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Cathy "Audiobook junkie!" (Ilminster, United Kingdom)
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Morningside Fall (Duskwalker Cycle)
Morningside Fall (Duskwalker Cycle)
by Jay Posey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good follow up.., 28 Mar. 2015
4.5 stars

In a post Three world, young Wren is now the governor of Morningside after the death of his father, Underdown. His mother, Cass, acts as his advisor, protector and companion. Although Wren has special abilities, and is sometimes able to ‘awaken’ Weir, including Cass and his friend Painter, he’s not equipped to deal with Morningside’s politics. It becomes clear not everyone in the Council is in favour of Wren’s governorship and his life is in danger. Following a failed murder attempt the situation escalates and Cass, Painter and Wren are forced to escape the city, along with Wren’s team of elite bodyguards, even though it means travelling the bleak wastelands between refuges and leaving themselves open to attacks by Weir.

Reaching the outpost Ninestory, they encounter Weir in huge numbers. An enormity never before witnessed. Posing an even deadlier threat, appearing quite different and much more menacing, their presence places everyone in jeopardy. More so than is apparent initially. The little group battle against impossible odds, with help from an unexpected quarter.

After the surprising and shock ending of the first book I did wonder how the second would fare without the compelling and mysterious central character that was Three. The pace is slightly slower to begin with and there’s no main focus on one particular hero. The writing however, along with the post apocalyptic world and Weir are just as compelling.

Wren is central to the story, a child who in some ways is older than his years, but nevertheless acts mainly as a boy of his age would. He has benefitted from all he learned from Three and his character does develop quite a lot towards the end of the book. The secondary characters, most especially Wren’s contingent of elite bodyguards, helped in some way to fill the void left by Three. Those passages featuring Gamble, Sky, Swoop and Wick are terrific, their interactions, dialogue and personalities, even though there’s no back story as such for them, are interesting and distinctive.

The story opens with a short but excellent prologue. Painter is quite a tragic character who invites sympathy but his personality takes a very unexpected turn towards the end, when he decides to leave and strike out on his own. The mysterious Blindfold Man of the cover image (who I initially thought was a grown up Wren) is intriguing and very powerful, not someone to be taken lightly. He appears at the beginning of the story and then again more substantially in the last few chapters. His identity is left unknown for the longest time and is a surprise when revealed. For me, the story didn’t have quite the same impact as Three, but having said that, I did enjoy it a lot and look forward to the third book, which actually could go in any direction given the ending. I’m enjoying Jay Posey’s writing style and Luke Daniels’ performance, as always, is just so good and brings out the atmosphere and emotion of the story, as well as giving the characters distinct voices and personalities.


Bridged (Callahan & McLane Book 2)
Bridged (Callahan & McLane Book 2)
Price: £3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Murder, suspense and romance, 25 Mar. 2015
4.5 stars

Mason Callahan, a detective with the Oregon State Police, and Ava McLane, an FBI agent, are in an evolving relationship that began in the first book of the series (Vanished), and are effectively living together. Ava is recovering from the serious injury she sustained during her last case and is on temporary assignment to the Violent Crimes division. Her twin sister, Jayne, is still causing distress with her self-destructive, addictive behaviours and although it’s nothing new and Ava has tried countless times to help without success, she can’t give up on her sister.

Mason and his partner, Ray Lusco, are called out to a homicide victim hanging from the Fremont Bridge. The victim is Congressman Carson Scott. The murder of a federal official comes under the jurisdiction of the FBI so Ava and her colleague Zander Wells are called in and a task force is convened.

When two more murders at local bridges follow in quick succession, the race is on to find the connection between the victims and the killer before he has the chance to strike again. Ava and Mason are not making much progress when Jayne makes contact with Ava, frightened for the safety of her unsavoury boyfriend. Trying to help her sister, Ava is caught up in an extremely dangerous situation. As Mason and the team desperately dig into the victims’ pasts and begin to uncover the terrible truth, the extent of the killer’s story slowly emerges. Time is running out for Ava unless Mason and the team can fit all the pieces together and reach her in time.

With a steadily built up and tension filled storyline, believable and engaging characters and a lovely romantic relationship, this is a great follow-up to Vanished. Mason intrigued me from the start, with his credible personality, cowboy hat and boots, the total opposite of his partner’s outfits. He initially kept his emotions well under control but having Ava in his life has made his world a better place.

Several passages, written extremely well, from the perspective of the killer influenced, and changed, my perception of both victims and killer. I have to admit to slight feelings of sympathy and pity towards the murderer. Terrible memories, feelings of guilt and remorse have played on his mind until, in a twisted way, he believes he’s making amends for the past. The villain isn’t stereotypical, he has a story and a reason, which makes perfect sense to him, if nobody else.

I like the growing relationship between Mason and Ava and the way the characters are developing. The narrative is a well written tale of mystery and suspense and, although I’m not always a fan of dual narrations, this worked well and both Amy McFadden and Nick Podehl give solid performances. I enjoy Kendra Elliot’s writing very much and I’ll be looking out for book three.


Wrongful Death (A Detective Jackson Mystery)
Wrongful Death (A Detective Jackson Mystery)
Price: £3.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Really good series, 23 Mar. 2015
4.5 stars

Two investigations usually run simultaneously in the Detective Jackson series and Wrongful Death is no exception. The story opens with high school student, Ashley Devonshire, who is the victim of a sex crime. Her parents are being blackmailed with a demand for money if they want a video of the assault to be destroyed. This results in very tragic consequences for sixteen year old Ashley.

Wade Jackson is called to investigate the murder of police officer Dan Thompson near a homeless camp, where he had been handing out blankets and clothing. Thompson is the cousin of Jackson’s partner, Rob Schakowski. Suspicion falls on twins Jacob and Henry Walsh, who have been living on the streets of Eugene for years. Schak is too emotionally involved with the murder to work the case and has been given the job of investigating the sexual assault.

Along with the high profile murder case, Jackson is also dealing with major issues in his personal life. The most prominent being his teenage daughter, Katy, who having gone through a rough and rebellious time since her mother died, is several months pregnant. Dividing his time between his job and family commitments is no easy task.

The characters are developing progressively with each book, especially Schak in this one, showing strengths, weaknesses and insights into personalities, portraying just how damaging to health and family life being a detective can be. This is a believable storyline, well thought through, and it brings home some of the horrendous things the police have to deal with.

Two seemingly unrelated cases are woven together skilfully and evolve into an intricate and complex investigation with an unexpected conclusion. The personal aspect and social issues of homelessness and the interaction between the police and street people are explored, adding depth to the story. A series which gets better with each book and, as always, great characterisation and narration by Patrick Lawlor.


A Week in Winter
A Week in Winter
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely story, 20 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Week in Winter (Kindle Edition)
Maudie Todhunter, Hector’s second wife, is recently widowed and has decided to sell Moorgate, the family’s holiday home, for much-needed funds. Her step daughter, Selina, has always hated Maudie through jealousy and her need to always come first. She has never forgiven Maudie for ‘taking her mother’s place’ and is obsessed with the need to possess, whether it’s people or things. Her continued hostility and bitterness eventually takes its toll on her long-suffering family. Selina’s daughter, Posy, and Maudie have formed a strong bond and are very close, adding to Selina’s bitterness and dissatisfaction with what she sees as a personal slight.

Maudie is straightforward and down to earth but has struggled with a festering resentment of everyone telling how perfect Hector’s first wife, Hilda, had been. The perfect mother, wife, cook, friend, so much so she had done her best to make herself the total opposite of Hilda. Hilda’s erstwhile best friend, Daphne, proved to be Maudie’s salvation and their liking for each other grew into a very close, lifelong bond.

Rob Abbot, after giving up his engineering job in London and moving to Cornwall, is renovating Moorgate and has fallen in love with the house but when Melissa Clayton comes to stay in the area, for a week during the winter, to view the property Rob finds his priorities changing, along with both their lives. Things will never be the same again for Rob. Neither Rob nor Melissa could have foreseen the effect Moorgate, or each other, would have.

The author has an unpretentious writing style and the book is peopled with mostly likeable and realistic characters, the narrative is from various perspectives which works well within the framework of the story. The descriptions of Cornwall’s beautiful scenery, Bodmin Moor and the farmhouse are enchanting and give a real sense of place. I was hooked into the story again quite quickly.

A tangle of human emotions runs throughout – love, guilt, loss and forgiveness, all the stuff of extended family dynamics, with a mix of strengths and weaknesses. Past secrets to be uncovered and a hint of the supernatural.

Now and again an author will move me to tears and, ok maybe it’s a little indulgent, but occasionally a sentimental book, or movie, a glass of wine and a tissue or two is called for.


Last Child
Last Child
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling sequel, 16 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Last Child (Kindle Edition)
Following on from the impressive Kings and Queens, The Last Child tracks the fortunes of Harry Lanchester’s children, Isabella, Erin and Jasper. The narrative flows smoothly, with chapters from several of the main characters’ perspectives, each moving the story along seamlessly. Again, Terry Tyler very cleverly parallels each fascinating character with their Tudor equivalent, in a modern day setting and with her own unique interpretation.

Ex nanny, Hannah Cleveley opens the story the year after Harry’s fatal heart attack. Lanchester Estates is being managed by Ned Seymour, young Jasper’s uncle, until he comes of age, with assistance from Jim Dudley. There’s no love lost between the two men and Isabella and Erin support opposing camps which doesn’t make for easy business relations especially when Isabella finds out that Erin has sold some shares to Jim Dudley.

Jasper, at thirteen, is more interested in getting up to mischief with his friends, and other people who should know better. Grounded for drinking, Jaz (he won’t answer to Jasper any more) records his thoughts on a dictaphone at Hannah’s suggestion. Reading his take on his life is amusing and sad at the same time.

Tensions are running high at Lanchester Estates as Isabella heads the company after another family tragedy, and starts to implement her less than popular strategies. Disliked at work and lonely in her private life Isabella makes a relationship choice that is ultimately her undoing.

And Erin, beautiful and dedicated to the continuation of her father’s company, rectifies the consequences of Isabella’s reign at Lanchester Estates. In love with Rob Dudley, their on, off and on again relationship runs throughout the story, but determined never to marry, not having had any experience of happy ever afters to make her reconsider.

It’s impossible not to be drawn in by these very realistic and distinct personalities. I love the writing style very much, the humour and the easy, eloquent expression. The complex relationships and complicated family dynamics, the love, loss, and the promise of new life, along with the devastation of dementia and the complexities of mental illness are all written extremely well.

I also love Jim Dudley and Raine Grey’s romance and I’m so glad their characters weren’t too closely represented by their historical counterparts, they are two of my favourites and their relationship is very moving and quite tragic. This is so compelling and after the ending I hope there will be more to come!


False Allegiance (The Georgie Connelly Stories)
False Allegiance (The Georgie Connelly Stories)
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Georgie Connolly adventure.., 13 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Since the traumatic events of a month previously (A Righteous Path) Georgie is having difficulty shaking off the lethargy plaguing her. James is spending a lot of his time at the office and Danny is in the process of developing his own company and doing quite well. Georgie is feeling at a loss, without direction and in need of a project, something to get her up and back into the world.

Wanting desperately to escape the house her mother bought, and promptly left Georgie and James to sort out, she tries again to contact her friend and taxi driver, Melvyn.

Georgie has been calling Melvyn and leaving messages for a couple of weeks with no reply and is seriously worried. And with good cause as she soon discovers. Melvin’s lady friend, June, persuaded him she needed money for her sick mother’s specialist care. Now he has lost everything since he remortgaged his house to raise the funds for June. Not quite all is lost, though – Georgie is on the case, determined to find June and hopefully recover some of Melvyn’s money.

Although Georgie and James are living together I’m glad to see not a lot has changed in their world. There’s still plenty of unpredictability in their relationship although I might sense a slight mellowing in Georgie. She is still determined and hasn’t lost her tendency to act before fully assessing the possible outcome of a situation, personal or professional, but she’s as endearing as she is exasperating. Poor James, sometimes he’s not quite sure what hit him. When June shows up at Georgie’s office asking for help Georgie can’t refuse her, regardless of the mixed feelings she stirs up in those closest to her.

The subsequent investigation is fraught with danger, involving attempted murder, marital upset and rich college students whose fraternities and sororities control the campus. An excellent and believable plot plus a great cast of likeable and interesting characters combine to make this a very enjoyable and absorbing read. I like the addition of Martha Chapman and hope she features in future stories. The development of the other members of the cast and their situations is realistic, if sad on some counts. I had to laugh at Marilyn’s attempt at driving and her passengers’ reactions. Looking forward to the next instalment to see how certain situations are, hopefully, resolved.


Hellhole
Hellhole
by Gina Damico
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Max, the devil and a fabulous narration, 11 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Hellhole (Hardcover)
4.5 stars

Max is the quintessential awkward teen who has zero luck with girls, loves crosswords and digging for fossils on Ugly Hill. He cares for his sick mother who’s waiting for a heart transplant as well as attending school and working long hours at a convenience store. One day at work he steals a cat statue for his mother, who loves sparkly junk. He can’t afford to buy it but wants to give his mother something he knows she’ll appreciate. Max is terrified the security camera will pick up his theft but little does he know getting caught is the least of his worries.

Max’s problems begin in earnest when he unwittingly releases one of the 666 Satans from hell during a dig for fossils on Ugly Hill. Burgundy Cluttermuck, or Burg as he prefers to be known, takes up residence in Max’s basement. Now he’s above ground he’s here to stay and Max has to keep him happy and supplied with stolen junk food, beer and video games…or else! After several unsuccessful attempts to get rid of his houseguest, Max and Burg strike a bargain. Max agrees to find Burg a house with a hot tub, plus a string of other requirements, and Burg promises he’ll cure Max’s mom. But trying to bargain with a devil is not a wise move and one that’s more than likely not to end well.

Max enlists the help of new friend, Lore, who had a similar experience the previous year, and together they try to rid Max of his problematic ‘guest’, with help from Max’s cat, Ruckus, who plays an unusual part in the drama.

This is an entertaining, offbeat and comedic story. Very clever too, even though it does have its heavy moments. The humour for the most part is quite dark but nevertheless laugh out loud in places, due in no small part to MacLeod Andrews’ superb narration and wonderful characterisations of Max and Burg, among others.

Burg is loud, brash and cunningly manipulative, knowing exactly how to get Max to do his bidding. Max’s intentions are all good but every action taken has consequences, which Max realises too late. A cautionary tale of how one small error of judgement can snowball into a gigantic and terrible predicament in no time.

There’s a wealth of unique and individual characters including Max’s best friend, Audie, his boss at the convenience store, Stavroula, and Lore, with her trusty ‘Russell’ crowbar with its stick-on googly eyes. I love that Max and Lore are not the usual protagonists found in a YA novel. Max has never had a girlfriend, although Audie tries her best to help him out in that area. After a rocky start Max and Lore’s developing relationship is quite touching and the humorous observations and exploration of their characters is enjoyable and extremely well done.


The Great Law of Peace (The Peacemaker Series Book 3)
The Great Law of Peace (The Peacemaker Series Book 3)
Price: £3.67

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous series, 9 Mar. 2015
Following the test of the falls, the miracle of Two Rivers’ survival and the struggle to convince the clans that living together in unity is the answer to their problems, at last they are ready to listen and agree to the message of peace. Two Rivers’ capability and patient self-control is rewarded. The clans realise the time for change is upon them, their hunger and desperation fueling the decision, and the knowledge that Two Rivers’ goal is the last chance for them to change their fortunes.

So with the message received well, Two Rivers and Teneki, along with a group of supporters, travel back to the Onondaga people to convince them to join the alliance. It proves as difficult as they expected. Tadodaho, the war chief of Onondaga town, is far from interested in a message of peace. He is feared among his people and suspected of having evil powers. An opportune natural phenomenon, the like of which Two Rivers, or anyone else, had never seen occurs to lend weight to his words as he is regarded with awe.

Meanwhile Seketa, who has taken to spending time on Two Rivers’ favourite cliff, realises how he must have felt and why he enjoyed the solitude away from the disapproval and intolerance of the town. She makes a momentous decision.

Onheda also has an insight into the reality of her situation, as she sees it, when she hears some news from travelling warriors at Jikonsahseh’s camp. Frustrated at her forced inactivity she decides to act.

So, both Seketa and Onheda settle on a plan of action, having waited long enough, and begin their own journeys to find and help their men. They are full of courage, strength of character and have lost patience with standing by and doing nothing. Neither of them have any idea how desperate a situation they will find themselves in.

This story kept me in suspense wondering how it would play out. Will Two Rivers’ crusade cost him the woman he loves and is Seketa’s determination and spirit enough to find Teneki. Although the main thrust of the story is the peace process, which is incredible, I did like the added personal aspect which just gave a heightened sense of feeling to the story and that, along with the ending, is very emotional. The characters are wonderful and their development is brilliant, especially Teneki, grown now into a formidable warrior.

Another excellent instalment of the Great Peacemaker’s initiation of the Great League of the Iroquois. I just love the way Zoe Saadia breathes life into this amazing story, it’s a fascinating and refreshing change, and because this period of history is new to me, the different nations and their lifestyle, customs and culture are a revelation.

My thanks to Zoe Saadia for this review copy.


Princess of the Light
Princess of the Light
Price: £3.06

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A story with good intentions, 7 Mar. 2015
During a visitation by the Angel Gabriel, Mary Miller learns she has been chosen by God to spread the Light and banish darkness and evil, to which end she is given special powers. Her first task is to restore the soul of André, a homeless man, known as the Walking Man. The darkness inside and surrounding André is the demon Than and his sidekick, Lisbeth.

Mary meets Joseph Deacons, who is told by Gabriel he is also one of the chosen and has an undertaking to fulfil. They fall immediately in love and declare themselves soul mates. I wasn’t convinced by Joe (too much blushing and unrealistic dialogue for a man), or the relationship between him and Mary, if I’m honest. There was no discernible depth to them.

I felt the characters in general, were one-dimensional and needed a lot more realism and development. I couldn’t get invested in them at all. André was the only one with any back story, showing how he came to be in his present situation, but the solving of his problems was too quick and glossed over. If I had to pick a particular character it would be Than. He was the most realistic and interesting. I didn’t foresee the twist at the end.

The light versus dark, angels versus demons theme had promise and so much potential. The basic elements were all there but the plot was lacking. There’s not an awful lot happening until the last quarter of the book, apart from a couple of standoffs with Than and Lisbeth that were over too quickly and easily.

The plot is confusing at times in relation to times and events and I do feel good editing and/or a proof reader would have improved this book immeasurably.


Carla
Carla
by Mark Barry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.84

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Moving, 6 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Carla (Paperback)
An extraordinary story, fascinatingly and honestly narrated by John Dexter, forty-two years old and from a wealthy background. John has a history of mental illness, or more precisely Borderline Personality Disorder, and has been in and out of psychiatric care for years. The most recent being ‘three years of intense psychotherapy’ with the associated medications, some of which were experimental. Now he’s living alone in a flat funded by his father who, rather than hands on help, prefers to throw money at John and hope for the best. And taking into account John’s mother left when he was at an impressionable age his self abandonment issues begin to seem a little more understandable.

On a visit to one of the local pubs John meets, Carla, the young barmaid and he is immediately lost. John knows the scenario well and he also knows his behaviour is illogical but is powerless to stop. During the course of the narrative he explains in detail how he’s unable to cope rationally and emotionally with his feelings and the inevitably of his doomed relationships.

With Carla, John is able to curb his more extreme inclinations, and to his surprise Carla seems to like him. They share an interest in the environment and take walks together. Their developing friendship brings unwelcome consequences by throwing other characters into the mix and showing Carla to be a more complex character than at first thought.

John’s story is a very individual one, reflective and disturbing, told with no holds barred and in great detail. The writing is brilliant. A raw journey inside the mind of the protagonist and his analysis of the disorder that’s influenced and blighted his life. The daily struggle he faces is heart breaking and described beautifully with a wry humour that charms. It’s a compelling, tragic and sometimes immensely brutal story, with an ending I was not expecting and one that will stay with me for quite some time, I think.


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