Rosie’s Book Review Team ~ 6 years old #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT

Book Reviews

2014 was a special year for me. I had started my social history blog and I was a busy volunteer setting up an exhibition in our local Workhouse on its time as a World War One Hospital. We had bought a holiday home in Portugal and travelled to and fro, several times during the year.  I was also an avid reader and liked to follow authors and book bloggers on Twitter for new books to read.  And that was how I found Rosie Amber.

When she challenged some of her followers to review one of the books submitted to her, I couldn’t resist. I believe the book I chose was The Red Canvas Chair, an intriguing American crime thriller by N A Granger. When Rosie then invited some of us to join her team and review many other books of our choice from novels submitted to her, I was thrilled to be included.  Soon I was writing more book reviews than history posts, so I decided it was time to set up my own book blog Lost in a Good Book

Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team receives a wide range of submitted genres, including young adult, fantasy, historical, romance, steam punk, mystery etc.  Not all of the books appeal to me but often I will challenge myself to try a new type of book and frequently discover an exciting new novelist to follow.  Of the 14 books Rosie is featuring this week I have read and enjoyed 8 of them.  In addition, I have to mention other favourites: –

Crazy Amy

Rose Edmunds Crazy Amy series of corporate espionage

Reluctant Detective

Christine Campbell’s Reluctant Detective series set in Scotland

Parish

Mimi Matthews spirited historical romances

Passionate

Passionate Travellers by Trish Nicholson, incredible journeys throughout history

Cunning

The Cunning Woman’s Cup an amazing story by Sue Hewitt

Book Reviews

Season of Second Chances by Aimee Alexander #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT

Season of Second Chances is a heart-warming story of friendship, love and finding the inner strength to face a future that may bring back the past.

Seasons

This is a novel which captivates you from the first page. Grace and her two teenage children, Jack and Holly, have left Dublin to live in the quiet village on the coast of Cork where she grew up. Escaping an impossible life, she is taking over as a GP from her father, Des. She soon discovers her neighbours to be judgemental about “Young Doctor Sullivan” so she won’t be revealing the secret she has left in Dublin.  Prickly Jack knows they had to leave, but he doesn’t relish life in the middle of nowhere, while Holly has always lacked confidence. But things gradually improve. Grace impresses the locals with her skill as a doctor and her children begin to make friends.

This is both a heart-warming story and an edge of the seat drama as you wait for their past to catch up with them.  Adding a touch of romance in the form of an American author with a sad past and some amusing incidents with some of the local community make this a perfect lockdown escape. And I forgot to mention Benji the dog. I was so pleased to discover that there will be a sequel.

Season of Second Chances is available on Amazon UK

Aimee

Aimee Alexander is the pen name of best selling author Denise Deegan who writes contemporary family dramas about ordinary people who become extraordinary in crisis. Her novels have been published by Penguin, Random House and Hachette.

Aimee lives in Dublin with her family where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking and her novels being made into movies. She has a Masters in Public Relations and has been a college lecturer, nurse, china restorer, pharmaceutical sales rep, public relations executive and entrepreneur.

The Occupation by Deborah Swift #TuesdayBookBlog #NewRelease

Occupation

1940, Jersey

When Nazi forces occupy Jersey in the English Channel Islands, Céline Huber, who is married to a German, must decide where her loyalty lies.

Love for her island, and fear for her Jewish friend Rachel, soon propel her into a dangerous double life.

Meanwhile, Céline’s husband Fred is conscripted into the Wehrmacht in occupied France.

Horrified by Nazi acts of atrocity and torture, he soon becomes a double agent for the French Resistance.

But when things go wrong, and his Nazi masters discover his true allegiance, he finds he has the whole of the German Army on his tail.

How far will Céline go for her best friend? Will Fred make his way home to her?

Or will their lives be changed forever by the brutality of war?

THE OCCUPATION is a moving war & military saga following the separate stories of a young man and woman through the years of the Second World War as they fight to survive.

My Review

This powerful story had me reading late into the night, by turns on the edge of my seat or reduced to tears.  Although I have read of the German occupation previously only now do I fully appreciate the hardship, distress and uncertainty of those who lived through it.  In the words of Céline and later her German husband Fred (Siegfried) we follow their lives from their pre-war bakery on Jersey as Fred responds to the order to join the Wehrmacht in France while Céline struggles to keep their business going.  When the German army arrives to occupy the island, Céline’s Jewish friend Rachel becomes alarmed as she has already lost touch with her parents in France.

Meanwhile Fred is initially relieved to leave active combat for a job as a translator in Paris, but he soon makes friends with the locals and is horrified by the deeds of the Nazis.  Unable to communicate with each other, both Fred and Céline must take actions and make decisions they would not have countenanced before the war.  Fred puts himself in peril for the sake of others, while Céline is endangered by the arrival of Fred’s bullying brother as a German officer. This carefully researched story with its basis in true life would make an amazing film and is the best book I have read for a considerable time.

The Occupation on Amazon UK

My reviews of Past Encounters and Pleasing Mr Pepys by Deborah Swift

Death on the Danube by Jennifer S Alderson #New Release #RBRT #BookReview

Death Danube

Who knew a New Year’s trip to Budapest could be so deadly? The tour must go on – even with a killer in their midst…

Recent divorcee Lana Hansen needs a break. Her luck has run sour for going on a decade, ever since she got fired from her favourite job as an investigative reporter. When her fresh start in Seattle doesn’t work out as planned, Lana ends up unemployed and penniless on Christmas Eve.

When Dotty offers her a job leading the tour group through Budapest, Hungary, Lana jumps at the chance. It’s the perfect way to ring in the new year and pay her rent!

What starts off as the adventure of a lifetime quickly turns into a nightmare when Carl, her fellow tour guide, is found floating in the Danube River. Was it murder or accidental death? Suspects abound when Lana discovers almost everyone on the tour had a bone to pick with Carl.

But Dotty insists the tour must go on, so Lana finds herself trapped with nine murder suspects. When another guest turns up dead, Lana has to figure out who the killer is before she too ends up floating in the Danube

My Review

In Death on the Danube, Jennifer S Alderson has turned away from the dangerous adventures of Art Historian Zelda Richardson and turned to cozy mystery with newly divorced Lana Hansen as she takes up a new life as a tour guide with Wanderlust Tours.  I soon adapted to this style of murder mystery as Lana uses her skill with people to take care of a disparate group of wealthy tourists threatened by murder within their midst.  An intelligent former journalist, Lana puts the “Fabulous Five” group of mature women at ease while trying to solve the case.

The book includes vivid descriptions of places of interest in Budapest as settings to the interactions of suspicious characters such as Helen and Tom who own a yacht rental company and Carl, a fellow tour guide, who seems to prefer gambling.  I was kept guessing about the guilt of those guests who seemed most unpleasant or of more likeable old friend, Sally who has been betrayed so badly by the first victim.  I am certainly tempted to visit Budapest myself, now and I am looking forward to following Lana’s investigations next year in A Valentine’s Day Murder in Paris.

JenniferSAldersonAuthorPhoto_Twitter-300x300

Jennifer S Alderson

Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Amsterdam. After travelling extensively around Asia, Oceania, and Central America, she moved to Darwin, Australia, before finally settling in the Netherlands.
In addition to her personal travelogues in Thailand, Nepal and Costa Rica Jennifer has written a 3 volume, thrilling, mystery series about young Art Historian Zelda Richardson.  To read my review of The Lover’s Portrait

Introducing Lana Hansen, tour guide, reluctant amateur sleuth, and star of the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series. Join Lana as she leads tourists and readers to fascinating cities around the globe on intriguing adventures that, unfortunately for Lana, often turn deadly.  Death on the Danube released this weekend

Feel-good stories about friendship, travel, and celebrating new experiences. Coming soon: Death by Baguette: A Valentine’s Day Murder in Paris (Books 2) and Death By Windmill: A Mother’s Day Murder in Amsterdam (Book 3) in the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series!

 

Perfect by Rachel Joyce #BookReview

Only when the clock stops does time come to life

Perfect

Summer, 1972: In the claustrophobic heat, eleven-year-old Byron and his friend begin ‘Operation Perfect’, a hapless mission to rescue Byron’s mother from impending crisis.

Winter, present day: As frost creeps across the moor, Jim cleans tables in the local café, a solitary figure struggling with OCD. His job is a relief from the rituals that govern his nights.

Little would seem to connect them except that two seconds can change everything.

And if your world can be shattered in an instant, can time also put it right?

This is a story of details; of the few seconds which can alter life and the routines which keep us sane.  The hot summer of 1972 is vividly recreated at Cranham House, a desirable Georgian home standing alone on the moor.  In a house where, “the air was thick with Vim and Pledge polish,” Diana maintains an immaculate life for Byron & his young sister while her husband works away from home all week.  Each morning after a healthy breakfast they get into the new Jaguar driving Byron to Winston House private school in his smart, neatly pressed uniform, but on the day when two seconds are removed from time, everything changes.

Byron’s friend James is full of clever ideas and he also has a crush on Diana. “Her eyes were bright, her skirt pressed, her hair blow-dried,” and she was naturally kind.  When her world starts to fall apart the 2 boys do their best to help her.

In parallel chapters we meet Jim in the present day, living in a campervan on the edge of a new housing estate and working in a supermarket café.  As a result of his stay in Besley Hill, “where the mad people lived,” he has a stammer and has difficulty interacting with people. But he is finding it difficult to ignore the new cook Eileen, a large lady with titian hair and her laugh has, “something so chaotic about the noise, so joyous and unequivocal.”

And it is chaos which causes the major events in this novel.  It is a fascinating tale of appearances, mistakes and human relationships.  There is mystery as to who Jim is and what has happened to him and what Diana’s background was before she met her husband.  Despite the slow pace I found it compulsive reading.

Perfect on Amazon UK

Rachel Joyce

Rachel Joyce

Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, and a collection of interlinked short stories, A Snow Garden & Other Stories. Her work has been translated into thirty-six languages.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Rachel was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards ‘New Writer of the Year’ in December 2012 and shortlisted for the ‘UK Author of the Year’ 2014.

Rachel has also written over twenty original afternoon plays and adaptations of the classics for BBC Radio 4, including all the Bronte novels. She moved to writing after a long career as an actor, performing leading roles for the RSC, the National Theatre and Cheek by Jowl.

The White Hornet: Sword and Steampunk (The Viper and the Urchin Book 5) by Celine Jeanjean #NewRelease

White h

A city of snow and wind.
A logistical nightmare when running a mission…
…or an opportunity to explore new sartorial delights?

Rory has faced many challenges in her time, but none quite so frustrating as mastering the art of walking in a corset and bustle.

She has to pass herself off as a wealthy heiress to infiltrate the House of Bel, a mysterious and highly exclusive club for Airnian high society, and of course her true identity must remain hidden at all costs.

Luckily, Longinus is on hand to advise—that is, when he’s not busy discovering the giddy delights of winter outerwear and investigating the mystery of what happened to his family.

But they soon become aware of a mysterious presence—someone paying disturbingly close attention to their every move.

Who or what is the White Hornet? What is the link to Longinus’s family?

And will Rory and the gang be able to infiltrate the House of Bel before the White Hornet uncovers their true identities?

My Review

Once again, Longinus and Rory are part of a team engaged in espionage on behalf of the Marchioness of Damsport.  Leaving the warmth of their home, Cruikshank, the clever engineer, Adelma, the strong, hard-drinking smuggler and Rafe, a handsome Varanguard, have travelled north with them to Arnia, fearing the Emperor intends to reconquer Damsport.

The fledgling romance between Rafe and Rory is beginning to blossom as they act out their parts of a noble but poor aristocrat and his rich but unsophisticated fiancé.  Soon the need for Rory to act independently and Rafe’s shame in admitting a weakness from his past, cause misunderstanding and distance between them.  Meanwhile Longinus creeps through the frozen city at night in search of information about his lost father and missing mother.

Increasingly Rory’s efforts lead her into greater danger as she puts her trust in the dissipated Airnian, Simeon.  While she and Rafe escape the authorities over the rooftops, Adelma, Cruikshank and Longinus attempt a daring diversion which nearly kills them all. But the greatest peril is the cold and ice of the unwelcoming city.

There are two parts to this story. First, during Rory’s visits to the House of Bel, we read fascinating descriptions of room after room of indulgence and desire where she finds no-one will help her, until she learns the importance of gossip. The second and most exciting part describes the dangers and heroism of the five vivid characters, as they fight, flee and help each other against weapons, soldiers and hostile weather.  Another rollicking adventure of this likeable, if eccentric group.

The White Hornet on Amazon Uk

My review of  The Slave City by Celine Jeanjean

The Magic Carpet by Jessica Norrie #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

magic

Outer London, September 2016, and neighbouring eight-year-olds have homework: prepare a traditional story to perform with their families at a school festival. But Nathan’s father thinks his son would be better off doing sums; Sky’s mother’s enthusiasm is as fleeting as her bank balance, and there’s a threatening shadow hanging over poor Alka’s family. Only Mandeep’s fragile grandmother and new girl Xoriyo really understand the magical powers of storytelling. As national events and individual challenges jostle for the adults’ attention, can these two bring everyone together to ensure the show will go on?

My Review

Coming to this book as a retired primary school teacher, I rejoiced to hear the voices of these 5 different children and to read the response of their families to the school’s fairy tale project; but this story has a wider context allowing us into the homes of families from varied cultures, structures and beliefs in the turbulent context of post-Referendum Britain.  Set in outer London at the beginning of a new school year, the protagonists all live within a few yards of each other, but initially have very little knowledge of their neighbours.

As the children bring home a letter about a future performance to involve all the pupils with perhaps the aid of friends or families, an incident occurs bringing two of the girls together.  Alka, a quiet beautiful Indian girl spends time with clumsy, self-centred Sky, whose kind, slightly insecure mother, Teresa, attempts to unite the girls.  Soon, Nathan, a bright Chinese boy will join them and their co-operation sparks great interest in the project. Nearby, Mandeep lives in a busy, happy household with his delightful grandma and in a small flat live Safiya and her daughter Xoriyo. Although Somalian, Xoriyo has grown up in England, but in this new school she has chosen to remain mute, concealing her intelligence and excellent English  Through the experiences of Safiya, we witness the increasing racism and her struggle to relate to Teresa, whose attempts at friendship are awkward and embarrassing.

This is a book of humour, pathos and relationships.   It is a story to give hope in our troubled times for understanding and education.  Jessica Norrie has great perception and knowledge about the lives of our diverse society and although life is not a fairy tale, the parallels of monsters and happy endings are a lesson for us all.

The Magic Carpet can be found on Amazon UK

Jessica N

Jessica Norrie

Jessica Norrie studied French literature at Sussex University, and trained as a teacher at Sheffield. Then she wandered into parenthood, told her now grown up children stories, and heard theirs. A qualified translator, she worked on an eclectic mix of material, from health reports on racehorses to harrowing refugee tales. She taught adults and children, co-authored a textbook and ran teacher training. In 2008 came the idea for “The Infinity Pool”, which appeared in 2015 (and in German in 2018). Her second novel “The Magic Carpet”, inspired by teaching creatively in multicultural schools, was published in July 2019, and she is working on a third. She divides her time between London and Malvern, blogging, singing soprano, and walking in the forest and hills.

No Stone Unturned (The Lucy Lawrence Mysteries Book 1) by Pam Lecky #BookReview

No Stone

A suspicious death, stolen gems and an unclaimed reward: who will be the victor in a deadly game of cat and mouse?

It is winter in 1886. Lucy Lawrence sits in her comfortable home in St John’s Wood with only Horace the cat as a companion. As so often, her husband Charlie is away.  Their marriage which started with her elopement from her Yorkshire home has lost the love and excitement of those early days, but Lucy is loyal and hopes one day that they will be blessed by a child.  But her world falls apart when a policeman takes her to a mortuary in Soho to identify the body of her husband who has been killed in an accident.  There she meets Phineas Stone, a tall distinguished private investigator, who tells the police that Charlie was the lead in his current case.

Soon, despite her misgivings, Lucy is entangled in those enquiries, since Charlie has fallen foul of a dangerous gang of thieves.  She wishes to clear his name, but she is unsure whether Mr Stone is her friend or not.  When a threatening visitor appears, she decides to return to her estranged family in Yorkshire, but this leads her into even more trouble, and she is forced to turn to Phineas for help.

Lucy Lawrence is an excellent heroine, brave and clever, she is determined to discover the truth about her husband’s part in the case of stolen gems and fraud and with the help of her enterprising maid, she goes under cover and solves the crime.  This is the first of a series and I am looking forward to Lucy’s next mystery when she travels to Egypt.

Pam Lecky

Pam Lecky

Pam Lecky is an Irish writer of historical fiction with a particular love of the late Victorian era and early 20th century.  Awaiting the invention of time travel, she has to be content with writing about these periods instead.  Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion; was shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; made ‘Editor’s Choice’ by the Historical Novel Society; long-listed for the Historical Novel Society 2016 Indie Award; and chosen as a Discovered Diamond in February 2017.  In April 2018, she published a collection of all her short stories, entitled Past Imperfect. With settings as diverse as WW1 era Dublin and a lonely haunted lighthouse, romance, mystery and the supernatural await you.  Last month she published the first Lucy Lawson Mystery aptly named No Stone Unturned.

No Stone Unturned is available at Amazon UK

The Forgotten Village by Lorna Cook #DualTime #Romance #mystery

Forgotten

This dual time novel appealed to me because it is centred on the abandoned village of Tyneham on Warbarrow Bay in Dorset. In December 1943 all the villagers, including the lord of the manor, had to leave their houses and village to live elsewhere for the duration of the war so that troops could practice for D-day.  What they didn’t realise was that they could never return home.  Today the ruined village can sometimes be visited, and this is where our 21st century heroine, Melissa meets celebrated historian, Guy Cameron.

Melissa’s relationship with her uncaring boyfriend, Liam is breaking down, so helping Guy to investigate the disappearance of Lady Veronica after she left Tyneham in the 1940s is a welcome distraction.  The two learn that Anna, Guy’s grandmother was lady’s maid to Veronica, but she is reluctant to tell them very much of her past.  Alongside this thread we enter Lady Veronica’s unhappy life with her unpleasant husband Sir Albert.  Both stories include tension and misunderstanding, and you can’t help rooting for both Melissa and Veronica.  This first novel by Lorna Cook promises more intriguing books to follow.

Lorna cook

Lorna Cook

Lorna Cook writes dual-timeline stories that blend secrets of the past with the present.
She lives by the sea with her husband, two small daughters and a demanding dog called Socks.

The Forgotten Village can be found on Amazon UK

 

A Bittersweet Garden by Caren J Werlinger #FridayReads #RBRT

Bittersweet

A Bittersweet Garden is a mystery story set in Ireland, which also describes a romance between American Librarian, Nora McNeil and Briana Devlin, a groom and horse trainer in the village of Cong in County Mayo.  After a failed relationship and the death of her long-loved cat, Nora has come to see the home village of her grandparents. Intending to stay for several weeks she has rented Sióg cottage, a run-down property in the woods, reputed to be haunted.  After a disastrous first meeting with Briana, Nora begins to come closer to this reserved young woman and she enjoys helping her cousin, Sheila in her garden nursery.  She is even able to start writing a novel, but the subject matter is dark. Frequent dreams of a tragic family, who once lived in the cottage, begin to obsess her and she sleep walks into the woods in search of Rowan, a young girl who disappeared mysteriously in the 1840s.

Nora needs to value her own worth and a relationship with Briana might give her happiness, but she must return to Virginia.  The sad story of Móirin and Donell, who once lived in the cottage, needs resolution but this may endanger Nora’s life. The warm community in this picturesque Irish village rally round but only Nora and Brianna can solve the past in order to give themselves a future.

Caren J Werlinger has created two complex characters with whom the reader can identify and I was intrigued to discover what had happened to the little girl in the yellow dress over 170 years earlier.

Caren

Caren J Werlinger

Caren was raised in Ohio, the oldest of four children. Much of her childhood was spent reading every book she could get her hands on, and crafting her own stories. She was influenced by a diverse array of authors, including Rumer Godden, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula Le Guin, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Willa Cather, and the Brontë sisters. She has lived in Virginia for over twenty years where she practices physical therapy, teaches anatomy and lives with her partner and their canine fur-children. She began writing creatively again several years ago. Her first novel, Looking Through Windows, won a Debut Author award from the Golden Crown Literary Society in 2009. Since then, she has published several more novels, winning multiple Rainbow Awards and a 2014 GCLS Award for In This Small Spot. She recently published her first fantasy novel. Rising From the Ashes: The Chronicles of Caymin, is the first volume in The Dragonmage Saga.

A Bittersweet Garden is available on Amazon UK