My Review of Blind Side by Jennie Ensor for #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

#RBRT Review Team

 

blind side

I was given this book by the author as a member of #RBRT in return for an honest review

 I gave Blind Side 4*out of 5*

The Blurb:

Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable?

London, five months before 7/7. Georgie, a young woman wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, gives in and agrees to sleep with close friend Julian. She’s shocked when Julian reveals he’s loved her for a long time.

But Georgie can’t resist her attraction to Nikolai, a Russian former soldier she meets in a pub. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her.

Then London is attacked…

Blind Side explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and obsession. An explosive, debate-provoking thriller that confronts urgent issues of our times and contemplates some of our deepest fears.

My Review:

I liked this book. Jennie Ensor writes in an easy to read style and, after an initial fairly slow start, the book flows with various story lines interwoven so I was soon absorbed. And, although Blind Side can be seen as a romance novel it is much more than that; the story reveals the darker side of relationships, of life in a contemporary world, of remorse and self-reproach, secrets and lies, of disappointments and  regrets

The author has obviously researched into both the political, societal and historical backgrounds for the fairly recent settings that the characters move in and this is equally dark. And so realistic; I love when there is such a good sense of place.  Here the background reflects some of the underlying themes of racism, terrorism, immigration. Chilling stuff!

And against this there is the personal turmoil of the characters. Well played out, with enough tension and suspense to keep the reader on their toes.

The main characters are well portrayed with many levels to their personalities. I liked the protagonist, Georgie; despite the fact that I first thought her shown to be quite cold. The character is well rounded and the author gives her a history that explains much about her actions in the story; her fears, her suspicions, her obsession, her need to trust in Nikolai.  This character is also well written and given a past life that shocks. Despite not understanding his motives at first (and it took me a while to get used to the way the dialogue is written for him) I liked Nikolai. And then, the character of Julian; initially seemingly naive and harmless (in an obsequious way, I thought) but is ultimately shown to be less than the friend first portrayed.

 Told mainly from the point of view of the protagonist it would be easy to see the plot only from her side of things but the author manages to insert enough external detail, away from Georgie, to give more depth to the story.

There were a few parts of the plot that slowed the story (only a few though) and I found it trailed off a little at the end but, as I’ve said, I enjoyed Blind Side.  All in all, it’s a good debut novel from Jennie Ensor and one I would recommend. I look forward, with anticipation, to further offerings from this author..

LInks:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2naq5Mw

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2mK697y

My Review of Tropical Shadows by Susie Vereker for #RBRT #FridayReads

 

Tropical Shadows by [Vereker, Susie]

I was given a copy of Tropical Shadows as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team and for an honest and unbiased review

 I gave Tropical Shadows 3* out of 5*

The Blurb:

Respectable Julia is horrified to receive a phone call from the British Consul saying that her teenage sister Emily has been thrown in jail on a South-East Asian island for alleged drug smuggling.

Immediately she takes the next plane for Maising, leaving her disgruntled husband behind.

Even more bad news, nobody knows the whereabouts of her sister’s child.

Julia visits the jail where Emily insists toddler Rosie is safe because she’s with a trusted friend.

But where the trusted friend is, no one knows.

Emily, a teenage single mum on a belated gap year plus toddler, says she bought a padded cotton bag from an itinerant seller at the bus station.

Yet when she went through airport security, the bag was found to have a false bottom containing cannabis.

Julia believes Em’s claims that she’s been framed, but the young Consul says the penalties for drug smuggling are severe, as in many other parts of South East Asia.

Obviously Julia wants to rescue her sister and find her child as quickly as possible.

The British Embassy vainly tries to help and so does Duncan Hereford, an expat doctor with something of a past, and Julia’s pompous husband keeps phoning with his ideas too.

The Embassy advises it is imperative the British Press don’t get to hear about Emily because the tabloids are bound to write nonsense about backward foreign Maising and offend the Prince, making Emily’s chances of receiving a royal pardon highly unlikely.

But she’s innocent, Julia keeps saying but no one will believe her.

Meanwhile there are constant rumours from the outlying islands that a white child has been seen and Duncan offers to take Julia on several boat trips to investigate, all in vain.

But then the tabloids get hold of the story of the beautiful imprisoned British girl and her lost baby and all hell breaks loose. And Emily’s bad-news ex-boyfriend, the toddler’s natural father, begins to take an interest.

Tropical Shadows is a delightful story of sibling love and loyalty that will capture your heart.

My Review:

Firstly,  I’d like to say I think the Blurb gives away  too much of the plot. When I read a book I like to find out for myself what happens; to discover the story for myself. 

 Tropical Shadows begins interestingly and sets up the story in the long first chapter.  The reader is thrust into the plot right away and I was looking forward to a tense read.  A young girl caught with drugs and imprisoned into a primitive prison in a foreign country has all the ingredients of a disturbing, even sinister tale. Add to that a disquieting parallel plot of a missing child and the expectation of tension grows.

There are quite a few portrayals of interesting characters who add background to Tropical Shadows, some well-written descriptions of the settings that give a good sense of place, and a quite good insight to how Embassies could be run. It’s a good plot.

But, as a whole, I’m afraid it didn’t work for me. I found difficult to have any empathy with both the protagonist or any of the main characters because I didn’t feel I got to know them. And, somehow, the dialogue isn’t emotional enough; it doesn’t show the fear, the anxiety, the hopelessness of the some of the situations.  The words are there but there is no showing of rise and fall of crisis and conflict in the characters or the action. And every now and again the story falls into telling, rather than showing, especially when relating the past.

Perhaps a tighter, final edit  could resolve these issues.

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2nk97f2

Amazon.com:hhttp://amzn.to/2lIswtX

My Review of Watercolours in the Rain by Jo Lambert for #RBRT

 

Jo Lambert

I gave Watercolours in the Rain 4* out of 5*

I received Watercolours in the Rain from the author as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team and for an honest review.

Back Page Blurb:

WATERCOLOURS IN THE RAIN

What happens to the future when past and present collide?

JESS:  Six years ago Jess’s relationship with Talún Hansen was torn apart by one night of deception. He disappeared from Lynbrook village and she headed for university vowing never to let anyone break her heart again. Currently teaching in Oxford, Jess returns from holiday to an unexpected phone call and life changing news which eventually sees her returning home.

Talún: Six years on Talún Hawkeswood, as he is now known, is heir to his grandfather’s Norfolk farming empire. When he hears of trouble in the village due to Lynbrook Hall being put up for sale, going back is the last thing on his mind. But staying away is not an option either, not when someone he owes so much to is about to lose their home and their livelihood.

LILY: Splitting with her husband after her son Josh’s birth, Lily now works as part of an estate agency sales team.  She has always held onto her dream of finding a wealthy husband and a life of self-indulgence. When the sale of an important property brings her face to face with Talún, she realises despite the risks involved, the night they spent together six years ago could be the key to making those dreams come true.

As Jess, Talún and Lily return to Lynbrook and the truth about what happened that summer is gradually revealed, Talún finds himself in an impossible situation. Still in love with Jess he is tied into a trade off with Lily: his name and the lifestyle she craves in exchange for his son. And when a child is involved there is only one choice he can make…

My Review:

Although I hadn’t read  Summer Moved On (The South Devon Duo Book 1) Jo Lambert’s first book in the series, I had no trouble following the story and discovering the personalities of the characters involved. (It wasn’t until I began this review that I read the blurb and realised how much Watercolours in the Rain  can indeed be a stand-alone novel.) Any past action from the previous book was subtly and cleverly inserted; either into the dialogue, brought out through memories, or the descriptions of the settings, or how the characters have evolved..

I don’t give spoilers away in my reviews so I’d just like to say why I so liked this novel.

First of all  Watercolours in the Rain   is written in a style that I love; different points of view presented by each of the characters. In this case,  Jess, Lily  and Talún, all with their own voice There is no doubt whose dialogue it is and as the  story progresses the characters are given greater depth; leaving it to the reader who to have empathy with… and who to detest. And, believe me, there are one or two really detestable characters that I became angry with. (being so involved that I still feel some emotion, whatever it is, when I’ve put the book down,  is always a good sign that I’m reading a brilliant story) .

Both the internal and the spoken dialogue is realistic and, as I say above, distinctive to each character.

 The characters are rounded and believable without unnecessary detail of how each looks; this is drip -fed throughout the book..

 The descriptions give a great sense of place.

I thought the plot line both clever and, sometimes, surprising.I liked the author’s style of writing; so easy to read and yet constantly throwing up tantalising twists and turns. 

 And, best of all, it’s a good story. I hope to read more from Jo Lambert. 

So, as you may gather, I would thoroughly recommend   Watercolours in the Rain  

 Buying links:

Amazon.co.uk:http://amzn.to/2j6DcfF

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2jUJzaq

 

 

 

 

My Review of Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel for #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview

manioultaed

 

I was given  Manipulated Lives   by the author, as a member of #RBRT and on the understanding that I gave an honest review.

I gave  Manipulated Lives 4* out of 5*

The Blurb

Five stories – Five Lives.
Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?
Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.
In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth

My review:

This is an absorbing compilation of short stories that give a thought-provoking insight to human behaviour. Manipulators, those people who will do anything, try any tactic, to exploit those who they are involved with, who they sometimes purport to love, are all around. Manipulated Lives is a cleverly written book showing the diversity of this behaviour.

As I read each one I found myself becoming both angry at the manipulator and aggravated by the character who was being manipulated; why couldn’t the latter see what was happening?  Afterwards I realised that for me to become so absorbed proved the skillfulness of H.E  Leuschel’s writing.  The normality of the situations that the characters are set in lend to the credibility of every story; it’s so easy to relate to them; to sit back and think’ yes, I’ve met someone like that’. Or even, ‘have I ever acted in any way like that?’ Scary!

 Every character is rounded and believable. There are strengths and weaknesses revealed in them all; they are multi layered, true to all human vulnerability. My initial (yet fleeting) sympathy for who proved to be the antagonist in The Narcissist is a prime example. Even incapacitated, helpless in his sick bed, there is no remorse, no enlightenment to his behaviour. Yet in another story, My Perfect Child, I was uneasy from the very start.

H.E  Leuschel’s writing style is compact and evenly paced.  The inner dialogue is excellent,  revealing so much of human nature that I sometimes had to sit  back to think about a scene, a situation, an observation.

 To trust in another leaves anyone open to vulnerability, to being controlled. To be the recipient of that trust could, and often does, result in the ability to control. It’s a disturbing thought and one that is highlighted in Manipulated Lives.

To my mind there isn’t a story in this anthology that will leave the reader unmoved. It truly is a compelling read.

 Links to buy:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2hHLAly

Amazon.com:http://amzn.to/2gUhAmi

My Review of Who Killed Vivien Morse (DCI Hatherall Book 4) by Diana J Febry for #RBRT

vivien

 

I gave  Who Killed Vivien Morse? by Diana J Febry  4 out of 5*

The Blurb:

Vivien Morse, a young social worker is discovered battered to death in Silver Lady Woods. Everyone assumes she was attacked by her estranged husband until her supervisor disappears. The connection appears to be Vivien’s last client. A damaged and disturbed girl who believes a bundle of rags is her lost baby and never leaves the family farm while she awaits the return of her lover.

The matter is confused by the arrival of a stranger to the area clearly searching for something or someone and an escaped convict with connections to the area.

DCI Hatherall has to separate fact from fantasy to discover who did kill Vivien Morse.

My Review:

I hadn’t read any of Diana J Febry’s work before so wasn’t sure what to expect. I have read the later books in a series before and been confused by the characters involved but  Who Killed Vivien Morse? (the fourth book of the protagonist, DCI Peter Hatherall  series) can be read as a stand alone book without any difficulty.

 I loved this author’s style of writing which, by the way, is certainly not revealed in the Blurb. I expected a purely crime driven story. In the Blurb there is no mention of the dark humour, the small twists of idiosyncrasy in the characters, especially in Peter Hatherall and Fiona Williams, the short, witty descriptions of them and their dialogue. 

The narrative meanders through many ‘red herrings’ to keep the reader guessing and entertained while meeting all the characters; all well rounded, most with complicated backgrounds and relationships (that are drip-fed throughout the story – no information dumping here!) All interesting, all have a part to play in the narrative.

The dialogue is so well written that it is easy to tell who is speaking without any dialogue tags and, alongside the thought-provoking, more significant interchanges, is peppered with wry, dry humour. I loved some of the earlier conversations between  Peter Hatherall and Fiona Williams.

 Set in a typical rural English; the victim,  Vivien Morse,a young social worker, is found murdered in a place called Silver Lady Woods, Febry’s descriptions are brief but succinct; just enough to give a flavour of the place. 

But there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a fast-moving  murder mystery; there is a serious thread running throughout that the investigation has to succeed before another murder is committed. Certainly kept me on my toes. (and I always guessed wrong) 

All in all Who Killed Vivien Morse?  by Diana J Febry is a book I recommend.

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2dnWom0

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2efb49z

My Review of Sandlands by Rosy Thornton for #RBRT

I reviewed Sandlands by Rosy Thornton as a member of #RBRT (and wasn’t I in for a treat!)

I gave this collection of short stories 5* out of 5*

The Blurb:

A collection of linked short stories, all set in and around the small village of Blaxhall in the sandlings of coastal Suffolk, which is the reason for the title, ‘Sandlands’. The collection is inspired by the landscape of the area and its flora and fauna, as well as by its folklore and historical and cultural heritage. Six of the twelve stories focus around a particular bird, animal, wildflower or insect characteristic of the locality, from barn owl to butterfly. The book might be described as a collection of ghost stories; in fact, while one or two stories involve a more or less supernatural element, each of them deals in various ways with the tug of the past upon the present, and explores how past and present can intersect in unexpected ways. The stories uncover what is real and enduring beneath the surface of things.

My Review:

What can I say about this book! I loved it; devoured it in one sitting.

And the cover!  The image of the ethereal  barn owl; the staring,  seemingly unblinking, eye is, for me, a metaphor for the author’s depth of  study, of research and knowledge of her subject.

Sandlands encompasses sixteen short stories that are based around the Sussex landscape, traditions, the different seasons,human nature and nature itself

Rosy Thornton has an empathetic writing style. Her portrayal of all the diverse characters shows an instinctive knowledge of human emotions and reactions to various situations. Each anecdote is an excellent observation of people,  fascinating in so many different ways, and each is satisfyingly complete

 There are lots of entwining themes; of quiet humour, time shifts, mystery and ancient history, folklore, superstitions, life and death, nature and even sometimes, a subtle personification of nature  and animals (see below).

 The stories are told variously through first person and third person point of view; individual voices so different that it’s possible to envisage them… and certainly for the reader to empathise and react to every story in  many different emotional ways.

But what struck me most as I savoured these tales was the beautiful poetic prose, the rhythmic flow of the narrative, the extensive and unique use of words,the syntax and the way Rosy Thornton ‘strings’ those words together. Let me show you what I mean. This is just one example. I could have dipped into this book anywhere but this sequence is taken from The Witch Bottle

“A soft, plosive pop, inaudible beyond the confines of the bottle, released the first gauzy wisp of smoke and with it a smouldering, acrid odour, Fire burn and cauldron bubble. Then came the flame. Bluish and tentative at first, it began to lap along a ridge of fabric, but quickly grew bolder, darkening to purple and rich red, then leapt, hungry and orange, to lick inside the glass. Finally it found a crack, the way to the outside air and life-giving oxygen– where, invigorated, it bucked and swayed its wild banshee dance, until it met the threads of Persian wool.

Fire burn…!”

Wonderful stuff!!

 You just have to read these stories. I thoroughly recommend Sandlands.

 Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2be4vC8

 Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2aG7Q1p

 

 

August 2016 is Write An Amazon Review Month! By @TerryTyler4 #AugustReviews

On Monday 25th July, book blogger Rosie Amber wrote this post encouraging readers and writers alike to post a short review on Amazon for any book they’ve read and enjoyed ~ following this up, Terry Tyler is starting this initiative along with other writer-bloggers including Rosie, Cathy from Between The Lines, Barb Taub, Shelley Wilson and Alison Williams.

 

The idea is that, from August 1st, everyone who reads this uses their Amazon account to post just one review on one book that they’ve read (but feel free to carry on if you get in the swing!).  You don’t even have to have read it recently, it can be any book you’ve read, any time.  The book does not have to have been purchased from Amazon, though if it is you get the ‘Verified Purchase’ tag on it; however, if you download all your books via Kindle Unlimited, as many do these days, they don’t show the VP tag, anyway.

 

Remember, this isn’t the Times Literary Supplement, it’s Amazon, where ordinary people go to choose their next £1.99 Kindle book.  No one expects you to write a thousand word, in-depth critique; I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to read one short paragraph or a couple of lines saying what an average reader thought of a book, than a long-winded essay about the pros and cons of the various literary techniques used.  Yes, those are welcome too (!), but no more so than a few words saying “I loved this book, I was up reading it until 3am”, or “I loved Jim and Vivien and the dialogue was so realistic”, or whatever!

Book-Review

Why should you write a review?

They help book buyers make decisions.  Don’t you read the reviews on Trip Advisor before deciding on a hotel, or any site from which you might buy an item for practical use?  Book reviews are no different.

If the book is by a self-published author, or published by an independent press, the writers have to do all their promotion and marketing themselves ~ reviews from the reading public is their one free helping hand.

The amount of reviews on Amazon helps a book’s visibility (allegedly).  If you love a writer’s work and want others to do so, too, this is the best possible way of making this happen.

It’s your good deed for the day, and will only take five minutes!

review books

Off we go, then!  A few more pointers:

If you need any help with writing your review, do click on Rosie’s post, above.

A review can be as short as one word.  The shortest one I have is just two 🙂

You don’t have to put your name to the review, as your Amazon ‘handle’ can be anything you like.

No writer expects all their reviews to be 5* and say the book is the best thing ever written; there is a star rating guide on Rosie’s post.

Would you like to tell the Twittersphere about your review?  If so, tweet the link to it with the hashtag #AugustReviews ~ and thank you!  I will do one blog post a week featuring these links: The #AugustReviews Hall of Fame (thank you, Barb!).

 

August Reviews Hall of Fame (1)

 

If you have a blog and would like to spread the word about #AugustReviews, please feel free to copy and paste this blog post, provide the link to it, re-blog it, or whatever ~ many thanks, and I hope you will join in to make this idea a success 🙂

 

 

 

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