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Not Here, (Dina Ostica Novel 1), Genevieve Nocovo

Not Here, (Dina Ostica Novel 1), Genevieve Nocovo

Not Here: A Dina Ostica Novel (Dina Ostica Series Book 1) by [Nocovo, Genevieve]

Genre: suspense and thriller

This is one of those stories I thought I’d like, but which I found a struggle to connect with.
I didn’t really understand Dina, didn’t understand how she was hoping to make money from her podcasts, and in fact what she was using to support herself. Its far harder to make money online than posting the odd video….it takes a huge amount of work unless you get very lucky. Maybe I missed something? Dunno, but though I liked her, admired her ideals I just couldn’t really get along with the story.
At first I was fine and was eager to continue, but I quickly became lost with it all. That could be me of course, others seem to have had no problems, but I’m not really a thriller/suspense reader, choosing to dip into the genre only occasionally. This time I made a bad choice, its a good story just not the right one for me.

Stars: Two and a half.

Arc via author

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Lake of the Dead, (A Winston Radhauser Mystery 5), Susan Clayton-Goldner

Lake of the Dead, (A Winston Radhauser Mystery 5), Susan Clayton-Goldner

Lake of the Dead: A Winston Radhauser Mystery: #5 by [Clayton-Goldner, Susan]

Genre:Mystery and Thrillers, General Fiction.

I love this series. I started with book two, offered the chance to review by the author and she’s been kind enough to let me review each succeeding novel.
You can read each story as a stand alone but you’ll get much more by reading in order, as there are people connecting each book, and its interesting and adds more if you know the back story. Parker’s girlfriend Rishima was in the last book, only as a very secondary character, but it brings the stories closer knowing just what she’s been through, and continues to face. I really felt so sad for her, a wonderful character.

As usual Radhauser is immersed in a complicated murder, with multiple possible suspects but no real motive. It makes me wonder how police even begin to search out who was responsible, and following this story, seeing Radhauser’s reasoning for doing things, the constraints that stop him doing other things, was really interesting and absorbing.
As always the characters here feel so real, so genuine. I think I could find ones like them easily within my own life, though hopefully not murderous ones! I love the way Susan makes what seems reasonable at first sight untangle to become something else, and then puts in reasons and bars to what seem like real motives and possible actions to the murder.
And once more she caught me out. I had an early dislike of a character but thought I was judging unfairly, and it wasn’t til very near the end that I began to see how and why things happened.

Its a sad story, one sadly that could be real, murders happen to so many folk, cut off before they’ve had a chance to grow, to become adults, have their own family. There were some really tragic backstories here too, ones that I had no trouble believing in.
I love Radhauser as a cop, he’s exactly they guy we all need, thorough, principles, meticulous and yet I’d hate to be married to him, to have him as a parent. He adores his family but work – when taking time off and going home could mean a killer escaping, possibly to kill again, how can he? We see here him spending so much time on work, that he barely has time with his family. Grace is incredibly understanding, though we have seen how his work causes friction at times. Its understandable, she’s got two young kids and is still recovering from her cancer treatment and surgery.
I guess she’s seen how he is when they first met, and it would be hard to say come home, knowing the possible consequences and also how it would affect him. You take the person as they are when you choose a partner, and Radhauser is very committed to his work. It doesn’t mean he loves his family any less.

Stars: Five. Its another great story from Susan, well plotted and gripping reading, which wraps up properly. I hate novels that make me thing “but what about….” when they end. This doesn’t, we get a brief six month on peek into what’s happened with some of the key characters and that’s just perfect for me.

ARC supplied by author

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave. Darynda Jones

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave. Darynda Jones

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave (Charley Davidson Book 13) by [Jones, Darynda]

Genre:Mystery and Thrillers.

I’ve joined the blog tour as part of the release of this final book and we were asked to review another book from the series too. I’ve chosen the first book, seems ages ago I read that – when I very first bought a kindle. Charley and the gang have come such a long way since then so I’m looking forward to rereading the beginning – and I’ll probably work my way through the series once more! Good books are well worth that, I find I see things I missed first time round.
Anyway, this book. Well, after the ending of the last, where Charley was banished for 100 years what would happen why she returned, what happened to the humans she knew, what happened to Beep? So many things going on but as usual Darynda manages to give all the answers in a way that’s believable.

The thing with Charley world is you have to forget everything learned about supernatural fiction from other reads, and go with what Darynda has created. Its unique, time isn’t linear, isn’t even anything I’ve read before, but exists in a way that makes ends easy to tie up. Its worlds within worlds, past, present and future all existing within the same frame. There’s God, and his side, Lucifer and his side, and of course Charley, Reyes, and all their gang amassed over the series. If I think about it too hard its head-aching, so its easier to just accept it as is, and go with the flow.
I love Charley’s “voice”, her snark, her outlook in life. At times she sounds a little childish, but its as if that’s her way of coping with all that goes on in her life. She’s had it tough, and there are still some huge shocks to come for her in this book. What I love is that as usual she’s got the big question of Beep and Lucifer, and yet she takes time to deal with everyday issues that crop up, deal with friend’s little issues, missing people, possible murders, letting a few folk pass through her as she’s out and about. I loved that we see almost everyone I remember from the past books in this one, it really feels like a tying up of ends. I hate books where I’m left wondering “what about xxx, how did xx deal with it” and thankfully there’s none of that here.
Reyes, ah Reyes. That guy is so incredible, adores Charley, you know he always has her best interests at heart (can I sever his spine now?) He is just so gorgeous, everyone has the hots for him, but Charley really is It for him, he never even looks elsewhere. Well, he did create her for him, so I guess that’s to be expected. The fact that there are so many supernatural folk in this book, and none really fit the standard supernatural trope. Reyes isn’t one of the good guys, and yet he’s good, others are supposed to be God’s folk yet they leave things t play out, and as when Charley saved amber in the last book a good deed still has consequences for them. They seem to be all about non interference even when it means unjust endings.

Stars:Five stars, a fabulous finale. Forget all other supernatural stories, Darynda’s book are unique. Read them and lose yourself in an amazing world, full of incredible characters and a story that will stay with you for ages. I’m hoping we get more of Beep and her story, I’m not ready to leave all these characters yet

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

Waiting for You, Indigo: Book 2, Kate McBrien

Waiting for You, Indigo: Book 2, Kate McBrien

Waiting for You (Indigo Book 2) by [McBrien, Kate]

Genre: romance

Well, at the end of book one Justin and Lucy were apart, the fame/media aspect scaring Lucy. Its one of those things that’s so hard, if she wants to be with Justin she has to accept that the fame and publicity are part of the package. Even if he gave up his music, he’d still be hounded by media for a significant time – and anyway, its part of him, part of the man she loves.
He understands her fears, blames himself for the awful events that separated him even though they aren’t really his fault and were done without his permission or knowledge. He’s left it up to Lucy to contact him, says he’ll be waiting.

Her parents though, they really don’t like him, and are determined to push Edward in her way. He’s got himself highly placed at her work too, so she’s really no way of escaping him. He is such a horrible sleaze and in this book we see more of that. I loved it, someone appearing so genuine, caring, respected outwardly, and yet behind the scenes, in the pursuit of what he wants he’s a horrible, manipulative bar- stard. That’s reality – we often see friends and family of people who’ve committed some awful crime saying it can’t be true, the person simply wouldn’t do that. But they can and do, manipulators are expert at presenting one face to the world while doing the opposite.
He arranges for Lucy to travel to London, with him of course, to deliver the Cross to its new buyer. As usual he’s moving events to suit his purpose but Justin is in London too, and Lucy is thinking its a chance, fate maybe, to reconnect. Once more though Justin’s fame comes between them with yet more horrific allegations against him. Its a time that’s testing Lucy to the fullest, and she needs to decide, trust her heart, her instincts or believe the media and of course the person behind things. I really wanted to shake her a couple of times, shout at her “c’mon Lucy, give the guy a break, he loves you, you love him” but she was so cautious.

I’ve seen criticism about the attack, that it wasn’t reported. In reality something like over 80% of attacks go unreported and given that only a small percent of those that are reported lead to conviction, its almost understandable why some women choose not to put themselves through the trauma of reporting and all it brings. I don’t agree with it, that’s what lets predators continue, but it’s reality and I can see why it went unreported.
In the same way the false allegations against Justin, that happens too, folk wanting revenge, wanting to cause harm, just making allegations for malicious purposes or attention. Sadly, things like that lead to the non reporting data, because people are afraid they won’t be believed.

The connection to the past, the supernatural element is very muted, only appears on a peripheral basis, it’s clear how events are linked re Justin and Lucy, but I’m not entirely sure if Edward is who I think he was, or if there’s some kind of turnabout coming….

Its another great installment, though I did get a bit cross at Lucy’s dithering. I adore Justin and none of what happened was his fault, sure he has a past, but he can’t change that, only change how he is in the future and Lucy needs to accept who is was, and who he is now. I did find it not quite as gripping to read as the first book, a bit slower paced, didn’t quite have me lost in the story the same way but its still a cracking read, especially from a new author.
Luckily I’ve book three on my kindle as an arc, but its out very soon, later this month, and the whole trilogy has been released within six months. I love that, hate waiting a year, eighteen months or more between episodes, its why when I’m buying I wait til story is complete before buying, so I can read all in one go, I find I enjoy the story best that way.

Stars: Four and a half, not quite as good as book one, the story lagged a little at times, but I really did like the reality of the attacks and how they were dealt with.

Arc via author and Netgally

Love under fire collection. Review of Chasing Secrets, Alyssa Richards

I’m reviewing one book from this series, Alyssa Richard’s Chasing Secrets. Anthologies are a terrific way to try out new-to- you authors for a small price, 21 stories here for under four quid.

Chasing Secrets, Alyssa Richards

Love Under Fire by [Lucci, Judith, Tullis, Stephany, Quinn, Fiona, Burke, Anna Celeste, Daly, Margaret A, Watkins, Linda, Ferguson, Tamara, Jenkins, Suzanne, Goss, Inge-Lise, Mallery, S.R., Jinx Schwartz , Uvi Poznansky, Kathryn Knight, Stephanie Queen, Casi McLean, Valerie J. Clarizio, Chris Patchell, Aaron Paul Lazar, Alyssa Richards, K.M. Hodge, Pamela Fagan Hutchins ]

Genre: fantasy and paranormal, romance

I’ve loved Alyssa’s other stories but this one didn’t seem to work well for me. Its well written as usual, its one of those “just not the right fit” times, not that there’s anything wrong with the story. It could be personal circumstances, I’m a bit stressed, having sold my house and the one I’m buying has been delayed, so I’m staying with daughter, living in her conservatory, and its not best place for getting lost in a story.

Anyway, Barbara has an unusual gift – she’s able to “read” people from their name, doesn’t need to meet them, just needs their first name. She can tell one Steven from another, doesn’t need any extra info but is able to tap into the right person.
She’s married to David, who adores her, and they’re expecting their first child. David’s been a little stressed though, and suddenly he’s gone, murdered in front of her. In the resulting chaos she miscarries, and its taken her time to try to move forward.
She’s beginning to make a new life, albeit very staid, when the past rushes up to her with David’s killers attacking her, demanding she return stolen diamonds. She knows nothing about them, but they aren’t convinced and it becomes dangerous for her and her family.
Hiding out from them she meets Griffin, an archaeologist, and there’s a spark between them they can’t ignore. As always though romance comes with problems and Griffin is due to start an new search through history far away from Barbara.

Barbara’s gift was interesting and Griffin’s project and reasons for moving to Greece very real. Its the kind of thing that happens in real life, couples meet but one is about to move, and its a question of move and abandon possible relationship or try long distance one, or stay and possibly regret lost opportunities. Hard choice either way.
There were some excellent characters in the book, and a very real plot but….overall its wasn’t a story I was gripped by. I’d guessed early on one big “secret”, and the way the killers tracked her seemed like something I’d have expected police to check. There were clues that seemed so unfathomable, and yet Barbara and Griffin found the meanings behind them so easily. Then there’s the way they were able to just walk up to someone’s home, and chip a brick out of the front in their search! They were spotted and had to run, but who does that, damages a strangers home in broad daylight? I’d have expected them to come prepared at night, when unlikely to be seen.
I just felt the problems were tough, but the way they found solutions just too slick, too easy.

Stars: Three, a well written story but one that didn’t work for me right now.

Arc via author

Legacy of Danger, Jillian David

Legacy of Danger, Jillian David

Legacy of Danger (Hell's Valley, Book 3): Paranormal Western Romance by [David, Jillian]

Genre: fantasy and paranormal, romance

I’m not convinced by this book, I was eager to know more of Vaughn but I didn’t really get a sense of the man he was and what seemed a huge issue between the brothers in the previous books, keeping him away from the ranch and family, just seemed to be passed over quickly now he’s back.
We’re ;earning more about the family’s strange gifts and the dangerous entity seeking them out but its still very much a real danger but from very vague sources, and the timing isn’t yet fixed. Its pretty clear its all coming to a head soon but I’m not sure I’m invested enough in the story to continue. Its well written and easy to read but I just feel a disconnect between the story and me, a personal issue. Possibly its down to current personal circumstances, and I’d feel differently at a later date, its not a story I in any way disliked, just that for now I found myself putting it aside several times, something I rarely do.

Stars: Three, a well written story but one that didn’t work for me right now.

Arc via ebook discovery.

Pirate’s Passion, Lisa Kessler

Pirate’s Passion,  Lisa Kessler

Pirate's Passion (Sentinels of Savannah Book 2) by [Kessler, Lisa]

Genre:Sci-fi and Fantasy

I loved Lisa’s Moon series so was keen to start this new one. I didn’t realise there was a short first book, but as each story is stand-alone I don’t think I missed anything.

As usual its well written, cleverly paced and has some great characters yet despite all the it failed to really pull me in. the story sounded right up my street, paranormal with a bit of rock-star romance thrown in but somehow the events unfolded and I just felt a bit flat at it. Usually with Lisa’s books I find them hard to put aside but this one, I kept putting down and restarting. Eventually I got through it but I can’t say I really enjoyed it. Parts seemed just too unlikely, I know we’re talking fantasy here, but I still need to feel that if events were real this and that could happen. Not so here, I just felt the connections were just too convenient and the clock and dagger stuff seemed too OTT and easily explained to those not involved in the supernatural world.
Maybe its just this book, maybe its the series. I would try another before deciding its not a series for me, but right now I’m not convinced. As ever though readers all want different things and this could be just what you’re looking to read, everyone’s views are very subjective.

Stars:Two and a half, well written but I didn’t connect with this novel, maybe just this story, maybe this isn’t a series for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave. First Grave on the Right, Darynda Jones

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave. Darynda Jones

 

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave (Charley Davidson Book 13) by [Jones, Darynda]

Genre:Mystery and Thrillers.

I’ve joined the blog tour as part of the release of this final book and we were asked to review another book from the series too. I’ve chosen the first book, seems ages ago I read that – when I very first bought a kindle. Charley and the gang have come such a long way since then so I’m looking forward to rereading the beginning – and I’ll probably work my way through the series once more! Good books are well worth that, I find I see things I missed first time round.
Anyway, this book. Well, after the ending of the last, where Charley was banished for 100 years what would happen why she returned, what happened to the humans she knew, what happened to Beep? So many things going on but as usual Darynda manages to give all the answers in a way that’s believable.

The thing with Charley world is you have to forget everything learned about supernatural fiction from other reads, and go with what Darynda has created. Its unique, time isn’t linear, isn’t even anything I’ve read before, but exists in a way that makes ends easy to tie up. Its worlds within worlds, past, present and future all existing within the same frame. There’s God, and his side, Lucifer and his side, and of course Charley, Reyes, and all their gang amassed over the series. If I think about it too hard its head-aching, so its easier to just accept it as is, and go with the flow.

I love Charley’s “voice”, her snark, her outlook in life. At times she sounds a little childish, but its as if that’s her way of coping with all that goes on in her life. She’s had it tough, and there are still some huge shocks to come for her in this book. What I love is that as usual she’s got the big question of Beep and Lucifer, and yet she takes time to deal with everyday issues that crop up, deal with friend’s little issues, missing people, possible murders, letting a few folk pass through her as she’s out and about. I loved that we see almost everyone I remember from the past books in this one, it really feels like a tying up of ends. I hate books where I’m left wondering “what about xxx, how did xx deal with it” and thankfully there’s none of that here.

Reyes, ah Reyes. That guy is so incredible, adores Charley, you know he always has her best interests at heart (can I sever his spine now?) He is just so gorgeous, everyone has the hots for him, but Charley really is It for him, he never even looks elsewhere. Well, he did create her for him, so I guess that’s to be expected. The fact that there are so many supernatural folk in this book, and none really fit the standard supernatural trope. Reyes isn’t one of the good guys, and yet he’s good, others are supposed to be God’s folk yet they leave things t play out, and as when Charley saved amber in the last book a good deed still has consequences for them. They seem to be all about non interference even when it means unjust endings.

Stars:Five stars, a fabulous finale. Forget all other supernatural stories, Darynda’s book are unique. Read them and lose yourself in an amazing world, full of incredible characters and a story that will stay with you for ages. I’m hoping we get more of Beep and her story, I’m not ready to leave all these characters yet

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

First Grave on the Right, Darynda Jones

Genre: Romance , Mystery and Thrillers

As part of the Summoned blog tour reviewers were asked to choose an earlier book for review a swell as the final one, and I thought it would be interesting to go right back to the start. I often find on rereading novels I pick up on things I missed first time round, look at characters and events with different eyes now I know the full story, and it was very much a case of reading First Grave with fresh insights.

I certainly looked at some of the original gang with a different opinion. It made me wonder – did Darynda plan events all the way through, of did the story dictate what happened to characters?
We see the main gang right from the start, Cookie, Amber, Ubie, her dad, Gemma, the wicked stepmother ( ok, maybe she’s not thaaat bad, just feels it), Garret, Angel, My Wong, Aunt Flo, and of course Reyes Farrow……….mmmmm.

Cookie remains this stalwart, slightly scatty, slapdash character, who’s actually got an amazingly sharp mind under all the fluff and frivolity face she presents. Amber is still a kid, but sharp and sweet, adores her mum and Charley. Charley’s dad and Uncle Bob, great supports to Charley even if on a strange level, though when she was a kid they really let her down IMO. But then she wouldn’t be the Charley I love without that so a pass for that. Garret has just been told about Charley via a drunken binge with Ubie and he’s one of those, who expect Charley to perform miracles, a skeptic always testing, but still can’t believe her results. The supernatural gang, or at least the beginnings of it, and Reyes. Nuff said.
As with each book we get Charley’s day to day life as a PI with Cookie, a sometimes police “consultant” via her dad and now Ubie. There’s a complete story in each but the overall story arc advances too each time.

What I love about Charley is her heart, her irreverent humour, and her determination to get the bad guys, do whats right even at the cost of her own well being. She comes over as immature sometimes, scatty, inappropriate, and yet she’s got an incredibly sharp mind. Doh, she’d say, Grim here, knows every language ever spoken, ever invented, can speak with the dead, so what do you expect?
She always plays down what she does, treats everything as a bit of a joke, and maybe that’s because she’s learned to get in first rather than wait for ridicule, a kind of way of coping, way of protecting herself. As well as her heart, her snark, her sharp intelligence, her coffee addiction, I love the way she names everything. By the end of the series I’m very familiar with the girls Will Robinson and Danger 😉 Misery the jeep, George the shower ( though that’s later). Her first thought on getting something new is what to call it. And of course her convoluted mind comes up with some real crackers.

Anyway, in book one we get to meet all these great folk, the nucleus of the incredible support team she develops over the series, and not only does Darynda deliver all that, along with a realistic environment for her, but we get a gripping mystery, that starts simple – as they all do – and grows ever more complex and dangerous. Does that stop Charley? You’ve guessed, no…she’s in because its the right thing to do, but despite getting battered, bruised, shot at, attacked, she carries on. Good side of the Grim job, she heals quicker, not instant but certainly quicker than human.
It ends with one mystery wrapped up, but the wider one of Charley and Reyes, the supernatural world, the people who get caught up in it, developing further with a great lead in to book two, and the start of the overall story opening out.

I have to mention the chapter headings, by the end of the series they were something I eagerly looked forward to at the end of each chapter. I knew turning the page would bring a smile to my face, even if the story was full of death and despair, those headings reminded me it would lighten up, that good would prevail. Its that mix of drama and humour, done so perfectly throughout the series that made it so perfect for me. I’ll miss these characters, though whisper in the world of books is that Beep may be bringing them back in a new series 😉

Stars: Five, a great start to a fabulous series. A real treat to read, if you love a well written, suspenseful, supernatural romance.

ARC via Netgalley and Publishers

Dissolution, C. J. Sansom

Dissolution, C. J. Sansom

Dissolution: Tenth Anniversary Edition (The Shardlake Series Book 1) by [Sansom, C. J.]

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery and thrillers

I love this period in history, so much change going on in politics, state and religion. I’ve read many. many books, and the ones I love best are always like this, ones that make me feel I’m there, among the events, not just a reader but actually in the thick of what’s happening.
I’ve read most of the Shardlake series over the years, but in print form. They are among those I’d read over and over, but sadly all my print books had to go a few years back ( around 2k of them) as eye issues meant I couldn’t read them. Thank heavens for Kindle with its changing font size and background lighting.

So seeing this offered for review reminded me of how much I loved this series. Matthew Shardlake is a great lead character, he’s a very moral person, strongly in favour of reform but somehow naïve considering his profession.
He’s sent down to Scarnsea where the Commissioner investigating the monastery there has been murdered.
Its winter, the journey is hard, the welcome by the monks edges on suspicion. After all they knew the murdered man had come looking for excuses to shut them down but murder? Everyone is on edge, everyone seems to hold secrets, have possible motives and its Matthews job to tease them out and find the truth.
He’s accompanied by Mark Poer, a young man who’s been under his wing so to speak, working in Augmentations. Mark doesn’t like what he’s seen, and Matthew thinks he’s exaggerating, maybe its the hard work, the hours or something, or of course the fact his dalliance with a lady way above him was caught, he can’t believe Marks is right in what he sees happening. He’s promised Mark’s father to set him on the road to a good career, and he’s determined to do his best for Mark, not what he wants necessarily, but what he needs. That sounds harsh but its how life was then, a scrabble to survive and Matthew knows Mark could well end up one of the poor they see so often, in rags, no home, depending on charity for the few scraps of food that keep them alive.

The mystery surrounding the killer is difficult and tangled, no-one seems to have a motive, but several of the inhabitants of the monastery have the opportunity. Commissioner Singleton had been going to meet a monk, though no-one knows who, but the abbot and the monks are keen to believe it must have been an intruder that killed him. The more Matthew learns about the events surrounding the murder the wider the circle seems to get, and then things become even more dangerous.
I love that there are so many suspects, I’ve just decided on one as the culprit along with Matthew, when something happens to throw doubt on them, and this happens over and over.
There are so many secrets, so much going on here in this time of change for everyone. No-one feels safe, no-one actually is safe. Even stray words at the wrong time are enough to condemn someone so everyone is very guarded and that doesn’t help the investigation.

Poor Matthew gets his eyes really opened here by events surrounding Cromwell, a man he fervently believes in and admires. He learns his idol has feet of clay and is shocked, really shocked that he could be so casually callous about certain recent events. The force of what’s going on though has become uncontrollable, and Matthew isn’t in a position to do anything about it. I really feel for him, a good man in a position that puts him front and centre of the change he wanted but which isn’t having the results those like him intended. .

It was easy to feel as if I was back in the 1500’s with Matthew. Often its the little details, the snippets of real history, the day to day events, the food and clothes, the poverty, all those make a book feel very real. CJ Sansom has a real talent for those, for bringing the reader into the story by making the setting so vividly real. For throwing out little clues that send the reader on false tracks, often along with Matthew, for keeping the events wide open to very near the end, and keeping reader guessing who is behind things, and why of course. Rarely does murder happen without motive.

Stars: Five, a solidly written mystery/suspense that I enjoyed reading once more and I think its time for a reread of all of the novels.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

When Winter Comes, V.A. Shannon

When Winter Comes,  V.A. Shannon

When Winter Comes by [Shannon, V.A.]

Genre: Historical fiction

Gosh, such a difficult book to review. I enjoyed it immensely, but it also made me incredibly angry, sad, squeamish, and so glad I was born in recent history.
Its easy to judge from the perspective of a safe, warm home, plenty of food, good trustworthy family and friends. The Indian saying about walking a moon in anothers shoes before judging is a good one to bear in mind. Who knows what we’d do when faced with death?

We get the story from Mrs Jacob Klein, now a well respected person, wife and mother. Her husband Jacob doesn’t figure largely in this story, and yet I get the feeling he knows what happened, he saw how harrowing the journey had been for his wife, and his decision right at the start to tell her he would never ask gave her a peace of mind.
She didn’t love him when they married, but over the years that respect and trust has grown, and I feel she does love him now, not with a grand passion, but with a depth that is solid, means more to her.

When we first meet her she’s one of many, families struggling to survive, parents who don’t care or have given up caring, and just use whatever they can to scratch a living, steeped in the alcohol that helps them forget for a bit how hard life is. That’s her future, selling her body, unless she takes charge, and when the opportunity comes she grabs it, and runs, out onto the trail with folk hoping for a new life.
Its hard, she’s on her own, tagging on to a family by their goodwill, and need for her help. Things go wrong of course, days are long, life is tough but somehow they’re getting through. Seeds are sown, moments of distrust, stories embellished, accusations and insinuations run riot, as happens with any large group, but so far they are making progress. Not without losses, but they all expected that.
Then someone comes up with a shortcut, tells some of the others they’ll get there ahead of the main group if they take it, they’ll get the best opportunities, the best land, the best grazing, be wealthy, and the infamous Donner Party sets out.

That part is true, the story is a fictionalised tale based upon real events, and its harrowing to read in parts.
Of course its never as easy as it seems, the shortcut proves to be anything but, and they fall far behind, the bad weather catches up and we see all this happening through the main characters eyes. Harsh realities bring out the best in some folk and the worst in others, and it makes for some tough reading, but I was gripped by wanting to know how things worked out. Slowly the misfortunes build on and life gets harder and harder. None of them escape unscathed and they have to take some hard decisions over what to do.

Reading it, I was thinking of the unwavering cold, no real shelter, no warm clothes or bedding, no medical supplies, very little food, and the outlook bleak, with no hope of getting through before the hard weather sets in for months. That real last resort, eating the dead so the living can survive, its an awful thought, but then so is letting children starve when bodies are meat that could save them. Hard choice to make and the decision never to speak of it is a good one.

As always though there are those with loud voices who make money from the story, not by telling the truth of course, but by presenting themselves in the best light, and by talking down and blaming those who they’ve held grudges against for so long.

That’s human life, that still happens, never let the truth get in the way of a good story is something we see today in the news all the time. Some things never change, but those lies can decimate anothers life.

Stars: Four, a story I really enjoyed, hard though parts were to read.
I liked the contrast of the seemingly content and well off Mrs Jacob Klein, with the scared, starving waif she began the story as.
I loved the history part of it, that its a real story, though a fictionalised account, and I felt for those poor souls who were part of it.
It gave me much to think about after.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

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