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

 

 

 

 

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My Review of The Rose Trail by Alex Martin

the-rose-trail

 

The Blurb:

Is it chance that brings Fay and Persephone together?
Or is it the restless and malevolent spirit who stalks them both?
Once rivals, they must now unite if they are to survive the mysterious trail of roses they are forced to follow into a dangerous, war torn past.

The Rose Trail is a time slip novel set in both the present day and during the English Civil War. The complex story weaves through both eras with a supernatural thread.

My Review:

Way back in 2015, I interviewed Alex Martin after I’d read her first books:  http://bit.ly/2iVUaxK. And then again in 2016,  http://bit.ly/2itOdaz   (when she was part of the Tenby book fair: now evolved into the Narberth Book Fair: (http://bit.ly/2iiW8HW ). I have enjoyed all her work and I must admit  I was looking forward to reading The Rose Trail, expecting the same genre.

 It’s not! But the strong writing style that makes this author’s book instantly recognisable is there throughout. And just as fascinating. This is a story that moves through two time zones, starting off in the present day and then woven into the period of the English Civil War. It’s dark, haunting and riveting and moves a a good steady place with the occasional revelation that shocks the reader.

As usual Alex Martin has researched well; the settings, the descriptions give an evocative sense of place

The characters are well rounded and believable. Fay could be a protagonist that elicits pity, yet her courage and fortitude soon become evident. And Percy; for me it was dislike on sight but then an unwilling sympathy. Until, I admitted to myself that she was actually a decent person. See? I’m talking about them as thought they’re real. Which, to me is a sign of empathetic writing. And the two brothers, Will and Ralph in the juxtaposed historical story become just as believable with the wrangling in both their political and personal lives.  

The dialogue, both as spoken and as internal thoughts, of all the characters reads naturally. There are no irritating lines where I wasn’t sure who was speaking.

If there was one small constructive criticism I’d have it would be with some of  those parts of the book that deal with the civil war combat scenes. I found myself skipping through them.  Though I have to confess, some of the dark ‘ghostly’ scenes, I stopped to re-read again. perhaps this says more about me as a reader than anything else! 

So, as with all the other books that Alex Martin has written, I really enjoyed The Rose Trail and have no hesitation in recommending this novel.

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2iWoRTE

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Review of The Devil You Know by Terry Tyler

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The Blurb:

Every serial killer is someone’s friend, spouse, lover or child….

Young women are being murdered in the Lincolnshire town of Lyndford, where five people fear someone close to them might be the monster the police are searching for.
One of them is right.

Juliet sees an expert’s profile of the average serial killer and realises that her abusive husband, Paul, ticks all the boxes.

Maisie thinks her mum’s new boyfriend seems too good to be true. Is she the only person who can see through Gary’s friendly, sensitive façade?

Tamsin is besotted with her office crush, Jake. Then love turns to suspicion…

Steve is used to his childhood friend, Dan, being a loud mouthed Lothario with little respect for the truth. But is a new influence in his life leading him down a more sinister path?

Dorothy’s beloved son, Orlando, is keeping a secret from her—a chilling discovery forces her to confront her worst fears.

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is a character-driven psychological drama that will keep you guessing until the very end.

My Review:

I love Terry Tyler’s novels; the plots, the characters, her style of writing. And so I was really looking forward to reading her latest book. I wasn’t disappointed.

 Anyone who has read my reviews of this author’s books will know how much I admire her writing. Just as a reminder I’ve added a couple of links. For her novel,  You Wish: http://bit.ly/2eHQhwJ. and then for Best Seller: A Tale Of Three Writers:   http://bit.ly/2fWh7Db.

Although THE DEVIL YOU KNOW takes us, as readers, away from her usual cross-genre work into a domestic  psychological, it is, as the blurb says, character driven; one of Tyler’s greatest strengths. This alongside her dialogue, both internal and spoken. Not to mention her great descriptions that always give such a sense of place.

Yes, I am a fan of her writing. As a creative writing tutor, as well as an author myself, I read both subjectively and objectively. The latter sometimes spoils my enjoyment of a book, especially if there are also editing and proofreading errors. I’ve yet to be disappointed in any of  this author’s novels. If you haven’t already, I suggest you give one of her novels a go. Why not begin by reading THE DEVIL YOU KNOW? You won’t be disappointed and I thoroughly recommend it.

Find The Devil You Know at:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2fUGSkT

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2eAImD5

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 The Hog, the Shrew and the Hullabaloo (A Harry & Lil Story) by Julia Copus (Author), Eunyoung Seo (Illustrator)

 

hog an hullabuloo

 

It was night in the village – a still, dark night –
and Harry the Hog was sleeping tight.
In her house at the foot of Piggyback Hill,
also asleep, was Candy Stripe Lil.
The second Harry and Lil story from acclaimed Faber poet Julia Copus, who has recently turned her hand to picture books for the first time! The tale of a hog – and his friend Candy Stripe Lil – kept awake by mysterious noises in the night is sure to delight adults and children alike.

 My Review:

I reviewed the first Harry & Lil of this series with my granddaughter, Seren, a wise six year old. Being without my fellow reviewer I need to look at this lovely picture story book with adult eyes and hope that, when she next visit she agrees with what I write. I’m fairly sure I’m on the right track as we did read it just before she left 

I can really only reiterate much of my comments that I made in our review of Hog in the Fog: A Harry & Lil Story:  http://bit.ly/2bAVZS9

But I do need to add how much we enjoyed the way the illustrations are often set out in descending order on the page with small rhyming phrases. For example, just before Harry goes to sleep he does his exercises “two hog-jumps, three sit-ups, four blinks of the eye” 

 Lovely!!

In fact the way the words and the illustration work together, placed on the pages, is perfect as far as Seren and I were concerned.

This is a story that combines the questions that Harry and Lil explore when kept awake by mysterious noises in the night, yet hints at the answers throughout – right up to the brilliant end.

Picture story books are very close to poetry in many ways. One of the most important things is that they  both are intended to be read aloud. So fluency is essential. If the format is meant to be regular in  rhythm, then each line must have the same amount of syllables.  Rhyming is necessary, whether slant/ near rhymes, sight rhymes or exact rhymes. The Hog, the Shrew and the Hullabaloo has all these qualities.

Turning the pages to see what happens next seems to be important for children in picture story books. So, often there are connecting or repeating words or phrases  “And/But /So.” Or sometimes those three little dots – the ellipses.  Like Hog in the Fog, The Hog, the Shrew and the Hullabaloo   does this kind of connection of each page in spades.

And last but certainly not least… the illustrations. These are amongst the best I’ve seen in a picture book. (and I’ve been reading picture story books for a loooooong time) I’d go so far as the say they are exquisite drawings.

Seren has just phoned and I’ve read this review out to her. She’s in full agreement with me but has asked me to reiterate that she is six and she recommends The Hog, the Shrew and the Hullabaloo  for younger children, not her age group. I didn’t say anything but I think this series of “Harry & Lil ” stories are a joy for anyone of any age to read!

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2bjkVgh

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2aZZw8w

My Review of Hog in the Fog: A Harry & Lil Story by Julia Copus (Author), Eunyoung Seo (Illustrator)

hog fog

I read this with my six year old granddaughter, Seren, and we gave this 5* (Because we weren’t allowed to give it any more)

The Blurb:

The tale of a hog in the fog.

This is the story of Candy Stripe Lil
and Harry the Hog who lived over the hill.

…and a foggy March day, roundabout three,
when Lil had invited Harry for tea.

Lil is expecting Harry the Hog for tea, but there’s a swirling fog outside and Harry is nowhere to be seen.

Lil sets off to find her friend. Luckily she meets Deer, Sheep and Crow along the way, who all join in the hunt to find the hog in the fog.

A heartwarming rhyming adventure story about friendship, teamwork and teatime!

My review: ( Following instructions from Seren who read it with me at weekend)

First, Seren’s opinion

‘I like the clock telling the time when Lil has to wait for Hog.’ (So do I, a clever way of introducing telling the time to a child)

‘Lil has a lovely face.’ (In fact all the animals have ‘lovely faces’)

 ‘I like the horns on the deer.’ (the antlers on the deer are decorated with flowers and butterflies, the sheep has a blue bow around her neck, the crow a red hat, Lil a striped bonnet – charming little details)

‘They all see bits of Hog, don’t they?’ (They do; on each of their pages, the sheep sees the back of Hog, the deer sees his ears, the crow sees his tale. – the repetition of the three animals/ the three images they each see, is very clever)

‘I like the sounds they make.’ ( ” Pittery Pattery, tippety tappety , munch crunch,   tac tac tac, qwaa-aak…”     (What’s not to like? Funny, sounds to read aloud  again and again)

‘I like they found him, I was getting a bit worried.’ (Ah, a happy ending… just right)

‘And I like the funny food they have for tea.’ (Yep, she would!!… “…chocolate- chip beetles, slug- flavoured chip, dragonflies tongues, frothy muck- shake and cuttlefish cake.” Say no more!)

Picture story books are very close to poetry in many ways. One of the most important things is that they  both are intended to be read aloud. So fluency is essential. If the format is meant to be regular in  rhythm, then each line must have the same amount of syllables.  Rhyming is necessary, whether slant/ near rhymes, sight rhymes or exact rhymes. Hog in the Fog has all these qualities.

Turning the pages to see what happens next seems to be important for children in picture story books. So, often there are connecting or repeating words or phrases  “And/But /So.” Or sometimes those three little dots – the ellipses.  Hog in the Fog does this kind of connection of each page in spades.

And last but certainly not least… the illustrations. These are amongst the best I’ve seen in a picture book. (and I’ve been reading picture story books for a loooooong time) I’d go so far as the say they are exquisite drawings.

But obviously the last word goes to Seren. Before she left I had a warning. ‘Please don’t use big posh words, Nanna, just say I liked it… for a young little girl or boy.’  Okay. She liked it… and so did I.

 I thoroughly recommend  Hog in the Fog.

Buying links:

Amazon.co .uk:http://amzn.to/2auAPnq 

Amazon.com:http://amzn.to/2b8slCe 

Faber and Faber: http://bit.ly/2aVp8m6

My Review of A Most Reluctant Princess by Jean M Cogdell for #RBRT

 

 

This  book was given to me,  as a member of #RBRT,  by the author in return for a fair review.

I gave A Most Reluctant Princess 4* out of 5*

The Blurb:

How can she be a princess if her daddy’s not a king? What will she be when she grows up? Written in simple rhyme, this story is filled with sweet illustrations of a “little princess” with a big imagination and a lot of questions. Little girls who love playing dress up will enjoy hearing how one “little princess” discovers a world of possibilities.

 My review:

I read this book with my six year old granddaughter who  is sitting with me to make sure I write what she says (her words.)

 Okay, here goes. Seren enjoyed this book very much. She likes the pictures (illustrations) and  she loves the story. She likes the idea that she can be anything she wants to be when she is bigger. (which is what her mummy says to her) . And she runs to the door when Daddy (or Mummy, she adds) comes home from work.

My thoughts (she’s gone now, satisfied I’ve written the right words):

I too loved the illustrations,(which are excellent and tell a story in themselves) and I liked the premise of this picture story book, though, in this format,  obviously written for an American readership. (would be an idea to alter a few words for a UK readership and publish in the UK? – just a thought)

 Picture story books are very close to poetry in many ways. One of the most important is that they  both are intended to be read aloud. So fluency is essential. If the format is meant to be regular in  rhythm, then each line must have the same amount of syllables. If not then the tendency is to stumble over the lines, which spoils the flow. In A Most Reluctant Princess, not every verse/ page works. Most do, but one or two don’t   (I’m thinking of the second  “bakery” page here in particular – and the second “Doctor” page)

 And, occasionally the rhyming isn’t quite there.

Turning the pages to see what happens next seems to be important for children in picture story books. So , often there are connecting words ” And/But /So.”Or often those three little dots – the ellipses. Not being any in  A Most Reluctant Princess,I  felt the story to be  a little disjointed.

But these  last few paragraphs are obviously an  adult point of view.   And, to be fair, I should say I teach creative writing and picture story books are an included genre.

So, as a last word, I  will leave it to the expert, who has just bounced back into the room. ‘ A Most Reluctant Princess is a lovely story with lovely pictures. And will you make me a crown, Nanna?’

Buying links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/29v9Nbb

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/29v9xcj