Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Notes Of A Naive Traveler by @JSAauthor #Travel #Nepal

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Notes From A Naive Traveler by Jennifer S Alderson


4 out of 5 stars

This is quite a short book, written in semi-diary format, partly in emails, about the author’s travels in 1999.  The then 26-year-old Jennifer plunges in at the deep end, living first with a Nepali family, trekking around the country, then teaching Nepali children, after which she hits the tourist trail in Thailand.

This book would be most useful as a guidebook for those hoping to travel to Nepal, as it certainly paints a realistic picture; any traveller with whimsical dreams of entering a spiritual heaven as soon as they get off the plane should read the account of Thamel, of the families who assume Westerners are fair game, and of the bloody temple sacrifices ~ the lunch of goat’s blood will stay with me, I think…

I grew to like Jennifer more and more as the book went on (important when reading a memoir!), especially when she described the father of one of her Nepali families as ‘kind of a schmuck’ and the son as a ‘little shit’ – I have a fondness for those who dare to tell it like it is!  Her youthful enthusiasm is charming – everything is ‘amazing’, ‘gorgeous’, ‘incredible’, etc, though now and again I felt I would have liked to read about the place as seen through more mature eyes.  The most interesting parts of the book, for me, were her observations about the day to day habits and culture of the Nepalis and just little incidents that happened.  Her ‘characters’ really jumped off the page.  

On to Thailand, and Jennifer experiences the westernised tourist route of the famous Khao San Road and rejects it for more of the ‘real’ Thailand, though she was disappointed that the hill tribes lived not in mud huts but in shacks with corrugated tin rooves, with motorbikes and trucks parked outside, and that the caves where the Buddhist monks worked were strewn with electric cables.  Generally, though, her time in Thailand sounded so wonderful it almost made me whimper with longing.

I’d say that anyone who is thinking of visiting these countries, Nepal in particular, should take time to read this warts-and-all account, especially if they’re signing up for the volunteer work that entails being placed with a family.  Jen comes across as a very open-minded and non-egotistical sort of person; maybe why she felt like a fish out of water in the working world of Seattle, and wanted to experience different lifestyles.  I’d definitely read more about her travels; I liked the conversational tone of this book very much.

There are pictures, too ~ always a plus, with a travel guide!

Book description

“I never thought I would have reason to say to someone, ‘Sorry I’m late, it took longer to dismember the goat than originally planned.'”

I was twenty-six years old, worked at a well-paid job, rented a fantastic apartment, and enjoyed a large circle of friends. I had everything, except I didn’t. I couldn’t shake the feeling I was missing out on the experience of living.

Part guidebook on culture and travel, part journey of self-discovery, this travelogue takes you on a backpacking adventure through Nepal and Thailand and provides a firsthand account of one volunteer’s experience teaching in a Nepali school and living with a devout Brahmin family.

Trek with me through the bamboo forests and terraced mountaintops of eastern Nepal, take a wild river-rafting ride in class IV waters, go on an elephant ride and encounter a charging rhinoceros on jungle walks in Chitwan National Park, sea-kayak the surreal waters of Krabi, and snorkel in the Gulf of Thailand. Join me on some of the scariest bus rides you could imagine, explore beautiful and intriguing temples, experience religious rituals unknown to most Westerners, and visit mind-blowing places not mentioned in your typical travel guides.

Notes of a Naive Traveler is a must-read for those interested in learning more about – or wishing to travel to – Nepal and Thailand. I hope it inspires you to see these amazing countries for yourself.

Related subjects include: travel, adventure, memoirs, non-fiction, backpacking, volunteering, travelogue, travel writing, solo travel, culture, journals, cultural heritage, cultural travel, Asia, Nepal, Thailand.

About the author

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

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

Both novels are part of an on-going yet stand-alone series following the adventures of traveler and culture lover, Zelda Richardson. The third installment, another art-related travel thriller (working title: Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery) will be released in the January 2018.

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

Jennifer S. Alderson

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Amie: African Adventure by @LucindaEClarke #Africa

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Amie: African Adventure by Lucinda E Clarke


3 out of 5 stars

The book starts with a terrific prologue about a girl incarcerated in what I assumed to be an African jail. On to Chapter One, where, back in England, we meet Amie, a rather twee young woman whose husband is offered a job in the fictional country of Togodo.  Amie is concerned that this will interfere with her life-plan, which is, basically, to live as her parents.  Once in Togodo, she expresses much surprise that everything isn’t just like it is back home, but new friends and fellow ex-pats are there to show her and Jonathon the ropes.

The aspect of this book that I liked very much indeed was the insight into the culture of Africa, the political system, the law, or lack of it, and just the day to day domestic life, social problems and customs.  It’s clear the author knows her stuff, and it’s delivered so well.  As the novel progresses, I learned much about the farce of foreign aid, government corruption and the problems facing the aid workers who actually do care.

In fact, I liked the African life element so much that, to a large extent, it made up for the weaker side of the novel: the characterisation.  The expatriates in Africa all talk in perfectly formed sentences imparting the required amount of information; there are no individual nuances of speech.  During a trip home to England, Amie’s family and friends speak as one in either their total disinterest in or their nasty, critical dismissal about her way of life in Africa; I realise that this was a vehicle to give cause for Amie’s feeling of distance from her former life, but I felt it could have been approached more subtly.  I also found the dialogue between Amie and Jonathan stilted, wooden and oddly old-fashioned; the words Amie uses (such as exclamations of ‘Goodness!’ to indicate surprise) and her naïve questions and attitudes/observations did little to portray a 21st century twenty-something who works in the media.

Three quarters of the way through the book a military coup takes place and Amie’s life is turned upside down; the danger and her escape certainly ups the pace and it is well-written, but, alas, by then, I found everything about her irritating.  I do understand that this is just a personal reaction, though; not everyone would find her so.

I’ve looked at the author’s bio and see that she writes non-fiction books as well as fiction.  I think she has such a great voice when it comes to putting over the feel of a country, and she writes about it in such an accessible way; I am sure I would enjoy her non-fiction.  Had the main character in this novel been older, or a bit more worldly, I may have found her more realistic.  Despite my criticisms, though, I do think this book would be enjoyed by those with a particular interest in the African way of life.

Book description

Amie was just an average girl, living in her home town close to friends and family. She was happily married and she had her future all planned out. They would have two adorable children, while she made award winning programmes for television. Until the day her husband announced he was being sent to live and work in an African country she had never heard of. When she came to the notice of a Colonel in the Government, it made life very complicated, and from there things started to escalate from bad to worse. If Amie could have seen that one day she would be totally lost, fighting for her life, and enduring untold horrors, she would never have stepped foot on that plane.

About the author

Born in Dublin, matured in England, wanted to follow grandfather into Fleet Street, family not wildly enthusiastic – unfeminine, unreliable and dangerous. Went to dockland Liverpool – safe, respectable and pensionable. Returned south with teaching qualifications, extremely good at self defence. Went crofting in Scotland, bred Cairn Terriers among other things. Moved to Kenya with 7 week old daughter, abandoned in the bush. On to Libya, surviving riots, public hangings, imprisoned husband and eventual deportation. Queued with the unemployed millions in UK. Moved to Botswana – still teaching – opened and ran the worst riding school in the world,- with ‘How to…’ book in hand.
Moved south to South Africa taught for four years, then in 1986 became a full time freelance writer, for major corporations, UNESCO, UNICEF and the South African Broadcasting Corporation for both radio and television. Moving into video production in 1986, received over 20 awards, specializing in education, documentaries, municipal and government, one script for National Geographic.
Returned UK Jan 1994, back to SA before April elections.
Taught in 7 countries, including Britain, Kenya, France, Libya, Botswana, Swaziland and South Africa. Also found time to breed animals for pet shops, write a newspaper column, publish two books, Heinneman & Macmillan, and work for several years as a radio announcer. Married with two daughters, a stepson and stepdaughter, moved to Spain in 2008. I now write a monthly column and have published two more books, a memoir and an adventure story set in Africa.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #WW1 survivor Fred’s Funeral by @sandeetweets #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Fred’s Funeral by Sandy Day


4.5 out of 5 stars

Fred’s Funeral is a long novella, beginning with the death of Fred Sadler, in 1986.  As he dies, his ghost floats up and observes his relatives at his bedside, and follows them to the funeral and back to his family home as they share their memories of him.  The book then dips back and forth between present and past, to his childhood in Jackson Point, near Toronto, to his horrific experiences in the First World War, to the many years afterwards when he was trying to find his feet.

Fred led a difficult life, always the outsider.  His family history is complicated, with many undercurrents, resentments and complex issues.  Little went right for him after WW1, which was, of course, closely followed by the Depression.  He suffered from shell shock for many, many years, but this was not understood in those days; his family tried to get him a disabled war veteran pension, or into a hospital for those who suffered with this malady, but they were to discover that the doctors were in cahoots with the military: if a patient was diagnosed with a different sort of mental illness, the War Office would not have to pay.

Fred is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and goes through much in the various hospitals he is sent to.

As Ghost Fred watches his family, he feels in turn angry, misunderstood, unloved and, occasionally, pleased by what he hears.  He was thought of as ‘mad old Fred’, and there is much in this book that is so sad; it made me want to find the younger man and make everything alright for him.  As the book dots about between times, I kept being lifted out of one era and put down in another but they fit together nicely, I became quickly engrossed in every snapshot of his life, and gradually the jigsaw fitted together.

The book is so readable and well written, and I enjoyed how the story built up, not only in Fred’s life but from a sociological history point of view.  It’s interesting (if frustrating) from the point of view of family wrangles, and builds such a tragic picture of the poor men caught up in the pointless carnage of WW1.  I really liked it.

Book description

Fred Sadler has just died of old age. It’s 1986, seventy years after he marched off to WWI, and the ghost of Fred Sadler hovers near the ceiling of the nursing home. To Fred’s dismay, the arrangement of his funeral falls to his prudish sister-in-law, Viola. As she dominates the remembrance of Fred, he agonizes over his inability to set the record straight.

Was old Uncle Fred really suffering from shell shock? Why was he locked up most of his life in the Whitby Hospital for the Insane? Could his family not have done more for him?

Fred’s memories of his life as a child, his family’s hotel, the War, and the mental hospital, clash with Viola’s version of events as the family gathers on a rainy October night to pay their respects.

About the author

Sandy Day is the author of Poems from the Chatterbox and Fred’s Funeral. She graduated from Glendon College, York University, with a degree in English Literature sometime in the last century. Sandy spends her summers in Jackson’s Point, Ontario on the shore of Lake Simcoe. She winters nearby in Sutton by the Black River. Sandy is a trained facilitator for the Toronto Writers Collective’s creative writing workshops. She is a developmental editor and book coach.

Sandy Day

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #LiteraryFiction #WomensFiction Bear Medicine by @gekretchmer

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Bear Medicine by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer


4 out of 5 stars

Bear Medicine tells two stories.  The first is that of Brooke, a middle class, marathon-running, oddly unworldly wife of a domineering Oregon politician, who, when taking some ‘time out’ from family life, gets mauled by a bear in Yellowstone National Park.  In alternating chapters we read about Anne, in 1877, a young wife of a domineering husband, who gets separated while on an adventure trek with him, again in Yellowstone.

Brooke and Anne’s stories run constantly parallel, and are connected.  Brooke goes to recuperate from her injuries nearby, cared for by a woman called Leila in a cosy log cabin; their lifestyle builds her confidence and makes her reluctant to return home.  Anne is saved by a young Native American woman, Maggie, who educates her about the reality of the evils done to her people by the White Man, builds her confidence, and makes her understand how badly she was treated by her husband.  Both women get early chances to return/be ‘rescued’, and reject them, though the differences in options for the women of the 19th and 21st centuries is more clearly marked later.

I found this book immensely readable, written with understanding of the author’s subjects, and well-placed wit.  Ms Kretchmer sets a scene perfectly, and both her narrative and dialogue flow so well.  The two women’s stories run side by side most comfortably, as the parallels and connections emerge.   All characters are clearly defined, and the pace is just right, with slower passages (inner dialogue/descriptive narrative) interspersed evenly with events to keep the reader turning the pages, and I loved the insights into Native American lifestyle; the reminder of their tragic history at the hands of the so-called civilised invaders was heartbreaking.

The theme is very much one of women standing together and overcoming male domination, and I think it would be of great interest to female readers who have felt oppressed by the men in their lives or by society as a whole.  I found this aspect of the novel a little dated, having been a reader of people like Erin Pizzey 20/30 years ago, but I understand that in Brooke’s world it was still very much an issue, and reading about Anne’s life was certainly enough to make me feel grateful I was born 80 years later!

I have one minor complaint, of a proofreading nature: the use of hyphens (-) instead of em dashes (—) throughout the book, which was an irritation; sometimes they were used to create both pauses and hyphenated words in the same sentence, which was very confusing (example: Shane-still on the dock-fiddled with his keys, wallet and phone-double-checking to be sure); as it was, I kept thinking random words had been hyphenated when they weren’t.  Publisher, sort out your proofreader!   On the whole, though, I’d definitely recommend this book, and I’d read more by this author.

Book description

When Brooke sets off on a trail in Yellowstone National Park to train for an upcoming marathon, she is savagely attacked by a grizzly bear. One hundred forty years earlier, Anne accompanies her husband on a camping trip in the nation’s first national park and awakens one morning to find he’s been captured by Nez Perce warriors. Both women encounter a sacred but savage landscape. Both fall under the care of American Indian women. Ultimately, Brooke and Anne must each overcome multiple obstacles, with the help of their new friends and native lore, to find what she seeks.

Alternating between contemporary and historical times, Bear Medicine is a story about women helping women in a complicated, male-dominated world.

About the author

G. Elizabeth Kretchmer holds an MFA in Writing from Pacific University. Her short story collection, Women on the Brink, and her debut novel, The Damnable Legacy, were both published by Booktrope Editions. Her short fiction, essays, and freelance work have appeared in The New York Times, High Desert Journal, Silk Road Review, SLAB, and other publications. When she’s not writing, she’s facilitating therapeutic and wellness writing workshops or spending time in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three sons, and Lani the Labradoodle.

G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Three Hours Past Midnight by Tony Knighton @dinnertimedave

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Three Hours Past Midnight by Tony Knighton



4 out of 5 stars

I liked this!  I enjoyed Tony Knighton’s writing style, and it’s a well-paced, cat-and-mouse page-turner with no unnecessary padding, and plenty of action.

I felt the author must know the dark streets of Philadelphia well; it’s highly atmospheric without being wordy or overly-descriptive.  Telling the story through the eyes of the violent thief anti-hero made me feel far more involved in the story than I might have done had it been told using a third person narrative; even though the thief is ruthless, with little disregard for anyone, I kind of liked him.  That’s an art; making the reader like an unlikeable person.

It’s gripping, sharp, not too long, with excellently observed dialogue and convincing secondary characters.  Good job.  My only criticism is the Kindle price, from the point of view of those who might want to buy it; at over £5, it’s more expensive than most full-length novels by more established authors.  The publisher might want to have a think about this, as it would be a shame to lose out on potential sales of a highly readable book.

His last job a disaster, a professional thief teams with an old partner eager for one last score – a safe in the home of a wealthy Philadelphia politician. But they are not the only ones set on the cash. His partner dead and the goods missing, he hunts for his money and the killer to find out that this may have been a job best left undone.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT @TerryTyler4 reviews Family Drama Chergui’s Child by @JaneRiddell

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Chergui’s Child by Jane Riddell


CHERGUI’S CHILD by Jane Riddell

3 out of 5 stars.

Genre: Family/relationship drama, with themes of extramarial affairs, pregnancy, death, eating disorder.

Chergui’s Child is the story of Olivia, whose aunt has just died; to her surprise, she is left a large amount of money in the will.  Olivia is a troubled woman; her relationship with her mother is difficult, to put it mildly, and she has an eating disorder.  Early in the book, she receives a letter that reveals a startling revelation; this sends her on a life-changing journey.

The novel alternates between her present dilemmas, which include her mother contesting the money left by the aunt, and the past, when she was a medical student having an affair with her tutor, Richie, whose wife had her own problems.  I’m a fan of this structure, and in this case the slow building up of the past-that-led-to-the-present made it much more interesting than just a straight story.

Olivia travels to France and to Gibraltar as more revelations provide missing pieces in her life’s jigsaw.  Generally, the family dynamics of all characters involved are well drawn.  I did think that, generally, there was too much domestic/conversational minutiae that was not needed for the plot, and slowed it down.  Some of the characters came alive to me (Martin, Richie, Dorothy and Roz), some didn’t; alas, for me, Olivia fell in the latter group.  The only emotion I felt towards her was slight irritation at her naïveté; she didn’t understand that age-old cliché and truth of the mistress of a married man: that once you become problematic or needy you no longer supply the romantic fantasy, and are, thus, dispensible.  Mostly, I felt no connection with her.

I was a little unsure about the feasibility of some elements: Olivia is told about her inheritance by her own solicitor two days later after her aunt dies, and the funeral is the next day.  In my experience, it takes a couple of days even for the death certificate to come through, before you can begin to arrange funerals, which takes a week at the very least, and I would have thought that Olivia’s solicitor would have had to wait for instruction from executors, etc.  Also, in the flashback chapters, a tragic death takes place in Morocco that is central to the plot, but I was unconvinced by some practicalities and subsequent reactions of the character involved.

I liked many parts of this novel, but on the whole, for me, it lacked a spark that would have made it memorable.  But the writing flows well, and I am sure readers who like easy-read, emotional family dramas would enjoy it.

Book description

Thirty-something Olivia is recovering from a traumatic event five years earlier, when she is summoned to the bedside of her dying aunt, Dorothy. Shortly afterwards, she learns that her aunt has left her a large sum of money and a letter with a startling revelation. From Morocco to London to the south of France, this is the story of one woman’s journey to make her life whole again.

About the author

Jane Riddell grew up in Glasgow, Scotland but defected to Edinburgh in her thirties, after living in New Zealand and Australia. For many years she worked for the NHS as a dietitian and health promoter. In 2006 she took a career break to move with her family to Grenoble, France, for three years. During this time she wrote more seriously, so seriously that when she returned to Edinburgh she decided to make writing her ‘job’.

Jane writes contemporary fiction, and is a keen blogger, including penning letters from a Russian cat. She is always on the lookout for interesting authors to interview for her Papillon blog. If you fit this category, email her on:

Jane holds a Masters in Creative Writing. In 2011 she started a small editing business, Choice Words Editing.

Jane Riddell

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Family drama – All The Tomorrows by @nillunasser

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading All The Tomorrows by Nullu Nasser



4 out of 5 stars

Set in Bombay, the novel starts when Jaya, one year into an arranged marriage, discovers that her idealist, undemonstrative husband, Akash, has a lover.  Criticised by her parents and feeling uncared for, her torment results in a truly shocking action, so stomach-turning I wondered if I could actually carry on reading the book.  Brave of the writer to include it, and that I reacted so strongly shows that it was well-written; I did continue, anyway.

Akash is knocked sideways by Jaya’s extreme reaction, and his life takes a swift, sharp turn downwards.  In short, this novel is about a falling apart and slow coming together… several of them.

The first twenty per cent is about Jaya and Akash’s younger years and the immediate fall-out of ‘the event’, after which we are moved swiftly on by being told that ‘the years sped by’, and suddenly it’s twenty years later, when we find out how the characters’ lives have fared in the interim, and what happens when they collide once more.

Nillu Nasser is a talented writer, without a doubt.  One of the reasons I chose this is because I like to read about other cultures, and this book taught me stuff I didn’t know, so that’s a tick from me.  Her storytelling ability held my interest, which is good for another big shiny red tick.  On occasion the dialogue felt a little stilted, or a teensy bit Hollywood, and she fell into the debut novelist trap of using dialogue to impart information to the reader rather than keeping it realistic, but I’ll cut her some slack with this; it was not constant, and, as I said, it’s a debut novel, and a good one (nb, this is not her first published work, but her first published novel).  Her characterisation was good; Jaya, her sister Ruhi, and their mother, were real, as were Akash, his friend, Tariq, and his lover, Soraya; Ms Nasser writes them all in clear definition, and even the secondary characters were completely convincing ~ another big tick!

I was, however, less sure about the pacing and structure.  With the younger lives of Akash and Jaya taking up only around the first fifth of the book, I was given little time to care that much about what happened to them before suddenly they were older but nothing much had gone on in the intervening twenty years except more of the same.  How much more effective it would have been to have cut the line about speeding years, and have a couple of interim chapters showing their lives after five, ten or fifteen years, too.  Akash tells Soraya all he has suffered in those years, but I wanted to see it, not just read it in a spoken report.  I loathe clichés, not least of all book reviewing ones, and you can’t play out every scene or the book would be a thousand pages long, but in this case I needed to be shown, not told.  For me (and a review is only ever a personal opinion), a slow build up could have turned this 4* book into a 5* one.

As the rest of the story unravels, Ms Nasser continues to write with authenticity, care and sensitivity, and I’d say that if you like emotional family dramas, you’ll love this.

Book description

Sometimes we can’t escape the webs we are born into. Sometimes we are the architects of our own fall.

Akash Choudry wants a love for all time, not an arranged marriage. Still, under the weight of parental hopes, he agrees to one. He and Jaya marry in a cloud of colour and spice in Bombay. Their marriage has barely begun when Akash embarks on an affair.

Jaya cannot contemplate sharing her husband with another woman, or looking past his indiscretions as her mother suggests. Cornered by sexual politics, she takes her fate into her own hands in the form of a lit match.

Nothing endures fire. As shards of their past threaten their future, will Jaya ever bloom into the woman she can be, and will redemption be within Akash’s reach?

About the author

Nillu Nasser is a writer of literary fiction novels. In March 2017 she signed a three book deal with Evolved Publishing. She also blogs, writes short fiction and poetry.

Nillu’s short story ‘Painted Truths and Prayer Beads’ was published in May 2016 in Mosaics 2: A Collection of Independent Women. Another short story ‘The Tombstone Man and the Coming of the Tigress’ was published in June 2016 in UnCommon Origins, an anthology of short fiction. In 2017, ‘Tombstone Man’ reappeared in UnCommonly Good.

Nillu has a BA in English and German Literature and an MA in European Politics. After graduating she worked in national and regional politics, but eventually reverted to her first love.

She lives in London with her husband, three children, one angelic and one demonic cat, though she secretly yearns for a dog. If you fly into Gatwick and look hard enough, you will see her furiously scribbling in her garden office, where she is working on her next story.

Nillu Nasser

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The book can be purchased for a discounted price until December 12th, when it will return to the full price.

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Riding Shotgun by Andy Rausch @writerrausch1 @crimewavepress

Today’s second team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties by Andy Rausch

Riding Shotgun: And Other American Cruelties by [Rausch, Andy]

RIDING SHOTGUN and other American Cruelties by Andy Rausch

4 out of 5 stars

This is a collection of three novellas, and I enjoyed them all.  I really liked Andy Rausch’s writing style, it’s right up my street; very current, intelligently witty, sharp and observant.

The first one is Easy-Peezy, set in 1920/30s America, about Emmet Dalton, a former bank robber of the late 19th century who has hung up his boots and holster, but longs to show young guns like John Dillinger how it’s done.  He teams up with a couple of others from the same era and sets off for one last crime spree.  On its own, I’d have given this 4*.

The second, Riding Shotgun, is about a writer who find himself involved in a life of crime after his wife is killed.  I liked this one slightly less, as at times ‘darkly humorous’ crossed the border into ‘just daft’, although it was still well-written.  3*.

The last story, $crilla, is easily the best, I loved it.  Almost totally dialogue, and hilarious, easily 5*.  Two unsuccessful gangsta rappers hatch a plot to extort money from their reluctant producer.

The language, particularly in the last one, would not suit anyone who finds authentic street talk offensive; if you don’t, and can appreciate how well-observed it is, you’ll love it.  I felt the influence of certain TV shows and films, throughout, even in some specific lines, but I quite liked that about it.  It’s a good collection, professionally presented, and worth getting for the last one alone.

Book description

RIDING SHOTGUN AND OTHER AMERICAN CRUELTIES is a unique collection of quirky, Tarantinoesque crime novellas, representing three very different sub-genres. In the first story, “Easy-Peezy,” a band of elderly Old West bank robbers return to their wicked ways robbing banks in the 1930s John Dillinger era. The second story, “Riding Shotgun,” is a bitter tale about a man pushed to the limits of human endurance and forced to take up arms to protect those he loves. The third tale, “$crilla,” is an urban crime fantasy in which a fledgling hip-hop group kidnaps a record mogul in the hopes of finally making the kind of loot they’ve always dreamed of.

About the author

Andy Rausch is a freelance journalist, celebrity interviewer, and film critic. He is the author or co-author of nearly twenty books on the subject of popular culture. These include Making Movies with Orson Welles, The Films of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, and The Wit and Wisdom of Stephen King. He is also the author of the novels Elvis Presley, CIA Assassin, Mad World and Bloodletting: A Tale of Revenge. He has also worked as an actor, film producer, composer, casting director, and as the screenwriter of the cult film Dahmer vs. Gacy. He is a regular contributor to Screem magazine, and his work has appeared in such publications and online journals as Film Threat, Shock Cinema, and Bright Lights Film Journal. He resides in Parsons, Kansas.

Andy Rausch

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Rosie’s Team The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J Gyle by @James_D_Dixon #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Unrivalled Transcendence Of Willem J Gyle


5 stars

What a find.  This book is seriously good.  I mean, seriously.  I’d recommend it to anyone, whatever your usual genres of choice.

Willem J Gyle is a bit slow.  But he gets by.  He lives with his mother, who takes care of all his needs, including finding him a job on a construction site which suits his size and strength, and where he makes friends.  He loves his mam, his dog, and the football on the telly.  Then, in just a few days, his world comes crashing down, and Willem finds himself homeless.  Having neither verbal skill nor knowledge of how ‘the system’ works, he is unable to find anyone to help him, and drifts into a life on the streets and, inevitably, crime.  Much to my surprise, his darker side comes to the fore, but is this innate psychopathy, anger at the world, an expression of pain for all he has lost, or just a primal instinct for survival?  I thought it was a combination of all those elements.

Winding up in a community of other homeless people, which he considers, at first, to be ‘no more perfect place … outside the law, above the law’, he soon finds out that it’s a reflection of the ‘real’ world, corrupt, with the weaker members suffering.  And on he walks….

Although the blurb appealed to me, I was dubious at first; the book starts off well-written but whimsical, which, coupled with the too-long and pretentious title, made me wonder if it would be slow-going.  But four pages in I was completely hooked, and stayed that way until the end.  J D Dixon has a real gift, the innate sort that cannot be learned from classes, ‘how to write’ books, blog posts, or anything else.  To me, writing talent is all about being able to create characters and worlds that absorb the reader completely, needing no wordy description, and JDD has this in spades.  He writes in a spare fashion, which I like.  He doesn’t explain, or over-emphasise.

The book is raw, rough in places, and sometimes shocking. It’s also immensely sad. It’s just – great. One of the best debut novels I’ve ever read.

Book description

In a Scotland beset with depression, Willem is one victim among many. He loses his job, his mother dies and he is forced out of the flat they shared. Seeing no other option, he takes to the streets of Edinburgh, where he soon learns the cruelty felt outside the confines of his comfortable life. Stories from his past are interwoven with his current strife as he tries to figure out the nature of this new world and the indignities it brings. Determined to live freely, he leaves Edinburgh, hiking into the Scottish Highlands to seek solitude, peace and an unhampered, pure vision of life at nature’s breast.

The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle is at once a lyrical, haunting novel and a set piece in the rage of an oppressed, forgotten community. J. D. Dixon’s sparse, brutal language captures the energy and isolation of desperation, uniting despondency and untrammelled anger in the person of his protagonist.

About the author

J. D. Dixon was born in London in 1990. He studied English Literature and History at Goldsmiths College, University of London, before pursuing a career as a writer. He currently lives with his wife, the psychologist Dr Lauren Hadley, in Edinburgh.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Inner City #Thriller Breaking Bones by Robert White @robwhite247

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Breaking Bones by Robert White


3 stars

Robert White is a talented writer, and what I liked most about this book is its authenticity.  It is always clear when a writer truly knows the world and characters he has created; this is no chronicle of inner city crime attempted by a middle class scribe from the suburbs relying on research to produce a lucrative piece of gangster-lit.  The plot is interesting and the novel well structured; White understands the building of suspense and how to keep the reader turning the pages; the pace is perfect, the dialogue realistic, and the characters are all three-dimensional.  I was impressed that he can write convincing women, too.

So why only three stars?  Sadly, Mr White has been let down by his publisher.  The book does not appear to have been either edited or proofread with any kind of professionalism, experience, knowledge or care.  There are numerous punctuation errors on every single page (missing vocative commas is the most common error) as well as typos, spelling mistakes (‘hand-full’ instead of ‘handful’, for instance), and missed words.  Sometimes, the lack of punctuation actually changes the meaning of a sentence:

“He was just asking Eddie,” chipped in Tony.  

…which reads as though a third person was just asking Eddie something; in fact, Tony is telling Eddie that the person was ‘just asking’.  Thus, the correct version:

“He was just asking, Eddie,” chipped in Tony.  

As far as the editing is concerned, there are many instances of exposition, ‘telling not showing’, and unnecessary or perhaps slightly amateur sentences.  For instance: ‘Frankie was the epitome of the Italian gangster caricature.  He hunched his narrow shoulders, tucked in his elbows, palms up.  “Like, y’know…Blondie…Boomtown.”.

Any editor worth their salt would have removed the first sentence; it is ‘telling not showing’ and superfluous, as Robert White has depicted Frankie’s gesture perfectly, without it.  Never mind the lack of spaces before and after the ellipses; they probably should have been commas or full stops, anyway.

In short, the lack of work on this novel turned the reading of it into something of a chore, rather than the enjoyable experience it should (and would) have been, otherwise.  A shame, indeed.

Book description

The streets of Preston are alive with music and banter.

But nothing can drown out the sound of breaking bones.

Inseparable since childhood and feared by their community, Tony, Eddie and Frankie are beyond the reach of justice.

The brutal gang, The Three Dogs, are a law unto themselves.

Detective Jim Hacker has watched The Dogs grow from thuggish youths to psychotic criminals. He seems to be the only one who wants to see their empire fall.

Meanwhile Jamie Strange, a young Royal Marine, finds himself embroiled in the lives of The Three Dogs when his girlfriend, Laurie Holland, cuts off their engagement… to be with the most dangerous of The Dogs: Frankie Verdi.

Jamie vows to save Laurie, before Frankie damns them both.

Every dog will have its day.

This gritty, addictive crime story, fizzes with the energy of the eighties.

About the author

Robert White is an Amazon best selling crime fiction author.
His novels regularly appear in the top ten downloads in the Crime and Action and Adventure genres.
Robert is an ex cop, who captures the brutality of northern British streets in his work. He combines believable characters, slick plots and vivid dialogue to immerse the reader in his fast paced story-lines.
He was born in Leeds, England, the illegitimate son of a jazz musician and a factory girl.
He hated school, leaving at age sixteen.
After joining Lancashire Constabulary in 1980, he served for fifteen years, his specialism being Tactical Firearms.
Robert then spent four years in the Middle East before returning to the UK in 2000.
He now lives in Lancashire with his wife Nicola, and his two terrible terriers Flash and Tia.

Robert White

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