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Alastair Rosie "Alastair" (Scotland)

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The Consequential Element
The Consequential Element
Price: £2.11

4.0 out of 5 stars A political thriller with an edge, 14 Sept. 2013
Set in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Consequential Element is a political thriller with an edge. The protagonist, Danielle Montgomery, is a former child soldier in Africa who is rescued by the US military and sent out of the country to safety. The man partially responsible for her rescue is her uncle Roland Dupre. Fifteen years later her past is far behind her, or so she thinks until Uncle Roland finds a cave that is the source for a rare earth element, Promethium that is coveted by the US and Chinese military. Needing to protect the location of the cave, he sends his niece a book containing part of the code before he goes missing. Throw in the rebel commander who once captured her and therein lies a tale.
Danielle is a fractured heroine in the true antihero sense. Determined to rescue her uncle who has vanished, she is forced to rely on Kayden Moreau, a former marine now working for the private sector but Kayden has secrets of his own. These two unlikely partners are bounced from America to Africa where they find betrayal, friendship and loyalty against a kaleidoscope of colours, smells and sounds. She will find that not all who profess friendship are true friends and she will have to rely on instinct and experience if she is to survive.
As a main protagonist she works well although I found the continual bouncing around between two different men a little far fetched, especially when her life is continually at risk. I would imagine in a real life scenario when you are being chased by gun-toting rebels that love would be the last thing on your mind. Staying with the bouncing around aspect, one thing that irked me was a failure to signal a new location when you suddenly find yourself shifted from one location to another in the following chapter. With a country the size of Africa it does help to ground the reader even if it's a short sentence at the start of each chapter or scene change, giving you the country, town and perhaps a time. That I feel would have elevated the book in my eyes, but with that being said some people prefer that style of writing.
The subject matter seems well researched although I wouldn't consider myself an expert on Africa, it feels as if the author has indeed been there. The action scenes are well done and refreshingly free of clichéd moves and lines. I find many action scenes in other books almost a carbon copy of the ridiculous gunfights on tv, and as a former gun owner I know what you can and cannot do with a gun. Danielle and her companions/enemies thankfully don't stray into the realm of fantasy in that regard.
In summary, The Consequential Element is a good first book. It reads well and she winds the story up at the end but leaves enough loose ends dangling for a possible sequel. The characters could have done with a little more development to flesh them out but we can always say that after the book is written, others may disagree with me there. Nevertheless writers shouldn't be afraid of writing longer books if that's what it takes to flesh out characters. I'd give the book four stars out of five and look forward to the next book by Dee Ann Waite.

Written by Alastair Rosie

Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy
Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy
by Jim Marrs
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best JFK assassination books out there., 23 Feb. 2013
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In the world of conspiracy theories, the JFK conspiracy reigns supreme as one of the enduring mysteries of the twentieth century whose effects are still being felt today. It was all the more shocking because the assassination was carried out in front of hundreds of people in broad daylight, and in its aftermath it seemed Camelot had died. With the subsequent government cover up, allegations of CIA, FBI, Secret Service, and Mafia involvement we in the twenty first century are still left wondering. Who did it? As a child growing up the sixties and seventies Oswald's guilt was always accepted carte blanche by my father and passed onto me as gospel, a communist plot to get rid of the American president. It was only when I saw Oliver Stone's film, JFK that I saw how a coup d'etat could have occurred, and when two of the retired pathologists were trotted out for the public in the hype around the film I sensed the stench of corruption again.
Jim Marrs' book Crossfire, The Plot that Killed Kennedy is one of the books used as a reference point for Stone's Counter Mythology to counter the Government Mythology. At 590 pages it's a hefty tome and has an extensive bibliography at the back. It doesn't tell us whodunit but it gathers all the evidence that had been uncovered from 1963 up until 1989 and lays it all out in easy bite sized chapters. At the end of every chapter you find a brief summary of the major points, which I found crucial when you have to absorb so much information at once.
Part one is the Kill Zone, setting the scene for the assassination, the Texas School Depository, the Triple Underpass, the Grassy Knoll, and also gives you background information on the Kennedy rise to power.
Part Two is Means, Motives, and Opportunities, which goes into who might have wanted Kennedy dead. Lee Harvey Oswald's history, the Russians, the Cubans, Mobsters, the CIA, the FBI, Rednecks and Oilmen, and the Military.
Part Three is the Aftermath. Dallas, the two hospitals where two autopsies produced different results, the Jack Ruby connection, the evidence used to convict Oswald is debunked, the Warren Commission, the Garrison Investigation, the House Select Committee on Assassinations, the Oswald Exhumation years later and finally a list of `convenient deaths.' Witnesses who could have or actually contradicted official FBI and Intelligence reports.
At the very end is a re-enactment, similar to the conversation Costner's character has with X in JFK, where a possible assassination plot is put into motion.
It makes for stirring and thought provoking reading although other evidence that has since come to light obviously won't appear. However for anyone interested in what happened that November 22, 1963 this is an indispensable book to have on your shelf. It is probably the base text that will start you on your own journey. The summaries at the end of each chapter as mentioned mean you can condense the critical information in short bullet points.
But why we should care about the assassination of a US president back in 1963? I could probably point to the many government cover ups, lies. From Watergate through to the invasion of Iraq to search for WMDs, but I think I'll leave the last word to Jim Marrs, quoting from page 590 of the book where he states.
`The Kennedy assassination was a true coup d'etat, a sudden and violent shift of power to the right in this country. And that power, though weakened by revelations of corruption and unachieved goals, remains with us today.
Few people have shown a willingness to confront and accuse this power. But until the people of the United States confront the reality of Kennedy's death and face up to the power behind it, the wars, near wars, the wasteful military build up, foreign adventurism, squandered millions, trampled human rights, moral decline, and environmental pollution will continue.' 1
I've given it five out of five and lament the fact there are only five stars to give, it deserves more than that for its commitment to truth.
1 Crossfire The Plot That Killed Kennedy page 590
By Jim Marrs, Published 1989 Carroll and Graf Publishers.

The Mammoth Book of the Mafia (Mammoth Book of S.)
The Mammoth Book of the Mafia (Mammoth Book of S.)
by Nigel Cawthorne
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good basic history of the American Mafia, 16 Sept. 2012
This book certainly lives up to its name, it's big and covers a lot of ground, mostly America and the time span stretches over several decades from the 1930s up until the close of the 20th century. We learn of the origins of the Five Families of New York. The rise of the Chicago mob, the destruction of Las Vegas and the gradual rise of Mafia families in other American cities. There is also one chapter that takes us to Sicily during World War Two.
The stories are told in first person with a short introduction at the start of the chapter, which sums it up quite nicely. I found it to be a good start for anyone interested in the Mafia. I'm not, but the book was pressed into my hands by a colleague at work and so I read it. As a reference book it's adequate although the subject matter is extensive, so I would guess that to provide all of the relevant information would take several volumes but as a basic Mafia 101 course this is the book to get. The one thing I didn't like about it was the lack of an index, which would lift it from three to four stars or even more. The Kindle version would provide search facilities although it's just as pricey but if you are using this as a reference book then that's the format to buy. Not sure if I'd buy it at the price on Amazon though but if it gets low enough I might snap up the ebook version. But in all sincerity the lack of an index is a fault with the paperback version and one that detracts from its appeal as several characters pop up right throughout, many times just in passing. So if you want a good picture of Lucky Luciano and his partners in crime or victims then the index comes into its own. Similarly there is no bibliography, which is surprising as even references to news items would be a great help for further reading.
The one thing it does do is lift the lid on the Mafia and expose the corruption, double dealing and rampant violence that is played out on news broadcasts and in that regard it does deserve all three of its stars.

She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth
She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth
by Helen Castor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.79

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most complete histories of England's queens, 16 Sept. 2012
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I've always had a jaded view of history, on the one hand I do love it, I wouldn't have moved to Britain if I didn't at least appreciate it. On the other hand I'm often put off by the scant references to women in the history books, almost as if they were hidden away and only mentioned when they did something that upset the male commentators of the time, who were enslaved to Rome's viewpoint.
Take the so called suicide of Boudica. Ignoring the fact that the only two commentators, Tacitus and Cassius wrote about it over a century later, we have to read into their accounts the Roman view of women. A woman who defied a man even vocally could usually anticipate one fate, death, more often than not at her own hand if she wished to regain her honour. If she was a virgin, she of course had to be raped before execution, to avoid upsetting the gods. The rape of her daughters thus paints Rome in a particularly nasty light as they were quite possibly children and we can't paint 'noble' Roman soldiers as being rapists and child killers. Sadly many historians hold fast to Tacitus' and Cassius' views as though they were actual eyewitnesses rather than blatant propagandists in the style of Julius Caesar.
With that in mind I recently bought Helen Castor's She-Wolves, The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth. I was looking for a book that would not only mention women from history but actually focus on women.
The result is a book that stands out from other similar books for its refusal to accept on face value the contemporary accounts of the time but attempts to interpret and put them into perspective. One account that springs to mind is that of Isabella, wife of Edward II who after deposing him in a relatively bloodless coup, set about enriching herself, much as her predecessors had done. In this Castor has pointed out that rather than being peculiar to Isabella as a woman and queen, it was actually the norm for kings as well. She hasn't excused the excesses, rather she's put them into context.
Starting with the death of Edward VI, only son of Henry VIII, a death that saw his sister Jane Grey take the throne, only to be deposed by Mary Stuart; she back tracks to Matilda, granddaughter of William the Conqueror and moves forward to Eleanor of Aquitaine, mother of Richard I. She then moves forward to Isabella, who was portrayed so appallingly in Braveheart, and then onto Margaret of Anjou, who was married to Henry VI and fought to keep him alive and out of the hands of his enemies. She comes full circle with Mary Tudor and ends at Elizabeth, and here she has ended our journey. Elizabeth's story of course being a book on its own.
I found the book very well written although at times I was struggling to keep up with who sired who, and who was related to whom. The book is well researched and as already mentioned she does interpret ancient texts with a view to representing these women fairly. This is no feminist diatribe but an honest reexamination of the facts at hand and she has provided a wealth of books at the end for those who want to read further.
In summary, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the women who ruled England, even if it was through their sons and husbands. It's a refreshing change from the male oriented histories that clog library shelves and a welcome addition to my Kindle.

Empire (Redemption Trilogy, Book 1) (In Her Name: Redemption series)
Empire (Redemption Trilogy, Book 1) (In Her Name: Redemption series)
Price: £0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Avatar meets Gladiator, with a trace of Dances With Wolves, 16 Sept. 2012
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Having just finished this book I can honestly say that it's well worth a second read just to absorb yourself in the world Hicks has created. It's part Gladiator, part Dances With Wolves but it is space opera and it's perhaps unfortunate that Avatar had blue skinned aliens too but I think Hicks' blue skinned Amazonian aliens are way cooler and much more exciting.
It starts with the main character Reza being orphaned and meeting the Kreelan high priestess. He marks her with a knife and she responds with a corresponding mark using her claws, apparently we humans of the Confederation are the clawless ones. She lets him go and the next time we meet Reza it is on the planet Hallmark which has definite Dickensian overtones with workhouse orphanages, the entire planet is an orphanage. When the planet is once again attacked by the blood crazed Kreelans, Reza is taken prisoner when the same high priestess recognises the mark on his cheek. He is taken back to their home world to take part in a grand experiment to see if we humans actually possess a soul.
And thereby hangs a tale.
Reza is put under the control of Esah Zhurah a young Kreelan warrior as her tresh. It remains her task to educated him not only in the arts of war but also the culture, language and customs of his adopted people. It is a love story and as a writer I know how hard it is to write interspecies love scenes without the ick factor but Hicks does a masterful job and you forget it's a blue skinned woman with claws and sharp teeth.
I won't say anymore as it's verging on spoiler territory but it is a fantastic read although you need to get past the fifty page mark before it grabs you. Soldier on and you'll find you don't want to leave this world. Indeed it was with a sense of deep regret I finally put it down. The only criticism I had concerned the final few pages and the twist in a tale ending, which came out of nowhere and kind of hit me in the face. I need to go back and read it again but I'm pretty sure that there was no foreshadowing or not enough to explain the ending. It almost feels like he was trying to keep down his word count. Hence the four stars instead of five.
Still I've bought the second book and am dying to get into it. Well worth a read and I'm betting you might even read it twice. Still haven't worked out if I want to be human or Kreelan in my next life but after this book it's humans none, Kreelans one.

The Valley
The Valley

4.0 out of 5 stars A rollicking good western., 13 July 2012
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This review is from: The Valley (Kindle Edition)
In the tradition of The Lost World comes The Valley, a rollicking Western set in 1863. A motley crew of gunfighters and semi-honourable men arrive at Ruby Creek, a Montana mining village to provide security. They have been promised gold for their labours but upon arriving discover the town wrecked and everybody is missing. One of the missing men is Jake Stratford's older brother, George who has left a cryptic note describing an explosion in a cave that unearthed more gold than they had ever seen. However when the men went into the cave they vanished, and more worryingly when George went to find them he seems to have vanished as well.
So begins the search for George and the gold, but when Jake and his companions head into the cave they stumble out the other side into a lost world filled with giant scorpions, mammoths and gigantic eagles, along with the obligatory sabre tooth cat. There are also people down in the valley who seem as determined to kill them as the strange alien wildlife.
It's an easy read and many of the characters feel familiar, the Pastor, the Squire and Ed Strang, who really is a loose cannon. They are men as much at war with themselves as each other and the world in general. The only one who seems to walk tall is Jake. It would be interesting to see how this would play out as a movie because it has that feel to it, more so than a novella. Some of the characters feel underdeveloped and perhaps with more room these character arcs could have been stretched out a little more to bulk out the story. The complete absence of women is also something that struck me as being a little out of sorts, which may have made it a more enjoyable and colourful read.
Still it keeps you reading and kept me entertained for a day.

7 Folds of Winter: A YA+ Epic Fantasy Adventure (The Mad God Series)
7 Folds of Winter: A YA+ Epic Fantasy Adventure (The Mad God Series)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mad gods, brave heroes and powerful women., 13 July 2012
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This is a hard book to review because I haven't read the first book but it has all the hallmarks of an epic series. The mad winter king has decided, as gods do, to destroy the world, more or less and our heroes and heroines are pitted against the blisteringly cold weather, suspicious townsfolk who get their kicks out of burning witches. There are plenty of strong female and male characters here who start out weak and are forced to confront their own fears and failings. There are very familiar mythological references here, birth, death and rebirth. The analogy of the dying goddess is one that springs to mind.
I found Travern and Chrystalia to be engaging characters who go through real changes on their journey to battle the winter king. There is magic, witchcraft and plenty of cold steel along with the usual slicing and dicing to keep most people entertained. The only criticism I've got is that you need to read the first book before starting this one, something I didn't do. A fantasy book should stand on its own with only minimal references to earlier books. Perhaps a brief prologue or summing up might have lifted it.
But it has real potential to be a hit and it's not strictly speaking a Young Adults novel, I suspect that's the in thing these days to grab a slice of the market but it has appeal for big kids too, like me so don't let the Young Adult title put you off.
A good read and now that I've read this one I do have to go back and read the first book to put myself fully into the picture.

Rome: The Emperor's Spy: Rome 1
Rome: The Emperor's Spy: Rome 1
Price: £4.35

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magical Journey Back in Time., 13 July 2012
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A Magical Journey Back in Time.

Historical fiction is one of those genres that has to be done accurately or not at all. There are too many authors out there writing `historical fiction' that should be re-categorised as `delusional fantasy' because they don't understand the time period, haven't bothered researching it and wind up making it all up as they go along. Historical fiction can't be written by the seat of your pants, you need to understand your world and be true to it.
It was with hesitation therefore that I picked up Manda Scott's The Emperor's Spy. Not because she writes bad historical fiction, but because she writes it so well I don't want leave the world she's created. I read her Dreaming Series a few years ago, which chronicled the life of one of my all time favourite heroines, Boudica and because of that I was reluctant to move on. But eventually I did and was reunited with Cunomar, Math and Cardoc from the Dreaming series and was drawn into the landscape of Roman Gaul, transported to Alexandria and finally back to Rome in time for the famous fire. Along the way I learned much about ancient Gaul, Egypt, Judea and Rome. She has an eye for detail that is staggering in its complexity. Her books need to be read two or three times over a number of months to pick up on things you've missed, and in that way Scott is in a class of her own. There are very few writers who drive me back to their books again and again just for the pleasure of reading something again. You get an eerie sense when reading Scott's books that she really has been there before.
It's for that reason I've often said that her work, along with certain other authors, should be used as secondary reading material in history classes. If you want to get teenagers interested in history, stop giving them dates and names they can't pronounce and give them a good historical novel. Once their imaginations are fired up their brains will kick into gear and they'll want to explore the era further.
With the Dreaming series she had little primary material to go on but using secondary material and no small amount of imagining, managed to create a believable fictional world that felt as if she had used her time machine to go back and interview principal characters. I'm sure she must have one tucked away in a shed somewhere. With The Emperor's Spy she's done much the same thing, introducing us to Jesus, or Justus, Saulos, known to us as the apostle Paul and Nero. Her rendering of the events in the immediate aftermath of the crucifixion will rattle some people, but in the style of a Dan Brown she's certainly laid out how the myth of a mysterious resurrection might have occurred. Similarly, Saulos is portrayed as a psychopathic egomaniac determined to destroy Rome and Jerusalem in order to bring about a new theocracy.
The major protagonist, Pantera is one of my favourite characters because of his development throughout the story. He has a nobility about him that makes you wish he really had existed just the way he was portrayed. He is Nero's spy, much against his will but to defy Nero is to invite death. It is Pantera's task to track down the Apostate who wants to torch Rome and Jerusalem before he carries out his plan. Like with the last series you know how it ends but it's a thrill to travel with characters through an ancient world. You almost feel part of them and that is the mark of a talented storyteller.
And at the end of the book, after those two words The End there was a surprise waiting for me. A short story titled The Last Roman that rewrites history as if Boudica triumphed against Suetonius and drove the legions from Britain. I met once again characters I'd met in the Dreaming series and found myself wondering, what if? I don't think other reviewers have mentioned it, but for those of us who really wanted her to win she's blessed us with The Last Roman. It's a short story, simply written, and yet the alternative history shows how close we came to a totally different view of history. One where our ancestors forged their own identity instead of labouring under a Roman yoke for four hundred years. The short story is available in both the paperback and Kindle versions.
The Emperor's Spy is one of the best novels I've read this year and I'm already looking forward to reading the next book in the series, as well as going back to the Dreaming series once more, just to greet old characters again. If you are interested in exploring her views further she provides a reading list at the end and the reasons she used those sources. She also tells us where she has changed something to suit the story. It's up to you if you want to read this bit first or start at the beginning.
Gladly given five out of five.
Written by Alastair Rosie

Between Fear and Love SELF-WORTH: The Tie that Binds
Between Fear and Love SELF-WORTH: The Tie that Binds
Price: £3.64

5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing new take on an age old problem., 24 Jun. 2012
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Review of Between Fear and Love, SELF-WORTH: The ties that bind.
by Lauren Cropper
Reviewed by Alastair Rosie

A long time ago in a world far far away, I read a couple of books by John Powell. The title of one stands out in my memory. Why Am I Afraid To Tell You Who I Am? He answered the question in the book. I am afraid to tell you who I am because you may not like who I am...
It was one of the very few self help books I'd recommend to anyone because it got to the heart of the matter without the psycho babble so prevalent in those kinds of books. I don't normally review them because I hate being preached at, in case you're wondering I'm an ex baptist boy turned horribly atheist with paganistic overtones.
Thus when I downloaded Lauren Cropper's book Self Worth I wasn't sure it was the kind of book I'd read let alone review. It cost me just under a pound but I can honestly say it's worth a lot more than books written by veteran psychologists and therapists. This woman writes from the heart and lets it all out. Her struggles to find some degree of self worth are frighteningly familiar to most of us, there are no terrible tales of trauma, she doesn't hang out her dirty laundry she just tells it as it happened to her.
The version I had was divided into easily readable sections that can be digested in bite sized chunks, starting with A humble origination of fear through uncovering fear and ending with loosening the grip of fear. Part two begins with unconditional love and ends with guilting your way out of love. She moves onto an understanding of self worth, self confidence and starts us on a journey towards self worth and changing our attitudes.
There are no magic cures here, no little pills, just honesty about her own mistakes and how she found her way forward. In that way it's like a breath of fresh air. There is a simplicity about this book that runs counter to the complicated theories put out by therapists. At the heart of it is love for others and ourselves, respect for others and ourselves and adopting an attitude of gratitude. I know some may turn up their nose at that, especially here in Britain where we live under a perpetual cloud of doom and gloom but perhaps it really is that simple.
I guess in finishing this review I have to admit there's something about intimacy, exposing ourselves and risking rejection that draws others to us. I've tried some of the techniques in this book a few years back and they worked, while I kept doing them. She writes with freshness and honesty, sprinkling anecdotes throughout the book. The only thing I baulked at to be honest were references to God, but he and I have been having an ongoing argument for decades, but even that is set out in a way that is all encompassing, even if you don't believe in the man upstairs.
Having read Cropper's book once for review purposes I know it's one I'll go back to again and again to check my progress. For me it's a game changer, a fork in the road and once you have the information and providing you have some degree of self honesty then this is the book for you.
A welcome addition to my growing Kindle library and a fantastic read. I give it five out of five.

When Forever Died (The Adelheid Series Book 2)
When Forever Died (The Adelheid Series Book 2)
Price: £2.17

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced, easy to read, had me hooked., 24 Jun. 2012
Review of When Forever Died
Author: Mia Darien.
Reviewer: Alastair Rosie

This is book two of the Adelheid Series so I'm still finding my feet in Mia Darien's world of preternaturals. It's a classic detective story set in a world where preternaturals live in full view of humans, similar to the world of True Blood. The heroine is Dakota, a shapeshifter and it opens with her pursuing another preternatural who has been terrorising the local New England communities. It then moves onto the hunt for Carrie, a vampire who has gone missing, apparently preternaturals are supposed to register their presence and when they don't it gets, complicated.
Add in an Ancient, Dakota's shapeshifting sister, a group of reincarnated Norse deities and we're set for a rollercoaster ride in what is a well thought out alternate world. Darien has chosen to relate the details of this world in monologue fashion using Dakota's jaded voice. Dakota is a hunter and tired of hunting her own kind. She reminds me of those pulp fiction detectives, she drinks too much, her relationships with her co workers and the police are almost always tinged with sarcasm. Her love interest, Moore is a good counterpoint for Dakota as she chases her ex girlfriend, the vampire Carrie.
I found it an easy read, in the style of Hammer but wondered if the book couldn't have been longer which would have given her the option of expanding and colouring her alternate world. There are times I want to know more about particular aspects but she seems content to leave us with snapshots. Another thing that did irk me was passages rendered in German. If you're not fluent in German you won't read those passages. Foreign phrases and local English dialects should be limited to single words that we all know. She has however kept away from the Bram Stoker connection with vampires which has probably been done to death a thousand times over.
Overall though the book is an easy read, perfect for whiling away the time on a train. It won't tax your brain to the point you're constantly backtracking trying to find if you've missed something. I'd give it a four out of five because I really wanted to know more of the preternatural world and although there was a guide to the preternatural at the end of the book I would have preferred it was worked into the book itself as well. It would have bulked the book out a little but if it's a good read you won't notice the extra word length.
Looking forward to book three and will go back to read Cameron's Law in the next few weeks.

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