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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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Psychological #Suspense Murder Undone by Robin Storey

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Murder Undone by Robin Storey

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3.5 stars

This book starts well, with main character Eva poisoning her cheating husband.  Fast forward twenty years: she’s married again, and living with the fall-out.  Except she can’t deal with it; she drinks too much, and goes into bars to pick up men for casual sex.  Then she is offered a chance to go back in time, still retaining her memories of her ‘real’ life, and not murder Cheating Charlie after all….

I found this author’s style pretty readable; I’d suddenly realise I’d galloped through 10 pages or so, without thinking about stopping to make notes, which is a good sign.  I was moderately drawn in when I first started to read, but as soon as Eva got a chance to go back in time, I thought, ah—now I’m interested!

The story continued to zip along in a readable fashion, but I did have some problems with it.  Eva’s character seemed more like a vehicle for the plot that the other way round; I never believed in her.  One minute she is the pampered, submissive wife of a millionaire businessman, the next she is daredevil sleuth, able to talk her way into any private location, and mixing with the criminal underworld without turning a hair, to the extent of having sex with them for information (and enjoying it despite the guy having had a knife to her throat, but I’m not even going to go there; the cocaine she’d taken, alone, would make her paranoid and agitated in this situation).

I was dubious about some dialogue (the way one of the female characters talks about sex would make Samantha from Sex and the City cringe) and unconvinced by some events; for instance, before she goes back in time, Eva is around 60 years old, but gets hit on/approached for casual sex every time she enters a bar to have a drink.  However glamorous and well-kept a woman of that age may be, I found this a little unlikely.

One other point is something the author might want to consider for future work of this genre.  Later in the book, Eva is caught driving under the influence of cocaine.  There was a detailed chapter about her court appearance, ending with the news report about it on TV.  Why not just cut the whole court thing, and start the chapter with the news report, ending with a paragraph or two about how she felt, watching it broadcast to the world?  That would have given all the information the reader needed, and let them get on with the more juicy stuff, like infidelity, deteriorating marriage and underworld dealings …

… because it is a rip-roaring tale, and not badly put together at all, generally.  The basic idea is great, though I didn’t feel enough use was made of the fact that she was living her life over again; I expected more references to the past, and perhaps the steering of other events, too.  It’s a bit like a watered-down Jackie Collins (that’s a compliment, by the way!), but, alas, I need to be convinced by and become totally involved with the characters in order to really enjoy a book, and Eva never came alive to me.

To sum up: the author has much of the skill and writing style for this genre, but it still needs a bit of fine tuning!

Book description

Wealthy socialite Eva Dennehy murdered her first husband Charlie because he was planning to leave her for his mistress. Even her marriage to kind-hearted Edgar can’t blot out her remorse or fill the gap Charlie has left in her life.

When Eva is offered the opportunity to travel back in time and undo her crime as penance, she accepts – what does she have to lose? Back in her old life with Charlie, her passion for him surpassed only by her torment at his infidelity, she is more determined than ever to prevent him from leaving her.

But Eva discovers a sinister side to Charlie she never knew before, and her plan plunges her into a world of crime and depravity. She soon realizes she has even more to lose this time around.

If you love complex, flawed characters, simmering tension and suspense with a twist of noir, you’ll love Robin Storey’s novel of jealousy and betrayal.

Scroll up and click the Buy Button now to immerse yourself in this story of the dark side of love.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Icelandic #Histfic #Mystery STORYTELLERS by @bjornlarssen #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Storytellers by Bjørn Larssen

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5 out of 5 stars

I loved this book – it was a delight to read, an unusual debut novel by a writer with much talent.

The story tells of village blacksmith Gunnar, who is (at first glance) quite happy living in his shack with his dog, Ragnar, and his ‘medicine’ (alcohol).  One night, he takes in a climber with a broken ankle, Sigurd; with reluctance, Gunnar agrees to take care of him until he can walk again.  From the outset, it is clear that there is much mystery surrounding the stranger.

Meanwhile, Gunnar’s life is picked apart by his doctor, the overbearing Brynhildur who wants to marry him, and the Conservative Women of Iceland who demand that he mend his heathen ways.  I loved these women – the Conservative Women number just two; they and Brynhildur were a joy to read.  The gossip and atmosphere of small village life reminded me of a Jane Austen novel, subtly and amusingly executed as it is.

This is actually a story within a story – the Icelandic winters are long and dark, and storytelling is a much loved pastime.  Threaded through Gunnar’s own tale is a another, told to him in instalments by Sigurd, about love, death and a feud between brothers.  Both stories are so compelling.

As we learn more about Gunnar, we discover the demons that lurk within, that he tries to banish with the moonshine that he makes in his shack.

The atmosphere of the place and time is perfectly drawn, the characterisation is excellent, the dialogue authentic and amusing.  The ending is surprising, as the link between the stories is uncovered.  In these days when so many novels are jam-packed with events from start to finish, I enjoyed the slower pace of Storytellers; it has such charm that I still found it to be a ‘page-turner’, was reluctant to leave it when I had to, and sad to finish it.

The quality of the writing and storytelling is most definitely worthy of 5*.  I was, at first, going to knock off half a star because of some editorial errors that may not concern many readers – a few Americanisms, the odd word used incorrectly, and phrases/words too modern for the time.  However, English is not the author’s first language, and his command of its subtleties is, on the whole, outstanding, so I don’t want to penalise him for that which should have been picked up by editors and proofreaders, and which I believe will be remedied soon.

This a work of literary art that I recommend most highly; Bjørn Larssen is, indeed, an Icelandic storyteller.

Book description

In March 1920 Icelandic days are short and cold, but the nights are long. For most, on those nights, funny, sad, and dramatic stories are told around the fire. But there is nothing dramatic about Gunnar, a hermit blacksmith who barely manages to make ends meet. He knows nobody will remember his existence – they already don’t. All he wants is peace, the company of his animals, and a steady supply of his medication. Sometimes he wonders what it would feel like to have a story of his own. He’s about to find out.

Sigurd – a man with a plan, a broken ankle, and shocking amounts of money – won’t talk about himself, but is happy to tell a story that just might get Gunnar killed. The blacksmith’s other “friends” are just as eager to write him into stories of their own – from Brynhildur who wants to fix Gunnar, then marry him, his doctor who is on the precipice of calling for an intervention, The Conservative Women of Iceland who want to rehabilitate Gunnar’s “heathen ways” – even that wicked elf has plans for the blacksmith.

As his defenses begin to crumble, Gunnar decides that perhaps his life is due for a change – on his own terms. But can he avoid the endings others have in mind for him, and forge his own?

The author is an ex-blacksmith, lover of all things Icelandic, physically located in Amsterdam, mentally living in a log cabin near Akureyri. He has published stories and essays in Polish and American magazines, both online and in print. This is his first novel.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Histfic The Wire Recorders by Thomas A Levitt @ryderswriters

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Wire Recorder by Thomas A Levitt

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4 stars

I was attracted to this book because of the great title, the great cover, and the blurb that spoke of the 1951 campaign to root out communists in the US film industry, something that interests me greatly.  Mr Levitt writes well, and the book flowed along nicely.  I did like much of it, hence the 4 stars, although it was not the book I expected.

The anti-communist witch-hunt is dealt with in a brief fashion in the first ten per cent, after which the novel is about the life of Sophie Hearn, the daughter of Larry, who suffered under the HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) campaign.  Running alongside Sophie’s story is that of Steve, whose parents were also involved; I found his early development one of the most compelling parts of the book, especially as it took place in a time when developmental disorders went unrecognised.

Mr Levitt creates the atmosphere of 1960s California so well, I would imagine from personal experience, and many of the incidental characters come alive immediately, particularly in their dialogue.

The reason I didn’t enjoy the book quite as much as I had hoped is that there was not much actual plot; it is more of a biographical account of Sophie’s life, with chapters dedicated to the social issues of the time.  Throughout, I kept waiting for some real conflict, or suspense; opportunities for drama were missed, with any problems (one character’s excessive use of marijuana, and, later, the logistics of a mixed race marriage) being resolved quickly and easily, within a page or two, almost as if the author had a checklist of issues to be mentioned.

I enjoyed reading Steve and Sophie’s experience at their student parties (and the ridiculous dialogue of the hippie idealists was extremely well done), but few of the scenarios tied together, events happening in isolation.  I wonder if there was perhaps too much material for one book; the author has dealt with not only the HUAC campaign, but also the newly permissive 1960s, sexism, drugs, the women’s lib movement, living in a commune, new teaching methods, racism, the difficulties of mixed race marriages, employment problems—all this is crammed into one medium-length novel, whereas any one of those subjects would make a great basis for a story all on its own.  This is a debut novel, and I know it can be a temptation to play all your cards straight away!

The bulk of the book is about Sophie running an experimental school, and her subsequent difficulties in finding a post in a ‘public’ school.  Sadly, I never got a sense of who Sophie was, though Steve was a rounded, three-dimensional character.

What kept me turning the pages was the writing style, which is extremely readable, the entertaining snapshots of particular aspects of the era, the fact that the author clearly knew his subject matter so well, and the excellent dialogue in the portraits of incidental characters.  In the last fifteen per cent, too, there is more of a coming together of Sophie and Steve’s lives, a little more suspense, and an explanation of why and how they were affected by what happened to their parents at the beginning of the book.

To sum up: as a fictional account of the sociological history of the era, this is a most fascinating book; for those who are looking for a plot-driven novel about the HUAC campaign and its affects, though, not so much.

Book description

Sophie Hearn grows up hearing about the House Un-American Activities Committee’s 1951 campaign to root out Communists in the film industry. Her father’s impassioned testimony in defense of the First Amendment—and his refusal to answer questions about his political associations—leave him blacklisted for years, destroying his promising screenwriting career and putting his family on the edge of financial ruin. Unsurprisingly, his daughter becomes politically aware at an early age.

The shadow of the blacklist follows Sophie to college and then into adulthood, affecting her politics, her career ambitions and her relationships. But it’s not until she reunites with Steve Elwood, a long-lost childhood friend, that she’s forced to face the full impact of her family’s past.

A powerful story about coming of age in California in the mid-twentieth century, The Wire Recorder explores how political paranoia, when allowed to spiral out of control, can leave a toxic residue that lasts for generations.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Thriller NOT HERE by Genevieve Nocovo

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Not Here by Genevieve Nocovo

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3 out of 5 stars

Dina Ostica, a 23 year old podcaster living alone in San Francisco, has a troubled background after escaping a difficult relationship. The mystery begins when her friend, an old hippie who is her go-to source for material for her podcasts about life in and the history of the city, disappears.

I thought the atmosphere of the city came across as most authentic; it is clear that the author has a fine knowledge of the place. I liked that the subject matter; Dina’s story was very ‘current’, with issues raised so relevant to this part of the 21st century. The problem I had with the book as a whole, though, was that it felt rather flat. There were too many irrelevancies that were not woven into the story, like what people wore and what they ate, intricate detail about gym sessions and mundane conversational exchanges. Dina is written in the third person, in such a way that we never experience her inner thoughts; we are told how she feels, or what she thinks about something, but I felt I was being supplied with information rather than getting to know a character.

The plot is well put together (aside from the fact that I couldn’t work out how Dina hoped to make enough money to live on from podcasting), the ideas are interesting and the book is professionally presented, but the writing itself needs some work if this series is to become memorable. The information was all there, such as what a place looked like and how someone felt, or what happened after what had happened previously, but I never felt involved.

I believe this is the author’s debut novel. It is competent and the basics are there, with some excellent plotting and slow build of suspense; she just needs to work on really getting inside the head of her characters, seeking ways to make her storytelling more captivating, and her dialogue more realistic, character revealing and interesting.

Book description

Would you surrender your free will to save your life? 
A city in turmoil. A neighbor disappears. When her concerns are written off, Dina investigates on her own — and becomes a target, at the mercy of those in control…
In San Francisco, where the poor are systematically displaced by well-off yuppies, Dina Ostica is part of the problem. The damaged, determined twenty-three-year-old scrambles to make a name for herself in the burgeoning world of podcasting, with the city as her muse. She is hell-bent on professional success, thinking it will mend her broken spirit.
But when her go-to source on local history disappears without warning, she begins to uncover an uncanny pattern that hits too close to home, getting her tied up in the city’s underbelly.
What follows is a gritty tale of exploitation, betrayal, and the strength one needs to survive the whims of those in power.
Will Dina escape or fall victim to the injustice chewing up the city?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #SciFi #Shortstory THE CLEANSING by @AntonEine

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Cleansing By Anton Eine

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4 out of 5 stars

I liked this story – it’s clever and well written.  Unusual, too – it consists only of dialogue, with no dialogue tags, between two beings (aliens) in a space ship, many miles from our galaxy.

The aliens’ mission is to wipe out any life on Earth, but as they look at humankind through the medium of TV and films, they become increasingly intrigued by us – and how we (they think) fight to survive pandemics, invasion, wars, all manner of natural disasters; they’re especially interested in the way we have documented our history in intricate detail.

The story held my interest all the way through; it ticked boxes from imaginative to funny, and I thought the chosen method of execution, ie the dialogue, was inspired.

Book description

Will beauty save the world? Not this time…
This sci-fi short story gives us a view of our world from perspective of alien invaders that just arrived to destroy any life on Earth. Can we do anything to save our fragile peace, to protect our home and the very existence of the humankind?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Shortstory Collection The Sea Was A Fair Master by Calvin Demmer

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Sea Was A Fair Master by Calvin Demmer

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3.5 stars 

As is usual with short story collections, these vary.  I very much liked the first one, On the Seventh Day, set on board ship, and hoped it set the scene for the quality of the rest of them.  

The ideas behind the stories were entertaining; Mr Demmer creates atmosphere well, and has a good sense of suspense and timing, so although there were no dropped-jaw-worthy twists or denouements, I still enjoyed reading most of them.  Some hinted at a larger story, which was artfully carried off.

What weakened the collection, for me, was the dialogue, which was often unrealistic; I kept thinking, ‘but people don’t talk like that’.  Not in all of the stories, just some.  I thought some of them were a little over-written, too, and unnecessarily wordy; sometimes, ‘stink’ works better than ‘pungent aroma’; knowing when to be spare with prose is one of the arts of great storytelling.

Others that stood out were the title story, The Sea was a Fair Master, The Snake, or the Humans?, and the last one, Sea Ate Nine.  

I think if the author spends more time on his dialogue and perhaps thinking up some really good twists in the tale now and again, to make them more memorable, he could do very well in this genre; he certainly has talent.  And if he ever turns his hand to longer fiction, it should definitely be set at sea.

Book description

The world’s fate lies with a comatose young girl; an android wants to remember a human she once knew under Martian skies; men at sea learn that the ocean is a realm far different from land, where an unforgiving god rules; a school security guard discovers extreme English class; and a man understands what the behemoth beneath the sea commands of him.

The Sea Was a Fair Master is a collection of 23 stories, riding the currents of fantasy, science fiction, crime, and horror. There are tales of murder, death, loss, revenge, greed, and hate. There are also tales of hope, survival, and love.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #crimefiction Hometown Boys by Mary Maddox @Dreambeast7 @ryderswriters

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Hometown Boys by Mary Maddox

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4.5 out of 5 stars

I liked this book a lot.  It’s listed under crime/mystery and women sleuths, and the plot is intricate, convincing and interesting, but it was the characters and relationships between them that kept me turning the pages without being tempted to skip-read.

Kelly Durrell returns to her hometown of Morrisson in Illinois when her aunt and uncle are brutally murdered, supposedly by her ex-boyfriend, Troy.  Although he has confessed, some people think there is more going on behind the scenes, and that Troy was merely a hired hit-man.  This storyline is interspersed with complications within Kelly’s own family; gradually, the two intertwine.

The book begins with the murder, when Troy is egged on, and it is clear that others had an interest in what he is about to do, but as the story unravels it becomes clear that there is far more to it.  Mary Maddox paints the picture of claustrophobic, small-town life so well, from the depressing existence of Kelly’s blinkered mother, to the criminal trailer trash, to the old schoolfriend who wanted to be a model but is now an overweight housewife.  In Morrisson, everyone knows everyone else’s business and, more problematically, makes immediate and often uninformed judgements about it.

This is the sequel to Dark Room, which I read and reviewed for Rosie’s Book Review Team back in 2016, i.e., so long ago that I might as well not have read it (I have a shocking memory), but this did not hamper my enjoyment or understanding of the plot.  There are a few instances in which it is clear that there was a book preceding this one, but enough information is given, in a concise fashion, for there to be no doubt about what is going on.  It might have been a good idea to put a recap in the front of the book, though, all the same.

The novel has a neat ending, with all threads tied up except one, that is left dangling…. for Book 3?  Nice one, I recommend.

Book description

Sometimes going home is the most dangerous thing you can do.

Junkie burnout Troy Ingram murders an elderly couple outside small-town Morrison, Illinois. He’s supposed to make it look like a robbery, but there’s so much blood he panics and flees. When he’s caught by police, he falls back on Plan B: tell everyone who will listen his motive was revenge on the Durrell family.

See, twenty years ago, Kelly Durrell broke his heart and ruined his life.

When Kelly returns to Morrison for the funerals, leaving her life in Boulder still packed in boxes and her relationship with detective Cash Peterson in its infancy, local gossip is quick to reach her. Troy’s story doesn’t make sense, but everyone in town seems happy to blame Kelly.

She can’t even turn to her family for consolation: she and her mother get in an argument every time they talk, her dad doesn’t want to make waves, and her cousins are too busy fighting over their inheritance to care about anything else.

But Troy’s lawyer, Lizzy D’Angelo, is sure someone forced Troy to commit the murders, and that Kelly is the key to finding out who. With Lizzy’s help, Kelly starts digging. Soon she discovers just how many secrets a small town can hide.

Can Kelly shine a light in her hometown’s dark corners without getting herself and her family killed?

Hometown Boys is a smart, tension-filled thriller that will keep you riveted until the surprising, satisfying end.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Scifi #Fantasy Killing Adam by Earik Beann

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Killing Adam by Earik Beann

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3.5 out of 5 stars

A dystopian future, in which most people spend all their time in altered reality, via a chip implanted in their brains: an ARC, on the ARCNet. The world they inhabit is whatever they want to it be, and 23 hours a day may be spent this way, with only 4 breaks of 15 minutes a day to deal with bodily necessities such as eating and washing. All existence is controlled by an artificial intelligence – or ‘singularity’ – called Adam, even the people’s perception of what occurs elsewhere in the world.

Some cannot have the chip implanted, for a variety of reasons. These people are considered ‘disabled’; Jimmy, the main character, is one of these, because of a football injury. Their being left behind in the real world keeps them separate, a minority group.

I found the idea of all this quite exciting, and dived straight in; Earik Beann’s writing was certainly good enough to keep me turning the pages. I enjoyed the first 20% of it very much, as a picture of the world was being built up. I liked the way that the author did not explain much at all, but let the picture of his created world gradually become clear, by what was happening to Jimmy, and going through his mind. However, as I read on, I felt the whole premise needed a bit more thinking through.  For instance, Jimmy’s wife spends 23 hours a day in a catatonic state, as do many. Wouldn’t cities of people who spend all their days lying on sofas create massive health problems? How would the production of life’s essentials be maintained? Would society not just collapse? Or am I over-thinking?

I did like the basic ideas; perhaps it is intended to be a comment on our present lives, and the way in which people are so often plugged into online life that the ‘real’ world has become less and less relevant – especially as the ARCNet and Adam are the work of a corporation: BioCal. I liked the writing style very much, and the characterisation was solid. But there were too many times when I found myself thinking, ‘yeah, but hang on a minute…’. On the other hand, it’s science fiction. Or is it fantasy? I couldn’t make up my mind. Either way, I think how much you enjoy it will depend on how far you are willing to suspend disbelief.

Book description

The world runs on ARCs. Altered Reality Chips. Small implants behind the left ear that allow people to experience anything they could ever imagine. The network controls everything, from traffic, to food production, to law enforcement. Some proclaim it a Golden Age of humanity. Others have begun to see the cracks. Few realize that behind it all, living within every brain and able to control all aspects of society, there exists a being with an agenda all his own: the singularity called Adam, who believes he is God.

Jimmy Mahoney’s brain can’t accept an ARC. Not since his football injury from the days when the league was still offline. “ARC-incompatible” is what the doctors told him. Worse than being blind and deaf, he is a man struggling to cling to what’s left of a society that he is no longer a part of. His wife spends twenty-three hours a day online, only coming off when her chip forcibly disconnects her so she can eat. Others are worse. Many have died, unwilling or unable to log off to take care of even their most basic needs.

After being unwittingly recruited by a rogue singularity to play a role in a war that he doesn’t understand, Jimmy learns the truth about Adam and is thrown into a life-and-death struggle against the most powerful mathematical mind the world has ever known. But what can one man do against a being that exists everywhere and holds limitless power? How can one man, unable to even get online, find a way to save his wife, and the entire human race, from destruction?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #LadLit #Humour All Those Nearly Fights by @CunliffeRich

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading All Those Nearly Fights by Richard Cunliffe

All These Nearly Fights by [Cunliffe, Richard]

4 out of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book, it’s well-written and jogs along nicely – the plot is fairly domestic with only the occasional surprise, but such was the quality of the writing and that all-important characterisation that it kept me interested throughout.

It takes place over five days in any-town, England, mostly in the downmarket car showroom where Jimmy works, and at his home, which he shares with the beautiful and virtuous but rather bland Charlotte. Few people know that Jimmy won the lottery recently, and Charlotte is not one of them.  Before the win, he was planning to start his own garage with best friend Ash, but his new circumstances have affected his plans – and so have the feelings he still has for the gorgeous and fickle Isabel, who broke his heart.

I’ve read a fair bit of lad lit over the years, and notice that the heroes tend to fall into two categories: the cute nerd who makes a big deal out of the lyrics of songs and is trying to win back the heart of a girl (often called Laura), or the more swaggering jack-the-lad who cheats on women and calls his friends ‘mate’, ‘buddy’ and ‘Big Man’ every time he talks to them.  Jimmy Harris belongs to the second crew, which makes for a livelier read.  The other truism about this genre is that the women fall into two basic types: the beautiful, good-hearted and bland, and the sexy-but-a-bit-nuts.  Kind of the Madonna-whore thing.  Charlotte is the former, while Isabel is the latter.  Jimmy spends his time swaying hither and thither in his feelings for the two of them.

The characters who work in the showroom are great, very real, and the sales scenarios were totally realistic; even though I know nothing of this world, have zero interest in cars and loathe sales patter, I really enjoyed reading this side of it.

I was a little disappointed to find that the book ends with no wrapping up of any of the storylines, to be continued in Book 2, Fault On Both Sides, because there is no indication in the blurb that it is not a complete story.  I like continuing stories and am happy with cliffhangers, if I know what I’m getting, but it is not listed on Amazon as part of a series, either.  I turned the page expecting to carry on reading, only to see ‘The End’.  However, I liked it enough to download the sequel on Kindle Unlimited, which speaks for itself about the quality of the book; I do want to know what happens!

It’s a sound debut novel; I would suggest that Mr Cunliffe adds the term ‘Lad Lit’ to his keywords to make it show up in this category on Amazon, and also lists them as a series, with an indication in the blurb for this one that it is only part one of the story.  At £3.48 for the pair they’ll hardly break the bank, and they’re available on Kindle Unlimited, too.  Yes, I recommend!

Book description

Crafty car salesman Jimmy Harris has bucket-loads of money, but also has more than a few problems on his plate. This one-time Jack the Lad happens to have won millions playing the lottery, but is yet to work out what he wants to do with his life or who he wants to spend it with.

His biggest dilemma is whether to stay faithful to his gorgeous girlfriend, Charlotte, or try hooking up once more with Isabel, his feisty former partner with whom he feels he has “unfinished business”. Then there’s the question of whether he should still open up the car dealership he’d been planning with his best mate, Ash. And if Jimmy didn’t have enough to think about, he finds himself about to hand over a load of money to someone he doesn’t like on account of his slightly barmy ideas about fate, loyalty and kinship.

Christmas is coming, and Jimmy needs to arrive at some decisions. Join him for five rollercoaster days in December as he begins to make his choices.

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