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The Crown Spire by Catherine Curzon and Willow Winsham #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT

crown-spire

Do you yearn for the world of dashing highwaymen and spirited women in glamorous 18th century dresses? Then be careful what you wish for. This is also a world in which only men have power and marriage can be a trap.

In The Crown Spire we become acquainted with Alice Ingram married for 20 years to an abusive, unpleasant man and her young niece, Beth, who is completely unaware of her aunt’s unhappiness. Fleeing along the Great North Road, they are suddenly in dire danger until two masked men save them and deliver them into the safe hands of the Bishop of Edinburgh. Both women find it difficult to forget their rescuers but once in Edinburgh they become entangled with two other men. Beth is quickly captivated by charming innkeeper Edward Hogan, even though he is well below her station but Alice maintains her dignity and has constant arguments with respectable doctor, James Dillingham.

Edinburgh of 1795 is, as you might expect, a city of charm and danger, but the lack of propriety shown by Beth is astonishing. Alice is a more empathetic character and the reader enjoys becoming closer to the reticent doctor. As in all good fiction, they have secrets, but love and passion will conquer all, until the dramatic events of the last section of the book threaten everyone’s happiness.

The description of the taverns give a sound historical authenticity to events but personally I would have liked to have read more about everyday life in the streets of Edinburgh. The fast-moving story is difficult to put down and I hope that there will be other romantic adventures, in this style, to follow.

The Crown Spire is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US

Catherine Curzon

Catherine Curzon is a royal historian, best known for her non-fiction books Life in the Georgian Court and Kings of Georgian Britain.  She also writes a fascinating 18th century history blog under the nom-de-plume of Madame Gilflurt.

Her work has been featured on the official website of BBC History magazine and in publications such as Explore History, All About History, History of Royals and Jane Austen’s Regency World.

She has provided additional research for An Evening with Jane Austen at the V&A, which she has also presented around the country.

Willow Winsham

Willow Winsham is the author of Accused: British Witches throughout History and she brings readers regular tales of witches and witchcraft on her blog The Witch, the Weird and the Wonderful

Combining a passion for research and history with a love of storytelling, she dedicates her time to investigating some of the most intriguing stories from the history of the British Isles.

When she isn’t digging out tantalizing historical tit bits or tracing elusive family members, she is busy home educating her two children.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

The Importance of Being Seven by Alexander McCall Smith #FridayBookShare ~ @ShelleyWilson72

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#FridayBookShare is a game created by Shelley Wilson to help search for an ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

The different way in which adults and children look at life, has always fascinated me and I am always horrified that some adults believe the opinions of children are of no importance.  Alexander McCall Smith demonstrates this so clearly in the relationship between Bertie and his mother in his Scotland Street books, especially The Importance of Being Seven

First Line:  If there was one thing about marriage that surprised Matthew, it was just how quickly he became accustomed to it.

Recruit fans by adding the blurb

Despite inhabiting a great city renowned for its impeccable restraint, the extended family of 44 Scotland Street is trembling on the brink of reckless self-indulgence. Matthew and Elspeth receive startling – and expensive – news on a visit to the Infirmary, Angus and Domenica are contemplating an Italian ménage a trois, and even Big Lou is overheard discussing cosmetic surgery. But when Bertie Pollock – six years old and impatient to be seven – mislays his meddling mother Irene one afternoon, a valuable lesson is learned: that wish-fulfilment is a dangerous business.

Warm-hearted, wise and very funny, The Importance of Being Seven brings us a fresh and delightful set of insights into philosophy and fraternity among Edinburgh’s most loveable residents.

Introduce the main character  Bertie is highly intelligent, very polite and longs to escape from his mother.

Delightful Design

being-seven

Audience appeal:  Anyone with a sense of humour and a philosophical attitude to life.

Your Favourite Scene

Bertie would have liked to play games, but it seemed there was little time for such things, what with yoga sessions, his psychotherapy with Dr St Clair, Italian conversazione with his mother and his saxophone lessons.  He had asked his mother whether he could give up some of these but she had been unwilling.

“But you love all these things that Mummy plans for you, Bertie!” she replied.  “All of them.  You have such fun, and you’ll thank me, when you are a big boy for helping you to do all these things.”

Bertie did not think that he would, but he knew that there was no point in arguing. His mother was so sure of everything.  He had suggested that he might give up his weekly psychotherapy session with Dr St Clair.

“Dr St Clair is helping you a lot you know.  He’s helping to make sure that you make the right decisions.  He’s helping you to understand things – to grow up without neuroses. You’re a lucky little boy to have this opportunity.  There are quite a few young people who could do with his help.”

“Such as?” asked Bertie.

“Well, Tofu, for one.  There’s a young man who needs a lot of help to curb his aggressive urges.”

Bertie had to agree but he did not think that Dr St Clair would be a match for Tofu. Tofu would never agree to go to yoga and would resolutely refuse to play the saxophone or to speak Italian.  Tofu was a member of Bertie’s cub scout pack as was his arch-enemy, Olive.  And that was difficult.  Tofu had already spoken to Bertie about that evening’s meeting.

“There’s going to be trouble, Bertie.” he said. “I can feel it coming.”  Then he added, “Hah!”

 

If you want to join in, then answer the F.R.I.D.A.Y questions and use the Friday Book Share meme. Tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72) in, so she can read what you have added, too.

A Shortcut to Murder by William Savage #bookreview

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This was my third foray into the world of young Doctor Adam Bascom and I feel quite at home now in rural, Georgian Norfolk. Although suitable to read as a stand-alone novel, loyal followers of his earlier adventures will understand the distress he is causing to his erstwhile admirer, Sophia LaSalle, by constantly visiting the charming widow, Lady Alice.

Once again Adam must solve a challenging murder mystery, but on this occasion, he precipitates action in order to flush out the culprit. He is maturing in skill and confidence. If only he could understand women and his own feelings, his life might be less complicated!

We meet some new characters in this book, the highlight being newly qualified lawyer, Charles Scudamore, who could easily be given his own novel. Exuberant but sometimes lacking direction, he and his twin sister, Ruth, are severely reprimanded by their aunt, Lady Alice, even though she is only a few years older than they are.

The victim is thoroughly unpleasant landowner, Sir Jackman Wennard, who may have died by accident after falling from his horse, but Adam’s brother Giles, the local Magistrate, suspects foul play. Adam’s investigations are hindered by lack of cooperation from Sir Jackman’s son, Robert and the case is further complicated by the arrival of Sir Jackman’s first wife, Sarah.

At times, Adam’s deliberations are rather long-winded but it is a complex plot which requires explanation. There is certainly plenty of action and emotional outbursts and the late autumn context allows for portentous description such as, “The air had been full of the smell of decay and the decline of another year.”
Another enjoyable read about a very likeable hero.

You can find A Shortcut to Murder here

William Savage

william-s

William started to write fiction as a way of keeping his mind active in retirement. He had always lectured and written extensively on business topics, including three books, many articles and a successful leadership blog which garnered more than 5000 regular followers. He has no intention of letting his mind stagnate or his creativity wither. This means finding new sources of interest and inspiration.

Throughout his life, William has read and enjoyed hundreds of detective stories and mystery novels. One of his other loves is history, especially the local history of the many places where he has lived. It seemed natural to put the two together. Thus began two series of murder mystery books set in Norfolk. Four books have appeared so far and he is currently at work on a fifth.

William’s books are set between 1760 and around 1800. This was a period of turmoil in Britain, with constant wars, the revolutions in America and France and finally the titanic, 22-year struggle with Napoleon. The Ashmole Foxe series takes place at the start of this time and is located in Norwich. Mr Foxe is a dandy, a bookseller and, unknown to most around him, the mayor’s immediate choice to deal with anything likely to upset the peace or economic security of the city. The series featuring Dr Adam Bascom, a young gentleman-physician caught up in the beginning of the Napoleonic wars, takes place in a variety of locations nearer to the North Norfolk coast. Adam tries to build a successful medical practice, but his insatiable curiosity and a knack for unravelling intrigue constantly involve him in mysteries large and small.

William has spent a good deal of his life travelling in Britain and overseas. After obtaining his degree at Cambridge, he set out on a business career, during which he lived in most parts of the UK, as well as spending eleven years in the USA. He has been a senior executive, an academic and a consultant to many multinational companies. Now he is more than content to write stories and he has a superb blog, devoted to the world of Georgian England, which you can find at http://www.penandpension.com.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet & Allan Ahlberg #FridayBookShare ~ @ShelleyWilson72

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s there were several superb stories for children by husband and wife Janet and Allan Ahlberg.  My respect for Eddie Redmayne increased tremendously recently when he shared his love for Miss Wobble the Waitress and other Happy Families books by the Ahlbergs.  I have two copies of The Jolly Christmas Postman, one for children to pull apart and crumple and another in good condition which is mine!

First Lines

Once upon a Christmas Eve
Just After it had snowed,
The Jolly Postman (him again!)
Came down the jolly road;
And in the bag upon his back
An … interesting load.

Recruit fans by adding the blurb

It’s Christmas Eve and the JOLLY POSTMAN is delivering greetings to various fairy-tale characters – there’s a card for Baby Bear, a game appropriately called ‘Beware’ for Red Riding Hood from Mr Wolf, a get-well jigsaw for hospitalised Humpty Dumpty and three more surprise envelopes containing letters, cards, etc. Everyone’s favourite postman keeps on peddling his bicycle up hill and down dale . . . and into everybody’s hearts.

Introduce the main character – The Postman is jolly, full of food and glad to reach home at last.

Delightful Design

christmas-post

Audience appeal  Children, adults, anyone who likes Christmas and inventive books.

Your Favourite Scene

There was once a moneybox in the shape of a pig that belonged to a little girl named Angela.  This pig had a curly tail, a coin-shaped slot in his back…and criminal tendencies.  In some ways the pig was quite good-natured, at east when he was empty.  But money is the root of all evil and as he got fuller and fuller, he became boastful.

“I’m rich!” he cried, to the other toys, “I’m the richest creature in this room!” And he rattled his tummy.  “I’m a millionaire!”

One night in the week before Christmas, when the pig was simply bulging with money, he decided to run away.  He rattled.  He scrambled and wobbled down the stairs………..

#FridayBookShare is a game created by Shelley Wilson to help search for an ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

If you want to join in, then answer the F.R.I.D.A.Y questions and use the Friday Book Share meme. Tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72) in, so she can read what you have added, too.

#FridayBookShare~Pulse by Celina Grace @ShelleyWilson72

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#FridayBookShare is a game created by Shelley Wilson to help search for an ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

Pulse is the 10th book in the Kate Redman, detective series by Celina Grace

First Line  Joe could hear the music inside him like a second heartbeat.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

The body of a young man is found in a graveyard the night after a wild, drug-fuelled party. At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be anything sinister about his death, despite the shock of Detective Inspector Mark Olbeck realising that he once knew him.

Detective Sergeant Kate Redman has other things to worry about, not least her ongoing affair with her superior officer Chief Inspector Anderton. But when a second body is found in suspiciously similar circumstances, Kate, Olbeck and the rest of the Abbeyford police team realise they are up against a devious killer who will stop at nothing to indulge a literal thirst for blood…

Introduce the main character – Kate is tenacious, likeable and spontaneous.

Delightful Design

pulse

Audience appeal  Crime investigation and personal relationships in the same package

Your Favourite Scene

“Anyway,” said Anderton resuming his pacing. “This remains a suspicious death and I’m hoping the post mortem will throw up some definite answers as to exactly how Vickers died.  As you know there was a knife wound in his neck, although whether that was made pre or post mortem hasn’t yet been ascertained.  There are a few anomalies around the condition of the body.”  He turned to the crime scene photos. The pallor and pose of the body recalled a marble statue, perhaps a dead knight clasping his sword.

“The blood, sir.”

“Yes I was coming to that.  The body seems to have lost a lot of blood- indeed, that may well be the cause of death – but the odd thing is that there isn’t a lot of blood on the scene.”

If you want to join in, then answer the F.R.I.D.A.Y questions and use the Friday Book Share meme. Tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72) in, so she can read what you have added, too.

Lost in Static by Christina Philippou #TuesdayBookBlog

static

I was not at all sure that I would be able to identify with this novel, since it is over 40 years since I walked into the hall of residence of my university campus, but in fact things haven’t really changed all that much and I found the story compulsive reading.

The novel is told through the voices of the four main characters; Juliette, who is trying to escape her rigidly Christian upbringing, Callum, a rich, good-looking young man with a family secret, Yasmin, an annoyingly superficial girl with her own agenda and Ruby, a football loving tomboy with low self-esteem. Opening with a tragic accident at the end of the summer term, the story moves back to the first day of the Autumn term when the four characters first meet. They are all trying to make a good impression but they are also attempting to have a new persona, concealing the aspects of their past lives which they do not wish to share.

It is easiest to identify with Ruby, although I wish she would stop calling everyone “mate”, including herself. From a shy mousy girl, lacking confidence she blossoms into a popular, sociable student, but we realise from her internal dialogue that she still feels inadequate. Juliette is complex and interesting and you can’t help liking her. Callum is like so many privileged, handsome young men; good-hearted, lazy and easily manipulated. Yasmine is an enigma. Although reasons are given, just why she is so poisonous in her attitude to the other girls, isn’t clear.

Other reviewers have commented on the drugs and alcohol involved in the story but it is the constant chain-smoking which shocked me. Set in the era just before it was banned in public places, there are interesting clashes between the smokers and those like Callum who disapprove.

As is usually the case, misunderstanding provokes much of the storyline but secrets and lies enhance the drama of the situation. I found the setting, writing style and denouement very refreshing.

cphilippou

Christina Philippou’s writing career has been a varied one, from populating the short-story notebook that lived under her desk at school to penning reports on corruption and terrorist finance. When not reading or writing, she can be found engaging in sport or undertaking some form of nature appreciation. Christina has three passports to go with her three children, but is not a spy. Lost in Static  is her first novel.

Christina is also the founder of the contemporary fiction author initiative, Britfic.

Tom-All-Alone’s by Lynn Shepherd #FridayBookShare

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#FridayBookShare is a game created by Shelley Wilson to help search for an ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

Tom-All-Alone’s by Lynn Shepherd  contains the ingredients I love to find in a book; well-researched history, a touch of mystery, literary quality and a special twist.

First Line   The young man at the desk puts down his pen and sits back in his chair.  The fog has been thickening all afternoon, and whatever sun might once have shone is now sinking fast.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

The story of Tom-All-Alone’s takes place in the ‘space between’ two masterpieces of mid-Victorian fiction: Bleak House and The Woman in White – overlapping with them, and re-imagining them for a contemporary reader, with a modern understanding of the grimmer realities of Victorian society. Charles Maddox, dismissed from the police force, is working as a private detective and can only hope to follow in his uncle’s formidable footsteps as an eminent thief-taker. On a cold and bright Autumn morning, a policeman calls on Charles at his lodgings with information that may be related to a case he is working on. He goes to a ruined cemetery to find a shallow grave containing the remains of four babies has been discovered. After examining them he concludes they are not related to his investigation, which is to find a young girl abandoned in a workhouse 16 years before, when her mother died. But all is not as it first appears. As he’s drawn into another case at the behest of the eminent but feared lawyer, Edward Tulkinghorn, London’s sinister underbelly begins to emerge. From the first gruesome murder, Charles has a race against time to establish the root of all evil. Tom’s-All-Alone is ‘Dickens but darker’ – without the comedy, without the caricature, and a style all its own. The novel explores a dark underside of Victorian life that Dickens and Collins hinted at – a world in which young women are sexually abused, unwanted babies summarily disposed of, and those that discover the grim secrets of great men brutally eliminated.

Introduce the main character – Charles believes in justice and cares for those who suffer but he is sometimes thoughtless and careless.

Delightful Design

tom-all

Audience appeal  A lover of Dickens’ London who would like to see deeper into the sort of characters you might find in Bleak House.

Your Favourite Scene

“As you will recall from your own days in the Detective’ when a certain person has been seen more than once at the scene of the crime, when that person has, indeed, been heard arguing with the victim- even, perhaps, threatening him- a threat witnessed by a most unimpeachable source- then it’s in the natural way of things that I should seek out that person and bring him in for questioning.  So, young Charles, am I to call in assistance or is the deed done?”

Charles stares at him for a long moment, as if weighing his options.  “There’s no need for that. If I have to come I’ll come quietly.”

“All the same,” says Bucket affably, “this is a very serious charge, Charles, and I have a preference to do such things by the book.”

He takes a pair of cuffs from his pocket and stands, holding them, waiting.  Charles stares back angrily but says nothing, and eventually holds out his hands in silence.

It is mercifully a very short way to Bow Street, so it is barely half an hour later that Charles finds himself in an underground cell, the iron-bound door of which he knows only too well, even if this is the first time he has seen it from the inside.

If you want to join in, then answer the F.R.I.D.A.Y questions and use the Friday Book Share meme. Tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72) in, so she can read what you have added, too.

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