Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Victorian #Mystery FAME & FORTUNE by @carolJhedges

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Fame & Fortune by Carol J Hedges.

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Fame & Fortune is the eighth outing for DS Jack Cully, DI Lachlan Greig and DI Leo Stride, otherwise known as the Victorian Detectives. Carol Hedges immerses us once again in a London peopled with the sad and the bad, the rich and the poor, and the evocatively described back alleys, slums and more fashionable thoroughfares they inhabit.

When a body is found hanging from the scaffolding on a bridge, Detective Inspector Greig doesn’t agree with the presumption of suicide by the attending constable. It didn’t add up in Greig’s eyes but the ineptitude of the constable regarding the scene of the crime, as Greig believed that’s what it was, didn’t help.

Then we have Gerald Daubney, a collector of antiquities who has been robbed of his priceless netsuke collection and, it seems, his manservant has also disappeared.

In a shabby, cobbled passageway in Bloomsbury we find ten year old Izzy Harding, scraping a living of sorts and existing off very little, painting furniture for dolls’ houses, one of the many children working at the long tables. Her second job washing dishes in a diner at least comes with food, such as it is.

The indomitable Miss Lucy Landseer makes another appearance when she comes to the aid, not only of novelist, Mrs Riva Hemmyng-Stratton, but also a lady in an intolerable position, in a situation that would perhaps make a good plot for one of her books.

The villainous Black brothers, Herbert and Munro, encompass all that is bad and whose shady dealings have serious and continuing repercussions throughout the city.

I enjoy these books immensely and Carol Hedges’ writing and plotting never fails to draw me in, with witty and engaging prose. Characters are extremely well drawn, giving an immediate visual image and the existing cast continue to develop. And as always, London features as a character in its own right with atmospheric descriptions and the distinct social divide between all levels of society.

Book description

When the body of a man is discovered hanging from some scaffolding under one of London’s bridges, Scotland Yard’s detective division is called in to solve the mystery of his identity & how he died. What they discover is a web of crime and extortion, and at the heart of it, two evil brothers, Munro and Herbert Black. Their inquiries will bring them into contact with the strange world of Gerald Daubney, collector of Japanese curios, whose priceless collection of netsuke has disappeared.

Facing a similar loss is Mrs Riva Hemmyng-Stratton, writer of ‘silver-fork’ novels, who suddenly finds herself embroiled in a court case when she is sued for defamation and libel by Lord Edwin Lackington. Her priceless reputation as a writer is on the line. How on earth can she prove her innocence when the only person who could vouch for it is incarcerated in a private asylum?

Many old friends make appearances in the novel … and a certain meaningful relationship finally reaches its conclusion.

AmazonUk |

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT GENERATION W: 100 Inspiring Women, 100 Years Since Women Got The Vote

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

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Generation W by Urban Kingdom

I have dipped into this book over the last few weeks and, on the whole, enjoyed ‘listening‘ to the voices of so many inspirational women giving their opinions and their voices to what it is like to be a woman living in these times. There are many sections: arts, sports, feminism, music, politics – so many different walks in life; so varied. Some so intense that it’s only been possible to read one or two before having to set the book aside to think about their issues, their points of view. I have to admit there have been so many scenarios that I have not had to deal with in my life – and I have great admiration for the strength of character that comes through in the telling.

A small note of disappointment and something that could easily be rectified; the book does need another edit and proofread. I’ll leave it at that.

However, the honesty and integrity shines throughout the book in these uncensored interviews and I have no hesitation in recommending Generation W. A word of warning though: this is a book to buy to keep, to, as I say above, dip into. It’s actually a book I will give to my granddaughter when she is older. It shows that so much can be achieved by anyone with determination and self- belief.

 

Book description

Generation W is a collection of 100 uncensored interviews with 100 unapologetic and leading British women from all generations who answer the same ten questions about what it was like to live through the 100 years since women began to receive the vote.

Including:
Dr Averil Mansfield – The first British female professor of surgery.
Sally Gunnell – The only female athlete to win Gold at Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth level.
Laura London – At 16 years old Laura was homeless, at 18 years old she was the youngest female magician to be inducted into the Magic Circle.
Alice Powell – on the centenary of women receiving the vote, Alice Powell became the first female racing driver to win a race in Saudi Arabia, in the same year it was finally made legal for women to drive in the country.
Stacey Copeland – growing up, boxing was illegal for women to compete in, in 2018 Stacey Copeland would become the first British woman to win a Commonwealth Title.

ALSO INCLUDING:
The great-granddaughter of legendary suffragette Emmeline Pankurst, HELEN PANKHURST
The first Black leader of a British political party MANDU REID
Former Vogue cover model, leading actress and environmentalist LILY COLE
Beyonce ‘Freedom’ and ‘Runnin’ songwriter CARLA-MARIE WILLIAMS
The first mainstream celebrated female of rock music SUZI QUATRO
Ten times European Gold Medallist Speed Skater ELISE CHRISTIE
BBC Radio 1 DJ JAMZ SUPERNOVAM
PR legend and activist LYNNE FRANKS OBE
Elusive grafitti artist BAMBI
Former Chair of British Library and principal at Newnham College, Cambridge University DAME CAROL BLACK

And many more.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Generation W: 100 women. 100 years since women began to receive the vote. 100% uncensored. by [Urban Kingdom]

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT THE LOST BLACKBIRD: An emotional dramas based on true life events by @LizaPerrat

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Lost Blackbird by Liza Perrat

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This book is certainly an eye-opener.  In the 1950s and 60s (and as late as 1970), children were taken from English children’s homes for a ‘better life’ in Australia.  Sometimes the children were orphans, other times they were in care because the parents were temporarily unable to look after them, and they were shipped off without parental consent.  A few were fortunate, and were adopted by families, but most were used as slave labour on farms, until they were sixteen, when they would be sent to cattle stations to serve an ‘apprenticeship’ – more slave labour.  Most suffered permanent separation from siblings and families in England.

This is the fictional story of Londoners Lucy and Charly Rivers who ended up in ‘care’ (a brutal, regimental establishment) after their mother was wrongly convicted of having killed their father.  When Charly was six and Lucy ten, they were put on a boat with many others, to sail to the other side of the world.

The story alternates between that of Lucy and Charly, who fare very differently.  I found Charly’s story absolutely fascinating, and it was so well written by Ms Perrat; it involved a slow brainwashing until by the time she was sixteen she was not sure what was a memory and what a fantasy or dream; the way in which she tried to capture fleeting images was perfectly illustrated, as was the behaviour of the people who perpetrated this; the gradual unravelling was riveting stuff.  Lucy’s story was so tragic and I was equally engrossed in the first two thirds or so, though I was less convinced by a couple of developments later on.

The book is certainly a page-turner, nicely structured, making me eager to know what would happen next, as hope twinkles in the distance for the characters, then disappears. The writing flows well, and I’d definitely recommend it to any readers who enjoy emotional dramas based on true life events – the fact that all this stuff actually happened gives a hugely compelling slant to the whole story.  At the end of the book, Ms Perrat writes about her research process, giving details of some of the books she used for reference, which has now added to my reading list, too!  I give her a round of applause for bringing these heinous crimes to light in this highly readable novel.

Book description

A powerful story of sisters cruelly torn apart by a shameful event in British-Australian history. Clare Flynn, author of The Pearl of Penang
London 1962. A strict and loveless English children’s home, or the promise of Australian sunshine, sandy beaches and eating fruit straight from the tree. Which would you choose?
Ten-year-old Lucy Rivers and her five-year-old sister Charly are thrilled when a child migrant scheme offers them the chance to escape their miserable past.
But on arrival in Sydney, the girls discover their fantasy future is more nightmare than dream.
Lucy’s lot is near-slavery at Seabreeze Farm where living conditions are inhuman, the flies and heat unbearable and the owner a sadistic bully. What must she do to survive?
Meanwhile Charly, adopted by the nurturing and privileged Ashwood family, gradually senses that her new parents are hiding something. When the truth emerges, the whole family crumbles. Can Charly recover from this bittersweet deception?
Will the sisters, stranded miles apart in a strange country, ever find each other again?
A poignant testament to child migrants who suffered unforgivable evil, The Lost Blackbird explores the power of family bonds and our desire to know who we are.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistFic Based On Real Events THE LOST BLACKBIRD by @LizaPerrat

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading The Lost Blackbird by Liza Perrat

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Liza Perrat has quickly become one of my favourite authors. I read the Silent Kookaburra at the time of its publication, four years ago, and I’ve read all her novels since, both those in the Australia series (set in Australia in the fairly recent past) and also those in her historical series “The Bone Angel”, set in France over the centuries. They all have female protagonists and centre on the lives, difficulties, and challenges women have had to face throughout history. Although the novels are thematically related, they are fully independent and readers can pick any of them and enjoy them without worrying about not having read the rest (although I’d challenge anybody to read one of these novels and not feel compelled to explore the rest).

This novel —quite close thematically to The Swooping Magpie in many ways— offers readers an insight into a shameful and horrific event in recent British-Australian history, which those familiar with the work of the Child Migrant Trust and/or who have watched or read the story behind the film Oranges and Sunshine (the book was originally called Empty Cradles and written by Margaret Humphreys) will be aware of. If The Swooping Magpie talked about forced adoptions, here we go a step further, and children were not only adopted under false pretences, but also sent to the other end of the world (near enough), so they were completely severed from their relatives and all they were familiar with, in some cases to be adopted, but in others to became forced labour and had to undergo terrible abuse in many cases.

Perrat’s fictionalised account takes as its protagonists two sisters from London, whose short lives (Lucy is 10 and Charly 5 when we meet them) had already seen much hardship and suffering, and then a traumatic event results in them ending up in care, and things only take a turn for the worse from then on. The chapters alternate between the point of view of the two sisters (Lucy’s chapters narrated in the first person and Charly’s in the third), although we have a few from the point of view of Annie, their mother (in the third person, present tense). This works very well because although initially we get different versions of the same events, which help readers get to know the two sisters and their outlook in life, later on, when they reach Australia, they are separated (despite the guarantees to the contrary they had been given) and we get to share in their two very different experiences. Although neither of them are as promised or expected, the challenges the two sisters have to face are miles apart. While the younger one gets her identity all but completely erased, the older sister is systematically abused, worked to the bone, and has to experience so many losses that she is almost destroyed in the process.

The story is not an easy read, and it deals with harsh truths and with difficult topics beyond the main historical subject (domestic violence, the institutional care system both in the UK and Australia, forced adoptions and child labour, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, prostitution, poverty, post-natal depression, pathological grief…) so although this is a compelling book, readers must be prepared to be confronted with some ugly truths. I’ve read novels that are much more explicit than this one; don’t get me wrong, but because of the degree of attachment to the characters, the nasty events hit hard.

The characters are well-drawn and believable. Both girls, Lucy and Charly, have their own distinct personalities, with Charly being quiet, a reader, and a deep thinker, and Lucy more of an action girl. She fiercely loves her mother and her little sister, but finds it impossible to keep her mouth shut and keeps getting into trouble, mostly for trying to help or defend others. She learns to be tough and to present a hard front to the world, but that also makes her resentful and unwilling to ask for help. She is mistrustful but also naïve at times, and her stubbornness sometimes works against her. There are moments when her extreme behaviour makes her difficult to like, but her reactions are quite understandable, and her circumstances are such that we can’t help but wonder if we would have done any better. The rest of the girls and boys they meet through their journey, and also their ersatz families are memorable, and some of the scenes that take place have become engrained in my brain and will keep playing there for a long time.

Perrat’s writing is flawless, as usual. She is particularly adept at making us share in her characters’ experiences, and we can see, hear, smell, taste, and almost touch, everything around them: bird songs and cries, food, clothes, the oppressive heat, the sting of mosquitoes, the joy of the first swim in the sea, the luxury of the big cruiser ship… Her depiction of the character’s mental state, their ruminations, the intrusive memories and flashbacks, are also excellent and there are plenty of action, secrets, mystery, and intrigue to keep us turning the pages. The book is also full of Australian and English expressions that will delight lovers of vernacular and casual expressions, and I’ve learned the origins of quite a few expressions I had heard and learned some new ones (blackbirding anyone?)

The ending, as the author comments on her acknowledgements at the end of the book, might not be the norm in many real cases, but it is very satisfying, and I enjoyed it (although throughout the novel we also get to see some pretty different outcomes). The author shares her sources and also thanks those who have contributed to this well researched and accomplished novel in the final pages of the book, and I advise people interested in the topic to read until the very end for further information.

I recommend this novel, and all of this author’s novels, to readers interested in books about the female experience, and also, in this case, about the forced migration of thousands of British children to Australia and other commonwealth countries over the years (this practice was only stopped in 1970). Because of the subject matter, this is not an easy read and can be heart wrenching at times, but it is a compelling fictionalised account of an episode of history that everybody should know about. It is wonderfully written, well-researched, and its characters are likely to remain with readers long after they close the book. A must-read. (Remember that you can always try a sample of the book if you want to get a taster and check if it’s for you).

Book description

A powerful story of sisters cruelly torn apart by a shameful event in British-Australian history. Clare Flynn, author of The Pearl of Penang
London 1962. A strict and loveless English children’s home, or the promise of Australian sunshine, sandy beaches and eating fruit straight from the tree. Which would you choose?
Ten-year-old Lucy Rivers and her five-year-old sister Charly are thrilled when a child migrant scheme offers them the chance to escape their miserable past.
But on arrival in Sydney, the girls discover their fantasy future is more nightmare than dream.
Lucy’s lot is near-slavery at Seabreeze Farm where living conditions are inhuman, the flies and heat unbearable and the owner a sadistic bully. What must she do to survive?
Meanwhile Charly, adopted by the nurturing and privileged Ashwood family, gradually senses that her new parents are hiding something. When the truth emerges, the whole family crumbles. Can Charly recover from this bittersweet deception?
Will the sisters, stranded miles apart in a strange country, ever find each other again?
A poignant testament to child migrants who suffered unforgivable evil, The Lost Blackbird explores the power of family bonds and our desire to know who we are.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #NonFiction GENERATION W: Generation W by Urban Kingdom: 100 women. 100 years since women got the vote. #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Generation W by Urban Kingdom

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There’s so much inspiration to be found in this book, that asks one hundred women the same questions, resulting in some very different answers.

The interviewees come from so many diverse walks of life and all have their own very individual stories to tell. Each woman featured has their own take on what it is like to be a woman in the modern world, what has inspired them, what advice they would give to other women, and how they feel women are portrayed.

It’s lovely to have the voices of so many different women showcased and the interviews provide a varied and inspiring look at just what women are capable of and can achieve.

I do feel that things became a little repetitive and formulaic with the same questions being asked, but I can really appreciate why the authors chose to do this. I think that, because of this structure, this is really a book to dip into, to read two or three interviews and then to dip into again on another day.

I liked that the women were given the freedom to use their own voices and that their replies were included exactly as they were given. That said, the introductions to the interviews and the other sections of the book could have done with a bit of tidying up – the book would really benefit from an edit and proofread, which is a shame, because it does detract somewhat from the interviews.

That said, this is a very thought-provoking book that’s most definitely worth a read.

Four out of five stars

Book description

Generation W is a collection of 100 uncensored interviews with 100 unapologetic and leading British women from all generations who answer the same ten questions about what it was like to live through the 100 years since women began to receive the vote.

Including:
Dr Averil Mansfield – The first British female professor of surgery.
Sally Gunnell – The only female athlete to win Gold at Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth level.
Laura London – At 16 years old Laura was homeless, at 18 years old she was the youngest female magician to be inducted into the Magic Circle.
Alice Powell – on the centenary of women receiving the vote, Alice Powell became the first female racing driver to win a race in Saudi Arabia, in the same year it was finally made legal for women to drive in the country.
Stacey Copeland – growing up, boxing was illegal for women to compete in, in 2018 Stacey Copeland would become the first British woman to win a Commonwealth Title.

ALSO INCLUDING:
The great-granddaughter of legendary suffragette Emmeline Pankurst, HELEN PANKHURST
The first Black leader of a British political party MANDU REID
Former Vogue cover model, leading actress and environmentalist LILY COLE
Beyonce ‘Freedom’ and ‘Runnin’ songwriter CARLA-MARIE WILLIAMS
The first mainstream celebrated female of rock music SUZI QUATRO
Ten times European Gold Medallist Speed Skater ELISE CHRISTIE
BBC Radio 1 DJ JAMZ SUPERNOVAM
PR legend and activist LYNNE FRANKS OBE
Elusive grafitti artist BAMBI
Former Chair of British Library and principal at Newnham College, Cambridge University DAME CAROL BLACK

And many more.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Generation W: 100 women. 100 years since women began to receive the vote. 100% uncensored. by [Urban Kingdom]

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Vintage #Mystery LISTED DEAD (Bunch Courtney Investigations #3) by @Jancoledwards

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Listed Dead by Jan Edwards

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Listed Dead is the third in the Bunch Courtney series and told from her perspective in the third person. There’s much more insight into the Courtney sisters’ background, the environment in which they grew up and the family dynamics in this book. Things have changed drastically for Bunch since the start of the war. The family home, Perringham House, has been requisitioned by the military and Bunch is left to run the estate with the help of Land Girls, while living at the Dower House with her Granny Beatrice.

When a body is discovered in a fatal car wreck close to Perringham House Bunch goes to investigate, hoping it’s no-one from the estate. She knows there’s something suspicious about the accident when she finds Chief Inspector Wiiliam Wright at the scene. The victim is familiar to Bunch as a friend of her sister’s, one of a group of young pleasure seekers who got together several years ago to form a supper club. When a second member of the club is found dead, Bunch finds herself acting as a police consultant (once she and Wright overcame the issue of her title) finding out what she can about the victims and those members of the club who are still around.

I enjoyed the interaction between Bunch and Chief Inspector Wright and their joint investigation. They make a good team and there’s scope for more of a relationship. Bunch is familiar with the lifestyle of the privileged younger set, who want to live as they did before the war and which couldn’t be further from the lives of ordinary people and those serving in the military. Her knowledge of people and places help, but as she invites gossip from friends and contacts someone is not happy with her interference. There’s a darker undercurrent to this story than previously and the trail leads Bunch into life threatening situations.

The writing and characterisations are realistic and authentic for the time, as is the atmosphere which is re-enforced by a strong sense of place. Bombing raids, rationing, air raid shelters and blackouts are becoming part of everyday all across the country, although the cities are hit the hardest, most notably London. The descriptions of the air raids, the shelters and life generally was very evocative.

Bunch is an extremely likeable protagonist, resourceful, determined and quick to notice things. Not much would cause her to deviate once her mind was made up. A very enjoyable read.

Book description

November 1940. The Battle of Britain has only just ended and the horror of the Blitz is reaching its height.

Two deaths in rapid succession on the Sussex Downs brings Bunch Courtney and Chief Inspector Wright together once more. What could possibly link a fatal auto accident with the corpse in a derelict shepherd’s hut? The only clue the pair have is a handwritten list of the members of a supper club that meets at London’s Café de Paris.

Two of those on that list are now dead and the race is on to solve the mystery before any more end up on the mortuary slab.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #Mystery FAME & FORTUNE by @carolJhedges

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Fame & Fortune by Carol J Hedges

5 stars

This is the eighth book in Carol Hedges’ Victorian murder mystery, featuring officers of the law Stride and Cully.  The story starts with a mysterious hanging and the theft of rare Japanese artefacts, and takes the crime-fighting duo to the seediest areas of London and then off to more upmarket districts to see out the Black brothers, Herbert and Munro; Munro runs gambling clubs, while Herbert is often abroad, taking care of his trading empire – but what is he selling?

Running through the main story are a couple of juicy sub-plots – that of a romantic novelist accused by an aristocrat of using his marital dramas as a plot for her novels, and the tale of Izzy, a ten-year-old who works painting furniture for dolls’ houses by day, and washing dishes by night, then goes home to share a mattress with her uncaring mother in an unsavoury boarding house.

Fame & Fortune is up there with the rest of this series, a delight to read, as Ms Hedges spins her story around artfully-drawn characters, at the same time as highlighting the social injustices of the day.  Izzy’s story, in particular, is heartrending.  Another winner; if you haven’t read any of this series, they’re all completely stand-alone, even though certain threads are carried on throughout.  Highly recommended. 

Book description

When the body of a man is discovered hanging from some scaffolding under one of London’s bridges, Scotland Yard’s detective division is called in to solve the mystery of his identity & how he died. What they discover is a web of crime and extortion, and at the heart of it, two evil brothers, Munro and Herbert Black. Their inquiries will bring them into contact with the strange world of Gerald Daubney, collector of Japanese curios, whose priceless collection of netsuke has disappeared.

Facing a similar loss is Mrs Riva Hemmyng-Stratton, writer of ‘silver-fork’ novels, who suddenly finds herself embroiled in a court case when she is sued for defamation and libel by Lord Edwin Lackington. Her priceless reputation as a writer is on the line. How on earth can she prove her innocence when the only person who could vouch for it is incarcerated in a private asylum?

Many old friends make appearances in the novel … and a certain meaningful relationship finally reaches its conclusion.

AmazonUk |

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #RomanticComedy Set In Greece RUNNING HAUNTED by Effrosyni Moschoudi @FrostieMoss

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Running Haunted by Effrosyni Moschoudi

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The description of the book provides a good summary of the plot. There are some surprises along the way (that I won’t go into), and the book fits in well within the romance genre, down to the gorgeous protagonists (both), some difficulties and hindrances along the way (including old lovers and others), plenty of wish fulfilment, and a great ending which will make readers see things in a new light (and will leave them smiling). I have mentioned the paranormal element, and as the blurb explains, we have a ghost who becomes an important protagonist of the book, as well as quite a few unexplained things (and I’m going to avoid spoilers as usual).

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All the characters are easy to like (well, almost all, but I won’t get into that). They are far from perfect, though. We have Kelly, who has transformed her life after an abusive relationship (no physical violence, but her ex-boyfriend always put her down and made her feel insecure) and has turned into a woman who won’t let anybody tell her what she can or can’t do, who will fight to become the person she wants and will help others do the same. On the other hand, she can rush into things without thinking about the consequence; she can be pushy and too direct; and the way she approaches some topics might be one-sided and simplistic (her approach to bullying and to the excess weight of one of the kids, for example), but it’s difficult not to be won over by her enthusiasm and goodwill. Alex is still grieving his wife and finds it difficult to know how best to deal with his children, but he is (as usual in romances) pretty perfect otherwise. The children all have their problems but are good kids and loveable, and what can I say about Charlie, the dog. I adored it! None of the characters are very complex, and this is even more so if we talk about their friends and other secondary characters we see little of. On the other hand, the connection between the members of the family, once the problems have been solved, feels real, and readers are likely to enjoy becoming an ersatz member of the household as much as Kelly does. I really liked Lauren, though, and she is perhaps the one aspect of the novel that feels a little less traditional, as we tend to see women mostly in domestic roles, and there are no particular challenges to the status quo. Lauren’s love for her family is inspiring, and it’s easy to understand why they have all struggled so much to cope without her. She and Kelly seem to have much in common, and I loved her resourcefulness and her wicked sense of humour.

The novel touches upon the different ways people deal with grief, and I found particularly interesting the examples of young children trying to come to terms with the death of their mother. There are very touching moments in the book, and although there is a great deal of humour, the subject is sensitively approached, and I think many people who have suffered losses will feel inspired and comforted by this story.

The writing is fluid and the story is told in the third-person, mostly from the point of view of Kelly, the main protagonist, although there are a few snippets from other characters’ viewpoints, which help readers be a step ahead sometimes but not always (the author keeps a few tricks up her sleeve). There are lovely descriptions of locations and mentions of Greek food, but those do not interfere with the action of the rhythm of the story but rather enhance the enjoyment and help readers immerse themselves in the narrative.

I have mentioned the ending before, and it is a joy. Not only will most readers be left with a smile, but I suspect a few will laugh out loud as well. Well done!

If you are looking for a book that challenges genre and gender conventions, whose characters are diverse, and/or want to avoid triggers related to fat-shaming and bullying, this is not your book. On the other hand, this is a great read for those looking for a sweet romance (no sex or erotica here), in a gorgeous setting, who love the inclusion of humour and paranormal elements. I particularly recommend it to readers who love dogs, Greece, and who can’t go on a real holiday. I enjoyed my time with Kelly and Alex’s family, and I’m sure you’ll do too.

Book description

Kelly ran a marathon… and wound up running a house. With a ghost in it.

Kelly Mellios is a stunning, athletic woman, who has learned—the hard way—to value herself. Having just finished her first marathon in the alluring Greek town of Nafplio, she bumps into Alex, a gorgeous widower with three underage children, who is desperately looking for a housekeeper.

The timing seems perfect, seeing that Kelly aches to start a new life, and Nafplio seems like the ideal place to settle down. She accepts the position on the spot, but little does she know that Alex’s house has an extra inhabitant that not even the family knows about…

The house is haunted by Alex’s late wife, who has unfinished business to tend to. By using the family pet, a quirky pug named Charlie, the ghost is able to communicate with Kelly and asks her for help. She claims she wants to ensure her loved ones are happy before she departs, but offers very little information about her plans.

Kelly freaks out at first, but gradually finds herself itching to help. It is evident there’s room for improvement in this family… Plus, her growing attraction towards Alex is overpowering…

Will Kelly do the ghost’s bidding? How will it affect her? And just how strange is this pug?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #ShortStories Of Reality And Dream by Loredano Cafaro

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

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading Of Reality And Dream: Tales Of Underground by Loredano Cafaro

Of Reality and Dream: Tales for Underground by [Loredano Cafaro]

This book is made up of short stories and flash fiction written by the author somewhere between high school and his mid-twenties. This is a tricky review to write because there were parts of this book I liked and some that I didn’t really get. The book was also originally written in Italian and has been translated and I found some of it difficult to read, I assume, because of that.

I’ll pick out the bits that I enjoyed, and that made it an okay read for me. The Book, the opening story, was really interesting and I enjoyed the premise of it. When Angels Die, I wasn’t sure I was going to get but the ending made it come together.

The Rain, seemed a little odd but then again the ending made it clear what was going on. On the Loch Ness – short but sweet. Untitled – a very interesting take on being given a second chance. Quasi-human demigods would not have been my usual choice of read but it was short and had an unexpected ending that I liked. The Mortal and the Eternal and The Lament were both good and again the endings made them.

Okay, so when I came to write this review and flipped through the book again I found I liked far more than I struggled with so that’s great. It’s also clear this author does endings well because in a world where we’re so often used to our stories ending the right way, for our characters to step up and be heroes this is a series of stories that go against the grain. I found it a challenging read but that is helped by the fact the stories are short and I’d encourage anyone who fancies something different to give it a try.

Book description

“If life were a movie, the soundtrack would be enough to inform us what is about to happen and, who knows, maybe we could even lull the conviction that we choose the music ourselves. Did I ever tell you about the illusion of free will?”

“Of Reality and Dream” is a collection of flash fiction and short stories suspended between the real and the imaginary, in which different atmospheres and genres share the absence of answers, heroes or winners; an introspective narration that unfolds in a dreamlike dimension, at times ironic, with predominantly dark tones. It was first introduced to the public in 1997 through an independent label that promoted the works of debutant authors on a stall in the historic Via Garibaldi in Turin, obtaining an appreciable acclaim. Part of the collection is re-edited in 2018, when some of the stories are included in the web app “Tales for Underground”, a project by Osmotica. Supplemented by “The illusion of Free Will”, an unpublished novella in seventeen cinematic-style scenes, in December 2018 this selection was published on Amazon in Kindle format, keeping the title of the original collection from 1997. In May 2019 it was translated into English.

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Of Reality and Dream: Tales for Underground by [Loredano Cafaro]

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #Mystery FAME & FORTUNE by @carolJhedges

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

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Fame & Fortune by Carol J Hedges

Once more I have explored the sordid streets of mid-Victorian London to follow the investigations of the determined team of police detectives, Stride, Cully and Greig. Carol Hedges has taken me into grand homes, crowded slums and insalubrious pubs, down by the docks. I have seen poor Izzy Harding spend all day painting tiny dolls’ furniture with little or no food, sat near to Riva Hemming-Stratton over tea while she turns her observation of other people into imaginative stories and I have suffered with the lonely Gerald Daubney as he mourns the loss of his netsuke Edo cat.  And the struggle of intelligent women to gain an education is shown by Maria Barklem, a vicar’s daughter soon to be made homeless because of the death of her parents.

Meanwhile in Russell Square two evil brothers, Herbert and Munro Black, exploit young girls dreams to lead them into prostitution across the sea.  Their tentacles of crime reach out across the city but somehow the police force must find evidence and witnesses to bring them to justice.

This is a much darker tale than Ms Hedges earlier novels, with more sad lives unfulfilled but characters from past books such as Lucy Landseer appear, providing solutions, and help at least some of the victims.  And through it all is a tiny grain of goodness in enough characters, such as Inspector Lachlan Greig, to give us hope.

Book description

When the body of a man is discovered hanging from some scaffolding under one of London’s bridges, Scotland Yard’s detective division is called in to solve the mystery of his identity & how he died. What they discover is a web of crime and extortion, and at the heart of it, two evil brothers, Munro and Herbert Black. Their inquiries will bring them into contact with the strange world of Gerald Daubney, collector of Japanese curios, whose priceless collection of netsuke has disappeared.

Facing a similar loss is Mrs Riva Hemmyng-Stratton, writer of ‘silver-fork’ novels, who suddenly finds herself embroiled in a court case when she is sued for defamation and libel by Lord Edwin Lackington. Her priceless reputation as a writer is on the line. How on earth can she prove her innocence when the only person who could vouch for it is incarcerated in a private asylum?

Many old friends make appearances in the novel … and a certain meaningful relationship finally reaches its conclusion.

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