Wednesday, 31 March 2021

APRIL RELEASES

 Here are a few April releases that I like the look/sound of!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

REVIEW - EDGE OF VALOR - EDGE OF COLLAPSE BY KYLA STONE

Title: Edge Of Valor
Series: Edge Of Collapse
Author: Kyla Stone
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Post Apocalyptic
Release Date: 28th March 2021
 
BLURB from Goodreads
The final battle for Fall Creek looms......and not everyone will make it out alive.

With enemies closing in on every side, the survivors of Fall Creek find themselves facing impossible odds.

Do they flee for their lives? Or do they defend their town and risk losing it all? Some things are worth fighting for, dying for.

This may be their last stand.
 
 
PURCHASE LINKS
 
REVIEW 
Despite it being fairly late at night I honestly couldn't resist reading just a couple of chapters of this book as soon as I got chance. I have become seriously attached to some of these characters and though I will be truly sad for the series to end I can hardly wait for what seems to be the looming final battle, who will survive? The cover once again feature’s Liam and Hannah together with weapons ready for their next battle. All the covers for this series have been great and I bet they look amazing altogether on a book shelf! The chapters are told from the points of view of the characters and are numbered by the amount, of days. Though there are dramatic scenes in the book and series, there are also humorous scenes and descriptions, such as Milo calling the new goat Oreo as it is white with black splotches! And the fact it makes Quinn hungry every time she hears or thinks about it.

In this book Liam, Hannah and the residents of Fall Creek are facing not one, but two very large well-trained forces coming at them from different directions. The Fall Creek residents can do nothing but stand their ground and fight with what they have. They have Alexander Poe and his army of men who are killing anyone and anything that stands in their way wanting to take as much land as possible. Then there’s General Sinclair, a man so intent on being remembered in years to come and being part of history that he has an assistant logging everything that happens. The General wants the control and comfort of Winter Haven as well as wreaking revenge for his daughter Rosamond’s death. The part of his plan that is most sinister is his interest in the baby that is the result of his grandson kidnapping and repeatedly raping a woman. He wants that baby to bring up, to mold as he wishes to continue his legacy after he has died. It’s only a mothers sixth sense about her child and the ever, protective Ghost that prevents the General having the prize he wants most.

The General makes a camp near Fall Creek to both watch and unnerve the Fall Creek residents. He tells him army that Fall Creek is harbouring terrorists. The General send scouts to issue them with an ultimatum. He demands Liam Coleman, if the Fall Creek residents hand him over straight away he will go easy on the rest of the residents. Like everything else in Fall Creek it is put to a vote, though Hannah refuses to vote saying she is biased in favour of Liam. Fall Creek make their decision, knowing that the apple can’t have fallen far from the tree with Rosamond being the Generals daughter. The Fall Creek residents are kind of resolute they come to the brave conclusion that they will make a stand even if its their last stand they will fight for what is theirs. The General sends in a black hawk helicopter to fire upon the normal American citizens of Fall Creek and some are killed or badly injured. Unfortunately for the General it makes the Fall Creek residents even more determined to stand their ground and fight for those that were lost in the attack too.

I will be totally, truthful, I did have tears in my eyes on quite a few occasions in this final book. One the death of a specific character that I had immediately adored throughout the series. But this character (no names) died saving others which was really fitting and totally in keeping with that character. Another time was very near the end of the book and I was like “Oh no! You cannot be going down that route, seriously you cannot kill this character off now” You’ll understand when you read the book!

My favourite characters, I still loved Liam, a tough guy on the outside but totally melts inside when around Hannah, Milo, Charlotte, and LJ. I think he has softened somewhat throughout the series. He has recovered from his whole unrequited love for Jessa, and grown to love Hannah more, yet stayed in the background, never pushing her to choose. Liam has been a quiet strength, there to back up, or catch Hannah whenever she stumbled. Hannah has also grown so much as a character. From the innocent young women kidnapped and tortured by Gavin Pike, to being a nervous, young women to then becoming a kick butt female who is confident in her own decisions and able to protect herself and what is hers. I could go on and on about the different great characters in this book, such as Quinn, she has a super rollercoaster of a journey through the series growing up to be a kick butt female not afraid to fight for what is hers, rather like Hannah. Then there’s Molly, Bishop and even good boy/bad guy James Luther who are all great characters. I also don’t mind admitting I totally adored Ghost the great pyrenees mountain dog, the way one minute he can be attacking an intruder and ripping their throat out, yet within the same scene can be laid snuffling baby Charlotte.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book & series were wow what a great way to end. This book is as fast paced and full of descriptions making the scenes easy to visualise. I love the sense of community that Kyla created. All the prepping ways that Molly had as well as the army experience and battle tactics that Liam uses and has used against him. The characters feel so real, you do grow to be fond of them, and you care what happens to them. You know them so well as the action is happening you can kind of guess what those certain characters will do.

Summing up this book was a dramatic conclusion to an action packed, amazing series. I genuinely have loved this series from the beginning to the very end. Though not every beloved character makes it to the very end of the series. There were a few great characters we lost along the way throughout the series. Some of the younger characters have really grown through the series, one in particular rapidly grows up even more in this last book, becoming a warrior, doing turns at guarding Fall Creek, and standing in place, fully prepared to fight to the end when the need arises. These normal citizens of Fall Creek are prepared to fight for each other, and for what they have made Fall Creek into. What more can I say I totally loved this series and I know I will miss this series! I wonder what Kyla Stone will be writing next?
 
 
 

Monday, 29 March 2021

BOOK TOUR - TELL NO LIES BY ALLISON BRENNAN

New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan's newest thriller again features an edgy young female LAPD detective and an ambitious special agent, both part of a mobile FBI unit that is brought in to investigate the unsolved murder of a college activist and its alleged ties to high stakes crime in the desert Southwest.

Title: Tell No Lies
Author: Allison Brennan
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: 30th March 2021

BLURB supplied by Harlequin Trade
Something mysterious is killing the wildlife in the desert hills just south of Tucson, Arizona. When Emma Perez, a college-intern-turned activist, sets out to collect her own evidence, she too ends up dead. Local law enforcement seems slow to get involved. That’s when the mobile FBI unit goes undercover to infiltrate the town and the copper refinery located there in search of possible leads. Costa and Quinn find themselves scouring the desolate landscape that keeps on giving up clues to something much darker—greed, child trafficking, other killings. As the body count continues to add up, it's clear they have stumbled on more than they bargained for. Now they must figure out who is at the heart of this mayhem and stop them before more innocent lives are lost.

Brennan's latest novel brims with complex characters and an ever-twisting plot line, a compelling thriller that delivers.

Goodreads Link

PURCHASE LINKS
Bookshop.org
Indie Bound
Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Books A Million
Kindle
Nook
Kobo
Google Play
Ibooks

 EXCERPT

Prologue

Two months ago
Tucson, Arizona

Billy Nixon had been waiting his whole life to have sex with Emma Perez. Okay, not all his life. Two and a half years. It just felt that way since he’d fallen in love with her the day they met in Microeconomics, on his first day of classes at the University of Arizona. Love at first sight is a clichĂ©, and until that moment in time Billy didn’t believe in any of that bullshit. His parents were divorced, his older sister had been in and out of bad relationships since she was fifteen, and his friends slept around as if the apocalypse was upon them.

But in the back of his mind, he remembered the story about how his grandparents met the day before his grandfather shipped off to the Korean War, how they wrote letters every week, and how three years later his grandfather came home and they married. They were married for fifty-six years before his grandfather died; his grandmother died three months later.

That’s what Billy wanted. Without having to go to war.

It took Emma two years before the same feeling clicked inside her. They’d been friends. They both dated other people (well, Billy pretended to date because he couldn’t in good conscience lead another girl on when he knew that he didn’t care about her like he cared about Emma). But it was three months ago, when Emma lost her ride home to Denver for the Christmas holidays and he found her crying in her dorm room, that he said, “I’ll drive you there,” even though he was a Tucson native and lived with his dad to save money.

From then on, she looked at him differently. Like her eyes had been opened and she saw in him what he saw in her. From that point on, they were inseparable.

The morning after they first made love, Billy knew there was no other girl, no other woman, with whom he wanted to spend the rest of his life. Call him a romantic, but Emma was it. He had started saving money for a ring. They were finishing up their third year of college, so had a year left, but that was okay. He did well in school and had a part-time job. He already had a job lined up for the summer in Phoenix that paid well, and he could live there cheaply with his sister—though the thought of spending two months with his emotional, self-absorbed sibling was a big negative. And the idea of leaving Emma for two months made him miserable. But if he did this, he’d have enough money, not only for a ring, but to get an apartment when they graduated. And—maybe—his job this summer would be a permanent thing when he was done with college next spring, which meant he’d have stability. Something he desperately wanted to provide for Emma.

Emma rolled over in bed and sighed. He loved when his dad was out of town and he had the house to himself, since they had no privacy in Emma’s dorm. Billy kissed the top of her head. He thought she was still sleeping, or in that dreamy state right before you wake up. It wasn’t even dawn, but how could he go back to sleep with Emma Perez naked in his bed?

“Billy?” she said.

“Hmm?”

“Can I ask you a favor?”

“Anything.” “I need to go to Mount Wrightson today. The Patagonia side of the mountain.”

“Okay.”

An odd request, but Emma spent a lot of time these days in the Santa Rita Mountains and surrounding areas. She was a business and environmental sciences double major who worked part-time at the Arizona Resources and Environmental Agency—AREA, as they called it—the state environmental protection agency.

“For work, school or fun?” he said.

“Last week my Geology class went out to Mount Wrightson and we hiked partway down the Arizona Trail. I noticed several dead birds off the trail. My professor didn’t think it was anything, but it bothered me. So I talked to my boss, Frank, at work, and he said if my professor didn’t think it was unusual, then it wasn’t. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so went back a couple days ago on my own. One of the closed trails has been used recently. And I found more dead birds, more than a dozen.”

“Which means what?”

“I don’t know yet, but birds are especially vulnerable to contaminated water because of their small size and metabolism. Remember when I told you my boss got an anonymous letter two years ago? Signed A Concerned Citizen and postmarked from Patagonia? The letter writer claimed that several local people were being made sick and that the water supply was tainted. Frank tested the water supply himself after that, but he didn’t find anything abnormal. So he dismissed it. But no one has been able to explain why those people were sick.”

“And remember—there was no evidence that anyone was sick,” Billy said. “The letter was anonymous. It could have just been a disgruntled prankster. Didn’t Frank talk to the health center about the complaint? Didn’t he investigate the local copper refinery?”

“Yes,” she said and sighed in a way that made him feel like he was missing something. “Maybe two years ago it wasn’t real,” she said in a way that made Billy think she really didn’t believe that. “But now my gut tells me something’s going on, and I want to know what.”

“You told your boss about the dead birds. You said he was a good guy, right?”

“Yeah, but I think he still thinks I’m a tree hugger.”

“You certainly gave that impression when you first started there and questioned their entire record-keeping process and the way Frank had conducted that original investigation.”

“I’ve apologized a hundred times. I realize now how much goes into keeping accurate records, and that AREA uses one of the best systems in the country. I’ve learned so much from Frank. I really believe I can make a difference now, and be smart about it too. All I want is to give him facts, Billy. And the only way I can do that is if I go back up there.”

Billy didn’t have the same passion for the environment that Emma had, but he loved her commitment to nature and how she continued to learn and adapt to new and changing technologies and ideas.

“Whatever you want to do, I’m with you,” he said. He’d follow her through the Amazon jungle if she asked him to.

“It’s going to be a beautiful day,” she said, as if he needed encouragement to do anything for her. “I just want to check out the trails near where I found the second flock of birds. We can have a picnic, make a day out of it.”

“Good call, bribing me with food.”

She smiled. “I can bribe you with something else too.” Then she kissed him.

* * *

An hour later the sun was up and they stopped for breakfast in the tiny town of Sonoita, southeast of Tucson where Highways 82 and 83 intersected. Emma had been quiet the entire drive, taking notes while analyzing a topo map.

As they ate, Emma showed him the map and her notes. “The dead birds I found last week with the class were Mexican jays. The ones I found after that on my own were trogons. I’ve been studying both of their migration patterns. The jays have a wider range. The trogons are much more localized. It seems unlikely that they just dropped dead out of the sky for no reason. I’m thinking, logically, they might have been poisoned. I don’t see any large body of water near where I found them, but there’s a pond here that forms during the rainy season.” She pointed.

While Billy couldn’t read a topo map to save his life, he trusted her thinking.

“That pond, or this stream—” she pointed again “—are right under one of their migration routes. I’ve also highlighted some other seasonal streams, here and here.”

“That seems like a huge area. North and south of Eighty-Two? How can we cover all of that in one day? Where are the roads?”

“We can hike.”

He frowned. Hike, sure. But this looked like a three-day deal.

“Emma, maybe you should talk to your boss again, show him the map and tell him what you suspect.”

“But I haven’t found anything yet—just on the map!”

Tears sprouted to her eyes, and Billy panicked. Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry. “Okay, what are we doing, then?”

“If you don’t want to help me, Billy, just say so.”

“I do, Emma. I just need to know the full plan, and I don’t understand your notes. I don’t even know where exactly I’m going.”

“This is the town of Patagonia, see?” She trailed her finger along one of the paths that went from Patagonia up the mountain. “And this is Mount Wrightson, to the north.”

Billy had hiked to the peak of Mount Wrightson once. He wasn’t into nature and hiking like Emma, but he liked being outdoors, so he took a conservation class that doubled as a science requirement. His idea of being outdoors was playing baseball or volleyball or riding his bike.

“Okay.”

“We need to hike halfway up Wrightson. I found a service road that I think we can use to get most of the way to the trailhead. Okay?”

“If you’re sure about this,” he said.

She frowned and looked back down at her map. He hated that he’d made her sad.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “It’s fine.”

“You don’t want to go.”

“I do. I just don’t want us to get lost.”

She smiled sweetly at him. “Stick with me and you won’t.”

That was the smile he needed. He took her hand, interlocked their fingers. “I trust you.”

“Good.” She gave him a quick kiss, and they left the cafĂ© and got back on the road.

Several hours later, Billy wasn’t as accommodating. They’d parked at the end of a dirt road near the trailhead halfway up the southeastern side of the mountain and been hiking through rough terrain ever since. The landscape was dotted with some trees and pines, but not as dense or pretty or green as on the top of the mountain. The land wasn’t dry—the wet winter and snow runoff had ensured that—so the area was hard to navigate, and the paths they were on weren’t maintained. Billy doubted they were trails at all.

The hiking had been fine up until lunch. At noon, they ate their picnic, which was a nice break, because then they had sex and relaxed in the middle of nature. It wasn’t quiet—they heard birds and a light breeze and the rustling of critters. A family of jackrabbits crossed only feet from them as they lay on the blanket Billy had brought. Afterward, Billy suggested they head back to the truck. He was tired, and they had already walked miles, which meant as many miles back to the truck.

But Emma didn’t want to leave. He was pretty sure she didn’t know exactly what she was looking for, but that she had this idea that if she walked long and far enough, she’d find evidence to support her theory that something nefarious had been happening out here to kill all those birds.

So Billy kept his mouth shut and followed her.

By four that afternoon, Billy was pretty sure Emma had gotten them lost. They had seemed to zigzag across the southern face of Mount Wrightson. He was tired, and even the birds had gone quiet, as if they were getting ready to settle in and nest for the night, even though sunset was still a few hours away.

He stopped next to a tree that was taller than most and that provided much-needed shade. It was only seventy-six degrees, but the sky was clear and the sun had been beating down on them all afternoon. He was glad he’d thought to bring sunscreen, otherwise they’d both be fried by now.

He dropped the large backpack he’d been carrying that contained their picnic stuff, blanket, water, first aid kit and emergency supplies. He knew enough about the desert not to go hiking without food and water to last at least twenty-four hours. Like if his truck didn’t start when they got back, they needed to be okay. So he had extra water—but he didn’t tell Emma that. It was for emergencies only.

“We’re down to our last water bottles,” he said. He’d paced himself so he had two left, whereas Emma had gone through all six of hers.

He handed her one of the two. “Drink.”

She sipped, handed it back to him. “Thirty more minutes, honey. See this?” She pointed to the damn map that he wanted to tear into pieces now, except without it he was positive they would be lost here forever. “That’s the large seasonal pond I was talking about. It’ll dry up before summer, according to the topo charts.”

How she could stay so cheerful when he was hot and tired and, frankly, bored, he didn’t know.

“How far?”

“Down this path, not more than two hundred yards. Three hundred, maybe.”

He looked at her. Implored her to let them start heading back.

“Why don’t you stay here and wait,” she said.

“You don’t mind?”

She smiled, walked over and kissed him. “Promise.”

Twenty minutes later she was back where Billy waited. She looked so sad and defeated. “I’m ready to go,” she said.

“We’ll come back next weekend, okay? We’ll bring a tent and food and camp overnight.”

She looked surprised at his suggestion, a smile on her face. “You mean that?”

“Absolutely.”

She threw her arms around him. “I love you, Billy Nixon.”

His heart nearly stopped. “I love you, too,” he said and held her. He wanted to freeze this moment, relive it every day of his life.

“We’re actually closer to your truck than you think—we made a circle. First we went north, then west, then south, now we’re going east again. When we get back to the main trail at the fork back there, we go left rather than right, and the truck is about half a mile up.”

He was impressed; he had underestimated her. Maybe they weren’t as lost as he thought; maybe he was the only one with a shitty sense of direction. But that was okay, because Emma loved him, and they were going to be together forever. He knew it in his heart and his head, and she’d always be there to navigate.

They drove down the mountain, the road rough at first, then it smoothed out as they got near town. They headed west on 82, deciding to drive the scenic route back to Tucson. Emma marked her map to highlight where they’d already walked, when suddenly she looked up. “Hey, can you get off here?”

“Have to pee again?”

“Ha ha. No. There’s several old roads that go south. Sonoita Creek, when it floods, cuts fast-flowing streams into the valley. We had a couple late storms this winter. I just want to check the area quickly—we’ll come back next weekend. But if I see anything that tells me the streams were running a few weeks ago, I want to come back here first. Okay? Please?”

Billy was tired, but Emma loved him, so he happily turned off the highway and followed her directions. They drove about a mile along a very rough unpaved road until they reached a narrow path. His truck couldn’t go down there—there were small cacti sprouting up all over the place, and the chances of him getting a flat increased exponentially.

Emma got out, and Billy reluctantly followed. She was excited. “See that grove of trees down there?”

He did. It looked more like overgrown brush, but it was greener than anything else around them.

“I’ll bet there’s still water. This is on the outer circle of where the birds could have flown from. I just want to check.”

“The path looks kinda steep and rocky. You sure about this?”

She kissed him. “I’m sure. Stay here, okay? I won’t be long.”

“Ten minutes.” “Fifteen.” She kissed him again, put her backpack on and headed down the path.


He sat in the back of his truck and watched Emma navigate the downward slope. He doubted this “path” had been used anytime in the last few years. From his vantage point, he saw several darker areas, plants dense and green, and suspected that Emma was right—this valley would get water after big storms.

Emma was beautiful and smart. What wasn’t to love?

He watched until she disappeared from view into the brush.

He frowned. He should have gone with her. Was he just sulking because he was tired and hungry?

Predators were out here—coyotes, bobcats, javelinas. Javelinas could be downright mean even if you did nothing to provoke them. Not to mention that these mountains bordered the corridor for trafficking illegal immigrants. Billy had taken a criminal justice class his freshman year and they touched upon that topic. He didn’t want to encounter a two-legged predator any more than one on four legs.

What kind of man was he if he couldn’t suck it up and help the woman he loved?

So he grabbed his backpack and headed down the path Emma had taken. He was in pretty good shape, but this hike had wasted him. Emma must have been fitter than he was, because she’d barely slowed down all day. After this, they’d go to his place, shower—maybe he could convince Emma to take a shower with him—and then he’d take her out to dinner. After all, they had something to celebrate: the first time they said “I love you.” They’d go to El Charro, maybe. It was Billy’s favorite Mexican food in Tucson, not too expensive, great food. Take an Uber so they could have a couple of drinks.

He wished he were there right now. His stomach growled as he stumbled and then caught himself before he fell on his ass.

He was halfway down the hill when a scream pierced the mountainside. Billy ran the rest of the way down the narrow, rocky trail. “Emma!”

No answer.

He yelled louder for her. “Emma! Emma!”

He slipped when the trail made a sudden drop as it went steeply down to a small pond—the seasonal one that Emma must have been looking for. The beauty of the spot with its trees and boulders all around was striking in the desert, and for a split second he thought it was a mirage. Then all he could think about was that Emma had been bitten by a rattlesnake, or had fallen into the water, or had slipped and broken her leg.

But she didn’t respond to his repeated calls.

“Emma!”

He stood on the edge of the pond, frantically searching for her. Looking for wild animals, a bobcat that she may have surprised. A herd of javelinas that might have attacked her. Anything.

Movement to his right startled him, and he turned around quickly.

In the shade, he saw someone. He shouted, wondering if Emma was disorientated or had gone the wrong way. But whatever he thought he saw was now gone.

Then he saw her.

Emma’s body was half in, half out of the pond, a good hundred feet beyond him, obscured in part by an outcrop of large rocks on the water’s edge. He ran to her and dropped to his knees. His first thought was that she had slipped and hit her head. Some blood glistened on her scalp.

“Emma, where are you hurt? Emma?”

She didn’t respond. Then he saw the blood on a hand-sized rock on the edge of the pond. And he felt more blood on the back of her skull.

“No, no, no!”

He saw her chest rise and fall. She was alive, but unconscious. He pulled out his phone, but there was no signal. He had to get help, but he couldn’t leave her here.

Billy picked Emma up and, as quickly as he could, carried her up the steep hillside to his truck.

As he drove back to the main road, he called 911. An ambulance met him in the closest town, Patagonia.

But by then Emma was already dead.
 


Excerpted from Tell No Lies by Allison Brennan, Copyright © 2021 by Allison Brennan. Published by MIRA Books.
 
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

ALLISON BRENNAN is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of over thirty novels. She has been nominated for Best Paperback Original Thriller by International Thriller Writers and the Daphne du Maurier Award. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, Allison lives in Arizona with her husband, five kids and assorted pets.
 
AUTHOR LINKS 

Author website: https://www.allisonbrennan.com/

Facebook: @AllisonBrennan

Twitter: @Allison_Brennan

Instagram: @abwrites

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/52527.Allison_Brennan 
 


Friday, 26 March 2021

REVIEW - DARK LULLABY BY POLLY HO-YEN

  

Title: Dark Lullaby
Author: Polly Ho-Yen
Publisher: Titan Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release Date: 23rd March 2021

BLURB from Goodreads
In Dark Lullaby a mother desperately tries to keep her family together in a society where parenting standards are strictly monitored.

When Kit decides to have a child, she thinks she's prepared. She knows how demanding Induction is. She's seen children Extracted. But in a society where parenting is strictly monitored under the watchful gaze of OSIP (The Office of Standards in Parenting), she is forced to ask herself how far she will go to keep her family together. 

Goodreads Link

PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon US
Amazon UK

REVIEW
I think the cover of this book really does it job well! It certainly attracts your eye, demanding your attention. The main focus on the cover is the silhouette figure of a quite heavily pregnant female figure. There are what appears to be birds flying around the woman, upon reading the book at first, I wondered if these birds represented the sphere’s, but then I saw the eye-shape image further down the cover that I reckon is a sphere. So, I reckon the birds could represent that there are eyes everywhere always watching, ready to swoop down and deliver the dreaded ISP notices. I’ll be really interested to learn what other readers think they are too. Every time I look at this book cover, I notice something else! Oh! and I cannot forget the by-line, “How Far Would You Go To Protect Your Child?” My immediate thoughts were, I would do anything, and everything, to protect my child, and still would!

So back to the by-line, “How Far Would You Go To Protect Your Child?” after having read the book. I once again asked myself the same question both from my own point of view and then from the point of view of the characters of Evie and Kit who both have to make this decision in the book after discovering some quite valuable knowledge to use as leverage for their own selves and family, I also thought about the other characters who did not have this knowledge/leverage at their disposal. After agonising from all sides of the “argument” I had to say the same answer and agree with both Evie and Kit’s decision, though I would have thought Evie would have confided and/or shared this valuable information with her sister Kit earlier. However, Evie never really tells her sister she more points her in the direction of the knowledge and its up to Kit to joint all the clues, and sort out her life going forward.

The genres listed for this book are Thriller, Mystery, Sci-fi and Fantasy which I totally agree with but I would also add futuristic because who knows where our present real-life society to lead! Also, I would place this book in the dystopian genre, in fact it has been compared to great dystopian The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Attwood, which I have to agree to feeling there were some similarities (though in the interest of being totally honest I have not read the books. I watch the series and do have the books to read!).

I guess I should now try to describe a little bit about the back without revealing anything too “spoilery”. I would say the book is set in a futuristic dystopian world where infertility is extreme high. Couples really struggle to have babies. Over time more and more regulations and laws have been put in to improve a couple’s chance of conceiving and having a healthy baby. Some people who do not wish to go through the sometimes, gruelling treatments to become pregnant opt out, and are in fact called “outs”. Though there are not official punishments for not having a bay, those that choose to have children earn more housing credits, they can earn more. Basically, those in power are doing their utmost to make induction and pregnancy as desirable as possible and those who refuse induction are not openly punished yet live in poorer quality houses & have lower wages. They get to a certain level in their job where they cannot progress any further, or earn any more money. They are stuck at the same level for the rest of their life unless they then choose to have children.

When going through the Induction the woman has to take a cocktail of drugs to improve her own bodily hormones to achieve the perfect balance for an optimum pregnancy. This does take a toll of the woman both physically, mentally and emotionally. The couple also needs to read up on everything they are going through and attend meetings where all sorts of different scenarios are talked about and they are judged by not only official but by their peers too. Once the couple becoming pregnant and have their baby home the pressure cooker atmosphere continues their lives are under a microscope always being watched for anything that doesn't meet the office of standards of parenting. Eyes are always watching, ready to report any mishap or incident. Parents live in constant fear of not meeting the required standard and having their precious baby removed from them. Throughout the time period covered in the book, the amount of IPS notices couples are allowed to incur changes, but there is always a certain set amount, cut off. Should you exceed that amount your child is taken away. Your child is taken to a communal type home where they are given the best of everything and cared for and brought up as those in power determine they should be. IPS (Insufficient Parenting Standard) notices can be given for numerous, ever changing breaches.

The two central female characters in the book are Evie and Kit. They have both been brought up mainly by their father and are among the last children to be born via natural means. Their mother and younger sibling both died. Kit was too young to really remember much about her mum or sister, thought older sister Evie does share the occasional memory about them. The sisters are very close to each other at the beginning of the book though that doesn’t mean that they agree about having children. Evie is wholeheartedly for going through induction, believing all the hype about needing to breast feed only being best for the baby, until her own baby is not gaining enough weight. Evie risks receiving an IPS for Jakob not gaining enough weight so she secretly obtains “illegal” formula milk which she ends up being discovered meaning she gets an IPS anyway. Kit tries to help her sister as much as she can but with Evie determined to stick to being the best parent ever, she cuts her sister off, not allowing her to hold Jakob for fear of Kit not holding the baby correctly and incurring more IPS notices.

It's at Jakob’s naming ceremony that Kit’s future changes when she meets a work mate of Seb’s called Thomas. It’s not so long until they start dating and though they begin with agreeing on not wanting children, soon their resolve starts to be chipped away at. It's not long until Kit has begun the process of having a baby and becomes obsessed about the "right" things to be doing as her sister was before her.

The book tells the stories of both sister’s families. Evie & Seb who sadly receive so many IPS notices their relationship doesn’t survive and their precious son is removed from their care. Then suddenly Evie moves to a nicer home and is given her son back. Evie is so won over to the work of the government that she talks about becoming an enforcer herself. When Kit and Thomas face the increasing possibility of having their cherished daughter Mimi away because of receiving IPS notices too often they plan to run away, with the help of a local undercover resistance group, but this still means being separated from Mimi for a length of time that Kit cannot cope with. When she gets an urge to go to her daughter, to retrieve her from those hiding her runs away from her husband Thomas scared he will not agree with her actions. When there is no where else to turn, Kit puts what is left of her faith in their bond to the test and approaches her sister for help, but what is Evie hiding, why does she live so far away from everyone else alone with Jakob? Why does she seem so standoffish with her own sister? Finally, just as Kit is about to give up, Evie offers Kit her own car to take Mimi to hospital and an address of someone who may be able to help Kit, but why should Kit trust her now?

I felt really drawn in and hooked into this book and truthfully hated having to put it down. I had so many questions and thoughts whilst reading the book How can the new parents ever fulfil the extremely, ever complicated regulations for bringing up their child correctly? Is Induction just an elaborate breeding program? Where the child is removed from the parents is it always the answer for the child’s best interest for them to be placed into the ideal compound environment? What are the children told about their parents? Do parents/children ever get to see one another again?

There are so many twists, turns and different levels to this book and its society. The disturbing thing is that the society is not all that unbelievable! I think the fact that I could read this book and be convinced that this type of thing could actually happen made it all the more of a gripping, enthralling, unputdownable book! I honestly pitied both sisters, but more so Kit, which is quite strange when at the end of the book she is an enforcer. One of those that hide in cars with tinted windows, turn up at homes all times of day or night that at times seem to great delight in handing out Insufficient Parenting Standard notices. I truly went through a wide range of emotions reading this book. There were moments of joy, poignancy and great warm feeling family scenes too amidst the horror, disbelief, sorrow, pity and desperation for those who had their children removed from them. I also felt shock and disgust when the secrets and truths behind all the child removals was revealed. I thought that those in power may have been helping the infertility issues but they also created a horrible society where people are continually under surveillance and pressure. It is such a pressurised situation that it comes between husband & wife as well as coming between two sisters, where one sister is scared to help the other and her baby for the fear of her own child being taken from her! A society that is supposedly geared to building families, yet whilst helping make additions to couples and building new families, if the rules are not met to a sufficient standard these families are cruelly ripped apart.

This book is definitely up on my best reads list! I would compare Dark Lullaby to Maternal Instinct and Stealing Time both by Rebecca Bowyer which I have read, adored and highly recommend, along with The Farm by Joanne Ramos, VOX and Q both by Christina Dalcher.

To sum up, I found the society both interesting and intriguing. How the book ends it all makes sense as a standalone book. Having said that I would love more! Maybe one or both sisters and their husbands could become part of a resistance movement against those in charge? I will most certainly be looking out for other books by this author!