#Bookreview for #YA novel Dory’s Avengers by Alison Jack @AlisonJack66

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I do not fit into the target audience for this novel, not being YA (a young adult) nor male, however I still enjoyed Dory’s Avengers which just goes to show that you should always be willing to try new things.

This is an original and interesting read with the main character, Louis, being an albino gymnast trained by the bad-tempered past champion, Gideon, who is now in a wheelchair. They live among a colourful cast in the fictional village of Blenthwaite in the Lake District.

There are some mentions early on about Sponsorship but we soon learn that term is not to be taken in the way it usually would be in sports because it actually refers to there being very much a class divide between the Sponsored and Unsponsored. People sign up to be Sponsored because of the privileges it affords but it also means that their life is controlled, ultimately by Lord Bassenford who’s in charge of the Sponsorship Scheme. The Unsponsored are, of course, the rebels who will not sign their lives away and therefore pay the consequences of not doing so.

Louis is contacted, in a somewhat unusual manner, by a childhood friend and travels to London to help the friend, his eyes being opened to the problems of the Unsponsored along the way.

I had a little difficulty with Lord Bassenford who at times was hideously cruel, particularly to his son Theodore and then at others behaved rather out of character, I thought, for example by dancing at an unsponsored wedding. So I wasn’t entirely convinced by his supposedly evil persona.

Some things also felt a little glossed over. The changes of heart by a few of the characters, for example, and Nicola, I’ll say no more on that as I don’t want to give anything away. However, I did love many of the cast and in particular Lysander, eventually, after all the stuff happens which I won’t tell you for fear of spoilers, again.

I only get to read books in fits and starts and it can be tricky keeping the relationships characters have with each other clear. In this book the cast is quite large and at times I got confused with names. Lord Bassenford was also known as Your Lordship, Your Lordshit (unsurprisingly, given his behaviour!) and William St Benedict. But this was not all, most of the characters (and there were quite a few) had nicknames or shortened forms of their own names or were occasionally called by their surnames, but like I say that was no doubt something to do with the way I read this book.

There was a lot of story packed into this book with many things happening which kept it fresh and interesting. I liked the setting and always love it when a plan comes together to try to thwart whatever it is that is going on. There was humour throughout, a certain amount of friskiness among the cast which was entertaining and all in all this was an enjoyable read.

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#Bookreview for A Taste of his own Medicine by Linda Fawke @LindaFawke #RBRT

A Taste of his own medicine

I received a copy of A Taste of his own Medicine from the author as part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team and in exchange for an honest review.

I chose to read this book because I liked the premise of it. Kate has been invited to a thirty-year reunion of all those with whom she had graduated her pharmacy course. The mere thought of this fills me with horror. I can’t remember names to put with faces and the idea of catching up, reminiscing and the inevitable retelling of stories that would only show what an idiot I was back then brings me out in a sweat. Still, each to their own.

Kate doesn’t want to go either, initially, however, encouraged by her husband, Neil, the idea grows on her but mostly because of the opportunity for revenge. She enrols her long-time university friend, Becky, in her plans, although Becky is a little reluctant to go on the weekend (with good reason it turns out!) At first I thought Kate was only wanting to get back at one person but her ambition then grew and several were involved, which seemed a little unrealistic.

While I liked the idea, for me much of this story line was overly detailed. Quite rightly pharmacists need to be incredibly precise people and this author showed her character, Kate, to be just that by the way she was writing her but it did slow the story down somewhat. The dialogue could also do with a bit of a tighten up as well. When in conversation people rarely get the chance to say much more than one sentence, maybe two, in the general back and forth and there was a lot of explaining, which isn’t always necessary.

I thought the fallout from the weekend was particularly interesting though and enjoyed where the storylines led. The author has also left much open for the sequel with the surprising ending.

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#Author #Interview with multi-genre novelist, Mark Barry @GreenWizard62

Some of my most creative thoughts happen when on a dog walk, as do my best conversations with my dog-walking buddy. So I thought I’d invite some of my author friends along to join me and my girls and see if I can find out a little more about them and the book they’ve just released.

‘My girls’ are Poppy and Ruby 

Girls in the garden

Summer is here!

I’m delighted to welcome back Mark Barry who has just released his latest novel, A Shiny Coin for Carol Prentice. He was here in 2015 and 2016. (Click the links if you want to find out what we discussed on those occasions)

Mark Barry Author Photo

Mark Barry is a multi-genre writer and novelist. His work includes the minor cult hit Ultra Violence, about football hooligans at a small Midlands football club, and the highly acclaimed Carla, a quirky, dark romance with shades of Wuthering Heights. A Shiny Coin for Carol Prentice is a loose sequel to Carla.

Mark is the co-designer of the innovative Brilliant Books project aimed at engaging the many, many reluctant readers amongst young people.  He is based in Nottingham and Southwell, UK, the scene of most of his fiction and runs Green Wizard Publishing, an independent micro-publishing company that promotes his work as well as that of others.

I believe I’ve read all Mark’s books that are available and have posted reviews of them here: Carla, The Night Porter, Ultra Violence, Violent Disorder, Once Upon a Time in the City of Criminals, Hollywood Shakedown and Kevin and the Atomic Bomb. (Click on the links to go and read them)

I, along with many others, are always waiting for Mark to release his latest novel and after hearing on the indie grapevine that one was on the cusp of release I invited Mark along to the rather flat lands of Cambridgeshire for a chat about it.

Shiny Coin Final

Love this cover!

Hi Mark, thanks for taking the time to talk to me today, I know how busy you are. So tell me all about A Shiny Coin for Carol Prentice?

Shiny Coin, as it is affectionately known in my house, is a psychological love story set in a small and prosperous English town. Carol goes home, after four years at University, to sort out her deceased father’s affairs. She’s afraid of the town, after a horrific experience in her teenage years and her return is all about coming to terms with her demons, so she can move on with life. It has elements of mystery, puzzle, romance, thriller – and I have been told it is VERY YA – but mostly, it’s a return to those dark and absorbing novels of the nineteen seventies you could pick up on a spinner rack in the newsagent.

I’m proud of the book. I think its my best and I think, given a bit of luck, it could be successful.

Carla was published in 2013. Did you know then that there would eventually be a sequel, or has this idea only come to you recently?

I wrote Carla at the end of the lowest period of my whole life and its critical success was a major factor in my improvement in mental health. I love that book, deeply flawed though it is. I would LOVE to rewrite it based on what I know now, five years later, but I was young and reckless back then and it will have to stand. I still think the last eight chapters of that book are different class – I reckon Shakespeare’s crazy monkeys possessed my spirit when I was writing those.

I don’t really do sequels – I generally have one story to tell about a main character and that’s it – but I love connectivity within books and I knew the themes in Carla were too good not to continue. Criminals could not have existed without Carla and neither could Shiny Coin.  It’s a loose trilogy in which there is an older man and a younger woman at the core and for the final piece, I had to write from the point of view of the younger women to complete the set.

I know you love your music so if you could choose one piece of music to be the soundtrack to this book what would it be? And why?

I have whole soundtracks to my books – don’t you, Georgia? But this is all about Portishead. The two main characters play Dummy during the revelation chapter, the one where Carol reveals her horrifying secret. I also played a lot of Floyd with this – but then I always do. It’s quite a sombre book, quite a reflective book and that type of music works.

I know you have high hopes for this book, based on the considerable interest in it so far and the reviews to date…

I do. I love this book. I worked hard on it and thought it through page by page. I removed over 15,000 words too to make it a more modern (i.e. shorter) read.  I cannot write any better than this. If this one tanks, then I’m offski. I think I shall end up in beekeeping, tree surgery, or banana straightening, well away from the arts. It’s a brutal game selling books, absolutely brutal, and its even harder when you have a really sound, clever, well written piece of work which gets overlooked – which happened to some extent to my last book, Criminals. That one was good, but this one is better and I am seriously hoping for some exposure, to be honest. The reviews are excellent so far. None of which have come from my Aunty Betty, for the cynics out there, Georgia!

Who is your muse, if any?

For Shiny? A certain special woman who lives among the rolling shires of the beautiful south. You might know her – you live down that way, don’t you? (Ahh, there are many women  down here Mark, in fact I caught sight of one who reminded me of Carol Prentice just the other day in the multi-storey at Bedford Bus Station, that must be her! :-))

Here come a few quick fire ones.

Sunsets or sunrises?

Depends who I am with – probably sunrises: That’s always a great night!

sunrise

If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?

Mike Champagne.

What was your favourite childhood injury?

Deep mental scars from watching that evil hunter kill Bambi’s mother.

If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?

Nearly Man – I always feel I have just missed out on the big stuff in life. Never by much (except sport – crap at all sports), but enough to leave me with a mild sense of frustration. Hopefully Shiny Coin is a turning point.

It is at this point that Mark gave me a prophetic tip for the National, if only I’d posted this earlier, we’d all be better off!!

It has been a pleasure, as always, chatting to you Mark. Thanks for joining me and I wish you every success for the sales of A Shiny Coin for Carol Prentice – I’ve already read it (of course!) and my review is here!

Always lovely to have a natter Georgia, thank you, I’ll head back to the glorious North now!

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#Bookreview for A Shiny Coin for Carol Prentice by Mark Barry @GreenWizard62 #psychological #suspense

Shiny Coin Final

‘…it’s all about the writing as art.’

This is a love story… this is what it says at the beginning of Shiny Coin but if you’re looking for hearts and flowers, tears and romance, walk on by, because this is not one of those. This is the other sort. This is the type of love story that tortures breaking hearts, the type of love story that can’t ever be, and that happens in real lives only too often.

Because this is what Barry writes, real lives. His characters, and their interactions with each other, are honest and totally believable, even when they do things we could never imagine. Nothing is shied away from and while we love the rapport shown between some of his people, the faults, failings and weaknesses of all are viscerally depicted on the page.

Carol has moved back to Wheatley Fields following the death of her father. I imagined her as glamorously gothic and totally cool, but her fabulous hair, makeup and clothes make her an oddity in the conservative passages of her home town. She gets a job at the book shop working for the older and wizardly wise Steve and they hit it off, becoming friends as well as work colleagues.

One day there’s an altercation between the odious Toby and Steve, when the former tries to buy a comic, and it is this that is the catalyst for the shocking events that unfold.

While Steve bears the brunt of what is to come Carol knows it is not aimed at him, because following a terrible betrayal when she was last home she has returned with a plan for revenge, and it’s one she’s determined to see through.

Readers familiar with Barry’s work will recognise references such as the Arkwright Trust from The Night Porter, The Jacket, a short story in Punk Rocker, and Carla, of course, as this is its loose sequel. There’s a brief cameo by Mark himself as the writer in Wheatley Fields the setting for many of his novels.

I enjoy reading Barry’s work in total silence and ideally in the dark, my screen the only illumination. I don’t like there to be anything to distract me from the precision of his words, the fabulous one liners and flowing passages, and throughout, the observational wit. This read was to be no exception, and it really is that cliché of all things, a page-turner, because you simply have to find out what is going to happen.

This is no boy meets girl romance but Barry is right, this is a love story, albeit a deeply saddening one which he makes you feel, all the way to its end. Because when you take away everything else there is only one thing left, hope, and I was left hanging on to that. A Shiny Coin for Carol Prentice made me shed tears, and when a book does that to me I know it is truly special.

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#Bookreview for #crime #novel, Long Shadows by Julie Haiselden, @juliehaiselden

Long Shadows

I wasn’t sure about Long Shadows when I started it. The story begins quite slowly and at times is overly detailed but I soon got drawn into Lizzie’s tale. Lizzie Tennyson is a loving wife and mother. Somewhat grudgingly she gives up her nursing career to move to the Lake District and run a pub with her husband and son, Alex. She really didn’t want to do this but surprisingly finds herself settling well into their new life and becomes an integral part of the village community. She’s sociable, always willing to help out with village events, and popular, making many friends along the way.

Tragedy does strike but then everything settles again and appears perfectly harmonious in Lizzie’s life so I have to admit that when the ‘incident’ came it took me completely by surprise and seemed totally out of kilter with the character’s personality but then the more I read the more I realised why. There is a lack of emotion in this read which eventually made sense and I was drawn on as the reveals came, one a chilling reminder right from the beginning that I had completely forgotten.

This story develops over many years and I don’t have the necessary psychological knowledge to know what was going on with Lizzie but something most definitely was and I enjoyed watching her thought processes, and consequent actions, throughout this read.

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#Freeebooks plus Gift Card #Giveaway in this Fun and Spicy Romance Promotion!! #romancebooks

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I’m excited to share with you a special treat today. I’ve teamed up with a group of other romance authors to offer you FREE EBOOKS when you sign up to learn more about what they write. You’ll download the book directly from this link—I think you’ll find great new authors to love. We’re also offering a $25 gift card giveaway, and you can gain more entries by sharing. But it’s only through March 30th, so fill up your reader now. Enjoy!

My Book Cave

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#Bookreview for The Old Man At The End Of The World by AK Silversmith @AkSilversmith #RBRT #zombie #apocalypse

Rosie's Book Review team 1

The Old Man At The End Of The World

I’ll be honest and say I don’t know much about zombies but thought I’d try this and see what they’re all about. I’m assuming that some other books of this genre are considerably more gory and scary but this one is a different sort of read. There is a bit of zombie like behaviour in it – blood and gore and what have you, but overall it came across as more a humorous telling of a terribly British reaction to the whole situation.

Gerald Stockwell-Poulter is earthing up leeks one minute and being attacked by a fellow allotment holder the next. Hamilton comes to his rescue and after a bit of toing and froing, and taking pity on the rather smug Finnbar they manage to find sanctuary at Gerald’s house.

It did start off a little silly but once I’d settled in I found much of the humour amusing and enjoyed the writing. There wasn’t a lot of emotion shown at all and it didn’t come across as if these characters feared the zombies but instead just found them a bit of a nuisance. There were reminders of Shaun of the Dead in there with the humour and also of Carry on up the Khyber. No zombies in that of course but it was the same stoicism as shown in the dinner towards the end of the film when bombs are falling all around but proper dinner etiquette must be followed. Nothing is more important to Gerald than getting back home in order to have, of course, a nice cup of tea, regardless of the mayhem playing out amongst his neighbours.

All in all this is a small bite of a light-hearted zombie tale, well written and amusing.

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What I should have said, and forgot, is that this book is also permafree, yay!

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#Bookreview for The Black Hours by Alison Williams @AlisonW_Editor #historical #fiction

The Black Hours

I have always hated hearing people bleat on about how life is not fair, because in my mind I don’t understand what right they have to expect it to be so. However, throughout The Black Hours I kept being reminded of just how unfair life was for those suspected of witchcraft.

At the beginning of this story we meet Alice Pendle and her grandmother, Margaret (Maggie) Prentice, who provide midwifery services to the women of the Coggeshall as well as making up herbal remedies to help those who are sick. This way of life appears to be common practice at that time but when things go wrong there are those who, as some form of revenge, call in help from outside to rid the village of those suddenly perceived as witches.

Matthew Hopkins tackles his role as Witchfinder General with a passionate almost evangelical zeal and there is never even the faintest waver in his belief that he could in any way be wrong in what is he doing.

Following a successful hanging of five witches at Halstead he arrives in Coggeshall and sets to work immediately.  I found him a vain and arrogant man, deluded in the way his went about his business. There was nothing fair about his treatment of Alice and Maggie, who were brutalised and battered into submission. He obtained ‘evidence’ by twisting people’s words and this supposed man of God tricked and lied his way into gaining confessions.

I could go on and on but I hope you get the picture that this was a real page-turner of a book for me. Fantastically well researched and superbly written I thoroughly enjoyed, if that can be the right word, what was at times a harrowing and heart-breaking story. Highly recommended to all lovers of historical fiction and anyone looking for a terrific read. Oh, and I should add, it has the most satisfying ending.

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#Bookreview for #crime #thriller Blood Money by E. L. Lindley @LindleyE

Blood Money

I felt Blood Money took a different turn to the previous stories in this series. Marilyn, Georgie’s overpowering mother, reveals a huge family secret to Georgie which sees the two of them, and Georgie’s boyfriend James, travel to visit Aunt Serena in London, and this is where the rest of the story takes place.

I don’t want to reveal any details about the secret but when they set out to try and trace a missing person the situation that person has found themselves in becomes more and more problematic and sinister. Help arrives in the form of Eric and Callie and then later when Julie and Sean turn up and although I breathed a sigh of relief that the gang were back together again they find life difficult because they are working in an unfamiliar country. I should add that I found their desperation to find a decent cup of coffee highly entertaining.

Before the team know it they are mixed up with the most unpleasant Des and involved in the shady world of the Triad. Although the previous storylines have had at the centre of them Georgie’s documentary making career this takes a backseat in this tale and there is considerably more violence and bloodshed than there has been in the earlier books of this series. I loved the darker edge though, and also delighted in seeing a character from another series I have enjoyed make an appearance.

Georgie is the same infuriating and impulsive person she has always been and how the tolerant James puts up with her I will never know. But this story also ends with Georgie in trouble with the law which adds a further complication into the mix. I always highly recommend Lindley’s writing. It’s descriptive and flowing, the characters consistent and well rounded, though don’t just take my word for it, try it for yourselves.

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#Bookreview for The Crown Spire by Catherine Curzon @MadameGilflurt and Willow Winsham @WinshamHistFic #RBRT #histfic

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The Crown Spire

What an utterly joyful read The Crown Spire was! Set in 1795 Alice Ingram and her niece Beth are on the road to Edinburgh when they are set upon by bandits. Out to steal their honour rather than their jewels the situation looks desperate indeed for the hapless travellers. However just when it appears all is lost in ride two mysterious highwaymen to the rescue. Or I should say one rides in while the other drops out of a tree, what an entrance!

Taking shelter at an inn for the night Beth is soon entranced by the landlord, Edward Hogan, while her aunt is considerably less so by Dr James Dillingham summoned to look at her ankle, sprained in the skirmish.

It soon becomes apparent that it is not only the highwaymen who are hiding their identities as Alice is introduced as Grace Lambert and has come to Edinburgh to hide out at her rather forbidding sister’s house.

I shall stop there for fear I shall soon be giving the whole plot away. Suffice to say there are some delightful characterisations in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the flirty interplay between the frisky Beth and undoubtedly handsome Ed Hogan and equally the frosty exchanges the good doctor shared with Grace. Terrifically well written the dialogue throughout this story was quick, witty and thoroughly entertaining.

For those looking for fun romantic escapism, look no further, the women are strong, the heroes suitably dashing and there are horses – what more could you possibly want?

Click on a link below for a few hours of delicious storytelling…

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I am delighted to be a part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team and confirm I received a free copy of this book. This is my honest opinion of it.

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