14 Extra-Special Books Celebrating 6 Years of Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT: Part 1

RBRT Gold:

My Review Team’s Favourite Books

#RBRT Review Team

How time flies – Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team has now been up and running for six years!  During that time we have done our best to spread the word about novels, novellas, short stories and non-fiction from self-published authors and independent publishers – to showcase talent found outside the mainstream publishing world.

Each month we are inundated with review requests from authors and publishers alike.  Every book that I accept is passed on to my team of twenty readers, which is made up of book bloggers, writers, editors, creative writing tutors and people who just love reading.  Most gain just one or two reviews, but once in a while a gem comes along that piques the interest of several team members, and receives highly favourable reviews across the board.

Welcome to Part One of #RBRT Gold: seven extra-special books that were greatly enjoyed by three or more team members.

Under the title of each book, you can read its team reviews, which include Amazon links.  Enjoy!

Fred’s Funeral by Sandy Day

WW1 Historical Fiction novella

Fred's Funeral by [Sandy Day]

Click the picture to see the book on Goodreads

 Excerpt from blurb:A Novella Based on True Events

His family said he was shell-shocked.

The asylum’s doctors disagreed.

It’s 1986 and Fred Sadler has just died of old age. It’s seventy years since he marched off to the war in France, young and raring to go. He put everything on the line for his country and family, but when he came home, they rejected him.

This is why Fred can’t rest in peace.

Reviewed by:

Olga Miret

Terry Tyler

Judith Barrow

Robbie Cheadle

Noelle Granger

 

The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat

Dark Family Drama

The Silent Kookaburra: Australian Psychological Suspense by [Liza Perrat]

Click the picture to see the book on Goodreads

 

Excerpt from blurb:

All eleven-year-old Tanya Randall wants is a happy family. But Mum does nothing besides housework, Dad’s always down the pub and Nanna Purvis moans at everyone except her dog. Then Shelley arrives –– the miracle baby.Tanya’s life gets even better when she meets an uncle she didn’t know she had.

Then one blistering summer day tragedy strikes, and the surrounding mystery and suspicion tear apart this fragile family web. Embracing the social changes of 1970s Australia, against a backdrop of native fauna and flora, The Silent Kookaburra is a haunting exploration of the blessings, curses and tyranny of memory.

Reviewed by:

Alison Williams

E.L. Lindley

Terry Tyler

Jenny Reeve

Olga Miret

 

The Women Of Heachley Hall by Rachel Walkley

Romantic mystery

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Click the picture to see the book on Goodreads

 

Excerpt from blurb:

Miriam has one year to uncover Heachley Hall’s unimaginable past and a secret that only women can discover.

The life of a freelance illustrator will never rake in the millions so when twenty-eight year old Miriam discovers she’s the sole surviving heir to her great-aunt’s fortune, she can’t believe her luck. She dreams of selling her poky city flat and buying a studio.

But great fortune comes with an unbreakable contract. To earn her inheritance, Miriam must live a year and a day in the decaying Heachley Hall.

Reviewed by: 

Olga Miret

Liz Lloyd

Jenny Reeve

Noelle Granger

 

That Summer At The Seahorse Hotel by Adrienne Vaughan

Romantic Suspense

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Click the picture to see the book on Goodreads

 

Excerpt from blurb:

Mia Flanagan has never been told who her father is and aged ten, stopped asking. Haunted by this, she remains a dutiful daughter who would never do anything to bring scandal or shame on her beautiful and famously single mother. So when Archie Fitzgerald, one of Hollywood’s favourite actors, decides to leave Mia his Irish estate she asks herself – is he her father after all?

That Summer at the Seahorse Hotel is a tale of passion, jealousy and betrayal – and the ghost of a secret love that binds this colourful cast yet still threatens, after all these years, to tear each of them apart.

Reviewed by: 

Cathy Ryan

Judith Barrow

Chris Philippou

Georgia Rose

 

La Petite Boulain by Gemma Lawrence

Tudor Historical fiction

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Click the picture to see the book on Goodreads

 

Excerpt from blurb:

May 1536, London… a fallen queen sits waiting in the Tower of London, condemned to death by her husband. As Death looms before her, Anne Boleyn, second queen of Henry VIII looks back on her life…from the very beginning.

Daughter of a courtier, servant to queens… she rose higher than any thought possible, and fell lower than any could imagine.

Following the path of the young Mistress Boleyn, or La Petite Boulain, through the events of the first years of the reign of Henry VIII, to the glittering courts of Burgundy and France, Book One of “Above All Others; The Lady Anne” tracks the life of the young Lady Anne, showing how she became the scintillating woman who eventually, would capture the heart of a king.

Reviewed by:

Olga Miret

Noelle Granger

Cathy Ryan

 

Ghost Variations by Jessica Duchen

Historical mystery

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Click the picture to see the book on Goodreads

Excerpt from blurb:

The strangest detective story in the history of music – inspired by a true incident. A world spiralling towards war. A composer descending into madness. And a devoted woman struggling to keep her faith in art and love against all the odds. 1933. Dabbling in the fashionable “Glass Game” – a Ouija board – the famous Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Aranyi, one-time muse to composers such as Bartok, Ravel and Elgar, encounters a startling dilemma. A message arrives ostensibly from the spirit of the composer Robert Schumann, begging her to find and perform his long-suppressed violin concerto. She tries to ignore it, wanting to concentrate instead on charity concerts. But against the background of the 1930s depression in London and the rise of the Nazis in Germany, a struggle ensues as the “spirit messengers” do not want her to forget.

Reviewed by:

Olga Miret

Alison Williams

Liz lloyd

Cathy Ryan

 

Season Of Second Chances by Aimee Alexander

Contemporary family saga

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Click the picture to see the book on Goodreads

 

Excerpt from blurb:

When leaving is just the beginning… The long-awaited novel of family, love and learning to be kind to yourself by award-winning, bestselling Irish author, Aimee Alexander.

Grace Sullivan flees Dublin with her two teenage children, returning to the sleepy West Cork village where she grew up. No one in Killrowan knows what Grace is running from – or even that she’s running. She’d like to keep it that way.

Season of Second Chances is Grace’s story. It’s also the story of a community that chooses the title “Young Doctor Sullivan” for her before she even arrives. It’s the story of Des who served the villagers all his life and now feels a failure for developing Parkinson’s disease. And it’s the story of struggling teens, an intimidating receptionist, a handsome American novelist escaping his past, and a dog called Benji who needs a fresh start of his own.

Reviewed by:

Sandra Firth

Liz Lloyd

Olga Miret

Judith Barrow

 

For a book review team, there is little more satisfying than a reader discovering a new favourite book through a review you’ve written – I hope one or more of these appeals to you.  If not, look out for Part 2, tomorrow, in which we go a little darker; I have a nautical thriller for you, a dystopian scifi novella, murder and mystery!

 

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The Women Of Heachley Hall by @RachelJWalkley #wwwblogs

Today’s team review is from Jenny.

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading The Women Of Heachley Hall by Rachel Walkley

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5 Stars

Her Great Aunt Felicity has left Miriam Heachely Hall. But she has to live in the house for one year and one day before she can sell it and collect her money, that are the terms. There are some brilliant spooky moments in the story, you feel as though you are there with Miriam, you feel her fear! Miriam lives in the run down hall day and night where she hears odd noises and things happen that she is unable to explain….there is the weird dust that appears, where is it coming from and what exactly is the dust?   With exception to her visits to the local pub and a short visit to her best friend Ruth, Miriam is determined not to be scared away from this strange house.

Then there is the arrival of Charles. A strange man, yet there is something quite captivating about him. There are questions that need to be answered about Great Aunt Felicity, about the history of Heachely Hall and its previous residents and also about Charles. Something does not add up, and Miriam is going to find out the truth!

I utterly loved this book from start to finish.  A haunting romance full of intrigue.  I was enthralled and had to keep reading, I needed to know what happens next, the end of every chapter left me wanting more.

This is a wonderful book, one I recommend highly, it has to be one of the best books that I have ever read…. and I have read quite a few over the years.

Thank you Rachel for drawing me into the mystery of Heachley Hall and its residents.

Book description

Miriam has one year to uncover Heachley Hall’s unimaginable past and a secret that only women can discover.

The life of a freelance illustrator will never rake in the millions so when twenty-eight year old Miriam discovers she’s the sole surviving heir to her great-aunt’s fortune, she can’t believe her luck. She dreams of selling her poky city flat and buying a studio.
But great fortune comes with an unbreakable contract. To earn her inheritance, Miriam must live a year and a day in the decaying Heachley Hall.
The fond memories of visiting the once grand Victorian mansion are all she has left of her parents and the million pound inheritance is enough of a temptation to encourage her to live there alone.
After all, a year’s not that long. So with the help of a local handyman, she begins to transform the house.
But the mystery remains. Why would loving Aunt Felicity do this to her?
Alone in the hall with her old life miles away, Miriam is desperate to discover the truth behind Felicity’s terms. Miriam believes the answer is hiding in her aunt’s last possession: a lost box. But delving into Felicity and Heachley’s long past is going to turn Miriam’s view of the world upside down.

Does she dare keep searching, and if she does, what if she finds something she wasn’t seeking?

Has something tragic happened at Heachley Hall?

About the author

Born in the Midlands, I grew up in East Anglia and am now firmly lodged in the North West of England. My first writing achievement was my Brownie badge and after that I’ve never let go of the dream of becoming of an author. Once a librarian and caretaker of books, I’m now a teller of tales and want to share with you the secrets that hide in the pages of my books.

Rachel Walkley

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Womensfiction The Women Of Heachley Hall by @RachelJWalkley

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Women Of Heachley Hall by Rachel Walkley

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When this book presented itself, I was in the mood for some chick lit. The title intrigued me, and since I love old Victorian houses and mysteries surrounding them, I had to read it. It proved to be a great read, and I can only hope this author gives us more in this line.

The story:

Twenty-eight-year old Miriam Marsters, a freelance illustrator, is shocked to discover she is the sole surviving heir to her Great Aunt Felicity’s fortune. Depending on referrals for paying jobs, she sees selling the Victorian mansion bequeathed to her, Heachley Hall, as a way of being able to sell her cramped old city flat and buy a house with a studio. There is only one catch – in order to get the house, she has to earn it, by living in it for one year and one day. It’s hardly habitable, having been empty for five years and decaying even before her great aunt left it, far from the memories of a color-filled home with splendid gardens she has from her youth.

Other people want the estate, valued at around one million pounds, even in its present condition: Mr. Bridge, the avaricious estate agent who brings her to Heachley, and a nosy, superior neighbor, Liz Pike, who has had designs on the estate for years. Even her solicitor seems to be plotting against her, claiming that despite Felicity’s clearly worded will, it took him five years to find Miriam and now he is unwilling to release monies from the estate to help Miriam make it habitable.

Despite the odds, Miriam decides to stay and begins to transform the house into a place liveable for the year, with the help of a handyman who seems to come and go like a wisp of smoke. From Glenda and Bert, the companionable the owners of the local pub (the only place with wifi for her to transmit her drawings and interact with clients), she finds electricians and plumbers and also learns a little more about her mysterious handyman, Charles.

Miriam knows next to nothing of the hall’s history and even less about her great aunt, so she follows leads wherever she can to learn more. In particular, she believes the answers to many of her questions lie in a box that was Felicity’s last possession and that seems to have been lost or misplaced. She is particularly obsessed with finding out why Felicity specified she live in the hall for a year and a day.

In the last third of the book, Miriam’s world is turn upside down with the discovery of Heachley’s past and the tragedy of a family that lived there many generations ago. What happened when a fire consumed part of the house? Are the noises in certain locations in the hall ghosts, as her aunt’s last housekeeper thinks? What will she find in the dark, menacing basement? I can’t say more without giving away secrets.

This book had so many parts to it that attracted me, I could hardly put it down. Having grown up in a 150-year-old creaky house, I found Heachley Hall to be a main character and I loved the author’s descriptions of it. I wanted to get in there and renovate it myself! The people who populated the story were three-dimensional and believable, the dialog flows easily, and for the most part, the descriptions were crisp and clear. And I was caught by surprise when the mystery of the handyman was solved.

The only small detractors for me were some over-blown prose at the beginning, which disappeared soon enough, and a slowing of the book toward and during the denouement; I expected the ending in several places before it actually arrived!

All in all, a very satisfying and enjoyable read, especially for a debut novel, and I look forward to this author’s next outing.

Book description

Miriam has one year to uncover Heachley Hall’s unimaginable past and a secret that only women can discover.

The life of a freelance illustrator will never rake in the millions so when twenty-eight year old Miriam discovers she’s the sole surviving heir to her great-aunt’s fortune, she can’t believe her luck. She dreams of selling her poky city flat and buying a studio.
But great fortune comes with an unbreakable contract. To earn her inheritance, Miriam must live a year and a day in the decaying Heachley Hall.
The fond memories of visiting the once grand Victorian mansion are all she has left of her parents and the million pound inheritance is enough of a temptation to encourage her to live there alone.
After all, a year’s not that long. So with the help of a local handyman, she begins to transform the house.
But the mystery remains. Why would loving Aunt Felicity do this to her?
Alone in the hall with her old life miles away, Miriam is desperate to discover the truth behind Felicity’s terms. Miriam believes the answer is hiding in her aunt’s last possession: a lost box. But delving into Felicity and Heachley’s long past is going to turn Miriam’s view of the world upside down.

Does she dare keep searching, and if she does, what if she finds something she wasn’t seeking?

Has something tragic happened at Heachley Hall?

About the author

Born in the Midlands, I grew up in East Anglia and am now firmly lodged in the North West of England. My first writing achievement was my Brownie badge and after that I’ve never let go of the dream of becoming of an author. Once a librarian and caretaker of books, I’m now a teller of tales and want to share with you the secrets that hide in the pages of my books.

Rachel Walkley

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #WomensFiction The Women Of Heachley Hall by @RachelJWalkley

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading The Women Of Heachley Hall by Rachel Walkley

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When book illustrator, Miriam Chambers, inherits Great Aunt Felicity’s Victorian mansion in the Norfolk countryside, she discovers it is a poisoned chalice.  Either she must live in the run-down cold building for a year and a day or it will be auctioned for charity.  Since she is able to work at home she decides to accept the challenge and she employs some local tradesmen to improve the facilities a little.  But it is a lonely house set in overgrown woodland and Miriam is grateful when a strange-looking young man comes to the door offering to chop wood and do odd jobs.  As the creaks and bangs around the house alarm her, she is pleased when Charles, the reticent young man, provides company.

Increasingly Miriam tries to find the reason for the conditions imposed in her Great Aunt’s will.  Was there foul play when she had her accident and what happened years before when part of the house burnt down?  This beautifully written mystery weaves a spell around the house and the people connected to it.  It is easy to empathise with Miriam but there is a surprising conclusion which you are unlikely to predict.  Reminding me of the books of Kate Morton, this is a story for lovers of ghost stories, history and romance.  The introductory quote.

“One lives in hope of becoming a memory”

Is an apt description of this haunting story, about the nature of love.

Book description

Miriam has one year to uncover Heachley Hall’s unimaginable past and a secret that only women can discover.

The life of a freelance illustrator will never rake in the millions so when twenty-eight year old Miriam discovers she’s the sole surviving heir to her great-aunt’s fortune, she can’t believe her luck. She dreams of selling her poky city flat and buying a studio.
But great fortune comes with an unbreakable contract. To earn her inheritance, Miriam must live a year and a day in the decaying Heachley Hall.
The fond memories of visiting the once grand Victorian mansion are all she has left of her parents and the million pound inheritance is enough of a temptation to encourage her to live there alone.
After all, a year’s not that long. So with the help of a local handyman, she begins to transform the house.
But the mystery remains. Why would loving Aunt Felicity do this to her?
Alone in the hall with her old life miles away, Miriam is desperate to discover the truth behind Felicity’s terms. Miriam believes the answer is hiding in her aunt’s last possession: a lost box. But delving into Felicity and Heachley’s long past is going to turn Miriam’s view of the world upside down.

Does she dare keep searching, and if she does, what if she finds something she wasn’t seeking?

Has something tragic happened at Heachley Hall?

About the author

Born in the Midlands, I grew up in East Anglia and am now firmly lodged in the North West of England. My first writing achievement was my Brownie badge and after that I’ve never let go of the dream of becoming of an author. Once a librarian and caretaker of books, I’m now a teller of tales and want to share with you the secrets that hide in the pages of my books.

Rachel Walkley

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #WomensFiction The Women Of Heachley Hall by @RachelJWalkley

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs here http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading The Women Of Heachley Hall by Rachel Walkley

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I love old mansions, old houses, and antiques, and that was one of the things that attracted me to this book, together with the mystery aspect of it. As I’m in the process of moving, and I’m dealing with a house sale, the topic felt timely, and I am pleased I decided to go with my gut feeling.

This book manages to combine quite a few elements that I love in stories. There is a lone female protagonist, Miriam, that has to face challenges (OK, she is not fighting with a sword, but she has to confront difficulties she has never had to deal with before) and she gets to learn plenty about herself in the process. There is an old mansion (there is more than a touch of the gothic novel) that hides mysteries and tragedies of old (there are rumours that it is haunted and… well, I’m trying not to include any spoilers in this review, so I’ll keep my peace). There are family secrets, both Miriam’s and those of previous occupants of the Hall, that Miriam feels compelled to investigate, to fully understand her legacy and her feelings about Heachley Hall. There is a small town with friendly folks (and some not so friendly) that help give the place a genuine feel. The struggles of Miriam to make a living as a self-employed illustrator of children’s stories made me feel particularly connected to the character. I also enjoyed the way her relationship with Ruth, an older woman, a client and now a friend, is portrayed. There is also an element of historical fiction, as later in the book Miriam has access to a document that covers past events in the house (again, I’m trying not to give too much away), and we get to experience the way time transforms the mansion and also see how much society has changed since the XIX century. Ah, and let’s not forget, there is also a very romantic love story. (And a paranormal element…)

Imagine getting stuck, alone, in a huge old house that is falling to bits, with hardly any money to make any renovations or even make it liveable, and having to stay there for one year and one day to receive your inheritance. Although money is initially a big draw for Miriam (she is not in a particularly good place and feels she should show people she can rise to the challenge), she is also intrigued about her aunt Felicity’s reasons for setting up such strange condition. She only remembers having visited her aunt a few times as a very young child, and it makes no sense. Like so many amateur detectives, she is like a dog with a bone and has to keep making enquiries, no matter how many times she seems to have hit a dead end.

I liked Miriam. Although she has suffered tragedy and losses as a young child, she has reached adulthood as a well-balanced individual. She does have insecurities and issues, but she does not allow any drawbacks to bring her down and keeps going. She becomes stronger and more determined as the book progresses, but she does not waste much time feeling sorry for herself (only a little bit). I enjoyed the rest of the female characters as well, and although we only learn about some in the retelling of their stories, the author manages to bring them to live and make us connect emotionally with them.

The story is mostly narrated in the first person by Miriam (apart from the document I mentioned before), and she is excellent at describing, not only people and places (she is an artist after all), but also her own feelings, doubts, and mental processes. Although I know not all readers are keen on first-person narratives, I think the author does an excellent job of creating an engaging and genuine character. She is no superheroine who can do everything as soon as she steps into the property (she gets some help with her project), and she gets distracted, forgets things, gets scared, but does not give up. The story ebbs and flows as the time passes and the mystery aspects kept me reading on, although this is not a fast-paced action novel. The writing is beautifully descriptive without going over the top, and although there are sad moments, there are also light and joyful moments its readers can enjoy.

The mystery aspect of the novel is well integrated into the narrative, and although I had my suspicions about what was going on, the story is beautifully constructed and precious, and it is very satisfying. If you are one of those readers who hate cliff-hangers and always feel that there is some explanation missing and you’d like to know a bit more, you’ll be over the moon when you read this novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, which combines so many of my favourite things, and I’d recommend it to people who enjoy gothic stories (it is not scary but it has some eerie moments), who love old mansions, mysteries without blood and guts (no explicit violence), who like to read a romance with a difference (no explicit sex either), and who like to make friends with the characters of a novel and feel at home with them. Although it does remind me of some books (Rebecca, Jane Eyre…) and movies, I don’t want to go into any detail to avoid spoiling the story for you. But do check it out if any of the things I’ve mentioned appeals. It’s a winner.

Book description

Miriam has one year to uncover Heachley Hall’s unimaginable past and a secret that only women can discover.

The life of a freelance illustrator will never rake in the millions so when twenty-eight year old Miriam discovers she’s the sole surviving heir to her great-aunt’s fortune, she can’t believe her luck. She dreams of selling her poky city flat and buying a studio.
But great fortune comes with an unbreakable contract. To earn her inheritance, Miriam must live a year and a day in the decaying Heachley Hall.
The fond memories of visiting the once grand Victorian mansion are all she has left of her parents and the million pound inheritance is enough of a temptation to encourage her to live there alone.
After all, a year’s not that long. So with the help of a local handyman, she begins to transform the house.
But the mystery remains. Why would loving Aunt Felicity do this to her?
Alone in the hall with her old life miles away, Miriam is desperate to discover the truth behind Felicity’s terms. Miriam believes the answer is hiding in her aunt’s last possession: a lost box. But delving into Felicity and Heachley’s long past is going to turn Miriam’s view of the world upside down.

Does she dare keep searching, and if she does, what if she finds something she wasn’t seeking?

Has something tragic happened at Heachley Hall?

About the author

Born in the Midlands, I grew up in East Anglia and am now firmly lodged in the North West of England. My first writing achievement was my Brownie badge and after that I’ve never let go of the dream of becoming of an author. Once a librarian and caretaker of books, I’m now a teller of tales and want to share with you the secrets that hide in the pages of my books.

Rachel Walkley

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter