Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The Warrior Princess of Deheubarth by @laurelworlds #TuesdayBooklog

Today’s team review is from Brittany, she blogs here https://brittthereader.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Brittany has been reading The Warrior Princess Of Deheubarth by Laurel A Rockefeller

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Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd: The Warrior Princess of Deheubarth by Laurel Rockefeller

My rating is 4 out of 5 stars

Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd: The Warrior Princess of Deheubarth is the sixth installment in Laurel Rockefeller’s The Legendary Women of World History series. It is a brief novelization about the life, legacy and fighting spirit of a Welsh princess (Gwenllian frech Gruffydd) who led her people into battle against the Normans. I have long been an avid reader of historical fiction, and this story is a welcome addition to the genre.

The story excels in portraying the world of Wales during the 1100’s. Simple descriptions about the daily life, the surrounding regions and annual celebrations ground the reader in the time period. Rockefeller also keeps the reader grounded in understanding how the shifting politics throughout the region and in London in particular impacted the Welsh. The most shocking part of the story was the betrayal Gwenllian faced.

Rockefeller’s love of the Welsh language is evident throughout the book. The use of the Welsh names and locations added to the authenticity of the story. However, beyond names and locations, the use of the old language caused confusion for me. Gwenllian frech Gruffydd’s native tongue is frequently interspersed throughout conversations. At one point Gwenllian sings a song while playing the harp, and the song is written entirely in her native language. A typical reader will find this incomprehensible.

The story is brief and lingers longest on the battle and events leading up to Gwenllian frech Gruffydd’s death. She was a heroic fighter and through Rockefeller’s portrayal is it easy to see why the Welsh cried her name into battle for centuries to follow. The ending of the story beautifully nods to the lineage that followed Gwenllian frech Gruffydd and muses what her option on it must be. “Surely in some place beyond this physical world, Princess Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd, the warrior princess of Deheubarth watched the coronation of Queen Elizabeth Tudor, a woman born of her blood and legacy, and smiled.”

After the story there is a timeline of Welsh history from 844 to 1282 and an extensive suggested reading bibliography that provides a wealth of information for those looking to research the topic further. The timeline was thorough and interesting. In future installments in this series, I would love to see the selected events spaced along a horizontal line. Images of Wales and any remaining structures from the story, as well as artistic renderings of the individuals discussed would also be a most welcome addition to the story.

I received a copy of this book through Rosie’s Book Review Team

Book Description

Princess Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd’s fascinating and tragic true story comes to life in this special bi-lingual Welsh-English edition!
Born in 1097 in Aberffraw Castle, Princess Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd ap Cynan was always destined for great things. Beautiful, kind, and one of the finest archers in all of Wales, Gwenllian’s courage against the Norman Conquest of Wales has inspired generations of Welsh for nearly one thousand years.

About the author

Born, raised, and educated in Lincoln, Nebraska USA Laurel A. Rockefeller is author of over twenty books published and self-published since August, 2012. A dedicated scholar and biographical historian, Ms. Rockefeller is passionate about education and improving history literacy worldwide. 
With her easy to understand fireside storytelling style, Laurel A. Rockefeller is the historian for people who do not like history. 
In her spare time, Laurel enjoys spending time with her cockatiels, attending living history activities, travelling to historic places in both the United States and United Kingdom, and watching classic motion pictures and television series.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT The Curse Of Arundel Hall by J New @newwrites #mystery

Today’s team review is from Anita, she blogs here http://jenanita01.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Anita has been reading The Curse Of Arundel Hall by J New

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I am always on the lookout for something different and unusual to read, and The Curse of Arundel Hall was not disappointing. A well-written murder mystery set in the 1930s, transporting you back to another time with the old-fashioned language and way of life.

The main character, Isobella Bridges, or Ella, reminds me of the Agatha Christie heroines, although this particular lady is not an old spinster. Young and adventurous, life has not been kind and moving to the fairy tale cottage on Linhay Island was supposed to be a retreat from the world.

After a slow, scene-setting start, Ella discovers that a ghost of a woman haunts the cottage. Undaunted, it turns out she has a flair for such things and sets out to solve the mystery. She finds the skeletal remains of the woman hidden behind a secret panel. A murder soon follows, linking Ella’s cottage to nearby Arundel Hall, the subject of an ancient curse.

She discovers that Arundel Hall has been plagued with bad luck ever since the eleventh Duke of Norfolk built it for his wife Marion who sadly died in childbirth. The next wife went insane, and the third wife nearly drove him to murder, but she vanished, never to be seen again. Shortly after that, the Duke sold the Hall, cursing it as he left.

I really liked Ella, cheerfully determined to get on with her life and solve every problem that life throws at her, something that comes in handy in this adventure, as she figures out how to open various secret passages and hidden rooms.

This story is filled to the brim with exquisite detail and old-fashioned scenarios. The dialogue between the characters is amazing, the vocabulary perfect for the period. I loved the paranormal twist to the story, just enough to give the story an extra depth – although personally, I would have liked more.

I would defy anyone to try to guess who the murderer is, or why it happened. Just when you think you have figured it out, you are led to another possibility.

The “Spartacus” moment towards the end of the book (I won’t add any spoilers) was hilarious and the classic cliff-hanger had me yearning for the next book, but I will read the first book in this series while I am waiting.

Definitely, worth all of five stars…

Book Description

One ghost, one murder, one hundred years apart. But are they connected? 
Ella has discovered a secret room in The Yellow Cottage, but with it comes a ghost. Who was she? And how did she die? Ella needs to find the answers before either of them can find peace. But suddenly things take a nasty turn for the worse. 
Ella Bridges has been living on Linhay Island for several months but still hasn’t discovered the identity of her ghostly guest. Deciding to research the history of her cottage for clues she finds it is connected to Arundel Hall, the large Manor House on the bluff, and when an invitation to dinner arrives realises it is the perfect opportunity to discover more. 
However the evening takes a shocking turn when one of their party is murdered. Is The Curse of Arundel Hall once again rearing its ugly head, or is there a simpler explanation? 
Ella suddenly finds herself involved in two mysteries at once, and again joins forces with Scotland Yard’s Police Commissioner to try and catch a killer. But will they succeed? 
‘Miss Marple meets The Ghost Whisperer’ – Perfect For Fans of Golden Age Murder Mysteries, Cozy Mysteries, Clean Reads and British Amateur Sleuths 

About the author

J. New

J. New is the British author of British Vintage Murder Mysteries, which have been dubbed by readers as ‘Miss Marple meets The Ghost Whisperer’. 
A voracious reader and writer all her life, she took her first foray into Indie publishing in 2013, and has never looked back.
She has an eclectic reading taste, ranging from the Magic of Terry Pratchett, JK Rowling, Tolkien and Neil Gaiman, to Dean Koontz, Eion Colfer, Anne Rice and Agatha Christie. 
A lover of murder mysteries set in past times, where steam trains, afternoon tea and house staff abound. She is convinced she was born in the wrong era as she has a particular aversion to cooking and housework.
She also has an impossible bucket list, which includes travelling on the Orient Express with Hercule Poirot, shopping in Diagon Alley with Sirius Black, lazing around the Shire with Gandalf and Bilbo, exploring Pico Mundo with Odd Thomas and having Tea at the Ritz with Miss Marple.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice by Mark Barry @GreenWizard62

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs here http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice by Mark Barry

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My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I was provided with an ARC copy of the novel I freely chose to review.

Although I had heard about the author and read quite a few reviews of his previous books, this is the first of his novels I have read so I can’t compare it to his previous work. I know from his comments in the book that it links to another one of his novels, Carla (I won’t mention how, first, because I haven’t read the other novel, so I can’t comment on how well or badly that works, and second, because I’m going to try very hard not to reveal any spoilers) but I can put at rest the minds of all readers who are in the same circumstances as me. This book can be read as a stand-alone, although I suspect you’ll feel as curious as I am about Carla once you finish reading this novel.

This novel is narrated in the first person by the eponymous Carol Prentice of the title. And yes, we get to know what the shiny coin means, but again, I’m not going to tell you. She’s a young woman; she’s just finished her degree at Manchester University and has to go back to her hometown because her father has passed away. She had avoided the town for several years (for good reasons as you’ll learn when you read the book) but she comes back to renovate the house and because the time has finally arrived to put her plan into practice. Of course, we don’t get to know about the plan until much later in the novel, but we have some hints throughout. She gets a job at a bookshop (so there are some interesting discussions about literature, mostly initiated by her boss, Steve, who is a connoisseur, not only of books but also of ales and many other things) and it’s not long before ghosts from her past come knocking. What at first appears to be a snotty and spoilt young man’s tantrum turns into a black hole sucking in everything and everybody. Almost.

The novel has some meta-fictional aspects. I’ve already mentioned the conversations about literature, psychology concepts (like the halo effect, perceptual closure), Steve was an author years ago back but did not make it and has strong opinions about popular literature and bestsellers (if you love James Patterson or Fifty Shades, look away now), and the author of this novel, Mark Barry, also makes a cameo appearance in it. As I said before, I haven’t read any of his other works but from some of the reviews, I get the sense that he has appeared in some others. He does not have a big part, and it reminded me of Hitchcock’s appearances in his movies (although Barry’s is a bit more significant than that).

As the novel is narrated in the first-person, we get a close look into the functioning of Carol’s mind and we get to know her better than other characters. She seems to focus a lot of her attention on how people smell (and it’s not always pleasant), what clothes they wear, and how they look. She has some annoying speech habits. There are plenty of ‘like’, ‘I so’, ‘totally’… Those appear not only when she’s talking to others but also when she’s thinking, despite the fact that she’s fairly articulate and perceptive in other ways. It might be funny for some readers and perhaps somewhat annoying for others, but it keeps her real and the story will hook everybody in and will make you keep reading no matter what. Carol says quite a few times that she cannot feel, that she observes things but does not feel them, and when we’ve gone over half the novel she eventually tells Steve why. I had my suspicions but the truth is worse. From her description of the events (that of course, I won’t reveal either) it becomes clear that she was experiencing them she tried to focus on anything but what was happening. She concentrated and observed objects, smells, décor, and it seems her current focus on describing things is a defence mechanism to keep events and people at bay, a way of remaining in control of what is happening as she felt powerless at the time. After her confession to Steve, the floodgates open and she starts feeling again, including acknowledging her complex feelings for Steve, that is difficult to know if they are projected from her need to have support as he becomes some sort of a father figure, or are genuine. She herself is not so sure.

Steve is the other character we get to know in detail, although of course always from Carol’s point of view and this is biased. She likes him from the beginning and he seems a genuinely nice man, much older than her, who’s tried many things and seems to have settled into a quiet life. He is not one for talking much about his feelings (he talks about everything else, though) and he is a recognisable and multi-dimensional character, with a strong sense of moral, that gets caught in a situation not of his making, but doesn’t seem willing or able to extricate himself from it.

Other than Carol and Steve, there aren’t many characters we get to know through the novel. There’s Toby, the baddy, a handsome and rich young man and a bully who believes rules and laws don’t apply to him; there’s also his father, and some other characters that only appear briefly (like the chief of police) but they aren’t as well developed. They only play a minor part in the drama and don’t hold that much of the narrator’s attention. By contrast, the town becomes quite a recognisable character in its own right, with its social mores, its politics and its royalty (so to speak).

The novel is written in a very colloquial way as pertains to the character narrating it (I’ve already mentioned the characteristics of Carol’s language) and there are plenty of references and words very local that might be a bit obscure to readers from outside the UK (or even the region) but that is part of what makes it so distinctive and vivid.

The novel offers quite a few surprises and reveals them slowly. I think most readers will have a variety of hypothesis about what’s going to happen, what the baddies will do next and what the plan is. I’m not sure many people will guess right and is an interesting and effective twist. This is a novel of revenge and just deserts that highlights the fact that there is always a price to pay. We might feel we need to exact revenge to be at peace but things are never quite as easy. With regards to what sets off what Carol describes as ‘the war’ it is pretty banal but, as she acknowledges, it’s not really about that and unfortunately other people get in the middle and end up becoming ‘collateral damage’. It did make me think of Hannah Arendt and her concept of ‘the banality of evil’. In this case not only about the evil person but about what sets it all off. It does not take much for some people to ruin a person’s life, just because they can… I’ve already mentioned the ending but I wanted to add that the ending is also a beginning.

I know I’ve been a bit cryptic about this novel but I had to be. I recommend it to those who like stories with psychologically complex characters, where the how is as important as the what, and to readers who’re looking for an author with a distinctive voice and style. (There is some violence, some talk about sex and disturbing content but none of it is extremely explicit or gore. It is more what we feel at the time of reading it than what is on the page.)

Book Description

“I swore that I would never go home,  but in the end, I had no choice.  I had to confront what happened.  And them too.  It was going be icky. And totally scary.” Carol Prentice left Wheatley Fields to attend university in Manchester and not once did she return in four years. Her beloved father visited her whenever he could, but then he passed away and it was up to her to sort his affairs.  She could have done this from a distance, but a woman can run to the far corners of the earth, but, in the end, she can never escape herself She had to come home: There was no other choice. Taking a job at a bookshop for the duration, she befriends Steve – an older man who looks like a wizard and who knows everything in the world.  Carol quickly encounters the demons that forced her to leave in the first place – including Toby, the raffish local villain, with whom she shares the most horrifying of secrets and whose very existence means evil and mayhem for everyone around. Especially the lovable Steve.  Carol finds herself in the middle of a war between the two men:  A war which can only have one victor.  Soon, she wishes she had never come home.  But by then it was too late.  Much too late.

Biography

Mark Barry

Bio: Mark Barry is a multi-genre writer and novelist. His work includes the minor cult hit Ultra Violence about football hooligans at a small Midlands football club and Carla, a quirky, dark, acclaimed romance with shades of Wuthering Heights.  He is the co-designer of the innovative Brilliant Books project aimed at engaging the many, many reluctant readers amongst young people… He has one son, Matt, on the brink of University, with whom he shares a passion for Notts County Football Club.  Fast food, comics, music, reading, his friends on the Independent scene, and horse racing keep him interested and he detests the English Premier League, selfish, narcissistic people and bullies of all kinds.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Blind Side by @Jennie_Ensor Thriller #WeekendBlogShare

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs at http://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Blind Side by Jennie Ensor

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My Review:

I liked this book. Jennie Ensor writes in an easy to read style and, after an initial fairly slow start, the book flows with various story lines interwoven so I was soon absorbed. And, although Blind Side can be seen as a romance novel it is much more than that; the story reveals the darker side of relationships, of life in a contemporary world, of remorse and self-reproach, secrets and lies, of disappointments and  regrets

The author has obviously researched into both the political, societal and historical backgrounds for the fairly recent settings that the characters move in and this is equally dark. And so realistic; I love when there is such a good sense of place.  Here the background reflects some of the underlying themes of racism, terrorism, immigration. Chilling stuff!

And against this there is the personal turmoil of the characters. Well played out, with enough tension and suspense to keep the reader on their toes.

The main characters are well portrayed with many levels to their personalities. I liked the protagonist, Georgie; despite the fact that I first thought her shown to be quite cold. The character is well rounded and the author gives her a history that explains much about her actions in the story; her fears, her suspicions, her obsession, her need to trust in Nikolai.  This character is also well written and given a past life that shocks. Despite not understanding his motives at first (and it took me a while to get used to the way the dialogue is written for him) I liked Nikolai. And then, the character of Julian; initially seemingly naive and harmless (in an obsequious way, I thought) but is ultimately shown to be less than the friend first portrayed.

Told mainly from the point of view of the protagonist it would be easy to see the plot only from her side of things but the author manages to insert enough external detail, away from Georgie, to give more depth to the story.

There were a few parts of the plot that slowed the story (only a few though) and I found it trailed off a little at the end but, as I’ve said, I enjoyed Blind Side.  All in all, it’s a good debut novel from Jennie Ensor and one I would recommend. I look forward, with anticipation, to further offerings from this author..

Book Description

Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable? 
London, five months before 7/7. Georgie, a young woman wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, gives in and agrees to sleep with close friend Julian. She’s shocked when Julian reveals he’s loved her for a long time. 
But Georgie can’t resist her attraction to Nikolai, a Russian former soldier she meets in a pub. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her. 
Then London is attacked… 
Blind Side explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and obsession. An explosive, debate-provoking thriller that confronts urgent issues of our times and contemplates some of our deepest fears. 

About the author

Jennie Ensor

Jennie Ensor is a Londoner descended from a long line of Irish folk. She has worked as a freelance journalist, covering topics from forced marriages to the fate of Aboriginal Australians living on land contaminated by British nuclear testing. 
Ms E lives in London with her husband and their cuddle-loving, sofa-hogging terrier. When not chasing the dog or dreaming of setting off on an unfeasibly long journey with a Kindleful of books, she writes novels, short stories and poetry (published under another name). Her second novel, to be finished in 2017 with any luck, is a dark and unsettling psychological drama.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Clay Tongue by @NicholasConley1 #YA #Fantasy #fridayreads

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Clay Tongue by Nicholas Conley

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Clay Tongue: A Novelette by Nicholas Conley

Clay Tongue was all too short for this reader. It is described as a short fantasy about the unspoken love between a shy little girl and her grandfather, the secrets of human communication, and discovered bravery, and it more than fulfills this description.

Katie Mirowitz lives in a household with her parents and her grandfather. She is so shy and afraid to speak she can’t even tell her mother she loves her, but her grandfather is her lodestone, the one person with whom she can talk. When he has a stroke leaving him with aphasia – the inability to speak anything other than gibberish – they still communicate, because she has the ability to interpret his facial expressions and meaningless words.

Her anxieties come to a crescendo when she overhears her mother telling the grandfather she is not sure how long they can continue to care for him because of the family’s finances. When Katie finds her grandfather with an old journal, which he doesn’t want her to see, she just has to read what is inside. She sneaks downstairs at night to read it and with it, finds an ancient key. The journal contains a story, written by her grandfather many years earlier, of a mythical being – a golem – who can grant wishes. Summoning all her courage and determined to help her grandfather, she goes in search of the golem, taking the key which will unlock the door to its hiding place.

How Katie finds the golem and what happens when he asks her for her wish is sweet and heart-warming. The story line is predictable, but the writing is superlative and the author creates a read-out loud story for both children and adults with truths about love and selflessness. The characters, especially the grandfather, colorfully and realistically drawn and stayed with this reader long after the end of the story.

I highly recommend Clay Tongue, five stars.

Book Description

From the author of the award-winning Pale Highway and the radio play Something in the Nothing comes a short fantasy of love, shyness, and the secrets of human communication. 
Katie Mirowitz is a small little girl with an even smaller little voice. She possesses a deep love for her grandfather, who suffers from aphasia after a bad stroke cuts loose the part of his brain that processes verbal language. When Katie uncovers a miraculous secret inside the pages of her grandfather’s old journal, as well as an ancient key, she goes out into the woods in search of answers — hoping to uncover a mythical being that, if it exists, may just have the ability to grant wishes.

About the author

Nicholas Conley

Nicholas Conley is a novelist, world traveler, playwright, and coffee vigilante. His passion for storytelling is evident in Clay Tongue as well a Pale Highway, the winner of the 2015 Predators & Editors Award for Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel. He has written for Vox, Truthout, The Huffington Post, SFFWorld, and Alzheimers.net, and his original radio play Something in the Nothing was performed live on the radio station WSCA 106.1 FM in 2016. He is a member of PEN America, the writers organization dedicated to human rights and freedom of expression.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The Curse Of Arundel Hall by J New @newwrites Vintage #Mystery

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Curse Of Arundel Hall by J. New

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Book Review: The Curse of Arundel Hall by J. New #RBRT #Vintage Murder Mystery

The Curse of Arundel Hall is a cozy, the second in the Yellow Cottage, Vintage Mystery series. There is a lot to like about this book, but it does have its drawbacks.

Ella Bridges, following the death of her husband, is the recipient of a strong suggestion from his boss, the British Home Secretary, that she forget about him and move away. She decides to live on Linhay Island and take up residence in a refurbished cottage that was once a part of the Arundel Hall estate. There is a ghost living in a secret dining room that Ella discovers behind the kitchen, and she visits her friend, Harriet, the local librarian, to find out more about her cottage and its history in relation to Arundel Hall. Her friend tells her a curse was placed on the hall by its first owner. Ella discovers a secret stairway from the hidden dining room to the cottage’s upper floors, and a century-old skeleton of a woman at the bottom of the stairs. The skeleton gives evidence she was murdered. Ella is invited to the manor hall for a celebration dinner of the engagement of the elderly owner to a much younger woman who claims to have been a stage actress. The evening takes a shocking turn when one member of the dinner party is murdered. Ella again joins forces with Scotland Yard’s Police Commissioner, her uncle, to find and catch the killers, both old and new.

The author creates a colorful world in Linhay Island, with wonderful, well-drawn characters, and after I got into the book, I found it very entertaining. Her descriptions convey the life on an island, the charm of Ella’s cottage and the menace and gloom of Arundel Hall exceedingly well.

I did struggle for a while, to recognize that Ella saw ghosts, of which one was her cat, Phantom, possibly because I haven’t yet read book one in the series. Some added detail for other readers without the benefit of the first book might be helpful. Chapter one was written with beautiful detail about Ella’s childhood, but for me it slowed my introduction to the main action which I was eager to get my teeth into. The era in which the book was set did not register until a closer inspection of the book cover, which got me back on track.  I did enjoy the author’s style and would like to read another by this author, but for me, there were a few areas which needed a little tidying, perhaps a final polish from a copy edit. Nevertheless, I will read this author’s next in the series.

Book Description

One ghost, one murder, one hundred years apart. But are they connected? 
Ella has discovered a secret room in The Yellow Cottage, but with it comes a ghost. Who was she? And how did she die? Ella needs to find the answers before either of them can find peace. But suddenly things take a nasty turn for the worse. 
Ella Bridges has been living on Linhay Island for several months but still hasn’t discovered the identity of her ghostly guest. Deciding to research the history of her cottage for clues she finds it is connected to Arundel Hall, the large Manor House on the bluff, and when an invitation to dinner arrives realises it is the perfect opportunity to discover more. 
However the evening takes a shocking turn when one of their party is murdered. Is The Curse of Arundel Hall once again rearing its ugly head, or is there a simpler explanation? 
Ella suddenly finds herself involved in two mysteries at once, and again joins forces with Scotland Yard’s Police Commissioner to try and catch a killer. But will they succeed? 
‘Miss Marple meets The Ghost Whisperer’ – Perfect For Fans of Golden Age Murder Mysteries, Cozy Mysteries, Clean Reads and British Amateur Sleuths 

About the author

J. New

J. New Haas been a voracious reader and writer all her life. She took her first foray into publishing in 2013 with An Accidental Murder, the first in her Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery series. Originally from a small picturesque town in Yorkshire, she relocated in 2007 and currently resides with her partner and an ever-expanding family of rescue animals. She particularly loves murder mysteries set in past times, where steam trains, house staff and afternoon tea abound, and surmises she was born in the wrong era. She also has an impossible bucket list: to travel on the Orient Express with Hercule Poirot, shop in Diagon Alley with Sirius Black, laze around The Shire with Bilbo and Gandalf, explore Pico Mundo with Odd Thomas and have Tea at the Ritz with Miss Marple.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The Silent Kookaburra by @LizaPerrat family #Thriller #wwwblogs

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

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat

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This is a really well-written and absorbing story. Set in 1970s small-town Australia it centres on Tanya – an unhappy child, overweight, bullied at school and trying to cope with her mother who has been devastated by a series of miscarriages. Her father loves her, but he doesn’t cope either, seeking solace far too often in the local pub, and her grandmother, Nanna Purvis, is a hard woman, although her kindness shines through as the novel progresses.

When her mum finally gives birth to a daughter, Tanya thinks things will be fine, but problems with baby Shelley’s health, cracks in her parents’ marriage and the arrival on the scene of creepy Uncle Blackie mean that Tanya has much more to deal with than she can cope with.

And things only get worse.

But this isn’t a miserable story. Yes, some parts are uncomfortable to read. I wanted to whisk poor Tanya away and give her a cuddle and a decent meal. But there are glimpses of hope – Nanna Purvis, who underneath her hard exterior is full of love, and Tanya’s best friend Angela and her kind and loving (if possibly criminal!) family.

The author obviously knows her setting well and there’s a real sense of time and place with little details about food, TV and fashion giving the realistic touches that make this novel so authentic.

A well-executed book about family, relationships and the extraordinary things that can happen in ordinary lives.

Five stars.

Book Description

All eleven-year-old Tanya Randall wants is a happy family. But Mum does nothing besides housework, Dad’s always down the pub and Nanna Purvis moans at everyone except her dog. Then Shelley arrives –– the miracle baby who fuses the Randall family in love for their little gumnut blossom. Tanya’s life gets even better when she meets an uncle she didn’t know she had. He tells her she’s beautiful and could be a model. Her family refuses to talk about him. But that’s okay, it’s their little secret. Then one blistering summer day tragedy strikes, and the surrounding mystery and suspicion tear apart this fragile family web.  Embracing the social changes of 1970s Australia, against a backdrop of native fauna and flora, The Silent Kookaburra is a haunting exploration of the blessings, curses and tyranny of memory.  Unsettling psychological suspense blending the intensity of Wally Lamb with the atmosphere of Peter James, this story will get under your skin.

About the author

An image posted by the author.

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

Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in the historical “The Bone Angel” series set against a backdrop of rural France during the French Revolution. The second in the series, Wolfsangel, set during the WWII German Occupation of France, was published in October, 2013. The third in the series, Blood Rose Angel, set during the 14th century Black Plague years was published in November, 2015.

The Silent Kookaburra, a dark psychological suspense novel set in 1970s Australia, was published in November, 2016.

Friends, Family and Other Strangers From Downunder is a collection of 14 humorous, horrific and entertaining short stories set in Australia, for readers everywhere.

Liza is a co-founder and member of Triskele Books, an independent writers’ collective with a commitment to quality and a strong sense of place, and also reviews books for Bookmuse.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Letters Never Meant To Be Read by @marcdcrepeaux #NonFiction

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Letters Never Meant To Be Read by Marc D Crepeaux and other authors

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Letters Never Meant To Be Read by Marc De Crepeaux

3.5 out of 5 stars

Isn’t the cover gorgeous?  This is a collection (by a group of writers) of those letters you’d love to write, to get off your chest what you really want to say to people like the friend you’ve fallen out with, your ex-husband, ex-employer, the descendent you’ll never meet, etc.  A clever and unusual idea, I thought.

As is always in compilations, the quality of these little pieces vary, though they are all well presented.  Generally, I liked the contributions by Meghan best; they were more acerbic, witty ~ and more concise, which I think works better for this.  Others reminded me more of blog posts, or essays, with far more background and explanation than might be found in a real letter to someone.  My absolute favourite, though, was ‘Dear Mother Prostitute’ by Marc, which was excellent.  I could tell which ones Brandon had written from the title and first line; I guessed each one, after reading his first two, and was never wrong.  They seemed brooding, introspective; the styles of the writers was much in evidence.  Interestingly, the last letter is from older Marc to his younger self; I liked that, and it made me want to write my own.

I don’t know if they were written as catharsis for the writers, but I would guess so.  I am sure they worked very well for this (I bet most of us have written that email or letter in such a vein, that we’ve never sent!).  As such, they were perhaps less entertaining than they might have been, had they been written more with the reader in mind, and now and again I felt a bit of professional editing might have served the book well, but the honesty and emotion certainly shone through in each one.   A thought-provoking exercise, and there’s a good bit at the back showing a photo and a small bio of each writer, which meant so much more after having looked inside their minds.  For the record, only Marc looked anything like I imagined him.

Incidentally, Marc also invites contributions….

Book Description
Sometimes angry, occasionally sad and often with humorous quotes, the authors of Letters Never Meant to be Read share their views on life with the power of the written word. In the today’s world of 3 second text messaging, emojis and Facebook, most people don’t know how to write a letter that connects with others. Imagine the effect that you could have on the object of your unrequited love, if you could express yourself through letter writing!

Letters Never Meant to be Read contains a compelling series of writings which have been created by five accomplished authors. Immerse yourself in these amazing letters and allow your full range of emotions to be experienced as you rediscover the power of the written word in letter form.

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT IREX by @carlrackman #HistFic #Mystery #SundayBlogShare

Today’s team review is from Suzanne, she blogs at https://suzannerogersonfantasyauthor.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Suzanne has been reading Irex by Carl Rackman

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I am reviewing IREX by Carl Rackman for Rosie’s book review team. I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.

What a book!
I liked the writing instantly and was intrigued by the whole premise of the story. It did start a little slow and there was a lot of description throughout the book, but it was fascinating being transported back in time to the Victorian era on the Isle of Wight and aboard the Irex as it attempted to sail to Rio.
There were twists I wasn’t expecting that dragged me deeper into the story and the book was written in a way that compelled you to read on. It switched in time to before the shipwreck with Captain Hutton on the Irex, and afterwards at the inquest to find out what happened to the ship and its occupants.
I love a mystery and this book sets the reader up with plenty of intrigue. It’s very cleverly written, with lots of atmospheric description and great characters. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but the two main contenders are Captain Hutton, and the coroner Mr Blake. All the characters are well drawn and believable and I am sad to have finished reading about them.
I highly recommend IREX to those who enjoy historical fiction with plenty of murder and mystery thrown in. And if, like me, you don’t normally read this kind of book, I think you will come to realise what you’ve been missing out on! 
My rating 4.5 stars
Book Description
In the harsh winter of December 1889, the sailing vessel Irex leaves Scotland bound for Rio de Janeiro. She carries three thousand tons of pig iron and just three passengers for what should be a routine voyage. But Captain Will Hutton discovers that one of his passengers hides a horrifying secret. As his conflicting feelings toward his passengers threaten both his authority and even his sanity, he realises he must fight to save his ship.
When the Irex is wrecked off the Isle of Wight six weeks later, it falls to the county coroner, Frederick Blake, to begin to unravel the events that overtook the doomed ship — but he soon finds that powerful forces within the British Establishment are working to thwart him. Locked in a race against time and the sinister agents sent to impede him, he gradually discovers that nothing aboard the Irex is what it first seemed…
Irex is an atmospheric mystery, set in a rich Victorian world, packed with intrigue, twists and colourful characters — the spellbinding first novel by Carl Rackman.
About the author
Carl Rackman
Hi! I’m Carl Rackman, a British former airline pilot turned author. I come from a naval military background and have held a lifelong interest in military history and seafaring. 
I spent my working life travelling the world and this has given me a keen interest in other people and cultures. I’ve drawn on my many experiences for my writing.
I write suspense thrillers with a flair for evocative descriptions of locales and characters. I enjoy complex, absorbing storylines combined with rich, believable characters, so that’s the sort of fiction I write. I try to create immersive worlds for the reader to explore, and characters who are more than just vehicles for the story.
I hope you’ll enjoy my books and leave reviews. I try to personally thank reviewers if they particularly enjoyed my books.

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Codename Lazarus by @APMartin51 #WW2 #Thriller

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Codename Lazarus by A P Martin

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Codename Lazarus is taken from a true story and set in pre World War II Britain and Germany. It’s John King’s last day of an eighteen month research stay in Heidelberg. Although he will be sorry to leave his friends, the threatening climate in Germany, the increase in Hitler’s dictatorship and the ensuing violence against Jews only disgusts and horrifies, somewhat neutralising the sadness at leaving.

Several years later, John King is a gifted academic with a Doctorate and a major interest in the Second Reich. He is approached by his erstwhile tutor, Professor Pym with an incredible proposition. If John agrees, his life will never be the same but his help would be invaluable to Britain in the fight against Germany.

John’s struggles with the constraints of his new role, and the position he finds himself in, are compelling and I enjoyed the danger, intrigue and resulting tension.

A very good story with a well thought through plot, which I found extremely interesting. The build up was slow and steady, most of the action takes place in the second half of the book. The author obviously has an incredible knowledge and huge enthusiasm for this period of history, and it shows. The re-creation of certain points, such as the rise of the Nazis and the growing persecution of the Jewish community in Germany, an impromptu execution, the Blitz and the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk were written realistically and very well done. I liked the way Dunkirk was experienced from the perspective of Joachim Brandt, John King’s erstwhile friend. The feeling of time and place is apparent and the narrative gives an authentic sense and of events.

However, I do feel that the narrative needs a little smoothing out, some of the dialogue, a couple of characters and situations were unconvincing, most notably John and Greta’s relationship. Also, I think there was scope for more development of John King’s character. Having said that all that, Codename Lazarus is a promising debut.

Book Description

Spring 1938: Great Britain is facing potentially lethal threats: the looming war with Germany; the fear that her Secret Service has been penetrated by Nazi agents and the existence of hundreds of British citizens, who are keen to pass information to her enemies.

John King, a young academic, is approached by his Oxbridge mentor to participate in a stunning deception that would frustrate Britain’s enemies. As King struggles to come to terms with the demands of his mission, he must learn to survive in a dangerous and lonely ‘no man’s land’, whilst remaining one step ahead of those in hot pursuit.

Adapted from a true story, ‘Codename Lazarus’ takes the reader on a journey from the dark heart of Hitler’s Germany, across the snowy peaks of Switzerland to the horrors of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the London Blitz, before reaching a thrilling and decisive conclusion, from which none of those present emerges unscathed.

About the author

A.P. Martin

I was born and spent my entire working life in the North West of England, where I taught at school, college and university levels. I became Head of Department of Social Sciences at a University, specialising in the study of social inequality, social mobility and sport. During my academic career I published many sociological studies on these themes.

Since taking early retirement, I have really enjoyed immersing myself in reading and writing fiction. I feel that most historical fiction benefits from a connection to something that actually happened, so when I wrote my first book, Codename Lazarus, I took a little known true story and used it as a framework for an exciting thriller.

I am currently writing my second spy story, which also takes as its inspiration a fascinating, yet almost unknown episode from the Second World War.

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