Tuesday, 3 November 2015

BOOK BLITZ & MY REVIEW - MATRONLY DUTIES BY MELISSA KENDALL

Title: Matronly Duties
Author: Melissa Kendall
Genre: Sci-Fi, Romance
Publisher: TWCS (The Writer's Coffee Shop)
Release Date: 21st May 2015

BLURB supplied by The Writer's Coffee Shop
Hundreds of years after an asteroid slammed into Earth and sent it into a new ice age, what remains of the human race lives on in underground sanctuaries. Now, as the bicentennial anniversary of the impact approaches, a new leader prepares to take her place at the head of the government. At least, thats what she thinks.

Bethanie Greenes life has been planned out for her since the age of thirteen. Beautiful and intelligent, shes spent the last twelve years training to become the next Matron of the underground nation of Oceania. But when Bethanie is kidnapped by rogue extremists just six weeks shy of taking office, her world is turned upside down by the handsome stranger who rescues her.
Howard James life has been the polar opposite of Bethanies. Struggling to survive in a world where those in power wished he didnt exist, he harbors a deep-seated resentment of the government and all its representatives. Together with his unconventional family, he shows Bethanie a life she never knew was possible, while at the same time, opening her eyes to the injustices of the government she is meant to lead.
But can she trust a stranger? And can a few days change everything she believes and desires? Against all odds, Bethanie must decide if her heart and her duties can coexist.

Goodreads Link


PURCHASE LINKS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Melissa Kendall is an almost forty-year-old mother of two from Perth, Western Australia, the second-most isolated capital city in the world. Predominantly a stay-at-home mum, she works a few hours a week as a software support consultant. She has always loved to read and write, and spent most of her teens writing poetry and short stories. Over the years, daily life got in the way and she lost the passion for it, but after the birth of her first child, Melissa discovered e-books and her interest in writing rekindled. She is now the author of two published short stories. Matronly Duties is her first full-length novel.


~~CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR~~




EXCERPT
Are you all right? Howard asks, concern etched on his face.
I dont think I can go back in there, I say in a pitifully weak voice.
It will be okay. I promise Im not going to let anyone hurt you. He tugs on my hand, trying to get me to move. When I refuse, he says, Its safe, I promise.
How do you know?
Because Ive lived my whole life here.
The calm tone of his voice and the smile on his face should be reassuring, but I cant shake the feeling that if I go inside something bad will happen.
But . . .
He grabs my hand and pulls me forward until were barely a hairs breadth apart. Bethanie, I can take care of you. Ive taken care of you so far, havent I?
I nod but still dont move. I just cant.
Please, he says, squeezing my hand as I try to move away. You will be safe. on my honour, I swear.
This near to him I can feel the heat of his body. I want to close the gap between us and sink into his warmth. I look into his eyes and straightaway feel the tension drain from my body. Something in his expression tells me I can trust him, that he really wont let anyone hurt me. He smiles and gives my hand another tug, and this time I follow.
Entering the catacombs brings back memories of the previous days terror, as expected. Feeling me shudder, Howard pulls me close and puts an arm around my shoulders, guiding me safely through the passages.
We are in the catacombs for a little while before we walk through an exit on the bedrock side, opposite the city. I am shocked to see a tunnel system open up before us.
What is this?
Theyre natural caverns in the earths crust. Not many people left know they are here.
The fact that no one knows where we are, and that they dont even know these tunnels exist, makes me pause.
How do you know about them? I ask, my curiosity warring with my fear.
I stumbled upon them by accident. I have always loved coming to the catacombs when I need a bit of peace and quiet. When I discovered this entrance, I couldnt help but explore.
I can understand that. Up until now, I had never really thought about what existed outside the edges of the city. To know there is more is extremely exciting.
Howard grabs a torch out of the backpack he brought with us. Then he pulls out what look like clothes.
What are they for?
Its going to get quite cold the further we venture along. These are hemp knit jumpers and scarves. Theyll keep you warm. His eyes light up as he tosses one of the jumpers my way.
Sliding it on, it doesnt take long to realise hes given me one of his jumpers. The sleeves are long, and it looks like a dress the way it falls just above my knees.
He grabs my right hand and folds the sleeve up. Sorry, mum doesnt have any of this type of clothing.

Once the right hand is visible out the end of the sleeve, he grabs my left and does the same thing. The urge to sniff the jumper hits me out of nowhere. The aroma is that of soap powder and something else I cant quite put my finger on.
There you go. Hands free. He grabs a scarf and wraps it around my neck, finishing up with a kiss to the cheek. Snug as a bug.
My cheeks heat, the warmth spreading all the way down my chest.
He takes my hand and leads me through the tunnel entrance with a lightness in his step Ive not seen before.
My thoughts immediately go back to the conversation I was having with Rhonda earlier and cant help but wonder if this is the sensation she was talking about. I chastise myself for being so silly. It cant possibly be what she was talking about because Howard and I are not in love. We barely even know one another.
Casting my silly thoughts aside, I concentrate on what we are doing. It takes a little while for my eyes to adjust to the minimal lighting, but, when they do, the sight that greets me is amazing. With just the small amount of light from the torch, it looks like a million tiny rainbows are bouncing off the walls.
This is beautiful, I say, my eyes darting around to take it all in.
This isnt even the best bit, he replies.
We turn a corner, and the tunnel widens in front of us, directly into a cavern the size of a city block. The walls are bare rock and in the distance, I can hear a trickle of water. As in the tunnels, rainbows bounce off the walls wherever Howard shines the torch.
I gasp. The beauty of it literally leaves me breathless.
You okay?
Yes, its just so beautiful. I take the torch from Howard and shine it around. The rainbow of colours, are stunning.
Come have a seat. Howard says. I turn and at my feet is a blanket.
I sit, still trying to take in everything around me. Though the light seems to barely penetrate the darkness, there is still much to see.
Its amazing isnt it? The crystal spread throughout the rock is mesmerising. I nod in agreement because it truly is a remarkable sight. It took me two years to explore it all.
I turn my head to the left to look at him. Really. Why so long?
Well, I dont get to come here as often as I would like with all my other responsibilities. So I only get to come about once a month, sometimes less and it is much larger than youd expect.
I can see that it looks like it goes on forever. What did the other girls youve brought here think of it?
I havent brought anyone else here, let alone a girl.
I blanch at his admission. Really?

MY REVIEW
Title: Matronly Duties
Author: Melissa Kendall
Publisher: The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House
Release Date: 21st May 2015

BLURB from Netgalley
Hundreds of years after an asteroid slammed into Earth and sent it into a new ice age, what remains of the human race lives on in underground sanctuaries. Now, as the bicentennial anniversary of the impact approaches, a new leader prepares to take her place at the head of the government. At least, that’s what she thinks.

Bethanie Greene’s life has been planned out for her since the age of thirteen. Beautiful and intelligent, she’s spent the last twelve years training to become the next Matron of the underground nation of Oceania. But when Bethanie is kidnapped by rogue extremists just six weeks shy of taking office, her world is turned upside down by the handsome stranger who rescues her.

Howard James’ life has been the polar opposite of Bethanie’s. Struggling to survive in a world where those in power wished he didn’t exist, he harbors a deep-seated resentment of the government and all its representatives. Together with his unconventional family, he shows Bethanie a life she never knew was possible, while at the same time, opening her eyes to the injustices of the government she is meant to lead.

But can she trust a stranger? And can a few days change everything she believes and desires? Against all odds, Bethanie must decide if her heart and her duties can coexist.

PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon UK

{This review first appeared on my blog on the 26th May 2015}


INITIAL THOUGHTS
Being totally honest after taking a look at the cover and reading the blurb I wasn't immediately attracted to reading the book. Though I was feeling ill at the time and now blame that a little. For some reason that I can't even remember now I was unsure about this title. However after a nights better sleep, I re-read the blurb and decided I had been a little hasty and wanted to give the book a go.

MY REVIEW
The Writers Coffee Shop Publishing House actually emailed me the details of this book and asked if I could be part of the tour. After reading the blurb I wanted to read the book but didn't feel well enough with my health issues to sign up to read the book by the set date. They generously offered me a free Arc e-copy of the book anyway, to read when I could. Then I re-read the blurb and decided to just perhaps read the first chapter and see what I though. Well I read the Prologue and decided I had to read the book straight away. This book really hooked me after just reading the Prologue. 
The cover shows the inside of a tunnel. A tunnel which turns out to be far underground within the sanctuary that is called Oceania. The tunnel is part of a series of catacombs, and is highly relevant to the plot of the book  The other item featured on the cover is a brooch or pin that is gold and is the emblem of the Matron, who is the head of the relevant sanctuary they are in. Would the cover make me pick this book up from a book shelf in a book store? I'd like to think I would, as I'm now writing this after reading and loving the book but I would I have picked it up just on the cover alone? I'm 50/50 on whether I would have picked it up.
Now where to start with this book? The Prologue (which I should reveal had me totally captivated by it's end) which gives you the background of what events have occurred to lead up to the situation that is this society. So I guess I should begin there,  the G7 leaders announced on TV that an asteroid was on a collision course with earth. The asteroid was so large that it caused a catastrophic explosion that plunged earth into another Ice Age. This news both brought humanity together yet at the same time also drove it apart. Five underground shelters had been built, America, Europe, Oceania in Western Australia (where this brilliant book is set), Asia and Africa. Obviously with only five shelters available places in them are limited. Priority is naturally given to those experts in fields that are necessary to ensure the success of the sanctuaries. For a non expert to secure a place, they must be aged between 13 - 35 and have their name drawn via a lottery system. There is so much turmoil going on that these "Invitations" have to be delivered by military personnel. Those "lucky" chosen ones have to provide identification and are whisked away and moved into the sanctuary in secret.
In Oceania the whole way of living is changed, with twice as many men than women of child bearing age there is a procreation issue. Laws have had to be made to prevent society from in-breeding. Now a woman is expected to have children with more than just one male. The whole procreation act is changed and babies are created scientifically in test tube rather than conceived in the natural way. People who disagree with this way are branded as fornicators and put in jail and worse!
The position of "Matron" is created. A female figure to head this society. A Matron is chosen from a group of young women who have been specially trained at Matron In Training Insitute since they took and passed the FMAT .
The main character of this book is Miss Bethanie Greene, who is the next Matron. However before she can begin her duties, future Matron Bethanie Greene is kidnapped during her Sunday run. The men that take her are the rebels of the community called Trad's. Bethanie is rescued by a young male named Howard James. He takes her back to his home on  the outskirts to meet his family, Rhonda (his mum), Anthony(his father), and all his siblings, Margie, Tim, Twins Bradley & Jean and the youngest Claire. Bethanie is surprised by such a large family and even more shocked to learn that mother & father live together and do not have other partners or offspring as she has been taught at MITI. Rhonda welcomes Bethanie into her family and answers all of the questions that Bethanie asks. Bethanie stays overnight at the James's home, and goes off for a romantic walk with Howard. Bethanie wonders if she could be falling for Howard in the "old fashioned" way that her parents did and Howard's parent did too. Before she can explore this budding relationship they are surrounded, Howard is arrested and she is whisked back to the Matron House. Bethanie is told that Howard is the leader of the Trad's and he planned the whole kidnapping. Naturally Bethanie is confused and doesn't know who to trust anymore, she has a lot of work ahead to find out who can and cannot be trusted to help her. Bethanie soon learns the whole truth of her kidnapping when a letter is smuggled to her from Howard. During the book letters are exchanged by the pair. It's the way they learn more about each other and set the wheels in motion for an elaborate plan of escape. . . . but for whom and to where? . . and how?
So I could truly go on and on evermore about this book, I loved it so much. The pace is fast, there is always something happening, making this a high speed read, you really can't wait to find out what is going to happen next.
I love the main character, Bethanie begins almost totally indoctrinated in the ways of the government, but soon learns how little power the Matron actually has. Blackmailed into signing documents she is not even allowed to read. What Bethanie, or Matron Greene as she is usually addressed does have is plenty of time to think about what Howard and his family showed her, and how she felt when she was with them. Bethanie soon see's the cracks in the way things are run soon realising that Howard and his family are right about how unjust the government is. Howard is of course also a favourite character, undeniably #BookBoyfriend material! He is also a true gentleman and both patient and protective of Bethanie.
There are lots of fantastic characters within the pages of this book including Margie, April, Red, Mark and Estelle too.
There's so much more I could tell you but I want you to discover them as I did by reading the book. I've tried to give you information on the society and how it works without giving away too much of exactly what happens. The society and it's dynamics are complex but the prologue explains the basics you need to know going further into the book and you learn the rest as Bethanie does as time goes on.
There are some scenes of an adult nature, but they are well within the context of the plot and are both beautiful and well written. I'd say this one is for mature teens upwards.
So did I enjoy the book? I loved it, it had the post apocalyptic element with the asteroid, the dystopian society, rebellion, mystery, suspense, and a little romance too. 
Would I recommend this book? Yes, it's great read.Would I want to read more books in this series? Well this book has an epilogue attached to it so I'm not sure there will be another book. I'd like there to be, I mean Bethanie & Howard and the Trad's do still have unfinished business with the government of Oceania, but would they risk their newly found peace to further the Trad cause? They do also still have "connections" on the inside of Oceania such as Gail, April and Red, and other people that live on the outskirts too.
Would I read other titles by this author? Yes I'd checkout any book written by this author, I loved her writing style and descriptions etc.


***GIVEAWAY***




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