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

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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

Rosie's Book Review team 1

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

Rack and Ruin by Carol Hedges

Rack &

In Rack and Ruin, 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.

Rack and Ruin 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

#FridayBookShare The Dirigible King’s Daughter by Alys West #BookReview

#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 Dirigible King’s Daughter is the second novel published by Alys West.

First Line    Harriet Hardy took her pistol from her reticule and flipped open the barrel.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

When Harriet Hardy moved to Whitby, newly famous from Mr Stoker’s sensational novel, she thought she’d left her past and her father’s disgrace behind her. But then an amorous Alderman and a mysterious Viscount turn her life upside down and she’s never been more grateful that she doesn’t leave home without her pistol.
But when defending her honour lands her with an attempted murder charge, Harriet’s only option is to turn to the mysterious Viscount for help. Fortunately, he turns out to be not so mysterious after all and, fortified by copious amounts of tea, she sets forth to clear her name.
As the court case looms Harriet fears she’ll forever be tarnished by her father’s scandalous reputation. Can she avoid conviction, and just possibly, find a happy ending? Or will she always be trapped by her past as the daughter of the notorious Dirigible King?

Introduce the main character –Harriet is smart, businesslike and brave

Delightful Design

Dirigible pic

Audience appeal  This book will appeal to a wide audience; those who appreciate historical romance, fans of steampunk and those who like a book about an independent woman.

Your favourite line/scene

“Here she comes!”

From behind the hills the dirigible appeared, coming nose first towards them.  Its silver Duralinum hull several shades lighter than the grey clouds behind it.  Alerted by Charlie’s words, the other passengers gathered around them,staring and pointing.  the airship glided closer, slowly turning until its full size was revealed.  It was huge and Charlie said this was small!  How enormous would be the one which took them down to London?

As I have just finished reading the book, here is my review:-

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Harriet Hardy is an independent woman who is not to be trifled with, but she lives in a steampunk, Edwardian environment where ladies are expected to be proper and to know their place. She has found herself to be the breadwinner and espousing the principles of the Suffragists has not won her many friends. Living in Whitby she has cut herself off from her happy youth in York but now her past is catching up with her, just when she finds herself in greater trouble than ever.

Charlie Davenport is a dashing Dirigible pilot with charm and influence but Harriet has no intention of allowing him to take over her life. She will continue to solve her problems as she always has, with a pistol in her reticule, a brave heart and intelligent wit.

This novel is a tale of romance and peril against the background of the thrilling flights of the dirigibles and escapades on steam-powered omnibuses. It is an easy read and you cannot help wishing Harriet success and happiness against all odds.

alys-west

I started writing when I couldn’t find enough books to read that had all of the elements I loved; fantasy, romance and suspense, although my love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer may have had something to do with it too. Writing steampunk was a natural development from my obsession with tea. How could I not write in a genre where the characters shared my belief that 90% of the world’s wrongs can be solved with a nice cup of tea? It also gave me a great excuse to spend my time looking at Victorian fashions and call it research.

I’m doing a MA in Creative Writing at York St John University and also teach creative writing for Converge, an arts project for people with mental health issues.

When I’m not writing you can find me at folk gigs, doing yoga and attempting to crochet.  I intermittently tweet at @alyswestyork and spend rather too much time on Facebook where you can find me at Alys West Writer.

 

What Tim Knows and other stories by Wendy Janes

Tim

The short stories in this book are connected to significant moments in the lives of a group of people who feature in Wendy Janes’ novel What Jennifer Knows. There is no need to have read the novel first but it certainly gave an added dimension to me.
The first story, Beauty, describes the paramount need for beauty to surround Rollo, an Art Gallery owner. When he parts company with one of his exhibitors, the “empty plinths,” are reduced, “to totem poles with no message,” so it is essential that he finds beauty elsewhere. Never-Ending Day struck a chord with me as it reminded me so well of those awful first weeks, as a new mother, when you realise that you know nothing about babies and that you are making a terrible mess of trying to care for this one. Similarly, Perfect Family made me aware of the contrast between my home life as an only child and that of lively families with several siblings which seemed to have such fun together.
What Tim Knows contrasts completely with What Jennifer Knows. Jennifer knew too much, but Tim knows too little, or at least his comprehension of the world is very different to that of the people who surround him. Having taught children on the autistic spectrum, I have been caught out by my inability to state exactly what is a fact and am aware that there are no greys for many. I love the way this story puts us inside Tim’s head and shows us what an inexplicable world we live in!
A refreshing look at life through a wide variety of characters, which is available here

You can read my review of What Jennifer Knows here.