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The Pickpocket (The Viper and the Urchin, Book 0.5) by Celine Jeanjean #bookreview

rory

Book Description

Rory is a seven-year-old starveling, carving out a survival for herself down on the docks of Damsport. When Daria, an older girl and talented pickpocket, suggests they team up to con Damsians out of their purses, Rory accepts at once.

But Rory’s friendship with Daria turns out to be much more than a partnership of convenience, transforming her into the confident urchin we met in The Bloodless Assassin, and teaching her the dangers of letting someone get too close.

To get the most out of this novella, the author recommends that you first read The Bloodless Assassin.

My review

As a long-time fan of The Viper and the Urchin series, I was intrigued by this introduction to the developing character of Rory, the street urchin.  But this book is not just about Rory’s early development, it is a story with pathos which enriches the reader’s knowledge of the underbelly of the city of Damsport.

 

In “The Pickpocket,” we find Rory at only 7 years old trying to survive against all odds.  Alone and uncared for, she is in danger of starving to death or of being casually murdered.  Scavenging and begging for food, she is noticed by the charismatic Daria, an older, more sophisticated street dweller, who sees potential in Rory.  While Rory annoys and pesters those who pass by, Daria can take advantage of their distraction to steal their money.  Soon Rory is captivated by her “friend,” wishing to emulate her, but she discovers that confident, sassy Daria has a secret.

 

In these chapters, Rory gains an identity, her raison d’être which make her the character we meet in the subsequent books.  As she moves through the Rookery, she will continue to be attacked and abused but she has become a streetwise survivor with an aim for the future.

My Review of The Bloodless Assassin

Trouble in Nuala by Harriet Steel #bookreview

nuala

Trouble in Nuala is the first in a series of investigations by Inspector Shanti de Silva in colonial Ceylon.  Although a Sri Lankan himself, Shanti is married to Jane, an Englishwoman whom he had met after she came to the island as a governess.  They mix in the “best” social circles of Nuala, up in the hills far from the busy city of Colombo.  An experienced policeman, he may feel frustrated by his junior police officers and by the patronising attitude of Clutterbuck, the assistant government agent, but he is determined to investigate all cases without preference.

 

Although mainly concerned with minor offences such as neglected horses running wild, the sudden death of a bombastic, unpopular tea planter strikes de Silva as being suspicious, so he quietly makes inquiries into all the circumstances.  The lonely widow and the planter’s stepson were not happy, the plantation was making a loss and a young lawyer had recently accused the planter of mistreating his workers.

 

Interspersed with the gradual investigation is a delightful description of the beauty of Sri Lanka and of the pretentious social life of the British community living there in the 1930s.  Shanti and Jane have a respectful relationship based on love and consideration, so he willingly eats cucumber sandwiches when he would much prefer a spicier snack.

 

This gentle, intelligent policemen could well become renowned for his careful and thoughtful approach to crime in an enthralling environment.  A very enjoyable and relaxing book to read.  I look forward to his next investigation.

You can find Trouble in Nuala here

TeaserTuesday #TuesdayBookBlog

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Jenn of Books And A Beat. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two or three “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

lesliepearse

My current read is Trust Me by Leslie Pearse based on the lives of the many orphaned or poor children who were sent to Australia during the 20th century by religious charities.  There the young people were forced to work, mainly in horrific conditions with very little kindness.

Dulcie laughed.  “Yes, but where do men take their girlfriends down here?”

John leaned his elbow on the table and wiggled his fork at her, his eyes twinkling.  “Well it depends what kind of Sheila she is, Dulc.  There’s some you might take in the saloon bar for a few bevies, there’s some you have to take dancing.  I reckon with a Sheila like you, though, a bloke would be best to think of a walk along the sea-front holding her hand.”

Betty changed the subject and it wasn’t until the men had gone back to work, and she and Dulcie were washing up, that Dulcie brought it up again.

“Explain to me what Bruce and John were talking about?” she asked.

“Well, dear, there are different sorts of girls.”  Betty looked a bit embarrassed, drying the dishes very fast.  “There’s the nice girls, the bad ones and the in-betweens.   Nice girls are the ones they all want to marry, and they don’t take liberties with them.  They’ll take the bad ones drinking, knowing they can get their way with them, the in-betweens, well they’re in-between, they might be bad with the right bloke, and if he gives her a good enough time.  That’s the ones John said he’d take dancing.”

“So the nice girls only go for walks?  That sounds a bit dull!”

Betty gave her a sharp look.  “Better to be a bit dull than end up getting a reputation for being fast.  Young men have very strong urges, you go off smooching with one and there’s no-one about, anything can happen.”

Trust Me is available from Amazon

On a Wing and a Prayer by Helen Carey #FridayBookShare @ShelleyWilson72

#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.

ON A WING AND A PRAYER by Helen Carey is a nostalgic and heart-warming novel of south London during the Second World War.  It is the third of Helen Carey’s Lavender Road series, but the only one I have read.

First Line    “So?” Angus McNaughton closed the interview room door, nodded at the military police  corporal waiting outside, then glanced at his assistant as they began to walk away down the long, grey-walled War Office Passage.  “What do you think, Helen?  A possibility?”     

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

October 1941. London has been ravaged by war for two years now and life couldn’t be tougher for those living on Lavender Road. Many loved ones have been lost and sacrifices made, but Lady Helen de Burrel is about to take the biggest risk yet.

Inspired by the courage of her friends on this south London street, Helen volunteers to join the Special Operations Executive and puts her life in jeopardy for the sake of her country. But it’s hard to know who to trust, and when her heart is on the line even love becomes dangerous.

The war has changed everything, but one thing is certain; the women of Lavender Road will rally together, no matter what the future has in store…

Introduce the main character –Helen is courageous, independent and considerate.

Delightful Design

lavender-three

Audience appeal  For those who enjoy reading about twentieth century social history especially the role of women during wartime and also for its humour and romance.

Your favourite line/scene

It was only when she read the word Capotes scrawled on the fallen lid of the box that it dawned on her what the packets must contain.  What the English called French letters.  To her dismay she felt colour flood her cheeks.  She felt she had been standing there for hours when one of the men took pity on her.  Stepping forward from the doorway, he cupped his own hands under hers.

“Donnez-les moi, mademoiselle,” he murmured.  Then as she opened her hands and let the beastly things fall into his, he smiled.  “Ah yes, these should just about see me through the weekend.”

…………………………………………………………………..

One quick glance into his face had rendered her utterly tongue-tied.  She couldn’t look at him again.  The best she could manage was a gruff, “Merci,” as she edged away from him towards the door.

……………………………………………………………………

And then, as he glanced back at her, she knew at once.  It was his eyes.  Behind those dark lashes his gaze was self-possessed and direct.  She had never seen such strength of purpose reflected in someone’s eyes before.  He was clearly quite unfazed that she had seen him pocket some of the contraceptives.  He simply smiled faintly and nodded her a courteous, “Au revoir.”

Find the book on Amazon UK  and  US

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.

Blood is Thicker by Heather MacQuarrie #TuesdayBookBlog

Blood thicker

This is the third book in Heather MacQuarrie’s trilogy of love and deception in a modern, extended family. In Blood Is Thicker we return to the lives of Matthew and his estranged wife, Suzy and to the on/off relationship of Neal and Charlotte. There are still repercussions from the complicated parentage of their families. We meet a new character, Georgia, who brings love and happiness back into Matthew’s life, although she also proves to be a catalyst for dramatic changes in the lives of several others.

The story is told, partly in the form of emails, giving us the perspective of several different protagonists as well as clarifying events for the reader. All the threads of the lives of other characters from the previous book are drawn together as they face up to their mistakes and find love and friendship.

In this novel, Matthew, Neal and Ralph face a dangerous situation together, which helps to unite them, until a secret is revealed which could ruin everything. If you like reading about the many difficulties that can face men and women in contemporary society but which can be worked out with understanding and consideration then you will enjoy this feel-good trilogy.

Blood is Thicker can be found at Amazon here

Murder and Mayhem by Carol Hedges

Murder_Mayhem

In Murder and Mayhem, Victorian progress continues apace.  The age of the railway has begun and people’s homes are being knocked down to make way for the tracks.  It is 1863 and lowly bank clerks, Danton Waxwing and Edwin Persiflage relieve the monotony of their daily drudge by plotting anarchist deeds.  Inspector Lachlan Greig, however, is more concerned with the discovery of tiny bodies revealed by the railway company’s explosives.

 

Meanwhile in Fitzroy Square, Daisy Lawton, spoilt daughter of an eminent surgeon, tries on beautiful dresses, in which to meet a potential husband.  Her former school friend, Tishy Simpkins, would prefer to continue her studies aided by the Ladies’ Literary and Philosophical Society, but she is enforced to look after her young brothers and attend to domestic tasks, by her uncaring father.  Amongst the other characters in the novel is young engineer, Fred Grizewood, who would dearly love to discuss his ideas with his renowned mentor, Joseph Bazalgette, but an unexpected event changes his life profoundly.

 

This novel is rich with mid Victorian life, from the gutter press to the fine drawing rooms and on to rough pubs frequented by villains and prostitutes.  Struggling in this hectic world, are oppressed women, caring police officers and evil baby farmers.

 

I take particular pleasure from the authentic 19th century writing style, so fitting to the subject matter and my knowledge is enriched by the inclusion of words which are new to me, such as “cynosure”.  The definition of this word, used by Carol Hedges, is, “something that strongly attracts attention by its brilliance.”  I think that’s an accurate description of this book.

Murder and Mayhem can be ordered from Amazon

You can find my reviews of earlier books in this series:-                                                                     Diamonds and Dust                                                                                                                                          Honour and Obey                                                                                                                                                Death and Dominion

Rosie's Book Review team 1

 

Anywhere the Wind Blows by Jenny Lloyd

Anywhere

In this third book of the Megan Jones Trilogy, once again we find Megan in danger, due to the evil acts of others.  She should be making a new start at Wild Water, with brother, Morgan nearby and even Branwen on her side, but there is suggestion that Eli’s suicide might have been murder and either Morgan or Megan the assailant.

 

It is harvest time, but Megan’s labourers abandon her so she must seek new workers at the hiring fire.  Meanwhile we have met a new character, Cai Traherne, a psychic with an equally tragic past.  As he takes over as farm manager, will he be able to prevent further sadness befalling Megan?  Branwen now wants to be Megan’s friend, but is too late for that?

 

Written in the words of these three pivotal characters, the reader is drawn into the unfolding drama, hoping that Cai might yet prove to be a guardian angel, even though dreadful deeds, secrets and lies surround them.  Against the backdrop of the beautiful Welsh countryside which Megan loves, a thrilling tale is told.

You can read my review of Jenny Lloyd’s earlier book The Calling of the Raven here and you can see Leap the Wild Water at Amazon UK

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