Friday 27 June 2014

Don't Stand So Close by Luana Lewis

One of the most poignant sub-plots in the book is the ethics, trust and morality upon which a therapeutic relationship depends. Therapists must abide by certain rules and regulations. Always. No deviation from them.The client is vulnerable and that vulnerability can not and should not under any circumstance be exploited.

When the client accuses the therapist of breaching that trust, it can be a career breaker. Then again who is going to believe a quite obviously disturbed individual.

Unfortunately Blue decides to stalk and share her stories with Stella, a therapist unable to carry out her job anymore because she is suffering from agoraphobia.

Her phobia is caused by post traumatic stress, her fear of the outside and confronting the world has become all-consuming. Days spent in a haze of drugs and alcohol to forget and hide from her past.

I have to say I was really angry the way the traumatic event was handled by Stella, Max and Peter. Like so many other victims it is just swept under the rug and the sweeping ultimately leads to the agoraphobia. Such an hypocritical reaction for someone in her profession and at the same time so very human.

The traumatic event was done very well. It is disturbing, uncomfortable and very realistic. The perpetrator is very experienced.
The author has created an extremely tense psychological game of cat and mouse between Stella and Blue with the looming presence of accused hanging over them both like a dark cloud.
An extremely good read.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips

The first part of the book drags along a little, however it does pick up after a few chapters.

It is filled with an atmospheric layer of beautiful prose in some parts of the book, especially when what remains of Annabel sweeps over the countryside and looks down upon events and ponders to herself. Other parts of the story, usually involving Emily, are a little heavy on the dramatic side and a tad unrealistic.

Emily Thornhill is a fictional character in the midst of a real crime narrative. That in itself is alright when done in a way that complements the main story. I didn’t think that was the case. In fact I felt there was far too much emphasis put on her love life, her apparent beguiling ways with men, her domestic life and her complicated relationships. It was as if the fictional Emily was vying for more attention in the book than she needed to and in doing so her dominant storyline became detrimental to the main plot. The story of the Eicher family.

The real crime aspect is a fascinating one. Now that might seem gruesome but if you look at it purely from a crime point of view it is actually a highly detailed account of the discovery of a serial killer. A killer, who based on the way he covered his tracks and planned the crimes with such detail had probably been killing for years unnoticed. In fact he had hundreds of letters from lonely women in his postbox in answer to his ads, receiving about 20 replies a day. There are numerous women who disappeared during his lonely hearts ad scheme, a few of them have also disappeared, only a one or two can be linked to him via circumstantial evidence.

Power/Drenthe was never prosecuted for the murder of the entire Eicher family. The evidence was deemed too circumstantial. Quite mind-boggling seeing as he was identified by multiple witnesses, as the person picking up the children, travelling with them en route to the final destination and all four bodies were found on the grounds of his property near his self constructed torture chambers.

The author has omitted some of the more graphic details of their kidnapping, confinement and torture, except for one very particular detail of the crime. What was done to the young boy, the torture and the chambers indicates a killer who was not motivated by money. The money and items gained from his crimes are something he gains, but not his real motivation.

All in all it was an interesting read from a historical point of view, which could have been better if Emily had remained a narrator of the Eicher/Powers story only and her life had taken up a smaller portion of the book.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Wolf by Mo Hayder

This is a really well thought out psychological thriller.

I really liked the first chapter. Writing as if a small child is speaking and thinking out loud isn’t as easy as it sounds. Often when authors attempt it they either over do it and sound too childish and silly’ or under do it and make the child sound like an adult pretending to be a child. So it is bold move as an introduction to a book. Whether readers keep on reading depends on that first chapter.

In this case it was done exactly right the jumbled thought process of a young child processing objects, sounds, colours and memories and dropping vital clues for the ensuing story to come. Excellent

There isn’t much worse than the murder of a child except perhaps the vanishing of a child. When you are left with nothing. No trace, no body, no truth and no inkling of what has happened. Only the gut feeling of dark despair and that whatever is keeping the vanished away is either death or a fate worse than death.

That is exactly the kind of pain Jack walks around with every day. His brother is always in the back of his mind and even now after all these years he is haunted because he doesn’t know what happened.

Simultaneously the reader gets to watch the main plot unfold and Jack wander round the perimeters of the family stuck in the midst of a nightmare.
It doesn’t end pretty and it doesn’t end the way you think it will.
Superb read.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

The Quick by Lauren Owen

I think I got about a quarter way into the book when the entire plot seemed to just go pop bang hiss. I actually went back and read the pages leading up to it again just to make sure I hadn’t mistakenly picked up the wrong book.

Up to that point it was a Gothic tale with mysterious grand buildings, tragic children and a sense of impending tragedy. A promising forbidden love story between the main character and his friend. A relationship shunned and scorned by society. A sub-plot which could have carried the entire book. Instead the story took a turn in a completely different direction.

It was  advancing at a slow pace and then hiss, chomp and ravage out popped the vampires. From that point on-wards everything becomes a little unclear and hazy. Reasons why were only sort of hinted at for maximum creepiness.

I think the book suffered from too much trying to be a work of literary Gothic art, however that didn’t gel very well with the vampire plot. Not because of the theme per se but rather because in an attempt to seem prolific the story lacks direction and clarity.

The cliffhanger ending implies a possible second book, in which I hope the author manages to capture the essence of the beginning of this book and display it throughout the next tale.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley

Depths (Southern Watch 2) by Robert J. Crane

This is the second in the Southern Watch series, a whole new ball game for high fantasy and urban fantasy author Crane.

It is darker, more risqué and offers scenarios that can push the boundaries. It just depends on what those boundaries are for each reader.

On a side note Crane seems to have it going on in the whole erotic scene creation. He has got the soul-eating, sorry soul-sucking by Gideon down to a fine art. Demon ejaculation 101 that’s all I’m saying.

However that also seems to be whole point of his existence and thereby is his storyline, which means his scenes ultimately always end in self-gratification. Gideon isn’t just your standard garden variety demon. He happens to be a the serial killing, rapist type of demon with sadistic tendencies.

Plays on Shakespeare’s Shylock not withstanding, in this second book the characters are well-developed and the series is beginning to show a lot of potential.

I liked the way the demon hunting team led by fellow demons Lerner and Duncan gave Hendricks a wee lesson in good guy/bad guy criteria. The scenes with that particular trio were quite witty. I can actually see Lerner, Duncan and Hendricks being a great spin-off series.The triumvirate of demon hunters with a penchant for philosophical debates, discussions on the validity of religion, faith in conjunction with the religious theme of hell and relationship advice of the self-help guru kind.

Then there is the unknown factor called Starling. Dibs on her being some sort of demon of the ancient variety, perhaps something like The Source.
Seems as if something wicked this way comes is the theme for the third book. Not sure if the greater worry is Starling or the complete surprise reveal at the end of the book.

One more thing: less jizz and more jazz.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

The Convictions of John Delahunt by Andrew Hughes

This is a fictional story based on the conviction of a man called John Delahunt in 1842 for the murder of the very young boy Thomas MacGuire.

It is good example of how sociopaths can walk among us unnoticed perhaps because they have yet to commit a crime or have never been caught. Delahunt lacks a conscience and a sense of moral responsibility, and yet he is a responsible member of society. He comes from a reputable family, he goes to college and he is a gentleman. John Delahunt is also capable of the most heinous of deeds without feeling any remorse whatsoever.

Or is he guided by desperation? He has no more options and has to do what he does? Sounds fair right? Or could it be that the situation allows him to do things he subconsciously wanted to do. There is a scene in the book describing John as a child and an incident with a small animal. That incident is indicative of his true nature.

The relationship between John and his wife Helen is quite intriguing. She is far from being the naive young woman from high society. Helen is a hard-nosed manipulator and liar. She has her own role to play when it comes to John making money. She does it willingly and with a lot of pleasure.

John fails to understand just how far Helen will go to get what she wants and until the end he holds on firmly to the belief that she will think of him and be sorry about his impending death.

The real story lies within the grimy filth ridden streets of Dublin of that era and the corruption within the very structure which is supposed to keep the population safe. Instead of doing that the Castle rules Dublin like a mafia like street gang.

After watching John act without any conscience over and over again the scene between himself and the child at the end was a contradiction to his prior behaviour. Once again the reader is lured in to believe John was just a victim of circumstance. Was he?
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley.

The Accident by C.L.Taylor

It might just be me, but I thought the husband Brian was a complete tosser. He wasn’t supportive,  he was condescending and in his own way abusive. When you make someone feel small, insignificant or make them feel as if they are losing their mind then that counts as emotional abuse in my book.

Brian is fully aware of her past, and instead of understanding her fears, flashbacks and insecurities he treats her as if she belongs in the loony bin. Her daughter is in a coma does he expect her to dance an Irish jig and throw a party? It is only natural for Sue to be emotionally distraught.

Sue knows deep down inside that something just isn’t right and she is determined to follow the niggling feeling of doubt all the way to the truth, whether the truth is good or bad. Everyone is so busy dismissing her gut instincts that no person is actually looking for the reason Charlotte chose to do what she did.

At the same time Sue experiences something nearly all parents of teenagers go through, realizing that their child has secrets from them and is in the process of building a path of independence, which ultimately usually leads to them leaving the nest. Finding out that your child not only has secrets is one thing; however finding out that those secrets might be endangering their life is another matter entirely.

I don’t think Sue understands how her past relationships have influenced her behaviour towards life and the people she loves. Her anxiety, fears and paranoia have been projected on to her daughter, ergo resulting in the daughter hiding things from her parents.

The Accident is actually a very realistic account of the repercussions of abuse even years after the abuse  has taken place. It is often always an underlying issue for those that have experienced it and can affect all future relationships and dynamics.

The story also sheds light on the fact that some abusers, especially in domestic abuse cases, never give up. Some of them perceive the abused to be their possession and will persevere in their destructive tactics till the bitter end. Often that end means death to the abused.

Society still doesn’t take that threat seriously enough, which statistics clearly show. If anything this story is a great way to enhance the fact that society, government, law enforcement and we the people should be doing more to help stop the abusers.

Far too often someone out there says ‘I think he (or she) is going to kill me one day’ and far too often that person is or was right. We need to listen to them before and not after the fact, when it is too late to save them.

Buy The Accident at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read The Fear by C.L. Taylor

Read The Lie by C.L. Taylor

Thursday 26 June 2014

Her Last Assassin by Victoria Lamb

Poor Shakespeare doesn’t really get a fair shake in this book. He is a complete selfish scoundrel with the morals of an alley cat and the sexual appetite of a sex starved swinging rock n’ roll star. Not very pretty at all and not exactly an homage to the worlds most famous playwright.

Queen Elizabeth I was determined to control her own destiny and not be dominated by men, hence her unwillingness to wed. She did have men she was enamoured with throughout the years, but they were never allowed to rise high enough to take a position of power above her. She is usually described as quite severe in her reactions towards people who slighted her in any way, and yet she tried very hard not to become the tyrant her father was.

In this book I felt the author allowed the Earl of Essex far too much leeway. More than would have been realistically possible in that environment. He was rebellious, he did disobey and he did commit acts of treason against the crown. In fact he was charged with treason, after trying to raise a rebellion, and was beheaded a few years before the death of the Queen herself.

However it might just be the disappointment about the fact the Queen was but a mere mortal. At that time a middle-aged lonely woman in the middle of a constant power struggle and battle to sustain her authority as a monarch.

Unlike the previous books this one has too many sub-plots going off in different directions.

It was a good conclusion to the series. The author brought everything round full circle with a lot of drama and heartbreak.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

A Beautiful Day by Kate Anthony

What it lacks in literary prowess the author makes up for with blatant honesty and core emotions. It is very he said, she said and doesn’t flow very well.
It gives a no holds barred look at what it is really like when a family falls apart.

When it comes to the daily struggle of dealing with the breakdown of a relationship and consequently also a family. No one sees the anxiety, the fear, the distress, the feeling of helplessness and the anger the children go through in these situations. When parents separate the children tend to suffer, whether the separation is amicable or not.

When it came to the relationship between Philip and Rachel isn’t what I would call appropriate. Rachel crosses the line between being a carer and being emotionally attached far too often. His needs become a focus in a house full of patients/clients. Rachel also lets him interact with her children, enter her home and calls him my darling.

All of that speaks for a person who has a big heart and cares with instinct instead of common sense or rather with caution. She doesn’t maintain the professional distance she should between herself and the clients.

A poignant moment and one that rings true is her acknowledgement of the fact that hating her ex would make a mockery of their past together.

The best part of book was the letter. It was just so right in so many ways. Written from the very bottom of her heart and with a brutal perspective and image of the future. A reflection that most people in these kind of situations never manage to acquire.
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley.

How to Lose Weight and Alienate People by Ollie Quain

I have to admit to being engrossed whilst reading this story. It was both shocking and a bit depressing to realise and comprehend the battle with weight in the midst of this story. Every event a battle of wills, each action a possible temptation. One bite means a thousand reactions.

When you think of the battle on a level of eating disorders it perhaps easy to acknowledge how difficult it can be for someone who suffers from such a disorder. However when you equate that to the mindset of the majority of women it just feels like a blanket of literal weight falling upon the shoulders of society.

Society has created a legion of women, who fight the eternal battle with calories every day for most of their lives, just to be accepted by others and themselves.

Vivian spends most of her time using her coping mechanisms in her battle against weight gain. Her drug use, the smoking, shots with hot spices, avoiding anything that will make her hungry. She is a character the reader will either instantly like for her supposedly fun-loving nature or dislike her for her selfish ways.

Maximilian’s story is unfortunately also right on the button. The showbiz industry will not cast a homosexual in a straight role and most certainly not in action roles. Even homosexual roles are played by straight men. Quain uses Rupert Everett as an example, he has actually spoken out about the fact he doesn’t get cast in certain roles because of his sexual orientation.

I can’t even imagine how many well-known public figures have to lead a double life to uphold the public image the industry wants them to have and a secret one that they keep hidden in the proverbial closet. They shouldn’t have to choose between their career and a happy life and yet they do.

Max also travels a well trodden path of lies and deception, which comes as a surprise to streetwise Vivian. She really believed the combination of eccentric star and frustrated lonely man. She knows something is off-key but can’t quite put her finger on it.

I started out thinking Vivian was a vivacious IT girl/woman with a carefree life, then I thought she was a selfish brat with addiction problems, but in the end all I could see was the hurt child she will always be and her constant inner battle with her own image and body.

I have to admit to liking her. Why? Because despite all her oddities, hang-ups and often illegal coping mechanisms, she is what society has made her. All of us carry the burden of that weight and her weight.

Overall I really enjoyed the way Quain has her own very distinctive writing voice. So much so you can almost hear her telling the story, which is filled with witty quips and anecdotes.
I highly recommend this book. It is both entertaining, has a strong subliminal message and is a very good read.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK & MIRA UK.

Buy How to Lose Weight or Alienate People at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read She Can't Just Help Herself by Ollie Quain.

Above by Isla Morley

Morley has this knack of combining the most uncomfortable, taboo and heinous issues with the simultaneous feelings of morality, guilt, compassion and forgiveness. This author has the ability to cloud something which would seem like a straightforward crime, with doubt and uncertainty.

Above certainly fits into that difficult category. The reader and victim start out disliking and fearing the perpetrator and end up understanding the compulsive necessity of his actions, despite the deplorable nature of his crimes.

It is a tightrope walk of emotions; Hatred, disgust, anger, fear and hopelessness.  The reader sinks with Blythe into a hole of despair and can feel even ounce of hope leave her. Drip by drip,  day by day until suddenly years have gone by. We sit there with her deep beneath the ground. In darkness, listening to the silence of her tomb, knowing that no person will ever find her.

The fear turns into a Stockholm Syndrome like dependency. She resigns herself to her fate, especially when she has to consider that of her child.

This is when it gets interesting from an emotional point of view. She views herself as the protector, the mother, but in fact she has become the captor. She is now aiding and enabling her own kidnapper.

I think the real eye opener is possibility of the conspiracy theorist being right. That makes him look like a saviour instead of a criminal. The reader and the victim start to question the validity of their prior judgement.

As always Morley paints a frightening picture of the abyss of deviancy humans are capable of, with a large portion of apocalyptic terror.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Gallery Books via Edelweiss.

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles

This is certainly a book of epic proportions. It is roughly double the length of a normal novel. The story reaches far back into the past and takes the reader on a long path towards the truth. The tragic events of the past cast their wicked tendrils far into the present.

Even now after all these years many murders and disappearances related to the civil rights movements during the 60′s, remain cold cases.Close knit communities are still reluctant to point the finger at bigots and racists, who committed heinous crimes to prevent equality between different races.

A fictional tale based on historical facts and events, it is often a read that might upset or anger, which is only understandable considering the content. I think you can actually feel Iles frustration at the apathy directed towards solving these crimes and the level of corruption at that point in time.

Even now it seems as if many people just don’t want to muddy the already really dirty waters. Who knows how many bodies are still buried or how many people are still alive and able to reveal the fates and resting places of the remaining victims?

I think in a way the length of the novel subconsciously represents the time span between crimes and culmination of the events resulting from those crimes. This isn’t just a crime story for the author, this is making readers remember an incredibly difficult passage in history.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of William Morrow via Edelweiss.

Far Gone by Laura Griffin

What didn’t gel very well for me was the way Gavin was treated from a legal point of view. Being the brother of cop shouldn’t be a free pass, especially when domestic terrorism is involved. He aided and abetted a criminal, and yet that is conveniently forgotten.

I would have liked to have read more about the incident that gets Andrea suspended. From a police perspective she has done her duty and yet it seems as if the powers that be would rather be dealing with a mass shooting instead. A moral conundrum or just plain old politics? How is her decision brought into question at all, given the facts of the event?

Andrea is attacked and the reader never actually finds out the why and the who, so what was the point of that scene aside from setting up a sympathy scene with Jon later on in the book.

The domestic terrorist plot starts off quite well and there are some interesting comparisons made to the Oklahoma bombing. Overall it could have been a lot stronger from a plot point of view if the author hadn’t been so divided by the fact she also wanted to tell a story of a romantic encounter.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Just between you, me and tiny world of web...what a beautiful cover and what on earth does it have to do with the story?

Take Me On by Katie McGarry

I enjoyed the fact this author did not bow down to the en-vogue propensity in YA to blame the victim or excuse the bad boy. Instead McGarry has created and displayed the issue of teen relationship abuse within the constructs of a secondary romance.

Instead the author has dispelled some of the mythical attitude about victims of abuse only been physically weak. In this case Haley is a prize-winning martial arts champion, and yet she still falls prey to an abusive boyfriend. She struggles with the acknowledgement and comprehension of the abuse. Part of that inner struggle is due to her own physical capabilities and strengths.

Although it seems as if that particular sub-plot only sails by quietly during the storms of the main plot it is, as far as I am concerned, the most important part of the story.

Family dynamics and dysfunctional relationships within families are put on display and that includes the relationship between Haley and West.

The two teens dance around their emotions and the instability of their surroundings in a way only people of that age can. Obsessive, passionate and often irrational. Going from angry to heartbroken and then deliriously happy in a matter of seconds.

It is a spirited tale of connection, support and encouragement.

This paperback edition also includes a bonus ‘Pushing the Limits’ novella by Katie McGarry called ‘Crossing the Line’ featuring Lincoln and Lila.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK & MIRAInk UK.

The Cold Nowhere by Brian Freeman

Nothing binds people quite like a large portion of guilt and Stride certainly has that when it comes to Cat. Cat on the other hand is a mixture of personalities, now and again a child, often survival expert and sometimes a Lolita.

Cat turns out to be the daughter of someone Stride used to know, despite a load of warning signals he decides to help her out. Yes she has a wee knife fetish and walks around in her sleep, but hey there could be worse scenarios, right?

The focus of this story is on the emotional burden Stride carries around with him. He messed up his relationship with Serena, he has difficulty connecting with Maggie and he is still bound to a woman from his past. He yearns for the temptation of the unfulfilled love and burns with an inner anger because he blames himself for her death.

It seems as if the Lolita has gotten herself tied up in corruption and the deviant behaviour of others. It is fair to say that Maggie not only doesn’t trust Cat, she also doesn’t like her much. I think she resents the girl being allowed into the inner sanctum of Stride, a place Maggie no longer has access to.

On a side note, who thinks the cold wind often chews on their face like maggots? I had to read that sentence twice and it still made me shiver with disgust. Thank you Mr Freeman for forever linking together in my mind, cold winds and maggots that like to chew on faces.

It is a crime story with emphasis on the past, heavy on the emotions and lighter on the action.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert

An information thief with a sideline in paranormal visions, sounds like a decent way to make a living right? Well, maybe if the people you are trying to outwit don’t turn out to be ten steps ahead of you in both the IQ and occult department, then you might just find yourself in a deep well of danger and mystical uncertainty.

Gabriel certainly thinks highly of himself and is quite arrogant about his abilities. That eccentric arrogance was his downfall once and the ruin of a promising career. Now it leads him straight into the arms of dimensions he cannot begin to comprehend.

His major issue at first is trying to discover the woman he thinks is his soulmate, all whilst trying to find out whether she or her sister have killed his clients son. He is so open to being seduced into the web of lies, seduction and immorality that the reader begins to suspect his intentions. This is especially the case when Gabriel finds out what Morrighan and Minnaloushe are really looking for.

In the end the tale of seduction and murder melds together with the mystery of alchemy. The search for the wisdom, knowledge and science of the soul turns into one of desperation and unfulfilled longing. It no longer seems important who killed whom and why. All that remains is to find the key to that of many doors.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

The Notting Hill Diaries by Sarah Morgan

Sarah Morgan has the ability to switch from cosy, snug, heartwarming romance to throbbing, breathless, heart pounding sexual encounters in a matter of seconds. The first is likely to make your heart melt and the latter will probably make you blush.

You might even find that suddenly you can hear the sound of your own heart exceptionally well as it races in time with the on-page in-book action.

The Cosmo Red Hot Reads are an exciting collaboration between Cosmopolitan magazine and Harlequin UK & Mills and Boon. They are set on bringing you the spicy tales and romantic interludes of today’s modern woman. This book brings you Ripped and Burned, the stories of two sisters.

Ripped is all about the voluptuous, intelligent and wee bit unlucky Hayley. Her boyfriends can deal with the curves but not with the brain that comes with them.

Morgan brings up an important issue in Ripped, just how often men feel threatened by a woman they are in a relationship with if she is intelligent, and even more so if she has a career in a predominantly male field. More often than not women are expected to follow not lead and certainly not walk beside the male in the relationship.

Luckily she seems to have caught the attention of a hot piece of hunky called Nico, who doesn't want to change her and wants her in her entirety. What a pity Hayley has decided she will only play without any kind of strings attached.

In Burned we get to hear more about Hayley’s sister Rosie, who seems to be rather good at scaring away her male friends. Physically scare them that is. Just her bad luck, obviously a trait inherited via her family, that she just happens to bump into the one person she never wanted to meet again.

Hunter Black is back in town and ready to mess with Rosie again. Mess with her head, heart and most definitely with her body.
Rosie is powered by her conviction and willpower, just say no to Hunter. No problem for a tough girl used to fighting her own battles. Right?

These are tantalizing, sizzling stories of smouldering bodies melded together like a hot fudge sundae and the romance is just the cherry on top.

Buy The Notting Hill Diaries at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

You can connect with Sarah online at her website: on Facebook at or on Twitter @SarahMorgan_

Read: The Christmas Sisters, Moonlight over Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #6)Holiday in the Hamptons (From Manhattan with Love #5), New York Actually (From Manhattan with Love #4)Miracle on 5th Avenue (From Manhattan with Love #3)Sunset in Central Park (From Manhattan with Love #2)Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #1)Christmas Ever AfterFirst Time in ForeverMaybe This Christmas or Suddenly Last Summer or all by Sarah Morgan.

Follow @SarahMorgan_@HQStories and @HarperCollinsUK

The Reaver by Richard Lee Byers

This is the fourth book in the Sundering series and it was a little on the weak side in comparison to the first three.

However this time it did feel as if it was part of a whole instead of a part of a series. The previous novels have a strong flair bestowed upon them by the writers.

It also had a strong faith and religious tone to it, which the others didn’t, and an odd mixture of characters. Pirates, wizards, vampires and prophets, albeit a very small prophet. Again even the variety flowed well and I didn’t even question the fact that thieves of the high seas were in the midst of this story.

Anton starts out as the dodgy reward seeking reaver only to be struck by a case of sympathy and morals. It is all fine and dandy kidnapping for ransom, but even Anton draws the line at a child, well after a while he does.

The Sundering is fantastic way to introduce the Forgotten Realms to people who are discovering it for the first time and taking those that know it right back to where it all began.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

The Threshing Circle by Neil Grimmett

Some authors can transport you straight into the location, environment and setting their story takes place in. Grimmett does that exceptionally well. You can almost feel yourself wandering the dusty roads of Crete, smelling the salty sea air and soaking in the atmosphere.

This tale starts in the past and the events of one night trickle like a ripple of water through time all the way into the present. Secrets once thought buried forever are suddenly alive and well and strutting through town.

One of the issues in the book, which is often swept under the carpet by people in these particular settings, is the way foreigners are perceived by native inhabitants of a country. No matter how long you live in a village, if you are not from there you may be accepted but will always remain a type of outsider.

In a way the story starts with one outsider, is reawakened by another and a third tries to understand the secrets buried deep within the past.

At one point I found myself disliking Kirsty, her actions and reactions. I was rooting for Barba Yiorgos all the way, despite his grumpy personality and demanding nature.Perhaps because I not only identified with the path of vengeance leading all the way back from WW2, I also agreed with the need for closure.

There is a poignant moment a few chapters before the end where the violence peaks and I have to admit I had to put the book down for a while. Why? Because of a very specific scene which is make or break for most of the characters.It is graphic in a sense that the author has created an image you are not likely to forget in a hurry. I came back to the story ready to accept the characters inevitable fate and the destruction which would come in its wake.

Eleni carries the bitter taste of betrayal on the tip of her tongue and deep in her soul. Kirsty begins to doubt the innocent nature of the young woman and wonders whether the ball was set in motion on purpose. At the height of her suspicion the invisible link becomes obvious between two people in the middle of the story. Nature and not nurture, blood and not water. As if it was always meant to be and the end was laid out and drawn in the dusty road with a bloody finger of fate many years ago.

This is a beautiful tale of betrayal, hatred, vengeance and love, and a vendetta stretching the span of a lifetime.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Uprising (Heirs of the Demon King Book 1) by Sarah Cawkwell

It is a little long-winded at times, especially the first few chapters but beneath the top layer of British monarchs and their offspring there is a fantasy with potential.

After the initial dance of demon monarchs we get to the main character Matthew, who lives in blissful ignorance of his impending fate.

The path he is set to travel will tear him from his loved ones and make him question his very existence.

The author has combined the Inquisition, heresy and witchcraft with demonic power and ancient magic. Cawkwell has changed the royal lineage by changing the outcome of the Battle of Bosworth.

Matthew and Tagan set off on a quest to gather together a merry band of magical beings. Each one more eccentric and unusual than the next.

All of them are trying to escape the clutches of the vicious Inquisitor Weaver, who just happens to have a direct line to the evil force threatening to consume all that is magical in Britain.

This story takes up the pace mid-book and has a strong ending that suggests a sequel. The build-up and historical explanation at the beginning were sluggish to the point of being detrimental to the story.

It would have been better to serve all that potential straight up at the beginning with the  hors d’oeuvres instead of waiting till the main course to get to the point.
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley.

Destiny: The Girl in the Box #9 by Robert J. Crane

Once again Crane has managed to create a fantastic read. Gripping and surprising until the very last moment.

Characters are dropping like flies as we come to the end of the series. Just one more book to go. The author shows no mercy when it comes to the necessity of culling. Chop, chop, chop many heads on the block.

The relationship between Sienna and her mother has changed, the imbalance has shifted in Sienna’s favour. The daughter becomes the mother and the mother becomes the person asking for guidance.

There is a scene between them towards the end that has been a long time in coming. Sierra finally comprehends her role in her daughters development and the fact she hasn’t been able to change the past, present or the future. What will be, will be.

As for Scott, well I think Sienna needs to slap him round the fish with a wet kipper. I mean come on, now all of a sudden golden boy gets balls of jelly. Not sure he is acceptable bed material if he is unable to accept each aspect of Sienna. The good, the bad and murderous sides.

In the last few pages Sienna is back where we started nine books ago, except for one tiny detail. What was against her and trying to dispose of her in the beginning has just opened the door to a new collaboration.

Book 10 promises to be an epic conclusion to the story of Sienna. A battle for power over humanity and the Meta’s. The question is whether Sienna will lose her last bit of humanity in an attempt to win the battle and save everyone.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

The Feral Child by Che Golden

It is reminiscent of the Iron Fey by Kagawa. Young girl sets off on a rescue mission and has to deal with an evil Fae queen.

Although suitable for younger readers there are some creatures and scenes that may be a little too vicious. Then again these are the Fae of myth and folklore and not the dust sprinkling kind.

Maddy is the perfect vessel for future faerie assaults and possible friction between the real world and the Fae world. Her inner anger and desire to be with her parents consumes her from the inside, and it is those emotions, which make her such a vulnerable target.

Not that Maddy seems vulnerable, far from it. She has a stuff it and stuff you attitude, which isn’t going down well with her relatives. She seems to be a hard-nosed troublemaker and does her hardest to keep that particular image alive. In reality she is a scared, lonely and hurt little girl.

On one of her many disgruntled ‘I will do as I like, where I like’ walks she accidentally awakens the ire of an otherworldly being and ends up being drawn into the murky world of the Fae.

The relationship between the children changes during the journey. They start to trust each other and the first layers of friendship begin to grow between them.

This promises to be an entertaining series with spirited characters and dangerous adventures.
I received a copy of this book via Edelweiss.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

I think this book might just make a bit of a buzz. It is extraordinary in a sense that the pace is comfortable and it works, despite the upsetting scenario and the end is just, well I let's say I wasn't expecting it at all.

The chapters go from past to present, before and after the event and told by multiple characters. This gives the story an almost Dolby surround effect in literary visuals.

The reader wanders through the chapters from the mother to the victim, from the police and then to the perpetrator. Images, events, emotions and realizations

It sucks you in, grinds you slowly through the emotional cogs and spits you out quite unsettled at the very end.

It will be excruciatingly hard not to let any spoilers creep in and yet I do like to get down to the nitty-gritty when thinking back on a read, but other readers deserve to experience that specific element of surprise Kubica has incorporated into the story.

It is the equivalent to being smacked over the head with a cricket bat, after riding a roller coaster.

Is the bad guy a good guy? The lines often become blurred in kidnapping cases, and victims held for a long period of time can suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. They can become attached to their only lifeline in a way that is incomprehensible to outsiders.

One of the other key points in the book is the opinions of the parents, the mother’s instinct about her child and the father’s indifference towards her. Is it indifference or just a recognition and acknowledgement of character, based on past events? Are all her mistakes bound to be set in stone and determine how he perceives his daughter?

A bad penny with a penchant for bad decisions and destined to disappoint? Perhaps that is why one parent doesn't seem to care as much as they should, whilst the other wilts away with worry. Does her father think her past is indicative of her true nature? How very sad to be judged on the difficult teenage years with no possibility of redemption.

The author takes her time drawing a complex relationship between the victim and the kidnapper, at the same time the reader gets a close uncomfortable look behind the doors of her family life.

This was an invigorating read and one I highly recommend.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harper Collins Uk..

Buy The Good Girl at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Pretty Baby and Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica.

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Tuesday 24 June 2014

Shiver of Light by Laurell K. Hamilton

At long last the Merry Gentry book with the big baby reveal is here. I will try to avoid any major spoilers, which will be terribly difficult. What I will say is they are

There is a strong layer of maternal emotion throughout the story. Yes, I know Merry has given birth, ergo it is only natural for that aspect to be part of the story.

I am talking about the way Hamilton has managed to instill that particular emotion with a strength and abandonment I found quite impressive. Exactly the right amount to extract a coo, a sigh and perhaps even an imaginary whiff of baby.

Regardless whether it was by intention or due to the medical necessity of the storyline, I was relieved by the lack of or minimum use of sexual activity.

Hamilton's books are often drenched or rather soaked with so much sexual interaction that it bogs down the story, and is often to the detriment of said story.

Hamilton is a talented scribe with the ability to weave the fantastical with a taste of modern to captivate her audience. Unfortunately that talent is often kicked to the side by the stronger tendency to have her characters romp, ravish and fornicate.

Luckily this time it wasn't the case, well at least not as much as usual.

Merry transfers or awakens powers with skin to skin touch, sexual intimacy and sex in general. She also makes those she interacts with on those levels much stronger. That per se, aside from how often, isn't a problem. What I found questionable is Merry doing it with individuals she doesn't like, doesn't trust and only doing it to awaken their power. Indeed there seems to a waiting list to 'visit' with Merry for a special awakening.

Although this part of the popular series is filled with joy there is also a shock and heartbreak in store for Merry and her small bus load of men.

I think Hamilton could use this deep breath and break she has taken from Gentry to take the series in an entirely new direction. The children offer the opportunity of a fresh start. There could be a spin-off featuring the Gentry offspring, whether as a YA or a new urban fantasy series.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.