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

Today’s review challenge post comes from Lynne, she blogs here https://just4mybooks.wordpress.com/

Lynne has been reading Nest Of Ashes by G. Lawrence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book description

October 1537

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

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

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC Aidan Reviews Nautical #Thriller JONAH by @CarlRackman

Today Rosie’s Review-A-Book challenger review is from Aidan, he blogs here https://ricketttsblog.wordpress.com/

Aidan has been reading Jonah by Carl Rackman

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I don’t typically enjoy war stories, specifically those set during World War 2. However, Jonah being set at sea made it stand apart from other books I’ve read from the same time period. Being on a ship inherently creates tension, since there is no escape, and Carl Rackman leans heavily into this. Moreover, this novel has very little combat (other than a battle scene at the very beginning), and is more a look at naval life, with a supernatural undertone.

The book focuses on the life of Mitch Kirkham aboard the US Navy destroyer Brownlee. After surviving a horrific battle, the novel explores Mitch’s naval experiences, and through his interactions, other experiences of different characters. It deals with PTSD and bullying, before switching direction with the introduction of ‘The Brownlee Beast’.

I thought that the character of Mitch was excellent, as Rackman made him feel relatable by having him grapple with moral quandaries. He means well, but doesn’t always make the best choices – similar to most real people. Furthermore, it is very easy to feel sympathy for him, as he often gets into bad situations through no fault of his own.

Many of the supporting characters were also good, with my favourite being Doc. While not actually a doctor, he had rudimental medical training as the pharmacologist onboard. I felt drawn to his strong moral compass and his relentless work ethic. While many of the other characters were strong, I would have liked more development of the captain since he appears in quite a few scenes without us really understanding his motivations.

The author’s deep naval knowledge was obvious, but technical vocabulary never impeded my reading. He created a glossary at the end of the book, but I never felt the need to use this, since he did such a good job of making the meaning of new words obvious by the surrounding paragraph. It felt very well blended.

I don’t want to talk about the themes for too long, as I can’t mention some of the most interesting ones in case I spoil anything. However, I found the examination of chain of command very interesting, as well as the somewhat toxic culture that was found aboard the ship. That being said, the main aim of this book seems to me to be to entertain, which it does very well.

The mysterious element of the book is handled very well, and it kept me guessing until the final reveal. The action is also paced very well, with the tension staying with me long after I’d put the book down for the night.

However, I found the ending to be unsatisfying. The pacing was again good, and it felt like a proper climax, but the resolution just felt too perfect. There were also flashbacks interspersed throughout the book that, while I didn’t dislike them, and thought they were very well written, didn’t seem to add anything to the plot as a whole.

Overall, this book was a 5.5 out of 7 for me. It was easy to get into and this ease of reading continued throughout. The few small things I wasn’t a personal fan of are easily outweighed by the well-crafted plot and relatable characters. I would recommend it to anyone who likes thrillers, especially historical ones, as well as fans of psychological horror (since it shares some similar elements, while not strictly falling into that genre).

Book description

The North Atlantic, 1940. A British destroyer pounces on a seemingly abandoned U-boat, leading to a spine-chilling encounter.

Five years later, the US Navy destroyer Brownlee grimly prepares to battle a swarm of Japanese kamikazes at Okinawa.

Mitch “Lucky” Kirkham, a young gunner on the Brownlee, wakes up miraculously unscathed after his crewmates are killed in a fearsome kamikaze strike.

Bullied and resented amid accusations of cowardice and worse, Mitch re-boards his patched-up ship for the long voyage back to San Francisco. All he wants is to go home.

But far out in the boundless emptiness of the Pacific, a strange madness begins to seize the sailors on the Brownlee. Terror, hysteria and suicide torment the men amid sightings of ghosts and a terrifying monster that stalks the ship by night.

Mitch stumbles upon a possible explanation for the madness. But as the ship presses on alone, deeper into the vast Pacific Ocean and the grip of insanity, will anyone listen to him before his famous luck runs out for good?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC Frank Reviews THE MEMORY by @judithbarrow77

Today’s review comes from Frank. You can find out more about Frank here https://franklparker.com/about/

Frank has been reading The Memory by Judith Barrow

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When I selected this book for review Rosie pointed out that it was a book that leans “heavily towards women’s fiction”. Now that I have read the book I understand what she means by that. I still think that it is a mistake to categorise readers in this way. I understand the importance of categorising books by genre. That helps potential readers decide whether a book is one they would enjoy. But most readers surely read across genres: they might choose romantic fiction one week, a mystery the next week and a thriller a week later. When you describe a book as “women’s fiction” you are not so much categorising the book as the reader.

To the extent that this book is about a woman’s life it will certainly appeal to women. In my opinion that does not rule out the possibility that it can be enjoyed by a man. What it definitely is not is a feminist account of how women’s opportunities are limited by the demands of men. On the contrary, it is the refusal of other women to shoulder their responsibilities, instead pursuing their own selfish interests, that determine the course of the central character’s life. The principle male characters are portrayed as fundamentally decent men whose support is invaluable to her.

As the book opens we see Irene struggling to care for her mother who has dementia. We are then taken back to the day, 40 years before, when Irene’s sister Rose was born. Rose has Down’s Syndrome and is rejected by their mother, leaving Irene to take on the caring role. As Irene’s life progresses, she moves from caring for Rose to caring for her grandmother, her father-in-law and, finally, her mother.

The book is structured with each chapter opening with a description of what is happening over a period of two days in 2002 as an increasingly tired and frustrated Irene performs various caring functions for her mother before returning to the chronological narrative of Irene’s progress from childhood, through adolescence, to an interrupted career as a teacher and marriage.

Along the way there are descriptions of working class life in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s that those of a certain age will recognise. If you remember Berni Inns and Babycham, or prawn cocktails and fondu sets, there are scenes which will make you smile to remember how we once thought such things were glamorous.

Teachers, too, will find interest in the debates about curriculum and teaching methods that surfaced at the time and are with us still today, especially where they relate to the treatment of children with “special needs”.

There were times when I found the structure irritating, particularly when Irene’s life story reached a day that has enormous significance for her. Not only are the details of the day dragged out across several chapters, but by repeatedly returning to 2002, the shock we know is coming – we can even make a good guess as to the nature of the shock – is delayed a little too long in my opinion.

Is it fair to call it “Women’s Fiction”? It is written by a woman and the central character is a woman. But it is a book that takes a critical look at the lives of women in the second half of the twentieth century. It was a time when women were told they could have it all: a career and motherhood. Like many, Irene, though she craves both, has neither. Sadly, that was, and remains, the brutal reality for many women. Should men read it? Definitely: they need to be reminded of these truths.

4 stars.

Book description

Mother and daughter tied together by shame and secrecy, love and hate.

I wait by the bed. I move into her line of vision and it’s as though we’re watching one another, my mother and me; two women – trapped.

Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother’s side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose.

Rose was Irene’s little sister, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw. Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty, betrayal and loss – as Irene rediscovers the past and finds hope for the future.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC #RomCom I Love Your Cupcakes by @OlgaNM7

Today’s challenge reviewer is Tovia Inokoba, Tovia blogs here https://chroniclesofawallflower.art.blog/

Tovia has been reading I Love Your Cupcakes by Olga N. Miret.

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Where there are cakes, there’s sure to be romance. I love your cupcakes is a work of fiction that envelops you in the sugary webs of both sensational romance and astounding baking. It’s a book centered on three like-minded creatives; Dulcina or Dulce who is every bit as sweet as her name implies is a lover of books and the goddess of flavors, Adelfa whose chemistry skills have not only brought her fame amongst intellectuals but has also made her a mastermind at calculating measurements and what not in the kitchen and last but not the least; Storm whose creativity and computer genius always has everyone in awe and his looks goes without saying as I would have swooned myself if he didn’t play for the other team. These three creatives teamed up to create what they would later come to know as Literally Literary Cupcakes and Cakes shop. Not only was Storm a creative genius and a computer wizard, he was also a spontaneous force to be reckoned with as it was him who got them into the ‘’Do you have what it takes to be the next baking star?’’ contest where they may or may not have found love.

This author uses flashbacks which such ease and synergy that it’s commendable. She’s able to tell the story with a seamless description and a diction that makes it easy to comprehend. If you’re a fan of romance as well as sugary treats then this sweet romance is definitely for you.

Will Dulce, Adelfa and Storm rise up to the task and prove that they have what it takes to be the next baking star or will dirty Harry be the end of them?

Book description

If you are nuts about TV cookery programs and think chocolate is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, keep reading…
I Love Your Cupcakes is a “sweet” romance, a virtual fantasy high in calories and a fun adventure. Dare to give it a bite!
Dulce, Adelfa and Storm, the protagonists of I Love Your Cupcakes are business partners, friends and share some “interesting” family connections.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC #RomanticSuspense A Critical Tangent by @reily_garrett

Today’s challenge reviewer is Alex Craigie

Alex has been reading A Critical Tangent by Reily Garrett

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Keiki Tallerman, a student in her final year, has a talent for designing drones. In the opening scene she is flying one of her latest prototypes from her student room and communicating through its microphone and camera with her friend Shelly in a field by a wooded area. As Keiki puts the drone through its paces she witnesses Shelly’s brutal murder and becomes a target for the killer.  Past experiences have instilled a distrust in the police which undermines the growing attraction between her and Nolan, the detective whose protective instincts towards her are sometimes at odds with the evidence stacking up against her.

There are so many characters in the beginning that I did find it hard at first to keep track of them. As this is the first in the series, it shouldn’t be a problem in successive books for readers already familiar with them.  The first scene packs quite a punch and sets the tone for the rest of the novel and kept me turning the pages to find out what happened next.

The personalities are well drawn and the spark between Nolan and Keiki fairly zings off the page. The author uses the device of letting different characters narrate the chapters so that you see the situation from a variety of viewpoints and perspectives. Keiki is feisty but vulnerable, Nolan is strong and caring, and the killer is sadistic and terrifying.

The dialogue and interactions between the characters keep the plot moving on but occasionally the language used would pull me out of the scene. “Rare was the occasion she incurred awkward emotions around men” is one example where the vocabulary seemed clunky and unconvincing. This may simply be down to differences between the American and British market and, having said that, these were rare blips in an otherwise fast-paced and genuinely thrilling narrative.

I particularly like the insight I was given into drone technology and police procedure and I’m sure this is the beginning of a gripping series. A third of the way in, I’d have given this book a 3* rating but once the characters kicked in and I became caught up in the plot I rounded it up to a 4.

Book description

She doesn’t trust cops…
He’s an iron-willed detective who doesn’t know whether to cuff her or kiss her.

Keiki Tallerman is a strong-willed tech prodigy whose life is shattered when her drone captures video of her best friend’s bizarre murder.

Experience has taught her good reason to not trust any police officers, especially when the hard-boiled detectives come knocking on her door. Their suspicions narrow when the second of her trio of friends disappears without a trace from their small urban community.

Conflicting evidence at a disturbing crime scene leaves gossamer threads weaving a complicated web of lies and deceit. Every clue Detective Garnett finds steers the investigation to a deep, dark network entangling the young coed in a labyrinth of cunning subterfuge.

Unable to piece the evidence together, Garnett is torn between following the letter of the law and protecting the amateur sleuth determined to clear her name. Add a large dose of mutual attraction and sparks fly.

Can he earn Keiki’s trust in time to save her life, or will the psychotic killer destroy the woman who is crushing his emotional defenses?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #Horror Novella THE BLEDBROOKE WORKS by John F. Leonard

Today’s book review comes from challenge reader VT Dorchester, he blogs here vtdorch.wordpress.com

VT has been reading The Bledbrooke Works by John F. Leonard

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The Bledbrooke Works: A Cosmic Horror Story by John F Leonard

This short novella follows Donald Hobdike, Manager of Works in a small town with secrets, and Michael Bassey, the young offender assigned to him as part of community service, as they venture into the old sewers below town. There is a blockage somewhere, causing somewhat disgusting problems in town, and they need to resolve whatever the problem below ground may be. The viewpoint alternates between the human characters, and a strange Other-Thing, possibly of extra-terrestrial origin, which is a bit menacing.

I picked this book to review during Rosie’s Review-A-Book-Challenge because I was intrigued by the promised setting. I think it’s hard to go very wrong setting a horror story inside confined, mysterious-to-most, English and Victorian sewage works.

And I did enjoy the atmosphere and suspense of this book. It’s spooky without being all-out terrifying, maintaining a nice balance between enjoyable suspense and foreboding, and providing some character development, and holds back from veering into too much gross-out horror or intensity.  I don’t like my horror stories too intense.

However, I did unfortunately ultimately find myself somewhat disappointed in this story. The short-sentenced, snapped off style of writing took me a little aback, and I never quite got used to it, although it does help keep the pace moving. Most readers should have little trouble reading this novella in an hour and a half or so. There is some use of obscenities, and a little bit of violence, although it is not particularly graphic, and there are far far fewer poop jokes then there could have been. (I’m not complaining about that at all.) There is also some allusion to domestic and sexual abuse.

The two human characters are each fun, with cranktankerous Hobdike getting a few particularly amusing comments to share with us. There is a twist ending, which did take me by surprise. The ending is also rather dark. I prefer stories that end with more of a sense of hope, even in horror stories. This is of course a question of personal taste, but the bleakness at the end of the story was a disappointment to me.

Regular horror readers will likely enjoy the somewhat unusual setting and moodiness of the story, and I recommend it to horror fans looking for a quick read.

I want to thank both Rosie and the author for arranging a free copy for me to review. I give this novella 3 stars out of 5.

Book description

Ever notice how some places don’t feel right? No rhyme or reason, they’re just unsettling, without you being able to pinpoint the cause. The vaguely suspicious demeanour of the locals. The pewtered quality of light. The old and indefinably alien smell that blows on the breeze… difficult to say for sure, but there’s definitely something.

Bledbrooke is one of those places. It’s always been different to other towns. Quaint and quiet, a little backwater with a somehow dark charm all of its own. Once you get used to it, you wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

It’s not all sweetness and light though. There are problems. A new one has just appeared. The drains on Cinderlake Drive are bubbling unsavoury water onto the street. Even worse, the toilets are blocked and spitting nastiness at some affluent backsides. The town council reckon it’s a fatberg – one of those awful accumulations of wet wipes, grease and other unmentionables.

There’s only one man to call… Donald Hobdike, world-weary and well past his prime, this sort of issue inevitably ends up on his chipped desk. When it comes to the sewers in Bledbrooke, he’s seen it all and more besides. Knows them better than he knows the back of his wrinkled hand.

Or so he thinks.

Maybe the labyrinthine warren beneath Bledbrooke still has some surprises in store for him…

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC Aidan reviews Dystopia WASTELAND by @TerryTyler4

Today’s review comes from Aidan, who joined our Review-A-Book Challenge. Find Aidan here https://ricketttsblog.wordpress.com/

Aidan has been reading Wasteland by Terry Tyler

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Wasteland just got better and better as I was reading. It might start off slowly, since it’s worldbuilding is monumentally ambitious, but once it gets going it never slows down. The book has plenty to say about family, poverty, activism and democracy, social media, liberty… the list just goes on. I could spend all day dissecting its multifaceted themes. For me, it felt very reminiscent of the Children of Men film.

The novel is set in a dystopian version of the UK far in the future. Most of the population has moved or been moved into megacities – vast urban centres that can meet all needs, so that their residents never have to leave. The government controls almost every aspect of its citizens’ lives, and they are taught not to question. Outside the megacities is the wasteland, home to those who have escaped the government’s iron fist.

The story centres on Rae, a young woman who has grown up in the orphanage system within a megacity. Upon learning that her family might still be alive, she starts to question what it is that she wants. Along her journey, there is a constant flow of diverse characters – it’s a real strength of the book. We can see the effects of the harsh world upon a whole host of characters, which gives small insights into a whole host of differing viewpoints and allows for interesting discussions of the various themes.

While Rae’s story was great, and she evolved seamlessly throughout the book, it was Dylan’s journey that was a highlight. His part was relatively small, since he was a secondary character, but I believe it to be crucial to understand the human aspect of the government’s policies. He encapsulates the idea that luck has a lot to do with your position in the world, and I found it impossible not to feel for him.

I found that the themes of the book mesh together to act as a study of humanity. It painted a poor picture of us, often being very cynical. Yet, despite all the flaws it exposed, it manages to maintain a spark of hope throughout – the idea that no matter what, humanity will find a way. I also don’t feel that Terry Tyler’s exploration of themes in any way impeded the overall flow of the story, something I’m always wary of when books have a strong message. However, the ambitious nature of the novel did mean that some themes are only touched on at a shallow level. I didn’t find this an issue personally though, since there is more than enough food for thought.

In my opinion, the book really comes into its own in the last 3rd. There was a twist that I didn’t see coming at all, which was great, and then the pace is relentless from there on out. It’s one of those that I just couldn’t put down, since the tension and stakes are so high and I was hugely invested in the characters.

Overall, this book has made me really excited to read more of Terry Tyler’s work. It was really easy to read as a standalone book, despite kind of being a sequel (it’s set in the same world as another book, but many years later). My only small criticism is that the writing occasionally was a bit awkward, so I had to reread bits which I misunderstood because I’d missed a word that was in an unexpected place. However, it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment, and would suggest that you don’t let it put you off in any way. Therefore, I give the book 6 out of 7, and would easily recommend it to lovers of sci-fi and dystopia. I’d also recommend it more widely, but warn that it can be quite bleak in places, so don’t go for it if that’s not your thing.

Book description

‘Those who escape ‘the system’ are left to survive outside society. The fortunate find places in off-grid communities; the others disappear into the wasteland.’

The year is 2061, and in the new UK megacities, the government watches every move you make. Speech is no longer free—an ‘offensive’ word reaching the wrong ear means a social demerit and a hefty fine. One too many demerits? Job loss and eviction, with free transport to your nearest community for the homeless: the Hope Villages.

Rae Farrer is a megacity girl through and through, proud of her educational and career achievements, until a shocking discovery about her birth forces her to question every aspect of life in UK Megacity 12.

On the other side of the supposedly safe megacity walls, a few wastelanders suspect that their freedom cannot last forever…

Wasteland is the stand-alone sequel to Hope, and is the second and final book in the Operation Galton series.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge Cosy #Mystery MADAM TULIP by @DaveAhernWriter

Today’s challenge reviewer is Sherry, she blogs here https://sherryfowlerchancellor.com/

Sherry has been reading Madam Tulip by David Ahern

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This book was a delightful read. It starts a bit slow and this reviewer wasn’t sure it would be enjoyable, but luckily, it picked up speed as well as the reader’s interest by the second chapter. Don’t give up on this one based merely on the first few pages. Keep going for a richly described tale with compelling and fully fleshed-out characters.

Derry O’Donnell is a financially strapped actor and, needing to earn some cash, with some help from her friend, recreates herself as Madam Tulip. She naturally has the gift of premonition and can read cards intuitively and accurately. What better way to try to make a living when her mother threatens to stop her financial assistance?

Little does Derry know she’s about to get herself in way more trouble than just her mother cutting off her funding.

When someone dies at an event where Madam Tulip is reading cards, Derry finds herself in the middle of the drama—certainly not like a stage drama—this is real. Life and death.

She gets by with some help from her gay former navy SEAL friend and her outrageous painter father.  She also stumbles upon an old love who is operating under cover. Friend or foe? That is something she can’t tell even with her psychic gifts.

The heroine is plucky and irreverent. Her internal dialogue is wonderful. The father and SEAL friend are both unique characters and so well-done personality-wise, this reader wanted to hang out in the pub with them all.

The author clearly has a wonderful sense of humor. There were a number of places that made this reviewer laugh out loud. I love a smart story and this one fits the bill. An adventure with serious moments as well as humor to lighten the mood. A perfect read- not great, heavy literature, but an amusing way to spend some time.

I was glad to learn there’s a whole series of these stories as I’m not ready to let them leave my life yet. This one is a keeper. Highly recommended for a fun read.

Book description

Suspense, mystery, action, a little romance and lots of laughs.

Derry O’Donnell, out-of-work actress, is talented, a teeny bit psychic … and broke. Spurred on by an ultimatum from her awesomely high-achieving mother, and with a little help from her theatrical friends, Derry embarks on a part-time career as Madam Tulip, fortune-teller to the rich and famous. But at her first fortune-telling gig – a celebrity charity weekend in a castle – a famous rap artist will die.

As Derry is drawn deeper into a seedy world of celebrities, supermodels and millionaires, she finds herself playing the most dangerous role of her acting life. Trapped in a maze of intrigue, money and drugs, Derry’s attempts at amateur detective could soon destroy her friends, her ex-lover, her father and herself.

Madam Tulip is the first in a series of Tulip adventures in which Derry O’Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and reluctant detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life.

AmazonUK | AmazomUS

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Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC @SueBavey reviews #Histfic THE LAST PILGRIM by @NAGrangerAuthor

Today’s review comes from Sue, who joined our Review-A-Book Challenge. Find Sue here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Sue Has been reading The Last Pilgrim by Noelle Granger

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Since 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth, UK to Plymouth, MA, I was interested in reading this account of the life of Mary Allerton Cushman. Mary was only four years old during the arduous journey made by the separatists, who later became known as pilgrims. Their story is well known in Massachusetts and taught from an early age.  I was keen to read this account written for an adult audience and was rewarded by a narrative filled with a great deal of well-researched historical detail. Some of the events were relayed in a slightly unemotional manner, there could have been more excitement during the description of John Howland having fallen overboard and his rescue, and also an episode in which one of the cross beams of the Mayflower cracks during a heavy storm. These events, the illness and death below decks must have been terrifying.

The beginning of the book introduces us to Mary in 1699, as an elderly woman, looking back on her life. We then switch to her father, Isaac Allerton, in whose voice most of the early chapters are written, switching to Mary occasionally, as she gets a little older. When Mary reaches the age of 8 she is put out to live with another family, that of the Governor of the Plymouth colony. Mary’s behaviour is unruly and her father has struggled to tame her since the death of his wife on the Mayflower. This event is useful since the narrator is now a party to the majority of conversations held within the Governor’s house and through these we learn of relations with the local natives, the problems relating to debt which follow the settlers and the subsequent trade deals set up by Mary’s father, which have detrimental effects on his relationship with the governor and eventually lead to his leaving the colony.

It was interesting to hear in detail the processes which Mary must learn in order to become a goodwife: soap making, cooking, spinning flax into cloth and how to catch leeches in a bottle from a river, to name but a few. The author clearly spent plenty of time researching every possible aspect of life in the colony and describes it in an engaging manner.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Historical Fiction.  4.5/5

Book description

This book captures and celebrates the grit and struggle of the Pilgrim women who stepped off the Mayflower in the winter of 1620 to an unknown world – one filled with hardship, danger and death. The Plymouth Colony would not have survived without them.
Mary Allerton Cushman was the last surviving passenger of the Mayflower, dying at age 88 in 1699.
Mary’s life is set against the real background of that time. The Last Pilgrim begins from her father’s point of view – she was, after all, only four when she descended into the cramped and dank living space below deck on the Mayflower – but gradually assumes Mary’s voice, as the colony achieves a foothold in the New England’s rocky soil.
What was a woman’s life like in the Plymouth Colony? The Last Pilgrim will tell you.

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Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC – Reading, Writing and the Value of Reviewers

John joins us today with an article about the importance of book reviews to authors.

As part of Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC, we continue our week of advice posts. See the link at the bottom of the page for details of the challenge and where you can sign up for a free book in exchange for a review.

Reading, writing and the value of reviewers is something that I’ve wanted to talk about for a while now. As a writer, I’m incredibly grateful when anybody reads my work. The gratitude only grows when that person writes a review. Taking the time and effort to publish your thoughts on a book is an act which connects the reader and writer in a more personal way than the somewhat abstract, impersonal idea that ‘someone’ has read your book. It adds another level to what is a very intimate yet weirdly distant interaction between reader and writer.

So, my sincere thanks go out to all those good folk busily reviewing books. It means a lot and is massively appreciated by everyone I know in the writing community. If you enjoy reading fiction and fancy trying your hand at reviewing, I’d urge you to give it a go. Writing reviews can enrich the reading experience and be a rewarding pastime.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? It’s in his own interests to support reviewing books.

Undeniably true. I won’t lie, this isn’t me just being a nice guy, there is a mercenary side to it. Reviews stimulate interest in your books, raise your profile and enhance your reputation as an author. All of which gives a shot in the arm to your confidence and belief in what you’re doing. Honest feedback also helps your writing. Any author worth their salt welcomes real, constructive reviews. They’re priceless observations, the best beta reading you’ll find for future projects.

But, believe it or not, self-interest isn’t my primary motivation here. I genuinely do appreciate reviewers and value their contribution to the literary eco-system. The title of this article represents my three Rs – reading, writing and reviewing – because they’re inextricably linked. A natural affinity exists. Reader and writer are two sides of the same coin and reviewer the place where they meet. A marvellous marriage of the two with a precious result.

Over the years, I’ve become friends with quite a few reviewers and like to think it’s given me a small insight into why they do what they do and what they get from it. The motive is rarely financial benefit. That’s another similarity between writing books and reviewing them. The majority of reviewers, like authors, don’t pursue their passion expecting a shedload of cash to be the outcome. Sure, you get free books. With a multi-genre site like Rosie Amber, you get to choose from a broad spectrum and they tend to be good quality. It’s a great opportunity to dabble, sample different subjects and styles. And as mentioned, there’s every chance that you’ll become better acquainted with the author and find a new virtual friend.

Are those the main reasons? No, I think it’s far simpler.

We share a love of the written word and a need not to feel alone in that love.

I’ll say one more thing, probably what I’ve been trying to say all along, and it’s about engagement between readers, writers and reviewers. The day of the remote author has passed. Social media makes it an obscure and unproductive angle from which to approach an essentially connective field.

Reading is the boss. Writing springs from that.

Reviewers are a vital part of this new equation. Quite rightly, we no longer blithely accept what one or two publishers put on our shelves. We need real input.

Read, Write, Opinion. There is no mathematical formula, it just exists.

Readers who write a review have become an essential part of good reading and good writing.

If you’d like to read more about Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC click here