Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Dark #Comedy FAT BOY by Joseph Cobb

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Fat Boy by Joseph Cobb

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3 out of 5 stars

Fat Boy was not what I expected from the blurb – it’s actually an experimental sort of structure, more a series of short stories, poems and intertwined scenarios than a novel, though they do tie up later.

The setting is mostly the English West Country, though it may not be one you recognise, with its humorous and fantastical characters.

Joseph Cobb clearly has much creativity and a good eye for the absurd, leaning towards observational humour.  I think this book has potential, though it needs further editing.  There are many delightful turns of phrase, amusing metaphors, funny situations and comic book characters, but some areas felt a little ‘first draft’, with lazily structured sentences and rambling paragraphs that simply needed more work.  The book as a whole comes over as somewhat haphazard, as if the author’s many imaginative ideas have been splashed across the pages without much thought for cohesion; I couldn’t work out, at first, what I was supposed to be reading; was this a book of short stories?  Was Chapter 2 related to Chapter 1?  Chapter 3 was written in poetry format, about yet more characters; these appeared again, later in the book.  The poems were amusing and cleverly put together, for the most part.

To sum up, I’d say that that Fat Boy has much to commend it, but I would recommend further redrafting to tighten it up, and perhaps the assistance of an experienced content editor to streamline and cut the superfluous, thus highlighting its strengths.

Book description

Way out west, in the tumbling greens of England, something’s going down. Two boys attempt an escape from the clutches of their poisonous parents… A good policeman fights to sidestep the corruption that blows like hellfire down his neck… A calamitous filmmaker and her witless lead actor scramble desperately to overcome their mucky pasts and make a Hollywood hit… A trio of nude-nutted nasties thrash their way through the picturesque countryside, collecting debts but finding more than they expected… Then there’s Captain Grubbe: the eminent, manipulative and falsely titled antichrist. He hosts a spectacular annual Christmas party, and this year’s is set to be even more extraordinary than usual.

Fat Boy is a treacherously fictitious rhapsody, taking a tongue-in-cheek look at the best and the worst of humanity and treating it with the disrespect it deserves – love and hate, corruption and extortion, car chases, gunfights and high jinks, all set against the green and pleasant land of the English countryside. It is ludicrous. It is raucous. It is a modern classic.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Action packed #Dystopia KILL CODE by Clive Fleury

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Kill Code by Clive Fleury

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3.5*, rounded up to 4* on Amazon

At some time in the relatively near future, climate change has affected the world in such a way that those who can afford good food and fresh water live in protected zones, with the majority of the population struggling to survive.  Hogan Duran is a former cop scratching a living, until he is given the opportunity of a lifetime with the NSC – the all-powerful National Security Council.

I loved the first 40% of this book.  The world-building was terrific, and I was engrossed.  When Hogan gets his life-changing opportunity, he and many other candidates are put through a ‘last man standing’ series of tests, which was also a real page-turner; this part was great, original and gripping.  Later, there is a jaw drop of a twist when he discovers that his experiences are not as they seem….

The second half of the book is mostly taken up with action scenes and daring escapes, as some of supposed ‘goodies’ come up against the Krails, a rebel biker gang.  Here, I found that my interest wandered; I rarely find that action in books works anything like as well as it does on screen; there is too much explanation of ‘this happened then that happened’, and much of it seemed like the stuff of superheroes rather than a man who has been undernourished for years.  I was also unconvinced by the escape in the last third of the book, when the all-seeing people in charge suddenly seemed not so all-seeing after all, enabling Duran and his friends to do all they did.

I thought the characterisation of Duran was extremely well done in the first half of the book; I could really see him.  However, I often find in action books written by men that the women are just men with a female name, or a one-dimensional kick-ass heroine fantasy type who is naked as often as the story will permit – Ruby was never more than a word on a page for me.  Also, the plot delves in and out of virtual reality, which was sometimes confusing.

I liked the ending, and may possibly check out the next in the series because I like the premise, but I’d have preferred it if the book had concentrated more on the characters and less on the outlandish action plot of the second half.

Book description

WHEN THE OCEANS RISE…THE TRUTH DROWNS
It’s the year 2031. Our future. Their present. A world decimated by climate catastrophe, where the sun’s heat is deadly and the ocean rises higher every day. A world ruled by the rich, powerful, and corrupt. A world where a good man can’t survive for long.
Hogan Duran was a good man once. He was a cop, forced to resign in disgrace when he couldn’t save his partner from a bullet. Now Hogan lives on the fraying edges of society, serving cruel masters and scavenging trash dumps just to survive.
But after four years of living in poverty, Hogan finally gets a chance to get back on his feet. He’s invited to join the National Security Council, the powerful paramilitary organization responsible for protecting the rich and powerful from the more unsavory elements of society. All he needs to do is pass their deadly entrance exam, and he’ll be rewarded with wealth and opportunity beyond his wildest dreams.
But this ex-cop’s path to redemption won’t be easy. The NSC are hiding something, and as Hogan descends deeper and deeper into their world, he starts to uncover the terrible truth of how the powerful in this new world maintain their power…and just how far they will go to protect their secrets.
In a world gone wrong, can one man actually make a difference, or will he die trying?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Congeal by John F. Leonard

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4.5 stars

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

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

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

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

Book description

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

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

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

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #CrimeFiction Novella SECRET KILL by @RobinStorey1 #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Secret Kill by Robin Storey

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4.5 out of 5 stars

I liked this book more and more as it went on. Ex-crim Jackson Forbes is confronted by a grown-up daughter he never knew about – and she wants something from him.  Not just fatherly love, or money, but help; Frida is in trouble, and Jack is about to be pitched back into a world he thought he’d left behind.

This is a novella (40K words or under; I imagine this is around 40k), and I appreciated the way in which the story fitted perfectly into the shorter length; there was no feeling that it needed more detail anywhere, which in turn made me feel as though I had read a full-length novel. Any longer, and it might have dragged, or been filled with superfluous detail. It’s an easy read and well-written, with a convincing plot.

I read another book by this author and my main complaint about that was that the characters didn’t come across. In Secret Kill, however, I felt that Jack and Frida were completely real; there were no sudden shifts in personality like before. There was one revelation about Jack’s past that made me less sympathetic towards him, but, boy, did he pay for it.  I was fairly set on 4* all the way through, but the unexpected and unusual ending made me want to add an extra half star. Good one.

Book description

He’s wealthy, successful and charming. But his criminal past is about to catch up with him.

Businessman Jackson Forbes is at the pinnacle of his career, after leaving a life of crime well and truly behind.

But when a young girl turns up in his office, claiming to be his daughter and threatening him with a gun, his life is suddenly not so rosy.

Frida is on the run and needs his help. But saving her life will mean not only returning to the criminal underworld, but also risking his reputation – and his life.

Not to mention the crime for which he was never caught…

Secret Kill is Book 2 in Noir Nights, a series of stand-alone short novels in the crime/suspense genre.

If you love complex characters and simmering tension with a strong noir flavour, you’ll love this novel.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction MAHONEY by Andrew Joyce @huckfinn76

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Mahoney by Andrew Joyce

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4 out of 5 stars

I adore family sagas through the generations, and have a great interest in American history of the last two hundred years, so I leapt on this book when I saw it on the review team list.

The book is split into three sections: Devin, the 19 year old from Ireland eager to make his fortune in America, his son, Dillon, who sets out to travel west, and David, the privileged son of Dillon, whose fortunes take a different turn during the Depression.

I’ll start by saying that a great strength of this book is the dialogue, which never falters in its quality, and is the main reason why the characterisation is so good.  I was also most impressed by the research that had gone into the book; it is clear, throughout, that Mr Joyce has a great understanding of the peoples of each time and place in the novel.

I adored the first part, about Devin; I looked forward to getting back to it each time I had to put it down.  Devin’s route to America is depicted so colourfully that I was completely engrossed.  I was disappointed when his section ended; I wanted to carry on reading about him.  I liked the next part, about Dillon’s adventures in ‘Wild West’ Wyoming, but, although the book continued to be well-written, admirably researched, and flowed so well, I was less convinced by Dillon as a character.

My interested was piqued again by the start of David’s section – I loved reading about the spoilt, self-centred young man who cared nothing for his family or the struggles lived through by his father and grandfather.  His first experiences as the Depression hit kept me engrossed, too, but after he changed his way of thinking, I became less convinced by him.  I think what I was not so keen on was the way in which Dillon and David kept bumping into strangers, on the road and in bars, and everywhere else, who offered them the chance to change their lives for the better.  Devin’s life seemed more realistic, whereas Dillon and David appeared to fall into one piece of great luck after another.  I was also less keen on David’s section because so much of it was dialogue-led, which is not a preference of mine; this is not a criticism, just a personal preference.

Despite the aspects about which I wasn’t so sure, it’s a most entertaining book.  I think it has real value as a fictional history of America the period between 1846 – the 1930s, even if I felt some of it was rushed through; there is a lot of material for one novel.  Mr Joyce can certainly write; I have just downloaded another of his books, Resolution.  I was also impressed by how he wrote Devin and David in the third person, but Dillon in the first; this was absolutely the right choice, and a clever one.

I’d most certainly recommend this novel for lovers of family sagas through the ages, particularly if you have an interest in American history.

Book description

 

In this compelling, richly researched novel, author Andrew Joyce tells a story of determination and grit as the Mahoney clan fights to gain a foothold in America. From the first page to the last, fans of Edward Rutherfurd and W. Michael Gear will enjoy this riveting, historically accurate tale of adventure, endurance, and hope.

In the second year of an Gorta Mhór—the Great Famine—nineteen-year-old Devin Mahoney lies on the dirt floor of his small, dark cabin. He has not eaten in five days. His only hope of survival is to get to America, the land of milk and honey. After surviving disease and storms at sea that decimate crew and passengers alike, Devin’s ship limps into New York Harbor three days before Christmas, 1849. Thus starts an epic journey that will take him and his descendants through one hundred and fourteen years of American history, including the Civil War, the Wild West, and the Great Depression.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistFic New York 1609 by @AuthorHarald #FridayReads

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading New York 1609 by Harald Johnson

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5 out of 5 stars

A terrific novel, telling of the ‘discovery’ of Manhattan Island by Henry Hudson, and the beginning of the callous and careless ruination of the Native American way of life.  

The main character is the part-white Dancing Fish, who believes he is gifted with insight into the ways of the ‘visitors’ from the east. The story starts in 1609 and moves, through four parts, through to the 1640s, as gradually the Manahate and other tribes are pushed out of their land; the book tells, also, of how they begin to take on the ways of the white man, and become less self-sufficient, something that saddens Dancing Fish.

This is a long book, but at no time did it feel over-written or padded out. It seems like a foreshadowing of many years to come, as the greed and cunning of the ‘civilised’ treads into the ground and destroys a culture that had existed, successfully, for hundreds of years; indeed, it makes one question the meaning of the word ‘civilised’. Only once or twice did we see the Europeans’ respect for the natives’ affinity with the land, in Henry Hudson, in Boucher, an early explorer who was left behind by his party, and Marie, his daughter.

In the latter part of the story, the settlers’ treatment of the natives is unbelievably brutal, sickening and heart-breaking, made worse because you know that all this and more really happened. But the ending is not without hope; Johnson’s characters have a wisdom far beyond most of their enemies.

Johnson finishes with notes, in brief, about what happened afterwards, and explains which parts of his story have their grounding in fact. Highly recommended.

Book description

Welcome to New York City, 1609.
When a Native American (Lenape) boy joins Henry Hudson’s expedition up the river that now bears his name, the fearless and visionary–and misunderstood–Dancing Fish doesn’t realize his entire world and way of life are in peril. Enthralled at first by these strangers, he begins to discover their dark and dangerous side, touching off a decades-long struggle against determined explorers, aggressive traders, land-hungry settlers, and ruthless officials. If his own people are to survive, the boy-turned-man must use his wits, build alliances, and draw on unique skills to block the rising tide of the white “salt people.”

Ambition and fear, love and loathing, mutual respect and open contempt bring Europeans and “savages” together in the untold story of the founding of New York City and the fabled island at its heart: Manhattan.

AmazonUK | Amazon US

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Horror #ShortStory The Bledbrooke Works by @john_f_leonard

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Bledbrooke Works by John F Leonard

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4.5 stars

I liked this story a lot—I’ve read an earlier novel and a shorter story by John F Leonard, and his writing has come on in leaps and bounds; this is a different class.

‘Back before the Domesday Book, the little spot known has Bledbrooke had started out smaller than small…During the Middle Ages, it shuddered into a village while no one was looking’

Bledbrooke is a strange town, in which electricity often fails and phone reception is almost non-existent.  Donald Hobdike is the Manager of Works; on the day in which the story takes place he must go down to the old, abandoned sewage works to fix a problem.  A young ex-con, Mikey, is assigned to help him.  And down they go…

The characterisation of the two men was a joy to read, with astute observations about each others’ generation, and their own lives; there are some highly descriptive turns of phrase that I so appreciated.  The chapters alternate been the points of view of Hobdike and Mikey—and another being; the one that lurks beneath.  It was this that took it to another level for me, as the presence beneath Bledbrooke contemplates its existence over millennia, and the nature of mankind.

‘The periods of slumber grew progressively shorter as it acclimatised and located fresh supplies of food.  Millennia or intertia became centuries of torpor and eventually decades of inactivitiy.  With each waking, evolution had shimmied and leapt down new paths, throwing up bewilderingly brittle lifeforms that lasted a celestial instant and were gone.’

It’s darker than dark, sinister and highly readable. Worth 99p of anyone’s money, or it’s available on Kindle Unlimited, too.

Book description

THE BLEDBROOKE WORKS is a tale of everyday unpleasantness and cosmic horror. A short novella of subterranean terror seen through the eyes of an ageing engineer and a young hoodlum. One a pillar of the local community, the other an outsider who wouldn’t know communal spirit if it ran up and bit him on the bottom.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Nostalgic #Fiction MONKEY TEMPLE by Peter Gelfan @ryderswriters

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Monkey Temple by Peter Gelfan

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4 out of 5 stars

An unusual and entertaining book, mostly based around a short period during the twilight years of protagonist Jules, his wife, Ritz, and their mixed bunch of ageing hippie friends from the old days—mostly the complicated and high-maintenance Ralston, who is determined not to see Jules go gently into that good, comfortable retirement.  Mostly, it’s about Jules’ relationship with Ralston.

Deciding that the time has come to leave New York, he and Ralston go on a road trip to look for a house for Jules and Ritz.  When they find a possibility, Ralston has plans for it other than simply being his friends’ last home.

Interspersed with present events are Jules’s memories of their past, chaotic life; the travelling, the experiences and the sex, drugs and rock and roll of the 1960s and 70s.  For this reason I’d say it would be appreciated mostly by the over fifty-fives, those who have experienced the backpacking type of travelling or are familiar with, shall we say, a more erratic lifestyle; I think some of the references might go over the heads of anyone who ticks none of those boxes.  Maybe it’s a book about old hippies for old hippies.

Much of the narrative and dialogue is centred around the subject of the characters’ ageing processes, rubbish that is talked about ‘alternative’ philosophies, and also Jules’s observations about the writing world.  I found myself smiling a lot, and highlighting passages I agreed with or enjoyed.  Alas, I forgot to highlight many, but here are a few.

(about Jules’s client, who is writing novel based on her life)

‘Problem is,” I said, ‘her life’s not a story.’

…’Everyone’s life is a story.’

‘No it isn’t.  Things happen, but that doesn’t make it a story…A story is about something.  A particular struggle.  With a beginning and an end’.

‘You can learn something by studying its opposite.  Like, who the hell knows how to be happy?  So instead, think about what makes you unhappy, and avoid it.’

‘Doesn’t it ever occur to you that … when you don’t like someone, it’s because there’s something very wrong with them?’

‘Of course…and then I try to distinguish the subjective from the objective’.

‘What a bunch of pseudo-intellectual bullshit. Nothing’s objective…it’s just a cop-out’

‘The truth hit me.  The journey to transcend ego is an ego trip’ 

Yes, I enjoyed this book, and would definitely recommend.  My only criticisms are practical ones; at £6.13/$7.97 for the Kindle version it’s priced a bit high for the market, and the rather dull cover doesn’t do the book justice, or give any indication that this is a dryly amusing, entertaining and poignant story about artists, writers and other colourful people who have spent their lives living and thinking outside the box.  I’d have chosen a sunset streaked road with a back view of Jules and Ralston driving over the horizon, corny though that may be—or a few of them sitting on the dilapidated porch of the Monkey Temple.

Book description

Monkey Temple is a coming-of-old-age adventure about two longtime best friends and rivals who, determined to “not go gentle into that good night,” set off on a final road trip. Their efforts to face past failures and give meaning to their dwindling futures change their lives forever but not at all as they had envisioned. It’s a buddy story with strong female characters and plenty of dark humor.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Post War Fiction, An Empty Vessel by Vaughan Mason, Written by @JJMarsh1

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading An Empty Vessel by Vaughan Mason and written by J. J. Marsh

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5 out of 5 stars

My understanding is that this long novella is a book mentioned in a novel by JJ Marsh, a work written by one of her characters, Vaughan Mason.  Though not clear on the blurb, this is what Rosie told me she thought it was, when I chose the book to review.

An Empty Vessel is most interesting story that depicts the thoughts of Nancy Maidstone, a woman accused of murder 1958, the day before her execution, and her life from childhood up until that point.  Other chapters are from the point of view of her lawyers and others involved in the plot.

JJ Marsh has a highly readable and compelling writing style and has created characters that jump off the page, with excellent dialogue, both spoken and inner, from the thoughtful Doctor Waterhouse and his socially self-aware wife, to Nancy’s self-serving brother, Frank, to the women she worked with at the supermarket that led to the abrupt downturn in her life, to Nancy herself, for whom my sympathy increased the more I read. Every character story is a tale within itself, rather than just a part of the whole, and I was completely engrossed in each one.

The story gives a colourful picture of ordinary life in the 1950s, with all its social prejudices, accepted behaviour and sometimes almost charming innocence about the world.  Running through all the scenarios is the question of whether or not Nancy is guilty, and if so, why she would have committed such a crime, but there is so much more to enjoy than simply an amassing of clues.

An entertaining, heartbreaking and unusual story – I loved it.

Book description

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

In her time, she’s been a wartime evacuee, land-girl, slaughterhouse worker, supermarket assistant, Master Butcher and defendant accused of first degree murder. Now she’s a prisoner condemned to death. A first time for everything.

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

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

This is the story of Nancy Maidstone.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Tudor #Histfic JANE THE QUENE by Janet Wertman

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Jane The Quene by Janet Wertman

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3.5 stars

A light piece of historical fiction that, on the whole, I liked.  I was tentative at first, being very much ‘Team Boleyn’ as far as the six wives are concerned, but I was pleased to note that Jane Seymour was not portrayed as the meek angel of many a historical novel or TV drama, but every bit as calculating as her predecessor in her mission to capture the heart of Henry VIII; she was used as a tool by her ambitious family in exactly the same way.

The book is written in alternative third person POVs: that of Jane herself, and Thomas Cromwell.  I liked that the author showed the downfall of Anne Boleyn to be a fiction carefully constructed by Cromwell, who knew that Henry needed to get rid of her so he could marry another who might give him a son, but that he could not afford to have another abandoned ex-wife who refused to disappear.  Thus, a story had to be concocted to justify the murder of Anne.  I also liked the explanation of the dissolution of the monasteries; it is clear, concise, and makes for a good understanding of the whys, hows and consequences.  Janet Wertman writes factual detail in a fashion that is both easy to read and entertaining; thus, this book would be an excellent choice for someone who doesn’t know much about the era; for instance, she even explains what a monarch’s yearly Progress is.  Now and again I was a little too aware of the research being translated into the narration, but on the whole it was executed well.

The author is American and, alas, I did come across some American English in dialogue, along with historical inconsistency and modern phraseology.  Examples:

  • ‘Snuck’ – the British English past tense of the verb ‘sneak’ is ‘sneaked’.
  • ‘Snicker’ – British English is ‘snigger’.
  • ‘Gift’ used as a verb and ‘caring’ used as a general adjective to describe someone – these have only crept into British English in more recent years.
  • A reference to mashed potatoes – potatoes were not introduced into this country until some fifty years later, by Sir Walter Raleigh.
  • The phrase ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ – the first recorded use of this phrase was in a play, in the late 17th century.
  • ‘teenagers’ – not in use until the latter half of the 20th century.
  • Henry said, ‘You center me, Jane’.  So American and 21st century that it might as well have ‘Gee’ at the beginning and ‘lol’ at the end!

I also thought that, now and again, the dialogue between Kings, courtiers and Jane was too familiar, and doubted that Cromwell would have introduced the idea of Anne Boleyn’s treason to the King while both were in the presence of Jane Seymour.  I’m aware that writing historical fiction that takes place outside one’s own country must be an incredibly hard thing to do, and I always feel sorry for authors whose editors have let them down.  Google alone is a wonderful and easy-to-use tool.

Despite these ‘dodgy’ areas, though, I did enjoy reading it.  The writing flows, Ms Wertman tells a story in a compelling fashion, and I believed in the characters; these three factors alone are much of what this writing thing is about, after all.  With assistance from a more experienced editor (possibly an English one?) I imagine her work would get better and better.  To sum up, I would say this is light fiction for the newer reader of the genre; perhaps lovers of programmes like Showtime’s The Tudors series, or who enjoy an introduction to the period, rather than the serious history addict – avid readers of this genre are notoriously picky!

Book description

All Jane Seymour wants is a husband; but when she catches the eye of a volatile king, she is pulled deep into the Tudor court’s realm of plot and intrigue….

England. 1535. Jane Seymour is 27 years old and increasingly desperate for the marriage that will provide her a real place in the world. She gets the perfect opportunity to shine when the court visits Wolf Hall, the Seymour ancestral manor. With new poise born from this event, it seems certain that her efficiency and diligence will shine through and finally attract a suitor.

Meanwhile, King Henry VIII is 45 and increasingly desperate for a son to secure his legacy. He left his first wife, a princess of Spain, changing his country’s religion in the process, to marry Anne Boleyn — but she too has failed to deliver the promised heir. As Henry begins to fear he is cursed, Jane Seymour’s honesty and innocence conjure redemption. Thomas Cromwell, an ambitious clerk who has built a career on strategically satisfying the King’s desires, sees in Jane the perfect vehicle to calm the political unrest that threatens the country: he engineers the plot that ends with Jane becoming the King’s third wife.

Jane believes herself virtuous and her actions justified, but early miscarriages shake her confidence and hopes. How can a woman who has done nothing wrong herself deal with the guilt of how she unseated her predecessor?

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