Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery by Jennifer S Alderson #NewRelease

Adventures of Zelda Richardson Book 3

Rituals

Zelda Richardson is an adventurous heroine who loves to solve mysteries.  She needs to succeed in her placement as an intern at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam but the work involves Asmat Bis poles from Papua New Guinea, totems made for the spirits of the dead, whose evil looking faces seem to be leading her into danger.

 

Seven crates have been discovered unopened for 50 years in the archive depot of Rotterdam’s Wereldmuseum.  As Zelda and the more important staff from the museums observe, the crates are unpacked, revealing not just Bis poles, but also human remains of the head-hunting Asmat culture of what was then Dutch New Guinea.  But the most intriguing discovery is the leather-bound journal of Nicholas Mayfield, a wealthy American anthropologist who went missing in 1962.

 

Interspersed with Zelda’s transcription of the journal and her investigations, are passages from 1962, where we discover the frustrations and difficulties Nicholas had experienced while trading in Dutch New Guinea, hindered rather than helped by experienced Dutch anthropologist, Albert Schenk.  Albert is now Director of the Wereldmuseum and he seems to be a thoroughly unpleasant, arrogant individual.

 

Soon, Zelda is alarmed when two people close to her are murdered.  She continues with her task of transcribing the journal and researching the background of the Bis poles for an imminent exhibition, but she keeps information close to her chest and, at times, is unwise in those she chooses to trust.

 

This exciting story is also an education about a culture of which I knew very little.  The actions of colonial powers, the church and collectors of artifacts is called into questions but there is also our moral dilemma of whether to exhibit treasures from the past or return them to their source.  But don’t let this put you off; you will be on the edge of your seat wondering if Zelda will take one risk too many as well as wishing to discover what actually happened to Nicholas Mayfield.  A thoroughly good read.

An amazing picture of a Bis pole

Rituals of the Dead on Amazon UK and Amazon US

My review of Zelda’s first adventure Down and Out in Kathmandu

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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

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?”     

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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.

#FridayBookShare The Mystic Rose by Stephen Lawhead @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.

The Mystic Rose is Book III in Stephen Lawhead‘s Celtic Crusades but it works well as a stand alone read and as an introduction to this prolific author.

First Line    A young woman of my acquaintance saw a ghost.  Ordinarily I would not have given such a melodramatic triviality even passing notice, save for two pertinent facts.

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A story rich in history and imagination, here is the final volume in Stephen R. Lawhead’s magnificent saga of a Scottish noble family and its divine quest during the age of the Great Crusades.

A thousand years after its disappearance, the Mystic Rose—the fabled Chalice of the Last Supper—has been found, and the warrior monks of the Knights Templar, led by the ruthless and corrupt Renaud de Bracineaux, will stop at nothing to possess it. One brave, dauntless, noblewoman stands in their way . . .

Born among the hills of Scotland, and raised on the Crusader tales of her grandfather, Murdo, and her father, Duncan, young Cait is determined to claim the Holy Cup for her own. Guided by a handful of clues gleaned from a stolen letter, Cait and a small band of knights follow a treacherous trail that leads from the shadowed halls of Saint Sophia into the heart of Moorish Spain and a world long unseen by Christian eyes. A journey whose end means victory . . . or death.

Introduce the main character –Caitlin is determined, resourceful and vengeful.

Delightful Design

Mystic Rose Mystic US

Audience appeal  To readers who like myths, legends and stories of the Knight Templars

Your favourite line/scene

The slender blade went spinning to the ground, and the bandit, seeing that she was unarmed, reached for the bridle of her horse.  Cait slashed the rains across his face, catching him on the side of his head as he leaned forward.  He drew back with a curse between his teeth, and jabbed at her with the sword.  She dodged aside easily and the bandit lunged forward, snagging the bridle strap of her mount.  She pulled back hard on the reins, attempting to make her horse rear, but the bandit clung on, keeping the animals head down.

The wild-eyed brute swung around beside her, thrusting the sword at her as he made to lead her horse away, taking her with him.  Throwing aside the reins, she slid lightly off the back of the horse, landed on her feet and started for the tent once more.

Find the book on Amazon UK or 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.

#FridayBookShare The Ares File by Andrew French

07-_-10-_-2014-2

#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 Ares File is the second of the Michael Prentiss series by Andrew French

First Line  Fiona Mabbitt was usually a heavy sleeper and quite accustomed to being in the house on her own at night.  After all she had been an army officer’s wife all her married life and had long since accepted that she would sometimes have to spend long periods apart from her husband.

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When the wife of the commanding officer of a secret intelligence unit is murdered at home during a burglary to steal a top secret file, a chain of events is set in motion to hide one man’s guilty secret. Michael Prentiss is once again unwillingly drawn into the dark world of murder and deceit. He must discover who has taken the file and recover it before becoming an assassin’s next target.

Introduce the main character – Secretive, trustworthy, lonely

Delightful Design

Ares

Audience appeal   Men and women who enjoy action adventure without too much gore and with a human touch.

Your favourite line/scene

Two minutes later the door opened and two familiar faces entered the interview room.  Chief Inspector Gallagher and Sergeant Lyle pulled out the chairs opposite and sat down.  Jordan forced a smile,   “Well if it’s not Simon and Garfunkel.  No, it’s Peters and Lee.”  Gallagher didn’t respond to Jordan’s sarcastic attempt at humour.

Find the book on Amazon UK or 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.

 

Aurelia by Alison Morton

 

Aurelia

Aurelia is the fourth book in Alison Morton’s Roma Nova series. Set in an alternative historical context, the Roman Empire survives as a matriarchal society in a semi-mountainous area north of Italy. This is the only book I have read in this series so far, but it features a different character to those used in earlier volumes and works well as a stand-alone novel.

Written in the first person, Aurelia’s bold personality and brave, active life as a Major in the Praetorian Guard Special Forces engages the reader and promises plenty of action. But she is also a mother and the daughter of the head of one of the 12 ruling families. After Aurelia’s mother is involved in a severe car accident she must give up her military life and assume family and political responsibilities.

But soon Aurelia’s talents are put to use in diplomacy and espionage in the dangerous environment of Berlin, capital of Prussia. Here she encounters an old enemy and a mysterious stranger and she needs her wits about her. From then on the pace of the book is relentless and very exciting. Aurelia is the heroine we would all like to be.

I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy this storyline but I tried it out of curiosity. This alternative world, familiar to us and yet so different is a unique backdrop to a thriller which would make a wonderful film.

The Virgin of the Wind Rose by Glen Craney

Wind rose

The Virgin of the Wind Rose grips you in its teeth and whirls you through history and around the world. As soon as State Department employee, Jaq Quartermane, is told of the tragic death of her fiancé in Ethiopia she is dragged into a terrifying investigation rooted in the tales of the Knight Templars and the voyages of the explorers sponsored by Prince Henry the Navigator.

Finding herself in peril inside an ancient rock hewn Ethiopian church, does she trust to her deep Christian faith or to Elymas, an agnostic rascal? And it is trust and conspiracy which underline this thrilling adventure, taking Jaq from Rome to France, Portugal and Israel.

Bet-Abba-Libanos-church-Lalibela

While Jaq and Elymas try to solve the SATOR square, an ancient palindrome, their travels are paralleled by the story of three young 15th century Portuguese boys. Meeting in alarming circumstances, Pero, Zarco and Dias form a bond which carries them through their difficult training at the Tomar observatory and sustains them in their navigational test at Prince Henry’s fort in Sagres. Split apart by the different missions they are given, their friendship is maintained and their actions will have repercussions throughout history.

SATOR-AREPO-TENET-OPERA-ROTAS

I was fascinated by the details of early exploration, which has always interested me, and the further involvement of Christopher Columbus add to the intrigue. At the same time, I was anxious to continue following the mysteries and dangerous situations explored by the present day couple.  Glen Craney has made their relationship suitably prickly and intense, given their very different backgrounds, but he has allowed their humanity and understanding to shine through.

I loved Craney’s acerbic wit in comments such as, “The priest was obviously one pew short of a full congregation.” Naturally this novel will be compared to the books of Dan Brown but the quality of writing in The Virgin of the Wind Rose has the edge for me. Almost the best part is the last chapter with so much promise and fascinating clues.

Rosie's Book Review team 1