Firestorm by Tamara McKinley | ✭✭✭✭

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☕️☕️☕️☕️  FANTASTIC !!

Beautiful, poignant and touching! I had forgotten how much I love reading this genre; it moved me and the tears flowed!

Synopsis

Becky Jackson’s family has been managing the bush hospital in far-flung Morgan’s Reach for three generations. When Becky’s husband is tragically lost at war, she and her young son Danny must leave the city where she’s been living since marriage and return to her birthplace to start over.

But for all its charm, Morgan’s Reach is a divided community, where blood is thicker than water and grudges run deep. So when a mysterious stranger appears in the bush outside the town and Danny begins to act strangely, it is not only Becky’s newfound stability that’s threatened.

And what of the fact that there’s not been a drop of rain in over three years? The risk of firestorm looms large and the hospital is already pushed to breaking point. A single spark could level the area in minutes – burning away everything for which the town has worked so hard; exposing the secrets they’ve fought to keep so close.

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My Review:

Set after WWII all the men who were returning were home, and for those whose families without their loved ones, life had to go on.

Such a powerful drama about the lives of families struggling to live in the harsh conditions of Australia. The tight knit families lives are tested when storms and fires rage threateningly out of control, wonderful reading!

A superb plot, a boy waiting for his father who will never return, with a mother who is unable to move on because of it. A son returning back to his home town with a wife who is blind with grief seeking solace in a bottle. Another who seeks refuge from a brutal husband finding peace in a relationship that is concealed from everyone. Then there is the dead soldier who never returned from the war who goes home secretly to die following his beloved aboriginal spirits. Excellent stuff!

What I liked best:

I love the weave of families with their nuances and local histories.

There was real excitement with the storm, and the fire. A boy being lost in the bush looking for the stranger seen wearing soldiers clothes, hoping he is the father he cannot believe is dead, that somehow a mistake has been made and he will return home.

Gwyneth, is the great grandmother; grandmother and mother of a prominent family in the town who knows everything thats going on. Sitting on a veranda watching the townsfolk she orchestrates her guidance appropriate moments. A great wise and feisty character.

When the fire is fuelled by the dry storm, tragedy is all around them, even though this is something that is already known to them in conditions they have battled before, it is no less shocking when death claims lives. My excitement mounted with the fire racing towards the towns 10 year old Danny goes missing and with his mother needed at the infirmary with the casualties she fears the worst.

Just look at this wonderful line – got me right…here (places hand against heart):

And, as she stood there, the silence enfolded her as a long-held dreams shattered like fine glass.

What is different about this book?

This could have been just a run of the mill story about Australians trying to recover after the second world war in the outback, keeping their people and towns alive and thriving in harsh conditions in Queensland. But no, the real backbone to this story is of a man travelling on foot in solitude and secret towards Morgan’s Reach. All we know about him is that he is dying from cancer and that he wants to get to the town before the end, but does not want to be seen. He certainly is a mystery. His story is heart wrenching and I got a sense of a ‘kind of driven peace’ that surrounds this man in his final journey. His talks with a small boy and the peace he gains from it made me cry.

If you want a book with love, sorrow, courage, tragedy, and overcoming adversity, along with something beautifully spiritual then this is the book for you.

This is the first of Tamara McKinley’s books I have read and will be certainly looking out for her other books.

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Many thanks to the publisher via NetGalley for a copy of this book in return for an honest review

  • Kindle Edition, 336 pages
  • Published:   December 24th 2013 by (first published 2012)
  • Publisher:  Quercus 
  • ASIN B00GGGRKI2

The 100 | Kass Morgan ✭✭

17332969

 

 

 

 

☕️☕️  IT WAS OK.

How was it?    Okay but underwhelming, yes, I was disappointed.

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Synopsis

In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth’s toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland… before it’s too late.

Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they’ve only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they’re haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust – and even love – againThe 100 – by Kass Morgan

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My Review

I was really looking forward to reading this book. I watched the TV series which just got better and better so when I saw the book I just had to get my hands on it.

So, I then thought the trick to reading this book is to forget about the TV series and read the book as if I have never heard of the story. A better plan because there appeared so many differences in the book which you can’t help but compare whilst reading.

Start again….. What was the book about in a nutshell. 100 young adult criminals under 18 were sent back to earth to see it was habitable again after nuclear contamination.  The different areas they came from onboard meant that there was already a class hierarchy. Faintly reminiscence of Lord of Flies, ensued with such unruly reprobates. Most of the book was learning about the main protagonists; their crime, circumstances, and friends.

The bits I liked about the book?

I love this genre so much, and enjoyed the background setting that Morgan painted in a way that so plausible. (Or was I thinking about what I had watched on TV?) I liked the characters with a great mix of emotional confusion with Wells and Clarke/Bellamy, typical YA behaviour told with each POV.

I enjoyed how the characters remained so plausible, with young adults complete with their inexperiences and angsts trying to be responsible though a rage of hormones. Morgan also gets the moral thoughts racing; No, how could they do that! Were their deaths necessary? But what if they didn’t – how do you choose?  Who are the real criminals here?  So much to question after you put the book down.

I liked the hierarchy of the classes having an impact on their perception of each other, especially the way life became expendable for the greater good the lower class you were. Nicely done.

What didn’t work for me?

I didn’t like the way the POV was told in a block of flashback in each of the characters chapter. It felt very disjointed and almost like the real story was the flashback parts, and the current-day was a fill-in waiting for things to get more excitingly active towards the end.  I would have preferred for the story to have started with everyones story, the excitement building slowly towards being back on earth when their fearful adventure begins.

Had I not seen this fantastically imaginative story on TV I probably would have felt it to be a very slow book that cheated me out of the excitement I craved and possibly would have given up reading half way through. I believe I filled out gaps with my imagination from watching it earlier.

Overall, it’s an okay book but lacks any true excitement or goal. I understand this book was written after the series – sorry just didn’t work!

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  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 409 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • ISBN: 0316234478
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (29 Aug 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BJ5AE24

Available from Amazon, Book Depository and other online stores.

Peril, The Legend of Sedrak | Jackie G Mills ✭✭✭✭

23164380 ☕️☕️☕️☕️ – FANTASTIC!!!

An exciting fantasy novel by Jackie G Mills

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Synopsis by Goodreads

Category: Action, Adventure, Legends & Folk Tales, Fantasy, Paranormal, Splash of Romance

When Raki travels with her clan for their annual visit to the Homeland, she has no idea it would be the last time. An evil lurks in wait, seeking more than just death!

In her pursuit of the ancient darkness that changed her life, she discovers a truth hidden beneath layers of deception.

Her reluctant travel companion Jakail hides his own secrets. Who is he and why is he hunting the creature? Together they face terrifying dangers in search of the wizard who can change their fortunes.

As Raki creeps ever closer to the person she was born to be, their destinies intertwine. They must face the peril that awaits them—no matter what the cost

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What I liked best about the book?

I love the fact that the names are easily read and remembered. I really connected with the characters loving Raki, such a sweet girl, and the lovely Jakail 😏  All of the characters throughout the book came alive for me bringing a sense of thrilling intensity and I just loved the Wizard of Light, such a likeable and clever character in a bumbling kind of way.

It was a great start with the would be warriors as just ordinary people without throwing powers about. I loved how I was not overwhelmed with more ‘fantasy’ than I could handle, there was a great balance to it.  I do love a fantasy that transports me to another place where everything is new to me. There is a good sense of time and place throughout the book that flows effortlessly.

The story becomes exciting as the two youngsters start a journey together which could result in their deaths, creating an uncertainty as I read on.  Each part of the adventure brings a new height to that kept my interest high throughout their journey.  Jackie G Mills shows great imagination which is complex without being complicated, a great skill to have.

I loved the fact that it is not overly violent, or sexual and this was an important like for me, it did not detract from the battle/fighting or the most tender scenes.  Such a breath of fresh air to read.

What was a niggle for me?

For me at the beginning there was a little too much descriptive prose, a little less would have enabled me to form my own images in my head.  I really enjoy picturing mental images from a story bringing it alive as I read.  No matter though, because as the story progresses Mills gets into her stride and brought the land alive and I saw it clearly.

Not sure about the cover as it does not immediately show it is a fantasy type genre.

Would I recommend this book?Absolutely

I would recommend this fantasy as a thoroughly good read for any age especially YA.  As a very much long past YA (more of a young senior!) it held my interest and excitement right up till the end which was not disappointing.

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Many thanks to the author who gifted me a copy of this book for my honest review. 

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 283 KB
  • Print Length: 152 pages
  • Publisher: DJM Publishers; 2nd edition (1 Sep 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00N96QSJO

Available at Amazon

 Check out the author on her website  –  http://jackiegmills.wordpress.com

Endgame: The Calling | James Frey ✭ ✭ ✭

☕️☕️☕️ –  It’s Good !

Worth a read and a try to work it out!

Synopsis by Goodreads:

Twelve thousand years ago, they came. They descended from the sky amid smoke and fire, 20510241and created humanity and gave us rules to live by. They needed gold and they left. But before they left, they told us someday they would come back, and when they did, a game would be played. A game that would determine our future.

This is Endgame.

For ten thousand years the lines have existed in secret. The 12 original lines of humanity. Each had to have a Player prepared at all times. They have trained generation after generation after generation. In weapons, languages, history, tactics, disguise assassination. Together the players are everything: strong, kind, ruthless, loyal, smart, stupid, ugly, lustful, mean, fickle, beautiful, calculating, lazy, exuberant, weak. They are good and evil. Like you. Like all.

This is Endgame.

When the game starts, the players will have to find three keys. The keys are somewhere on earth. The only rule of their Endgame is that there are no rules. Whoever finds the keys first wins the game. Endgame: The Calling is about the hunt for the first key. And just as it tells the story of the hunt for a hidden key, written into the book is a puzzle. It invites readers to play their own Endgame and to try to solve the puzzle. Whoever does will open a case filled with gold. Alongside the puzzle will be a revolutionary mobile game built by Google’s Niantic Labs that will allow you to play a real-world version of Endgame where you can join one of the lines and do battle with people around you.
Will exuberance beat strength? Stupidity top kindness? Laziness thwart beauty? Will the winner be good or evil? There is only one way to find out.

Play.
Survive.
Solve.
People of Earth.
Endgame has begun.

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Many thanks to the Publisher via NetGalley for a SAMPLER of this book in return for my honest review

(Firstly have not read The Hunger Games, which I understand may be similar to this book, my review here is purely on what I have read without comparison to any other book)

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I always find these type of things an interesting concept, but looking at the ‘codes’ I had no idea how this was supposed to be worked out.   I am guessing a full copy of the book would include instructions. I can see some people wanting to try it out, but I have always had difficulty cracking ‘codes’ and such, so not for me.

I found the style a bit difficult to read with such a lot of very short sentences which didn’t flow, although it did get better.

I liked the characters introduces so far and it would be interesting to see if any of the characters grow enough to feel connected to them.   The few introduced at start showed promise and the start of the Endgame was quick with the players getting lethally competitive.

I like the fact that what I read so far did not have complicated names or places as often used in fantasy books, this makes it easier for a younger audience.

Sadly though it left me a bit underwhelmed, and so I will not be reading the full book.

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  • Hardcover, 477 pages
  • Published October 7th 2014 by HarperTeen (first published January 1st 2014)
  • original title:  Endgame: The Calling
  • ISBN 0062332589 (ISBN13: 9780062332585)
  • edition languageEnglish
  • series Endgame #1

Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble plus many other bookstores

Milk-Blood | Mark Matthews – ✭✭✭✭✭

21980694I rate this book a fantastic 5 stars!

What a brilliantly disturbing read!

This book is so ‘wrong’ on so many levels, but in a great read way. I was disgusted, outraged, shocked, horrified and still could not put it down.

Zach, his mother and his daughter Lilly live in an area that you would not go to voluntarily, burnt out houses and human decay all around in the people who survive there.

When Zach’s girlfriend tells him she is pregnant by a guy he hates, he has no problem in killing him, in fact she likes the way he ‘takes care’ of things and Latrice tells him to take care of new born Lilly, born with a heart defect and cyanosis.

With no food and no parenting Lilly is left to fend for herself, and at 12 is introduced to heroin by uncle Nelson next door. This makes disturbing reading as the guy shoots H into her visible veins through her translucent skin telling her that it cures her sickness. The shock of seeing this in words struck me deep inside.

Across the road in the burnt out house, home to the ‘red man’ he paces around watching Lilly and listening to her dead mother’s, and Oscars voice. Lilly is his and he wants her in his head.

What I liked about this book

This is a brilliantly clever book, I love that Matthews uses the ‘author’ saying the story is true and not to believe the disclaimer at the beginning. Mark Matthews totally messes with your head because you don’t want to believe anything can be even remotely close to being true and yet you all know what he is describing is from real life. Having worked with addiction and mental health Matthews introduces us to the real horror living amongst us like none have done before.

So the real horror of this book is the truth within it. Matthews does not use monsters to chill us but the possible lives of real people, the terrible world in which drug addiction, poverty and abuse resides. The paranormal just tops it off all of a real treat.

I love the spunk of this young girl against would be bullies, loving her Dad unconditionally. The brutal honesty of how she seeks heroin.

The horror of milk-blood is dark and disgusting and provoked a reaction in me that churned my stomach.

There is just enough detail of each character meaning that you never totally know them adding to the uncertainty of what will happen.

I thoroughly enjoyed the way Matthews writes, his words fill you with horror without the need to overwork it, simple and yet stunning. Wonderful sentences such as these that says more than any detailed description could ever do:

The sound was sharper than any piece of glass he’d ever stepped on. And the little pieces got stuck in his skin just the same.

He hit something, he felt it, not something solid, but something squishy. The clothes hanger got stuck in the muck………A scream echoed from upstairs.

This is a book that will certainly stay with me because I it feels so real.

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Thanks to the Author for a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.

Available from Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes & Noble and other stores

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1398 KB
  • Print Length: 159 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0692207953
  • Publisher: Wicked Run Press (23 Jun 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00L978UN2

Tibetan Cross | Mike Bond – ✭

23151517

 

 

*****WARNING –  CONTAIN SPOILERS*******

Rated 1 STAR:  Not finished

Really struggled with this one and couldn’t finish it.   

Sam Cohen and his friends Paul and Alex are hired as guides to take two Americans across the Himalayas to do something, I am not sure what. When they meet up with a group of traders the Americans insist of travelling along with them. They soon learn they are smuggling arms and are already known to the two Americans. When they discover that not only guns but parts that make a nuclear bomb is also amongst the load, Alex is shot and killed, Sam and Paul split and run. Cohen needs to tell someone because guns are one thing but a nuclear bomb is quite another, but on reaching Katmandu it appears that one of the Americans has made it there first and is in the US Embassy.

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Synopsis (Goodreads)

A classic international thriller and European bestseller about an American climber in the Himalayas who stumbles on a shipment of backpack nuclear weapons into Tibet. Hunted by the CIA and other covert agencies across Asia, North Africa, Europe and the United States, he is captured then rescued by a beautiful young woman with whom he forms a perilous liaison.

They escape the CIA, are captured, and escape again, across Europe and the United States, death always at their heels. Not only a terrifying portrayal of a relentless manhunt, Tibetan Cross is also a deep inquiry into politics and covert action, the nature of fear, and the painful process of love.

Acclaimed by critics as an “existentialist thriller”, and for its penetrating portraits of the individual versus society, the depths of love, and the roots of war, Tibetan Cross has also been praised as “a deft thriller that will reinforce your worst about the CIA and the Bomb” (Publishers Weekly), and that “grips the reader from the very first chapter until the climactic ending” (UPI).

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Sam Cohen is the most stupidest guy who ever had the misfortune to be in charge of his own destiny. He somehow fails to think knowing that he is being chased, that he will not be followed to the family of his friends, and sure enough they are killed and he curses himself for leading them there. This does not happen once but time again. Cohen appears to be in some sort of drug induced psychotic episode for much of this book with drugs and graphic sex, there was a total lack of sensibility for me. The story is being told as it is in Cohen’s head, monosyllabic and stilted which did not work for me. In fact I have no real idea what was going on in the book as I found it too difficult to follow.

Come on, where is the plausibility in a man managing to run miles (30!) with a knee cut through to the bone, a deep cut down his neck and along his shoulder; he also climbs rock faces and swims with a dislocated shoulder, having put it back his self several times. Is beaten up more than once, tortured with electrodes and still manages to keep running.

For someone who is about to be killed he fails to take it seriously enough not to fall in love and have graphic sex with every woman he meets which feels somewhat self indulgent as it adds nothing to the story. The worst part of this book is that it includes a young girl in his sexual exploits in a way that is thoroughly distasteful. It would be one thing to describe pedophilia in way that shows disgust, but quite another to describe it as ‘yet another’ sexual exploit.

I could not like any of the characters very much apart from the elderly guy in the mountains. Cohen appears to be an idiot, the bad guys out of some cartoon, and the women, well, they are pure fantasy of men, not a real character amongst them.

I could not follow the plot very well and realised that this was partly down to the fact that the kindle edition that was sent me was not formatted as such. This meant that paragraphs were not distinct running all parts of the plot into one making no sense at all. I am surprised that such little care has been taken with this in this age of technology. Not acceptable really.

Many thanks to the Publisher for a copy of this book via NetGalley in return for my honest review

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  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5105 KB
  • Print Length: 356 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Mandevilla Press (2 Oct 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00O5BU52S

Of Things Gone Astray | Janina Matthewson – ✭✭✭✭✭

21805265

I rate this book a massive 5 stars!

This is a book about life; about loss and how it affects people differently, but this isn’t a run of the mill novel. It is awesome and stunningly astute; I am almost at a loss for words how good this book is. I said almost!

With six main protagonists who have equally complex characters this book appears to be breaking all the rules for a successful novel, and each of the people have equal importance in this observational novel of human circumstance.

This book is added to my favourites of all time list, and will stay with me for a long time.

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Synopsis

Mrs Featherby had been having pleasant dreams until she woke to discover the front of her house had vanished overnight …

On a seemingly normal morning in London, a group of people all lose something dear to them, something dear but peculiar: the front of their house, their piano keys, their sense of direction, their place of work.

Meanwhile, Jake, a young boy whose father brings him to London following his mother’s sudden death in an earthquake, finds himself strangely attracted to other people’s lost things. But little does he realise that his most valuable possession, his relationship with his dad, is slipping away from him.

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Cassie’s inability to move on in life
Anthony’s inability to ‘see’ his son through his own grief
Jake’s inability to see his Dad Anthony
Robert’s inability to face changing the habit of work he hates so much, his wife Mara realisation he sacrifice himself to suit her lifestyle but doesn’t want it to change, five year old Bonny excluded from school for singing.
Jake lost his mother and loses his Dad in plain site, Anthony loses sight of his son.
Marcus loses the keys from his piano and is losing his mind
Mrs Featherstone lost the front of her house, and her ability to remain hidden
Delia has lost her way in her life becoming dependent on her dependent mother.

How was this book different?

First of all I love the cover it’s spot on and drew my interest immediately.

Writing with a character being the focus of each chapter, they connect in ways that are very satisfying, and
they felt so real to me, that I could empathise with each of them.

Matthewson has a wonderful way of giving character details condensed into a simple sentence and does so exquisitely well which tells us all, and more about them:

Mrs Featherby, whose first name was Wendy, or had been many years earlier, …..

Jake;

…just wanted it to still be important to someone that he was having a birthday

The Masters Degree Delia had to cease because of her mothers accident:

Sometimes you can return to an opinion you’ve not visited in years and find it’s died and rotted away without you even noticing.

She invites you to think about the benefits of Delia losing her way but noticing more around her.

As terrifying as it was to be completely lost, there was something about it she enjoyed, something that made it worth the fear.

It had never occurred to her that her struggle to find her way would get worse over time. That it would grow into an inability to follow clearly marked signs.

What happens when your whole life has been defined by your job, to ‘lose’ it is to lose yourself and when Robert’s employment appears never to have existed, it wiped his life of meaning and purpose in an instant.

The saying ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ is strong in mind when reading this book, exploring and challenging the importance of blind monotony of our lives.

As well as loss, the characters illustrates fear in all forms; fear of changing what is no longer comfortable, fear of doing nothing, fear of feeling, the fear of failing. For Cassie fear of moving on, she takes root as a tree.

The loss of losing his mind was real for Marcus, describing early dementia with the fear of that comes with the loss of the past. So cleverly shown with the loss of his piano keys from the piano he built but could not mend; he was also unable to mend himself.

This is in no way a depressing book, there is a much uplifting side to the novel, I absolutely loved the way it delved into and connected each of their lives.

I strongly recommend anyone to read this book who has an interest in people.

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Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book via NetGalley in return for a fair and honest review.

  • Published by HarperCollins UK, HarperPress/4th Estate/The Friday Project | The Friday Project
  • Pub Date: Aug 28 2014
  • ISBN: 9780007562480

The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid – ✭✭✭✭

21029013

I rate this book a great 4 stars!

What can I say about Val McDermid‘s wonderful mastery of writing!

DCI Karen Pirie investigates the discovery of a skeleton on the roof of a building, an historical case that takes her to Europe to find answers with unexpected connections to the Croatian military.

This is an intricate book that moves back and forwards in time with flashbacks to the Balkan conflict in Croatia and Serbia in the 90s.

I remember the conflict and the atrocities which were on the news but not much historical details and am grateful for the serious reminder within this novel.

‘Hero’ is a word that has many meanings in different cultures and McDermid uses this to make the moral tenet less certain with the way the story unfolds. Mitja, who was a general in Croatia has been missing for 8 years and his lover Maggie, a feminist geo-political Professor in Oxford does not want to believe he is behind the revenge killings of war criminals.

What I especially liked:

I love how as readers, we get so involved in Karen’s life and want to follow her more. There are some really great characters in the book and I especially love the duo Alan Macanespie and Theo Proctor who have all but given up on life until they get a new boss.

The parts that made the book special for me were the intense flashbacks which brought the younger selves of the characters alive giving a real depth of personal history and also enhancing the murder mystery.

Left me with a lot of thought did this book! 

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Many thanks to the Publisher for a copy of this book via NetGalley for my honest review.

  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK
  • Published September 11th 2014
  • ISBN 1408704579 (ISBN13: 9781408704578)
  • Price: £18.99 
  • EditionHardcover
  • Hardcover, 464 pages

Consumption by Michael Patrick Hicks ✭✭✭✭

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This short story is most wonderfully macabre! Oh yes, I loved where Hicks took me on this short dark journey.

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Synopsis

You Are
Reclusive chef Heinrich Schauer has invited six guests to a blind twelve-course tasting menu.

What You Eat
While snow blankets the isolated Swiss valley surrounding his estate, the guests feast eagerly, challenging one another to guess at the secret tastes plated before them.

Meat Is Murder
As they eat, each guest is overtaken by carnal appetites, unaware of their host’s savage plans…or of the creature lurking below.

One thing is clear: There is more on the menu than any of them have bargained for.

Consumption is a 12,000 word (approx.) short story. It contains graphic depictions of sex and violence, and is intended for mature audiences.

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A dinner party to die for. Seated and wearing hideous masks provided by the host, the guests are only known to each other by their knowledge of attending these secret dinner parties where food, cooked exquisitely, has no limits. Twelve courses of something they cannot guess at even though that is the only topic of conversation allowed.

Meanwhile the host is cooking and watching his guests as they consume; and are consumed by the courses, and without its vocal chords the main ingredient screams silently as it is carefully cut up and cooked.

You may imagine the outcome as you read on but you cannot guess the complexities as they unfold and are finally revealed.

Cleverly thought out, I was both disgusted and excited by this tale. Hicks has such a dark imagination and certainly does not play it safe in his writing.

Apart from the cover of this ebook which makes it look a wee bit like a children’s book (and its not – trust me!!) there is nothing I dislike about this book.

This a MUST read for horror fans.

Note to myself……now I need to read Divergence

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Many thanks to the author for an advanced copy of this book in return for my honest review.

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 224 KB
  • Print Length: 53 pages
  • Publishing date:  14 October 2014
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00NXHUUIY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled

Available to pre order from:  Amazon (14 October 2014) – £0.77 !

 

The Oblate’s Confession by William Peak – ✭✭✭

 

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I rate this book a GOOD ✭✭✭

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Synopsis by NetGalley:

England, the 7th century. Petty Anglo-Saxon kingdoms make war upon one another and their Celtic neighbors. Christianity is a new force in the land, one whose hold remains tenuous at best. Power shifts back and forth uneasily between two forms of the new faith: a mystical Celtic Catholicism and a newer, more disciplined form of Catholicism emanating from Rome. Pagan rites as yet survive in the surrounding hills and mountains. Plague sweeps across the countryside unpredictably, its path marked by death and destruction.

In keeping with a practice common at the time, an Anglo-Saxon warrior donates his youngest child to the monastery of Redestone, in effect sentencing the boy to spend the rest of his life as a monk. This gift-child, called an oblate, will grow up in the abbey knowing little of his family or the expectations his natural father will someday place upon him, his existence haunted by vague memories of a former life and the questions those memories provoke.

Who is his father, the distant chieftain who sired him or the bishop he prays for daily? And to which father, natural or spiritual, will he owe allegiance when, at length, he is called upon to ally himself with one and destroy the other? These are the dilemmas the child faces. The answers will emerge from the years he spends in spiritual apprenticeship to a hermit who lives on the nearby mountain of Modra nect – and his choices will echo across a lifetime.

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My Review:

A written confession of a monk of his sin; a child’s view of living his life in a monastery, all those around him, and his surroundings as far as he could see. His religious instruction, his questioning, his learned understanding of human behaviour clearly shows Peak is a master of introspection, but to me the novel felt disjointed in time and flow.

What I found GREAT about the book?

I loved the idea of an adult recounting his childhood with the understand that as he grew his memories could change. There is a real tenderness in which Peak talks about the relationships within the Redestone.

I found this to be a wonderful philosophical book that is an instruction into deconstructing held beliefs, examining them and reconstructing them with a greater understanding, and this is the part of the book that was a real pleasure to read. In this William Peak excites me in his writing.

The opening chapter gives us the start in mime, simple pleasures of making a snowman with a small boy to indicate that the monks do not speak but use sign language, so using sign language Peak starts his tale. Brilliant!

There are some lovely lines from a child perspective, simple memories: A childs thinking, with an adult understanding:

‘I thought about the place at table where I sat. I thought about my bed. I thought about the spot along the church wall that on sunny mornings grew warn and rosy in the light.’

Simple pleasures in a childs world.

When Winwæd is instructing the younger oblate Oftfor about heirachy of Fathers in the Abbey, Oftfor asks

“Are there any mothers?”

What a sad line.

Peak shows a deep understanding of the scale of someones compact world – our world can be only what we see, but when we venture further past that distant view, we discover that a picture in our mind is only a picture and the reality can be terrifyingly magnificent. This is conveyed whilst Winwæd is high up on a crag looking down on Redestone. I enjoyed how this book is focussed around one small place as if there was nothing outside of it, even in their imagination.

In a complex way he shows that although the monks appear to blindly follow a man (Bishop Wilfred) who stole Winwæd’s fathers lands and makes demands of them, each monk has their own story and personal secrets. They keep something for themselves, they do things considered wrong by their rules, but is really part of natural curiosity. I also love the way Peak also has a wonderful manner of digging down the deepest level of questioning, forcing the reader to really think about held beliefs, showing all sides of blind faith and no faith.

Instruction for young oblates includes the history of Cumbrogi monks who also felt they were doing God’s will in their heathen ways, and invites thoughts about how religion has been shaped by powerful men and followed blindly because of being taught that there is only one path to God.

I enjoyed how Peak challenges with suggestions how memories can also be shaped and false. As he is writing, Winwaed reminds himself that his memory may not be correct.

The questioning is brutal – What if religion is nonsense?

‘What if suffering is just suffering? What if the one who suffered finds neither nobility nor reason in his pain? What if there is only confusion, hurt, loss? We do not expect a horse to learn from its suffering, a cow….’

There is also offered a solution to the oblate, that God does not exist but you can create a peace within yourself which you can call God eventually, and that is God (I think!).

What was not great for me?

Now I will qualify this part of my review to my Britishness!

The main problem for me was that the language style of this book did not take me back in time. I felt like I was reading about modern day when I really wanted to be transported to the 7th Century. I expect this is because I am in love with historical language!

The overuse of modern words (e.g. Truism, lunacy, explosion, recondite, antiphone), many of which originates back to the 17th Century spoilt the enjoyment for me, bordering on irritation. I admit that this is my personal bugbear!

Then there is the line “You take care of yourself” – which seems spoken in such a modern way that it shouted out – wrong to me!

Throughout the book history is told in such a way to the child oblate who appeared not to entirely understand.
“You haven’t any idea what I’m talking about, have you?” I shook my head’

I shook my head as well, I had to agree, I also found it difficult to follow the lesson. The history feels like it has been superficially added to tell a background to the novel, without weaving it into the story.

I found it a bit hard to follow the timeline of the memories and marry the events being recounted and the ages of the young oblate. At the end of the book I was no nearer understanding what prompted it or when the confession was being written. No matter though the journey was good.

Would I recommend it? – Yes definitely, especially if you are one of those people who like history told in a modern way. Is it worth reading? – Yes without hesitation – I love a good challenge

This is William Peak’s debut novel, and I really look forward to him growing as an author of novels.

Would I recommend it? – Yes definitely, especially if you are one of those people who like history told in a modern way.
Is it worth reading? - Yes without hesitation – I love a good challenge

This is William Peak’s debut novel, and I really look forward to him growing as an author of novels.

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Many thanks to the Publisher for an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley for an honest review.

Hardcover, 416 pages
Expected publication: December 1st 2014 by Secant Publishing
ISBN0990460800 (ISBN13: 9780990460800)