Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction THE CONFESSOR’S WIFE by Kelly Evans

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Confessor’s Wife by Kelly Evans

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As more and more historical novels hit the virtual shelves, authors of the genre are digging deeper to find the lesser known characters to write about.  Edith was, as the title suggests, the wife of Edward the Confessor, one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England.  Edward was succeeded by Harold Godwinson, who was famously defeated by William of Normandy in 1066.

I enjoyed this – it’s a light sort of historical fiction that flows well, an ‘easy read’.  I don’t know much about the factual details of this time, but I did have a brief look online and it appears to be well-researched.  Also, the domestic details are presented well, with just enough information—I liked that there was none of the endless descriptive passages straight from the research notes that is present in some histfic; I never felt that I was reading the author’s research at all, which is always a plus.

On the slight downside there were times when I felt the dialogue was too modern, with the odd mild Americanism such as ‘snuck’ instead of ‘sneaked’, though they weren’t bad enough to make me stop reading.  My only other negative was problems with punctuation; either the author or her proofreader, or preferably both, need to learn about run-on sentences/comma splices; there were quite a lot of these, and the odd missing comma.  But, again, this was only mildly irritating.

This isn’t a book for the historical fiction purist or buff, but for those who are only after an enjoyable, light novel with some well-drawn characters and an interesting look back in time, I’d say it’s just the thing.

Book description

In the 11th Century, when barren wives are customarily cast aside, how does Edith of Wessex not only manage to stay married to King Edward the Confessor, but also become his closest advisor, promote her family to the highest offices in the land, AND help raise her brother to the throne? And why is her story only told in the footnotes of Edward’s history?

Not everyone approves of Edward’s choice of bride. Even the king’s mother, Emma of Normandy, detests her daughter-in-law and Edith is soon on the receiving end of her displeasure. Balancing her sense of family obligation with her duty to her husband, Edith must also prove herself to her detractors.

Edward’s and Edith’s relationship is respectful and caring, but when Edith’s enemies engineer her family’s fall from grace, the king is forced to send her away. She vows to do anything to protect her family’s interests if she returns, at any cost. Can Edith navigate the dangerous path fate has set her, while still remaining loyal to both her husband and her family?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #mystery INTRIGUE & INFAMY by @carolJhedges

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Intrigue & Infamy by Carol J Hedges

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In a Nutshell:  Mid-Victorian murder mystery, set in London.  Book 7 of a series of stand-alones.

Loved it, loved it.  When I got to 80% I found myself slowing down because I didn’t want to read it too quickly.  In this 7th book of the series, racism rears its ugly head, showing that it is far from being just a 20th and 21st century problem.  Stride and Cully must deal with a series of arson attacks on businesses, and the brutal murder of an old Italian man.

Elsewhere, socialite Juliana Silverton is thoroughly enjoying the attention received since her engagement to hedonistic rich boy Henry Haddon, her delight marred only by a secret from the past … and the appearance of Henry’s younger half-brother’s new tutor.

This book is as expertly structured as the rest of the series, and includes similarly colourful characters and the ever-present chasm between rich and poor, so much a theme in all the books – and in certain areas of life nothing has changed; young aristocrats with powerful connections are able to get away with the most heinous of crimes, just as they always have been and are now.

Although illustrating society’s problems in the most deft way, Ms Hedges does not fall into the cliché of making all the privileged characters the ‘bad guys’; I was pleased to see a happy outcome for one, in particular.  I guessed the perpetrators of the crimes quite early on, but this didn’t matter a jot; the joy of reading these books is the writing itself, the vivid pictures of 1860s London, and the slow unfolding of sub-plots.

I can’t help but think of what star rating I will give a book while I am reading it, and this was a solid 5* all the way through, but what earned it my extra ‘gold’ star was the end twist that I never saw coming.  It was beautifully executed, and made me smile as I realised how other aspects were explained by it.

If you haven’t read any of these books, I recommend you start now – and I hope this is not the end of the series….

Book description

It is 1866, the end of a long hot summer in Victorian London, and the inhabitants are seething with discontent. Much of it is aimed at the foreign population living in the city. So when a well-reputed Jewish tailoring business is set aflame, and the body of the owner is discovered inside, Detective Inspector Lachlan Grieg suspects a link to various other attacks being carried out across the city, and to a vicious letter campaign being conducted in the newspapers.

Can he discover who is behind the attacks before more people perish?

Elsewhere, Giovanni Bellini arrives in England to tutor the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Haddon, ex-MP and City financier. But what are Bellini’s links to a dangerous Italian radical living in secret exile in London, and to beautiful Juliana Silverton, engaged to Harry Haddon, the heir to the family fortune?

Romance and racism, murder and mishap share centre stage in this seventh exciting book in the Victorian Detectives series.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #SciFi #Dystopia #Thriller THE ECHO CHAMBER by Rhett Evans

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Echo Chamber by Rhett Evans

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SciFi, dystopian techno-thriller involving AI and social media

What I liked:

  • The author has talent; this is a most original novel that makes some interesting points in an intelligent and well-informed fashion. Basically, he can write good sentences, has a fine handle on suspense, and uses words creatively.
  • It is clear that he really knows his subject: Silcon Valley, the dangers of AI and dependence on social media; how it is now so ingrained into our culture. The Echo Chamber shows a good understanding of the future that is just around the corner, some of it already happening; the manipulation of our thoughts and prejudices by the media, the lack of security concerning the data we give out so freely, and its use by AI to re-order the population. This is all stuff I love to read about, and some of which I have written about myself, so certain aspects had me engrossed.
  • It is inventive; I was impressed by the world put together within the pages, and the insight.
  • There are some great twists.
  • It’s well professionally put together, and decently proofread.
  • The author has something to say. This, I think, makes a novel more than just a story.


What I was not so sure about

  • It’s very technical in parts; as I’ve said, I have an interest in the subject matter, but some of it I found rather heavy-going. I think that if you don’t have a quite good understanding of new technology, much of it might go over your head.
  • The structure: it goes back and forth between ‘Before’ (the collapse of the US) and ‘After’, with other ‘Outside Time’ sections.  I’m usually a fan of going back and forth between different periods, but in this case I think a linear structure would have worked so much better. I kept enjoying the ‘Before’ parts, then being dragged out of it to read about different situations, ‘After’. This hampered the flow, and made it definitely not an ‘easy read’. I wondered, at times, if it was experimental for the sake of being experimental.
  • The dramatic event and its fallout, when it happens, is dealt with so quickly – instead of seeing it experienced from character point of view, we are just told about it, in a brief fashion, by a narrator.  
  • Most of all – there is little or no characterisation. I felt as though the author had thought up a brilliant plot, but added the characters as an afterthought. Mostly, they just seem like names on the page, as vehicles for what he wanted to write about.  Only one is three-dimensional (Orion). 

This is a debut novel, and, as I said, I can see that Mr Evans has talent and a great deal to say, but I think he needs to take some time to learn about writing as a reader, and understanding that characters are central to any story – because readers react to what happens in a fictional world because of how it affects the people they’re reading about, not because of the events themselves.  It does, however, have a few stunning reviews, so if you’re madly into tech rather than people, you might love this book.

Book description

A Silicon Valley scandal sets off a chain of dystopian events in this topical and twist-laden thriller about virtual heists, social media, and second chances.

Mike is a Silicon Valley wunderkind who stood idly by while his company launched an addicting social media platform that made the world take a turn for the worse. He did nothing when an outrageous tech scandal pushed a polarized country to the brink of collapse. Then, after becoming trapped in a loop of his own memories, he is doomed to watch society fall apart over and over. Only by crossing paths with Charlotte Boone—once Hollywood’s up-and-coming royalty—does a kink appear in the pattern. With a daring heist in both the virtual and real worlds, Charlotte may hold the key to burning it all to the ground: the company, the lying pundits, and the echo chamber itself.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Dystopia BY THE FEET OF MEN by Grant Price @MekongLights #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading By The Feet Of Men by Grant Price

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4.5 stars

I was really impressed by this book, set during an unspecified time in the future when all that has been predicted about our destruction of the planet’s ecosystem has come to pass.  Across Europe, meagre supplies of fresh water, medical supplies and other essential cargoes are delivered between settlements by ‘Runners’ – the drivers of huge trucks.  The stars of this book are two of these Runners, Ghazi and Cassady – who are called on to make a delivery to deep in the Italian desert, where scientists are working on a way of reversing the ‘change’.

‘Standing in their way are starving nomads, crumbling cities, hostile weather and a rogue state hell-bent on the convoy’s destruction’

I read the paperback version of this book, unusual for me as I prefer to read on Kindle, but I’d just like to say how well-presented it is, and I am pleased that I now own it.  

As for the story itself, the world-building is terrific, totally believable, inventive and clearly well-researched, with details building up gradually to present a full picture of this fantasy world that may or may not be a taste of what lies ahead for humanity.  The atmosphere is just as it should be for a story about a dying planet; it’s raw, dark, sinister, and there is also a certain strength, cameraderie and resignation of their circumstances between the characters that keeps you rooting for them.  Aside from anything else, they know only the world they now inhabit; they refer to the actions of the ancestors who destroyed the world within which they now have to scratch an existence.

This is only this author’s second published novel, and he clearly has a lot of talent.  Definite recommendation for anyone who is interested in this genre, or loves reading about resolute men and women overcoming adverse circumstances in a hostile landscape.

Book description

WANTED: Men and women willing to drive through the valley of the shadow of death. The world’s population has been decimated by the Change, a chain reaction of events triggered by global warming. In Europe, governments have fallen, cities have crumbled and the wheels of production have ground to a halt. The Alps region, containing most of the continent’s remaining fresh water, has become a closed state with heavily fortified borders. Survivors cling on by trading through the Runners, truck drivers who deliver cargo and take a percentage. Amid the ruins of central Germany, two Runners, Cassady and Ghazi, are called on to deliver medical supplies to a research base deep in the Italian desert, where scientists claim to be building a machine that could reverse the effects of the Change. Joining the pair are a ragtag collection of drivers, all of whom have something to prove. Standing in their way are starving nomads, crumbling cities, hostile weather and a rogue state hell-bent on the convoy’s destruction. And there’s another problem: Cassady is close to losing his nerve.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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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.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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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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