Welcome to my Friday Five Challenge
(Original idea from Rosie Amber at https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/)

cat coff

To join in with the #FridayFiveChallenge please read the rules at the bottom of the page

This week I searched for a book on the “Far East” thinking I would find something about World War Two in Hong Kong or Singapore or maybe a story set in Malaysia during the post-war emergency but in fact, the book which caught my eye was actually set in India, which is in the East but not the Far East if you are British.  However this is an American book with a very catchy title, Peanut Butter and Naan by Jennifer Hillman-Magnuson

Peanut Butter

Book Description

Fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants mom Jennifer Magnuson knew her spoiled suburban brood needed a wake-up call—she just couldn’t find the time to fit one in. But when her husband was offered a position in India, she saw it for what it was: the perfect opportunity for her family to unplug from their over-scheduled and pampered lives in Nashville and gain some much-needed perspective. What she didn’t realize was how much their time in India would transform her as well.

A combination of Eat, Pray, Love and Modern Family, with a dash of Chelsea Handler thrown in for good measure, Peanut Butter and Naan is Magnuson’s hilarious look at the chaos of parenting against a backdrop of malaria, extreme poverty, and no conveniences of any kind—and her story of rediscovering herself and revitalizing her connection with those she loves the most. In India, after years of parenting under a cloud of anxiety, Magnuson found a renewed sense of adventure and fearlessness (a discovery that was totally worth the many months of hiding anti-malarial medication in her kids’ morning oatmeal), and started to become the mother she’d always hoped to be. Hers is a story about motherhood that will not only make you laugh and nod with recognition—it will inspire you to fall in love with your own family all over again.

There are no reviews on Amazon.co.uk but on Amazon.com 84% of the reviews are 5 star.  Most follow this theme:-

Both heartwarming and hilarious, Jennifer’s stories of navigating a foreign land and the culture shock that accompanies it, are inspiring and entertaining. This family makes the most of a unique opportunity, learning valuable lessons about one another and the bigger world outside of their comfortable existence back home. A fantastic page-turner!

At £7.72 for a kindle this seems rather expensive but presumably this is because it is produced in the US.  I am very tempted as I do find TV programmes about India fascinating. Shall I BUY or will I PASS? I’m going to PASS, until the price is reduced.

What have others chosen this week?

Barb is waiting for the letter inviting her to Witchcraft school http://barbtaub.com/2015/10/30/did-you-get-your-letter-yet-fridayfivechallenge-from-rosieamber1/comment-page-1/#comment-139358

Shelley shows us a book about NaNoWriMo writing a novel in 30 days http://shelleywilsonauthor.com/2015/10/30/would-you-buy-or-pass-nonfiction-fiction-unboxed-fridayfivechallenge/

Rosie has gone to tea with the Ladies Detective Agency https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/would-you-buy-or-pass-fridayfivechallenge-tea-time-for-the-traditionally-built-mccallsmith/

Cathy has also gone East for an adventure in Myanmar http://betweenthelinesbookblog.com/2015/10/30/fridayfivechallenge-buy-or-pass-emerald-buddha-by-russell-blake-blakebooks-adventure/

So now it’s your turn.

Get yourself a cuppa and give yourself 5 minutes.

In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions from small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

Rosie’s Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book, and any other details.

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?


Death and Dominion by Carol Hedges


This sensational novel has everything; passion, mystery, love, disappointment and humour.  A devastatingly handsome man, Mr Mark Hawksley, who is not all he seems, impresses all he encounters, from the no-nonsense northern factory owner, Mr Bulstrode, to the russet haired, penniless lady’s companion, Belinda Kite, just arrived in London and hungry for all it offers.

As Bulstrode and other men of substance are pulled into the web of a promised fortune and Belinda finds opportunities for happiness and material goods, two other couples are bitter and despondent.  As if nothing worse could happen, poison enters their homes, but who is the culprit?  Detecting the crime is the responsibility of Detective Inspector Stride and Detective Sergeant Cully, whom you may have met before in Diamonds and Dust or Honour and Obey, where they proved themselves to be honourable, hard working men, eager to find the truth.  But they have another case to solve.  All over London Biblical condemnations such as, “Thou shalt not worship graven images,” are appearing, written in bright red paint and the gutter press have seized upon this to comment that while London is on the verge of anarchy, the police force are unable to cope.

The transition between the actions and emotions of our flawed heroine, Belinda and the gradual revelations about the criminal cases investigated by the two policemen are interwoven seamlessly as the story flows to a just conclusion.  Those who have done wrong, suffer suitable punishment, the good are rewarded and a few, whom we can’t help liking despite their misdemeanours, have the chance to set out on a new course of life.

Once again, Carol Hedges has immersed us in the murky but fascinating world of Victorian London with her atmospheric descriptions and superb characterisation.  A must read book!

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

 Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “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!

Today I will give a taste of passion from Carol Hedges brand new Victorian Sensation novel, Death and Dominion:-

He stands so close that the scent of him fills her nostrils.  She feels the heat from his body. Her heart thumps in her breast; her legs almost give way under her.

“What is it you desire, Miss Belinda Kite?” he murmurs, his dark brown eyes seeking and holding hers.


Rosetta by Simon Cornish


Simon Cornish’s novella is about the mysterious Rosetta whom we first encounter at the funeral of her father, Professor of archaeology, Alan Hargreaves.  The other protagonist in the story, Dr Graham Chandlers has been invited to give the eulogy, due to their shared professional background and he is fascinated by Alan’s adopted daughter whom he has never met before.

Rosetta is a beautiful woman, who needs a stick to help her walk and has “a rough silk” voice with an accent impossible to place.  Graham has been left Alan’s notes about his last “dig” in Turkey, many years ago, where Professor Hargreaves adopted Rosetta.  Unfortunately, another former colleague, bearded Tinkerbell (Dr Tim Bell) also tags along, acting rather strangely.

Graham is a specialist in ancient writing and he is intrigued to discover that Rosetta can speak and write the language of Hattic.  He returns to Cambridge, determined to discover all he can about Alan’s time in Turkey.  The notes reveal that an exciting discovery had been made during the dig, but it had suddenly terminated and Alan retired.  To find out more, Graham arranges to meet another ex-colleague who had been present at the time.  Meanwhile, Rosetta has disappeared.

The mystery is built up in an intriguing manner so I was looking forward to his discoveries but I was slightly disappointed that the story ended so quickly.  I believe this could have been a full length novel with an extended denouement including more tension and complications.  At times the vocabulary is a little contrived.  Graham receives “an ursine hug” from Tinkerbell when a bear hug would have been quite sufficient.  But more natural comments such as, “Graham’s alarm went off at the usual time, but after trying out consciousness, he decided it wasn’t a good idea and slept in late,” are more endearing.

There is potential for further stories about Dr Graham Chandlers, with or without Rosetta, and this is a promising first novella.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Following up on #FridayFiveChallenge

I haven’t managed to choose a new Friday Five Challenge this week but I am reporting back on two challenge books I found in August and have finally read.


I bought A Stitch in Time by Amanda James because the travelling back in time appealed to me.  I would like to travel back in time but unlike Sarah, the heroine of this book, I would not want to be so actively involved.  In fact invisibility would be useful!

Sarah is a History teacher who was betrayed by her husband and best friend two years previously and now has no social life.  She is visited by a Time Needler who explains to her that she is needed to travel back in time to put in a stitch so that events don’t unravel.  She travels abruptly to Sheffield during the Blitz, becomes a housemaid in the early 20th century and experiences real hardship as a settler in the old American west.

I was disappointed in this book, the first of a series, because although the historical research is excellent, Sarah’s modern viewpoint made it seem untrue.  In the present day, Sarah’s on/off romance with John also lacks conviction perhaps because the characters seem so unrealistic.


Vanished by M G da Mota is a much more intriguing book, written from the viewpoint of Oliver, a rich, spoiled Formula One test driver recovering from a bad accident in his family’s stately home.  He becomes infatuated with his brother and sister’s beautiful governess but her former life is a mystery which he is determined to solve.  As he struggles to walk again, he tries to persuade Michele to fall in love with him, while at the same time using a private investigator to discover her past.  While this is happening, Michele investigates the murder of a previous resident of the house, with the blessing of Oliver’s family.

The mystery made me continue reading well into the night, although I had worked out Michele’s past life before it was revealed.  Oliver is not an empathetic character.  He has always had too much money and his handsome face has guaranteed a string of girlfriends.  He shows prejudice against homosexuals and an old fashioned attitude to the proper roles for men and women.  Michele, however, seems perfect in looks, generosity and intellect.  Why would Oliver appeal to her?  Was it all because of one random act of kindness?

I really enjoyed reading this book but struggled with my dislike of Oliver.  He just doesn’t deserve happiness.

Warm Hearts in Winter by Helen Pollard


Warm Hearts in Winter is exactly what you want to read while curled up in front of a warm fire as the nights get shorter and yet I read it lying on a sunbed in southern Europe with just as much pleasure.

The main characters are Jack Blane, a slightly gruff, handsome writer in his mid-30s and Abby a capable young woman who has driven through dreadful winter weather to Jack’s remote house in Yorkshire, to be his PA while he writes his latest novel.  Both characters have baggage; Jack tragically lost his wife 3 years earlier and Abby is trying to rebuild her professional and personal life after an unfortunate incident while with her previous employer.

From the start there are misunderstandings between Jack and Abby, especially as they are confined to the house by thick snow, but their working relationship flourishes although they are both determined not to become personally involved.  However there is an undercurrent of menace from silent phone calls, a figure seen in the woods and something nasty found on the doorstep.  Jack decides to ignore it but Abby is increasingly anxious.

This element of mystery and danger widens the appeal of the novel which is also a heart-warming romance.  No-one could resist the strength and kindness shown by Jack, while Abby, though independent, is vulnerable and caring.   The chemistry between them is palpable, however much they fight their inclinations.  They are blessed by a guardian angel in the form of Mrs Macintosh whom everyone should have in their life!

Helen Pollard engages her readers by allowing us to see events through the eyes of both main characters and describing their location effectively.  I very much enjoyed reading this lovely story.

Rosie's Book Review team 1