Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Mystery Novella An Empty Vessel by @JJMarsh1 #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading An Empty Vessel by J. J. Marsh

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This is such a captivating novella. The author clearly and without sentimentality tells the story of poor Nancy, misunderstood and downtrodden, overlooked by almost everyone in her life. Unattractive and ungainly, Nancy’s options in life are limited, but she pulls herself up, and is successful at what she does. Now she finds herself in a cell, about to be hung for murder.

The book looks back, from Nancy’s point of view and those around her, to the events that have led up to this moment. And you’re kept guessing all the way through. I’m not going to give anything away, but this is a real page turner, and you’ll be desperate to get to the end to find out the truth while all the time not really wanting to leave Nancy, alone in her cell.

So well-written, this story captures your imagination. There is nothing overwrought here, or overdone, and that adds to the emotions you feel – the writing is honest, and your reactions are genuine.

The other characters are fully drawn and believable too with enough detail that you really feel you know them, without unnecessary information dragging the narrative down. It’s a lesson in restraint and shows the skill of a competent and talented writer.

I feel that Nancy could almost warrant a novel by herself, but as the heart of this novella, she is a compelling character, in a powerful narrative that is a pleasure to read.

Five stars

Book description

Today’s the day Nancy Maidstone is going to hang.

In her time, she’s been a wartime evacuee, land-girl, slaughterhouse worker, supermarket

assistant, Master Butcher and defendant accused of first degree murder. Now she’s a prisoner condemned to death. A first time for everything.

The case has made all the front pages. Speculation dominates every conversation from bar to barbershop to bakery. Why did she do it? How did she do it? Did she actually do it at all? Her physical appearance and demeanour in court has sparked the British public’s imagination, so everyone has an opinion on Nancy Maidstone.

The story of a life and a death, of a post-war world which never had it so good, of a society intent on a bright, shiny future, and of a woman with blood on her hands.

This is the story of Nancy Maidstone.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Horror #Novella CONGEAL by @john_f_leonard

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

#RBRT Review Team

Robbie has been reading Congeal by John F. Leonard.

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Human civilization is a fragile thing and author John Leonard does a superb job of depicting this frailty and the ease with which society can fray and disintegrate when faced with calamity which knocks out the power and other communication sources. A primeval ooze, that becomes know as the clag, is sighted in a lake in a small rural town. It moves swiftly and silently, popping up in cities and towns all of the world within days. The clag comes from the very centre of the earth and uses man’s own interventions against him such as the sewers and the manholes. It sweeps in vast, rippling sheets of mud-like substances across entire suburbs and towns leaving nothing in its wake. The few survivors are left stunned and helpless to try and regroup and survive in virtually impossible circumstances.

Amelia has recently found the love of her life, William, and they live a happy and relaxed life in the country with their dog. Amelia has just discovered she is pregnant and their joy will be complete, but before she can even tell William the news, the clag strikes and her life is torn to shreds. Amelia flees her home and the terrible memories associated with it and happens to come across a small group of survivors led by a man called Pete.

This book is a true horror book. In fact, it is the ultimate in horror as the main characters alternatives gradually disappear as different survival theories fail, one after the other.

For me, the most interesting aspects of this book where the characterizations of the various survivors in the group that initially revolve around Pete, a man who has a plan and a determination to survive. As the circumstances of the group become more hopeless and the group shrinks, their shaky unity starts to fracture and conflict starts to divide them. There would seem to be a lot of truth in the old saying “divide and conquer.” It reminded me a bit of Lord of the Flies by William Golding when the tentative leadership and attempt at a society breaks apart with tragic consequences.

Book description

It starts with reports on the news of an inland lake turning semi-solid.
Surely, a media joke, some lame April Fool’s prank?
The before and after pictures are vaguely ludicrous and oddly disturbing, the contrast stark and strange.
First, darkly rippling water that hints at hidden depths. Slightly spooky and perfectly normal. Next, a putrid blotch of clotted sludge which bears little resemblance to anything aquatic.

It isn’t a joke.
And pretty soon, that greasy, sickening substance isn’t confined to an inland lake.
It’s spreading. Flowing over fields and filling streets.
Each morning brings a new revelation. Countryside denuded of life and towns empty and echoing.
The night is when it changes, becomes something that consumes. Something infinitely worse than a congealed impossibility.

CONGEAL is a short tale of apocalyptic horror. How the world ends may not be how you expect. Nuclear Armageddon or a zombie apocalypse could get beaten to the punch.
Our apocalypse may come from below.
An ancient, cosmic entity bubbling up to the surface in search of food.
It’s also the story of one individual and her fight to stay afloat in a sea of despair.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Contemporary #Fiction WINTER FLOWER by @CharlesEMiles

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Winter Flower by Charles Sheehan-Miles

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This is the first novel I read by Charles Sheehan-Miles, who is a brand new author to me, although he has published a large number of books, and from the comments, I guess he has a legion of fans that were surprised by this book, as it is not a romance. I cannot compare it to his previous work, but I agree with the warning. If readers from his previous books approach this novel as a romance, they will be shocked, because it is far from it.

This is a long book (over 600 pages long), divided up into four parts, with a prologue set two years before the main action of the book, although there are flashbacks (memories) narrated in the first-person by the four main characters —all members of the same family— that offer readers a good understanding of the background to the current situation and help them get to grips with their circumstances, their pasts, and who they are. This is the story of a family, a married couple and their two children, on the brink of collapse due to a terrible tragedy that took place two years before the action we follow chronologically. Or so it seems. (The truth is a bit more complicated than that). Sam and Brenna, the children (adolescents by the time we met them) are close, and Brenna has always willingly played the role of big sister to Sam, there to protect and guide. Until she disappears. Carrying on without her puts a big strain on a family we soon learn was going through difficulties already (some more out in the open than others), and whose communication had ground almost to a halt. The parents, Cole and Erin, are living example of the “opposites attract” edict, at least from a political perspective (Cole, the father, who as a young man decided formal education wasn’t for him and moved up the corporate ladder at lightning speed, is conservative as can be, while Erin, the mother, a college  graduate, is a convinced liberal who sacrificed her career to look after her children), and although the story opens up with Sam’s narration, we soon get to read their own perspective on the matter and the kind of traps they find themselves in.

This is a story that deals in many important subjects, and it could have been told in a variety of ways, but I am impressed not only by the subjects (adultery and its toll on family relationships, sex trafficking, rape, prostitution, bullying, harassment and violence against the LGBT community, missing youths, the isolation of the trans-gender experience for young people, prejudice and harassment at work…) and the sensitive and enlightening way they are handled, but also by the way the story is told. The author allows each character to tell his/her own story, and that makes us walk a mile in their shoes, no matter how uncomfortable they might feel. I am sure many readers will think, as they read, that they would have never reacted in a certain way, or allowed their circumstances to deteriorate to such an extent, but, do we truly know? Although, as the author reminds us in the final note, the events in the book are far from unique (yes, it is a work of fiction, but many individuals and families, unfortunately, will go through similar experiences to those depicted in the book), many of us will never have been in close contact with somebody in such dire circumstances, much less be directly affected by it, so, how do we know what we would do? The characters are not necessarily the most likeable when we meet them (drinking heavily, harassed, afraid for their lives, paralysed and frozen, unable to make decisions and move on), and they are all closed off from each other, trapped, physically or mentally, sometimes by others and their preconceptions, sometimes by their own fears and inability to grief and forgive. The author also makes a conscious decision to introduce the rest of the family —the parents and Sam— first, so we get to see the effect her loss has had on the family before we meet Brenna, the missing girl. Her situation is heart-wrenching, and the most extreme and difficult to read about, although none of the characters have an easy ride.

Thankfully, the author manages to achieve a difficult balance between telling the story, not pulling any punches, making sure people can understand and empathise with what the characters are going through, while avoiding extremely graphic scenes (both of sex and violence), and gratuitous iterations and repetitions of the abuse, which would risk further exploitation rather than facilitating understanding and empathy. Don’t get me wrong; this is a hard read, and readers with triggers around topics such as child abuse, rape, bullying, violence against women and the LGTB community, and racism need to be aware of it. Even people who don’t have such triggers will find it a tough read, but, on the other hand, this is a book with a big heart, and the individual journey of each character, and of the family as a whole, make for an inspiring and hopeful read.

I have already talked about how impressed I am by the story and the way it is told. I grew fond of all the members of the family by the end of the book (it’s impossible for our hearts not to go out to Sam and Brenna, but we get to appreciate their parents as well), and I particularly enjoyed the journey of enlightenment Cole’s father goes through. The author includes most of the reactions we can imagine to these subjects, from the sublime to the ridiculous, (not everybody changes and accepts either. Bigotry remains alive and well, as we all know), and they all felt true. I was particularly fond of Jeremiah and his wife — almost too good to be true— who are an ideal we should all aspire to. I also liked the fact that the story does not stop when most readers would expect it to, and even Sam makes comments on that. There is no magical happy ending here that just makes everything right again. All the members of the family will have to keep working at their relationship and supporting each other, but that is as it should be.

There were no negative reviews of the book at the time I wrote this, and the only objections (apart from the warning that it is not a romance) some people had referred to were Sam’s virtual game playing (that a reader didn’t feel added anything to the novel. Personally, I think it helps readers understand what life is like for the character and experience the kind of coping strategies adolescents in similar circumstances might use), and some others felt the book could have been shorter and still managed to tell the same story. That might be true, but I suspect some of the nuances would have been lost.

This is an excellent book that manages to combine complex and credible characters with a plot that deals with several difficult subjects, without becoming preachy or too graphic. It is horrifying, touching, and insightful all at the same time, and it makes readers witness the highs and lows of the human condition. I recommended it to readers interested in the subjects, but I advise those who might worry about possible triggers to proceed with caution. The author adds some resources (links to websites) for people who need more information about some of the issues raised in the book, and I thought the final conversation of the book, between Brenna and her grandfather in the garden —when the grandfather talks about the snapdragon, and how it grows back after getting rid of the dead stuff, stronger and more beautiful— stands as a great metaphor for the story, and explains the title. Highly recommended.

Book description

A shocking and poignant story of a family on the brink of destruction and the transformational events that could bring them back together—or tear them apart.

Every day, Cole Roberts reminds himself that life wasn’t always this bleak. He was once passionately in love with Erin. Sam used to be an artistic and lively kid. They hadn’t always lived in a shabby two-room house in rural Alabama, where he runs a mediocre restaurant in the middle of nowhere.

That was before Brenna disappeared. It was before Cole lost his job and they lost their home.

Every day it gets worse. Erin drinks wine out of the bottle and spends her days with a tormented expression, searching the web for signs of their daughter. Sam hides in his room and rarely speaks. And Cole works himself to a stupor for a paycheck a fraction of the size of his old salary.

Until one day a phone call changes everything.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #ChickLit Jennifer Brown Moving On by @JenBJourney

Today’s team review is from Jenny.

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading Jennifer Brown Moving On by Angie Langley

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What an absolute delight it was to read the sequel to Jennifer Brown’s Journey. I loved the first book so much I simply could not wait to get my teeth into the second instalment. I am not disappointed either. From the very first page I was tittering and laughing out loud.

There are some marvellous surprises and some very touching moments, which made me cry. Most of all though, are the typical Jennifer Brown moments that made our heroine loveable. Jennifer’s career really takes a surprisingly interesting turn in this book. The reader takes every nervous and exciting step with her, willing and encouraging her to work her magic. Which she does, to perfection.

Angie Langley has done it again! Her way with words and her sense of fun make this a charming and delightful book to read.

Please Angie….let’s have a part three.

Book description

She’s back!
Five feet one and full of fizz, Jennifer Brown has learned to roll with the punches and adapt to whatever life throws at her. It’s thrown plenty in the past and she’s had to use her steely core to reinvent herself, first as cook and housekeeper to a saucy sexagenarian, then as manager of a tumbledown country estate with sensitive secrets. In Jennifer Brown On The Move, this Bridget Jones with knobs on is taking charge of her life again, showing the world she can move in the most exalted, high-power circles and lose not an ounce of her gutsy, down-to-earth charm. Her hilarious cross-dressing confidant Will is on hand once again, with pearls of caustic widsom, and her old boss Jonathan Dashwood-Silk breezes in and out of her life, still dripping charisma but still needing our heroine to dig him out of the odd hole. As she crosses continents and breaks bread with the world’s movers and shakers, Jennifer Brown finds her mind still troubled by thoughts of the quiet man with the warm eyes and the velvet vowels. Then that daydream is torpedoed when she’s invited to his wedding.
But you know Jennifer. She never gives up!

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Art Heist #Thriller Marked For Revenge by @JSAauthor

Today’s review is from Sandra,

#RBRT Review Team

She has been reading Marked For Revenge by Jennifer S. Alderson

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Marked for Revenge is the third book featuring art researcher Zelda – now working in the Amstel Modern museum in the Netherlands. I had no idea that there were other books in this series and it did not matter at all; at no point did I feel that not having read the previous books in the series was affecting my understanding.

It is a complex story told from multiple viewpoints and this works really well. We get insight into why the crimes are taking place, and not just a hunt for the perpetrators, which results in a much more nuanced narrative. It is obvious that a lot of research has gone into this book, the detail is convincing and the author’s love of art history shines through.

The vivid descriptions of Venice and Marmaris are a highlight and will make you want to visit them and see the sights for yourself. It is well written, with believable characters and lots of action. The themes of art theft, forgery and revenge are woven seamlessly into this fast-paced thriller. I look forward to reading about Zelda’s next adventure.

Book description

An adrenaline-fueled adventure set in the Netherlands, Croatia, Italy, and Turkey about stolen art, the mafia, and a father’s vengeance.

When researcher Zelda Richardson begins working at a local museum, she doesn’t expect to get entangled with an art theft, knocked unconscious by a forger, threatened by the mob, or stalked by drug dealers.

To make matters worse, a Croatian gangster is convinced Zelda knows where a cache of recently pilfered paintings is. She must track down an international gang of art thieves and recover the stolen artwork in order to save those she loves most.

The trouble is, Zelda doesn’t know where to look. Teaming up with art detective Vincent de Graaf may be her only hope at salvation.

The trail of clues leads Zelda and Vincent on a pulse-pounding race across Europe to a dramatic showdown in Turkey that may cost them their lives.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction SEVERED KNOT by @CryssaBazos #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Severed Knot by Cryssa Bazos

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4.5 out of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book so much.  The basic story: Iain Johnstone is a Scottish soldier imprisoned by Cromwell’s men after persuading many of his contemporaries to go south and fight for Charles II.  Mairead O’Conneil is a young woman staying at her uncle’s house in rural Eire for ‘safety’ while her father and brothers fight the Parlimentarians ~ but then the soliders come… and both Iain and Mairead find themselves on a slave ship bound for Barbados.

I hadn’t read this relatively new writer before, but I’m glad I’ve discovered her; she’s seriously talented.  The book is professionally presented, which I appreciated so much; it is clear that the research has been both meticulous and extensive, but at no time was I overly aware of it; I never felt that I was reading her research notes, as can so often be the case.  The atmosphere of the prisons, the slave ships and the Barbadian plantations, with all their horrors, is colourfully illustrated, and her characterisation and dialogue kept me engrossed, throughout.  I liked, too, that it gave me a view of how the English troubles spread far and wide.  Aside from all this, it’s a terrific adventure story.

Within the plot is a romantic thread, a background shadow in the first half of the book that steps closer to centre stage as it goes on.  The theme is the romantic novel standard of two people taking against each other on sight then being extraordinarily rude to each other whenever they cross paths before finally admitting their passion, which can work well if cleverly written, and this was.

Sadly, though, because of the descriptions of Mairead (tiny, skinny, frizzy-haired, plain, sprite, ‘Mouse’) I could only ever picture her as a sort of meek teenage imp, rather than a woman likely to inflame the passions of the Sean Bean-as-Sharpe/Boromir-like Iain, so it fell a little flat for me.  This sort of opinion is only ever a personal viewpoint, though, and I must bear in mind that I not a fan of romantic fiction, generally; I was glad that other non-love stuff made up the main body of the book.

Despite these reservations, I am still rounding the 4.5* up to 5* on Amazon in the interests of objective reviewing, because it really is an exceptionally good novel, and I will definitely place her on my mental ‘read more’ list.

Book description

Barbados 1652. In the aftermath of the English Civil War, the vanquished are uprooted and scattered to the ends of the earth.

When marauding English soldiers descend on Mairead O’Coneill’s family farm, she is sold into indentured servitude. After surviving a harrowing voyage, the young Irish woman is auctioned off to a Barbados sugar plantation where she is thrust into a hostile world of depravation and heartbreak. Though stripped of her freedom, Mairead refuses to surrender her dignity.

Scottish prisoner of war Iain Johnstone has descended into hell. Under a blazing sun thousands of miles from home, he endures forced indentured labour in the unforgiving cane fields. As Iain plots his escape to save his men, his loyalties are tested by his yearning for Mairead and his desire to protect her.

With their future stolen, Mairead and Iain discover passion and freedom in each other’s arms. Until one fateful night, a dramatic chain of events turns them into fugitives.

Together they fight to survive; together they are determined to escape.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT @CathyRy reviews #Mystery SUSPICION by @BGuiton

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Suspicion by Brenda Guiton

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Wanting to escape the miserable British weather, Holly, a self employed web designer, decides to accept her mother’s invitation to stay at her villa on the Costa de la Cruz. Seated next to her on the plane is Nathan, an extreme sports enthusiast, embarking on a paragliding trip. Holly was intrigued by Nathan’s adventures and by the time they landed numbers had been exchanged and plans made to meet up.

When Nathan proposed, the decision to marry after knowing someone for such an incredibly short time was a gamble Holly was prepared to take, regardless of the fact she thought it odd Nathan didn’t want to tell his family beforehand. Moving to the family’s luxury log cabin holiday park in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales seemed perfect to Holly. The only drawback is Kyle, Nathan’s adoptive brother. They have a tight bond and Kyle makes Holly feel unwelcome. When nasty incidents occur that seem to compromise her, Holly has no doubt who is behind them.

‘It struck me as strange that he didn’t even want to tell Kyle, given that they had such a close relationship. When I questioned this, he seemed somewhat vague and a little irritated, which I must admit rather puzzled me. In the back of my mind was a nagging suspicion it wouldn’t go down too well. After all, the dynamics were about to change. I would be a distraction and maybe Kyle would resent that, afraid that I might interfere with their sporting lifestyle.’

Straightaway there’s the inference that all isn’t as it seems, there’s a sense of unease which gets more obvious as the story progresses. Holly has no intention of coming between Kyle and Nathan so is at a loss to understand his antagonism. Kyle does seem to have some sort of hold over Nathan and Nathan tends to dismiss Holly’s concerns about Kyle’s attitude towards her. She’s not comfortable in Kyle’s company most of the time and can’t understand why Nathan doesn’t take her seriously. An overheard snippet of gossip causes Holly’s burgeoning suspicions to deepen and prompted her to delve into the past, unprepared for what she finds.

Holly, as the main character, is a well developed, intelligent (although perhaps such a quick marriage wasn’t the best choice) protagonist and sees through Kyle almost immediately. The author builds tension and suspense in a well written and perfectly paced character driven narrative with a psychological edge and always with a sense of impending disruption. It’s an intriguing premise, a possible recipe for disaster and we’re kept in the dark about the mystery aspect until a series of flashbacks begin to connect the present with the past. An enjoyable, easy to read story in a beautiful setting. Knowing the places mentioned is always a bonus, adding to the imagery.

Book description

A lightning romance and hastily arranged marriage takes Holly up north to live at the heart of Nathan’s family business – a luxurious log-cabin park on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. She has everything to look forward to, but within days of her arrival she falls prey to a series of unsettling events. It is obvious that someone doesn’t want her there.
It all points to Kyle, Nathan’s surrogate brother, a deeply manipulative individual who shares a complex relationship with her husband. Suspicious of his motives and desperate for some answers, she starts delving into his past. An accidental discovery, concerning a mysterious disappearance, alerts Holly’s suspicions further and she is determined to find the key to it all. But things are not so straightforward and she is unprepared for the chilling revelations in store.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Art Heist #Thriller MARKED FOR REVENGE by @JSAauthor

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

#RBRT Review Team

Robbie has been reading Marked For Revenge by Jennifer Alderson

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This is the third book I have read in the Zelda Richardson series which I find quite unique as a whole due to its focus on the world of art museums in the Netherlands. Ms Alderson describes the artworks that feature in her stories with rich clarity which I really enjoy. She clearly has an extensive knowledge of this subject which she shares in an interesting and entertaining way and makes me long to visit the art museums in the Netherlands.

Zelda has is finally coming together. She has a paying job in a local museum as a researcher, her relationship with Jacob is going well and she has a great apartment in a building inhabited mainly by artists. She has befriended on of the artists, a young Croatian woman called Gabriella, and has even started making her own stained glass windows again. Life couldn’t be better until a series of brazen art thefts starts rocking the art world in the Netherlands.

Skilled and daring thieves break into the poorly secured museums around the country and steal a selection of rather unusual artworks. They do not take the most valuable and well know pieces, but rather the more obscure artworks by famous artists. A card saying the art has been taken by Robber Hood due to the poor security of national treasures is left behind at each location.

When Gabriella suffers a diabetic collapse in front of Zelda who takes her to her apartment to administer her insulin, Zelda sees what she believes to be a copy of one of the stolen pieces together with an in-progress copy on Gabriella’s easel. She is attacked by a visitor to Gabriella’s apartment while she is still there and incurs a serious head injury which affects her memory, making it unreliable.

Soon after Zelda returns to work, her museum becomes a victim of Robber Hood and due to various circumstances surrounding her attack and what she thinks she saw in Gabriella’s apartment, Zelda becomes a suspect and is suspended from her job. She teams up with a well-known art theft private investigator hired by the museum to find the missing art and sets of on an adventure to clear her name and find the missing artwork before it disappears forever.

This is my favourite of the Zelda Richardson series so far. The character of Zelda has matured and become a bit more of a thinker and a planner. I enjoyed the step up in her relationship with Jacob and the introduction of a bit of a more stable romance which in no way detracted from the main storyline. All in, a well research, well written and entertaining read.

Book description

An adrenaline-fueled adventure set in the Netherlands, Croatia, Italy, and Turkey about stolen art, the mafia, and a father’s vengeance.

When researcher Zelda Richardson begins working at a local museum, she doesn’t expect to get entangled with an art theft, knocked unconscious by a forger, threatened by the mob, or stalked by drug dealers.

To make matters worse, a Croatian gangster is convinced Zelda knows where a cache of recently pilfered paintings is. She must track down an international gang of art thieves and recover the stolen artwork in order to save those she loves most.

The trouble is, Zelda doesn’t know where to look. Teaming up with art detective Vincent de Graaf may be her only hope at salvation.

The trail of clues leads Zelda and Vincent on a pulse-pounding race across Europe to a dramatic showdown in Turkey that may cost them their lives.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

44431594

 

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #PostApocalyptic #Horror #ShortStory CONGEAL by @john_f_leonard

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Congeal by John F. Leonard

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4.5 stars

Another fine novella that fits perfectly into the limited space – I do appreciate writers who understand how to use the shorter format so well.

Amelia had a happy life with a man she loved, but then the Clag arrived; now she’s stuck in a deserted city with a guy she can’t stand, as nasty slimy stuff from the deep bowels of the earth rises up to swamp the world….

Having just read two post apocalyptic novels that centred round human relationships and practical survival, Congeal underlined to me how many subsections this genre has; this one is far into the ‘horror’ end.  Amongst its many strengths, I liked the short, sharp prose style, so appropriate for the horror and despair of Amelia’s situation, though not without dry humour.  I also enjoyed that those in the group with whom she found herself trying to survive―a standard in all PA stories―were not all of the likeable, resourceful, charismatic variety, as they so often are; indeed, Pete, Maurice, Yvonne and the others were types she would have avoided like the plague (pun intended) in real life.

A good ending, too―I had no clue about Amelia’s fate, even by 95%.  Anyone who has read the author’s recent novella The Bledbrooke Works will enjoy the connection between the two, but both are entirely stand alone.  Oh, and one more thing – in the flashbacks to Amelia’s pre-apocalypse life, she refers to her mother as ‘Mom’, several times.  As she is English, living in England, and her story is written by a British author, I questioned this – out of place American English is one of my ‘ouches’, but apparently it’s a Birmingham-Irish thing, as well. Just making this point, in case it’s one of your ‘ouches’, too.

Book description

It starts with reports on the news of an inland lake turning semi-solid.
Surely, a media joke, some lame April Fool’s prank?
The before and after pictures are vaguely ludicrous and oddly disturbing, the contrast stark and strange.
First, darkly rippling water that hints at hidden depths. Slightly spooky and perfectly normal. Next, a putrid blotch of clotted sludge which bears little resemblance to anything aquatic.

It isn’t a joke.
And pretty soon, that greasy, sickening substance isn’t confined to an inland lake.
It’s spreading. Flowing over fields and filling streets.
Each morning brings a new revelation. Countryside denuded of life and towns empty and echoing.
The night is when it changes, becomes something that consumes. Something infinitely worse than a congealed impossibility.

CONGEAL is a short tale of apocalyptic horror. How the world ends may not be how you expect. Nuclear Armageddon or a zombie apocalypse could get beaten to the punch.
Our apocalypse may come from below.
An ancient, cosmic entity bubbling up to the surface in search of food.
It’s also the story of one individual and her fight to stay afloat in a sea of despair.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #RegencyRomance The Work Of Art by @MimiMatthewsEsq

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

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading The Work Of Art by Mimi Matthews

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Phyllida Satterthwaite is presented to us surrounded by a cacophony of misbehaving dogs, all of whom she owns and cares about. Insisting on bringing them to the London home of her uncle Edgar Townsend, she must soon find a husband to provide for her, now she is penniless.  It is apparent that she puts animals before people and she seems unaware of her beauty, only thinking herself odd because of her mismatched eye colours.  But for one person, the Duke of Moreland, she is a work of art, which he wishes to add to his collection.

It might have gone according to Townsend’s plan had it not been for the noble actions of Captain Arthur Heywood, but what use is he, so badly injured from the battle of Albuera that he can hardly walk. Yet Arthur and Philly are drawn together because they don’t fit into the artificial society of Regency London.  Arthur fears a terrible fate will befall Philly and he is prepared to use his wealth, and power to keep her safe.  But can there be a happy ending?  Arthur is damaged, physically and mentally, while Philly is an innocent, gentle girl who longs for independence and a safe place to look after her animals.

As with all Miss Matthews’ novels, it is the conversations between hero and heroine which catch the imagination. As love grows, problems increase. Philly is still in danger and Arthur is not fit enough to protect her.  There are credible misunderstandings and a complex plot but the intimacy of this delightful couple is such a pleasure to read.

Book description

An Uncommon Beauty…

Hidden away in rural Devonshire, Phyllida Satterthwaite has always been considered more odd than beautiful. But in London, her oddity has made her a sensation. Far worse, it’s caught the eye of the sinister Duke of Moreland–a notorious art collector obsessed with acquiring one-of-a-kind treasures. To escape the duke’s clutches, she’s going to need a little help.

An Unlikely Hero…

Captain Arthur Heywood’s days of heroism are long past. Grievously injured in the Peninsular War, he can no longer walk unaided, let alone shoot a pistol. What use can he possibly be to a damsel in distress? He has nothing left to offer except his good name.

Can a marriage of convenience save Philly from the vengeful duke? Or will life with Arthur put her–and her heart–in more danger than ever?

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