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The Girl on the Beach Morton S. Gray

The Girl on the Beach  Morton S. Gray

The Girl on the Beach by [Gray, Morton S]

I’ve read lots of books from Choclit, and really enjoyed them. Usually there’s a strong romantic theme running through, but with this one the romance is much more subtle, almost taking a back seat to the suspense part of the story.

I enjoyed this story, its a debut book and very well written.
Its not a story I’d re-read though. I didn’t get totally sucked in to it, you know how with some stories there’s that “can’t put it down” feel, and the characters seem as if they’re people you really know. Maybe with  time that will come, certainly its a great start to a writing career.
I liked the characters but I felt they needed a bit more personalisation, more to make them special. Harry was a nice guy, but that’s it, just an ordinary bloke, and Ellie was a good mum,  a talented artist but I never felt they had more of a connection than as just people living in the same village. I didn’t feel much real attraction, no sensuality, no sexual attraction.
There were some nice touches, the school art competition and mentoring scheme which brought in some of the side characters in a good way.
The suspense side was good though the final wrap seemed a bit simplistic given all that had gone on in the past.
I think possibly that’s my main criticism, that there was lots of build up and then that final part just felt too easy, too simple, I found it hard to believe a seasoned criminal would use that place.

I would happily read more from this author, its a great start even though I felt there were weak parts.

Stars: Three and a half, a good debut story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Curse Mandate, (The Dark Choir 3), Book THREE of The Dark Choir, J.P. Sloan

The Curse Mandate, (The Dark Choir 3), Book THREE of The Dark Choir,  J.P. Sloan

The Curse Mandate (The Dark Choir Book 3) by [Sloan, J.P.]

Genre:  Horror, Sci-fi and fantasy

Currently on KU

I NEVER read horror, and if I’d seen that I wouldn’t have come to this series. Its not a gory, blood-fest read though, and for me the horror is more of the “could this happen” type and I can deal with that. I really enjoyed books one and two, and was keen to get on to this.

Poor Dorian, you really can’t help but like him. He’s a very moral person in so many ways, just wants to live his life, earn a living and have fun, but he’s a magnet for trouble and sometimes his sense of morality leads him to tread very close to the permitted lines in magic.
He’s still searching for his soul, lost in book one, well – more he was tricked out of it than he lost it. Once more his need to help others got him into danger.
Alongside that though he’s got other problems, he’s got a new pupil, her brother needs help as he’s been cursed, there’s some wierd Chaos magic targeting people and places, and he’s trying to get to the root of that, trying to stop more people being hurt, and on top of that he’s a bar to run as part owner! Just another day for Dorian then..He feels like he’s always trying to catch up, and the next huge crisis is just aroubnd the corner.

As before the story is packed with magical terms, spells, curses, hexes and explanations of how different historic (genuine – they did/do exist) factions fit into this story. He’s an amazing man with incredible knowledge of his craft and its history, and I found myself constantly flicking the paperwhite Look-up function 🙂
The fact there is so much of this book based on genuine societies gives it a very realistic feel.
I love the detective (Hunter?), assigned to help him, a sceptic who by the end had changed his tune and looks to become a future ally.
One issue I did have is the cast of characters has grown huge, and I found it hard to recall who connected where, why, to which group, which section of magic they practiced or whether they were of the innocent of magic group, normal humans who’ve no idea what really goes on in their world. Lots of backtracking for me, and I’d have appreciated an index to keep them straight.

As always the plots are fast and furious, Dorian is racing against time, chasing clues and help, trying to sort out who are the good guys and what the others are up to, and still trying to help his friends and track down his soul.
There some really sad parts here too, both in his personal life and for me having grown fond of a certain person 😦 but sometimes that just makes it all the more real, when the unexpected happens, when the good guys don’t always come out on top.

Its a great read once more and the reason its four and not five is that I spent so long looking back at who did what, and how they fitted in to the story, plus checking out the many different terms and groups that it affected the flow of the story.
Actually that’s a bit unfair to drop a whole star, maybe just a half, as the idea and plots are excellent.
I loved the way the little side issues ended connected to the larger picture, and the detailed explanations of what the curses and spells could do, how they were constructed and at what cost. I enjoyed being completely off course in who was behind things, I like the unpredictable!

Stars: Four and a half, another action packed adventure, spell binding (!) saga, full of  power filled plots.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Soul Breaker and Shade Chaser, City of Crows Books 1 & 2, Clara Coulson

Soul Breaker, City of Crows Book 1,  Clara Coulson 

Soul Breaker (City of Crows Book 1) by [Coulson, Clara]

Genre:  Mystery & Thrillers, Sci Fi & Fantasy
Now, Cal is a newly minted detective at the often mocked Department of Supernatural Investigations. By day, the agents of DSI are called “Kooks” by local law enforcement. By night, they’re known as “Crows,” reviled by the supernatural underworld. After my review request on Netgalley was granted for book two in this series ( hurrah and thanks ) I looked up book one for background info, and found its on KU so I read that first.
Its a fabulous read and sets out the scene for the events of the whole sereis, how and why Cal joined the team, what its aims are.

This series centres around one of the DSI teams, of which Cal is a rookie member, and brings in people from other supernatural groups; witches and warlocks, werewolves, vampires and of course the dangers of the Eververse, a kind of parallel universe full of baddies 😉
I loved Cal, didn’t expect to as he’s just 22, and one of my pet hates is when the new member of a team has all the skills and fun and does stuff the long time members can’t, despite their skills and knowledge.
It works here though, it’s fun with Cal, he kind of bumbles accidently into danger, scrapes out by the skin of his teeth, luck and much wit ( I adore his irreverent humour), and even though he knows he’s in well over his head his morals, the reason he joined the DSI, won’t let him sit back in safety.

As well as Cal ( Hot Crow as Witch Erica calls him), there are some great characters here. Erica is a very skilled witch who’s currently sleeping with Cal, a kind of friends with benefits relationship. Its a fine line as officially none of the groups share info, and help out only when it affects their group, or the public might get involved. The DSI (Crows) are looked down on by the rest of the police, as they don’t really know what they do, just see their cases taken over, and there’s a lot of resentment about that. So far the public don’t know about the other creatures that live in their world, but for how long I wonder? Its certainly getting harder to hide events. As well as Cal and Erica, main characters are DSI team leader Nicholas Ryder, team members Ella and Amy, along with others, Cooper the archivist, Marcus the leader of the Witches, and this time we meet some werewolves too.

Its a race a minute action, though not in the dull, heavy, battle weary style that I hate. Things don’t go to plan, clues are found by accident,  or by someone unknown pushing them in the right direction. There’s a smattering of sex with Erica, lots of action, some of it pretty gruesome! We really got to see Cal and understand him as a person, as well as going along with him on an incredible journey in search of Eververse creatures and trying to prevent catastrophe to the human world.
You could read this as a stand alone, but book two is on KU, or only £2.99 to buy and well worth it. Its the best supernatural fun read I’ve enjoyed for a while, and I’m really looking forward to more.
I’m not sure if this is a trilogy, it looks like it might wrap up in a third book, or an on-going series – I’m hoping for that of course.

Its a fun read, lots of magic and spells, lots of action, lots of humour from Cal, a good plotline with a great group of characters, that promises to be entertaining for several books ( please Ms Coulson!).
Its a story I quickly raced through, and will definitely join my re-readers file.

Stars: five, a cracking, fun read.

 

Shade Chaser, City of Crows Book 2,  Clara Coulson 
 
Shade Chaser (City of Crows Book 2) by [Coulson, Clara]

Genre:  Mystery & Thrillers, Sci Fi & Fantasy

After my review request was granted ( hurrah and thanks ) I looked up book one for background info, and found its on KU so I read that first.
Its a fabulous read and sets out the scene for the events of this book, how and why Cal joined the team, what its aims are.

This series centres around one of the DSI teams, of which Cal is a rookie member, and brings in people from other supernatural groups; witches and warlocks, werewolves, vampires and of course the dangers of the Eververse, a kind of parallel universe full of baddies 😉
I loved Cal, didn’t expect to as he’s just 22, and one of my pet hates is when the new member of a team has all the skills and fun and does stuff the long time members can’t, despite their skills and knowledge.
It works here though, it’s fun with Cal, he kind of bumbles accidently into danger, scrapes out by the skin of his teeth, luck and much wit ( I adore his irreverent humour), and even though he knows he’s in well over his head his morals, the reason he joined the DSI, won’t let him sit back in safety.

As well as Cal ( Hot Crow as Witch Erica calls him), there are some great characters here. Erica is a very skilled witch who’s currently sleeping with Cal, a kind of friends with benefits relationship. Its a fine line as officially none of the groups share info, and help out only when it affects their group, or the public might get involved. The DSI (Crows) are looked down on by the rest of the police, as they don’t really know what they do, just see their cases taken over, and there’s a lot of resentment about that. So far the public don’t know about the other creatures that live in their world, but for how long I wonder? Its certainly getting harder to hide events. As well as Cal and Erica, main characters are DSI team leader Nicholas Ryder, team members Ella and Amy, along with others, Cooper the archivist we met in book one, Marcus the leader of the Witches, and this time we meet some werewolves too.

Its a race a minute action, though not in the dull, heavy, battle weary style that I hate. Things don’t go to plan, clues are found by accident,  or by someone unknown pushing them in the right direction. There’s a smattering of sex with Erica, but also there seems to be a bit of a man crush on Cal by Cooper, the archivist who Cal saved in book one from dying in the Eververse, risking his own life. Though it’s not billed as a romance read, I do enjoy a side of romance with my reading, and here it’s a perfect balance, lots of story with just a hint of maybe possibilities- even if its just in my head, so that works well for me.

You could read this as a stand alone, but book one is on KU, or only 99p to buy and well worth it. Its the best supernatural fun read I’ve enjoyed for a while, and I’m really looking forward to more.
I’m not sure if this is a trilogy, it looks like it might wrap up in a third book, or an on-going series – I’m hoping for that of course.

Its a fun read, lots of magic and spells, lots of action, lots of humour from Cal, a good plotline with a great group of characters, that promises to be entertaining for several books ( please Ms Coulson!).
Its a story I quickly raced through, and will definitely join my re-readers file.

Stars: five, a cracking, fun read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Husband Who Refused to Die, Andrea Darby

The Husband Who Refused to Die,  Andrea Darby

The Husband Who Refused to Die by [Darby, Andrea]

Genre:   General Fiction

Its a strange book in many ways but it covers so much ground; the science of Cryogenics, the ethics of rich people and what they do with their money  v charities and the need for funds, the stress of a bereavement on families, the way upbringing impacts on adults, and of course learning to live again and try romance after the death of a loved one.
Its not a story I’d reread, but it was one I really enjoyed reading.

I so felt for Carrie, Dan having chosen to be frozen left her feeling weird, he was dead, but then was he really? Can you be considered dead when you’re frozen?
It all makes the grieving process so much harder for her, and having lost my own lovely husband of 40 years this year I so felt for her.
Then there’s their daughter too, just at the age when teen years strike and life is hard to deal with anyway, she’s got something more difficult to contend with. Its inevitable that some of the kids will tease and taunt, and that was awful for her.
Carrie’s sister in law, Sunny, is a strange lady, full of natural remedies, healing stones and crystals, oils and potions, massages and positive thoughts.
Sunny and Dan were brought up by sixties hippy parents and that’s come out in a big way in Sunny and her life.
Sometimes Carrie feels she’s blaming her for not being into Cryogenics as Dan was, not being open minded enough.
Eleanor, the daughter, poor kid. Its hard to lose a parent, but she’s also got the issues Carrie has, is Dan really dead? And of course the taunts from her school friends every now and then when the press dig up the story to link with something else.

Carrie and Eleanor are kind of drifting along when the story hits the press yet again, and brings up all the old grudges.
This time someone has leaked that Dan “donated” £200,000 to be frozen, and there’s angry letter about the ethics, about living people needing that money, about how wrong and selfish it is to choose that when others are starving…all the stuff that comes up every now and then. Odd how these characters ( in reality ) never want to cut their own lifestyles, donate their own money, but are happy to condemn others choices.
Carrie starts getting hate mail, dropped and silent calls and more threatening incidences. Its so unfair – its not as if it was her choice and yet she’s copping the blame, while still struggling to cope with the decision herself.

When she picks up with an old boyfriend – well, I just didn’t like him. We knew their relationship had ended suddenly, badly, but not what has happened, and then Ashley comes up with – well to me a feeble excuse, but it seemed credible to Carrie.

The issue I had with the book was that several parts dragged, felt prolonged and not really adding to the story. Then the ending was a complete turnaround, so quick I felt whiplashed… and I didn’t really know how we got there. One page she’s…and the next it’s months on and all different.
I’d have liked more flow, more story there and less in other places, but of course that’s me and yet again I can see others love this book as it is.
Its an interesting read, full of things to ponder, question our own thoughts on what we’d do ( for example: would I want to wake up years on when everyone I knew and loved was dead? No, a definite no )  and one I enjoyed but as a one off only.

Stars: Four, an interesting read that posed many questions, made me think about what I would have done.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Mosaic, Reliquary Series Book 3, Sarah Fine

Mosaic, Reliquary Series Book 3, Sarah Fine

Mosaic (Reliquary Series Book 3) by [Fine, Sarah]

Genre:   General Fiction (Adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, books one and two have had me riveted, glued to the page, and I was desperate to read how things work out for Mattie and Asa. They’ve both been through so much, and in this book we learn even more shocking things about Asa’s background.

Its a fabulous world, feels so real, so scary and its easy to believe that if magic was real ( ? it may well be…!) but hidden from most of the population as here, that these events could/would happen.
We know how power hungry people will do anything to get to the top, to hold the most power, strongest position, and its scary just how it brings innocent people into such danger along the way, how “choices” are forced on those who the top people need.

Mattie has become entangled in this world firstly through rescuing her ex fiancé Ben, and then discovering she had her own magical attributes, inherited from her grandfather. It makes her wanted by some dangerous people.
She’s teamed up with Asa and they’ve been working together as colleagues, keeping things professional at her request. She thinks she can guard her emotions from Asa, he’s so troubled, so affected by his past that his demons mean he’s dangerous to her heart, he’s already made it clear he and Gracie, his dog, are the only duo in his life.
Mattie can’t help falling in love though, its obvious from way back, and it feels too as if Asa is in love with her, he’s so careful, so responsible for her, and goes out of his way to do little things that make her happy.

They’re on another mission when things go wrong and they get parted….Mattie won’t give up though, knows she has to rescue Asa, that he can’t survive being some ones property. He’s always stayed out of the top players clutches, working only for himself, not wanting to be caught in the trap, cage, control they will keep him in. Its been a hard job keeping out of their clutches.
Mattie does her best to help him now, but she’s not sure where he is, who has him, who she can get to help. Its tough to know who she can even minimally trust though, no-one is what they say, so many people are double agents, others have hidden agendas, and she’s so new to all this.
She gets an unexpected ally and its a race against time, full of illusions glamours, dangers and trickery all through the story.

I really enjoyed it BUT I’d made the mistake when I began thins of thinking it was a romance – and its not, there’s romance in it, but is not an actual romance read. My bad! That led to me HATING the ending, I was gutted, distraught.
I really wished I’d not read the last chapter, just stopped at the one before and assumed that was the end.
Like I said this book is so very real, and I need that air of genuineness for me to enjoy a read but I wanted a different ending, found this one really upsetting. real life is very like this, its not neat and tidy with everyone getting what they want, but when I’m reading that’s not necessarily what I want 😦 even if its very true to life.
To be honest I’m really hoping Sarah has a rethink and writes another book, its been left open so that is possible, as I think very many people are going to feel similar to me about that ending.

Stars: Five, even hating that ending its still a fabulous read, a story that’s gripping and gut wrenchingly real, even though its full of magic and fantasy!

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

The Bourbon Kings, J. R. Ward

The Bourbon Kings,  J. R. Ward

The Bourbon Kings by [Ward, J. R.]

Genre:  Romance,

 

OK, Confession time *blush* I have never read the Black Dagger Brotherhood series….I know, I know,  I love fantasy/paranormal romance, but those names, I simply couldn’t bring myself to go there 😉

Now though, when I’ve seen how J.R.Ward can weave a tale of magic that keeps me gripped to the page I’m going to have to try to overcome my name prejudice!

I loved the sound of this series, it reminded me of Dallas and Dynasty of the 70’s, of those long, intense, escapist  reads written by Joanna Trollope, Jilly Cooper etc. It reminded me of how they covered multiple family members and friends, and really dug out the dirt in people’s lives, that brought together romantically  the most unlikely of characters.

The Bradford family are a strange mix, typical of that type of patriarchal family where appearance is all, where there are all sorts of cover ups going on, back biting and double dealing are normal family practices, infidelity is usual, and the only mantra for anything seems to be “don’t get caught”

I loved Miss Aurora, Lizzie and her German colleague who’s name I’ve forgotten ( maybe there’s something in those other names – at least they don’t get forgotten!!) Tulane, former playboy, married to the awful Chantal – I love characters like hers. Every good series needs a a few b itches IMO, they add such fun and I love to wonder just what awful things are coming out next.

I so felt for Lizzie,she tried so hard to get past her romance with Lane, and yet just setting eyes on him two years later she’s transported back into his sphere, while he tries to persuade her to listen to him.

Then there’s the parents, his mum seems to spent her days in bed, doped up on whatever gets prescribed to get her through, his father, the awful William, Edward, his brother who we hear of but don’t meet until well into the story. He’s been through his own high drama and its left him a different man, bowed and almost broken.  What’s going to happen between him and Sutton, heir to a rival distillery? Anything – or will Shelby intervene?

What about Max, the brother we’ve not yet met? Then there’s Lane’s friends locally and from away. Seems they’ve all got parts to play in this multi layered, constantly moving novel about the Rich and the not so rich, and the life of the Bourbon heirs.

Its full of Americanisms, some of which I could guess from context, but others I had to use the kindle wiki/dictionary function to learn what was meant, or because I was curious. Still, that’s easy to do and its broadening my education 🙂

Its a great fun read – its not Anna Karenina, War and Peace, not Kafka, Dickens or any of the Classics, or prize winning coffee table reads, but a solid, long ( hurrah – when 100 pages is a novel how great to get one this length), drama filled, fantastical novel that keeps the reader guessing just what is going to be revealed next. At the same time we learn that appearances are deceiving and I was rooting for Lizzie and Lane, they were perfect together and I wanted them to have a chance to make it through.

It stops at a good point, lots has come out, lots to continue into further books, but a natural ending place and then – sneaky woman, she included a peak at the next read, which brings in yet more high drama, more problems for Lane and Lizzie to pile onto the things Lane already has to deal with.

Stars: Five, a good, solid read, long when so many so called novels are 100 pages or less, which is filled with larger than life characters, multiple plots,  drama and non stop action.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Vinegar Girl, The Taming of the Shrew Retold, (Hogarth Shakespeare), Anne Tyler

Vinegar Girl, The Taming of the Shrew Retold, (Hogarth Shakespeare), Anne Tyler

Vinegar Girl: The Taming of the Shrew Retold (Hogarth Shakespeare) by [Tyler, Anne]

click image for amazon link

Genre:  Literary Fiction

 

I remember reading some Shakespeare plays at school – but that’s a long time ago….and of course with Him Indoors being a TV and Film fanatic I’ve seen bits of McClintock many, many times. I’m usually reading but it kind of seeps into you after the 4th or 5th time…a kind of TV by Osmosis practice!

Anne Tyler is an author whose works I’ve never read either, so I went in to this blind, not really knowing what to expect. How would a Pulitzer Prize winning author take on Shakespeare? Actually this  whole Hogarth series sounds intriguing, different authors retelling different plays.

Its a slow starting novel, Waspish Kate looking after her family, working at a job which I don’t really feel she loves, or even really likes, it’s just one that’s a way of passing time, earning money to her. She ruins the home according to her scientist fathers strange rules, everything worked out for optimum efficiency – the meat mash – eurghh – sounds awful. There’s no real joy in her life, younger sister Bunny has fun but for Kate this just feels like a hamster wheel day-after-day with nothing changing. Then her father drops his bombshell plan!

It was an interesting read, but for me just too slow, too bland and not really an engaging one. I kept reading as I wanted to see how Anne would make things work, but I can’t say I was gripped, didn’t have that must keep reading feel for me.

Its well written, and is an easy book to read but I was left feeling a bit empty by it, as though I really wanted something more to happen, more emotion, more angst, more anything but the eternal plodding life poor Kate lead. She didn’t really help herself either though and at 29 I felt she would have put her foot down by now over at least some of the things that irritated her.

Stars: Three, well written, gentle humour but overall one that didn’t spark anything special in me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Never Marry a Politician. It’s so politically incorrect … Sarah Waights

amazon UK buy link   Amazon com link

 

 

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction

 What a great fun read this was, and a treat to find a book set in the UK. As a Brit myself brought up in a political, very strongly socialist home I know the UK system fairly well, and this book mirrors what I suspect happens much of the time, where its not doing the deed that’s wrong, its getting caught!

We see it all the while, the wife and kids trotted out, platitudes spoken and the impression it was just a minor aberration. His c ock just happened to slip in the wrong direction due to pressures of work, worries about health, family problems….. No-one is too precious to be sacrificed to a politician’s ambition. It always amazes me how they think they are going to get away with it but it happens time and time again.

That makes me sound horribly cynical doesn’t it? I wanted to be an MP when I was a teenager, to change things for the good, to make a difference to people’s lives – that or a jockey…in the 70 ‘s careers for girls were still something of an oxymoron, and as there were few female MPs and no female jockeys our careers teacher was pretty sharp with me, told me to be a Nanny or something!

Back in the 80’ s there were two TV sit-coms about politics, the very funny Yes (Prime) Minister and The New Statesman, a much more sharp and cynical show. There’s shades of them in this book, with The Party being everything and nothing too great a sacrifice.

 

The characters are very good, feel very real. I adore Emily, and how she’s tried so hard to be the wife Ralph needs, and over time subjugated all her own needs and ambition. That’s really sad, and when we learn more about what happened to her and how she met Ralph, its easier to understand how this confident, competent journalist could compromise her ideals this way.

Matt, what a great man, he was so understanding, as time had passed he’d seen where he let Emily down, and really them parting should never had happened, if time and circumstances had been different…but she met Ralph, older, confident and ambitious, in need of a wife as he wanted to move more into politics, and before she knew it almost daughter Tash was about to arrive and they were married.

Now they’ve Alfie too and live in a lovely rambling home in the heart of Ralph’s constituency. He seems to spend more and more time in London though, and the plans they’d made for him to balance work and home seem to have been lost. He’s swiftly risen up the pole, now shadow Home Secretary, in no small part due to the work Emily does in the constituency and providing the right family image. I really didn’t like Ralph, found him a selfish individual, one of those married to his career. Nothing was too small or too private to use as political advantage, he never seemed to worry about how others felt, only if it could benefit him.

When he gets the chance to stand as PM very suddenly – well, all the discussions he’d promised Emily got pushed aside and I so felt for her. She’s got pushed more and more into a mould that just doesn’t fit her. Then someone from her past comes back, Matt, the guy she was in love with til it all went wrong. She hasn’t realised how much she still feels for him, and its clear he still loves her. He’s a political journalist and shadowing Ralph, who of course thinks its a wonderful opportunity. When some big secrets come out that could scupper his chances at PM Emily has some decisions to make.

 

The kids were great too, just how children are, and felt well written for their age group. Sometimes kids are written as some kind of little adult, and it just doesn’t feel right, but these two are spot on. Nessa, Emily’s friend is a great addition, as is TJ the local party agent. Its a good mix of people, a great story, and one that I could imagine happening only too well – that old “don’t get caught” adage certainly came into play, and once everything is out then the way its spun to present things in a way that is acceptable to the electorate Eurghh!! But so very real.

As well as the everyday issues that affect the family, there’s the Matt issue and he was such a great guy, a journalist with integrity, and one who valued Emily for what she was and not just what she could do for him, as Ralph seemed to. Its a great read, one I really enjoyed and has a perfect ending. 

Stars: five, a fabulous read, very true to life in UK politics.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Marked In Flesh, A Novel of the Others, Anne Bishop

amazon UK buy link

 

Genre:  Sci-fi and Fantasy.

This is such a hard series to review, hard to write just how fantastic it is without giving things away. It’s a series like no other, a world that is like ours and yet not like ours. Imagine our current world but with other groups of inhabitants, some of which interact with humans, and some of which you hope you never have to interact with…Naimid’s Teeth and Claws are a group you don’t want to mess with!!

The world was created by Naimid, and parts given to humans to live in. As always though humans grow, get greedy and grasping and instead of living peaceably with the Others, they see them as having land that Humans could use, that Others as a lesser species ( Humans ideas not mine!) should not have control over. There’s been attempts in the past to move past the boundaries Naimid set but Naimid’s Teeth and Claws have seen those off. This time the humans have made big plans. Those who remember and respect the Old stories are afraid, but the new group, Humans First and Last, dismiss them as old wives tales.
The trouble has been brewing through the books so far with small incidents, and the Others are wondering how much Human is too much Human. They’ve learned from them in the past, taken on parts that are beneficial, and since Meg came to the Courtyard things there have changed with more Humans getting intertwined in their everyday life. Humans aren’t all bad, there are many who are against HFL, who respect the Others and want to live peaceably with them. As ever though it’s minority but aggressive groups that stir up trouble, and the head of HFL is whipping up resentment against the Others, dismissing them as less than Humans and so should be kept in place.  We can see disaster brewing just as well as the Others can but the only ones who can stop it don’t want to, won’t take note of warnings and don’t care about killing Others. They regard them as lesser when really to me its the Humans that are lesser, allowed to live by Naimid’s grace and that can be taken away and has been in times past.

I love the way Anne doesn’t anthropomorphise the Others. The Wolves are simply wolves that can keep human shape, same with the Bears and Crows, and there’s the Sanguinati, the Elementals and others such as Tess, all dangerous in their own way, all Guardians of the land who respect Naimid and her Teeth and Claws. So often in novels shape shifters are humans who take the shape of an animal, and this time its the other way, they are wolves, bears, crows first and human in shape only. They’ve taken the parts of Human that they see as beneficial, learned from them, taken on technology where they need it, mainly transport, power and energy supplies and communications. It could be such a perfect world *sigh* but much much like today there are humans who are greedy. We rip out Rainforests regardless of what species need them, put roads through huge natural areas and endanger more species, tunnel underground pumping deadly chemicals there in the search for more fuel, and poison the land and insect life in our attempts to control what grows where….and if it harms other species? Well, we say self righteously – we Need to do it, humans Need XYZ…Instead of making do, conserving, preserving we just destroy, and accept as our due the right to have what we want when we want, whether that’s strawberries in December, or roads through centuries old wildlife preserves. Anything destroyed in the process is just collateral damage, not our fault….

This particular story is really hard hitting in parts, and I actually had to put in down for 15 mins at one point when it gets so real and I felt really upset and emotional.  I’m dancing ( pussyfooting – just for Simon!!) around what to say to express how I felt without giving anything away. I can’t think of another book – and I’ve read thousands – where I’ve felt so strongly that I had to put the book down just to compose myself. Its that real, that emotional, that draining and yet – its also full of light moments such as the pussyfooting one. One of the humans, Monty I think, says Simon is pussyfooting around something he needs to say. Simon is indignant, saying he doesn’t have pussy feet he has wolf feet. Then there’s the  message from Naimid’s Teeth and Claws about them liking the Wolf cookies ( a bit of levity at a point where we really needed it), the skinny dipping, the constant wondering Simon has about Meg and human mating habits, the way the Female Pack announce “ girls issues” when they want the rest to leave them alone. Clearly that one crosses all species – mention female things to most men and they shudder and try their best to look away or go elsewhere. True love is a man who’s prepared to buy Tampons in a busy supermarket without flinching 🙂 In my Girls school back in the 70’s we had to sign a book with reasons if we wanted to go into town, and it would be checked by our male form teacher. Write “Female Necessities” and we were free to go!!

I love the world created, the characters we meet, the way small things build up – such as the whole story really, beginning with Meg entering the Courtyard so many changes have happened for the inhabitants. Simon’s always been progressive, but at first he was quite grumpy and unconcerned about Humans, and now through Meg he looks at them differently, sees that they’re not all the same, some can be good, do want to help and be part of the group. I love Simon, he makes me laugh, he cares deeply for those in the courtyard, respect their differences, is always looking to how he can make life good for everyone. He touches me with his emotions, and his patience and love for Meg. He wouldn’t call it love of course – that’s just my lack of any better expression, but to him Meg is His, he just has to wait for her to realise it 😉 Its a fabulous story, a series which just gets better and better, and draws me in so that the “real” world gets lost when I’m reading, there could be an earthquake next to me and I’d not notice. It does annoy Him Indoors at times when he’s talking to me and I just don’t hear, I’m not ignoring him, it’s just that nothing but the story and the characters are in my head. To me that’s the mark of a five star keeper series.

I’m including a poem here for Ocean – one of her comments reminded me of it, its one my kids used to sing, and I think she’ll like it.

A baby sardine saw her first submarine,
She was scared as she looked through the peep hole.
“Oh come, come, come,” said the sardine’s mum,
“Its only a tin full of people.”

Stars: the magic five for me, all the way and roll on the next book! .

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers for review purposes

The Forgetting Time, Sharon Guskin

 

amazon UK buy link  amazon com buy link

Genre:  General Fiction (Adult)

The description of this intrigued me. I can recall as a young child being a fervent believer in some form of reincarnation, though of course I didn’t know the term. As I grew older I became less certain, but there’s always that thread in my mind that there must be more to life than just this time we have, and I’m not really a subscriber to the heaven and hell theory, so I have a kind of amorphous belief that we become something “ other” after death, whether that’s here or in some kind of parallel universe…

Anyway poor Janie, adores her son Noah but he’s getting more and more difficult to deal with. He’s only four but sometimes he says things far above that age, his nightmares are terrifying and it must be really upsetting for them both when he pushes her away and screams for his real mum, though its clear he adores her too and sees her as his mum – he calls her Mommy-mom. The water fear too – he won’t wash, has a real terror of water and wipes only go so far so that’s causing issues. Janie’s terrified someone, his nursery or someone they just bump into will notice his sour smell and report her for neglect. She hasn’t anyone else, no other family, its just her and Noah, and he’s her life.

It all comes to a head, she’s exhausted, her business is going down as Noah’s issues get worse, she’s at the end of the experts she’s seen, the money is running out and Noah, poor, poor Noah is more and more distressed by his desperation for his real mum and his terrible nightmares. The only suggestions are medication, and who wants to do that to a four year old? Then she meets Dr Anderson. He’s spent his life on studies of children like Noah, but he’s now ill and isn’t sure he has the energy to follow up yet another case that may turn out to be nothing. Janie’s desperation though coincided with a reason for him to look further, and thus the journey starts.

Its a curious read in some ways, a fiction that at times feels like a non-fiction story, very different to what I usually pick up and yet it drew me in so quickly. I was lost in there in poor Janie’s despair, Noah’s terror and Dr Andersons sorrow and health issues. They’re a mixed trio, but through them we get a story that’s fascinating, told as it happens, and interspersed with snippets of cases and studies of real lives from non-fiction books. I found it really interesting to read, a ficticious story that felt very real. It made me remember the feelings I used to have about life after death – or what could happen anyway. As the story moves on its incredibly emotional at times, and had me sniffling at how tragic some parts were, how a spilt seconds action can have such wide ranging actions resulting from it, how so many people get affected by it.

Its strange that in regression studies people always seem to recall being someone famous, and that makes so many of us sceptical but then maybe its not like that, just that those are the ones that get the publicity. Certainly there’s enough there for an element of reality to shine through. We’re all individuals and for me maybe that goes through to the next life, some come back, some move on. I don’t know, but it seems to me that in the same way medications for the same illnesses need to be tailored to individuals maybe that’s true of everything about us, that there isn’t a one size fits all afterlife but one that differs according to each person and their needs. Gave me lots to think about during and after reading this book anyway, and I’m very glad I picked it up – its a totally absorbing read that’s very emotional at times and feels so realistic it gave me chills at others.

Stars: Five, a story that may me think more about what comes after.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

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