Monday 27 August 2018


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

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'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.

Amazon US
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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.

Monday 20 August 2018


Title: Vox
Author: Christina Dalcher
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Publisher: HQ
Release Date: 21st August 2018

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Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial--this can't happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning.

Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.

But this is not the end. 

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.


I heard this book was being compared to The Handmaids Tale and I love the dystopian genre even though I guess I should admit to not having read The Handmaids Tale yet. I have bought a copy but just not gotten around to reading it yet. Anyhow I looked this one up on Goodreads as soon as I knew it was going to be published. I have seen two different covers for this book, (see below).


The stark white cover with profile of a woman with the red X of the book title being over the females mouth. Its a very strong image and really puts over the basics of what the book is about, which is silencing women. This is an especially poignant message as this year we celebrate the suffragettes and the fact they got women the vote and gave us a voice. 

I also love the black cover too with its red letters and the byline of "Silence can be deafening" which is a great line to start you thinking about the book content. 
Which cover is my favourite? I honestly like them both and I think either will stand out on a bookstore shelf so both do their job very well. If I absolutely had to choose one? My love o a great byline would make me choose the dark cover, but, the white cover and the x over the females mouth is such a stark, striking image too.
The genres I have seen listed for this book are Sci-Fi, Dystopian which fit perfectly but I would also add futuristic to this list.

This book is set in America, though the setting would also work over here in the UK. The government (all male of course) has passed a law that women are only allowed to use 100 words per day! It doesn't stop at limiting women to just 100 words soon women are not allowed jobs, they are supposed to stay in the home and keep the family home ticking over, caring for the children, and having the dinner ready for their husband coming home, they are not allowed to hold any job of responsibility.

There really is an inequality within everyone's household. The central character in this story is Dr Jean McLellan who is ironically a well educated woman who trained as a cognitive linguist forced to give up her career to men with lesser qualifications. She has to stay home and isn't even allowed access to books. She cannot use a computer, anything for the use of communication is locked away in her husbands office. Her husband is quite literally her jailer. Jean isn't even secondary in the pecking order at home. Her son is held in higher esteem and has more authority than she has herself. When her son Steven becomes deeper and involved with a movement called the Pure movement and really believes women should not be at work, or allowed to read books. Steven wears his badge as a member of the Pure movement with pride. Jean cannot believe the change in her son and his attitude. His actions and words certainly fit the governments expectations, he truly seems to think women are an inferior race and should be ruled over by men. This doesn't sit well at all with Jean, his educated mother. In fact it makes her think back to her years o education and a friend, Jackie Juarez who had told her she should be out protesting with her but Jean was dedicated to her books and never thought things would go this far. Jean remembers the last time she saw Jackie on TV, she was labelled a feminazi and sent away to work in the fields.

Jean is devastated to learn that her son Steven has reported his next door neighbour/girlfriend, Julia King for what he considers an infraction of the governments rules. Julia is taken away in the night and like all protesters or those considered to be breaking the law she is sentenced to working on the farms and a life of silence, she isn't allowed any words at all.

I guess I should explain how the government enforces the 100 words per day policy. Every female from the youngest children to the oldest woman is fitted with a cuff which counts their words as they use them. If the female wearing the cuff goes over her 100 words per day she is sent an electrical type shock through her cuff. So is harshly punished for over use of words. There is no way out of this life. Even if women wanted to leave the country with her family she is unable to do so as all females had their passports confiscated and n new ones are being issued. 

Dr Jean McLellan is given the chance of a small reprieve when the President wants her to continue some scientific work she had been doing before America changed. It turns out he needs a serum to give his brother who is suffering from a brain disorder/damage which was the scientific are Jean and her team had been working on. Jean decides to help so long as she can choose her team Lin and Lorenzo to help her. The price/payment she receives is the removal of her cuff and her young daughter Sonia's cuff. Jean intends to enjoy what little freedom this "work" will give her. She fall right back into the affair she was having with Lorenzo, which is risky as if found out she will be sent to the farms to work hard labour until death!

There is so much going on in this book and it truly is a conversation starter. I'd also say it is something that could quite realistically happen. I mean there's still a political row going on about getting equal pay for women, and certain professions are still mostly male dominated.

I was pulled into this book almost immediately within the first 4% ! As a reader you are thrown right into the dystopian society with its rules and regulations. To be totally honest looking around at our present political leaders around the world is a scenario that is really believable and doesn't take to much imagination to envision it. I found the plot of this book amazing twist on a society. Women, even young girls must be fitted with a counter and are limited to the 100 words! If you just go over, a reminder shock is entirely through your counter.....if you continue to speak even though you have used you allotted words the shocks get stronger and stronger. It's not only words that have been taken from the female part of society...." There really seems no end to the torment of women in this society yet still some women look down on others. Making it seem in places were women are their own worst enemy, if they banded together they could make a bigger impact but it just takes a few brave women to stand together.

I really enjoyed reading this book it was really thought provoking the society going back to a time where women were thought lesser important than men and are sentenced to a life of drudgery and silence. 

Monday 13 August 2018


Title: Access Restricted
Series: Word$
Author: Gregory Scott Katsoulis
Genre: Sci-Fi, YA, Dystopian
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: 28th August 2018

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At the end of All Rights Reserved, Speth and her friends freed the city of Vermaine from Silas Rog and his oppressive litigation. But now, with the Wi-Fi untethered, the citizens of her city are looking to Speth to lead them. Just as Speth never intended to lead a rebellion of Silents, she has no idea how to begin putting Vermaine back to rights. All she wants to do is break out of the dome and track down her parents, who were sold into indentured servitude years before. Leaving the care of the city in the hands of her friend and mentor, Kel, Speth and a few friends embark on a journey to explore the rest of their world and spread the cause of freedom.


I approached reading Access Restricted with mixed feelings as I had totally loved All Rights Reserved and told every book lover I know how amazing it was. I find that sometimes the second book isn’t always as good as the first, and as I totally adored All Rights Reserved, Access Restricted has a lot to live up to, to be as good.

This book, once again has a bold and bright cover. This time it is orange,  and has metal chain with a padlock prominent on the cover which I'd say fits with the title of the book. The chained padlock also fits in with a scene from within the book.
I think the colour will make this book cover stand out on a shelf, though I think anyone that read All Rights Reserved would be eagerly awaiting this title.
The genres I have seen listed for this book are Sci-Fi, Dystopian and YA which all fit the book well though once again I should point out that I am waaay past the YA age group and still read and loved this book.

In this book Speth and her placer friends are still causing mayhem for the powers in charge! However because Speth & friends have freed those that live under the rule of Silas Rog, the people of Onzieme still look to Speth for guidance on what to do next. It was never Speth's intention to become a replacement leader, all she wanted to do after freeing her neighbours and friends from Silas was to go find her parents, free them from their indenture and run away together somewhere and start their new life together. When Speth leaves to try to escape the dome and find her parents it is Kel that steps up and tries to help the people now they are free.

There's plenty of action from the placers, though redundant from placing items now the town has been freed they go on helping wherever they can. Some of them end up accompanying Speth when they are in a car chase, though they would have wanted to stay behind. They accept the situation  and agree to help as much as they can. Whilst Seth's unplanned car chase means she cannot go and collect her sister Saretha from the hospital, in fact Speth almost doesn't go, she finally leaves when Kel promises to watch out for her sister. Kel also tells them to make contact with Kiely, the placer who trained her, as she may be able to help them in someways.

Though Speth flees Onzieme and the dome that surrounds it there is no guarantee she will find her parents and free them. In fact she may get caught and taken back to Silas Rog or his sister, Lucretia. Lucretia seems to be obsessed with capturing Speth and not just because of what Speth has done to Silas, Lucretia's brother, it seems to be something even more personal the way Lucretia doggedly tracks and chases Speth. Speth & the group begin to realise the sign of zipped and locked lips has spread much wider than they could ever imagine. Every where they go there seems to be silents willing to help them on their way, and to intervene in the chasing and potential capturing of them.

We also learn why Indenturing is so widespread and seemingly being done more. It seems that any children that are born to parents already indentured become the property of the Rog's. So as soon as these children are old enough to walk they are put to work. Then if they have children the cycle continues over and over. In fact some of the characters liken it to slavery.  

Of course I still love Speth for her determination, bravery and selfless acts of sacrifice just made me like her even more. Speth always seems to be blaming herself for things in this book. Be it for her friend and family losses to being willing to go ahead and sacrifice herself for the good and well being of others.
I also immediately took to Mira who is Margot's younger sister, and so sweet, yet sassy at the same time. Margot is also really protective over Mira so it's quite funny when she tells Mira off for things. The amusing thing is Mira usually gets her own way anyhow.
I also had a new favourite smaller character who I instantly liked despite her surname being Rog was Victoria, who was a younger, affluent, sheltered character became so brave and became defiant as well as supporting the underdogs in the book. 
The two characters I loved disliking were Silas and Lucretia Rog, the way they offer a "fair" trial and it turns out the unbiased judge is someone who turns out to be much closer to the case which would make them truly biased before any statements have been made. I loved the way Silas and Lucretia thought they could win no matter what evidence was available against them. If they dislike something they just change the parameters of the law within their dome. 

We catch up with a lot of the characters from All Rights Reserved in this book, as well as meeting new characters such as the family of those who chose to commit suicide and/or family of those that have recently been indentured. Speth is a little shocked that most of these people seem to support her rather than blame her for their family members death such as Beecher's father, Mr Randall and Mrs Croate (Sera's mother).

So I feel I really don't want to say any more as I always try not to give away spoilers. There is happiness in this book as well as sadness when we lose well liked characters. . . and I totally didn't see one of the losses coming at all.
I just want to add that I loved the way the names/titles of each chapter had their cost for saying them eg, "Out Of The Dome: $8.96", "Into The Fire: $9.97" and "Keene: $10.99".

My immediate thoughts upon finishing reading this book were, "Wow amazing!"
I can definitely say Access Restricted is as good as All Rights Reserved. I would highly recommend reading this book series. It has an amazing plot, a well created dystopian society and is a fantastic read! When I finished reading All Rights Reserved I felt I wanted to shout about how great it was from the rooftops, well Access Restricted left me feeling the same way! 

Monday 6 August 2018


Title: The Breeders
Author: Matthew J. Beier
Genre: LGBTQIA, Literary Fiction
Publisher: Epicality Books, Books Go Social
Release Date: 17th January 2012

BLURB from Goodreads
The storm has come. The homosexuals, once an ostracized social minority, have taken over the world. They understood the dangers of an overpopulated planet, usurped government power, and created a culture of perfectly engineered families. But Grace Jarvis and Dex Wheelock are heterosexuals--part of the government’s highly controlled backup plan for reproduction--and they have a problem:

Grace is pregnant. Dex is the father. It is a crime that has only one consequence: banishment to the Antarctic Sanctuary, an isolated biological reserve where reproductive criminals are allowed to exist in peace, without disrupting the rest of civilization. Yet there are rumors that genocide has already begun and that the homosexuals are finally setting natural breeders on a path to extinction. This leaves Grace and Dex with only two choices: to succumb to the tyrannical regime, or run.

They choose to run.

Matthew Beier’s debut novel tells the intimate story of two people bound by the force of life itself as they set out to protect their unborn child and find value for themselves in a world that has rendered them worthless. This rainbow-tinted reflection of our own society--part political satire and part dystopian thriller--is a novel you won’t want to miss.


I couldn't believe I had missed out on reading this one when I saw it's publishing date! The cover features a large iceberg and a rainbow over it. Upon reading the book I came to the conclusion that this could be Sanctuary, the place people are sent if they disobey the governments laws. The cover certainly attracted my eyes and then when I read the Blurb I knew I just had to read this book!

The genres listed for this book are LGBTQIA and Literary Fiction though  personally I would also add Dystopian and Futuristic as it has an “alternative” society controlled by what most would label as an unconventional government with their new laws.

The world is now ruled by the majority of the population which are homosexual. As the world was becoming rapidly over populated those in charge decree that there should be no more “natural” pregnancies. The government are increasingly going down the route of engineered families that they perceive as being perfect. Though they have the engineering expertise they also have a back up plan of men and women (hetrosexuals) who can be controlled, conceive and produce offspring in a constrained environment. However should anyone become pregnant naturally, the guilty pair are banished to a place called Sanctuary, located in the Antarctica, which is an extremely harsh place. Those sent to Sanctuary live a hard life as a punishment. The ”back up” individuals are referred to as Failsafes (men) and Carriers (women).

The book is told from two main points of view. Dex Wheelock, a fail safe with two mothers as parents, who had what he thought could have been the beginnings of a meaningful relationship with a carrier called Diana. Things had been going really well, then one day she just disappeared into thin air. No matter how he tried he could not find out where she had gone. Dex’s friend invites him to a party to distract him from losing Diana. Dex is attracted to a woman called Grace and they end up having sex that evening.

The other point of view is from the perspective of Grace Jarvis, a carrier, with two fathers who finds herself pregnant after what she considered a one night stand at a party. The pregnancy leaves Grace with a very difficult decision to make. Though Grace initially attempts to hide her pregnancy, this is not something that she can do for long. The pregnancy literally tears her family apart. Dividing her parents and family who have shockingly differing opinions on her pregnancy. Dex and Grace meet up again and discuss their options which come down to just two options, to being inevitably found out as Grace’s pregnancy goes further along and being banished to Sanctuary, or to run! There is a rumour of a resistance that can help people in their situation. Neither of them want to leave their families behind but they have no choice. To begin with Dex is determined to support Grace and their baby but at a crucial moment he gets cold feet leaving Grace in the hands of the resistance alone. Whilst being on the run with the resistance Grace is becomes unsure about the resistance and their true objectives but what choice does she really have but to continue on the path she is on. There is no option for her to turn back and she is even told she would not be allowed to leave as she had seen and heard too much of the resistance secrets and locations to be allowed to escape alive!

I of course really liked the main characters of Dex and Grace. Dex seems to have been quite spoilt by his two mothers. We see Grace’s family split with her father ?? being disgusted with her pregnancy and literally turning his back on her not wanting any part in her life or his grand-child’s.  Luckily Grace has the unlimited love, moral and financial support of her dad Stuart.

This book is really action packed and had me hooked within reading the first 10%. There is a lot going on, the pregnancy just seems to be the “thing” that triggers some of the changes. The Breeders is full of family woes, disagreement and darkness as the truth of how quickly some of the characters discard friends/family in trouble. Then uplifting when complete strangers risk their lives to help to people that they have only just met.

I guess some people will find the book controversial, with the switch of power being in the hands of homosexuals rather than heterosexual. The head of the government is referred to as Queen Vincent and he wants to eradicate heterosexuals. The book turns the majorities on their head, having what we would still think of minorities leading the way. I found the book engrossing and intriguing. For those possibly put off by other reviews I would want to remind everyone that this is fiction and that I find reading a way to escape my everyday real life.

I definitely enjoyed reading this book with its complex society and it intricately woven plot. I loved that things were revealed to us as Grace was learning about them too. The book was both an enjoyable read and a very thought provoking one too. I’d say this book is a great conversation starter. The book tips the prejudice that homosexuals receive on its head telling the story where they are in charge and it is the heterosexuals that are the harassed minority.