📚’I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction to the Victorian Detectives series’. @SueBavey reviews Murder & Mischief by Carol Hedges @riotgrandma72 for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Sue.

Sue blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Sue has been reading Murder & Mischief by Carol Hedges.

Murder and Mischief is the tenth book in the popular Victorian Detectives series by Carol Hedges, a series which has been on my radar for a couple of years now and I am glad I have finally given it a try. It is written in the present tense, which adds immediacy and a feeling that you are watching the various tableaux unfold on a stage in front of you. A raft of expertly researched historical detail and well-described sights and sounds brings each of these scenes to life:

“And always the mechanical sounds of drilling, hammering, digging, and the crash of falling masonry as the underground railway bores its way through structures that have withstood the ravages of time, but cannot stand before the workmen’s tools. While, beneath the teeming and despoiled metropolis, dark tunnels wait the trainloads of passengers, who will experience the disorientation and dislocation of travelling underneath the chaotic city above their heads.”

Despite being book 10 in a series, this is a standalone murder mystery. A dead man shows up in the grounds of a businessman’s garden, found by his sons and disguised as a snowman, wearing the top hat belonging to the homeowner, Mr Barrowclough. As shocking as this discovery is, things soon escalate alarmingly with Barrowclough receiving dead birds in the mail and culminating with him being pushed in front of a train. Enter the Victorian Detectives who this series of books is named after. Some of them are more eager to pursue the case and get down to the nitty gritty of detective work than others.

As well as the murder of Barrowclough we have a side story of two runaway children, who have escaped the wretchedness of their workhouse and come to London. These children are the extremely resourceful Flitch and Liza. Their Father was forced to journey to the USA in order to obtain work and when he returns for them, he finds his home demolished and family disappeared to the workhouse. His wife is dead and children have absconded. He asks a female Private Investigator to look for them in London since he must return in haste to America. The children have luckily fallen on their feet and have been working as artist’s models for an artist who is a member of the Transformed Brethren – an art movement of the time about which the author expertly educates her readers. There follow a number of cat and mouse chases resulting in the children getting separated from one another and a few unlikely coincidences which make the reader want to shout out in order to aid them in their escape and reconnection.

Meanwhile the murder of Barrowclough takes the detective on the case to Birmingham and allows further detailed urban description, highlighting the differences between London and this city at the time.

I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction to the Victorian Detectives series and found it to be a real page turner. I will be revisiting the series soon!

Orange rose book description
Book description

It is January, a time of year when not much crime usually happens. But when Inspector Greig is unexpectedly summoned to the opulent Hampstead residence of Mr. James William Malin Barrowclough, a rich businessman, he embarks upon one of the strangest and most bizarre investigations that he has ever been involved in.

Why has Barrowclough been targeted? What is inside the mysterious parcels that keep arriving at Hill House, and why won’t he cooperate with the police? The case will take the Scotland Yard detectives on a journey out of London and into the victim’s past, to uncover the secrets and lies that haunt his present.

Murder & Mischief is the tenth novel in the series, and in the great tradition of Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, it entices the reader once again along the teeming streets and dimly gas lit thoroughfares of Victorian London, where rich and poor, friend and foe alike mix and mingle.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

📚A Magical Re-Telling of Cinderella. @SueBavey’s Audio Review of The Slipper And The Tree by G. Lawrence @TudorTweep for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Sue.

Sue Blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Sue has been listening to an audio version of The Slipper And The Tree by G. Lawrence.

The Slipper and The Tree is a retelling of the classic Cinderella fairy tale but there are many differences and unexpected twists in this fresh feminist take on an old classic.

“Witches become trees when they die.”

The existence of witches is a fact that our main character, Nion, becomes aware of when her aunt comes to visit soon after her mother is killed by her nobleman father. She has been banished to the kitchen rather than continuing a noble life as his child, since she is female and cannot be his heir. This is a brutal man’s world in which only male heirs are valued and women who cannot produce such offspring are cast aside or murdered. Nion’s mother was a witch and has now become a tree in death. A dead witch is able to design a comfortable room within their tree for the use and safety of other witches. Nion’s aunt shows her the tree that her mother has become and gives her its key.

In this version of the story there is not one ball, but three. After each ball the girls rejected by Prince Charming show their desperation to be exactly who he is looking for by mutilating their bodies. What other hope can they have in a society which only values women for their ability to procreate and provide a male heir. They have to marry well to survive at all costs.

There is much less romance in this story than in the traditional Cinderella story, which I appreciated. There is, however, plenty of magic and whimsy with spiders and vegetables who become horses and the coach almost stealing the show. The wonderfully warm and richly voiced narration of Charles Johnston makes it an enchanting story. It is easy to imagine him sitting by the fire with a book on his knees reading to a circle of enraptured children. He is an absolute pleasure to listen to and captures the relevant emotions and moods required by the different parts of the story.

Luckily Nion realizes what she must do in order to be happy for the rest of her life and there is just enough romance to enable her to have a happy ending on her terms – which is very different to the traditional ending for Cinderella.

Nion’s stepmother, who is not wicked, but is understandably jaded having acted as a kind of brood mare to three husbands intent on producing a son, is also allowed a happy ending, finally.

I really enjoyed this story and in particular the audio narration and would highly recommend it to anyone who likes an alternative take on a fairytale.

Orange rose book description
Book description

This is a tale of witches and wishes, tales and trees, stepmothers, spells and a girl who sleeps in the ashes by the fire…

But it’s not the one you know.

The Slipper and the Tree is a novella, and part of the Retold of Old Series by G. Lawrence.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

📚’Based on the mysterious shipwreck of the sailing vessel’ @SueBavey reviews #HistoricalMystery Irex by @CarlRackman for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Sue.

Sue blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Sue has been reading Irex by Carl Rackman (A book that featured on our review list a few years ago)

Irex by Carl Rackman

It is difficult to believe that this novel is a debut – Rackman’s atmospheric prose, complex characters and many-layered plot drew me in right from the start and left me wanting more right up until the tension filled final acts! In fact there was a surprising revelation right at the end which leaves open the possibility of a sequel one day.

Based on an actual historical event – the mysterious shipwreck of the sailing vessel Irex – but a fictional retelling thereof, the writing style immediately transports the reader to an earlier time period and the dialogue is both believable and ‘of its time’. The evocative descriptions add levels of menace to what is essentially an intriguing mystery: What exactly happened to cause the shipwreck and the tragic loss of lives associated with it?

“The shriek of the wind was the sound of tormented souls. It rose and fell with each gust and was answered by the groaning members of the ship itself, the lines stretched to their limit and humming a morose dirge.”

The chapters switch between two time frames, each with its own disparate cast of characters, that of the doomed maiden voyage of the Irex and a couple of months later, the inquest into what exactly happened on board this ill-fated ship to cause the deaths of most of its crew and passengers.

Rackman’s characterisation is skillful and many layered. The crew is made up of a large cast, including a hard-working and dedicated chef, boisterous youths and a surly bosun. The main point of view character, Captain Will Hutton comes across as pious, dedicated to his position, and concerned for his new ship and for the smooth running of its maiden voyage at the beginning of the story, if somewhat plagued by semi-prophetic dreams. However, some of the surviving crew claim that he lost his grip on reality just before the devastating tragedy occurred. There is also Mackie, an outgoing first mate whose description is particularly vivid:

“His head was large with meaty features, not handsome but more reminiscent of a Hereford bull.

His words rumbled like a Glasgow tram.”

Carrying only three passengers, we meet on board the beautiful young wife, Mrs Elizabeth Barstow who has enough feminine wiles to entrance anyone and manipulate them however she chooses. Is she the reason the married Captain was driven to distraction? Major Barstow is her sickly, older husband and Mr Clarence is a boorish, well-connected gentleman with a superiority complex and a particularly shocking secret identity. This was a twist I found completely unexpected, but which added a delicious threat of intimidation and jeopardy for the crew and passengers.

In the chapters detailing the inquest we meet the judge and barristers. Mr Frederick Blake, Her Majesty’s Coroner for Hampshire County, is the presiding inquisitor, a straightforward and honest man who smells something fishy – could there be a spy in his courtroom? We also meet the brave and tenacious Scottish reporter, Rennie, who Blake befriends and takes into his confidence.

Slowly the layers of intrigue are built up. Blackmail? Mutiny? Madness? Murder? All are possibilities entertained by Blake during his meticulous investigation, even as he is hampered by Matthew Thornthwaite, a suspiciously well-informed replacement for an unfortunate predecessor on the coroner’s panel. Blake immediately suspects there is more to this man than meets the eye and becomes determined to catch him out, but up against the fearsome British Establishment what little chance can he have to retain his integrity?

The story gets more and more intriguing as the clues begin to stack up in Blake’s chapters and events play out before our eyes in the Captain’s chapters. The pace of this story becomes absolutely frenetic during the perilous storms and the action ramps up accordingly.

Highly recommended for fans of mystery, tales of the high seas and well-written historical fiction in general.

Orange rose book description
Book description

In the harsh winter of December 1889, the sailing vessel Irex leaves Scotland bound for Rio de Janeiro. She carries three thousand tons of pig iron and just three passengers for what should be a routine voyage. But Captain Will Hutton discovers that one of his passengers hides a horrifying secret.

When the Irex is wrecked off the Isle of Wight six weeks later, it falls to the county coroner, Frederick Blake, to begin to unravel the events that overtook the doomed ship — but he soon finds that powerful forces within the British Establishment are working to thwart him. Locked in a race against time and the sinister agents sent to impede him, he gradually discovers that nothing aboard the Irex is what it first seemed…

Irex is an atmospheric mystery, set in a rich Victorian world, packed with intrigue, twists and colourful characters — the spellbinding first novel by Carl Rackman.

AmazonUK | Amazon US

📚#HalloweenBooks @SueBavey Reviews Legacy Witches by @CassKayWrites for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Sue.

Sue blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Sue has been reading Legacy Witches by Cass Kay.

Book cover for urban fantasy Legacy Witches by Cass Kay, set against a background of a moon from a free photo from Pixabay.

Legacy Witches is a fun, yet dark story of murderous witches, set in Salem, Massachusetts, a place I have visited on many occasions. Salem is filled with witch-related tourist attractions, but the legacy witches of the title are part of a hidden world – away from the tourism – that reaches back through history to the Salem Witch trials.

Vianna Roots managed to escape this heritage by fleeing to Boston, but now that her mother is dead she must return and deal with her legacy. She has the unusual talent of being able to see ghosts and witnesses the ‘death loop’ of her old best friend Nancy, who must have been murdered in her mother’s house and whose ghost is now stuck there along with the ghosts of Vianna’s ancestors. This mystery niggles at Vianna and she decides to stay on in Salem until she can get to the bottom of it. She has to overcome many hurdles – the house is possessed by the family’s familiar, a demon named Shuck who has yet to accept her, an old school crush, Charles, is determined to woo her but is not exactly what he seems, a HooDoo practitioner wants to force her to sell the house to him and the coven is treating her like an outcast and determined to get rid of her.

Vianna befriends another outcast, a transgender witch named Sandeen and the two of them quickly form a bond. Sandeen was a great character and one of the highlights of the book for me. I also liked Vianna. She was determined not to be bullied by the coven witches into selling them her house or by Charles into dating him when her intuition told her something wasn’t quite right.

Legacy Witches was spooky and action-packed and I enjoyed the mystery thread, a perfect read for October.

Orange rose book description
Book description

Coming from a long line of murderous witches hasn’t exactly been sunshine and rainbows for Vianna Roots. When she inherits the family’s haunted house after her mother dies, she decides flipping the rundown dump is her smartest move—but the ghosts that haunt her have a different plan.

When Vianna finds the ghost of her childhood friend Nancy, she’s drawn into the mystery surrounding her friend’s death. Her meddling attracts the attention of the oldest coven in Salem. In order to get her out of town, they make an offer on the house, but Vianna hesitates. She’s no longer sure she wants to abandon the demon familiar who possesses her home, the transgender outcast witch—who may just be the best friend she never knew she needed—and her high school crush, who now wants her in his life.

Vianna must find a way to solve the case of her murdered friend, stay out of the hands of the most powerful coven in Salem, and face the past she’s so desperately tried to run away from.

AmazonUK AmazonUS 

📚Book #1 of a #YoungAdult #Scifi Series. @SueBavey Reviews Shadow House by @arsilverberry for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Sue.

Sue blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Sue Has been reading Shadow House by A R Silverberry

Book cover for young adult story Shadow House by A R Silverberry
Shadow House by A R Silverberry

Shadow House is a fairly short novel, but it is not lacking in depth of story. I found it sucked me in almost immediately and it was very difficult to put down.

The story is set in the not too distant future on “New Earth”, a dystopian future following the breakdown of society as we know it:

“History, as taught in school, proclaimed that New Earth had sprouted from a chaotic lawless time in human history, when small bands preyed on and slaughtered each other over dwindling resources. Johari believed that part of the account. It was the next part that seemed iffy. All at once, something happened. A mutation—a new species, some people claimed—appeared, like Cro-Magnon beside the Neanderthals. This new “more advanced” group broke away from the old one and traveled to New Earth. How that was done was sketchy at best. But even today people talked about the Freedom, a mass migration of millions to a new world. And the new world they created was, so they said, superior in every way to the one they left. It was a perfect society.”

I would have liked a little more information regarding this migration. I felt the author brushed it aside somewhat, but I am hoping perhaps it will be given more explanation in the next book. Perhaps it is another mystery that the main character, Johari, will need to solve.

The major portion of Shadow House revolves around four teenagers’ time inside the House, a kind of glorified magical escape room filled with monsters and peril, which teens must enter once during their lives. Not everyone comes out again and those who do not escape are never seen again. Once inside, stairways and doors disappear, herding the four main characters to desired destinations, where they have to face their pasts and personalities and be tested in sometimes terrifying situations.

“…he had difficulty shaking off the feeling that the House would be their tomb.“

““People get out; people get out,” he told himself. And some don’t. “

However no one knows what they will discover once inside, as it is forbidden for the survivors to discuss their experiences. The House itself is described really well, it sounds like the kind of building you might cross the street to keep away from:

“The House had a curious tinge, like an early photograph, faded and discolored. It was three stories and old beyond reckoning. The paint had peeled off. The wooden walls were weathered and sun-bleached a mottled gray. He wondered why termites hadn’t consumed the whole thing long ago. The house bulged on the right to accommodate a semi-circular tower rising two stories and culminating in a conical roof. A lower gable above the front porch was ornamented with scrollwork. But it was the upper gable that arrested his attention. The woodwork was much more complex, filling the whole triangular shape of the gable. In the center was a symbol of some sort. It might have been a flaming candle, but it seemed to Johari it was more like a hand held up in warning.”

The four teens had very different characters. Johari is the main point of view character and hero of the book. He is a mixed race orphan with gorgeous features who spent his childhood being tossed from one foster family to another, never really knowing love and suffering bullying. This often ended in his getting blamed and eventually in him being saddled with a criminal record. Despite his horrible childhood, Johari is very likeable, brave, and a team player. He is a natural leader and caring – concerned for Calista’s health. He is also the love interest for another of the characters, Greta. He is determined that if one of them manages to leave then they all must. Greta is observant and makes notes in each of the rooms as they explore the House. She is kindhearted and beautiful and Johari fell in love with her at a recent party where they first met. Due to a misunderstanding caused by Brice, the ridiculously wealthy party host, they are now unsure of each other’s feelings. This leads to expertly written romantic tension between Johari and Greta and typical teen angst which the reader experiences through Johari’s inner monologue. Greta’s friend Calista is also in the House. An asthmatic, she struggles with the dusty House but retains her wit and feisty nature. She proves to be resourceful, having grabbed bread from the kitchen, which they can no longer access once they reach the attic. The fourth main character is the entitled and unlikeable Brice, who was instrumental in Johari being arrested for stealing Brice’s father’s anti-grav car, when Brice actually leant it to him. He also paid Greta’s Mom to keep her grounded at home when she would have been a useful witness in Johari’s court case. He wants Greta to fall in love with him and is jealous of her attraction to Johari.

Sentenced to elimination in his court case, Johari sees the House as the only way out. If he is able to find his way out of the House he expects that his criminal record will be cleared. Society believes that only the very best people are able to survive and in this way it rids the world of evil:

‘It purifies,’ ‘It perfects,’ ‘It protects,’ ‘It eliminates war, disease, and poverty.’

There were elements of the book which reminded me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or the horror movies where one by one the main characters are callously picked off. It was a very enjoyable read and I would recommend it to readers who enjoy YA thrillers or dystopian mysteries.

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Book description

What Do You Do If You’re Trapped In A Nightmare …

New Earth’s Supreme Council dooms Johari Hightower to Elimination. Never mind that he’s innocent. His only hope is the House, a rite shrouded in mystery. No one says what happens inside. And those who don’t make it out are never seen again.

But what do you do if the girl you love is inside?
What do you do if she’s cozy with the guy who set you up?
What do you do if you’re running for your life?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

🃏’I loved the uniqueness of the playing card theme’. @SueBavey reviews #YA #Fantasy Bloody Spade by @BMWillows for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Sue.

Sue blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Sue has been reading Bloody Spade by Brittany M Willows.

Book cover for young adult fantasy Bloody Spade by Brittany M Willows, set against a free photo of a woman throwing playing cards from Pixabay.
Bloody Spade by Brittany M Willows

Bloody Spade is Book 1 in the Cardplay Duology, and is a YA urban fantasy. I enjoyed this book immensely! I was initially drawn to the cover of this book, since purple is my favourite colour and I love to play card games. The figure with the cat ears was also intriguing!

The premise of the novel is that seven years ago real, powerful, dangerous magic returned to a world whose inhabitants were used to thinking of magic as cheap tricks and sleight of hand, entertainment for the masses. The new magic which reentered their world was far from tricks, however. Magic users have a varied range of abilities. Some can harness the wind, others can control light, or fire.

I loved the uniqueness of the playing card theme that ran through this novel with Cardplay being the good guys, taking on Blackjack, the shady underground organization, and with each Suit having a Keeper.

I found the world-building in Bloody Spade mostly solid, although in some places there was a little too much information given all at once, which made it hard for me to remember details, and the different levels of the realms were somewhat confusing – I am still not completely clear on the connection between the Void, the Domain, the Dreamscape and the human world and how they relate to one another.

Bloody Spade is a unique take on the age-old good versus evil theme. A fast paced novel with plenty of action, believable characters and relationships, a little romance, teenage angst, fear of rejection, of being different and fear of lack of acceptance by peers. I would recommend it to anyone who loves superhero type stories, or fans of fiction similar to that of Cassandra Clare’s novels or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Orange rose book description
Book description

The era of magic was once thought to be a myth, but after the Reemergence ushered forces both dark and light into the mundane world, it has since become a harsh reality. Now those affected by this strange power—a specialized group of Empowered called Jokers, known collectively as Cardplay—must protect their world from the darkness that threatens to consume it, all the while fighting for equality in a society clinging to normalcy.

But the Reemergence was only the beginning.

When another influx occurs on the seventh anniversary of that fateful event, an unfortunate encounter at ground zero lands Iori Ryone, a teenage boy in possession of a corrupt and legendary magic, in the care of recent Joker graduate Ellen Amelia Jane. From him, she learns the Reemergence may not have been the inevitable natural disaster it first seemed. Someone is trying to tear down the barrier that separates the magical realms from the mundane. The question is, can Cardplay stop them before it’s too late?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

🐶Adventure Caravanning with Dogs: It Never Rains But it Paws by Jacqueline Lambert, is reviewed by @SueBavey for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Sue.

She blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Sue has been reading Adventure Caravanning with Dogs: It Never Rains But it Paws by Jacqueline Lambert.

Book cover for Adventure Caravanning With Dogs by Jacqueline Lambert, set against a photo of a dog sat on the beach from a free photo from Pizabay.
Adventure Caravanning With Dogs by Jacqueline Lambert

Jackie’s writing is extremely witty and clever. She makes you feel like you are travelling alongside her and Mark and their four adorable dogs, due to her chatty and engaging nature. This comes across well in her “Adventure Caravanning with Dogs” series. In the case of “It Never Rains but it Paws”, the story takes place against the backdrop of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the fourth book in the series, but each one can be read as a standalone. The shortish chapters keep the story flowing as the couple and their four dogs travel around Europe. Jackie and Mark  are up against a deadline to set off before Brexit happens, in order to escape the bureaucracy caused by travelling with four dogs and a caravan around Europe. They aim to travel through France and spend the ski season in Italy. Delays due to family illness cause them to panic as their deadline looms nearer,, but eventually they are off on their way! Jackie includes plenty of historical detail and background information about the places they visit  to make you want to go to the locations on their trip, although possibly not during a pandemic!! Their experiences of lockdown in Italy, up a mountain in a deserted ski village with scarcely any Italian between them were eye opening.

A highly entertaining adventure!

Orange rose book description
Book description

Five years after giving up work to travel full time, Dog-ma Jacqueline (Jackie) and Dogfather Mark race against time to leave the UK before Britain exits the EU. If Brexit happens, their four Cavapoos (Cavalier/Poodle cross) Kai, Rosie, Ruby, and Lani will lose their puppy passports, and the Lambert Family will be unable to travel together. But Brexit isn’t their only obstacle. A few months into their adventure, the pandemic suddenly shatters their plans, and leaves them trapped in the epicentre of Europe’s No. 1 coronavirus hotspot.

The fourth road trip Europe adventure in author Jacqueline Lambert’s “inspirational and hilarious” series of true travel memoirs invites you to join the couple as they discover even more amazing and little-known places, this time in France and Italy. However, this isn’t just a priceless escape travel story filled with humorous mishaps and mountain adventure. The coronavirus pandemic separates the family from their loved ones at home, and leaves Jackie stranded alone during a blizzard in a remote Italian village, with Mark thousands of miles away, back in the UK.

Between terrible weather, political mayhem, and a global pandemic, Jackie and Mark try to take lessons from each hardship. Yet, even with a positive attitude, a sense of adventure, and a caravan full of loved ones, you can’t stop all the obstacles life rolls your way. These “amusing and informative” travel stories are certainly proof that It Never Rains… But It Paws! 

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

🕵️‍♂️’The seamier side of London is brought to the fore here’🕵️‍♂️@SueBavey reviews supernatural #mystery Eat The Poor by @TomCW99

Today’s team review is from Sue.

Sue blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review team

Sue has been reading Eat The Poor by Tom Williams

Book cover for supernatural mystery, Eat The Poor by Tom Williams, set against a picture of a gargoyle, from a free photo from Pixabay.
Eat The Poor by Tom Williams

Eat the Poor is the second supernatural detective fantasy featuring the unlikely pairing of Chief Inspector John Galbraith and the vampire, Chief Inspector Pole, following on from Something Wicked which I read and reviewed last year. This time Pole and his mysterious police department “Section S” are on the trail of a creature that has been attacking deer in Richmond Park, dogs and more recently a human. Could the offender be a werewolf?

Once again I enjoyed the unlikely camaraderie of the two main protagonists, thrown together by the unusual nature of the local murder case. They are very different characters, Pole a 500 year old strait-laced vampire with refined tastes and Galbraith a down to Earth middle-aged detective whose waistline is spreading and hair is greying, beginning to consider his next steps within the police force. Seconded to Section S for the duration of this peculiar murder case, he soon finds himself dining with Pole at his abode most nights as they go over the particulars of the case and the body count begins to rise.

In addition to this fantasy series, the author is a writer of historical fiction and he often includes historical details in the story which make it richer and lend authenticity to the world in which the story is set. The seamier side of London is to the fore here, with murder victims coming from the ranks of the serial unemployed, their bodies being unceremoniously dumped in the garbage areas of the tower blocks of the seedier neighbourhoods in which they live.

We are told fairly early on who the perpetrator of the crimes is and are then able to watch the detectives follow clues until they figure it out for themselves and the pace speeds up until the final “edge of the seat” confrontation. What happens after this confrontation, I found to be quite surprising – it was not what I expected in terms of a conclusion to the case at all. This light-hearted police procedural and its surprising ending was a breath of fresh air and since it is a novella and therefore fairly short, it was quick to get into the action of the story and to grip my attention. I particularly liked how odious the Conservative MP Christopher Garold was. Anyone following British politics lately will not find the idea of a murderous werewolf that far-fetched when it comes to the dirty little secrets of those in power:

“…though the staff were good at turning a blind eye to peculiar behaviour from MPs, the sight of a wolf strolling through the corridors of power would, he thought, be too much for them to ignore.”

Anyone who likes a detective story with a little supernatural edge should give this book a try!

Book #1 Something Wicked was previously reviewed on Goodreads by Sue.

Orange rose book description
Book description

A werewolf is on the loose in London.

Chief Inspector Pole, the vampire from the mysterious Section S, teams up once again with his human counterpart to hunt down the beast before the people of the city realise that they are threatened by creatures they have dismissed as myths.

Time is short as the werewolf kills ever more recklessly. Can Galbraith and Pole stop it before panic spreads through London?

Galbraith and Pole start their search in Pole’s extensive library of the arcane, accompanied by a couple of glasses of his excellent malt whisky. All too soon, though, they will have to take to the streets to hunt the monster by the light of the moon.

But the threat is even greater than they think, for in its human form the werewolf is terrifyingly close to the heart of government.

This is Tom Williams’ second tongue-in-cheek take on traditional creatures of darkness. Like the first Galbraith & Pole book, Something Wicked, this will appeal to fans of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London.

You never know when the forces of darkness may be released and there will be no time for reading then. Buy Eat the Poor before it’s too late.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

‘A highly enjoyable spy story’ @SueBavey reviews #Histfic Burke and the Pimpernel Affair by @TomCW99, For Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Sue. She blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sue has been reading Burke and the Pimpernel Affair by Tom Williams

Burke and the Pimpernel Affair is book six in a series of adventures involving Major James Burke, an actual person who existed according to the author. This is the first of these I have read, and worked very well as a standalone. It is a story of post war politics and intrigue, with Burke sent to France by his superior, Colonel Gordon, to act as a British spy in the Paris environs, seeking the weakness in a chain of safe houses run by the Alien Office, from where a number of British agents have been disappearing.

As the author details in his Historical Note at the end of the book most of the historical detail of this book is accurate and a lot of research was involved. This makes for a believable and richly detailed tale of a spy much in the same vein as James Bond, if James Bond were alive in the Napoleonic Era. The hero, James Burke, even has the same initials and irresistible roguish, yet gentlemanly way with the women as Bond.

I really enjoyed the camaraderie between Major Burke and his partner Sgt. William Brown immensely. They saved each other’s lives without a second thought however dangerous the rescue attempts they had to mount.

Their adversary, Fouché, the chief of the Parisian police force, was supposedly impossible to deceive, having eyes and ears everywhere, and yet with luck mostly on their side, Burke and Brown managed to pull the wool over those eyes repeatedly.

There were some humorous escapades which I found very welcome and a touch of romance between Burke and one of Empress Josephine’s attendants, Amelie.

To sum up this was a highly enjoyable spy story with believable detail and vivid descriptions of the world of Paris under the Emperor Napoleon, which allowed the reader to imagine the setting easily. I would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction – particularly involving a loveable roguish spy with luck on his side.

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1809: when a mission running agents into Napoleon’s France goes horribly wrong, it’s up to Burke to save the day. With the French secret police on his trail, can he stay alive long enough to free British spies from imprisonment in the centre of Paris? And how does the Empress Josephine fit into his plans?

Burke’s most daring adventure yet sees him and his loyal companion William Brown using all their cunning and courage to survive as they move from the brilliance of Napoleon’s court and Society parties to the darker Paris of brothels and gambling dens.

A thrilling story set against a convincing historical background.

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‘The hilarity flows so well’. @SueBavey reviews #comedy #shortystory collection Why Odin Drinks by @bjornlarssen #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Sue. She blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sue has been reading Why Odin Drinks by Bjørn Larssen

Why Odin Drinks is a collection of four comedic fantasy retellings of the Norse myths. The stories are peppered with familiar names from the Norse myths and stories which have been told many times in Norse fantasy, but never before with such snarky and irreverent humour. Larssen’s take on the myths is truly original and well worth reading.

In the first story, Creation, which was previously published as a standalone, we see Odin and his lesser known brothers Vili and Ve on a creation spree with wide eyed abandon.

Odin philosophizes about what makes a thing alive and whether it is OK to eat such things. Vili continues making pretty things and Ve makes things that cause pain and destruction.

When humans are added to the mix the author includes some social commentary.

Chaos ensues until a tragedy occurs and gives the gods pause. Then Odin turns introspective while considering that actions have consequences – even those of the gods…

Creation’s tongue in cheek humour is refreshing and makes for many laugh out loud moments.

The second story is Loki Runes Everything, in which Odin is continuing to haphazardly create things without any kind of order or planning – until he comes to the conclusion that he needs both a plan and someone to organise him – he needs a wife!  I’m sure many people will be able to relate to this feeling. And wouldn’t it be perfect if his wife could see the future and help decide which order to create things in? Enter Frigg. Now everything will be perfect, right?  It isn’t long before the reality of living with said wife and trying to satisfy her every whim kicks in.

Frigg sees everything in the future all at once which is highly overwhelming – particularly since she doesn’t have any coffee, pillows, Manolos or concealer yet!! What has Odin been playing at?!

In this story Larssen includes the myth where Odin hangs from the World Tree, Yggdrasil with a spear in his side in order to procure the power of runes, Loki having trussed him up and stuck the spear in him as per Odin’s request. Up to this point, his main advisor has been Madam A (Angrboda from the myths), whose propensity for bondage has given him ideas suggesting being hanged from a tree might be enjoyable at some level.

When Odin meets the three Norns, they have an interesting lesson in verb tenses for Odin, which must have been extremely difficult to write and/or edit, with each sister speaking in their own tense the whole time, with Odin getting more and more confused:

““So I am sitting here with time?” Odin asked, paying less attention to Skuld’s words than he will think he should. Had. Would have will.”

Story 3 is Fashionteller and features Frigg as a future-telling fashion victim goddess. I enjoyed Frigg’s description of her visions as “future burps” and her unhealthy obsession with a future tv show called Blabbing with Bjarnisdóttirs. There are so many things she has seen and wants to own now, but her voracious appetite will not be slaked if she cannot describe the things properly to Odin, their creator.

When Freya and Freyr show up from Vanaheim, Freya’s condescension towards frumpy Frigg reminded me of Alexis Rose from Schitt’s Creek.

Frigg’s constant disappearing into visions of the future are annoying Skuld since the things Frigg sees will now have to happen and that complicates the Norns’ tapestry of Time.

I really enjoyed Frigg’s characterisation. No wonder she is cranky when she can’t yet have all of the lovely future things she sees and is constantly being mansplained to by people who don’t know anywhere near as much as she does and can’t take their eyes off her chest.

Larssen has an engaging way of addressing the reader without actually doing so directly:

“The list kept expanding anyway in a slightly deluded way, not unlike what would be called TBR piles in the future. Unfortunately, similar to all owners of TBR piles, Frigg didn’t know which of her expectations were unrealistic.”

The final story is The Well of Wise-Dom which has a number of insightful and somewhat prophetic comments to make about war. Sir Daddy Mímir is the leather-clad Wise-Dom who tries to stop Odin from seeking all knowledge by drinking from his well. But Odin being Odin is stubborn  and determined to do whatever he wants. He gains insight into how to win wars – by having the best, strongest and hardest warriors:

“The only way to stop a great army is to have an even greater army.”

“…What I’m saying is that there is no such thing as inevitable when you have control.” Bjørn Larssen is a very talented comedic writer. His timing is perfect and the hilarity flows so well that you can read each of these novellas in one sitting. However, there is always an intelligent social commentary to be found not too far beneath the surface satire of his stories. If you are a fan of absurd humour with a point of view, you will love this book as much as I did!

5 stars.

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Ever woken up being a God, but not knowing how to God properly?

Poor Odin must restrain his brothers, who create offensive weapons such as mosquitoes and celery; placate his future-telling wife, Frigg, who demands sweatpants with pockets; listen to Loki’s Helpful Questions; hang himself from Yggdrasil for nine days with a spear through his side (as you do); teach everyone about nutritional values of kale (but NOT celery); meet a Wise Dom, Sir Daddy Mímir, in order to outwit those who outwit him; and, most importantly, prove he is The All-Father, while his brothers are, at best, Those-Uncles-We-Don’t-Talk-About.

This nearly (except in Vanaheim) universally acclaimed retelling of the Gods’ first millennium answers way too many questions, including ones on Freyr’s entendre, horse designing… and why Odin drinks. 

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