Rosie Amber

‘What’s Left Unsaid’ by @DeborahStone_ #BookReview #RBRT #FridayReads

#RBRT Review Team

I read and reviewed ‘What’s Left Unsaid’ for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

unsaid

Waterstones   Amazon.co.uk

Sasha is just about managing to hold her life together. She is raising her teenage son Zac, coping with an absent husband and caring for her ageing, temperamental and alcoholic mother, as well as holding down her own job. But when Zac begins to suspect that he has a secret sibling, Sasha realises that she must relive the events of a devastating night which she has done her best to forget for the past nineteen years.

Sasha’s mother, Annie, is old and finds it difficult to distinguish between past and present and between truth and lies. As Annie sinks deeper back into her past, she revisits the key events in her life which have shaped her emotionally. Through it all, she remains convinced that her dead husband Joe is watching and waiting for her. But there’s one thing she never told him, and as painful as it is for her to admit the truth, Annie is determined to go to Joe with a guilt-free conscience.

As the plot unfurls, traumas are revealed and lies uncovered, revealing long-buried secrets which are at the root of Annie and Sasha’s fractious relationship.

You can tell as soon as you begin reading this book that you’re going to enjoy it. The opening works so well and is a real attention-grabber. And the rest of the novel doesn’t disappoint.
Sasha is a lovely character. As a woman approaching a rather important birthday, I love female characters I can relate to, and I can’t bear it when a woman approaching middle age is portrayed as supremely confident, and with a body that makes men gasp! It isn’t realistic and it’s annoying. Sasha drinks wine and eats whole packets of biscuits when she’s fed up – far more relatable, far more real, without falling into stereotype.
The three points of view here work exceptionally well. There’s no ‘head-hopping’ and the differing viewpoints really work in enabling you to sympathise with characters that you might otherwise absolutely despise – Annie, for example. When we hear about her from Sasha, all our sympathy is with Sasha, but when we learn about Annie’s past, we see why she is like she is, and while we still feel so much for Sasha, we can feel for Annie too.
The author really shows these different characters so well – she has a firm understanding of human nature and relationships. Her characters are real, and fully developed.
And Sasha has a lovely dog too, who is very much a part of the story – always a plus for me!
My only gripe is that there were a few errors in the text – issues with tense and capitalisation, though not enough to spoil things, and I did feel that some of Joe’s story relied a little too heavily on telling. That said, this is a lovely book, and thoroughly enjoyable to read. I’ll definitely look out for more from this author.

4 stars

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‘The Men’ by Fanny Calder #RBRT #TuesdayBookReview

#RBRT Review Team

I read and reviewed ‘The Men’ for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Cover Image - The Men

Amazon.co.uk

A darkly brilliant debut novel by Fanny Calder, and arguably essential reading for the feminist hedonist woman in your life.

City life in the 1990s. Anonymous, intense, paradoxical and sometimes lonely. A young, haunted woman falls in love with a singer. She finds she has been consumed by the relationship and when it ends – as it inevitably does – she feels unable to quite rediscover herself.

Cities can draw you into even darker places, and she embarks on a series of intense relationships with thirteen men of very different types, from a rough sleeper to a millionaire, and from a transvestite to a leading politician. As she is propelled through a series of extraordinary adventures and wild parties she finds she begins to lose her own identity. Is there a way out?

A raw and unflinchingly honest narrative with stripped down language that is liberating and sometimes challenging. It is a tale of urban human connections crafted with no judgement or deep introspection – a window on the author’s own life at that time that will resonate and stay with you.

How refreshing to read something different, something honest and authentic. This is a book that is what it says it is – raw and unflinchingly honest. It follows the experiences of an unnamed woman as she moves from encounter to encounter and from relationship to relationship, making mistakes, getting into difficult situations, looking for something she can’t quite reach.

The relationships she has make for a compelling read, and one that is difficult at times. I found the first few episodes a little irritating to be honest and I wasn’t sure I was going to like the narrator or the book, but then, as things progressed, I warmed to her and became really engrossed in the narrative. She grows on you and you find yourself feeling angry with her, sorry for her, frustrated with her and happy for her when she does find joy and contentment.

I found her friendship with the transvestite and his boy really touching and a joy to read. She found with them, it seemed, a relationship that was real and good and good for her.

The author is a very talented writer, the writing here is beautifully done – well-crafted, measured, beautiful in places without being overblown. The writer knows how to build a scene, build characters without overdoing descriptions, unnecessary adjectives and tired, clichéd similes and metaphors – this is a writer with natural flair.

An unusual, intelligent and unsettling book. Very much recommended.

5 stars

 

‘Keepers’ by @sacha_black #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT #BookReview

#RBRT Review Team

I read and reviewed ‘Keepers’ for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Keepers

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

Saving the world is easy: all Eden has to do is die. 

Seventeen-year-old Eden East’s life is perfect… until her soul is bound to her worst nightmare. Then her parents are brutally murdered, and everyone’s a suspect, including her best friend.

As her world spirals out of control, a charismatic Siren, from a past she can’t remember, returns offering help, hope, and a heap of distractions.

Eden must put aside her grief to solve the mystery of her parents’ murder. In a race against time, can she break the binding to her enemy before he destroys her and her world?

Three lives.
Two murdered parents.
One deadly choice.

This is the first in the Eden East Novels series and the first of the author’s novels. Eden is a Fallon – a royal Keeper whose role it is to ensure Balance in the world of Trutinor. The Keepers have different powers and are either Elementals, Shifters, Sirens or Sorcerers. Eden, an Elemental, is destined to be bound forever to another Fallon – a Shifter for whom she feels no attraction. But it isn’t up to her. Things change when Eden’s parents are murdered, and when Trey, a Siren who was Eden’s close childhood friend, reappears after a long absence, and confuses Eden further. They are forced together as they try to find the killers and avoid a fate that could have far-reaching consequences.

The author builds her world compellingly. There are some really well-crafted scenes here and the dialogue is, on the whole, authentic. Eden is a strong yet sympathetic main character and it’s always great to have strong female leads, whatever the genre. And Eden is also a character that a reader will care about – her strength is balanced well with her vulnerability, which adds depth to the narrative.

The writing is technically sound, and the plot has enough intrigue, mystery and surprises to hold the reader’s attention.

There were a few places where I felt the writing could be tightened a bit, and where the focus was too heavily on Eden’s reactions and feeling. There were also lots of characters that it was sometimes hard to keep track of. I do have a problem with fantasy books in that I always find the characters’ names and the names of imaginary places distracting– but I do appreciate that this goes with the territory. The definitions of the terms and traditions/conventions of Trutinor were also very long.

That said, this is a solid first novel from a debut author, and Eden has great potential for future books in the series.

4 stars

‘The Silent Kookaburra’ by @LizaPerrat #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog #bookreview

#RBRT Review Team

I reviewed ‘The Silent Kookabura’ for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

kookaburra

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

All eleven-year-old Tanya Randall wants is a happy family. But Mum does nothing besides housework, Dad’s always down the pub and Nanna Purvis moans at everyone except her dog. Then Shelley arrives –– the miracle baby who fuses the Randall family in love for their little gumnut blossom.

Tanya’s life gets even better when she meets an uncle she didn’t know she had. He tells her she’s beautiful and could be a model. Her family refuses to talk about him. But that’s okay, it’s their little secret.

Then one blistering summer day tragedy strikes, and the surrounding mystery and suspicion tear apart this fragile family web.

Embracing the social changes of 1970s Australia, against a backdrop of native fauna and flora, The Silent Kookaburra is a haunting exploration of the blessings, curses and tyranny of memory.

Unsettling psychological suspense blending the intensity of Wally Lamb with the atmosphere of Peter James, this story will get under your skin.

This is a really well-written and absorbing story. Set in 1970s small-town Australia it centres on Tanya – an unhappy child, overweight, bullied at school and trying to cope with her mother who has been devastated by a series of miscarriages. Her father loves her, but he doesn’t cope either, seeking solace far too often in the local pub, and her grandmother, Nanna Purvis, is a hard woman, although her kindness shines through as the novel progresses.

When her mum finally gives birth to a daughter, Tanya thinks things will be fine, but problems with baby Shelley’s health, cracks in her parents’ marriage and the arrival on the scene of creepy Uncle Blackie mean that Tanya has much more to deal with than she can cope with.

And things only get worse.

But this isn’t a miserable story. Yes, some parts are uncomfortable to read. I wanted to whisk poor Tanya away and give her a cuddle and a decent meal. But there are glimpses of hope – Nanna Purvis, who underneath her hard exterior is full of love, and Tanya’s best friend Angela and her kind and loving (if possibly criminal!) family.

The author obviously knows her setting well and there’s a real sense of time and place with little details about food, TV and fashion giving the realistic touches that make this novel so authentic.

A well-executed book about family, relationships and the extraordinary things that can happen in ordinary lives.

5 stars

‘Inside of Me’ by Hazel McHaffie #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview #RBRT

#RBRT Review Team

I read ‘Inside of Me’ for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

inside

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

India Grayson is a happy 8-year-old girl, adored by her father, cherished by her mother. She’s devastated when her beloved father, Victor, suddenly disappears, leaving nothing but a neatly folded pile of clothes on a windy beach in Scotland. She bargains with God: no more chocolate … roast potatoes … packed lunch … if you send my daddy back.
Now 15 and in the grip of anorexia, she’s convinced she heard his voice on a crowded London station and is determined to find him.
Isolated and overwhelmed, her mother, Tonya, succumbs to gnawing doubts about the man she thought she knew. Where was he on the night two teenage girls went missing? What was he really doing when he was away for two days and nights without explanation? Who exactly was he? What dark secrets were haunting him?
A third teenager goes missing in London in the same week India thinks she heard his voice. Can he be involved? Should Tonya share her secret suspicions with the police? Will India ever forgive her if she does? And how far will India go to be reunited with him?
The revelation when it comes is much more challenging than Tonya ever dreamed of.
Body image issues and identity crises trouble us all at times; this gripping story reaches to the core of what makes us ourselves and how we live with our doubts and conflicts.

This is a very interesting novel, with an intelligent and thoughtful storyline and some well-crafted and believable characters. The subject matter covers many areas of body image, identity, gender and family relationships, in a very sympathetic way. The dynamics of family are well-portrayed and the prejudices, preconceptions and misconceptions we have about others, even those we are closest to, are well-drawn and feel authentic.

India has many of the attributes of a typical teenage girl, by turns angry, confused, needing her parents but needing her independence too. There were times however, when I wanted to feel more sympathy for her, but found this difficult because of the way she treated her mother. And while I appreciate that many girls of this age have conflicts like this with their mothers, there seemed to be no connection at all, which spoiled things a little for me.

Victor was drawn very well and in a very non-judgemental way, which was refreshing and valuable in the current climate. I found his storyline to be the most interesting of all the characters.

I felt very sorry for Tonya and felt she was treated rather unfairly. I would have liked things to have gone better for her – she seemed to have been left with all the issues, all the conflict, all the drama and difficulty and was expected to get on with it – which she did. There wasn’t a lot of sympathy here for her, or for the mistakes she made (which we all do). However, this portrayal was probably more realistic in the circumstances, and the author has stayed true to her story, and to her characters.

There were a few little details in the plot that I felt were a little too contrived, a little too coincidental, but on the whole this is a well-written, well-researched and enjoyable novel.

It’s August – It’s Write An Amazon Review Month! #AugustReviews

Bookshelf-2.jpg

August 2016 is Write An Amazon Review Month! 

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, writer Terry Tyler is starting this initiative along with other writer-bloggers including Rosie, Cathy from Between The Lines, Barb Taub, Shelley Wilson and me!

Paper cut of heart on old book

 

The idea is that, during August, 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, your review will show the ‘Verified Purchase’ tag; 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!

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!

 

thank author

 

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.
  • 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!  Terry will do one blog post a week featuring these links: The #AugustReviews Hall of Fame (thank you, Barb!).

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 we hope you will join in to make this idea a success 🙂

 

 

 

My A-Z of Books #IAmReading #wwwblogs

Bookshelf-2

I first saw on the lovely Shelley Wilson’s blog, although the idea originally came from the Perpetual Page Turner. As my Wednesday posts have been rather ‘ranty’ of late, I thought it was time for something a bit more positive!

Author you’ve read the most books from.

Either Hilary Mantel or Stephen King – which is a bit of a contrast now I come to think of it! Although they are both exceptional story tellers. I’ve also read a lot of books by Terry Tyler – her novels are pure ‘get away from it all’ reads, perfect for a holiday and a rare quiet Sunday afternoon.

Best sequel ever.

‘Bring Up the Bodies’ the sequel to ‘Wolf Hall’. Hilary Mantel again.

She’s an amazing writer, and I was lucky enough to see her being interviewed once. She’s incredibly intelligent and charming.

 

Hilary.jpg

Me and Hilary!

Currently reading.

‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’ by Hubert Selby Jr. I’m trying to complete the David Bowie reading challenge and there are so many books on the list that I’ve always wanted to read. So far this is … interesting! last-exit

Drink of choice while reading.

A mug of very strong coffee if I’m lucky enough to be having a lie in and am reading in bed on a Sunday morning. Or a very large glass of red wine if it’s past 6pm. Oh alright, past 5pm.

coffee

E-Reader of physical book?

Both. I was very resistant to eBooks but then once I realised I could takes hundreds of books on holiday with me without exceeding the baggage allowance I was sold.

Fictional character you probably would have actually dated in high school.

There was definitely no one like Heathcliff in my Basingstoke comprehensive.

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No one looked anything like this at Brighton Hill Community school!

Glad you gave this book a chance.

‘Beltane’ by Alys West, for Rosie’s Book Review Team. I’m not keen on fantasy, but thought I’d give this a go, mainly because it’s set in Glastonbury, a place I’ve enjoyed visiting in the past. It’s a really good book, very well-written and lovely for a bit of escapism.

Hidden gem book.

‘The Meadow’ – James Galvin.

While Galvin certainly isn’t an unknown, I had never read any of his work until this appeared on my required reading list for my Masters in Creative Writing. I duly bought it and read it and it was then removed from the course! But I didn’t mind because it is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read.


meadow

Important moment in your reading life.

Reading ‘Wuthering Heights’ for the first time. I know it sounds clichéd but it really made me realise just how powerful fiction can be. And that you don’t have to write what you know.

Also reading with my children when they were small – just wonderful times.

Just finished reading.

‘Flesh’ by Dylan J. Morgan for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team. It’s in the vein of Stephen King and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I do like a good bit of horror!

Kind of books you won’t read.

Religious. Sweet romance. Westerns (unless it’s Larry McMurtry’s ‘Lonesome Dove’). Not too keen on fantasy or sci-fi either unless it’s extremely well-written. And please keep ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ well away from me. I much prefer this version:

50 grey

Longest book you’ve read.

War and Peace’. I still show off about it. It is absolutely a masterpiece though.

Major book hangover.

A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini. I read it in one sitting when I was in bed with flu and sobbed and sobbed when I finished it. Just completely and utterly heart-breaking. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

a-thousand-splendid-suns

Number of bookcases you own.

Two. With many more books piled up everywhere and stashed in the loft.

One book you’ve read multiple times.

Wuthering Heights

Preferred place to read.

In bed if it’s cold, in the garden on the rare occasion when it isn’t. Or preferably by a pool in France!

Quote that inspires you/give you all the feels from a book you’ve read.

It’s not exactly inspirational in the usual sense, but it is just such a masterful opening to a novel:

 Putney, 1500

“So now get up.”

Felled, dazed, silent, he has fallen; knocked full length on the cobbles of the yard. His head turns sideways; his eyes are turned toward the gate, as if someone might arrive to help him out. One blow, properly placed, could kill him now.

Blood from the gash on his head – which was his father’s first effort – is trickling across his face. Add to this, his left eye is blinded; but if he squints sideways, with his right eye he can see that the stitching of his father’s boot is unravelling. The twine has sprung clear of the leather, and a hard knot in it as caught his eyebrow and opened up another cut.

“So now get up!” Walter is roaring down at him, working out where to kick him next.

 (Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel)

And from ‘Wuthering Heights’:

“Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” 

Reading regret.

Being scared to read the classics when I was younger. I suppose I felt that they weren’t really for me, that they were something to read for an exam. Now I have less time to get through them all!

Series you started and need to finish.

I don’t really like reading a series. Too much commitment – too little time.

Three of your all-time favourite books.

A Place of Greater Safety (imho the best Hilary Mantel novel)

Wuthering Heights

To Kill a Mockingbird

(I’m going to cheat here though because I can’t possibly leave out Alice Walker’s completely wonderful ‘The Color Purple‘.)

Unapologetic fangirl book.

‘Life After Life’ by Kate Atkinson. I read this on holiday, lying in the sun buy the pool in France. It was completely and utterly absorbing. I can’t believe some of the reviews – it’s as if these people have read a different book.


life after life

Very excited for this release more than all others.

‘The Mirror and the Light’ – the sequel to ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ by Hilary Mantel.

Worst bookish habit.

Not really listening to anyone when I’m reading, just nodding and saying ‘mmm’ in a vague way, even when someone’s trying to tell me something important.

Dropping bookmarks in the bath.

X marks the spot: Start on the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book.

Another Bronte.  Charlotte this time and ‘Jane Eyre’. I’m not pretentious (honestly) it just so happens that I have all the classics that I own lined up on the bookshelf together.

Your latest purchase.

‘Furiously Happy’ by Jenny Lawson. She’s just absolutely brilliant, hilarious and really inspiring.

I read ‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened’ recently and adored it. Can’t wait to start this one.

The lovely Jenny Lawson

You can read her blog here.

Zzzz-snatcher book (Las book that kept you up way too late).

‘Chasing the Scream’ by Johann Hari about the so-called war on drugs. Stunning and scary and should be compulsory reading. I hate the cliché but I really couldn’t put it down.

So there you have it, my A-Z of books.

 

 

‘Jasper – Book Two of the Tudor Trilogy’ by ‘tonyriches #bookreview #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosie's Book Review team 1

I reviewed ‘Jasper – Book Two of the Tudor Trilogy’ for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Riches 2

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

England 1461: The young King Edward of York has taken the country by force from King Henry VI of Lancaster. Sir Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, flees the massacre of his Welsh army at the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross and plans a rebellion to return his half-brother King Henry to the throne. 
When King Henry is imprisoned by Edward in the Tower of London and murdered, Jasper escapes to Brittany with his young nephew, Henry Tudor. Then after the sudden death of King Edward and the mysterious disappearance of his sons, a new king, Edward’s brother Richard III takes the English Throne. With nothing but his wits and charm, Jasper sees his chance to make young Henry Tudor king with a daring and reckless invasion of England.
Set in the often brutal world of fifteenth century England, Wales, Scotland, France, Burgundy and Brittany, during the Wars of the Roses, this fast-paced story is one of courage and adventure, love and belief in the destiny of the Tudors. 

I love well-written fiction that’s based on actual historical events and people. Bringing these characters to life in an interesting and entertaining way while still maintaining historical accuracy is a difficult balance, but Tony Riches does this brilliantly. It’s no mean feat to research as thoroughly as Riches obviously has for this book, and then to turn that research into a gripping and engaging tale. The past is really brought to life.

I very much enjoyed the first in this trilogy, so was really looking forward to this novel. It doesn’t disappoint. The characterisation works really well, the writing is skilful and, for the most part, technically flawless (a few issues with tense at times, but nothing that really spoiled the reading experience), and the passion the author has for history comes across in the way that history is portrayed.

My only issue was that, as I don’t know a great deal about this period, I was sometimes a bit confused as to who was who and what their relationships to each other were. To be honest though, I’m not really sure what Riches could do to make this clearer, and possibly in a book that covers so much intrigue and differing alliances and allegiances, this is just how it has to be. These were complicated times, and Riches can’t change history! He does a very good job of writing it though.

4 stars

‘Redemption Song’ by Laura Wilkinson #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT @ScorpioScribble

Rosie's Book Review team 1

I reviewed ‘Redemption Song’ for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

redemption song

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

Saffron and her mother Rain have moved to North Wales to start again after a tragedy that has caused them heartbreak, guilt, and confusion. Joe is also running, trying to escape a past that haunts him while simultaneously bent on revenge.

The story is told from three different points of view – Saffron, Rain and Joe. In many novels, this can be confusing, but Laura Wilkinson is a skilful writer and the point of view changes are seamless, with each character having their own distinct voice. The different points of view give a fresh perspective on many of the issues facing the characters and the conflicts between them.

The author has a real ability to give a sense of time and place. Small town North Wales was authentically portrayed and the other characters – Saffy’s new friend Ceri and her father in particular- are a joy to read, honestly portrayed and entertaining. The oppression and depression of a Welsh winter, the drabness of a seaside town off-season are beautifully contrasted with descriptions of the beauty of the countryside in sunshine and snow.

This isn’t a fast-paced drama. The histories of the characters come out slowly, the reader discovering things along with Saffy, Rain and Joe. This works well for the most part, but was a little frustrating at times.

The characters are, for the most part, easy to sympathise with. Rain is lovely, kind and caring if a little OTT at times, but her love for her daughter is clear. Joe too, while mysterious, is genuine and honest, and you know that whatever has happened in the past, there must be a good reason for it! Saffy, however, left me feeling conflicted. She seems very selfish, and is quite horrible to her lovely mum. This would be more understandable if Saffy was a teenager, but she is in her twenties and is studying to be a doctor. The stroppy, selfish, tantrum-throwing side of her character doesn’t seem to fit and I wondered why it didn’t put Joe off.

I also feel that the back stories aren’t developed enough. I don’t want to give too much away but Joe’s issues are dealt with a little too neatly and conveniently for me. This aspect of the plot could have been given more depth and detail.

The writing is solid, however, and it’s a well-crafted and enjoyable read.

4 stars

#RBRT ‘When Doves Fly’ by Lauren Gregory @mslaurengregory #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosie's Book Review team 1

I reviewed ‘When Doves Fly’ for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

when doves fly

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

I love well-researched and realistic historical fiction, portraying the world as it would have been and the people as they were. I particularly love well-written historical fiction that tells the story of women, and that pulls no punches. That’s certainly what you get with this novel.

At first, I have to admit I was a little wary. I was worried that Lily was going to be one of those historical women that I hate – the type that people describe as ‘feisty’, who manage to live lives that are completely unrealistic and who emerge from life-changing, catastrophic events unscathed, having snared the handsome hero, won battles single-handed, carved out an independent existence, made their voice heard etc. etc. etc.

But this book doesn’t shy away from the realities of life for women, particularly women alone, in the wild west of the nineteenth century. This is not a light romantic historical – this is gritty, realistic, hard-hitting and at times hard to read. There are no easy solutions for Lily, no fairy-tale rescues. She fights for herself, she has to rely on herself, but she fails as well as succeeds, she suffers, she’s frightened at times, she messes up. In short, Lauren Gregory tells the truth, and tells it well. Life for Lily in the boom town of Clear Springs is hard – she makes enemies as well as friends, and those relationships have dreadful consequences.

I do feel that the early parts of Lily’s story are rather glossed over, not given enough detail. I would have liked to have got to know her better, to have understood her motivations more clearly. More time spent on this would have added a depth to Lily’s character and would have made me feel more invested in her story. Aside from this though, the writing is well-crafted, the sense of time and place extremely well-executed, and the story line is gripping, dramatic and involving. A very good read indeed – I look forward to reading more from Lauren Gregory.

4 stars