Saturday 25 November 2023



Title: Wild Hope
Donna Ashworth
Black & White Publishing
Poetry, Self Help
Release Date:
28th September 2023

BLURB from Goodreads
Wild Hope is Donna Ashworth's powerful new collection of wisdom to help us find hope, peace, self-acceptance and inspiration on the days we feel worn down, helpless or sad. Written with love and understanding, Donna reminds us that amidst our daily struggles and constant outpourings of bad news we have so much to hope for, and that every one of us can play a part, big or small, in making the world a better place. 

Goodreads Link

This is definitely a brilliant book to have to hand or on your bookshelf! As the title suggests the poems within all have the theme of hope within them. The book cover features butterflies and the byline “Healing Words to Find Light on Dark Days”. The byline truly fits the book perfectly as there is a poem in it for every situation. The poems are comforting, like a warm hug or a kind word from a close friend. Some of the poems are very Aesop fable-esque, it’s difficult to explain but they are very descriptive and kind of teaching you something in their own unique way. I found some of the poems extremely poignant and emotional in relation to the deaths of my parents such as,

Threads From Heaven, is one I could relate myself and really loved the concept as its true I think of most people who look upwards to the sky when they think of loved ones no longer with them.

Also Their light Will Find You which is a about a loved one dying, and that those left behind can no longer see their light but in time, though you are “left behind” you can and will “feel” their light
Another I loved and I thought fit anyone with Dementia was In Rest They Remember, it puts across a very comforting idea

Another poem that had me smiling and reminiscing was After Party as I have the fondest memories of staying up after the New Years Eve party at my aunties and not even going to bed because of all the tidying, cleaning, sorting the vinyl records back into their correct slip cases when everyone had left in the early hours of the morning of New Years Day!

The other poem that had me feeling emotional was Great Friends it is accurate and true, as this poem says great friends are like stars you maybe don’t always see them, or see them regularly but they are still there.

Other poems were like lessons in how we can improve ourselves for example, Just Visiting the notion is that we are just visiting this planet, that we are being gifted access to it and that we, humans, should be better much guests & take care of this world we live in so it is in a decent state for our children.

Another such poem was The Story Of You, it’s about a woman writing down all her thoughts, her life & her story in a blue book. The blue book is then forgotten but is later found by the woman’s grandaughter who shared it with the world.

I also really loved the explanation of karma poem which is called The Karma Thief. It says we all have a jar of light (aka karma), you give this light away in good acts and then it returns to you and it’s even brighter and it’s when you most need it. However, if you are mean or unkind or nasty you give away a light that will never come back to you, or be a comfort to you.

The major lasting message that I took from the book that was loud and clear was about being yourself regardless of what others think, doing things for yourself, saying no, reminding you to just stop, breathe and enjoy being.

Summing up this book has a great selection of motivational poetry. I readily confess to not being a big poetry reader or poetry lover but I did enjoy the collection. It's the type of book you need to have on your book shelf so you can return to it on those days you need cheering up and spurring on. Definitely a book you will keep on returning to and dipping in and out of.


Wednesday 8 November 2023



Title: Ruined World
Surviving The End
Grace Hamilton
Relay Publishing
Release Date:
8th November 2023

BLURB from Goodreads
Trust is the first casualty of war… Disaster has struck the McDonald family. Everything they’ve built since the fall of civilization has been destroyed by a devastating fire. They’ve lost their community, supplies, and even loved ones. The death of Mike and James hits hardest of all. The other survivors are scattered. There’s nothing left. All that remains is the indomitable will to survive. Jodi is lucky enough to have several family members survive the fire as they take to the road to find their new home. In this harsh new world, other survivors are often the greatest threat and trust must be earned. But the dangers of traveling America after the EMP force their hand. The missionaries of Helios seem to have good intentions and offer the weary group safe refuge in their enclave. But Jodi’s unease grows as they move farther from the burned village, and the missionaries reveal their zealous ideology. Soon, Jodi will discover just how far the missionaries will go to control their new guests. And by that time, it may be too late to escape ….

Goodreads Link

I have loved all the covers for this book series, they fit the individual books well, with each new cover having an image representing a scene from within the book very well. The covers also all tie well together and I bet they look amazing on a bookstore/library shelf!

After the way Burned World ended, I couldn’t wait to read more about these characters I had grown to love would cope being separated from family members. Would this harsh world divide and conquer the remaining survivors or would they pick themselves up, literally dust themselves down and get on with this latest horrific set back. Its not just the material losses, it’s the betrayal surrounding James’ death, and how the fire started that are particularly hard to swallow. Great characters have met sad ends in this series with James murdered and hi killer still at large. Then there is Mike who helps to save his mother and niece before succumbing to the water himself and drowning. I guess you could say he was murdered just as much as James, was as if the fire hadn’t been started the chain of events that led to his drowning would not have occurred. It is hitting Beth particularly hard that she has not been able to give her family members what she calls a decent burial. James was a partner to Beth whom she loved dearly and Mike, her son who she had thought she was going to lose when he got his cancer diagnosis, then he fought hard and survived, only to drown helping her and Kaylee.

The family starts of the book split into three parts, Beth, Amelia & Kaylee, Shane & guide dog Ruby and finally Jodi, Owen, Katie, Violet, Corbin and Greyson. It seems like the family are heading in all different directions that are leading them further apart instead of reuniting them. I think initially it is Shane that has it worst as he is totally on his own until one particularly bright moment amidst all the devastation is when Ruby, Violet’s guide dog finds Violet’s father Shane. Ruby is the reason to continue and fight his burns injury pains and the reminder of his family being out there somewhere that Shane needs. When Shane loses consciousness, it is Ruby who stays with him, guards him, awakens him and helps to battle on. Its not overly long until Shane & Ruby are found by family matriarch Beth, her granddaughter in law Amelia and her granddaughter Kaylee. Of course, they are all happy to be reunited, and it seems to have a really good effect of Kaylee being reunited with one of her parents. It soon becomes apparent that the adults in the group all have quite different ideas of what they should be doing, from staying put by the lake hoping the rest of the family will turn up soon, to actively searching for the other family members. However, Beth makes one thing known she needs to bury James, as well as retrieve Mike’s body and bury him too, she will not rest until this is done.

Jodi, Owen, little Katie, Violet, and Corbin with their now prisoner Greyson are heading towards the area the religious sect have their settlement. They soon come across two citizens of Helios, the religious order they were making their way to for help. They need food, shelter and medical attention which they are more than willing to work for. Then it is their plan to return back into the now burnt landscape and wilderness to search for their missing family members. They are all clear on their plan but it doesn’t help Jodi feel more and more uneasy the further away from Hickory Falls they get and once they arrive in Helios that uneasiness only increases.

Helios is a rather strange cult like community, they are ruled by a male leader called Amun Ra whose immediate helpers are named Luminance Flare, Dash etc. It is clear this is a male ruled faction of survivors. Everyone is expected to work, in return they receive food, shelter and any medical help they need. The newcomers soon fit into their new schedule grateful to be taken in and given help. At the start of every day Katie is whisked away to the nursery where she is locked in with those that work there until the end of work bell is sounded when she can be collected to go back to her own family. The thing that really irks Jodi is the work division, the whole “men’s work” and “women’s work”. When there’s an issue with access and Jodi suggests a bridge design, she has built before and knows will work she is ignored, yet when she sends Owen with the same suggestion he is treat like some sort of saviour/hero!! Jodi’s discomfort of this women obey kind of living soon puts a target on her back and has her labelled a trouble maker. Jodi and her family discuss ways of making an exit from Helios.

On another occasion Jodi speaks up warning the elders of the Helio community that Greyson is not trustworthy, she is partially ignored. To make amends for his mother speaking out of turn, Owen volunteers to be with Greyson on the work detail. Once away from the others and in the small group of 4, Greyson once again shows his true evil and attacks first the two young men from Helios and kills them then attacks and leaves Owen for dead. Owen and the two Helio men are found and returned to Helios. Amun Ra says a trial will be held. In a strange turn of events despite Jodi warning that Greyson wasn’t to be trusted, Amun Ra blames the death of his two men on Owen and sentences him to “face the sun”. He will be locked in a cage on top of the temple for 4 days and nights.

In a strange twist the fact that Violet is partially sighted makes the people of Helios think she is gifted as she can only see shades of light/dark meaning she sees the shades of light in people. She is soon and a type of sun Princess. Violet has been feeling useless so when offered all this extra attention she naturally begins to enjoy it, and tries to use it to help have her brother Owen releases from his cage in the sun.

This book is really action packed with each set of survivors facing different dangers whilst trying to decide the best way forward to find their missing family members. The two groups end up finding each other again just at a pivotal time. It turns out Greyson has had a hand in bringing the family back together. It’s certainly touch and go at certain points in the book as to if the family in Helios will ever escape Helios, or will the rest of the family be lured in too.

Theres a lot of guilt going round in this book too. The guilt of having to use fire to escape Helios, the guilt of bringing Greyson to an unsuspecting community, Owens guilt at missing the signs Greyson was going to double cross him and the work team killing the two Helios men. Theres also a theme of betrayal, Greyson leading both sets of the separate groups of family members to Helios whilst not giving them the full story of what they are walking into. The inklings of betrayal of Violet as she enjoys the attention and feeling of importance that the people of Helios give her when her family seem to disregard her. Then the feelings of betrayal the reunited family feel at how they had to use fire to escape Helios and its residents when some of them had been nice to them. However, there is also the betrayal of those in charge in Helios as they use tricks and words twisting to get the family to bend to their will. Corbin and Owen betrayed by a Helios resident that they thought could see their point of view and help them leave Helios peacefully. There was also loss in this book, James and Mike had to be buried, another integral family character dies and their loss is devastating, all the more so as its at a point in the book when you think things have started to look better for the family. Then there’s Greyson, the bad guy, the fire starter, the one that murdered James, who seemed drawn like a magnet to Corbin. Did Greyson just need the love and care of a good family coming from a poor life situation like Corbin? Or was he always going to be a lost cause? Though things don’t look good for him towards the end of this book, stranger things of happened and he has a habit of popping up right when the family are so desperate that they give him another chance to prove he can be good.

My immediate thoughts were, Wow, what a journey these characters go on in this book, both individually and as a group. Sadly, we also say goodbye to one of the main characters, their loss will be felt strongly along with the losses from the previous book. This family has reunited but there have been many casualties they have certainly not escaped unscathed.

Summing up, Wow! What a book! I can't wait to read more about these surviving characters, and where their journey will take them. Will it be to safety or more terror? Will it be just their family alone or will they meet others to build a community with? The possibilities are endless!!

Tuesday 7 November 2023



Title: Burned World
Surviving The End
Grace Hamilton
Release Date:
11th October 2023

BLURB from Goodreads

The apocalypse is over. But the struggle for survival has only just begun… A hard-won peace has been earned by the McDonald family’s Georgia settlement, Hickory Falls. The rural community offers shelter, food, and safety. At least for now… But in the aftermath of the solar flare, and the fall of the old world, danger takes many forms. It begins with a drought that threatens crops. Then a flood of refugees arrives, driven from their homes by a raging wildfire. They’ve lost everything, and the inferno is spreading. Taking in the dispossessed means more mouths to feed—but it also means willing hands to do vital work. And one refugee in particular has valuable skills. Greyson was a firefighter, and he’s got a plan to make Hickory Falls safe from the encroaching fire. But there’s something a little off about the man. Beth, the McDonald matriarch, doesn’t trust him—though she can’t say why. But, like it or not, he’s part of the community now. Will his preparations save Hickory Falls? Or plunge the community into fiery doom…

Goodreads Link

Burned World is bk4 in the Surviving The End series by Grace Hamilton and has an eye catching cover that fits well with the rest of the series so far and it certainly depicts the dangerous, out of control fire featured in the book plot.

As always when there has been a large gap between books, I worry about remembering all the relevant facts from the previous books and I aren’t one for really re-reading books before reading the new one in the series. It was roughly 3 years since I read New World bk3 in the Surviving The End series, so it was a long time. I did go back and read my reviews for the other books but have to admit that I initially struggled remembering all the nuances of the characters and what had happened previously when I started reading Burned World.

The actual initial apocalypse is over. But the hardships have only just started to really kick in and be really felt. Sheriff James Cooley and the McDonald family are still at the centre of things though everything is still put to a vote and of course the majority rule. With resources including water, becoming even more scarce there are difficult decisions to be made, especially when a newcomer called Greyson arrives warning of a wildfire burning out of control and the possibility of it coming to Hickory Falls. Naturally there’s immediate worrying as with water in short supply already what could they fight a fire with? It just so happens that the newcomer, Greyson has a valuable skill he is eager to share with them, he is/was a fire fighter. He is full of ideas, many controversial and involving a lot of work to pull off on how to protect Hickory Falls from the fire.

I thoroughly enjoyed disliking the rather creepy Greyson from the beginning, I was definitely with both Beth and Violet with their feelings of unease about him. The way he manipulates Sheriff James Cooley, Corbin and the McDonalds is very subtle at first but as the residents of Hickory Falls succumb to his 'spell' the cracks in their community begin to widen. I felt so sorry for Corbin, being used as part of Greyson’s greater plan. Even at the end of this book as a reader we don't know if the information Greyson is providing is the truth or part of some even greater sinister plot he has or is part of.

There’s so much going on in this book that the Hickory Fall residents have to deal with as if they didn’t have enough issues already. Every decision means a meeting, an explanation of options and action and a vote to decide what to do as a community. There are the two huge influxes of newcomers that have fled their own homes due to the fire, that turn up at the gates of Hickory falls offering to work in exchange for food and shelter. Some of the newcomers bring new skills & tools to add to those already at the community. Both times the emergency bell that calls everyone to gather for a meeting is rung and though the vote is very close both times the newcomers are allowed in. However, when a third lot of refugees arrive the vote is for them to be turned away, the strange group do not go without protesting and even trying to climb the tall fence surrounding Hickory Falls. Eventually they shout threats and retreat to the woods, but they are lurking and a constant threat to be dealt with.

I have to admit to chuckling at everyone being sick of the 'only ring in an emergency bell' continuously being used, but it is also a necessity if the community wish to have their opinions heard and to vote on anything and everything such as the fire precautions, as well as the more usual day to day situations that need to be voted on. At one point it seems like the emergency bell to call everyone to the meeting hall is constantly being wrong, dragging people away from work or their rest time. It gets to a point where families only send a couple of people to represent them or just don’t respond to the bell at all. I couldn’t help get the feeling that there would be a huge emergency or danger and the bell would be wrong and lives would be lost due to people ignoring it.

I also felt like reaching into the book and hugging Beth. The stubborn stalwart, the prepper, the one who readily helps anyone & everyone. Beth loses a lot in this book, materialistic, emotionally and physically but she battles on for those around her. I also worry for what's ahead for Jodi, especially when her pain medication totally runs out, how will she cope living in a world where it's literally become an 'every person for themselves' & 'survival of the fittest' scenario.

Sadly, two central, great characters die in this book, one under highly suspicious circumstances and the other who has already been through so much in their life, dies whilst saving the life of another character.

I also felt like reaching into the book and shaking Owen when he was moping about because he was looking after his daughter rather doing hard physical work, whilst his wife worked on certain projects. Having said that I could also kind of see his point of view that he was sort of being “wasted” on babysitting duties when perhaps there were others that could have cared for his daughter. I did love how Jodi handled the situation though as she is right of course that it is important for him to spend time with his child too and realise that caring for a child is also “work” and important.

It's difficult to say much more without giving away major plot lines. I will say that though this started slowly, it’s to set the scene and foundation for what is coming. Once the action begins things happen really quickly.

Summing up, initially I admit to being really irritated at figuring who was who and thinking back to the different family and community dynamics. However, once I got back into the world and society within the book, I slowly began to be pulled back in and the ending of Burned World had me wanting to scream why is there no more!! So yes, I am certainly looking forward to reading more in this series, especially as I had thought that bk3 New World was the last book!! So great surprise that there are actually at least another 2 books to come and they’re being release this year!! 

Thursday 19 October 2023



Title: Mated To Curves Bk2
Mated To Curves Series
DV Fischer
Release Date:
24th September 2023

BLURB from Goodreads
Joyce is a therapist. She specializes in trauma and death, and she’s good at her job. With that in mind, she can’t understand why shifters would go to an underground fight club, least of all the mate who doesn’t want her, to beat the crap out of each other. But Avani is her best friend and she drags her there anyway. It’s torture, knowing that her mate doesn’t want her, but she’s determined to get to the bottom of his pain whether he likes it or not. 

Goodreads Link

I really like the same shade of cover and the similarities to the cover of Mated To Curves bk1. The subtle differences representing the two different characters at the centre of this story.

Though I am pleased that Avani and Cade do still feature in this book too.

The central ‘couple to be’ in bk2 are Joyce and Kye who we met in bk1 at Cade’s fighting club for shifters. When Joyce set eyes on Kye when her best friend Avani was fighting him near the end of bk1 they both experience the instant connection and pull of the mate bond though Kye’s initial instinct seemed to be to immediately run away from it and ignore it.

It’s decided by the already bond mated Avani that all Kye needs is some encouragement so she chooses what she considers a suitable outfit to catch Kye’s attention. This leaves a rather self conscious Joyce seriously out of her comfort zone in a short dress. She had thought that the outfit Avani chose would be a low cut top and jeans shorts but nope she has gone full on glamour in the outfit choice for her best friend and Joyce is finding the dress is somewhat uncomfortably short!! When the outfit isn’t enough to grab Kye’s attention and drag him to Joyce, Avani puts the next stage of he plan into action. Avani encourages another unsuspecting shifter to show Joyce attention, though to be fair Joyce had been attracting looks from a lot of shifters in her current outfit! The fact another male is in his opinion leering over his mate certainly drags Kye to her side. However, it soon becomes apparent though he doesn’t want to accept and act on the bond he also doesn’t want anyone else around Joyce either! In fact, its Joyce’s defiant remark about her dating others that has Kye grabbing and kissing her. Kye is confused and still trying to resist the temptation of the mate bond when Cade reaches out and offers him a safe place for his wolf to run free. Aaron also reaches out offering Kye help and a friendship but Kye prefers his own company. Kye has a had a difficult life and lost people he loved so is reluctant to become attached to anyone. It seems like he needs a therapist to talk to, a therapist like Joyce!

Avani continues to scheme and plan, constantly pushing Kye and Joyce together in different ways, and on occasions it works with things becoming rather steamy between the pair but Kye always pulls back. Avani isn’t giving up though and continues her sneaky plans to get Kye and Joyce in the same places at the same time.

Avani and Cade are turning into almost the “parents” of the other shifters or should I say the Alphas they are is beginning to shine through, but will this put them and the other shifters at the fight club in danger?

Joyce has been experiencing issues with a rather pushy patient/client calling himself Gerald, though when Joyce sets eyes on him she realises the man is not whom he says he is and possibly has some dark ulterior motive by coming to her work.

It is when Kye has been coerced into dropping Joyce at her work as a therapist that he spots an aggressive patient/client accosting Joyce and acts on pure instinct, and insists he sit outside “guarding” his mate whilst she is at work, he even refers to himself as her boyfriend.

So, is Kye accepting the bond?

I really enjoyed reading Joyce and Kye’s story. Kye however was so very, very stubborn and determined to resist as much as he can, though who could blame him with his sad past.

It was amusing to read the different ways Avani continued to push them together. It's quite funny that he is such a big tough guy and is struggling against his mind, his past, his body, his heart and perhaps the most difficult thing to fight his inner wolf!!

Summing up once again, I literally read this in one sitting/reading session. You can’t help wanting to continue reading until the end! Very addictive reading! Looking forward to reading Mated To Curves bk3!!