Wednesday 10 April 2024

EVOLVING ANARCHY - DARK NATION BK 5 BY GRACE HAMILTON

  

Title: Evolving Anarchy
Series:
Dark Nation
Author:
Grace Hamilton
Publisher:
Relay Publishing
Release Date:
10th April 2024

BLURB
There’s a thin line between trust and survival…

After an EMP plunged the world into chaos, Deb found herself joining a group of hardworking survivors. At first, she’s grateful not to be alone. But her hopes and dreams soon become a nightmare, when she’s left in charge of a group of runaways, fleeing from Mike, the brutal man who kept them captive.

Mike is determined to reclaim Carol and her baby, and to wreak vengeance on Deb for taking his family away from him.

Meanwhile, Carol’s newfound freedom has come with a dark price… Staying off drugs was easy when she didn’t have access. Now, she finds herself torn between her desire to be a good mother, and the addictive cravings that still haunt her.

When Deb learns that her ex-husband Colton and Carol’s children are nearby, she’s determined to reunite with them, in the hopes that there will be safety in numbers.

But with Mike hot on their tail, safety may be one more fleeting dream…

Goodreads Link

REVIEW
Once again, the cover fits well with the rest of the series and could easily be a scene captured from within the book.

In this book the characters from the last book, Deb, Carol, Bobbi and Jonah are on their way to try to find Carols sons who they have been told are living in the area Carol used to live with them before the EMP. Carol has changed a lot from the addict who could only think about drugs, who left her sons to fend for themselves whilst she went in search of her next fix. Now Carol is pregnant and has been clean for quite some time and desperately wants to put things right with her sons and hopefully make it up to them in this new world they are all surviving in. However, Carol isn’t stupid she knows that there is the chance her boys, now grown young men will want nothing to do with her at all, still, it’s a chance she wants to take. When Deb, Carol, Bobbi & Jonah see the market place set up they are surprised by how many people are milling about but are soon sought out and told they need to register at the school for food rations etc. The group are naturally reluctant to do this as it would leave a paper trail as to where they are if/when slaver Mike catches up to them. The group do discuss telling the settlement leaders/security about Mike but after the way they speak to Carol as if she is still an addict the group come to the conclusion, that they need to keep quiet or face the probability that they will be thrown out before they can find Carol’s sons.

Meanwhile Mike is driving what is left of his group hard in an effort to find Carol. Though it is the baby she his carrying that he really wants. Marie is getting closer to Mike and he admires the way she handles his men and keeps them in line for him. IT becomes apparent that Marie has romantic feeling towards Mike too. Its not long before Mike has everything planned out in his head, he needs to get Carol back, get the baby, discard Carol and play happy families with Marie at his side.

With no food ration books, Deb, Carol, Bobbi, and Jonah have to be creative with what they have to barter for what they need to survive. Though Bobbi cannot resist bartering for what is considered a luxury when she sees a little hat and bootees, she immediately begins hatching a plan to barter work etc in exchange for them so she can give them to Carol as a gift for the baby. I felt sorry for Carol returning to her old home only to find it partially burnt out. It was heart breaking the way she held onto the photographs of her boys when they were younger. I did wonder if she was going to lapse into her old addict ways when she found her old stash of pills in her old house, but I kind of understood why she didn’t tell the others about the pills. I guess she was testing herself and then when she uses them to trade on the black market, it turns out she was right to keep hold of them.

Bobbi sees Scarlet and Zack at the market, instantly recognising Zack, and cannot resist approaching him. Sadly, she isn’t the only one who instantly recognises Zack when he sees him and its not long until Mike has Zack held hostage. He sends Scarlett with a message for Carol to turn herself in to him, in exchange for her son’s release. It takes a combined effort to face Mike in a rescue attempt.

By the end of the book, Carol, Deb, Bobbi and Jonah do have somewhere to stay but they’re not sure how long for as with Mike still out there, angry at his losses, still wanting Carol for their baby and looking for revenge will anywhere ever be safe. Carol still isn’t on great terms with her sons, though Zack did warm to her and was protective over her when they were in danger together. Deb is also feeling uncomfortable facing her ex-husband, Colton, who it seems has a child, something he told her he never wanted.

I really enjoyed reading this book, I loved being reunited with Molly, Colton etc and the little community that has been built up. I adored the interaction between the two brothers, Tommy chopping wood, pushing himself despite still not being fully recovered and Zack tentatively trying to help his brother without taking over or making Tommy feel useless in any way. This group of characters are happy with the life they have created together, they are moving on with life as best as they can. You can’t help feeling that there is going to be someone coming along to complicate things very soon. I suppose in an ideal world, Carol and her group will come along and fit right in, but there’s old hurts to be contended with, Carol’s old addiction and neglect of the boys, the fact they are being chased by a slaver with a grudge. Then there’s the fact Deb’s ex-husband Colton is living with and created a family with Molly. I am interested to see how the situation will play out, can Carol’s boys forgive her, or will her group be moved on before there’s chance of a reconciliation because of the threat of Mike returning? Will Mike ever give up on getting Carol back? I think the only way that situation will be resolved is if one of them is dead!

I really love the different plots that are going on, there is so much potential for what is to come from the rest of this series. Such as Mike the slaver, and the other slaver groups that were moving closer to the community and would need to be dealt with soon, though Carol, Deb, Bobbi and Jonah’s arrival has brought this potential problem higher on the list of the settlement’s priorities. Then Carol and her boys reuniting, how will Tommy and Zack react to her, can she even convince them she is clean now? Then there’s a hint of unfinished business between Deb and Colton, how will this affect Molly? What is Mike going to do next to get Carol and his baby? Is there a greater danger to the community now? Is it time Carol, Deb, Bobbi and Jonah just stopped running from Mike and gather allies to face and defeat him once and for all? Then, there are the “normal” once everyday dilemmas to be worked out, pregnancies, illnesses, relationships and community dynamics. I honestly can’t wait to read more of this series.


 

 

Friday 29 March 2024

REVIEW - RISING ANARCHY - DARK NATION BY GRACE HAMILTON

  

Title: Rising Anarchy
Series:
Dark Nation
Author:
Grace Hamilton
Release Date:
13th March 2024

BLURB
When the entire world collapses, there is no escape…

When an EMP ends life on Earth as she knows it, Deb is lucky enough to fall in with a group of hardworking survivors… or so she thinks. But her good fortune quickly turns into a nightmare, and soon her only goal is to escape. But can she keep herself and her friends from being captured by Mike, and dragged back to his group of human traffickers?

Deb reluctantly takes the mantle of leadership, and it falls to her to make the tough decisions. The harsh terrain and weather are merciless. A single mistake could lead to people getting hurt, or worse. And Mike’s traffickers are a constant threat.

Their only hope of survival may come down to the kindness of others. But Deb has been betrayed before. Is it possible there really are people willing to help?

And can Deb let her guard down enough to trust them? 

Goodreads Link

REVIEW
The book cover fits really well with the rest of the series so far and would certainly make me pick it up from the book store shelf.

In this book we meet new characters who are also dealing with the new post-apocalyptic world. The main characters are Deb, Carole, Bobbi, Jonah and Trevor, all of which are living under the heavy, iron rule of Mike. Whilst Mike and one of his trusted guards Marie are away scouting ahead for an exchange of “work force” with a different group of survivors. Mike plans to get rid of some of his more troublesome workers, the ones who speak back to him such as Deb. The same Deb who hangs around with Carol who is pregnant with Mike’s baby. Mike knows that if he gets rid of Deb and a few of the other “workers” he has, that the others including Carol will fall into line. Deb and a few of the others, Carol, Bobbi, Trevor and Jonah have been planning on attempting to escape together when the time was right.

With Mike and Marie away, and the worker trade imminent it seems like there is little choice for Deb and her small band of friends but to make a bid for freedom now.

Deb uses some Jack Daniels she and Jonah had found and hidden for this purpose. Deb adds some valerian root herbs to the Jack Daniels and when everyone is settling down for the night Carol & Bobbi who are friendly with some of the guards bring out the bottle of Jack Daniels to generously share with the guards. When Trevor finally sends out the blue jay bird call sign they know it is time to go. A lot of the other “workers” also decide to take the opportunity to flee from Mike. At first Deb and her small group think this is great and will work in their favour because when Mike gets back there will be so many trails to follow, he will not know which one they took. It soon becomes apparent all the other escapees are looking towards Deb as some sort of new leader and all want to follow her and her group making a large heavy trail for Mike to follow. Debs had been prepared for their small group of five and she ended up with a group for fifty!! Bobbi asks Deb to speak to the others that have escaped to explain why they are taking the route they are etc but Debs snaps at Bobbi and explains that she planned the escape for two reasons, the first to get away from Mike before he traded them to another workforce and second to get Carol and her baby away from Mike. Deb flatly refuses to take charge. People complain about the harsh terrain of the route that Deb is taking, so she tells them she is not leading them anywhere, they are free to go whichever way and wherever they want. Some people break off taking an easier escape route but Deb is still left with a larger amount of people than she is comfortable with. Such a large number of people mean that they leave more of a trail, make more noise and are generally easier to find.

Of course, when Mike and Marie return to camp, Mike is fuming to see the majority of his workforce, including the ones he wanted to trade gone and his guards still laid around recovering from the after affects of Jack Daniels laced with valerian root. He immediately blames Deb when he discovers that Carol has gone and resolves to get Carol back and to sort out Debs once and for all.

The book then follows the dangers the group come across and how it dwindles. They have some tough decisions to make along the way especially when one of the main group is trapped and Mike is close by, should they attempt to rescue him and try to escape with him even though it will slow them down and possibly result in them being caught, or leave him for Mike to rescue and take what little head start they have.

I started reading this one thinking I was going to be catching up with Molly, Colton, Laura and the other characters I had already met, but they do not appear in this book. Though it is set in the same world and post-apocalyptic conditions this book introduces us to new characters. As I was reading, I was wondering where the other characters from the previous books in the series were, which was a little irritating but then once I became pulled into the new characters stories and back grounds I was hooked. I did keep wondering if these new characters were somehow connected to the others ones from the previous book or if they would ever meet up. All is revealed in time though there are some little clues along the way.

This book had new characters trying to forge a life in the same harsh world as the previous books in the series. It has evil people aplenty and sadly once again it seems that the good people are in the minority. I can’t wait to read more set in this world, and hopefully revisit both sets of characters.

Summing up, I really enjoyed reading the book, it was really fast paced and there were parts that certainly kept you on the edge of your seat!


 

Monday 18 March 2024

REVIEW - TOXXIC - MOTHS BY JANE HENNIGAN

  

Title: TOXXIC
Series:
MOTHS
Author:
Jane Hennigan
Publisher:
Angry Robot
Genre:
Dystopian, Speculative Fiction, Futuristic
Release Date:
12th March 2024

BLURB
Forty years ago, the world changed. Men became crazed killers and threatened all humanity. Now the world might be about to change again, but will it be for the better?

Forty-four years ago, as any schoolgirl can tell you, the moth’s eggs hatched and an army of caterpillars spread their tiny toxic threads on every breath of wind. Since then, men have been cloistered, protected from birth against the deadly poison.

But now there’s a vaccine - a way that men can leave the facility without dying or suffering from psychosis. Emerging, into their new world, eyes wide with wonder at every new experience, the truth soon becomes clear.

Goodreads Link

REVIEW
Toxxic has a sharp stark cover featuring the bright neon green on a dark background. Theres also the clever use of a hypodermic needle as the “I” in Toxxic. I really like the cover, it fits well with the first book in the series, and would make me pick it up from a book store shelf to learn more about it.

The danger of the Moths and their threads is still apparent so men are still in facilities……for now! There are differing opinions on what should be done with them. There’s those that want the men to live out their days confined to the facilities, yet at the same time complain about the resources needed to keep the men there. Then there’s the other people who want to reintegrate the men into society. A vaccine has been found and it’s decided a small test group will be formed. A man from a facility and a boy from a prep school will be given the vaccine and placed in a home, into a family to see how they cope and how the dynamic works.

Of course, the families housing the males are to be given incentives such as extra land, a scholarship for a member of their family either at agricultural or engineering or a non- resident teacher course. The hosting families are also given training in how to deal with the men/boys along with extra clothing, and more food & travel vouchers. The males are placed within the families in kind of a buddy system, a boy from a prep school and a man from one of the facilities.

Tony and Artemis are two men chosen and they are paired with two young boys Layton and Daniel. The males, both boys and men are to experience life outside and a freedom to move around that they have never had before. They are expected to work and do chores in exchange for a roof over their heads, food and clothing. They are supposed to integrate into the community of Eastor but it soon becomes apparent that not everyone is happy about the vaccine, the males or the families accepting the men in the trial either. Life becomes much harder and dangerous for the males on the trial and the families they are placed with. That’s probably why Evie and Molly become closer as they hare both in the same situation.

Whilst there are those that support the system there are many that oppose it and will go to any lengths to sabotage the experiment. The main underground opposition are the Womens Conservative Society, with its Head Quarters also known as XXHQ on the outskirts of Citadel. All the women that are part of the society are referred to by numbers such as XX104 who joins the movement to prevent males being let out of the different facilities.

We read about the day to day things the women take for granted that the males are now becoming part of. Tony isn’t used to the hard physical work but makes up for any short comings with enthusiasm. Artemis starts off sullen and thinking about running away to becoming attached to both the young boy put with him as part of the buddy system and Evie. The men get to be outside, not looking at the outside from behind glass, they can breathe real fresh air that hasn’t been through a filtration system. They experience friendships and being around females that aren’t staff members for the first time too. There are some really poignant scenes within the book. Of course, the males “mess up” but they do their best to do whatever is asked of them. They also feel responsible when a beloved animal is killed purely because of their presence in Eastor.

There is so much going on in this book, theres the daily interactions between the males and their foster families, the way the foster families are shunned by neighbours for even having males in their homes. Theres also the member of the Womens Conservative Society XX62 who went into a meeting at Chesterford, another area chosen for the male integration trial and blows herself up, injuring many and killing four little boys.

Two of my favourite characters were Mary and Tony. The way Tony wrote to Mary about everything that was happening, he didn’t forget her kindness towards him at the facility. Tony really has a lot to deal with throughout the series, people he thought dead and long gone suddenly reappearing, then the loss of Mary, the hate from the women who think the men should remain in the facilities. I also enjoyed the way the tough, grumpy Artemis softened when placed within a family and tried to nurture the young boy placed with him.

I would have loved a happier ending for Tony, Daniel and Layton, and a way that Evie could keep her child whether it is born male or female. I’d also have liked to know more about Sophia and how/why she has Logan and Nathan. So I’m kind of hoping that there may be a third book?

As soon as I finished reading Moths, I couldn’t wait to start reading Toxxic, I really wanted to know what was going to happen next. There were a couple of occasions when I was slightly confused as the book does jump from the past to present etc quickly. But once you really get into the book its addictive reading, and I did not want to put this book down. I haven’t read two books in the same series back to back like I did with Moths & Toxxic for a long time and I really enjoyed immersing myself into this futuristic, but scarily realistic world and didn’t want it to end!

My immediate thoughts upon finishing reading Toxxic were that the book covered a lot of controversial subjects in a very clever way. The way the males are put away in facilities and women run everything, the way “male born women” were also rounded up with the men and “female born men are told they must live as women. The families just consist of women. The way women were compensated for bearing male babies and handing them over. The way that women go to visitation to have sex just for fun rather than reproduce with males. The book kind of turns “normal society” on its head. I certainly was not disappointed and honestly would love there to be more books set in this world!


 

 

Friday 15 March 2024

REVIEW - MOTHS - MOTHS BY JANE HENNIGAN

  

Title: MOTHS
Series:
MOTHS
Author:
Jane Hennigan
Publisher:
Angry Robot
Genre:
Dystopian, Futuristic, Speculative Fiction
Release Date:
14th March 2023

BLURB
Moths: A chilling dystopian thriller and a must-read debut for 2023

A divergent future with a thought-provoking feminist slant, perfect for those who loved The Power, The Handmaid's Tale and Vox.

Mary considers tying her teenage son to the radiator.

Olivia flees the bloody scalpel of a surgeon, as he hunts her through the corridors of A&E.

All around the world men are turning into crazed killers or dying in their sleep, as toxic threads find passage on every breath of wind.

Humankind will survive. But only just.

Goodreads Link 

 
REVIEW
The cover of the book is quite stark, the dark background and the bright yellow of the moth leaving its trail of dust behind it in the air. It would certainly make me want to pick it up from a book store shelf to learn more.

So, I guess I should confess I actually started reading Toxxic first, not realising there was a prior book. After reading just a few pages I knew I wanted to read the series and quickly sought out the first book, Moths.

In the book the when the older women are together, they ask each other where were you when it started? Where were you when it ended? They usually do this when the younger women aren't around to roll their eyes at them. However, as the older women are becoming less every year this means that there aren’t so many people who know what it was really like when the Moths arrived, when the Moths attacked the male population.
It is thought that the Moths came from somewhere deep in Amazon, no one knows if it was the warmer global climate or loggers or forest fires that drove them out into the world. The Moths then spread their tiny toxic threads onto every breath of wind. These threads attached themselves to the males and that’s when one of two things happen. Either the male turns into a “blue” which means they die or the male turns into a “manic” where they become increasingly, aggressive violent and highly dangerous to women. The women seem to be immune, though are not completely unaffected by the Moth threads.

Special facilities exist for the male population to live in. The facilities have special filtrations systems to keep the Moth threads out. Young males are housed in prep houses and then transferred to the facilities when they reach the age of eighteen. The men all have shaved heads, and wear a plain grey, ankle length shift type uniform with canvas sandals. Clothing where any stray threads will be easy to spot. Trousers are not allowed as there are too many seams and creases that a tiny poisoned thread could hide in. That’s the same reason the men are not allowed books, too many places a poisonous thread could lurk. The mens routine is fairly simple, they wash their bedding and day wear, pass time doing chores they are given and get to gossip, do crafts and rest in the recreation room. There is no TV or Internet to pass they time anymore theres no infrastructure for it. Other things take priority, as the men cannot leave the facilities to go to work, all the jobs then men did have had to be done by women.

The things the men look forward to are putting on plays and “Visitation” where women can choose to come and have sex with the men. Sex is no longer a way to reproduce. If a woman becomes pregnant and has a boy, the baby has to be handed over immediately. The way to have children is by artificial insemination, most people want girls. Though there are perks to having boys and handing them over, which is called the Contribution scheme. If you hand over a male child you are compensated, such as given more land, a better house, etc. Some women even choose to have twins, one male, one female. The female to keep and raise whilst the male is handed over. All females are taught and encouraged to live by the “Three Pillars Of Society” which are “Sorority, Maternity & Thrift.

It is in one of these facilities that we meet the two main characters of the book, Mary and Tony. Tony is a male resident, whom Mary seems to have a soft spot for. In fact Mary does genuinely care for all the men at the facilities. Tony and Luca, are rivals for the part of Romeo in a play the men are doing. Tony becomes upset when Luca gets the part he so desperately wanted and Mary comforts him. Mary is an older woman or a “Dolly” a rather derogatory term the younger females use for an older woman who can remember before and how everything started, she lived during the outbreak. Mary had to cope with her husband and son succumbing to the threads that infected them. Mary was also pregnant at the time of the outbreak. Mary is a survivor, she saw first-hand the effects of the threads, she had to tie her husband and son up when they became infected. Mary could retire from the facility if she wanted to but to be honest, I think she enjoys the company that she gets there. Mary actually cares about the men whereas some of the staff seem to view the men as a nuisance. Ward Sister Daisy isn’t someone Mary would class as a friend so it’s a surprise to her when she is called into the office and Daisy starts off in a friendly manner. It soon becomes apparent its because she wants something from Mary. She wants Mary to keep an eye on the newest member of staff Olivia. Mary knows she has to at least appear to be complying as Daisy could make life very difficult for her. Mary and Olivia talk about “before” what they went through, where they were when the infection occurred and how they came to be where they are now, which is frowned upon by those in authority. The two women confide in each other and are more progressive in their thoughts about what should happen to the men in the future. Mary begins to realise that being around Olivia could be dangerous and could put her special visits to Elmwood a more restrictive facility that houses someone precious to Mary.

The book has great, relatable characters and it really made you think what would you do in the situations the characters found themselves in. Both Mary and Olvia were faced with tough decisions and horrendous situations to deal with. Would you choose to flee your loved ones in case they turned manic or would you believe that the males in your life would not hurt you no matter what? Could you hand them over to the army and be willing to lose them forever for the greater good and safety of society.

I really enjoyed the book, so much so I couldn’t wait to read the next in the series! After experiencing the Covid pandemic it made this book feel like futuristic possibility.

Summing up Moths has an intriguing, well devised plot, with great world building. It grabs you at the beginning and doesn’t let you go, making this a highly addictive, unputdownable read!



Tuesday 12 March 2024

REVIEW - LITTLE AVALANCHES BY BECKY ELLIS

  

Title: Little Avalanches
Author:
Becky Ellis
Publisher:
Regalo Press
Genre:
Biographies, Memoir, Parenting, Families
Release Date:
12th March 2024

BLURB
A daughter’s quest for truth. A soldier’s fight for survival. Their shared search for understanding.

Little Avalanches is a gorgeously written memoir of breathtaking scope that propels readers from the beaches of California in the early ‘70s to the battlefields of World War II.

As a young girl, Becky is forced to hide from phantom Nazis, subjected to dental procedures without pain medication, and torn from her mother again and again. Growing up in the shadow of her father’s PTSD, she wants to know what is wrong but knows not to ask.

Her father won’t talk about being a Timberwolf, a unit of specially trained night fighters that went into combat first and experienced a 300 percent casualty rate. He returns home with thirteen medals, including a Silver Star, and becomes a doctor and well-respected member of the community, but is haunted by his past.

Seeing only his explosive and often dangerous personality, Becky distances herself from the man she wants to love. Yet on the eve of his ninetieth birthday, when Becky looks at the vulnerable man he’s become, something shifts, and she asks about the war. He breaks seventy years of silence, offering an unfiltered account of war without glory and revealing the extent of the trauma he’s endured. She spends the next several years interviewing, researching, and ultimately understanding the demons she inherited.

Because his story is incomplete without hers, and hers is inconceivable without his, Ellis offers both, as well as their year-long aching conversation marked by moments of redeeming grace. With compassionate, unflinching writing, Little Avalanches reminds us that we are profoundly shaped by the secrets we keep and forever changed by the stories we share. 

Goodreads Link

REVIEW
I really love the cover of this book, and it is the first thing that attracted me to the book. The figures we see the lower halves of represent Becky, the author of the book and her father. Becky is standing on her father’s boots, on her own tip toes in her beloved “mary jane” shoes trying to reach her father probably to give him a kiss. The cover really fits the concept of the book so well, Becky always trying desperately to reach her father. I love the cover even more after having read the book and making this comparison.

The book is told in three parts. Part One is the story of Becky’s younger years. Becky’s parents are no longer together. Her mother Anne is a hardworking nurse and basically single parent to Becky and her older brother Martin. At the start of the book Martin is 6years old and Beky is just 5 years old. The book begins with their father turning up at the house again, the former family home Becky and her mum & brother finally moved back into when their father agreed to move out. Becky’s father turns up whenever he wants to the former family home, banging on the door depending to be let into the home. Anne ushers the children into the bathroom, telling them to get into the tub to hide. However, Becky’s father gets into the house, finds them and actually smiles at them as if it’s perfectly normal to be sat, hiding in the bath tub with your clothes on. When the police arrive, their mum declines the offer to press charges knowing it would go on her ex-husbands record and he is a well-respected Doctor/Surgeon. There’s also an upcoming court date as their father has filed for full custody saying their mother is an unfit parent! The children are going to speak to the judge regarding the way their father treats them when he has them at his home. The way they have to sleep on the floor, and he doesn’t feed them until after 10pm in the evening, that theirs no routine, he doesn’t even remind them to brush their teeth or haor and he drinks like a fish too! On the day of the court hearing their mum reminds them to tell the judge about their dad’s girlfriend, Judy who is half his age, and brings drugs to the house, and continually, openly smokes pot!

Becky knows its an important special day when she receives a brand new pair of black shiny mary jane shoes that she has been wishing for, for such a long time, her old shoes are so worn out and shabby looking now. Martin has to wear his smart corduroy trousers, there his only pair without holes. Anne tries her best for her kids but there’s never much money around for new clothes etc. The fact her ex-husband Louis is constantly taking her to court, accusing her of being a bad mother doesn’t help either. Becky is absolutely besotted with her new shoes but sadly the shine is literally taken off them when she accidentally scrapes one of them when going over to hug her dad in the courtroom. It’s sad that Martin and Becky are in the middle and are trying so hard wanting to please both parents whilst favouring neither in front of the other. Becky and Martin also like their dad’s girlfriend Judy too, she calls them by nicknames, Beck-a-boo & Motor Scooter. Judy makes visiting fun. It’s not long until Judy is pregnant and baby Shena arrives. When Judy and their father split up they actually miss her and the funs they had with her.

When the new girlfriend comes along and they visit and have to sleep on the floor, they try to comfort Shena who is upset. They make her a bed on the sofa, unfortunately she messes herself in the night and Lucy is livid about her posh sofa and blames Matin and Becky for not making Shena sleep on the floor with them. Martin & Becky try to watch out for Shena when Lucy lets situations get out of control by allowing her to drink alcohol. Louis, their father comes across as a strange man, on one hand he has no routine for the children, no set meal times or bedtimes. Then on the other when its their birthday he has a tradition that they have to ski behind his boat! Something Becky really doesn’t want to do, but her father is determined she will do, even if it takes him an expensive full tank of fuel for her to do. It’s a kind of weird, tough love. When they return home to their mother Anne with their stories and on one occasion Martin being so seriously sunburnt, he can hardly bend his legs there isn’t much she can do except deal with the sunburn!

Part Two is the story of Louis, the Timberwolf, the night fighter leading men on literal suicide missions against the Nazis. The way he went days without food. Then being told he had done enough and could go home, only for it to be changed at the last minute and being sent further into enemy territory to fight again.
This section is set out kind of like a diary or journal of each day, each military operation he undertook. The men he lost in battle. How they couldn’t even trust civilians, as if they turned their backs a civilian may shoot them too! The constant poor, wet, muddy, cold conditions they had to live in.

Part Three is sort of the breakthrough between Becky and her dad. Becky is older, now married herself with kids. Her dad Louis visits her twice a year, for a week in March and then again for a week in October. Louis refers to her Mercedes car as a Nazis mobile, even all these years after the war he is verbal about his dislike for the Nazis or krauts as he also refers to them as. He doesn’t like them or anything they make, including her Mercedes.
It's in this section of the book that we learn about a younger Louis and his parents, Louis finally begins to open up to Becky. Louis has been married four times, has eight children and has never explained anything about himself or his time as a Timberwolf to any of them. It’s during a visit when Louis is 89years old that he sits down and asks Becky if there are any issues between them that she wants to talk about. Becky takes the opportunity and says she wants to talk about the war. They then start talking, Louis reveals how he had signed up for the air force, he loved flying. He had co-piloted for his mother on numerous occasions. His mother flew her plane all over going to different suffrage movement meetings. She spoke to women about having minds of their own and urged them to have their own careers. Unfortunately for Louis, during his medical a problem was found that had been caused by multiple ear infections. His dream of being a pilot in the Air Force were over. However, because he had signed papers he “belonged to the army” and they placed him in the ground forces. His mother tried to get her influential friends to help out to get him out, but they couldn’t help. Even after all Louis went through in the army, he didn’t expect such a poor reception when he returned home. His parents were disappointed, it was almost as if his mother preferred the social standing she would get if he had died in service than him surviving and coming home. His younger brother Bob had been terribly injured and his parents somehow blamed him for not protecting him!! Louis’s father called both his sons “bums” as they should have gone to college, he actually said Only bums join the ground forces of the army!!

It's so sad to think about all Louis had seen in the army, all his colleagues that were lost, all the suffering, to then come home and be almost snubbed by your own family and seeing them disappointed in him. He was no doubt suffering flashbacks and PTSD. It does explain some of his actions with his own children. The way he insisted they both know how to handle a gun from a very young age. When Becky went to the dentist he refused drugs, saying she was tough and didn’t need them.

I honestly really loved this book, it is certainly not a light hearted read but a thought provoking, moving, heart wrenching, heart breaking yet engrossing, unputdownable tale of a relationship between father and daughter. It is the story of a man that survived battle upon battle, carried out hopeless missions and succeeded, he survived the war and was recognised for his bravery and work as a Timberwolf, but he never really ever came home, he never really recovered from what he had seen, done and had to live through.

Summing up this book tells us the reader how all that Timberwolf, Louis saw, did and went through affected him and went on to then affect his wives, partners and children. I adore how Becky persisted with her father and he finally opened up to her. Finally she had an explanation for some of her father’s actions and traits. It is an amazing read that I highly recommend reading. 







 

Tuesday 5 March 2024

REVIEW - BABY X BY KIRA PEIKOFF

  

Title: BABY X
Author:
Kira Peikoff
Publisher:
Crooked Lane Books
Genre:
General Fiction, Mystery, Thrillers,
                Speculative Fiction, Futuristic

Release Date:
5th March 2024

BLURB
When any biological matter can be used to create life, stolen celebrity DNA sells to the highest bidder–or the craziest stalker–in this propulsive thriller.

With a vivid imagining of the future, Gattaca meets Black Mirror in Kira Peikoff’s Baby X.

In the near-future United States, where advanced technology can create egg or sperm from any person’s cells, celebrities face the alarming potential of meeting biological children they never conceived. Famous singer Trace Thorne is tired of being targeted by the Vault, a black market site devoted to stealing DNA. Sick of paying ransom money for his own cell matter, he hires bio-security guard Ember Ryan to ensure his biological safety.

Ember will do anything she can to protect her clients. She knows all the Vault’s tricks–discarded tissues, used straws, lipstick tubes–and has prevented countless DNA thefts. Working for Thorne, her focus becomes split when she begins to fall for him, but she knows she hasn’t let anything slip–love or not, his DNA is safe. But then she and Thorne are confronted by a pregnant woman, Quinn, who claims that Thorne is the father of her baby, and all bets are off. 

Goodreads Link

REVIEW
I think the cover of the book is quite striking with its bright blue X mixed with the orange background, it will certainly stand out on a book store shelf.

This book is set in a future world where there have been technological and biological advances we can only imagine. Cell phones, drivers’ licenses and printed magazines are all things of the past, smart lenses then have replaced tablets & newspapers, college courses are now “holo courses” (done by holograph), no need to attend in person. There are resveratrol injections & cellular reboots to make you look younger, people are living longer.

Even the way people have families has changed, people no longer jump into bed and have sex to get pregnant, it is considered a much more civilised process. For a woman, a cheek swab is taken at a fertility clinic, if you're straight your male partner (bf or husband) gives his sperm, and the process begins, however if he is infertile his cheek swab is taken instead and the process begins. A two women couple would each give cheek swabs
For a two males couple usually one would give a cheek swab & the other a sperm sample.

Once the samples are collected a lab tech then will chemically coax the cheek cells into either sperm or egg in a petri dish. This process is called IVG “In Vitro Gametogenesis”

This new process of procreation basically means any two people on earth could create a baby together. The embryos are grown in test tubes, they then undergo a genetic analysis at day 5. Each embryo is assigned a spreadsheet of scores that show the probability of a wide range of grains and diseases. After that the two prospective parents go through “Selection” which is where they select the embryo that will be implanted. Sometimes this is an easy choice ie, there’s only one healthy embryo, other times there’s a larger amount of healthy embryos and then the different scores, characteristics and predispositions and the parent’s preference such as male or female. This new selection process is considered healthier and is considered a much better option than the “normal old way”. This new way is cheaper than having to pay for the higher, treatment costs of inherited diseases or disabilities. There are only a small number of people, a few rural & religious groups insist on the 'natural way'. In fact, the “natural way” and trusting mother nature is considered quite archaic and a bad thing.

All of this sounds really good, and yes, I can see the positives but unfortunately there are some unscrupulous people about who steal DNA, be it hair, saliva or mucus then take this along with their own DNA sample to create a baby. This is referred to as Non-Consensual Reproduction. One such company is the Vault, who store samples, acquire celebrity samples and sell them to the highest bidder. This practice results in babies being born from stolen cells. The Vault didn’t start out this way but that’s how it has ended up being a dark sinister power that needs to be stopped.

The main characters in the book show us, the reader the different sides of the process and the different people who use the service and how it affects them.

There’s Ember trying to help celebrity Trace Thorne clean up every bit of his DNA whenever he is out and about or doing a concert. Thorne has already discovered the Vault have been trying to sell his DNA so bringing Ember on his tours is damage control/limitation. When the pair grow close and begin their own romance everything seems to point to a happily ever after for them. Then Quinn enters their lives, she’s a surrogate for a man called Robert Roy, but there’s something not right about him and she thinks he may have used stolen cells to create the baby she is carrying. Quinn thinks those cells belonged to Thorne, as Robert Roy seems to be morbidly obsessed by him. In fact, Quinn and Robert met at one of Thorne’s concerts. It turns out Ember is hiding a dark past, one with a partner that led to domestic violence. She was lucky to escape and just wants to forget it all and move on. Though the past has a habit of catching up to you when you least expect it! Then the darkness and Lily’s part in it have to be faced and dealt with once and for all.

The other central characters are Lily and her parents. Lily is almost ashamed as she was not created in the new scientific way, she was created accidentally the old-fashioned way. When Lily’s mum and dad decide to have another child using the new technique Lily is upset and to be honest jealous that any prospective child will be favoured over herself. When Lily was young her mother was in prison for ten long years, so she feels angry that she missed those years with her mother. Lily blurts out the fact her mother has a criminal record at a clinic appointment which then ruins her parent’s chances at that clinic. Lily then wants to use her mother’s story of being denied a baby because she has a criminal record for a journalistic piece, she is doing for a magazine she has a chance of working at, if she can impress them more than the other candidate Radia. For some reason not known to Lily her parents refuse to talk about the past and are more interested in the fact they have found a different clinic to help them have a new child. Lily resents this and continues digging into a past her parents want to forget, and just as she gives up the dark secret, she thinks her parents were keeping from her is revealed.

I loved the characters of Ember, and Thorne. Lily I had mixed feeling about and I thoroughly enjoyed hating Robert Roy/Mason!

The futuristic world building is well thought out and flows well, from the suitcase where you press a button and the zipper automatically zips up itself! The criminal act of DDD, Driving, Digitally, Distracted! I also really enjoyed reading about the intricacies of the choices people had to make on embryo selection day, it wasn’t just a choice of male or female, the prospective parents could choose for “A list traits” such as brilliance, athleticism, extroversion and beauty, and “B list traits” such as a sunny disposition, creativity, empathy and patience.

There were some amusing descriptions in the book too, such as “people were like onions, the more layers you peeled back, the more they stunk”!

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were, Wow! Amazing read! Loved it, really well thought out futuristic world with believable characters that you become really attached to. On one hand you may think the content of the book far-fetched or extreme science fiction but when you really look at today's world and the way things are developing, it is quite a believable prospect!

Summing up Kira Peikoff has delivered another amazing futuristic, yet believable world. I loved it! It is certainly a thought provoking read!


 

 

Tuesday 20 February 2024

REVIEW - SISTERS OF FORTUNE BY ANNA LEE HUBER

 

Title: Sisters Of Fortune
Author:
Anna Lee Huber
Publisher:
Kensington Books
Genre:
Historical Fiction, Womens Fiction
Release Date:
20th February 2024

BLURB
Based on the true story of the Fortune sisters, three young women each at a crossroads when they boarded the RMS Titanic in the spring of 1912 – and how that fateful maiden voyage would change their lives in profound and unexpected ways.

USA Today bestselling author Anna Lee Huber expertly weaves real historical figures and anecdotes into this vivid, emotionally powerful, surprising novel about the longing for independence and love—and the events that can irrevocably change even the best laid plans . . .

April,1912: It’s the perfect finale to a Grand Tour of Europe—sailing home on the largest, most luxurious ocean liner ever built. For the Fortune sisters, the voyage offers a chance to reflect on the treasures of the past they’ve seen—magnificent castles and museums in Italy and France, the ruins of Greece and the Middle East—and contemplate the futures that await them.

For Alice, there’s foreboding mixed with her excitement. A fortune teller in Egypt gave her a dire warning about traveling at sea. And the freedom she has enjoyed on her travels contrasts with her fiancĂ©’s plans for her return—a cossetted existence she’s no longer sure she wants.

Flora is also returning to a fiancĂ©, a well-to-do banker of whom her parents heartily approve, as befits their most dutiful daughter. Yet the closer the wedding looms, the less sure Flora feels. Another man—charming, exasperating, completely unsuitable—occupies her thoughts, daring her to follow her own desires rather than settling for the wishes of others.

Youngest sister Mabel knows her parents arranged this Grand Tour to separate her from a jazz musician. But the secret truth is that Helen has little interest in marrying at all, preferring to explore ideas of suffrage and reform—even if it forces a rift with her family.

Each sister grapples with the choices before her as the grand vessel glides through the Atlantic waters. Until, on an infamous night, fate intervenes, forever altering their lives . . .

Goodreads Link

REVIEW
The cover has the Titanic right at the centre of it which is fitting as that is where the plot is based throughout the book. The cover also features a young woman dressed in the style of the era complete with hat, gloves and jewellery. The cover certainly fits the book well.

The book is set on the Titanic, so obviously there are certain facts that cannot be changed but are mentioned within the book. The book also has to stick to a certain timeline as to how the events occurred. It was a bit odd reading the book but kind of knowing what was coming up in the timeline, but I did really enjoy the book.

The interior of the great unsinkable Titanic is described really well and you definitely get a sense of the opulence and atmosphere those passengers were surrounded by. The author really represents the era well in her descriptions of surrounding, etiquette, expectations of women and even the slang and sayings of the era such as 'To the berries' = all so exciting. I had to look it up!

The book concentrates of three of the Fortune Sisters who have been travelling with their parents. The family consist of 64 year old father Mark Fortune, a very proud self-made millionaire, his 60 year old wife Mary Fortune, they had six children, the eldest of which 34 year old Robert is married and lives in Vancouver. Their eldest daughter Clara is 30 years old and married to Herbert Hutton. Robert and Clara are with their own families so didn’t go on the trip. The Fortune children on the trip which ends up with them travelling home on the Titanic, are 28year old Flora who is the dutiful daughter, who has postponed her wedding to banker Crawford Campbell to go on the trip as a chaperone to her younger siblings. Alice is 24 years old but in a lot of ways is treat younger, as she was an ill child and is still considered delicate and needs to be protected, she is engaged to, and madly in love to an insurance broker called Holden Allen. The youngest sister is 23 year old Mabel, the feisty, sassy one, who wants to do her own thing, in fact she wants to continue her education, she doesn’t want to just be married like her sisters. She says inappropriate things and speaks before she thoroughly thinks things out. The youngest Fortune child is 19yr old Charlie who is super knowledgeable about the Titanic and it’s like a dream come true for him when Titanic ship builder Mr Thomas Andrews takes him on a personal tour of the ship.

Whilst sightseeing and exploring Egypt Alice Fortune is sipping hibiscus tea with Mr Sloper a friend the family have made whilst travelling Europe when she spots a soothsayer. Mr Sloper asks if she has ever had a reading, and would she like one. He waves the soothsayer across to where they are sitting and the man reads her palm and tells her she is in danger every time she travels on the sea. He sees her adrift on the ocean in an open boat. She will lose everything but her own life. That she will be saved but others will not. It certainly upsets Alice and William Sloper quickly tries to laugh it off telling the soothsayer he would be paid more if he gave people good predictions. Mark Fortune hadn’t planned on taking his family on Titanic the Ship of Dreams, but when they decided to travel home a little earlier their reservations were switched to the Titanic.

There is a kind of magic about the Titanic, I guess that’s another reason it was called the ship of dreams. The time on the ship gives each of the Fortune Sisters time to think about their individual futures and if that’s what they really want. Flora is the sister that her parents rely on, she is the sensible, dependable one. She is engaged to be married to a man her parents strongly approve of and think is a good match for her. As the trip goes on the dread she feels about her return, she has received only one letter from her future husband Alice is also engaged, to Holden, who is approved of and considered a good match, she is madly in love with him and they have missed each other whilst the Fortunes have been travelling. They have written many letters to each other, but Alice is also dreading the return home to being tied sown to one place and cossetted. Alice has had a taste of freedom and travel that she doesn’t want to let go of. The other sister on board the Titanic and kind of the reason for the trip is Mabel. Mabel is “involved” with a musician, someone her parents do not approve of, they feel he cannot provide financial stability for their daughter. Mr & Mrs Fortune planned the trip to separate Mabel and her musician, in the hopes she will forget about him, perhaps meet someone else, or change her mind. The irony is Mabel enjoys the fact her parents don’t approve and attempts to use him as leverage, to almost blackmail her father, into accepting her real dream, which is to continue her education. Mabel wants to be a more modern independent woman, not married off and expected to have children. At one point Mr & Mrs Fortune try to suggest a suitable suitor for Mabel who is also on the Titanic, the star tennis player Chess Kinsey. Unbeknownst to them Chess does have his eyes set on one of their daughters but it isn’t Mabel, it’s Flora! I really adored the Flora & Chess dislike to friendship to falling in love. Then the Shock! Horror! Mortification! Embarrassment! when Mrs Fortune catches them kissing! And in public too! Where anyone could see! Chess blames himself for ruining Flora’s reputation in her parent’s eyes and arranges a meeting wither father to put himself forward as a suitable suitor with his own suitable finances & future plans.

So along with the Fortune family drama, there’s the scandal of one young man having his mistress on the Titanic whom he plans to marry but is yet to tell his mother! They finally meet in a lifeboat as the Titanic is sinking. There’s another young man travelling with his mother but setting up poker games, which Alice Fortune ends up being drawn into.

I loved the Fortune family dynamic, they are all always there for each other and even though the three sisters, Flora, Alice and Mabel are sharing a room they each have their secrets they are hiding from the others.

I enjoyed reading how the different characters reacted to the Titanic hitting the iceberg and needing to be prepared to get on a lifeboat. There were those that just blindly believed the Titanic was unsinkable and refused to believe the possibility of it sinking. Then there were those who wanted to retrieve jewellery, pets, luggage and take it in the lifeboats with them!

The saddest stories were of the couples and families being separated because of the women & children only policy although this wasn’t as strictly adhered to by some of the crew. The chaos of losing sight or being separated from family members.


 

 

Sunday 18 February 2024

REVIEW - MATED TO CURVES - THE COMPLETE SERIES BY DV FISCHER

  

Title: Mated To Curves -The Complete Series
Author:
DV Fischer
Release Date:
15th January 2024

BLURB
It should be impossible to find their mates since packs don’t exist and they’re trying to hide in plain sight amongst the humans. But for this group of shifters, fate has a way of playing in their favor. Or does it? While they may be finding their mates, a nasty reporter is out to prove that they exist. He’s low enough to go above the law to get the proof the world needs. How will this packless group of shifters, of fated mates, find their way together if he looms over them as a serious threat? This is a curvy girl dark wolf shifter romance series.

REVIEW
In this shifter world there are no packs anymore, it’s safer that way. It's a difficult decision made to keep the existence and freedom of shifters. However, there are still humans/people lurking on the outskirts of the shifter world intent on proving they exist and wanting to reveal them to everyone in the world, wanting to put an end to the species altogether, one such man is reporter Gary Spelling, obviously detested by the shifter population.
All this keeping under the radar leaves shifters, particularly Alpha's a need to burn off energy. No longer able to shift and run in packs, or even live in packs they need an alternative.

Cade former Alpha of the Glacier Mountain Pack provides a suitable option, an underground fighting club. Though Cade used to take part in the fights in the early days of the club now he just sits at the bar talking with sometimes bartender Cruz. Cade watches the room and is around to handle the general arguments that take place in a bar as well as any fighting that overspills from the ring.The rules of the ring are, well just one rule no shifting at all, not even partially! The shifters fight in human form until one is literally knocked out or taps out. There's a healer, Aaron on hand to help with injuries as even shifters need help sometimes after a fight in the ring!!

Things begin to change around the club when first club owner Cade’s mate Avani walks in one evening looking for a fight. Having left her previous fighting haunt due to no one wanting to fight against the sure thing winner she had become. Avani and Cade lock eyes and they realise they ate mates. Avani still a little unsure on what happening then brings her friend Joyce to the club, not a place Joyce would normally go but it seems fate when she meets her mate Kye, the very man that Avani chooses to fight!

It seems like the fight club is the place to meet your mate and as the book goes on, others do so too. However, true love and meeting your mate are not straight forward.

I really enjoyed reading the individual couples love story plots, of how they met etc You also learn about the hardships the different shifters have had to endure as well as learning the lengths they go to in order to keep their other selves a secret. as well as the longer plot of the Gary Spelling issue.

Really enjoyed the reading, loved the characters, and setting of the fight club. Would have loved even more from these characters and their world set around the fight club!

Addictive reading, once you start you won’t want to put it down!
 


 

Friday 16 February 2024

REVIEW - MATED TO CURVES BK5 BY DV FISCHER

  

Title: Mated To Curves
Author:
DV Fischer
Release Date:
14th January 2024

BLURB
Does she love him? Meredith finds herself in the grasp of a kidnapper hell-bent on proving that shifters exist, and he isn’t afraid to do the unthinkable to prove it. As a cop, she thought her mind was unbreakable. It turns out, it’s not. Josiah learns that Meredith is his mate rather quickly. It takes everything he has not to tear apart the world when he realizes his mate is being held captive and what possibly could be happening to her during that time. But there’s one Even if he does rescue her, he can’t have her. Because she has a boyfriend. The question is, does she love the boyfriend? Because he won’t stand in the way of his mate’s happiness. Not after all she’s been through.

Goodreads Link

REVIEW
This book literally picks right up where bk4 left off, with Meredith and her sister Eva in the evil clutches of the local shifter hating journalist who is hell bent on revealing/exposing the fact shifters exist to the world. He is set on torturing the women until one reveals themself as a shifter so he can catch it all on camera.

Eva's mate Cruz along with fight club owner Cade nd Meredith's mate Josiah are in a race to find out where the women are being held and rescue them. Despite not even being introduced to his mate Josiah is as enraged as Cruz is about Meredith & Eva being taken.

I can't really say much more without giving away major details but its a race against time!
I love the way Cade & Avani still deny they and their friends at the fight club are a pack of any sort. It seems the pack has come about all on its own.

I was disappointed we didn't get a bit more Cruz and Eva in this book but I guess the main duo were Meredith & Josiah. I didn't take to Josiah as much as I had the other male shifter characters, he came across overly dominant and not as gentle and caring towards his potential mate, especially as his mate had just left an abusive type relationship with her ex.

Really enjoyed reading the book, didn't want to put it down, in fact I read it in just one go!

Would have loved even more from these characters and their world set around the fight club! 


 

Thursday 1 February 2024

REVIEW - ANNA O BY MATTHEW BLAKE

  

Title: ANNA O
Author:
Matthew Blake
Publisher:
HarperCollins UK, Harper Fiction, HarperCollins
Release Date:
1st February 2024

BLURB
THE WORLD WILL KNOW HER NAME

What if your nightmares weren’t really nightmares at all?

We spend an average of thirty-three years of our lives asleep. But what really happens, and what are we capable of, when we are sleeping?

Anna Ogilvy was a budding twenty-five-year-old writer with a bright future. Then, one night, she stabbed two people to death with no apparent motive—and she hasn’t woken up since. Dubbed “Sleeping Beauty” by the tabloids, Anna suffers from a rare psychosomatic disorder known to neurologists as “resignation syndrome.”

Dr. Benedict Prince is a forensic psychologist and an expert in the field of sleep-related homicides. His methods represent the last possible hope of solving the infamous “Anna O” case by waking Anna up so she can stand trial. But the doctor must be careful treating such a high-profile suspect—he’s got career secrets and a complicated personal life of his own.

As Anna shows the first signs of stirring, Benedict knows he must determine what really happened and whether Anna should be held responsible for her crimes.

Only Anna knows the truth about that night, but only Benedict knows how to discover it. And they’re both in danger from what they will discover. 

Goodreads Link

REVIEW
The cover fits the book really well, it certainly draws your attention and makes you want to pick up the book to learn more about it. I think the byline of “The World Will Know Her Name” adds to your curiosity about the content of the book and it also fits the content really well.

The main characters of the book are Anno Ogilvy and Dr Benedict Prince. To be honest life isn’t going great for either of them separately and becomes even more complicated after their paths cross.

Dr Benedict Prince is divorced from his wife DI Clara Fennel, he found messages on his wife’s phone that suggested she was cheating on him. They have one daughter Kitty or Kit Kat as Benedict regularly calls her though Clara hates him doing so. Clara of course kept the house so there was less disruption for Kitty and Benedict ended up in a rather drab flat in Pimlico. Benedict if a forensic psychologist and also works at The Abbey. A place where the rich and famous come to have sleep issues dealt with. Its very exclusive and does everything possible to protect the identities of these famous patients, even having a separate VIP floor away from other patients. It’s a fairly normal day for Ben when he is called into the office by head of the clinic Professor Virginia Bloom, to discuss a patient being transferred to the Abbey from Rampton Prison. The Ministry of Justice, the government, all want Ben to wake up this patient so they can stand trial for the double murder they have been holding her for.

That patient is Anna Ogilvy, comes from a relatively “well to do” family. At the time of the crime, her mother was Baroness Emily Ogilvy was a Shadow Home Secretary and her father was a Global Fund Manager, her brother Theo a “want to be” Tv Presenter. Anna herself was a journalist on a magazine she had co-founded with her friends Indira Sharma and Douglas Bute who were also her flatmates.

The crime occurred on the 30th August 2019. Anna O was found by her parents in her cabin at 3.10am at The Farm an exclusive retreat, with a 20cm kitchen knife in her hand and fast asleep. The bodies of Indira and Douglas were found in their cabin, stabbed to death. First at the scene of the crime was DI Clara Fennel and she found only Anna’s prints on the knife and that the blood on her clothing matched that of the victims.

Those that believe in Anna’s innocence refer to her as “Anna O” her Instagram handle and are known as “believers”. Those who think that Anna is guilty refer to her as “sleeping beauty”. There has been lots of coverage about what happened that night, but no one really knows the truth except Anna. One blog in particular seems to know a lot and keep the story alive by @Suspect8. This is where the byline fits really well everyone has heard about Anna and of course everyone has their opinion and thoughts about what happened at The Farm that night in August 2019. Ben’s job is to wake her up so that the justice system can put her on trial and determine whether she killed her friends and decide what to do with her.

The plot is quite intricate, and fairly complex, in that the fact Ben’s now ex-wife was first on the scene does sort of complicate things. The book was quite slow paced for my taste, I felt like I was wanting it to speed up at times and get on with it and reveal what actually happened that night. Then when Professor Bloom is murdered and someone puts Ben in the frame things become even more complicated than before.

I found the plot sections surrounding waking up Anna fascinating, and have read about some of the techniques that Ben used in the book elsewhere too. The sounds, her mums voice, the music she loved and then the smells, her favourite perfume, etc all small things that Ben builds on to coax Anna back to the world of the awake and living. I thoroughly enjoyed the Sally Turner story within the book, the way the reader is kept guessing right up to the end of the identity of Sally Turner’s child that was given a new identity.

There are quite a few “real life” references within the book about other murderers such as Dr Harold Shipman, and then laws that were changed regarding anonymity of minors involved in crimes due to the James Bulger case, all of which made the book feel “real” as if it had actually happened.

The book also covers how the crime at The Farm affected so many people in different ways, from Anna’s parents divorcing, her mother walking away from politics and turning to religion, to DI Clara Fennel and how it changed her career. When Ben is working with Anna at the Abbey, he has to consider his families safety as there are people who do not agree with him waking Anna to put her on the stand.

This book has it all mystery, suspense, twists, turns, betrayal, and revenge. There were a few times I thought I had solved the mystery of Sally Turner’s child and knew their identity. I had several theories as to what had happened at The Farm too, these varied and changed as I read more of the book! Matthew Blake really takes you on a journey leading the reader down one track of presenting the identity of Sally Turners child and exactly what happened on that August night, just when you start to believe that track there’s a twist/turn and you have to start pondering the mystery child’s identity and their involvement in the murders at The Farm.

Summing up this Author really keeps you waiting to the very end to confirm the identity of the child and the relevance of what happened at The Farm. I did enjoy the book though there were times it felt a little drawn out and slower paced than I would have preferred it to be for my personal taste. If you want a book that makes you think, makes you really, really, think then this book is a great fit for you.