Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Mystery The Bluebell Informant by @NickRBTingley

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

#RBRT Review Team

Karen has been reading The Bluebell Informant by Nick Tingley

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My Opinion

This book introduces you to DS Evelyn Giles; having a day off on Bank Holiday was wonderful – until the phone rang.

With The Bluebell Informant, Nick R. B. Tingley has created the promising first book in a mystery series. It is a nicely elaborated read, taking you close to DS Evelyn Giles. Secondary characters are also relevant; mystery fans will love to check the tiniest details. Even if Nick R. B. Tingley focusses on Evelyn, the story comprises interesting events and memories. I was drawn relatively close to Evelyn – especially as the story evolves; she is vulnerable, she is strong and witty. According to their relevance, the characters are of sufficient depth, believable with their flaws and/or virtues. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

This is a book for you if you like British mystery/suspense series and strong female characters.

Recommended.

Book Description

How do you catch a killer who is already dead?
One year ago, the Bluebell Killer killed his last victim. He was shot and killed, leaving behind a legacy of twenty corpses and a name that people will fear for years to come…
A year later, a man is shot in the back of the head and left in a field of bluebells.
Is it a mugging gone wrong? A copycat killer? Or is the Bluebell Killer still out there, waiting to pounce on his next victim?
For DS Evelyn Giles the solution is simple – it’s just another dirty politician caught committing an unforgiveable crime. But with the evidence stacking up against him, Giles’ suspect has one more surprise in store for her…
And his words will throw everything she knows into question…
‘It’s not over yet.’
The past is coming back to haunt DS Giles. She’s already sacrificed much for the lie. The only question is how much more will she suffer for the truth?
An ingeniously, gripping thriller, The Bluebell Informant is a dark, unexpected and emotionally charged debut.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Mediterranean Summer by @JaneFMackenzie

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

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Mediterranean Summer by Jane MacKenzie

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I’m a bit of a Francophile. France is definitely my favourite place to visit and I plan to move there permanently one day – Brexit permitting. So I love reading anything set in France and this novel, set just after the civil unrest of Paris in 1968, sounded intriguing.

Art student Laure is returning home to her quiet village after her involvement in the Paris demonstrations. She needs to rest and recover, and she also needs to find a way to resolve the problem hanging over her – a problem that could mean the end of her studies.

At first the peace and solitude are soothing, and Laure enjoys reconnecting with her family and her childhood friends. But her brother-in-law Daniel has a new job at the Nobel factory in Paulilles, and trainee doctor Martin, his brother and Laure’s best friend, is worried about the risks the workers there face from exposure to nitro-glycerine.

The gorgeous summer is clouded by these issues and with Laure’s worries over what has happened in Paris. Then Martin’s cousin Robert, a lawyer from Paris, offers to help. The novel focuses on these relationships – between Laure and Robert, Laure and her family, and Laure and Martin’s family.

There is romance here, and conflict, and at the heart is a girl trying to find her place in a changing world. Laure is a lovely main character, and the interactions between the characters are well-written. There are some beautiful descriptions, of the little towns, the gorgeous countryside, and, of course, the wonderful food, and this part of France is really brought to life through the writing.

It’s a gently-paced read, which works well with the setting. However, it was too slow at times, and, while the descriptions were beautifully done, there were places where they went on for too long, and I did find myself skipping ahead. I do feel that this novel could be quite a bit shorter.

It was also a little difficult to keep track of the many characters and their complicated relationships – though it was worth persevering. The writing was a little too formal at times as well, and came across as a little forced and unnatural. However, on the whole this is a lovely novel, just right for a summer read.

Four out of five stars

Book Description

‘Beautiful artist, beautiful woman, and beautiful lover.’
May 1968 and Paris is hot with rebellion, passion and hope, as protestors clash with the riot police. Brilliant art student Laure stands boldly on the barricades, heady with her new-found defiance, and is swept into romance with Lolo, the fascinating student leader. But youthful rebellion comes at a cost.
Two months later, the excitement is over. Laure heads home for the summer to Vermeilla, her picturesque Mediterranean village. She looks forward to the simplicity of village life, and to a summer in the sun with family and friends, but is aware that the new Laure may shock her little Catalan community.
But even Vermeilla isn’t protected from the forces of change. Shadows hang over both Laure and her village haven. Can she battle the menace that has followed her from Paris? And can she trust Robert, the aloof lawyer who may be the only one who can keep her safe?

About the author

Jane MacKenzie

Jane MacKenzie has lived an exceptionally adventurous life, working in such far-flung corners of the world as the Gambia, Bahrain, and Papua New Guinea, and Switzerland and France nearer to home.
She is as much at home teaching in an African village as organising the research budgets of Nobel scientists, and is a natural linguist, picking up languages wherever she has lived, to complement the fluent French from her first degree in French Language and Literature.
She is an entrepreneur, an international expert in education, and latterly helped transform the UK Government’s Office at CERN in Geneva during two years as its Head. In her fifties Jane turned to writing novels, for a new challenge, and to fulfil a long-held dream.
Jane splits her time now between her homes in the Scottish Highlands, and in her beloved Catalan village in France, the region where her three novels have been set.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Dark Clouds Over Nuala by @HarrietSteel1 #HistFic #Mystery

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Dark Clouds Over Nuala by Harriet Steel

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Inspector Shanti de Silva and his English wife, Jane, were attending Nuala’s very fashionable horse racing event, the Empire Cup, along with the assistant government agent, Archie Clutterbuck and his wife, Florence. William and Lady Caroline Petrie, were also in attendance with visiting family. The Wynne-Talbots, Ralph and Helen, were on their way from Australia, via Ceylon, to England to visit Ralph’s grandfather. Ralph is in line for the title of the 14th Earl of Axford and as his grandfather is not in the best of health, it seems he may inherit the title sooner rather than later.

At William Petrie’s request, Clutterbuck has organised a hunting party at Horton Plains, which included the Wynne-Talbots and several other people. When a death occurs at the most famous spot at Horton Plains, a precipice with a drop of thousands of feet, it’s generally assumed to be suicide. Shanti de Silva, with no head for heights, has to make a hair-raising trip up the mountain.

‘As the road snaked up through low, scrubby forest in a series of alarmingly tight hairpin bends, he averted his eyes from the sheer drop a few yards from the line of ambling ponies. Once, a monkey leapt from a nearby bush and, gibbering furiously, scampered across their path. De Silva’s pony shied and the reins slipped through his sweating palms. He quickly gathered them again and the animal settled but his heart beat faster for several minutes.’

Dark Clouds Over Nuala is set in the exotic and evocative era of genteel 1930s Ceylon and is the second book featuring the courteous and engaging Shanti de Silva, along with a cast of delightfully diverse and wonderfully developed characters. As with the first book in the series, Harriet Steel paints a vivid picture of the area, the food, culture, and societal undertones and attitudes of the time in the small community, giving the story a real sense of time and place.

Another very enjoyable, cosy mystery, faster paced than previously, and de Silva finds himself in rather more danger as well. Alongside the main plot are a couple of side stories involving Constable Nadar, a new father suffering from sleepless nights, and Sergeant Prasanna whose mother keeps trying to marry him off. The narrative is well written and plotted, and flows smoothly as the mystery unfolds. The relationship between Jane and Shanti is lovely and portrayed well with the differing cultures melding together.

Book Description

Set in Ceylon in the 1930s, this second book in the Inspector de Silva Mysteries offers another colourful, relaxing read as the arrival in the hill town of Nuala of the heir to an English earldom signals more trouble for the hapless Inspector de Silva and a new mystery to solve. Throw in a mega-rich Romanian count, his glamorous countess and an enigmatic British army officer and the scene is set for an entertaining mystery.

About the author

Harriet Steel

Harriet Steel is the author of several historical novels including Becoming Lola and Salvation. Her work has appeared in national newspapers and magazines. She is passionate about history and blogs about it at harrietsteel.blogspot.co.uk

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The Lover’s Portrait by @JSAauthor #HistFic #Mystery

Today’s team review is from Barb, she blogs here http://barbtaub.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been reading The Lover’s Portrait by Jennifer Alderson

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My Review: 3.5  stars out of 5

“Write what you know.” Like most vintage advice, there is a kernel of truth to that, especially if you interpret it as “take what you’ve experienced and use it to inform and color what you write”. Jennifer S. Alderson is certainly one writer who takes that advice to heart. Like her character Zelda, she was working as a website developer in Seattle, Washington, when the travel bug hit. After several international stops, she ended up in the Netherlands, pursuing a graduate program and internship in exhibition design and collection research.

In book two of this series, Alderson’s fictional doppelganger, Zelda, is counting on her internship at the Amsterdam Museum to ensure her admission to the prestigious graduate degree program in Museum Studies. But Zelda is disappointed to discover that she’s really only expected to work as a copyeditor, proofing english translations of the catalog copy. Museum curators and staff have been working for years to prepare for an exhibit of unclaimed art works recovered after Nazi occupation in World War II.

Interleaved with Zelda’s contemporary research are chapters set in 1942. In them, the history of the missing artworks unfolds against a backdrop of war, blackmail, the holocaust, and homophobia.

When Zelda offers to apply her web development skills to enhance the museum’s dreadful online site meant to showcase each work of art, her efforts are mocked and rebuffed by exhibition curator Huub Konijn. But before the new website can be taken down, they get their first hit. An elderly American, Rita Brouwer, whose family had fled Nazi-occupied Amsterdam when she was a child, came forward to claim Irises, one of the lesser-known works.

The museum administrators are delighted, and quick to publicize their first success. All that turns to dismay when another claimant to Irises emerges. Curator Huub is sure the new claim is valid, but Zelda is convinced that the picture belongs with Rita and her elderly sisters. As Zelda and her young friend/admirer Friedrich dig deeper, the stakes go from lies and greed to murder.

There were so many things to like about this book. The premise—Nazi-looted artworks hidden for decades—is both timely and terrific, and the settings were well-drawn and believable. Nazi atrocities against both Jews and homosexuals are well-documented. And we’ve all heard about families who’ve spent years trying to recover property looted by the Nazis, as well as the dramatic discovery of more than 1200 works in the apartment of reclusive German art dealer Cornelius Gurlitt.  And as a thriller, the novel’s pacing unfolds perfectly, slowly at first and then racing to its dark climax.

For me, though, there were a few problems with the book. I can wish for tighter editing for the various typos and edit fails (including the instance where Huub calls someone “Renee”). I can wish that better research/editing could have caught things like the reference to a non-Jew as one of hundreds of guests at a bar mitzvah party, even though such an event would have been more likely to be a family-oriented dinner feast in the days preceding more recent American-style extravaganzas. Or that while there is a definite point made to one character wearing a wig, we never really find out why.

Some things were probably just artistic license taken in order to make a point, such as the unlikely conversation between an art history graduate student and a museum curator where they discuss the meaning of “provenance”—something that should surely have come up on the first day of her first art history class. Or the way that the Nisqually earthquake was moved forward in time…and relocated from Olympia to Seattle.

But my real disappointment with The Lover’s Portrait is with the main characters, especially Zelda. We know that she’s an intrepid woman who has traveled the world. Trying to avoid spoilers, I have to say that she comes across as immature and surprisingly gullible, especially in her romantic relationships. Despite what I would have seen as opportunities for character development and growth, I can’t point to times where Zelda has changed or matured in any way. And—while trying to avoid spoilers here— I can also say that the other “romantic” relationship between the villain and his accomplice is even less believable.

In addition, virulent opposition of curator Huub to giving Irises to its original owner and his almost fawning acceptance of the second claim is vaguely attributed to his own family’s suffering during the war. While the plight of the Netherlands Jews is well documented—of the over 140,000 Jews living in the Netherlands at the beginning of the war, less than 27% survived the holocaust, and those who did almost invariably returned to find their property confiscated and possessions gone—that simply doesn’t explain why he would prefer one claimant over another.

Having said all that, I come back to the fact that this is a well-told story over all, with significant research, great settings, and good pacing. Author Jennifer S. Alderson can definitely write, and I’d look forward to reading her future books.

Book Description

When a Dutch art dealer hides the stock from his gallery – rather than turn it over to his Nazi blackmailer – he pays with his life, leaving a treasure trove of modern masterpieces buried somewhere in Amsterdam, presumably lost forever. That is, until American art history student Zelda Richardson sticks her nose in.

After studying for a year in the Netherlands, Zelda scores an internship at the prestigious Amsterdam Historical Museum, where she works on an exhibition of paintings and sculptures once stolen by the Nazis, lying unclaimed in Dutch museum depots almost seventy years later. When two women claim the same painting, the portrait of a young girl entitled Irises, Zelda is tasked with investigating the painting’s history and soon finds evidence that one of the two women must be lying about her past. Before she can figure out which one and why, Zelda learns about the Dutch art dealer’s concealed collection. And that Irises is the key to finding it.

Her discoveries make her a target of someone willing to steal – and even kill – to find the missing paintings. As the list of suspects grows, Zelda realizes she has to track down the lost collection and unmask a killer if she wants to survive.

The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery draws on the author’s experiences gained while studying art history in the Netherlands and working for several Dutch museums. Before moving to Amsterdam twelve years ago, Jennifer S. Alderson worked as a journalist and website developer in Seattle, Washington.

About the author

Jennifer S. Alderson

Hi! I worked as a journalist and website developer in Seattle, Washington before trading my financial security for a backpack. After traveling extensively around Asia and Central America, I moved to Darwin, Australia, before finally settling in the Netherlands. There I earned degrees in art history and museum studies. Home is now Amsterdam, where I live with my Dutch husband and young son.

My travels and experiences color and inform my internationally-oriented fiction. Down and Out in Kathmandu: adventures in backpacking is a travel fiction adventure through Nepal and Thailand. The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery is a suspenseful ‘whodunit?’ which transports readers to wartime and present day Amsterdam.

Both novels are part of an on-going yet stand-alone series following the adventures of traveler and culture lover, Zelda Richardson. The third installment, another art-related travel thriller (working title: Smuggler’s Deceit) will be released in the fall of 2017.

My travelogue, Notes of a Naive Traveler: Nepal and Thailand, is now available as paperback and eBook. A must-read for those interested in learning more about – or wishing to travel to – Nepal and Thailand.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Inceptio by @alison_morton alternative #Rome fiction

Today’s second team review is from Jessie, she blogs here http://behindthewillows.com

#RBRT Review Team

Jessie has been reading Inceptio by Alison Morton

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If you are looking for insight into what it might be like to live in an alternate reality in a civilization founded by Romans and ruled by women, this book will touch on that.

If you are wondering how it would be to step from a nobody into the top tier of society, this story flirts with that.

If what you really want is to read a book where, when circumstances get scary and difficult, a woman trains hard, becomes awesome and then kicks butt, this is your book.

Would I recommend it? I was almost disappointed there wasn’t more insight into the different culture the main character finds herself in. Almost. But I couldn’t be at all disappointed because I was too busy turning pages. This story had me hooked!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I discovered this book because I’m a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team!

Book Description

New York, present day, alternate reality. Karen Brown, angry and frightened after a kidnap attempt, has a choice – being eliminated by government enforcer Jeffery Renschman or fleeing to mysterious Roma Nova, her dead mother’s homeland in Europe.

Founded sixteen centuries ago by Roman exiles and ruled by women, Roma Nova gives Karen safety, at a price, and a ready-made family. Just as she’s finding her feet, a shocking discovery about her new lover, special forces officer Conrad Tellus, isolates her.

But the enforcer has crossed to Europe to pursue her. Unable to rely on anybody else, she undergoes intensive training, develops fighting skills and becomes an undercover cop. But crazy with bitterness at his past failures, Renschman sets a trap for her, knowing she has no choice but to spring it..

About the author

Alison Morton

Even before she pulled on her first set of combats, Alison Morton was fascinated by the idea of women soldiers. After six years in a special communications regiment, she left as a captain, having done all sorts of interesting and exciting things she can’t talk about, even now…

The mosaics at Ampurias (Spain) and their creation by the complex, power and value-driven Roman civilisation made her wonder what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women.

Now, she writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with tough heroines, tends a Roman herb garden and drinks wine with her husband of 30 years.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Forbidden Fruit by @stangazemba #Africa Life @TheMantle

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Forbidden Fruit by Stanley Gazemba

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FORBIDDEN FRUIT by Stanley Gazemba

4 out of 5 stars

Forbidden Fruit is a novel about life in a Kenyan village, about the vagaries of human nature, but I felt it was more an illustration of the life and times of the people; the plot comes second.  The ‘forbidden fruit’ of the title refers not only to an illicit affair, but other aspects of the story.

The main character is impoverished villager Ombima, who, at the beginning of the novel, is stealing food from the farms owned by his employers, simply because his family do not have enough.  I found the differences between the poor and the wealthy starkly delineated; this interested me and was very well done.  The descriptions of the rural life were quite an education, and even though, by Western standards, the lives of the villagers is harsh, I felt that they were no badly off than we are.  Certainly there was much joy to be found.

I found the dialogue a little strange at times; I don’t know if it was translated from another language or if the author’s first language is not English; there is no author profile on Amazon for me to see.  But it was a mixture of Americanisms and some curious choices of words; I don’t know how Kenyans talk so I can’t say whether or not it is authentic.

If you are interested in every day life in rural Africa I am sure you will love this book; every aspect of life is explored in great detail.

Book Description

Fiction. African and African American Studies. Winner of the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature. Desperate to make ends meet, Ombima commits a “harmless” crime. When he tries to conceal his misdeed, the simple farm laborer becomes a reluctant participant in a sinister affair. If discovered, the consequences could be disastrous for Ombima’s family, friends, and a spate of unwitting, gossipy villagers. A delicious tale of greed, lust, and betrayal, Stanley Gazemba’s FORBIDDEN FRUIT is more than a dramatic tale of rural life in western Kenya. The moral slips and desperate cover-ups–sometimes sad, sometimes farcical–are the stories of time and place beyond the village of Maragoli

About the author

Stanley Gazemba

Stanley Gazemba is an award-winning author and his breakthrough novel, ‘The Stone Hills of Maragoli’, published by Kwani? won the Jomo Kenyatta prize for Kenyan Literature in 2003. He is also the author of two other novels: ‘Callused Hands’ and ‘Khama’, he has written eight children’s books. A prolific writer, Stanley’s articles and stories have appeared in several international publications including the New York Times, ‘A’ is for Ancestors, the Caine Prize Anthology and the East African magazine. Stanley lives in Nairobi and his short story ‘Talking Money’ was recently published in ‘Africa 39’, a Hay Festival publication which was released in 2014. Published by Bloomsbury Publishing Inc, ‘Africa 39’ features a collection of 39 short stories by some of Africa’s leading contemporary authors. Stanley is also in the process of working on an array of creative literary projects.

 

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The Darcy Monologues anthology @xtnaboyd @JenettaJames

Today’s team review is from Jessie she blogs here http://behindthewillows.com

#RBRT Review Team

Jessie has been reading The Darcy Monologues anthology by various authors

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I have read Pride and Prejudice, more than once and, while I quite like the book, I have to say (at risk of being stoned by hoards of angry women ) that Mr. Darcy is not my ideal man.  Please, don’t write me off yet because, while I might prefer someone a little more rugged than ballroom ready, I can see why women have pined over Mr. Darcy for over 200 years.

Two hundred years is an impressive amount of time, which mostly makes me wonder why there are still men out there claiming to be confused about what women want. Hello? Guys? Mr. Darcy has been making women sigh for two centuries! If what a woman wants is still confounding you, possibly you should take a lesson from Darcy himself.

Boys, all you have to do is master the combination of wealth, wit, a willingness to address your faults and an all-consuming passion for your woman of choice.  In fact, if you can check all these off your list, all those women will probably let you insult them terribly before giving you a second chance and eventually succumbing to your charm.

All this brings us to the Darcy Monologues. Depending on your preferences you can either read these to further your fantasies of Mr. Darcy in your quest for his real life counter part, or (I’m talking to the confused men out there) you could read these as research if you are still trying to figure out just what will set the women’s hearts aflutter for you.

The Darcy Monologues is a collection of short stories, about the infamous Mr. Darcy himself. The first half, set in the 1800’s Pride and Prejudice era, follow the original story fairly closely, but from Mr. Darcy’s view. Some of them address what happened after the book, some let you know what was going on in Mr. Darcy’s head and some explore the, ahh, steamier side of things… The second half are contemporary versions. Mr. Darcy heads West (now that was my kind of Darcy), runs radio stations, and plays major league baseball all while pursuing the enviable Ms. Bennet.

Would I recommend it? My only issue with this anthology was that I couldn’t just hop from one story to the next. I found early on that too many different Mr. Darcys talking to too many Bingleys muddled my head to no end. Once I realized I had a one story a night limit I enjoyed my daily dose of Darcy completely! An excellent collection for anyone who enjoys a good tale of pride and prejudice.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I discovered this book because I’m a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team!

Book Description

“You must allow me to tell you…”
For over two hundred years, Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has captivated readers’ imaginations as the ultimate catch. Rich. Powerful. Noble. Handsome. And yet, as Miss Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is established through Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, how are we to know his mind? How does Darcy progress from “She is tolerable: but not handsome enough to tempt me” to “I thought only of you”?
In this romance anthology, fifteen Austenesque authors assemble to sketch Darcy’s character through a series of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times—from faithful narratives to the fanciful. Herein “The Darcy Monologues”, the man himself reveals his intimate thoughts, his passionate dreams, and his journey to love—all told with a previously concealed wit and enduring charm.
Stories by: Susan Adriani * Sara Angelini * J. Marie Croft * Karen M Cox * Jan Hahn * Jenetta James * Lory Lilian * KaraLynne Mackrory * Beau North * Ruth Phillips Oakland * Natalie Richards * Sophia Rose * Joana Starnes * Melanie Stanford * Caitlin Williams

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**Giveaway** one paperback copy of this book. Open internationally. Leave your name and contact e-mail on this form for a chance to win. Closes Sunday August 20th.

 

 

 

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Contemporary Skin Deep by Laura Wilkinson @scorpioscribble

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

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Skin Deep by Laura Wilkinson

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My Review:

I have previously read Public Battles, Private Wars by Laura Wilkinson and admired her writing style,  so was looking forward to delving into her latest offering. I wasn’t disappointed, even though it is completely different  from what I expected.

In a way it’s a strange, almost uncomfortable tale, told in both present time and flashback. But it is one I came to understand; so many times we are judged by how we look and the author skilfully handles the characters; they come to life slowly but surely as the story progresses.

The dialogue is realistic and natural; the internal monologues of Cal as an adult are fascinating.

Some sections of the Northern setting in the 1980s were familiar for me  and gave a good sense of place. The descriptions of the darkest parts of the city and the living conditions of the characters were well written and gave an insight to the seedier side of Manchester at that time.

Less than a plot and more of a thoughtful unravelling of the interior lives of both the protagonist, Diana, and the other main character, Cal, Skin Deep is a book that left me pondering on the rights and wrongs of Diana’s actions on how her relationship with Cal. progresses.

Loved the ending by the way.

Book Description

Art student and former model Diana has always been admired for her beauty, but what use are good looks when you want to shine for your talent? Insecure and desperate for inspiration, Diana needs a muse.

Facially disfigured four-year-old Cal lives a life largely hidden from the world. But he was born to be looked at and he needs love too. A chance encounter changes everything and Cal becomes Diana’s muse. But as Diana’s reputation develops and Cal grows up, their relationship implodes.

Both struggle to be accepted for what lies within.
Is it possible to find acceptance in a society where what’s on the outside counts for so much?

About the author

Laura Wilkinson

Laura Wilkinson grew up in a Welsh market town and now lives in Brighton with her husband and two boys. Her novels: Skin Deep, The Family Line, Public Battles, Private Wars and Redemption Song are published by award-winning Welsh press, Accent. What does all her work have in common? Compelling stories, fascinating characters, and ideas that make you think a little. At least she hopes so! As well as writing fiction, she works as an editor & mentor for literary consultancy, Cornerstones, and The Writing Coach.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #WW2 #HistFic Wolfsangel by @LizaPerrat #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reviewing Wolfsangel by Liza Perrat

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WOLFSANGEL by Liza Perrat

5 out of 5 stars

This is the second of the Liza Perrat’s Bone Angel trilogy to be written, but the latest in historical period; it takes place during the Nazi occupation of the village of Lucie-sur-Vionne in World War Two.  I think it’s the best of the three.

The trilogy’s theme of medicine woman and herbalist continues in the form of the mother of twenty-year-old Celeste, the main character.  At the outset of the book, Celeste is dealing with the occupation of Lucie with the same quiet fear and anger as the other villagers and her friends.  As time goes on, the demands of the Germans increase in their severity, and no one is sure who is collaborating.  Celeste goes to work with the Resistance in Lyons, but she has her own dark secrets with which to contend, as she falls in love with someone she shouldn’t.

The book is a real page-turner, and the sense of growing fear is so well done.  I was pleased that it was realistic; Celeste loses people she loves, and there are some truly gripping scenes, such as when she and other Resistance workers rescue two prisoners from a hospital.  The last twenty pages, when a truly shocking event takes place, took me by complete surprise; I was engrossed.  The ‘afterwards’ bit is written with great sensitivity, too, with a couple of surprising reunions, but it avoids becoming schmaltzy; it’s too respectful of those who really suffered such tragedy for any such cheap shot.

I found the hot-headed Celeste irritating at times, but that was fine, because she was meant to be like that; she worked.  The book is so well researched, and there is a section after the novel has finished that tells of the real life events that inspired some of this fascinating story.  Well done, Liza Perrat!

Book Description

Seven decades after German troops march into her village, Céleste Roussel is still unable to assuage her guilt.
1943. German soldiers occupy provincial Lucie-sur-Vionne, and as the villagers pursue treacherous schemes to deceive and swindle the enemy, Céleste embarks on her own perilous mission as her passion for a Reich officer flourishes.
When her loved ones are deported to concentration camps, Céleste is drawn into the vortex of this monumental conflict, and the adventure and danger of French Resistance collaboration.
As she confronts the harrowing truths of the Second World War’s darkest years, Céleste is forced to choose: pursue her love for the German officer, or answer General de Gaulle’s call to fight for France.
Her fate suspended on the fraying thread of her will, Celeste gains strength from the angel talisman bequeathed to her through her lineage of healer kinswomen. But the decision she makes will shadow the remainder of her days.
A woman’s unforgettable journey to help liberate Occupied France, Wolfsangel is a stirring portrayal of the courage and resilience of the human mind, body and spirit.

About the author

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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 family for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist.
Since completing a creative writing course ten years ago, 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, France Today and The Good Life France.

Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in the French 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 Nazi Occupation of France, was published in October, 2013. The third, Blood Rose Angel, set during the 14th century Black Plague years was published in November, 2015.

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Rosie’s Review Team #RBRT The Last Detective by @briancohnMD #SciFi #Crime #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading The Last Detective by Brian Cohn

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Thanks to Rosie Amber for organising Rosie’s Book Review Team and for providing this great opportunity for reviewers and authors to meet.

I don’t read many purely science-fiction books (I’m not a big fan of lengthy descriptions, and world-building can take a fair amount of space while I generally care more for characters) but I’ve read a few recently that I’ve enjoyed, enough to make me pay more attention to sci-fi offerings. Some novels combine sci-fi with other genres and that usually brings them onto more familiar territories. This novel is one of those cases. It is a fairly classical (in style) noir detective novel:  you have the disenchanted detective who has left the police disappointed with the way things are done now (in his case, though, there was an alien invasion on Earth that all but destroyed Humanity’s achievements and progress over centuries [no electricity, limited access to fuel, no telephones, no TV, no democracy]… Humans have become prisoners, rationing of food has come back, and aliens control access to the few resources left, and they send humans to ‘labor camps’ somewhere outside of Earth with some cooperation from the human ‘authorities’) and who is called back because he’s the only one who can solve a murder. Now that the police have become no more than puppets of the aliens (also called ‘slicks’, because of the peculiar aspect of their skin), there is nobody else who still remembers how things were done. This is a DIY police procedural novel (no computers, no DNA analysis or blood tests, only very basic gathering of evidence and use of deductive powers, almost back to Conan Doyle or Christie) with a main characters, Adrian Grace (a very apt name, as we discover), who has probably lost everything and who describes himself as being ‘addicted’ to detective work. There might be other reasons (read excuses) why he chooses to accept the case of the murder of a Slick (they have somewhat of a herd mentality and do not hurt each other but it seems unthinkable that a human would dare to try and kill one of them) but the main one is because he misses being a detective.

The story is told in the first person, present tense, from Grace’s point of view, and it follows the chronological order, with the main action taking place over only a few days. Although he has fallen quite low, he hasn’t reached the level of others, and he is smart, witty, and has a rather black sense of humour that is what keeps him going.  Although he does not dwell for too long on his circumstances, or those of humanity (the novel starts with a brief chapter that takes place right at the moment when the aliens arrive, that allows us a glimpse into Grace’s work before normal life came to an end, and we get to meet his partner, Yuri, who is missing by the time the main action of the novel starts), he is harder in appearance than in reality. He trusts his instincts; he suspects everybody but is also quick to believe in first impressions and happily accepts as a partner a young female detective, whom he trusts from very early on (because he needs somebody to trust). Grace reminded me of many of the hard-boiled detectives of old, but he is not violent by nature and avoids guns if he can help it, and in contrast to more modern models, he is witty but not foul-mouthed. He drip-feeds us details about his life (he was brought up a Catholic, he was married with kids, he talks about his mother’s death when he explains his lack of faith…) and he still looks after his father. His relation with his father is heart-warming, despite the terrible situation, and it only reinforces the fact that we are dealing with a human being and not a collection of clichés. Although I’m very partial to unreliable narrators, Grace is not one of them, at least not by design. This being a mystery, we are not always given always given all the information, but if we are misguided, it is because Grace is mistaken or wrong-footed (by others or himself).

The book is not heavy on descriptions and the world the book describes is like a ghost of our world, like those empty and abandoned towns we sometimes see on TV that have fallen prey to disasters (economic, natural, or man-made). We have human beings that have lost their purpose, groups of religious extremists (the Abandoned, who sustain God has abandoned Humanity), resistance groups, and the aliens can also function as stand-ins for many dictatorial regimes bent on the destruction of all opposition (Nazi Germany comes to mind, but many other, recent and distant, would also fit the bill). Some of the humans are complicit with the regime whilst others are not what they seem to be. The book allows for reflections on the nature of society, politics, religion (there is a priest that plays an important part), family, betrayal, guilt, and ultimately hope. Grace is not always right, but he has not lost his humanity, and he is a realistic character we would all like to befriend.

This is a tremendous book, where the science-fiction and the detective genre work in symbiosis and create a novel that is more than the sum of its parts. Recommended to fans of both genres, especially those who don’t mind experimentation within the genre, and in general to people who enjoy fiction that pushes them to think whilst keeping them turning the pages.

Book Description

It’s been two years since the invasion.

Two years since the slicks came to our planet and herded humanity together like cattle, placing us under constant watch in the few cities that remain. The lucky ones are left to their own devices. The unlucky few are rounded up and carted off to labor camps to face an unknown fate.

Former homicide detective Adrian Grace was cut off from his family, but has somehow managed to survive. When one of the slicks is murdered, they ask him to find the killer. He reluctantly agrees, and in the course of his investigation witnesses the best, and the worst, that humanity has to offer: a plot to escape the labor camps; a pending war between an in-your-face councilwoman and the corrupt city mayor; and a priest who claims to have befriended the dead alien. But worst of all, he stumbles onto a conspiracy that puts the fate of the entire city in jeopardy. In the end, Detective Grace discovers that the killer might just be the last person he would have suspected.

A story about betrayal, redemption, faith, fear, and hope, The Last Detective is a thrilling look at what happens to humanity when our world crumbles around us.

About the author

Brian Cohn

Brian is an ER doctor practicing in St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives with his beautiful wife and their two rambunctious children. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama where he grew up loving to read. His passion for books continued through his college career at the UNC-Chapel Hill, and traveled with him back to Alabama where he attended the University of Alabama School of Medicine. He moved to St. Louis for residency training, met his wife, and fell in love with both her and the city itself. He has been practicing emergency medicine for over a decade and loves helping people every day, but turned to writing as a creative outlet.

A self-professed nerd, Brian has long enjoyed everything science fiction, from books to TV and movies. He is also a huge fan of great mysteries and thrillers, and is a sucker for a surprising plot twist. He writes the kind of books that he would want to read, reflecting a deep-seated curiosity about what motivates people to do the things they do.

When he’s not busy writing and taking care of patients, Brian loves to run, play with his children, and spend quiet time watching TV with his wife. If he can only figure out how to do all three things at once, he’ll finally have it made.

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