Thursday, 18 October 2018

REVIEW - FREEZING POINT - AFTER THE SHIFT BY GRACE HAMILTON

Title: Freezing Point
Series: After The Shift
Author: Grace Hamilton
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Publisher: Relay Publishing
Release Date: 13th September 2018

BLURB from Goodreads
In the dawn of a new Ice Age, families everywhere are taking to the road to escape the frigid landscape—but you can’t outrun the cold. 

No one could have predicted the terrifying impact of human interference in the Arctic. Shifts in the Earth's crust have led to catastrophe and now the North Pole is located in the mid-Atlantic, making much of the eastern United States an unlivable polar hellscape. 

Nathan Tolley is a talented mechanic who has watched his business dry up due to gas shortages following the drastic tectonic shifts. His wife Cyndi has diligently prepped food and supplies, but it’s not enough to get them through a never-ending winter. With an asthmatic young son and a new baby on the way, they’ll have to find a safe place they can call home or risk freezing to death in this harsh new world. 

When an old friend of Nathan’s tells him that Detroit has become a paradise, with greenhouses full of food and plenty of solar energy for everyone, it sounds like the perfect place to escape. But with dangerous conditions and roving gangs, getting there seems like an impossible dream. It also seems like their only choice.


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REVIEW
I was ready for a dystopian or post apocalyptic read but wanted a more specific apocalyptic event. 

The cover fits the descriptions in the book of the surroundings that are being travelled through very well. I'd say the three figures on the cover are Nathan, Cyndi & Tony, making the cover potentially be a scene from within the book. This cover would make me want to pick it up from a book store shelf to learn more about it.

The genres I have since listed for this book are General Fiction, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, which I agree with. I guess some would say some of the "violent" content should mean this should be categorised as an 18+ book, however in my opinion older teens/mature teens have probably seen more violence on TV then there is in the book.  In this book the "event" is a climatic change and everywhere is in a perpetual winter. I would add post apocalyptic, and possibly climate change to the genres list.

A drastic change in climate means that Nathan, Cyndi and the other characters in this book are living or rather trying to live and survive in a no end in sight harsh winter. This has meant many people in Glen Falls have already left to travel elsewhere hoping for a better climate or a new safer society rather than being open to the harsh elements and the violent gangs. Of course plenty of looting and rioting go on and the local, smaller, Police Stations and Hospitals are being closed down. People are abandoning homes and businesses that have been in their families for generations. 

I already loved the first characters of Nathan, Cyndi & Tony within the first 12% of the book!  I like how even faced with a survival of the fittest scenario Nathan still upholds his morals. Will those very black or white morals end up hurting him and/or family? Or will he have to accept that shades of grey exist and he has to put himself and his families welfare and lives.

I totally understand how he wants to stay put in the place he has always lived and worked, a home and business that has been handed down through the generations of his family. The fact Cyndi is so good at prepping has probably allowed them to live a fairly comfortable life and stay put much longer than they maybe should have. I love the conversation where Nathan and Cyndi are talking about being prepared and Cyndi's prepping skills. Cyndi says "It's what prepping is all about. Think the unthinkable, and then plan for it"
It is a really difficult decision to make, both staying put and leaving have lists of pros and cons. Two of the main questions they have to ask themselves are, How isolated do you allow yourself to become in a world affected by climate change? Even with prepper knowledge and a decent amount of supplies when is the right time to leave?

A change for the worse regarding the health of his son Tony and the almost certain need his wife Cyndi will no doubt need have him reconsidering leaving though he is still procrastinating about the best idea of where to go and how to get there. Then a run in with a gang on Ski-Doo's and an attack on his home whilst he is out give him the finally push and convince Nathan they have to leave as soon as possible. Nathan & Cyndi with the help of their son Tony and Nathans workmate Freeson and the newbie to the group Syd.

Once the decision has been made to leave, the "how" is the next issue. As Tony is badly affected by the cold the family need to be mindful of his health issues and restrictions. Firstly they dig the quite elderly Airstream out of the snow and check it over. The idea being to hitch it up to the large wrecker that Nathan uses for work and because it is used to these harsh weather conditions.  

I liked the character of Syd when Nathan first met her, when he couldn't tell if it was a male or female attempting to hitch a ride from him. I thought the way Syd's Malamute dog had to have a sniff around Nathan to see if he felt Nathan was trustworthy and honest enough to give them a ride. Saber, the malamute instantly licks Nathan's face meaning Syd first accepts a lift and then later agrees to go home with Nathan to his family.

I found the relationship between Nathan and Freeson amusing, one minute they could be arguing or strongly disagreeing yet they can instantly work together like being part of one machine when the need arises such as defending their travelling family group. These characters may start out as travelling companions but soon become more like an extended family.

There are two other characters that are featured twice in this book that I totally fell in love with, and yes, they even made me become misty eyed and shed a tear or two. They are a couple of older characters Marty and Betty who have been married years and are totally committed to each other until the end of whatever they may have to face. I adored how Betty was determined to stand fast and be at the side of her man Marty. The patience Betty has with Marty was truly amazing, the way she had accepted how things would likely end for herself and Marty. 

There's certainly a lot going on in the book, we just get to know Nathan, Cyndi, Tony and Freeson, then Syd is added to the party. When they come across a limo parked haphazardly in the road. Syds instinct is to leave it and get by it as quickly as possibly. However Nathan still has the morals and manners that he insists on checking the vehicle. Then Lucy is added to the mix and makes a rather unlikely pairing with Freeson. Much later there is another addition, this time two 19 year olds who are into technology and have the equipment to access maps and communication. Everyone travelling within the group seem to bring their own skill set with them that is needed at some point during the journey to Detroit. Though Nathan's initial gut reaction was to stay put in Glenn Falls, then when the group are offered a place within an Amish community, he continues to make sure he gets his family to Detroit. The reason he has faith that Detroit is the "eden" they are looking for is the sparse communication he manages to have with his old friend Stryker. Once again Nathan ignores his gut when doubts Detroit is a "perfect" as Stryker is saying and showing it is. Theres only one way to find out and that is to go there. If its not suitable then they will have to travel further. It is important to Nathan that his son Tony and his wife Cyndi have access to a hospital should they need it. 

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were it is well written, has great characters, and a very believable realistic plot.

To sum up this is the second book I have read by this author and I have thoroughly enjoyed both. The first book by Grace Hamilton that I have read and reviewed was Dark Retreat, book one of the EMP Lodge Series. I have also bought some more of the EMP Lodge Series, as well as purchasing Dead Lines: EMP Prepper Thriller which is book one of her 911 Series. So I guess this means I will be adding Grace Hamilton to my list of great authors that I wish to read more of. I will certainly be adding book two of the After the Shift series to my must read list.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

REVIEW - THE GIRL FROM BERLIN - LIAM TAGGART & CATHERINE LOCKHART BY RONALD H BALSON

Title: The Girl From Berlin
Series: Liam Taggart & Catherine Lockhart 5
Author: Ronald H Balson
Publisher: St Martins Press
Release Date: 9th October 2018

BLURB from Goodreads
In the newest novel from internationally-bestselling author, Liam and Catherine come to the aid of an old friend and are drawn into a property dispute in Tuscany that unearths long-buried secrets

An old friend calls Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart to his famous Italian restaurant to enlist their help. His aunt is being evicted from her home in the Tuscan hills by a powerful corporation claiming they own the deeds, even though she can produce her own set of deeds to her land. Catherine and Liam’s only clue is a bound handwritten manuscript, entirely in German, and hidden in its pages is a story long-forgotten…

Ada Baumgarten was born in Berlin in 1918, at the end of the war. The daughter of an accomplished first-chair violinist in the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic, and herself a violin prodigy, Ada’s life was full of the rich culture of Berlin’s interwar society. She formed a deep attachment to her childhood friend Kurt, but they were torn apart by the growing unrest as her Jewish family came under suspicion. As the tides of history turned, it was her extraordinary talent that would carry her through an unraveling society turned to war, and make her a target even as it saved her, allowing her to move to Bologna―though Italy was not the haven her family had hoped, and further heartache awaited.

What became of Ada? How is she connected to the conflicting land deeds of a small Italian villa? As they dig through the layers of lies, corruption, and human evil, Catherine and Liam uncover an unfinished story of heart, redemption, and hope―the ending of which is yet to be written.



REVIEW
This book was brought to my attention by Staci, a publicist at St Martins Publishing and I have to say thank you so much Staci I totally adored this book and its characters. I have read quite a few books set around the time of World War 2 and the Holocaust, both non fiction, and fiction that is based on documentation from that era. I read the blurb for the book and though I was initially a little put off because this is book 5 in the Liam Taggart & Catherine Lockhart Series but each book is based on a different case that Private Detective Liam and Attorney Catherine are involved with.

The cover shows a woman standing looking out of a large window which upon reading the book could easily be one or more scenes from within the book. I'll be totally honest I am not sure this cover would make me want to pick it up from a bookstore shelf, though the blurb itself would really draw me into wanting to read the book.

The genres listed for this book are historical fiction, mystery, and thrillers. I would also add suspense, war, and holocaust to describe its genre and content. You can tell this author has done their research and the book comes across as very realistic. When you have read other titles based in and around World War 2 and the Holocaust. To me it is this type of book that keeps the relevance and horror of the Holocaust alive and make sure this information is passed on and down through the generations.

I fell in love with the character of Gabrielle who is the elderly lady who is about to be thrown out of the only real home she has had by a large faceless company. Gabrielle sends a translated manuscript all the way to America to an Attorney, and Private Detective her relative Tony has found and talked into seeing if they can help Gabrielle in proving that the land she lives on is genuinely hers. 
It's quite amusing how Tony kind of coerces his friends to take a look at Gabrielle's case, saying if nothing else they will get to stay in a beautiful home in Tuscany for a couple of weeks. Despite initial misgivings the pair agree, saying if needs be they can hire someone to act as a lawyer/attorney as because Catherine is from America she will be unable to practice law in Tuscany. 

The manuscript sent from Gabrielle is written by someone called Ada. Apparently when they have read this book the proof they need to help Gabrielle to stay in her Tuscan home will be revealed. Ada's story is revealed as first Catherine and then Liam read the manuscript. As soon as Ada is introduced into the book, I grew attached to her. Initially you don't know who Ada is and what her relevance to Gabrielle or the property dispute are. Everything is revealed as it is read by Catherine. I felt immediately drawn to the character of Ada and by the end of the book I loved her and Gabrielle. 

To say there are some seriously dodgy dealing going on and people being paid off or killed to maintain their silence around the true ownership history of Gabrielle's home is an understatement. Catherine and Liam really do have their work cut out in a country they don't particularly know very well and have to ask for the language to be translated too. However both Catherine and Liam are determined to help Gabrielle and soon discover that the ownership paperwork pertaining to title line of her property has been hidden or destroyed. Gabrielle  is distraught about her history and does not wish to speak about it, simply reiterating all will be revealed in Ada's story.

Ada's story is the historical story of how Gabrielle came to live and own her property and award winning vineyard. Part of the vineyard is actually named Ada's Vineyard and it contains the most impressive plants that make the highest award winning wines. To begin with it seems the company wanting Gabrielle's property want her vineyard, however that is not the only reason they want the land yet at the same time they do not want to reveal exactly who they are or what and when they came to "own" the property.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, both the story of the present time of Gabrielle, Catherine and Liam and then the past which is mainly about Ada's life, who in the beginning is happily living in Berlin with her parents. Her father is a famous violinist and plays in the orchestra, whilst Ada plays in the junior orchestra. Ada has a hard job to become art of an orchestra as the majority have only male players. Life seems pretty good for Ada and her family and then things begin to change Hitler begins to make his political bid. At first Ada's family think nothing will change for them that soon Hitler and his campaign will quieten. Sadly this is not the case and Ada and her family miss many opportunities to get away to a new life. Ada is a very talented violinist and this talent does prove to be a valuable one that enables her to escape the Nazis clutches on more than one occasion. 
I could go on and on about this book, it covers such a difficult era of history, and the holocaust is still rightfully seen as such a shocking occurrence. 

I loved the characters of Ada & Gabrielle and their stories of survival. This book took me through a plethora of emotions, from the shock and horror of the Holocaust, the disbelief of how the Nazi's got away their treatment of the countries and the people that had lived in them all their lives. I felt disgust at the Nazi's and their laws that alienated the Jewish people and anyone seen as a sympathiser to them. The book had a little romance between the young Jewish Ada and Kurt a fellow musician in the junior orchestra who ended up joining the German army. Their love for each other was strong and continued throughout the book even when they didn't see each other for years and the fact they were from opposite side of a war. Ada's story also had me both, in tears and yet also smiling. Ada really was a resilient young woman who put up and beat many vile hardships the Nazis put her her through.

I honestly hated having to put this book down. It pulls on your heartstrings, yet also has young sat at the edge of your seat. Ada's story reveals some of the small precious happy memories the Jewish people managed to have/create despite the never ending onslaught they faced from Hitler and his men. It seems that one Nazi officer has a very long memory and seriously bears grudges, he is out to destroy Ada.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were that it was Amazing! A tale that is sad, horrific, tear jerking and yet it is also a heart warming, uplifting tale of hope, love and triumph over unimaginable adversity.

Prior to reading this book I had been in a bit of a reading rut. However I picked this e-book up to read and was hooked by just 7%. What more can I say? I loved Ada, Gabrielle and their interwoven lives. 






Tuesday, 2 October 2018

REVIEW - IN THE MOOD FUR LOVE ANTHOLOGY BY EVE LANGLAIS, MILLY TAIDEN & KATE BAXTER

Title: In The Mood Fur Love
Series: Fur Bk2
Authors: Eve Langlais, Milly Taiden & Kate Baxter
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Publisher: St Martins Griffin
Release Date: 2nd October 2018

BLURB from Goodreads:
Three hot stories about sexy shifters from a trio of today's hottest paranormal romance authors, headlined by bestselling authors Eve Langlais and Milly Taiden!


Bearing His Touch by Eve Langlais
When Becka manages to escape her kidnapper, she finds herself asking help of the man with the nice brown eyes. Stavros can’t say no, not when he knows Becka is his mate, but he does have one dilemma when it comes to claiming her. He'll have to find a way for her to bear his touch.


Fake Mated to the Wolf by Milly Taiden
Looking for a mate to bring to a party? Wedding? Holiday gathering? Mates Fur Hire is right for you? But what happens when your fake mate ends up being your real one, from New York Times bestselling author Milly Taiden!


The Witch, The Werewolf and The Waitress by Kate Baxter
For centuries, Lowman, Idaho has been Ellie Curtis's prison. A vengeful witch cursed her with immortality and locked her within the confines of Lowman's borders, sealing Ellie off from most of civilization for eternity. She's learned to make the most of it. But when she meets a cocky werewolf who's part of the elite supernatural law enforcement group, all bets are off...
Colin instantly knew that Ellie was his mate, but when he discovers her secret, he's determined to help set her free. But in doing so, he might just lose the one thing he knows he can't live without...


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
As I had already read and loved a couple of novella anthologies The Big Alpha In Town and Thanks Fur Last Night Bk1 of the Fur Series by the same three authors Eve Langlais, Milly Taiden and Kate Baxter I was eagerly awaiting for more from these authors. As soon as I heard about this it went straight on my "must read" list. As I had enjoyed Thanks Fur Last Night so much I did have high expectations for this novella. Having never read anything by these authors prior to The Big Alpha In Town I have quickly became a an of their work. I am adding some of the novels by the individual authors to my WTRWL (want to read wishlist).

The cover has tones of orange and yellow on it giving it a dappled daylight feel. The two main prominent features of the cover are the large bear that appears to look in the direction of the couple getting rather close to each other. I love the title and love the ply on words. The substitution of the word for being Fur works really well and I am sure will help to make the book stand out and you'll instantly know which series it belongs to as Fur will appear in every anthology title.

The genre listings for this anthology are Paranormal, Fantasy & Romance which it perfectly and give you a general idea of what the novellas will be about. I would also add shape-shifter, bear shifter


BEARING HIS TOUCH
by
EVE LANGLAIS

The first novella is called Bearing His Touch and is written by Eve Langlais. The main character Becka has been kidnapped, though no one is looking for her as her last living relative was killed by her kidnappers. Becka is subjected to abuse everyday, forced to sleep on the floor, not permitted out where she could be seen and spoken to alone, so she is unable to ask for any outside help. When she is allowed out she has to use clothes and make up to hid and disguise her bruises and injuries. So when she gets the chance to flee when her kidnappers are attacked she takes it without thinking of what to do next. It seems two sets of people want her, her kidnappers of course want her back, then there is the group all dressed in black and bike helmets covering their identities appear to want her back too. She doesn't know where to go or what to do until she meets Stavros a bear shifter who's mate instinct kicks in the minute he sees Becka. Now all he has to do is keep her safe and convince her they are meant to be together.

I became fond of Becka and her naivete and the fact she doesn't want to put Stavros or his family in danger. However once she meets the rest of her protector, Stavros' family they will not take no for an answer and insist on protecting her. Stavros repeatedly reassures Becka that he can hold his own in a fight and he is tougher than he looks. I adored the romance between Stavros and Becka. I also loved the scenes between Becka and Poppa. I found the scenes between Stavros and his sisters amusing as they wheedle, persuade, and order him around.

I have always loved werewolf shifter stories but have now discovered other types of shifters and have to say I am becoming partial to bear shifters. 

FAKE MATED TO THE WOLF
by
MILLY TAIDEN

The next novella is Fake Mated To The Wolf by Milly Taiden. In this novells we revisit the setting of  Owned By The Lion In The Big Alpha In Town, and Bought By The Bear. I have grown fond of the characters in these three novella's. The main focus in this novella is Shawna who is working, in fact more or less running the Mates Fur Hire part of the larger business. Shawna is working all the hours she can to send money to pay off a family debt and then help her mother and her step brothers free. Shawna has moved into a cheaper apartment in a not so great area. There is an old homeless guy called Robbie who watches out for Shawna and also her friends when they visit by escorting them from the car park to the apartment and back. Shawna is upset at work as her immediate boss Clark is very chauvinistic and sexist. He has been putting more and more pressure on Shawna to do more work. He actually times her toilet breaks and notes down how many she has during each day. Clark loves to write Shawna up and give her warnings, then one day he finally sacks her. Shawna determinedly hides her emotions and actually feels a sense of freedom initially, then it hits her how will she send money to her mother now? In act how will she afford to pay for her apartment in the dodgy area of town. 

When the Mates Fur Hire business stops getting the good matches and its success figures dramatically drop its time for Hawke to investigate. In fact he thinks it will kill two birds with one stone as he might get to see the hot woman he met at a party about a month ago. He has been pondering how to approach her, he doesn't want to come across stalkery he had felt something sort of click and he wanted to get to know her more. In fact it turns out she is his true mate but he cannot come out and say this as he realises she probably wouldn't believe him.

Hawke gets his first "date" by hiring Shawna to be his "fake date" or a business party. We catch up with some characters from the other installments in this series, Keir, Xander, Josie, Ally and the two tough females at the head of the families and business, Bess and Julia. When Hawke learns of her mother and step brothers he vows to help her free them. 

This one is a great catch up with some of the fantastic characters from the previous novellas as well as introducing some new characters such as Henry and Robbie. I loved the way when Robbie thinks Hawke is the source and cause of Shawna's upset he stands up to a bigger fitter man. When danger strikes Robbie shows how much he cares for Shawna and is ready to literally lay down his life or her if needed. This novella felt like visiting old friends, I truly adore the setting of this novella and the previous ones in The Big Alpha In Town and Thanks Fur Last Night.


THE WITCH, THE WEREWOLF AND THE WAITRESS
by
KATE BAXTER

The final installment in this anthology is called The Witch, The Werewolf And The Waitress by Kate Baxter.  The central male character is Colin Courtney who is a werewolf shifter and is fairly new to the area. He has rather reluctantly moved to this little place that feels like it is in the middle of nowhere. Colin, along with the rest of his pack were not impressed with their Alpha, Liam. Colin is peeved, its okay or Liam, he has his mate. Colin feels its highly unlikely he will ever find a mate here in nothing town in the middle of nowhere. That is until he is on his way to a job interview and calls in the sourdough and sets eyes of the waitress there. Ellie is the waitress working at the Sourdough, shes worked there for a couple of years now and knows all the locals and their requirements and foibles. So when Colin takes the first cinnamon roll and actually dares to eat it, Ellie loses the plot shouting and scowling. Her boss and owner of the Sourdough tells her to calm down and apologise. After Colin leaves he tells Ellie's she needs to take a few days off work. Ellie is truly fed up o living in this area but is unable to leave as she was cursed by a witch to stay within certain borders she has enchanted. 

Colin isn't bothered in the least about the hostility Ellie gives him because when he looks at her he just knows. . . .knows she is his mate. So Colin thinks things are looking up. A mate, and the possibility of his dream job. However things go rapidly downhill when the job is offered to him on the condition that his Alpha, Liam is okay with the arrangement. As for Ellie when he learns of her curse he vows to help her break it despite the fact if they break it she will be free and can travel wherever she wishes. Colin wants her to become his mate and live in Stanley with him and his pack. Despite the dangers of literally dying of a broken heart if when freed Ellie takes off and leaves him behind. There is also the chance that when all the boundary enchantments are broken Ellie will lose her immortality and die. Both Ellie and Colin face tough decisions. They discuss, argue and contemplate their options before finally coming to a mutual decision.

I would love to revisit this book setting that Kate Baxter has created, perhaps learning more about Liam, the Alpha or the pack, or maybe following another shifter finding his/her mate.

ANTHOLOGY AS A WHOLE

So as a whole the Anthology of novella's was a great read for me, a real winner. I will definitely be looking for more like this. This anthology featured three similar stories in that they have the true mate theme running through them, as well as the romancing of a possible reluctant mate. 

I was immediately pulled in and hooked to Bearing His Touch by Eve Langlais, the whole abuse/violence aspect of the book is done well. I loved the idea of the protector, Stavros and the closeness of his bear clan family. I think I'd say this had less detailed intimate scenes which I enjoyed.

I adored revisiting the same "world/setting" in Fake Mated To The Werewolf so fell straight back into that world very easily. This book was a bit more steamy than the other novella/anthologies I have read by Milly Taiden but the intimate scenes were well within the plot of the book and not just or the sake of them. The one thing that irritated me was the name of the central male character Hawke Hawke! Apart from that I loved every part especially the fact Clark got his comeuppance! 

I admit that it took me a little while longer to fall into the setting and plot of The Witch, The Werewolf And The Waitress. Though once I persevered I did enjoy it.

I loved the epilogues at the end of the first novella's, Bearing His Touch and Mates Fur Hire they answered the "I wonder how this/that worked out" scenarios you have after the initial story. The Witch, The Werewolf And The Waitress did not have an epilogue which was a tad disappointing though I guess Kate Baxter was leaving the "what happened after" to the readers imagination.

So when can I expect the next novella anthology please? These anthologies are the perfect length to read one a night, though I couldn't resist reading it in just two halves. I honestly didn't want to put it down.


Thursday, 27 September 2018

REVIEW - WE SEE EVERYTHING BY WILLIAM SUTCLIFFE

Title: We See Everything
Author: William Sutcliffe
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens, Bloomsbury Publishing.
Release Date: 9th August 2018

BLURB from Goodreads
Lex lives on The Strip – the overcrowded, closed-off, bombed-out shell of London. He’s used to the watchful enemy drones that buzz in the air above him. 

Alan’s talent as a gamer has landed him the job of his dreams. At a military base in a secret location, he is about to start work as a drone pilot. 

These two young men will never meet, but their lives are destined to collide. Because Alan has just been assigned a high-profile target. Alan knows him only as #K622. But Lex calls him Dad.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I fancied reading something from a dystopian genre and found this book set in a divided post-apocalyptic London. When you think about all the security cameras in our present society, this really makes the blurb of this book not such a fantastical idea. I mean camera’s watching your every move, monitoring everything you do, who you speak to, where you do your shopping, what you buy etc.

I have seen two different covers for this book so far. I have pictured them both below and commented on each cover, it would be interesting to see who prefers which one. Both of the covers feature an eye prominently on them.
The palest cover is in a cream colour and everything within the eye is orange as if the sky is on fire! There is also a figure caught within the eye on what seems to be a background of ruined buildings. There is also an aircraft of some sort in the orange sky. All of this makes perfect sense when you read the book.
The other cover which I initially said I preferred has the main colour of orange, and is more simplistic to the other cover and seems to make more of the eye symbol. The cover still features the eye and the person within it being watched.
After reading the book, I do like both covers. I think they are both eye catching and would stand out on a bookstore shelf well. Though I should admit after reading the book my favourite cover is the one with the white background. It represents the book and its contents down to the little details featured on the cover.
The genres I have seen listed for this book are Sci-Fi, Literary fiction, Teens, YA and Dystopian which all fit well. I would also add that it has post-apocalyptic elements too.

The city is a very dangerous place to live and the government have divided London. On one side there is Lex whose dad is suddenly becoming more important to the rebels who are planning some sort of revolt. Lex being trained as a messenger for The Corp. His job is to deliver messages from one Corp member to another, he doesn’t ask questions and he has to quick on his feet. He must learn all about different routes to take to throw those who are watching off his trail. and he should never ask questions about the messages. Messengers should not speak about the messages they deliver, or whom they deliver them rom and to. They are also not supposed to speak to other messengers. Though in one part of the book, an older, more experienced messenger talks to Lex and gives him tips to make money by selling contraband goods. It’s whilst selling these goods, which happen to be highly sought after cigarettes that Lex meets Zoe whom he feels immediately drawn to. Zoe is working on the patch Lex begins to sell his cigarettes. It’s a busy section of road, with traffic lights, so when vehicles stop the “vendors” literally pounce attempting to sell various items to them. From the cigarettes Lex sells, to Zoe’s Lollipops, there is even a guy washing windscreens trying to make some money to live on. Lex should have permission for the man who runs this patch but because he is a Messenger for The Corp, so to an extent he is “untouchable” and so permitted to sell wherever he wishes.

On the other side of London and “life” is Alan who works at The Base. He operates the drones. Alan still lives at home with his mother who doesn’t seem to approve of where he works anymore. His mother doesn’t want her son operating a drone, observing people. When she learns that he has been promoted and chosen to control an armed drone she begs him to stay at home, to not go to work, to change his job. However, Alan is all caught up in the camaraderie within the Base. He also has his eyes set on a female he has seen at the base who he would like to impress. You can safely say that Alan is somewhat carried away with the importance of his job and hasn’t really thought through that whenever he presses that button he will kill real people, its not just a video game, or a boring people watching, observation job. He may press that button and could not only kill his target, there could be collateral damage and deaths. Alan becomes quite attached to the man’s family whom he has been watching and reporting on. Alan knows the man whom he only refers to as a number in his reports is a member of The Corp, who wish to revolt against the government. It is part of Alan’s job to gather evidence of where the rebel meetings are held, as well as how the individual rebels communicate with each other. Alan accepts that he may be the one who presses the button and kills the man, but he hasn’t fully thought out the fact that when he is ordered to press the button that delivers the bomb that kills the man he may also be killing this man’s family whom he has become so attached to. This man has a son, who looks around Alan’s age, he also has a wife and daughter. Can Alan press the button that launches
the bomb that will kill them and anyone around them too?

I enjoyed looking at the two differing views on the same city and what life is like for both Lex and Alan. Lex and Alan may be working for opposing sides but as you read more about them you are surprised to learn they have a lot of similarities such as inexperience and lack of confidence with girls. They both have jobs where they have to do as they are instructed no question asked. They perform duties without questioning, or knowing why or what the end result is and how it will affect everyone.
At one point in the book Lex has to choose whether to listen to his father and stay close to home or to keep his date with Zoe. His decision over what you may think is a trivial choice ends up drastically changing what could/should have been.

I really liked both of the main characters, although Lex and Alan are on opposing sides of this “war” I feel in a different setting they could possibly have been very good friends. Both Lex and Alan are, in my opinion victims of circumstance and of which side of the divided London they live on.

At the end of the book there is an “after the event” catch up with the characters which I found quite interesting and enjoyed reading. I loved that this was a story of one place, London. It is a London divided and as the reader we hear the two sides to the story and the divided London through Lex and Alan.


I felt the book was a little stilted in places but perhaps it was meant to be that way. The book was certainly thought provoking and had me making possible similarities between the book and the possibilities of this actually occurring in our present day. I suppose I am trying to say this book is eerily realistic fiction!


COVER COMPARE
Which cover do you prefer?



Thursday, 6 September 2018

REVIEW - DARK RETREAT - EMP LODGE BY GRACE HAMILTON

Title: Dark Retreat
Series: EMP Lodge
Author: Grace Hamilton
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Outdoors & Nature,Post Apocalyptic
Publisher: Relay Publishing
Release Date: 1st September 2001

BLURB from Goodreads
Three months after life as she knows it was decimated, Megan Wolford has only one goal: protect her daughter, Caitlin, at any cost. When a mysterious illness strikes Caitlin down, Megan is forced to forage for medical supplies at a remote lodge. The last thing she wants is help from her fellow survivors when so many in her life have let her down—but soon she'll find herself with no other option. 
 

Ex-Navy SEAL Wyatt Morris is doing everything he can to hold his family together after the tragic death of his prepper Dad, so when Megan enters their lands, he is mistrustful at first despite feeling drawn to her. He won't turn away an ill child though--no matter how deadly the world has become. But the arrival of another stranger named Kyle soon gives them all a new reason to be suspicious. Wyatt knows he’ll have to forge alliances in order to keep his family safe, but trusting the wrong person could be a deadly mistake. 
 

When Megan and Wyatt discover her daughter’s illness may be linked to Kyle’s arrival, it sets off a race to discover the truth before it’s too late to save Caitlin—and the rest of the Morris clan. Can they work together for survival . . . and something more?


PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon UK


REVIEW

I had been reading a lot of newly released/about to be released titles and decided it was about time I read something that had been released for some time. 
I was also in the mood for something Post Apocalyptic and really loved the sound of this one.

The cover certainly gives a bleak impression of the world the two females are living in. It also makes you want to know more about them and the lodge/cabin they are facing. Is it a place of safety or are they heading into danger? Only one way to find out, I think this book is a good choice for me after looking at the cover and the blurb certainly clinches it for me, its a must read book for me!

The genres I have seen listed or this book are as listed above, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Outdoors & Nature and Post Apocalyptic which are all great descriptors and clues to what the book contains. The only other genre I would possibly add is Survival though I guess that should/could fall under Post-Apocalyptic. I was a little unsure I would class this as outdoor & nature as I would think a book given that genre would be a purely factual one, but on the other there are a lot of tips on survival, such as herb knowledge, snaring & trapping and security etc included within this book which could be applied in the real world we live in.

Solar flares are fairly common, though the ones that plunge the world right back into the dark ages were really massive ones. There had been some warnings given out, though Megan hadn't heard o seen any of them. The only reason Megan learns anything about these warnings is when she goes out to the local store to pick up her usual bread and milk and finds that the store shelves are completely empty!

Caitlin is usually a very bubbly, full of energy child but suddenly within just 24 hours she has become a weak and lifeless. Megan knows she needs to find help for her daughter and fast. Megan realises she can't be walking the city streets that are now full of looters. Poor Megan finds herself in an awful predicament, she desperately needs to find something or someone to help Caitlin. She cannot be seen on the streets looking weak herself with Cailtin as that would make her more of a target to have what little they have stolen or taken from her by force. Yet it certainly isn't safe to leave Caitlin alone whilst she searches for help. Eventually Megan realises she has to move when everything is quieter, less people about and hopefully less threats to their safety around.  So as Megan is struggling to carry her young daughter, Caitlin she is looking for shelter, food and some sort medical help. A Lodge style cabin catches her eye in the distance. Though she worries if she can trudge that far whilst still holding her daughter. The sight of the cabin gives her renewed energy to push on despite the pain and lethargy she is feeling. She wonders if the Lodge is empty, or maybe it will have people with some knowledge to help her with her increasingly sick daughter Caitlin. Megan briefly puts Caitlin down by a nearby tree whilst she checks out the cabin. When Megan discovers the cabin doesn't appear to be in current use she relaxes somewhat and put Caitlin on one of the beds and decides to just rest awhile then start foraging for food and further supplies that may be of use to them. However she is so tired she falls asleep curled round her daughter.

It's there that Wyatt Morris and his clan of survivors find her. Naturally its a shock for both Megan and the Morris Clan when they meet. There's lots of distrust on both sides. Albert makes his feelings crystal clear he doesn't like Megan and Caitlin and he doesn't want them here any longer than is absolutely necessary. 

The Morris clan have survived by working together and not trusting outsiders. So it with quite a leap of faith when they accept Megan and her sick daughter Caitlin. The head of the clan is Rosie, she is the one with the knowledge of old remedies and herbs and there uses, her eldest son Wyatt immediately asks her to take a look at the ill Caitlin.

It is Rosie head of the Morris clan that takes control of the situation and immediately sets to work to find something within her known family remedies and herbal knowledge to help the youngster.

Once the furore has settled it is decided that Megan and Caitlin should stay until Caitlin is well enough to walk again. Megan makes it clear she doesn't want charity and she is more than willing to join in the hunting, trapping, cleaning and meal making or whatever is necessary. Though Caitlin isn't getting any worse she isn't getting any better either. Megan has agreed to stay but is always planning on where she will go and what she wants for her and Caitlin in the future. Wyatt would be much happier if Megan would just agreed to stay with them permanently. Wyatt is attracted to Megan and really hopes she will stay with them. 

Everyone falls into some sort of routine until Kyle Grice appears, claiming to be a vet. Normally Wyatt would just speak to him and then part ways. It's the fact the man claims he has some sort of medical knowledge that makes Wyatt invite him to stay for the night. Once again Albert immediately distrusts Kyle saying there is something not right about him. When Chase also voices his concerns about the newcomer Wyatt makes sure they keep a closer eye on him.

 Great world building. Real survival knowledge within, brilliant instantly and easily adorable characters. The detailed descriptions of surroundings was really good too. They helped you visualise what was in the 

I loved hating the bad guy Kyle Grice, he really is an awful man who will stop at nothing to get to the top of the pile, therefore being in authority and having others do his dirty work. At the moment he is on the rough climb to the position at the top that he so desires. He doesn't care whom he hurts or kills on his way either.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were that it was a great read! Definitely eager to read much more of this series. Already grown fond and become attached to lots of the characters within the book.

I ended up totally adoring the characters in this book, so looking forward to reading more. I certainly have high expectations for the rest of the series after reading book one! This book and it's brilliant characters made me think of the great series called The End Of All Things by Lissa Bryan which I loved.


Monday, 27 August 2018

REVIEW - CAGED BIRD BY KATY MORGAN-DAVIES

Title: Caged Bird
Author: Katy Morgan-Davies
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Bantam Press, Random House UK
Release Date: 3rd May 2018

BLURB from Goodreads
'I was the shadow child no one ever saw...' 

From the day she was born until she escaped aged 30, Katy Morgan-Davies knew nothing but a life in captivity. Her father was the deluded and cruel leader of a cult based in South London who convinced himself that he was a god, and the immortal leader of the world.

Her father's paranoia and his need to completely control those around him led to Katy being imprisoned indoors with the curtains drawn most of the time, denied any kind of love or friendship. From a young age, Katy's father subjected her to violence and mental abuse. She was not permitted contact with anyone outside the house and on the rare occasions she did have to go out, she was always chaperoned. When she did finally engineer her escape she realised just how little she knew of the world outside her front door. She had never before done the things we take for granted such as choosing what she wanted to eat from a menu or travelling by herself on public transport. Step by step, she learned the skills she needed in order to exist in a world that was completely unfamiliar to her.

In this unique and powerful memoir, we see how Katy rose above what she suffered and found a way to freedom through her love of books. Reading the works of others enabled her to see her captivity for what it truly was, while writing gave her a voice when her own was silenced. Her story raises fascinating questions, such as how a child can be kept hidden from the world outside and how, in spite of years of being brainwashed, Katy still developed a clear sense of right and wrong.


PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon US
Amazon UK

REVIEW
To be 100% honest it was the title that initially drew me to this book, then the cover kind of intrigued me a little more, the blurb encouraged me to want to read the book and then when I found out this courageous woman actually lived not far from where I do. Apparently Katy Morgan-Davies lives in Leeds.

A stark white cover with just a small square window showing the outside and the blue sky. I think the cover actually depicts the title of the book brilliantly
ie, the caged bird, looking through the window, wanting to be free, wanting to escape and to be able to look through the window wishing she was a bird in that sky, free to fly wherever she wanted. I think the minimalist styling of the cover may actually drew me to the book more, as I wanted to know who was looking out of that very small window and why. 

The genres listed for this book are Biographies and Memoirs and they fit very well. I think those who read 

This book is the biography/memoir of Katy Morgan-Davies who was born into a rather different way of life and into and unconventional family.

First of all I should explain that Katy was not the name this brave women started out her life being called. Within the cult she grew up in she went by the name of Prem, or was referred to as "Project Prem". She then tried out a few different names mostly to fit the imaginary lives she played out in her head which for her was (I'm sure you will agree when you have read the book) the way she coped with her life. So throughout my review I refer to Project Prem/Prem/Rosie as the name she finally decided on and uses as her author name for this book, Katy.

Katy was brought up not going out to school, she was "home schooled" at home by the other members of the cult. Katy is kept in the house all the time only allowed out into the garden when it is evening when no one is around to witness it and ask questions as to who she is. This means Katy has no friends of her own age, nor does she have any contact with anyone else outside of her household at all. Katy's upbringing is what I can only describe as eccentric. Katy is deprived of any form of comfort at all. Anyone found hugging, or showing any type of affection is severely
punished. The only way to live or rather exist is by employing a life of dumb obedience. It turns out that Katy is not on any type of official list or document she really "doesn't exist" legally. Then you read the quote in the blurb and understanding dawns, that yes Katy truly was "the shadow child no one ever saw".


It is truly horrific how Katy is forced to live, no friends or family relationships of any sort. In fact her own grandparents do not know of her existence.
 . . . its difficult to describe the book as it is interesting and terrible at the same time. The pace of the book is of rather slow in parts, dare I say, it does feel a little monotonous in certain sections and you think about what Katy went through on a daily basis, you ponder what on earth every day must have felt like for her. A minute must have felt like an hour, a month perhaps felt more like a year. The routine the cult kept was fastidious, every had to be done to the precise specifications of what the cult leader Bala decreed. He referred to himself as 
being immortal, as being their God. After around a third of the book, I knew I absolutely had to finish the whole book, I totally had to know how everything ended for Katy. Having said that, there really were occasions I had to put the book down and take a break, what Katy goes through is not exactly light hearted easy reading. I am glad I read the whole book and I hope it is a popular book and many other people read it as Katy deserves to have her story told.

Other members of the cult have attempted escape, some were brought back and badly beaten in an attempt to bring them back into line with the teachings of their God Comrade Bala. These women are also emotionally abused, as if they do anything wrong, in act, in fact they even think of doing something wrong and Bala finds out, they are severely punished and humiliated as well as being constantly verbally abused too. The abuse does not just come from Bala but from all the other Comrades at the instruction of Bala.

Escape for anyone is difficult as when they join the cult, they give up all connection with family and friends, because of course the only people they need and who are worthy of their time are other cult members. Even so cult members are not encouraged to grow close in anyway at all to one another. The only "relationship" they are permitted to have is with Bala and that is on his terms and subject to his demands and whims. Escape or Katy is almost impossible, she doesn't know anyone at all outside the cult she exists in. She has no idea who could or would help her or even how to seek out the help she would need. Not only that, Katy is very rarely left alone. When she goes to the toilet, a comrade accompanies her and actually watches. The same when she has a bath, Katy has no privacy at all.

Katy was forced to live never really knowing about her true parentage. Its not until after her escape that she learns her father is also the head of their cult. Katy doesn't know which of the women in the house they are in is her mother and there is no mother/daughter relationship at all. the women are encouraged to tell tales of indiscretions about each other.

Sian had to be extra hard on Katy so as not to arouse suspicions of her giving Katy special treatment as she is Katy's biological mother. There is a highly emotional scene in the book when Katy is allowed to visit Comrade Sian in hospital after she has an "accident". It is Bala himself that takes Katy to the hospital, he actually explains to the hospital staff that Katy is a "family friend". It's clear Sian is seriously ill and Katy has had suspicions that she is her mother for some time. When Bala tells her it is time they left, something comes over Katy and she gathers courage, because what she is about to say will no doubt result in punishment for her. Katy turns back to Sian in the hospital bed and says goodbye to her mother. Sian replies calling Katy baby. It is then that Katy feels sure Sian truly is her mother. It is the last time Katy sees her mother as Sian dies. 

I don't want to go into intricate detail about what Katy went through, how she finally escaped, who let her down and still blindly believed in the word of Bala, even campaigning Bala's innocence, despite her part in helping Katy to escape and then those whom though they managed to escape the cult when Katy was still very young, never forgot her and came forward to support her case against her biological father Bala. For all the bad Katy endures she does finally meet some lovely supportive people who play a significant part in her lie as she learns how to live independently.

As a reader this book takes you through a whole wide range of emotions. You also find yourself asking how could no one have known of this poor, innocent,child's
existence. Then you wonder how she will escape and how she can possibly build a life when she has no real-life skills. This book is so much more than what I have described and revealed within this review.