend for themselves, while the English government allowed the export of tens of thousands of tons of Irish food daily.

With two younger brothers to feed, Molly O’Brien took her father’s place on the road gang, building a road that runs from her tiny village to the river and no farther. Yet sixteen hours of labor a day would not garner enough wages to buy food for her family.

She was beyond despair. Beyond prayer. And so far beyond the tenets of her childhood, she’d decided to offer her body to the first man with the price of a loaf of bread. At that moment, a voice behind her spoke…

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‘Based on the concept of humanoids with artificial intelligence’. Robbie reviews #scifi The Doll by Laura Daleo, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Robbie has been reading The Doll by Laura Daleo

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The Doll is based on the concept of humanoids with artificial intelligence who are capable of perfectly imitating human behaviour and emotions. Jeremy has recently lost his fiancé in a car accident. He is wracked by guilt about Jenna’s death because he asked her to drive to his home late at night, knowing she was tired. The fact that he asked her to do this is an early indication of Jeremy’s character which is a bit spoiled and selfish. Jeremy has a successful career as a restorer of properties which he acquires at good prices due to their run-down states, and sells at significant profits.

Jeremy is wallowing in self pity and has started drinking heavily when he is approached by a man in a bar and given a card for The Dollmaker who, the stranger assures him, can help him overcome his grief. He decides to go ahead and make contact with the company and is introduced to the idea of replacing Jenna with a doll. The doll has artificial intelligence and will be capable of interacting with the outside world in the same way as a human would. It will be programmed as a replica of his dead fiancé, although it would be built to look a bit different so as not to raise unnecessary questions. Jeremy will pass the doll off as his new girlfriend.

Jeremy orders the doll, an expensive piece of electronic equipment, based on the specs he is given by the company. It did require a bit of suspension of belief to accept that a young man would actually think he could replace his girlfriend with a machine and, having received the humanoid, almost immediately substitute his affection for his real life girlfriend with affection for a doll.

The humanoid that Jeremy receives is not a run-of-the-mill specimen. Carley has a greater ability than the other humanoid dolls to make decisions based on her experiences and learnings. She has unusual physical strength and abilities and has more human-like emotions. Jeremy quickly becomes devoted to Carley, the doll, and when it becomes apparent that people are hunting for her, he choses to oppose them and behaves as if Carley is a real person.

The story is entertaining, if a little unbelievable, and the idea of a humanoid like Carley is rather thrilling. Jeremy comes across as a bit wishy-washy and overly reliant on Carley to make any decisions and find ways to protect them both.

I think this concept is to complex for a novella and needs a longer book to develop the ideas more fully, both in the context of storyline and from a character development point of view.

A fun and quick read which will be enjoyed by readers who like a fast-paced plot with less characterisation and detail.

3 stars

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In the wake of Jenna Hess’ sudden death, Jeremy Dillon is devastated. His only hope of easing the pain lies in alcohol…until he meets The Dollmaker.
Meet CR1XY, the Dollmaker’s Elite doll, created especially for Jeremy. But is she?

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‘An entertaining way to learn more about this time period.’ Robbie reviews Spanish Civil War adventure The Exhumation by @nfpadron for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Robbie has been reading The Exhumation by Nick Padron

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The Exhumation is an exciting adventure, overlaid with a romance, set in war torn Spain during the civil war of 1937. This is not a period of history I know a lot about so I was keen to read this book and learn more.

Three Americans, an ex-military ‘hired gun’ nicknamed The Major, his interpreter and ‘right hand man’ who goes by the pseudonym of John and an older individual, Mr Jordan, travel to Spain to bring back the body of a young American, Robert Jordan, who has been killed in the fighting. His wealthy parents are prepared to pay a great deal of money for the return of their son’s body and have sent his uncle along to make any necessary payments to ensure it happens. The information the three men have to work with is scanty, but meetings have been arranged with people who know him to enable their investigation.

John is concerned that they will run into trouble going behind the enemy lines in Spain, but The Major is confident that with the help of a few locals, he and John can successfully find the corpse and bring it back to Madrid, and from there back to the US.

During their brief stay in Madrid, prior to the expedition into enemy territory, John meets a lovely young woman called Maripaz. He spends two evening with her and becomes emotionally attached. He resolves to persuade her to leave Spain and return with him to the US after the job is done.

The pursuit of the body and John’s romance entwine beautiful to create and interesting and exciting storyline.

The Major is a strong character who, despite being unorthodox and quite brutal in his methods, is able to put on a good show of being an amiable and likeable personality. He is driven by personal gain and is prepared to go to extreme lengths to obtain the money he has been promised for the return of Robert Jordan’s body. He is exposed as being unethical and ruthless in his behaviour with little consideration for consequences or respect for the lives of others. Despite his character flaws, he is held in high regard by John whom he saved from a difficult and life threatening situation.

John is a conflicted person who has become attached to The Major whom he treats like a replacement father. He comes across as a person who is searching for love and affection and quite easily falls under the spell of Maripaz, a nice woman from a good family. He quickly escalates their brief affair into the great love of his life and becomes quite obsessed with her. The romance is a branch of the main adventure, but it is important to the way the entire novel plays out.

The history is nicely woven into the novel and this book is an entertaining way to learn more about this time period. All in, an interesting and entertaining read.

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In the fall of 1937, besieged Madrid lies in near ruins, its people struggling under nightly bombardments. Into this uncertain world, enter three Americans assigned with the task to find and exhume the remains of Robert Jordan – a member of the International Brigade killed in action –and bring him home for proper burial in the States. They are Jordan’s uncle and the two-man team hired for the job: the amoral but winsome Major Williamson and their interpreter, John, who tells us the story of how one man’s greed-driven final act becomes another man’s shot at redemption.

Set over the course of three days, amid vivid depictions of wartime Madrid, we follow the team through the violent drama that surrounds Robert Jordan’s exhumation, the human cost of the undertaking, and then John’s Maripaz’s, the beautiful piano teacher he meets during an artillery attack, fateful escape from Madrid. More than a tale of action and suspense set in a world at war, THE EXHUMATION is a story about the meaning of loyalty, of love and loss and, finally, the unending search for a lasting ideal.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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A Story Of Bravery During A Dark Time In History. @bakeandwrite Reviews #WW2 #Histfic Over The Hedge by @MahurinPaulette

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Robbie has been reading Over The Hedge by Paulette Mahurin

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When I saw the blurb of this book, I knew I had to read it. I am fascinated by books set during periods of war and am especially interested in how war impacts on the civilian populations in war torn countries.

Over the Hedge is a book that explores the horror of WWII and how the Nazi occupation impacted on the population of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It explores the psychology of various people and demonstrates how fear can tear societies apart and cause women fearing for the lives of their own children to perform the heinous act of handing Jewish relatives, including small babies, over to the Nazis, knowing they were destined for deportation to camps. I think this aspect of this book is closest to my heart as I consider the internal conflict of such women and wonder what I would do in a similar situation. I hope I would behave better than they did, but it eats at my mind.

The story centres around the true facts of a trio of members of the Dutch resistance who worked with other brave men and women to save 600 small children from the concentration camps. These three people from vastly different backgrounds were Walter Süskind, a German Jew living in the Netherlands, Henriëtte Pimentel, a Sephardic Jew, and Johan van Hulst, the principal of a Christian college.

Walter works for the Hollandsche Schouwburg deportation centre for Dutch Jews which is situated across the street from the daycare operated by Henriëtte. The Christian college is located next door to the day care. The Jewish families arriving at the deportation centre are separated from their children who are sent across the street to the day care for the night. Walter finds a way of altering the arrivals records of selected small children who are then smuggled ‘over the hedge’ to the college where they are taken, at great personal risk, by various students and other resistance members to Dutch families willing to care for these children. The author provides some details on a few of the children and the sad state they arrive in which makes the drama and emotion of the story much more intense.

One such child was Aviva, a two-and-a-half-year-old girl who is deaf and mute. This is a short extract:
“”Aviva …,” Johan let out a chuckle, “laughed.”
“Laughed? But she’s mute-“
“Yes. She’s quite expressive with bodily motions. Silent laughter, a new one on me. Kaat too.”
“Well, that’s good, she’s adjusting, but … it seems unusual she didn’t act fearful.”
“The affectionate dedication of a good mother can do wonders,” said Johan. “The mother must have been an extraordinarily loving women.”

Walter is a scared, worn-out shell of a man, whose own wife and daughter are in hiding in a Dutch resistance member household. He has to deal with the Nazis who are fearful of their own positions and lives and take their anger out on the Jews in the deportation centre, and later anywhere they find hidden Jews. Despite his own personal fear, Walter manages to bring some comfort to the Jewish mothers and fathers in the centre and ask their permission to help their babies. Walter lives for the babies he is able to help save. The strain on him in his untenable position as part of the conduit between life and death for the deportees wears him down over the course of the book, but Walter shows extraordinary determination and tenacity in helping save the children.

Henriëtte is also an extraordinary woman, who does a lot to uplift the spirits of the Jewish workers at the daycare and also Walter. She is a woman of excellent insight and is able to judge character when Walter’s abilities falter. Her kind and loving nature made her story all the more sad and poignant.

Johan was a brave man, who put himself at risk to help save others. I think this is the height of bravery; to act when you are afraid and do what you believe to be right. Without all three of these dedicated and selfless people, the 600 children who were passed ‘over the fence’ would have died.

Aside from Johan, there were many other Dutch people who contributed to the rescue operation and their actions gave me some comfort that even in the most terrible situations, the good in many people still comes to the fore and all is not lost because of it.

This is a very compelling story and is one that everyone should read to ensure that mankind remembers and takes steps to ensure this history is never repeated. Congratulations to the author on an excellent and well researched book.

Desc 1

During one of the darkest times in history, at the height of the German occupation of the Netherlands in 1943, members of the Dutch resistance began a mission to rescue Jewish children from the deportation center in Amsterdam. Heading the mission were Walter Süskind, a German Jew living in the Netherlands, Henriëtte Pimentel, a Sephardic Jew, and Johan van Hulst, principal of a Christian college. As Nazis rounded up Jewish families at gunpoint, the three discreetly moved children from the deportation center to the daycare across the street and over the backyard hedge to the college next door. From the college, the children were transported to live with Dutch families. Working against irate orders from Hitler to rid the Netherlands of all Jews and increasing Nazi hostilities on the Resistance, the trio worked tirelessly to overcome barriers. Ingenious plans were implemented to remove children’s names from the registry of captured Jews. To sneak them out of the college undetected past guards patrolling the deportation center. To meld them in with their new families to avoid detection. Based on actual events, Over the Hedge is the story of how against escalating Nazi brutality when millions of Jews were disposed of in camps, Walter Süskind, Henriëtte Pimentel, and Johan van Hulst worked heroically with the Dutch resistance to save Jewish children. But it is not just a story of their courageous endeavors. It is a story of the resilience of the human spirit. Of friendship and selfless love. The love that continues on in the hearts of over six hundred Dutch Jewish children.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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‘Full Of Mystery And Imagination.’ Robbie Reviews #Ya #Fantasy Bloodstone by @Marjorie_Mallon #TuesdayBookBlog

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Robbie has been reading Bloodstone by MJ Mallon

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Bloodstone is a fascinating book, beautifully written and full of mystery and imagination.

Amelina is a sixteen year old girl who is caught in a cycle of unhappiness. Her happy family life changed on her thirteen birthday. She can’t remember the details but “[her] mind, resurrecting buried memories from [her] thirteenth birthday: an imprint on glass, a charades card, and a young man’s beguiling voice bewitching [her].” Since that dreadful night when her father disappeared and returned months later an altered man, whose youth had been stolen, Amelina has been sad. Her mother changed on that day and became a harridan who works all the time and who cannot ever be pleased.

Amelina’s only ‘friends’ in her own home are self-harming Esme, an ex-school colleague who seemed to have the perfect life but is now trapped behind the mirrors in Amalina’s family home, and Shadow, her creepy black cat. Amelina does have some strong friendships outside of her home which are her saving grace.

The story starts with Amelina receiving a strange invitation to visit the mythical Crystal Cottage. On the same day, while out for a walk to think about this unusual invitation, she meets the mysterious and handsome Ryder to whom she is instantly attracted.

These two events trigger an unusual adventure where Amelina must take certain actions in order to save her father and restore the happiness of her family.

I enjoyed the character of Amelina. She had a troubled and difficult life with her disapproving mother and elderly and convalescent father. She just want’s her life to return to how it was before and she knows that her lot in life is poor compared to her best friends. I admired Amelina for being sensible and seeing the reality of her relationship with Ryder, despite her anguished state of mind and intense attraction to the man. I think this shows great strength of character and sends an excellent message to YA female readers of this book. I also liked the fact that Amelina looked for solutions to her problems and actively sought happiness. These are all positive characteristics.

Amelina has a gift for art and is given a magic art set by her aunt. The scenes involving Amelina painting with this gift are among my favorite in the book.

The following extract demonstrates the energy and mystery of the painting:

“As I dipped the brush into the paint, a gripping sensation overcame me. I painted in haste with a multitude of dissolving crystal paint flecks staring back at me from the canvas. A dark grey, bluish black, sinister tinge blemished the artwork. Shares of varying hues moved across the painting, competing for supremacy in a powerful duality of light and darkness.”

Ryder was a dark character and that was evident form his first encounter with Amelina. It was satisfyingly for me that Amelina did not succumb to his charms in a completely thoughtless and silly way. She kept her head and assessed Ryder’s behaviour even though it hurt her to do so.

The self harm references could be a trigger for some young readers, but they are skillfully and carefully handled so I think it is unlikely to cause distress. They are more likely to provide comfort, but that is just my opinion and I haven’t had any dealings with the victims of self harming.

An excellent and engrossing read and one I recommend to young adult and adult readers alike. 

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I didn’t think my life could get weirder, but I was wrong…

Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who is imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house.

When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden path where she encounters Ryder: a charismatic, perplexing stranger.

With the help of a magical paint set and some crystal wizard stones, can Amelina discover the truth about her family?

A unique, imaginative mystery full of magic-wielding and dark elements, Bloodstone is a riveting adventure for anyone interested in fantasy, mythology or the world of the paranormal.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Loss Of A Loved One. @bakeandwrite reviews Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance by @LGauffreau

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Robbie has been reading Grief Songs: Poems Of Remembrance by Elizabeth Gauffreau

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Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance is an emotional depiction of the poet’s family and life told mainly through tanka poems linked to a specific family photograph. The collections starts with a poignant and beautiful trilogy of poems dedicated to the poet’s father and mother, both of whom have passed from this mortal life.

For me, the first poem was particularly striking as it demonstrated so much insight into the human understanding of death and the difference between a child’s perception of its permanence and that of an adult.

Each of the tanka poem takes a small step forward in the lives of the poet’s direct family and tells a story of love, life, and experience. Although, as the name of the collection suggests, each poem is tinged with the sadness of loss, they are also coloured with the joy of lives well spent.

This book is a quick read, approximately an hour, but it will leave you viewing grief differently and reflecting for a long time afterwards.

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When a loved one dies, the family will often turn to the photograph albums as an act of solace, to keep their loved one with them just a little while longer, Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance arose from that experience. The collection opens with three free verse expressions of raw grief, followed by a series of photographs from the author’s family album, each paired with a poem written in tanka. Taken together, they tell the story of a loving family lost.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #RomanticSuspence The SEAL’s Temptation by @JacqBiggar

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Robbie has been reading The SEAL’s Tempation by Jacquie Biggar

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I have read and enjoyed other books by Jacquie Biggar but this is the first book I’ve read in this series. I did not find it difficult to become engaged in this story despite not having read the previous books. Sufficient detail was skilfully woven into this story to provide the background I needed to enjoy this book.

DEA agent, Maggie Holt, is trying to recover from the trauma of being held captive and suffering on-going abuse in the hands of a Mexican drug cartel. Maggie had gone underground in an attempt to crack the case without the blessing of her boss when she was captured. She is now struggling to recover from anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder combined with guilt at her own perceived failure and the danger she’d unintentionally placed her colleagues in when they had to rescue her. She is on paid leave and is recuperating with the rest of her team at the ranch of Frank Stein, one of her rescuers. Frank is retired but had joined the mission to help rescue Maggie.

It is not peaceful in the area where the ranch is located. Shot up signs and dead livestock point to the existence of a gang of troublemakers.

This book is more of a thriller, in my view, than a romance although it has a few strong romantic threads which make the characters more real and interesting. There is lots of action intertwined with Maggie and Frank’s growing attraction and interest in each other and Adam’s, Maggie’s partner’s, interest in their good looking boss, Amanda.

I liked Frank Stein very much, he was a determined and strong personality with a heart of gold. Maggie is also a strong woman and is able to control her PTSD symptoms and help her team when the need arises.

This book will appeal to readers who like an interesting plot, engaging characters, and emotion which is real and convincing.

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DEA agent Maggie Holt has been through hell and back.

After eighteen months undercover in a Mexican cartel, Maggie is broken. The kickass agent she once was, is gone, leaving her riddled with guilt and nightmares. Forced to take paid leave, Maggie accepts the offer of a vacation on the ranch of the man who’d rescued her from an almost certain death.

Frank Stein knows the signs of PTSD, he’d suffered the symptoms himself as Chief Petty Officer of SEAL Team Five. Honorably retired from duty, Frank has found peace at the family ranch and hopes it will do the same for Magdalena. Ever since he’d first met her when she was interrogating his buddy, Jared, Frank has been fascinated by the raven-haired beauty and wants the chance to see where their relationship could go.

Adam O’Connor is Maggie’s partner. He knows her. He loved her once and could again, if she’d let him in. But he’s also angry she took the chances she did by going undercover against orders. And now, things are different. She’s different.

When a right-wing group infiltrates the area, will Maggie, Adam, and Frank be able to set aside their differences to stop them before someone dies? And who will Maggie choose, the handsome cowboy, or her charismatic DEA partner?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Art #Mystery LOST CHILDREN by Willa Bergman

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Robbie has been reading Lost Children by Willa Bergman

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This book is quite an interesting tale about a young woman, Eloise Witcham who works for an international firm that specialises in auctioning famous artworks. Eloise, or Elle, works in the smaller branch of private sales which is not doing particularly well under its current leadership. There is anxiety among the employees as they are concerned about retrenchments. Elle is the only one who is meeting her sales targets and she has also managed to build the start of a reputation as an investigator into missing artworks on behalf of selected private clients. Among her peers, Elle is the odd person out as she does not come from a well-off background and has to stand on her own two feet financially while caring for her mother who has dementia and her brother who is not able to hold down a job.

Elle is engaged by the representative of a trust to look for an artwork called the Lost Child which went missing fifteen years previously. Elle takes the commission for her own reasons and runs into a lot of problems while searching for this piece. All sorts of secrets and surprises come to the fore during her investigation which takes her from London to New York.

The storyline of this book was interesting, and I do enjoy novels that centre around artworks, especially stolen artworks. The telling of the story was not as good for me as the plot. The writing was quite flat in many parts and some of the behaviour’s demonstrated by Elle felt a bit unrealistic and unconvincing. Her character is portrayed as being someone who has secrets in her past and terrors as a result, so her erratic behaviour could potentially be attributed to mental instability due to her past circumstances and current stress. The behaviour of her competitor, Geoffrey Webb, also seemed a bit extreme, but art works are worth a lot of money so that could explain it. It just didn’t work that well for me and left me questioning certain aspects of the story.

I did enjoy the office politics and intrigue relating to the world of art auctions and sales and appreciated the insecurity and competitiveness among employees in this field. Readers can form their own opinion about whether desperation to earn commissions and a fear of dismissal would be grounds for corporate espionage and even murder in this world.

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

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

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Anthology THIS IS LOCKDOWN by @Marjorie_Mallon

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

#RBRT Review Team

Robbie has been reading This Is Lockdown by M.J. Mallon

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This is lockdown is an unusual collection of diary entries, discussions, poems, and a few short stories written by a variety of people from different countries and backgrounds and recording their experiences and emotions during the 2020 lockdown.

The book is divided into three sections: Family Diaries of the author MJ Mallon, No More which contains poems and pieces from a number of different contributors, and Part 2 which comprises of short stories by MJ Mallon.

The Family Diaries is just what is says, a collection of diary entries from 28 February 2020 to 1 June 2020, setting out the author’s emotions and experiences during the first three months of lockdown. The author was in lockdown with your two daughters and her husband and her entries extend to cover some of their feelings and reactions to being confined to home for an extended period. I enjoyed the family’s attempts to stay cheerful and to make the most of their time through exercising, walking, and reading. Simple joys like cooking and finding a new statuette on a walk are highlights of this period, as is the pervasive underlying anxiety about the illness and the future. The author has also recorded some of the politics of the time and how the actions of leadership impacted on the psychology of the nation.

The contributions from other authors were equally interesting as the contributors were from all over the world. Some of the contributors are known to me through my blog and I really sympathized with their circumstances and anxieties. Some were new to me, but their stories were no less interesting. I found the contribution by Beaton Mabaso from Zimbabwe of particular interest as I live in neighbouring South Africa. Beaton’s experiences and anxieties about food supply, medical treatment, the ability to social distance in crowded communities and a government with limited ability to financial aid its citizens are similar to the circumstances of the vast majority of people in my country. The different impact of the lockdown and pandemic on developed countries where people fight the psychological battle of loneliness and fear, and developing countries were people face poverty and physical deprivation were highlighted for me. There are also beautiful poetic contributions from Sally Cronin, Debby Gies, and Frank Prem. Willow Withers wrote a powerful and overarching poem about the impact of “the plague” on society and the economy of Britain.

Part 2 set out some excellent short stories by MJ Mallon, my favourite of which was The Poet’s Club Fictional Short Story. This story illustrated the diverse impact of coronavirus and lockdown on teenagers and how it impacts on their socializing, learning, and ability to cope. If found this story to be insightful and realistic.

This is Lockdown is and excellent and well-rounded depiction of lockdown and the pandemic of 2020.

Book description

An anthology and compilation of diaries, short stories, flash fiction, contributions from the ‘isolation writers,’ plus poetry written during the time of lockdown in the UK. This Is Lockdown is written from a writer’s perspective highlighting the simple pleasures of day-to-day life during such an uncertain and frightening time. It also gives a glimpse of the blogging, writing world. The book showcases several authors and their thoughts on what it is like to experience ‘isolation’ as a writer. I also discuss the handling of the pandemic and my thoughts on what might happen next. In the final part of the book I include my latest short story idea: a YA romance and various short pieces of poetry, and flash fiction inspired by the pandemic.

The full list of authors are: Richard Dee, (Sci Fi , Steampunk, Amateur Detective author,) Catherine Fearns, (Amazon Bestselling Author of Police Procedural/Mysteries and Music Journalist,) Lynn Fraser, (Author,) Jackie Carreira, (Writer, musician, designer and aspiring philosopher,) Willow Willers, (Poet and Writer,) Sharon Marchisello, (Murder Mystery, Financial non-fiction author,) Fi Phillips ,(Author, Copy Editor,) Jeannie Wycherley, (Dark stories, Suspense, Horror,) Chantelle Atkins, (Urban Fiction, Teen/YA,) Tracie Barton-Barrett, (Speaker/Author,) Peter Taylor-Gooby, (Crime, Love Stories, Political Fiction,) Ritu Bhathal, (Chick Lit, Romance, Poet,) Alice May , (Author, Artist and Speaker,) Miriam Owen, (Blogger, Doctoral Researcher,) Drew Neary and Ceri Williams (Ghost Horror, Supernatural,) Katherine Mezzacappa, (Historical Fiction/Romance,) Sally Cronin, (Huge supporter of indie community/Blogger/Author) D G Kaye, (Memoirist/NonFiction,) Adele Marie Park, (Fantasy, Horror, Urban fantasy,) Marian Wood, (Blogger, Poet and Writer.) Samantha Murdoch, (Writer, Blogger,) Beaton Mabaso (Blogger, African storyteller,) Frank Prem (Poet, Author) Anne Goodwin (Author, Book Blogger) Sherri Matthews (Writer, Photographer, Blogger,) Jane Horwood and Melissa Santiago-Val – Community Masks for The NHS .

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