Category Archives: Rosie Amber’s Review Team
I recently read and reviewed The Haunting of Highdown Hall by Shani Struthers for Rosie’s Book Review Team. k 1 The Haunting of Highdown Hall is Psychic Surveys Book 1.
Here’s my 5-Star review.
An Engaging Paranormal mystery
Thirty-one year old, successful actress, Cynthia Hart, died of a heart attack during a dazzling birthday party at her residence, Highdown Hall, on Christmas Eve, 1958. Fifty-six years later, the present resident, Mr. Kierney, will discover her spirit hasn’t left and is causing havoc in the first floor bedrooms. He calls in the Psychic Surveys team, who will have to investigate the events leading up to her death in order to discover what’s keeping her in the land of the living.
Highdown Hall is not the only case they work on, however. They also visit a notorious mental asylum and various houses in the area, in search of lost spirits who need help moving on to the other side.
The four members of the team have varying degrees of psychic abilities. Ruby inherited the gift from her mother and her grandmother. Theo, who is retired, specialises in long distance healing. Quiet Ness, in her fifties sometimes worked with the Sussex police, and Corinna, a 21-year-old who dresses in gothic attire and also works at a pub.
Ruby, the heart and soul of Psychic Surveys, who is trying to set up a webpage for their flourishing business, meets Cash Wilkins, a website designer, and just the man she needs. Ruby thought he wouldn’t be interested in pursuing any kind of friendship with her, once she told him she was ‘a psychic surveyor’, but on the contrary, he was fascinated, genuinely interested, and perhaps a little psychic himself.
The highlight for me was when the spirit of a dead Labrador, Jed, became attached to Ruby after visiting a couple who complained of dog barking at night.
By the end of the novel, Cynthia’s case is finally solved, as a result of Ruby and Cash’s thorough investigations, and the four ‘ghost hunters’ have become six.
It was easy to be carried away by the interesting and varied stories of unhappy and tormented spirits being helped on their journeys towards the light and peace, at last. It’s an enjoyable novel for readers who have at least an open mind to the possibility of paranormal happenings.
Highdown Hall is well written, well plotted, and has engaging characters, so I’m looking forward to more of the Psychic Surveys’ extraordinary investigations.
Shani Struthers was born and bred in the sunny seaside town of Brighton, one of the first literary conundrums Shani had to deal with was her own name – Shani can be pronounced in a variety of ways but in this instance it’s Shay-nee not Shar-ney or Shan-ni – although she does indeed know a Shanni – just to confuse matters further! Hobbies include reading and writing – so no surprises there. After graduating from Sussex University with a degree in English and American Literature, Shani became a freelance copywriter. Twenty years later, the day job includes crafting novels too. Writing both contemporary fiction and paranormal mystery, she is the author of The Runaway Year and The Runaway Ex, both published by Omnific Publishing.
Her paranormal work is published by Crooked Cat Publishing and includes Jessamine and the bestselling Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall and Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me, and Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street .
Shani is currently writing Book 4 of the Psychic Surveys, Old Cross Cottage (due out in April 2017)
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I recently read and reviewed Eclipse Lake by Mae Clair for Rosie’s Book Review Team.
Here’s my review (5 Stars)
A dramatic and heart warming tale of forgiveness, love and redemption.
Dane is the successful and millionaire CEO of a security company in San Diego. He’s been a widower for three years, and lives with Jesse, the teenage child he adopted when he was six years old and married his mother.
He’s never told Jesse about his past, until the day he takes him for a visit to Onyx, the small town in Pennsylvania he left fifteen years ago, when he was seventeen.
‘You told me your parents were dead.’ (says his son)
‘Sometimes people say things because it’s easier than explaining the truth.’
Dane has been telling plenty of lies to his son, especially by omitting details about his past, but the time has come for Jesse to own up and make peace with his dark teenage years.
His parents are dead, but his only sibling, Jonah, a Park warden at the beautiful Eclipse Lake resort, the local tourist attraction, is very much alive and not pleased to see his rebellious and criminal brother at all.
Once there, the reader will meet all the other locals, the teenagers such as Page and Zach, who will befriend Jesse, the unfriendly sheriff, April, the deputy, and Ellie, a photojournalist who will become a significant person in Dane and Jesse’s lives.
Coinciding with their arrival, a skeleton is found at Eclipse Lake, initiating a murder investigation, which directly affects Jesse and his family.
This beautiful novel is a family drama, a crime story, a romance, and a young adult novel, all rolled into one.
It deals with themes such as redemption, honesty, friendship, mature love and relationships, adolescent relationships, and complex family dynamics.
At the centre of the story is the relationship between Jesse, Jonah, and Dane. It’s about the relationships between brothers, between father and son, and uncle and nephew.
It’s a dramatic, but also heart warming story about second chances, forgiveness, redemption and the power of romantic, filial and brotherly love.
Eclipse Lake is so well written that by the time I finished reading, I felt I knew the characters and had even visited Onyx and Eclipse Lake, myself.
It was a pleasure to read and review for Rosie’s Book Review Team (#RBRT).
Mae Clair opened a Pandora’s Box of characters when she was a child and never looked back. Her father, an artist who tinkered with writing, encouraged her to create make-believe worlds by spinning tales of far-off places on summer nights beneath the stars.
Mae loves creating character-driven fiction in settings that vary from contemporary to mythical. Wherever her pen takes her, she flavors her stories with conflict, mystery and a dash of romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about folklore, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail and cats.
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Review of Cleaver Square by Sean and Daniel Campbell for Rosie’s Book Review Team.
Cleaver Square is a well-plotted detective novel. I enjoyed travelling around London with Detective Morton, I also liked the detailed police procedural and scientific information, including autopsy reports and legal issues. At times it was like watching an entertaining crime film, with all the intricacies of a complex investigation.
The plot was cleverly designed and well-developed by Sean and Daniel Campbell until the final surprising twist is revealed. It’s narrated in third person, although the narrator is sometimes omniscient and sometimes, takes the point of view of one of the characters, such as Morton or Charlie Mathews, a young boy in a foster family, who is an essential component of the plot which will gradually develop throughout the novel (I don’t want to add any spoilers). The prose was mostly easy and pleasant to read.
It’s definitely a plot-driven novel, because the emphasis is clearly on an external conflict, in this case a murder, and its solution through a specific sequence of events, in this case tracking down the criminal. There is a great deal of action involved, and both the dialogue and the action are mainly concerned with unveiling the plot and solving the issue at hand. In this aspect there is no objection, the plot was correctly and smoothly conveyed.
On the other hand, there is an aspect which made it hard for me to enjoy the novel as much as I would have liked. I felt it lacked character development. I personally prefer character-driven novels where the emphasis is on personal conflict and the relationships between the characters.
Character driven novels do not have a tangible or specific outcome. They are more concerned with how the characters cope with conflict, how they make decisions, and how these decisions affect their relationships with each other and their lives in general. The outcome is often a change of attitude, or a new situation in the characters’ lives. There is often no specific or definite solution or conclusion. I like to meet people when I read a novel, and I enjoy it when the characters to stay with me after I finish reading.
Most novels combine engaging characters and a compelling plot to varying degrees, but in this case, I felt that the lack of character development made it difficult for me, at times, to connect with the story itself, because I wasn’t interested in the characters themselves and what happened to them. As a result, I almost lost interest in the solution of the crime. I would have liked to feel more involved with the people in the novel.
Overall I’d say that if you enjoy a well-plotted detective novel, set in London, with an unexpected final twist, you’ll enjoy Cleaver Square.
When I chose An independent woman to read and review for Rosie’s Review Team, I was thrilled even before I started reading it, because when I read the blurb I realized it’s my favourite type of book. I enjoy reading neo-Victorian novels, so although I’m easy to please with this genre, it’s also not easy to surprise me with something new.
Well, I’m glad to say that I was pleasantly surprised, because I found an entertaining, moving, exciting, and romantic novel, set in Victorian England, which I would highly recommend.
The novel is beautifully written with prose that flows smoothly, enticing the reader to turn the pages. There are just enough descriptive elements to submerge the reader comfortably in Victorian England, moving effortlessly from foggy, filthy London, to the tranquil countryside.
Philomena’s intriguing character keeps the reader connected to the story, feeling for her plight from the first sentence, as she creeps up the twisted stairs and flees from London, to the last line.
I loved the first chapters, when she was disguised as a young boy in order to escape from London, and her ‘chance’ arrival at the country estate on Christmas Eve after a fateful train accident.
We also feel we get to know the other characters such as the mysterious Lord Thatcham, his mother, the demanding Dowager Lady Thatcham, her frivolous yet charming daughter, Selena, and the kind Mrs. Rivers and Mrs. Bramble. There’s naturally a despicable villain, who causes havoc, and whose real motives are not revealed until the end, keeping the plot moving forward with mysterious twists and surprises.
It has many gothic elements which will remind readers of Rebecca, Jane Eyre, and Oliver Twist, three of my favourite novels. Firstly, the mansion where the action takes place, Thatcham Hall, becomes a character, with its servants’ quarters, main living areas, bedrooms, and the dark, forbidden wings. The reader will also find a gloomy widower, a wife deceased in unclear circumstances, a rich and lonely child, an exploited and abused child, and a well-read governess, among others, all leading to an eventful and enjoyable read.
Frances Evesham shows expert knowledge of Victorian England, which she transmits wrapped up in an enjoyable parcel of mystery, action, and romance.