Thursday, 19 October 2017

REVIEW - THE HANGING GIRL BY EILEEN COOK

Title: The Hanging Girl
Author: Eileen Cook
Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre, Hot Key Books/HMH Books
Release Date: 19th October 2017/3rd October 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl. It’s no challenge—her readings have always been faked, but this time she has some insider knowledge. The kidnapping was supposed to be easy—no one would get hurt and she’d get the money she needs to start a new life. But a seemingly harmless prank has turned dark, and Skye realizes the people she’s involved with are willing to kill to get what they want and she must discover their true identity before it’s too late.


PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon UK

REVIEW
After two really good paranormal shape-shifter books I felt I should have a change of genre and settled on this book. After reading With Malice also by Eileen Cook, I have high expectations for this one. I am also curious about the psychic and tarot elements mentioned in the blurb.

The cover I have chosen to describe as part of my review is the one I have pictured above and it is also featured below within my Cover Compare feature. This cover has a tree as it's major feature, with a very dark and what may be described as a more sinister feel to the cover.  Then there is a depiction of Eileen Cooks version of the "hanged man" tarot card which is nailed onto a tree. The card has the book title on it. This cover features the byline which says, "Trust No One, Deceive Everyone" at the bottom of the cover.

The main character of this book, who is also my favourite character is Candi Skye Thorn, though she uses her middle name of Skye in everyday life hating her real first name Candi! Skyes lives with her mother in an apartment in an increasingly run down area. Skye isn't in the popular gang at school, in fact after the "incident" she tries to keep a low profile and generally keeps to herself. During the "incident" she was caught lying. Skye dreams of getting out of her home town. In fact Skye and best friend Drew have been planning their escape for years. their dream is to move in together, Drew will attend college and Skye will find a job. Drew doesn't need to worry about money as she has rich parents so will have their financial support throughout college. 

Skye's attempt to make some money is to utilise the "gift" her mother and grandmother say runs through their family of being psychic. Skye doesn't believe on the "gift" she thinks she is just very good at reading people and the tarot card meanings. Skye finds that most people project within their actions the answers they want from Skye. Skye is good at setting the scene for the mystical tarot card readings her grandma handed down to her. Her tarot cards may look they have been handed down through generation after generation but she bought them brand new from Amazon. Skye is clever and a little cunning which she believes runs in her family more than psychic abilities. When the new tarot cards arrived Skye aged them. Skye soaked each individual tarot card in a weak tea and then dried them on a low setting in the oven. The part Skye hates most about giving a reading is asking for the payment, it feels wrong, slimy but not so distasteful that Skye would do readings for free. Skye is panicking about how she is going to tell Drew that she doesn't have the money to move away with her as they had dreamed and planned to do. Would Drew forgive her? Was she destined to be stuck here in Michigan forever. Though Skye thinks she is smart she does get drawn into helping someone with a "kidnapping" scheme. Skye and the "kidnapper/s" exchange notes by placing them in a large reference book in the library. The kidnapper insists on having a code name which is Pluto. The whole reason and choice of the code name is explained within the book much better than I can, and I really do not want to reveal anything really spoilery as that would in my opinion spoil your individual enjoyment of the book.

The other main character and the character we are supposed to love to hate/dislike in this book is Paige. Paige is a young woman who is used to getting her own way and being given anything she wants no expense is spared. Unfortunately the very thing Paige craves is her fathers attention, and its the very thing she doesn't have. Paige has run away before, so that's what everyone thinks she has done again when she suddenly disappears. 

There were many points in the book I wanted to shout at Skye to rethink the things she was about to do. When she finally caves in during a rash moment and agrees to be part of the kidnap plan! In fact a couple of my Goodreads updates explain how I felt at the time of reading the certain sections of the book dealing with the kidnapping. At around 18% so fairly early in the book was "What on earth has Skye got herself into?!" The morning after agreeing to the scheme Skye does attempt to back out of the agreement but Pluto will not allow her to and even hints that Skye could be blackmailed into going ahead with the plan!

To begin with the disappearing part of kidnap plan goes ahead without a hitch. It's as tie goes on that things start to go awry. Skye soon feels like she is being watched and followed and at a later section of the book she feels her own life and even that of her mother may be in serious danger! Which is when I make my second update comment on Goodreads which was at 75% my comment was "Wow what a mess, what a twist"! I have read two books written by Eileen Cook this one and With Malice, I truly adore Eileen Cook's writing style. As you read and become more invested in the characters of the book you feel submerged into their lives and problems. I seriously wanted to grab hold of Skye and shake her whilst asking why she ever agreed to being part of the kidnapping scheme. Then as you read more of the book Eileen reveals Skye's motivation for being involved. I guess some people will view Paige's character as an attention seeking, spoilt child but Eileen then shows us, the reader, why Paige feels as she does. In fact you begin not really liking Paige to feeling sorry for her and wishing you could just hug her. One thing the girls have in common is wanting something they don't have and having somewhat distant relationships with their parents. With Skye she has no father on the scene at all, and she views her mother as a charlatan psychic who she has little in common with and who she doesn't find easy to talk to. By the end of the book Skye's opinion does change towards her mother and Skye grows into a more mature character herself accepting who she is and where she comes from. I really loved this book I felt pulled into the action early and held there to the very end. The tension builds and then just when you think you have sorted out everything in your own mind, Eileen Cook delivers another twist. There were certainly at least a couple of twists in the latter part of the book that I didn't see coming! I will certainly be checking out other titles by Eileen Cook and recommending her books to others.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book, that was my last Goodreads entry was "Once again Eileen Cook gives plenty of suspense, tension building and keeps you guessing to the very end with lots of twists and turns along the way". 


COVER COMPARE
Below are the two different covers I have seen for this book.
A                                   B
COVER A is a closer view of a tree or wood that is read and brown, so perhaps an old propery or run down wood. There is a scrap of paper, perhaps torn from a notebook or a the back of a receipt is nailed onto the tree/wood  and has the byline of "Trust No One, Deceive Everyone" on it. The cover does match an area that is described in the book well, so it's almost a scene from the book.

COVER B is as I described within my review, has a tree as it's major feature. Then there is a depiction of Eileen Cooks version of the "hanged man" tarot card which is nailed onto a tree. This cover also features the byline which says, "Trust No One, Deceive Everyone" at the bottom of the cover.

I do honestly think both covers are attractive and would catch my eye when on a book shelf in a bookstore which is their primary job. Both covers work, in that I'd notice them and want to pick up the book to read the blurb, then obviously want to buy and read the book!
Having said that I do have a preference, having now read the book I feel the cover with the tarot card fits the content of the book very well. 

Which cover do you prefer?

Monday, 16 October 2017

REVIEW - EMILIA BY ELLIE MIDWOOD

Title: Emilia
Author: Ellie Midwood
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: 27th September 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
This story is dedicated to all the victims of sexual slavery in German concentration camps, who had to endure inhumane suffering under the Nazi regime. 
For many years after the atrocities had been committed, both sides – the abusers and the abused – still vehemently denied certain aspects of the Holocaust, and even the victims refused to admit the ugly truth about their incarceration, some out of fear, some out of shame, until several women decided to break an unofficial oath of silence, and brought their stories to life. This book is based on one of those stories. 
Emilia is a young Jewish woman, whose life slowly turns into a nightmare as she finds herself facing a dreadful choice: to secure her family’s very existence by offering herself to one of the men who had put her behind the walls with barbed wire, or perish together with the least fortunate ones. Only, the Krakow ghetto and her very first abuser pale in comparison to what is yet to come, as she’s being sent to a place that soon will turn into her own personal hell and that will scar her for life… 


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
World War 2 and the Holocaust is a subject I feel strongly about, in that both children and adults should never forget. Though this book is fictional it is actually based on what really happened during the holocaust to the unfortunate people the Nazi's decided didn't fit in with their idea of a perfect race. As the blurb says this book is dedicated to the women that really had to go through the horrendous treatment from the Nazis.

The cover features a Nazi soldier and a stark wire fence topped with barbed wire in the background. In the forefront of the cover is a woman facing the wire fence but looking over shoulder, you can see tracks of blood on her back and shoulders. I don't know whether you would call it a sub title or a byline, but it states "The darkest days in history of Nazi Germany through the eyes of a woman". This really does sum up the point of view that the book is told from. I can't put my finger on the exact reason why but I felt kind of drawn to the book. 

Within the first 5% of this book I felt drawn in and intrigued what the Brettenheimer family story would be. The main character is Emilia Brettenheimer,who at the beginning of the book is about 19 years old and is fairly proud to be a German. Her father, Oskar even believes that the new regime under Hitler may be good for the country, so doesn't move to England when the family has the chance. Basically he feels he is safe, he is a German, he cannot speak English so why would he want to move there. Sadly it soon becomes apparent that if you are a Jew, you are no longer welcome, nor allowed to be German. First the Brettenheimer family have their beautiful home taken from them. Soldiers turn up one day and tell the family to pack a bag as they are being resettled in Krakow. The soldiers inform the family they can only take thirty zloty in total as a family, and must not take valuables or jewellery with them. Still Oskar Brettenheimer as head of the family continues to look on the bright side thinking this resettlement is just a blip, just a temporary measure. That they will return to their home and pick up their lives where they had left it. 

In Krakow the whole Brettenheimer family are placed in what became known as the "ghetto". Here life is much different, food is rationed and if you don't work you don't eat. Also if you cannot work you are shipped out to "the other place" or simply shot! Emilia's parents, Oskar and Hannah are lucky in that their sons, Alfred, Martin and Ariel have work, and Emilia is "useful" as she volunteers at the nearby hospital so they are allowed to stay in the ghetto for now. The problems begin when Ariel, or Ari as the family call him falls ill and its clear he needs medication. Life in the ghetto is rough, poor, and a place where a simple cold can turn into a life threatening illness. 
The Nazis in charge of the ghetto is known to help the Jews with extra food or medication but his help comes at a price. He will trade the jewellery that the Jewish people brought with them hidden in their clothing, sometimes sewn inside for whatever it is they made need. Sadly these few hidden gems don't last forever and then Emilia has nothing to left to trade but herself. Which she ends up having to do, its that or her family will be sent elsewhere during one of the regular inspections. The Nazis Officer, SS Richter who is in charge of the ghetto does initially protect the Brettenheimer family, moving them from one block of housing that is to be emptied and the occupants taken away and transported to a camp. Emilia pays dearly for that privilege/small "kindness" with the only thing she can trade for her families safety, her body. Emilia is ashamed at having to do this, and others around her including members of her own family snub her or tell her she disgusts them.

Later in the book when Emilia finds herself without her family literally pushed into a barracks room full of strangers, another girl around her age extends a hand of friendship and invites Emilia to share her bunk. The barracks is overcrowded, dirty, and smells horrendous and the prisoners have to share one thin mattress between two. The young girl is a lively red head called Magda, who seems strangely cheery in comparison to all the other women in the barracks. Magda immediately takes Emilia under her wing, telling her she should be okay as she doesn't look traditionally Jewish which will make her stand out more. Magda explains that being good looking should help Emilia attract a good benefactor.
Magda also reveals to Emilia what happened to her on her first night and how to handle it, so that when the very same thing happens to Emilia that very night. Magda explains she has a guard by the name of Schneider who sneaks her extra food and "protects" her from the unwanted attention of the other guards and men in the camp. According to Magda its the only way to avoid the attention of groups of soldiers. As when one particular guard takes you as his that there is a kind of man-code that means the others leave you alone. With Emilia's good looks being a mixed blessing she soon attracts the eye of an Officer, which according to Magda is even better. Magda encourage Emilia to smile at the Officer and allow him to use her for sex in exchange for extra food, clothes but more importantly for his protection against the other men in the camp. Though being popular with the men or being under the protection of a Guard or Officer means being extremely unpopular with some of the other prisoners. In fact they bully and pick on you all the more. It is better and much safer to make sure you are never on your own with them, which is why Magda and Emilia try to stick together. Both young women, Emilia and Magda have aged beyond their years. They have had to adapt quickly in order to survive. So when a young sensitive, innocent looking new girl, Helene arrives at their barracks n both Emilia and Magda can see their younger selves in the new girl, Helene. They decide to quietly help the new girl so Idrit doesn't bully her for being associated with them on top of everything else that is sure to happen to the girl who looks barely 16 yrs old.  

The character I loved the most in this book is Emilia, she is willing to do anything at all in order to try and save her family from being taken to a concentration camp or being shot. Throughout the book Emilia is literally used and abused all the way through this book, either by then Nazi Guards, Officers or Commandants as well as by her fellow Jewish people and prisoners. You cannot help but feel for her and imagine how she must have felt emotionally and physically, as well as wondering what you would have done if you were put in the same position. I found the friendship that developed between Magda and Emilia amazing. You could say by Magda taking Emilia under her wing probably saved her life. Magda taught Emilia how to switch off, endure and even to smile whatever was being done to her. Of course I loved Magda from the point she enters the book and yep I did shed more than a few tearsat a certain point in the book for her character. (You'll know what I mean ad where I mean when you read it.) I also immediately took to the character of Klaus, the last race of people he expected help from actually offered the hand of at first friendship and
then is given a home that leads on to much better times for him than he himself have just endured.  I am being totally honest from the point of Klaus entering the book I had a strange feeling of de-ja-vu as I thought I had read a similar ending in another book, or seen in a similar movie, but I couldn't remember the title. This is no way a criticism of the book it just made me puzzle and wonder where I felt I knew it from. Also within the blurb it states that this book is based on the real stories of the women that went through this abuse, maybe that what made it seem familiar to me.

Now this next thing I say may seem a little controversial but I felt myself liking the character of SS Officer Manfred who ended up protecting Emilia by claiming her as his own, which ended her being molested and raped by any other guards at the camp. He even talks about the war and the state of the front-line as well as having discussions about Hitler and his theories. Manfred at times seems to believe that there is a future for him and Emilia after the war. It seems Hitler has his troops believing his propaganda about re-educating the Jewish race.
I also liked the character of Friede, a political prisoner who served as house-keeper/maid at the home of one of the Commandant's, his family and his sadistic adjutant (second in command) whom featured earlier in the book too. Friede did her best to warn the new maid what she would suffer when the adjutant was left in charge in the Commandants absence.

The author also covers the fact that paperwork consisting of lists of people murdered by the Nazis were burned so as little evidence as possible was left behind for the liberators. Then we see how the Nazis react when they are the ones behind the fences topped with barbed wire, and how they are treat by their former prisoners. The book shows that some of the liberated Jews and other prisoners actually go as far as saying that they forgive the Nazis. I'll be totally honest here, I truthfully do not think that I could have been as forgiving. 
There is one particular character that carries out an act of compassion for a dying Nazis soldier that had singled her out in the concentration camp to be raped multiple times by himself and other guards. At first her reaction when asked to help this guard was a type of revulsion and a "you reap what you sow" attitude but after talking to other survivors she returns to help her former rapist and actually forgives him telling him to "go in peace". This reminded me of another book I read that was written by a Jewish survivor Eva Korr, who also says she forgives.

This book always has something going on all the time, just when you think life can't get much worse for Emilia it does. For every bit of light Emilia gets into her life she has to pay for it with sex, slavery and in beatings. All through this Emilia also has to live without the knowledge of how or at times even where her family is. This book shows the harsh realities of a war that for the most part is glossed over in schools and colleges around the world. I will be taking a look at the other titles written by this author.

My first reaction/thoughts upon finishing this book were that this was a heartbreaking story of Emilia's journey from a cosy life with her parents and three brothers, through the ghetto, two concentration camps, to a life in seclusion tormented not only through her memories of the horrific things that happened to her whilst in the ghetto & camps at the hands of the SS but also by fellow survivors after the liberation.

The female characters in this book represent real women and what they went through at the hands of the Nazis, ranging from lowly Guards to the top Commandants. These women deserve to have their stories told and for them to be read and remembered. These women were presented with some extremely difficult decisions to make that quite literally were life or death choices. When they were raped multiple times, or had to resort to having sex in exchange for food to save them from starvation, or clothes to keep them warm in the cold harsh conditions at the camp then went on surviving instead of committing suicide, their fellow prisoners would also bully them physically, verbally and mentally too. Some of the other prisoners and later survivors labelled these women as collaborators. Sadly this meant even when the abused women were then liberated from the concentration camps they still had to put up with constant reminders of what they had been through. Ellie Midwood, the author, really explains what the real people went through without making it seem glamourised in anyway for the book. Ellie is so descriptive that you feel you are standing alongside those women standing in the mud, in the freezing weather conditions during roll call, trying not to look at the latest unfortunate inmate that is being beaten with batons, or whatever other sick punishment the guards, both male and female have thought up for them. 

Thursday, 12 October 2017

REVIEW - MAY AT THE PEACOCK RANCH BY MICHELE MACHADO

Title: May at the Peacock
Author: Michele Machado
Genre: NA, Women's Fiction
Publisher: Mint Minx Press
Release Date: 29th September 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
With everything to lose and only one thing to wager… 

When May Victoria loses her mother, it's a race to get enough cash together to keep her young siblings out of foster care and in her custody. The odds are stacked against her, but she does hold a high card…

Her virginity.

The Peacock Ranch is a legal brothel on the outskirts of Las Vegas that's skilled in the business of virginity auctions—but whether or not May can survive the week with all but her chastity intact is a gamble she wasn't counting on. 


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
 it was the cover that initially drew my interest to this book and held it. When I read the blurb I worried that this book would end up being a full on erotica in genre. Then I noticed the New Adult label and thought maybe it will be steamy but still an enjoyable story to read too. I hate books that are just literally built around the sex scenes. So having said all that I did approach this book with a little trepidation.

The cover background is of beautiful vibrant peacock feathers, it also features a young females whose face partially hidden by a mask. I love the colour and suggestion of opulence that the peacock feathers create. As I said above it was the peacock feathers that first caught my attention. So I'd say who ever designed this cover has certainly delivered. I think this book in paperback faced out (cover facing forward rather than spine on)would really stand out on a book store shelf.

I felt immediately pulled into the book, which has a whole range of different emotional aspects to it from the upset and grief of May's mother dying, then there's the shock and worry when May learns the amount of money she needs to get hold of to keep the roof above her head and that of Logan and Sophie. May really does have a lot to deal with, the social worker who is supposed to help her seems determined to find fault with whatever May does. May is understandably depressed and feeling helpless wondering what she can do to raise the money she needs when one of her friends, Avery makes an "out there" suggestion in jest. One of her richer friends does try to help out where possible buying takeaways etc. It is also her friends that keep in touch with her via text whilst she is at the Peacock Ranch.

The main character and my favourite character in the book is called May Victoria MacLennan she is doing well at school. Chasing a full scholarship for college by using her skill as a pole vaulter. The heights she is jumping should mean the scholarship is a sure thing but then her home life drastically changes. Grace MacLennan, mother to 19 year old May, 14 year old Logan and 6 year old Sophie has been seriously ill for sometime. The heartbreaking news that the only care left available for Grace is hospice care is a hard blow to them all. Alice, Grace's hospice nurse calls in everyday to do what she can to keep Grace comfortable and offer a little help within her limited time slot to the MacLennan children.
Grace doesn't talk to her own mother though she has never stopped her children and mother speaking on the telephone as she believes they have a right to know their Nana even if they do not see her regularly as she lives in Scotland. Grace is in her own home with the three most important people in her life when she sadly passes. That moment changes life for all three of her children, though to her credit May attempts to take over the role of guardian and mother instantly. May even has to deal with the emotions of her mother boyfriends as he can't handle seeing Grace "like that". All the funeral arrangements are left to May to sort out, luckily hospice nurse Alice arrives and helps with those. May then has to deal with a social worker as apparently she has to prove herself organised and financially stable enough to have guardianship of Logan and Sophie. Of course May cannot cope with the thought of her younger siblings not being in her care, according to Kelly Branson, the social worker who comes to see May there's even the possibility of Logan and Sophie could be put into foster care. But fate hasn't finished dumping shocks and bad blows to the MacLennan family as May soon learns they are in mortgage arrears. It is just another difficulty that May has to find a way to deal with and fast. May has telephoned her Nana in Scotland and she immediately offered the option of them all moving over to Scotland to live with her but May thinks both she and her siblings have lost enough without losing what has always been their home and their friends in Las Vegas. May makes a difficult and large decision to go to the Peacock Range to earn money to give herself,Logan and Sophie a good start. Though things don't all go according to plan and May has to deal with a jealous, resentful and hostile fellow worker at the Peacock Ranch. I think that's about all I can say about the plot without, in my opinion telling you too much about the book. 

My favourite character, I guess quite predictably, is the main character May. Although she knows her mother is ill, she does so well taking charge of the situation and caring for her younger siblings when her mom is no longer able to do so. I also like the way she stands up for herself when Misty Mayhem, one of the workers at the Peacock Ranch. May attempts to merely avoid Misty but when that becomes impossible she has to face the problem head on.

Naturally there are lots of women workers at the Peacock Ranch. Sandra runs the office/clerical side of business along with the money. The females were of different ethnicities, and character/personalities such as Umeko, who sounds oriental and is grumpy in the mornings but usually okay a little later in the day. The other character at the Peacock Ranch that May bonded with was the red headed super friendly Brandi. It is Sandra and Brandi that come to May's rescue later in the book. 
The one character I felt I would immediately hate was Demitri, the man who pays for the only thing May has to sell, but in the end I ended up liking him too! Even though it is another older woman, Misty Mayhem from the Peacock Ranch that is jealous of May & Dimitri's transaction, she actually leaks it to the press in a bid to financially and publicly ruin May. It is a dire and serious situation as May needs her scholarship for her to continue her education, as well as appearing to be a responsible adult to be given legal care and guardianship for Logan and Sophie. The interference from Misty Mayhem means that May has to explain everything to her 14 year old brother who is angered and upset but eventually has to understand why May made the decision she did. How the book ended suggests to me that this is probably a standalone book, which is a shame as there are so many great characters within the workers at the Peacock Ranch. 

I loved the writing style of this book and seriously did not want to put it down! I just wanted to read to the end. There was plenty of action going on, and the book does tackle a rather controversial subject very well when explaining how the Peacock Ranch and its workers are providing a service that is legal in the State of Nevada. It is quite detailed about the rules and regulations of the Peacock Ranch. I don't know what else to say as I really do not want to give away the whole story/plot of the book. It is a really amazing read! Loved it!

My initial thoughts immediately upon finishing the book were what a totally brilliant read! Loved it. Definitely going to be checking out other titles by this Author!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

REVIEW - HOW TO BE CHAMPION BY SARAH MILLICAN

Title: How To Be Champion
Author: Sarah Millican
Publisher: (Trapeze) Orion Publishing Group
Release Date: 5th October 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
Part autobiography, part self help, part confession, part celebration of being a common-or-garden woman, part collection of synonyms for nunny, Sarah Millican's debut book delves into her super normal life with daft stories, funny tales and proper advice on how to get past life's blips - like being good at school but not good at friends, the excitement of IBS and how to blossom post divorce.

If you've ever worn glasses at the age of six, worn an off-the-shoulder gown with no confidence, been contacted by an old school bully, lived in your childhood bedroom in your thirties, been gloriously dumped in a Frankie and Benny's, cried so much you felt great, been for a romantic walk with a dog, worn leggings two days in a row even though they smelt of wee from a distance, then this is Your Book. If you haven't done those things but wish you had, This Is Your Book. If you just want to laugh on a train/sofa/toilet or under your desk at work, This Is Your Book.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I have watched Sarah Millican on a few different TV shows and one of her DVD's and found her quite funny. I also think she projects the fact she is a down to earth, normal person with everyday challenges both at work, with family and life. So as I find her quite relatable I wanted to read the blurb of this book which of course mentions different trials and tribulations from being of school age onward. 

The cover features Sarah wearing a yellow/mustard cardigan with the buttons fastened wrong, and her blouse underneath the with collar half in, half out! This attire,pose, and expression on Sarah's face will make more sense as you read the book. The cover certainly did it's job and drew my eyes to it, then encouraged me to read the blurb etc and finally choose to read the book.



Sarah Milligan begins this book by taking you through her school years, explaining who she was as well as who she really wanted to be using witty, sometimes ironic tales. I was drawn in by the very first tale she tells and held to the end of the book. 
As it says in the blurb this book really is part Autobiography and part self help. Along with some of the stories Sarah has added a little advice at the end of how either she dealt with the situation or could have dealt with the individual circumstances.

Sarah begins with explaining how life was for her as a youngster during the miners strike such as when the French Miners donated lots of toys for the children of the miners for Christmas. She also explains that they all had little badges saying that "Santa supports the Miners" too. 
Another one of her tales is about the bomb disposal team having to be called out. Sarah's dad had returned to work just before all the miners returned to work and they received lots of threat etc so hence why the suspect package warranted the bomb disposal team to come out to check the mystery parcel. I won't reveal anymore. . . you'll have to read the book!
One tale I could identify with was Sarah talking about her mam being a hairdresser and she permed her hair and ... well it wasn't the exact perm result Sarah had wanted. (For me it was my Auntie that was the hairdresser, who lived about an hour away but we visited fairly regularly but I still cringe when I think about "having my fringe cut to last until the next visit").

Sarah tells us about the six men she has loved, Shakin' Stevens (I must be a similar age group to Sarah as I also remember dancing along to his music and later calling him "our generations version of Elvis". Second on her list is Philip Schofield, followed by a boy at school called Kevin Robson, Kirstie Alley, "Then" Husband (as she refers to her first husband) and her "Now" Husband.....she then adds one extra man she loves. . .her dog.

I really love a quirky, witty, ironic sense of humour. When having her eyes tested just because her sister was and Sarah being the one that ended up having to wear the glasses. I loved the comment that she thought the optician must be rubbish because he had to wear glasses too! Her younger self comparing the bespectacled optician to a bald hairdresser. To be totally honest this funny observation had me thinking back to the various opticians I had been to and totally truthfully its only my present optician than doesn't wear glasses! 
I also really identified with Sarah's mam as a hairdresser. As I explained above, my Auntie was a hairdresser and I went on to become a hairdresser so really identified with the whole customers with unrealistic expectations bringing in photographs from a magazine asking for hair like the picture. I loved how Sarah's mum's example was "they had four hairs and a picture of Elizabeth Taylor" and Sarah's mum would say, "It's a pair of scissors I have got not a wand!" 

What made the book even better for me was that there were so many things I could identify with in this book. It made the book an even funnier read! As I was chuckling, giggling and in places proper belly laughing whilst reading the book my daughter kept asking me about the book. In fact she has started to read it now, and has been laughing herself. So the book certainly appeals to different age groups. I'd say this is an over 18's read, as it is a little crude and rude in places, having said that there are also a lot of tales you could read out to under 18 year olds too!

My immediate thoughts on finishing the book were, Amazing! Amusing! A laugh out must read book!


Monday, 2 October 2017

REVIEW - DANGERS HALO - A HOLLY DANGER NOVEL BY AMANDA CARLSON

Title: Danger's Halo
Series: A Holly Danger Novel
Author: Amanda Carlson
Genre: Futuristic, Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Release Date: 18th September 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
Holly Danger’s current assignment, gleaned from a set of foggy instructions and a handful of coins stuffed into a slot, is to pick up a street kid who’s about to terminate himself by jumping off a cliff. And, as a rule, she doesn’t turn down currency. Her job as a salvager keeps her fed and clothed above the norm, which isn’t saying much.

The norm in this city is a scrape-by existence in a post-apocalyptic world, where the rain never stops, food is always scarce, and the elite have deserted the ranks in search of something better. Picking up this urchin won’t take much time, even if he’s located outside city limits. Her craft is fast, her weapons deadly, and her tech has been optimized as well as it can be for a climate clogged with iron dust. 

But things take a big turn when she decides to become the boy’s guardian instead of hand him over. Outskirts have descended on the city, and their plans don’t include playing nice. When her crew is backed against a graphene wall, it’s a good thing her Gem is primed and ready to go. It’s almost as deadly as she is…


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PURCHASE LINKS
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REVIEW
I'll be totally honest I was a little wary of this one when I read the blurb. I wouldn't normally read anything, that I would class as having a possibly "Star Trek-ish" feel to it. This book was not in my usual reading genres. In fact the main reason I went ahead and read the book was because of how much I love Amanda Carlson's other two series, Jessica McClain and the Phoebe Meadows.

The cover shows a futuristic yet post apocalyptic looking landscape with damaged sky scraper buildings. There's a sci-fi, star wars/star trek type of aircraft flying over the city with a light perhaps searching for someone. I'd say the figure silhouette is a good representation on the character of Daze. Then again it could be a younger Holly too. I like the affect on the top half of the book, as if it is a package that has been ripped open. It draws your eye to it, so I guess it will jump out at you on a bookstore shelf.

I did find the beginning of the book a little slow paced for my usual reading taste, which I think was down to the sci-fi geek technology of the futuristic craft that Holly was using. Once I read past the detailed, descriptive aircraft technology I settled into pace of the book quite well. 

So I should explain a little about the setting of the book. As I said in my cover description set in a post-apocalyptic world that has torn down both the buildings and the morale of the citizens , yet at the same time certain parts such as the make up of the society and the technology is futuristic. Then there are other things such as inoculations are that are extremely expensive, so few "normal"people have them. Any type of illnesses are referred to as the plague and are difficult to treat.


It's a difficult and dangerous society to be trying to live in. Everyone has a tag which they must have to receive their rations of food. It's a hazardous place to live, so the main character Holly Danger has had to be tough to survive. Holly scavenges for salvage and items to barter for anything she may need. Holly has a mind of her own and has a good sense of what is right and wrong. Holly tends to trust no one, and expect the worst.


She also sources specific items to order. Holly is on one such assignment when she meets what she describes as a young urchin boy who goes by the name Daze. Daze reveals that his mother is dead and that his sustainer family were going to see him into slavery. Holly is smart and trusts only her close circle of friends, so she is initially very skeptical about this boy. Then she begins to think back to how she felt when she was all alone with no one to trust or help her. Holly decides to go against her better judgement and usual course of action of keeping to herself and tells the boy he can come with her in exchange for information on the latest newcomer that is controlling the slave trade. It turns out that Daze is not the poor hungry waif that he presents himself to Holly as. Daze has something very valuable that Tandor wants and is prepared to pay for or possibly kill for!

Holly doesn't trust easily, yet manages to on a couple of occasions - sadly one of the times leads to her losing the place she felt most safe, that holds all her secret precious items she has collected over the years. These items hold many memories for her specifically of her mother. I loved the part where the origins of Holly's name is revealed.
Though Holly's mother is gone, I like the way that Holly has managed to integrate into her crew and recreate herself a family. Then when she identifies with Daze she makes the big decision to help him the way someone went out of their way to help her. 

It's quite difficult to say much more without giving away too much detail or plot. Although it took me a little while to warm up to this book, I did enjoy reading it, and didn't want to put it down. I'd say that Amanda Carlson has created yet another kick-ass female character comparable to her Jessica McClain & Phoebe Meadows characters and though my loyalty will always stay with the Jessica McClain series, I soon became quite attached to Holly too. I do feel invested in the series and would certainly want to read more as the book does end with a bit of a cliffhanger for some of the characters. I think as the series develops this could very well become addictive reading.