I bring you another book from Rosie’s Book Review Team that I discovered thanks to some of the reviews by other members. They were right!
Eat the Poor (Galbraith & Pole Book 2) by Tom Williams
A werewolf is on the loose in London.
Chief Inspector Pole, the vampire from the mysterious Section S, teams up once again with his human counterpart to hunt down the beast before the people of the city realise that they are threatened by creatures they have dismissed as myths.
Time is short as the werewolf kills ever more recklessly. Can Galbraith and Pole stop it before panic spreads through London?
Galbraith and Pole start their search in Pole’s extensive library of the arcane, accompanied by a couple of glasses of his excellent malt whisky. All too soon, though, they will have to take to the streets to hunt the monster by the light of the moon.
But the threat is even greater than they think, for in its human form the werewolf is terrifyingly close to the heart of government.
This is Tom Williams’ second tongue-in-cheek take on traditional creatures of darkness. Like the first Galbraith & Pole book, Something Wicked, this will appeal to fans of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London.
You never know when the forces of darkness may be released and there will be no time for reading then. Buy Eat the Poor before it’s too late.
Tom Williams used to write books for business. Now he writes novels set in the 19th century that are generally described as fiction but which are often more honest than the business books. (He writes contemporary fantasy as well, but that’s a dark part of his life, so you’ll have to explore that on your own – ideally with a friend and a protective amulet.)
His stories about James Burke (based on a real person) are exciting tales of high adventure and low cunning set around the Napoleonic Wars. The stories have given him the excuse to travel to Argentina, Egypt, and Spain and call it research.
Tom lives in London. His main interest is avoiding doing any honest work and this leaves him with time to ski, skate and dance tango, all of which (before covid) he thought he did quite well. In between he reads old books and spends far too much time looking at ancient weaponry.
I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (author, check here if you are interested in getting your book reviewed) and thank her and the author for this opportunity.
The description of the novel sets up the plot quite clearly, and I won’t elaborate on it. Readers can find elements of the police procedural novel (one flexible enough to allow for a supernatural element rather than one where logic and realism to the minutest detail are the required standard) with an unlikely and seemingly unsuited couple of investigators, and the tongue-in-cheek approach suits beautifully the description of the inner workings of the police department, and the way promotions and a career in the police are likely to progress for those who care for the actual job and are not that keen on cultivating influences and playing political games within the force.
The ironic commentary on UK politics helps make the story even more memorable. After recent shenanigans in the UK Parliament, one can’t help but wonder if a conservative MP with pretty radical (and classist) views, with the peculiarity of being also a werewolf, would really be that much worse than what had been happening. (And, of course, readers in other countries would wonder the same as well, as although the details might be different, the behaviour of the political classes has been less than stellar pretty much around the world).
There is a mystery that owes plenty to the cozy genre (despite some vicious murders and the addition of the supernatural Others that usually belong in the horror genre) and is likely to attract people who are more interested in quirky and original characters than in the investigation itself.
I haven’t read the first novel in the series, so I don’t know anything about the background story between Pole and Galbraith, and I can confirm that this book can be read as a stand-alone. There are some references to the previous case, but those are contextualised and don’t affect the action or the development of the story. Of course, having read this book, I’d like to know more about the first case, but that is to be expected, having enjoyed this one so much.
The story is narrated in the third person from two of the characters’ points of view (mostly, although there are some paragraphs and comments from an outside observer’s perspective), those of Galbraith and of the criminal they are trying to track. That gives readers a better understanding of the personality of the perpetrator and the circumstances behind the crimes, some of which are well beyond anybody’s control. That doesn’t make the criminal more likeable, at least to me (his politics are quite extreme, although looking at the general political situation, it is evident that many people share similar views), but it allows us to follow his reasoning and to see how easy it could be for someone to move from similar type of thoughts to action. Despite the light tone of the story and the amusing characters and events, there is more than a slight touch of social criticism and a call to attention that is impossible to miss. From feeling privileged and proud of one’s achievement to thinking that those who aren’t as well-off as one is are undeserving of any help or assistance there is but a small step.
Chief Inspector Galbraith is a sympathetic character, and especially those readers of a certain age who have seen their jobs change and become enmeshed in bureaucracy and a never-ending litany of meetings and committees are likely to identify with him. (I had to nod at many of the situations, and some of his reflections as well).
Pole is a mysterious character who never quite reveals much about anything, especially himself —he mentions Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, and it is impossible to read about his character and not think of Doyle’s creation—, but there are moments when his real feelings and emotions filter through the hundreds of years of containment and good breed. I came to like him more and more as the story progressed, and I hope there will be plenty of occasions to get to know him better in future books.
I’ve talked about the baddie already, but towards the end of the novel, a new character was introduced and became one of my favourites. Robson is a masterpiece, and he makes the closing of the investigation totally memorable. (And no, I won’t say anything else about him).
Those readers who dislike head hopping and sudden changes in viewpoint don’t need to worry, as each chapter is told from a single point of view, and it is clearly marked. Oh, and I love the old-style titles of the chapters. They are a joy.
You’ve probably guessed that I enjoyed the ending from my mention of Robson, but apart from the resolution of the case, there are a couple of scenes at the end that I also enjoyed. Especially because Pole and Galbraith share a moment that reminded me of Casablanca’s closing scene when Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains disappear into the fog. Very understated and very moving.
So, if you enjoy mysteries but are not a stickler for realism, love quirky characters and appreciate a touch of the paranormal, have a sense of humour, and like to look at politics and society from a critical but seemingly light-hearted point of view, you should give this novel a go. The author has written plenty of historical novels and has a talent for highlighting trends, connections, and behaviours that many might not perceive. I have discovered another author whose books I’m eager to learn more about, and I’m sure I won’t be alone in this.
Thanks to Rosie and her team for the support and the suggestions, thanks to the author, and especially, thanks to all of you for visiting, reading, liking, commenting, sharing… Don’t forget to keep cool, safe, and smiling!
Oh, and before you go, I wanted to let you know that from the 20th of August, for a week or so, we’ll be having a local festival (la Festa Major de Sants), and we’ll be doing live coverage at the radio, so I’ll be quite busy. Just in case you don’t see me much around, don’t worry, I’m just busy doing radio-related things.
Drowning in a meaningless existence flipping burgers, Matthew Davis suddenly collapses from a powerful psychic connection he shares with his twin brother, Jake. The pain is violent and immediate, and Matt knows exactly what it means… hundreds of miles away, Jake has been viciously killed. But instead of severing their connection, the murder intensifies it and Matt begins to suffer the agony of Jake’s afterlife.
Hell bent on solving Jake’s murder in order to break the connection, Matt travels to his troubled hometown of Hatchett, Nebraska, where an old lover and savage new enemies expose the festering wounds that Jake left behind.
Matt tries atoning for Jake’s sins, but when a demon infests the connection between the two brothers, Matt must find a way to sever their bond before his world, and ours, become engulfed in the flames of hell.
Fans of Stephen King’s The Outsider, Stephen Graham Jones’ The Only Good Indians, and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist will find this new paranormal thriller impossible to put down.
Michael Cordell is a novelist, playwright and produced screenwriter. His first novel, “Contempt”, is an Amazon Best Seller and Amazon Top 10 Legal Thriller. He has sold three screenplays to Hollywood, including “Beeper”, an action-thriller starring Harvey Keitel and Joey Lauren Adams.
Michael currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
I thank TCK Publishing (Maria Inot in particular) for providing me an ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review.
I had never read any novels by Michael Cordell, but once I started to read this one, I was hooked. His experience working as a screenwriter (and a screenwriting teacher) comes through, as there are some scenes in this book so vividly rendered that it is impossible not to see them playing inside your head while you read it. And, they aren’t always comfortable viewing either! (I’m not sure I’ll look at a clothes closet the same way again, but I will not go into it to avoid spoilers).
This novel offers an interesting combination of genres. Although it is not the first time I come across a mystery/thriller with paranormal/horror elements (I’ve enjoyed Hyde by Craig Russell and The Coven Murders by Brian O’Hare, for example), this one has some interesting elements that might appeal to people who don’t normally read in either of those genres. The main character, Matthew (Matt) Davis, is not a detective or a policeman, but a pretty normal guy whose brother has been killed. We are aware, from the very beginning of the story, that he had a special connection with his twin brother Jake, but we soon learn what this truly means in the current circumstances. Although he ends up investigating his brother’s death, this is not out of revenge or even to try to get his brother’s murderer to justice, but for a pretty different reason. The paranormal element, which starts pretty low-key, moves onto full-blown horror towards the end of the novel, and I am not revealing anything unduly when I say that hell and demons play a big part in the story (and there are crows. Those of you who loved Hitchcock’s The Birds will nod in recognition at several scenes in the book).
I think these two genres mix quite well in this particular novel, as long as readers are willing to suspend their disbelief and not stick to the specifics of either genre (the mystery-thriller especially). In fact, I think the combination of the two genres works to keep us guessing and makes it more difficult for us to focus on solving either aspect of the story (because there are several mysteries and a lot of secrets hiding in this narrative). Although the pace of the novel is more contemplative than many thrillers are, the tension builds up slowly but ramps up towards the end, and its particular rhythm allows us to get to know the main character (whose point of view we follow —although narrated in the third person— the whole story) and to get a good picture of the little Nebraskan town where the story takes place. Of course, the author does not reveal everything about the character, and although we might have some suspicion about what really happened in the past, the ending brings some interesting twists to the story.
Apart from the novels mentioned in the above description, the story also had elements that made me think of The Dry by Jane Harper. The grown-up man coming back to his hometown after many years away to attend a funeral (in that case that of a friend, rather than his brother), and the descriptions of the weather, the place, and the secrets brought it to my mind, although there are no paranormal elements there. And I also thought about A Nightmare on Elm Street more than once (although no Freddy here).
I liked Matt well enough, even though his life seemed to be very unfocused and low-key to begin with, stuck and unable to move on for no clear reason. Things become clearer as we read on, and we get to understand his actions and empathise with him by the end. I also appreciated Matt’s sharp and dry wit, and his somewhat dark sense of humour, especially evident at the beginning of the novel (seeing the funny side of things gets difficult as the days pass). Jake… We get different versions of Jake, and although he is not a sympathetic character, he is an intriguing one, and not as one-sided as he appears at the beginning. I liked Claire. Although we don’t get to know her very well, she has done the best of a bad situation, and she is supportive, tries hard to do the right thing, and is a friend to her friends. I loved Andy. He is a fantastic character, and I would happily read a whole book about him. He also provides some light relief to the story (but he has some eerie moments as well)! The twin’s mother is a character I would have liked to learn more about, and I would also have liked to know more about the family dynamics, but that would have slowed the story down and turned it into something else.
The book abounds on reflections about guilt, duty, family ties and relationships, loyalty, small-town politics, faith and religious belief, the need to forgive and move on… The protagonist is faced with some impossibly tough decisions, and although not in the same circumstances, many readers will empathise with the feeling of being trapped and having no good way out.
I have mentioned the vividness of the writing, and the skill and craft of the writer come through. The story flows well, and although the rhythm is not frantic or typical of a thriller, it keeps you turning the pages (or sweeping them) to learn what is going to happen next. There are beautifully descriptive passages and quite a few hair-raising action scenes that make it into a satisfying reading experience. Remember that you can always check a sample of the book in your e-book store if you want to make sure the writing style fits your taste.
A couple of snippets of the book here:
That was one of the things you could count on in Nebraska: most everyone was nice and more than happy to help. It was already starting to put him on edge.
Skiz had told him a story that sounded as reasonable as talking monkeys riding unicorns, and yet he’d latched onto it as if it were a scientific fact. (If you wondered about the suspension of disbelief, the protagonist has some misgivings as well).
The ending will satisfy most readers, I think. I have mentioned the twists (you might or might not see them coming, but I wouldn’t say they are evident), and because of my particular taste in endings, I would probably have preferred something a bit more nuanced and less final, but that is me. It makes perfect sense in light of the genre combination, but horror for me… must leave us feeling uneasy rather than reassured.
As to recommendations, this is a good and fun read, and people looking for books that combine genres, happy to suspend their disbelief, and not scared of paranormal and horror elements, (and not easily offended by somewhat unorthodox religious references and bad language) will have a great time with this story. I would also recommend it to those who enjoy movies in those genres, as it is very cinematic.
Thanks to the publisher and the author, for this novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to stay safe, optimistic (as far as you can), and to keep reading, smiling, and enjoying life to the maximum.
Hi all: Today I bring you the review of two more of the Journeys that comprise Dead of Winter. Hold on to your seats, because things are getting wild!
I am a fan of multi-talented Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, follow her blog (where she creates wonderful serials, with the participation of her readers), and have read several of her novels and novellas. She writes in a variety of genres (and she likes to experiment and combine those, rather than stick to the rules), but there are always elements of fancy, wonder, and magic weaved into her stories. Although I don’t usually read fantasy, I have no hesitation reading or recommending this series, even to people who aren’t that keen on the genre. I love the way she combines some unlikely and beautifully described settings with wonderful characters, playful dialogues (her love of research is legendary, and she always finds historically accurate words and long-forgotten expressions that delight readers), and highly imaginative storylines. No matter how many of her books you read, you’re bound to be surprised by her stories.
Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a “high desert” town in the Southwest of the USA.
Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.
Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the desert southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy.
Founder of the Three Things method of storytelling, her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers. Http://www.teagansbooks.com
Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.
Dead of Winter: Journey 7, Revenant Pass begins with the ancient watcher’s memory of the Library of the Society of Deae Matres — and its fall. We also get a look into the thought process of treacherous Arawn. Then the story picks up where we left Emlyn and company, trapped in the Realm of the Dead.
This Journey is shorter than some, but adventure abounds. Some characters go missing. You’ll have to read to learn more.
Come, be a part of the Journeys.
I was provided an early ARC copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.
I am a fan of the author, I have read all the journeys in Dead of Winter so far and think the serial format suits the story well, because it builds up the characters, and the connections between them are revealed slowly, without overwhelming the readers. People who don’t have a lot of time to read don’t need to worry about getting too caught up in the story and not being able to stop. The author has chosen the length of the episodes and the perfect point to split up the novel, and we come to the end of each journey both satisfied with what happens and left wanting more.
This episode, although short, is very important, as we get to understand who Haldis —whom we knew as the Watcher in the early journeys— is (although we might have had our suspicions), and how her story links to that of the Deae Matres. It hints at what is to come, and it drags us even deeper into the story. Some of the connections and the links that we might have suspected are coming to the fore, and some of the questions we might have had are slowly getting answered.
We see things from the perspective of several characters (even the baddy), and we also get deeper into Emlyn’s thoughts, her doubts, her sensations, and that makes us empathise even more with her. She is quickly getting out of her shell and learning about other cultures and lifestyles, although she still doubts herself at times and wonders what her right place is and what the future holds in stock for her.
This journey includes some wonderful descriptions, as usual, and action scenes and scary moments aplenty. We are getting closer than ever to learning what happened in the past and discovering how that history is linked to the protagonists and the present. The warnings and the threats feel more urgent as well, and events seem to be speeding up. Characters disappear, mysteries abound, and there are many questions left answered.
I loved this journey, and I felt as if things were falling into place. I am in awe at the way everything is interconnected, and I can’t wait to learn what happens next. Thankfully, I won’t have to wait long.
Just a reminder that this is a complete story split up into journeys, and readers need to read them in order to be able to follow the plot and fully appreciate its complexity. The author includes a list of characters and locations at the end, so even if it’s been some time since you read the previous journey, you can easily refresh your memory and pick up the story where you left off.
Recommended to anybody who loves great characters, beautiful writing (whatever their thoughts on fantasy), and imaginative stories, especially to those who appreciate shorter reads but like the idea of a serial.
Throughout the previous volumes the fantasy aspect of this epic has gradually built. In Journey 8, that fantastical element comes to the fore.
Emlyn and her companions search for the fabled Lost Library. The entire world is at risk, so they hope answers will be there. However, a new complication arises and the fate of one Deae Matres hangs in the balance.
Meanwhile Arawn, who tore the Veil between the worlds of the living and dead, tries to make an evil alliance with a long dead king who was known for his ruthlessness.
Remove the limits from your imagination and join Emlyn and company on this extraordinary adventure.
Journey 8 is a gripping one, as there are plenty of adventures, and we gain some fascinating insights into some of the characters’ backgrounds (already hinted at in Journey 7) and learn more about the history of the Deae Matres and the lost library of the title.
As the author tells us in her preface, this journey is slightly different in structure, as Haldis, the Watcher, has now become part of the action, and she is intriguing, to say the least. She becomes a guide to the rest of the characters, but she is unreliable, partly because she is old, and her memory is far from perfect, and partly, perhaps, because there are things she is keeping to herself.
Arawn, the baddiest of the bad, makes an appearance that puts an even darker spin on things, and although the Deae Matres are together again, things are not as they were before. Haldis promises there is a solution, but not everybody is convinced by her suggestion.
Three of the protagonists of the story embark on a quest, becoming seekers (I’m trying to avoid any spoilers), and what they find reminded me of some of the most imaginative and wonderful stories the author has come up with in her blog and in previous novels. She definitely delivers in her promise of fantastic elements. Her descriptions are eye-poppingly incredible and beautiful, and I can’t wait to see what else the trio will find.
Just a quick reminder that you need to read all the journeys in order, and it is easy to catch up on previous adventures as the author includes a list of characters and settings at the end that is updated with each installment, as relevant.
A magical read that is becoming more intense and intriguing as it goes. Unmissable.
Thanks to the author for keeping the story coming (it has become something to look forward to, and reliable as well), thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, keep reading, and about all, take care and stay safe.
The darkly compelling new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Chalk Man, The Taking of Annie Thorne and The Other People, soon to be a major TV series
‘Hypnotic and horrifying . . . Without doubt her best yet,’
The Burning Girls left me sleeping with the lights on’ CHRIS WHITAKER, bestselling author of Waterstones Thriller of the Month We Begin at the End
‘A gothic, spine-tingling roller-coaster of a story . . . CJ Tudor is a master of horror’ C.J. COOKE, author of The Nesting
500 years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death
30 years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace
Two months ago: the vicar committed suicide
Welcome to Chapel Croft.
For Rev Jack Brooks and teenage daughter Flo it’s supposed to be a fresh start. New job, new home. But, as Jack knows, the past isn’t easily forgotten.
And in a close-knit community where the residents seem as proud as they are haunted by Chapel Croft’s history, Jack must tread carefully. Ancient superstitions as well as a mistrust of outsiders will be hard to overcome.
Yet right away Jack has more frightening concerns.
Why is Flo plagued by visions of burning girls?
Who’s sending them sinister, threatening messages?
And why did no one mention that the last vicar killed himself?
Chapel Croft’s secrets lie deep and dark as the tomb. Jack wouldn’t touch them if not for Flo – anything to protect Flo.
But the past is catching up with Chapel Croft – and with Jack. For old ghosts with scores to settle will never rest . . .
‘Tudor operates on the border between credulity and disbelief, creating an atmosphere of menace’ Sunday Times
‘A mesmerising and atmospheric page-turner, with plenty of shocks and a surprise twist for a finale. Her best novel yet’ Sunday Express
‘The best book yet from C. J. Tudor’ Best
Praise for C. J. Tudor:
‘C. J. Tudor is terrific. I can’t wait to see what she does next’ Harlan Coben
‘Britain’sfemale Stephen King’Daily Mail
‘A mesmerizingly chilling and atmospheric page-turner’ J.P. Delaney
‘Her books have the ability to simultaneously make you unable to stop reading while wishing you could bury the book somewhere deep underground where it can’t be found. Compelling and haunting’ Sunday Express
‘Some writers have it, and some don’t. C. J. Tudor has it big time’ Lee Child
C. J. Tudor lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.
Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, dog walker, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and, now, author.
Her first novel, The Chalk Man, was a Sunday Times bestseller and sold in thirty-nine territories.
I thank NetGalley and Penguin Michael Joseph UK for providing me an ARC copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.
I discovered C. J. Tudor with her first novel, The Chalk Man, a pretty impressive debut, and have read the two novels she has published since, The Taking of Annie Thorne and The Other People. As you can guess from that, I enjoy her writing and her penchant for creating stories that are never boring, with characters that keep us guessing until the end (or near enough). It is true, as well, that the topics she covers and her plots are not unique —if such a thing even exists—, especially for people who read plenty of thrillers, horror novels, mysteries, and watch films and TV series in those genres. But she knows how to pick up some elements that might feel familiar at first (after all, that is one of the reasons why many readers enjoy reading certain genres, because they know what to expect) and create something that manages to meet the expectations while keeping readers on their toes. And sometimes, scaring them a fair bit in the process.
That is true as well for this novel, which for me had a few things that made it particularly attractive. One would be the setting. The novel is set in the UK, in Sussex, an area where I lived for a few years and that I know fairly well. Although the village where the novel is set doesn’t exist, and neither does the actual tradition that gives it its name (and I won’t elaborate on that to avoid spoiling the story, although there is a fake Wikipedia entry at the very beginning that explains it all), I’ve read in an interview that the author felt inspired by the area and by the town of Lewes and its history, and I am not surprised that is the case. It is a very atmospheric place. I’ve read comments calling it “Gothic”, and it isn’t a bad name, but there is something more ancient and primordial at play as well (The Wicker Man comes to mind).
Another thing I found interesting is how self-referential the novel feels. The author has been compared to Stephen King (and she acknowledges how much she loves his books) on many occasions, as you can see reflected by the editorial comments, and his novels appear repeatedly in the book, as do references to popular movies and TV (The Lost Boys, The Usual Suspects, Heathers…) that might (or might not) be connected to the story and the plot. By openly acknowledging those in her pages, the author seems to be giving us clues and adding layers of meaning, although perhaps it is a fairly tongue-in chick ploy, and it is all part of the misdirection, twists and turns, and red herrings that are spread around the novel. Because another thing (and author) I kept thinking about when reading this novel was Agatha Christie and her works, in particular her Miss Marple novels, with their small villages with dark goings-on, where everybody is hiding something and outsiders have a hard time trying to find somebody trustworthy and to discover the truth. And there is also an elderly lady, Joan, who would fit perfectly into one of Christie’s novels, (and she is one of my favourite characters as well).
As I said, I won’t be discussing the plot in detail, to avoid spoilers, but I’ll mention some of the things readers can find in this novel: exorcisms gone wrong, crypts hiding dark secrets, ghoulish ghosts, disappeared girls, religious martyrs, child abuse and death, bullying and manipulation, abandoned creepy houses, unrequited love and jealousy, hidden motives and fake identities… This is not a mild or cozy novel, and there are some pretty gruesome and violent episodes, so I wouldn’t recommend it to readers looking for a light-hearted read.
That doesn’t mean the novel is all doom and gloom, as there are several characters with quite a sense of humour, and the protagonist, Jack, and Jack’s daughter, Flo, are both pretty witty and often funny. The protagonist narrates a lot of the story in the first person: Jack’s self-comments and observations appear sharp, clever, and they made me chuckle many times. Some also made me nod in agreement, and although I won’t say I agree with everything Jack does in the novel, I definitely understand the protagonist’s reasons. Apart from Jack’s first-person narration, there are fragments narrated in the third person, some from Flo’s point of view, and others from the perspective of a different character who we soon realise is trying to find Jack. Who he is and why he is after them… well, you’ll need to read the book to learn that. There are also brief fragments in italics that help create a fuller picture in our minds of what might have happened, even if we don’t know exactly whose memories we are accessing when we read them (but we are likely to have our suspicions). Does that mean the story is confusing? I didn’t find it so, and although this might depend on how familiar readers are with the genre, the different personalities of the characters come through in the writing, so I don’t think most people will have many problems telling whose points of view they are reading. Nonetheless, I recommend readers to be attentive and keep a close eye on everything, because, as is the case with more traditional mysteries, all the details are important, and the clues are there for a reason. If you blink, you might miss a piece of the puzzle that becomes important later on.
As is to be expected from these kinds of books, there is a false ending and a big twist. The author drops hints and clues along the way, and I am sure most people will suspect at least some of the information that is revealed, although perhaps not everything. Because, let me tell you that if you love unreliable narrators, you shouldn’t miss this one. Some reviewers felt disappointed by the ending, because… Well, I can’t tell you, of course. But, as I’ve said, there are hints dropped, and there is a bit of a soliloquy (not a soliloquy, but I could imagine it would become one if this were a play) where we get an explanation/justification of some important plot points. I’m not sure it was necessary, to be honest, but I can see why the author did that. Oh, and I did enjoy the ending, by the way.
Other reviewers also took issue with some depictions of characters and events that they feel reinforce negative stereotypes and prejudicial media representations of certain groups. Although this could be argued in one or two instances, and it is always a matter of interpretation, much of that view might result from a partial or perhaps too literal reading of the book with might have missed some of the nuances of the story.
This is a novel that, beyond the gripping plot and the mysteries it contains, deals in identity, in how we can reinvent ourselves and get a second chance, and also in what important role prejudices and labels can play in the way we are seen and perceived by others. While some people struggle to fight against assigned roles and expectations, others can use them to hide behind them and protect their true selves, or even manipulate them to their advantage. It also revisits the debate about evil. Do we believe some people are born evil or are we all born innocent and other people and our circumstances can turn us into monsters? Can there be some valid justifications, no matter how subjective they might be, for actions that would be considered evil by most people? Or there is no grey area when it comes to good and evil, and a person’s point of view doesn’t come into it? We might or might not agree with how things work out in the story, but I am sure we will all have formed an opinion by the end of the novel, perhaps even one that surprises us.
I recommend this book to fans of mysteries with some supernatural and horror elements, also to readers looking for a page-turner with plenty of atmosphere and a gripping storyline. I am sure most followers of C. J. Tudor won’t be disappointed, and, personally, I am looking forward to her next novel already.
I bring you an amusing and touching read that is perfect for those of us who have ended up with no holidays.
Running Haunted: A Greek romantic comedy with a ghost set in Nafplio Greece by Effrosyni Moschoudi
Kelly ran a marathon… and wound up running a house. With a ghost in it.
Kelly Mellios is a stunning, athletic woman, who has learned–the hard way–to value herself. Having just finished her first marathon in the alluring Greek town of Nafplio, she bumps into Alex, a gorgeous widower with three underage children, who is desperately looking for a housekeeper.
The timing seems perfect, seeing that Kelly aches to start a new life, and Nafplio seems like the ideal place to settle down. She accepts the position on the spot, but little does she know that Alex’s house has an extra inhabitant that not even the family knows about…
The house is haunted by Alex’s late wife, who has unfinished business to tend to. By using the family pet, a quirky pug named Charlie, the ghost is able to communicate with Kelly and asks her for help. She claims she wants to ensure her loved ones are happy before she departs, but offers very little information about her plans.
Kelly freaks out at first, but gradually finds herself itching to help. It is evident there’s room for improvement in this family… Plus, her growing attraction towards Alex is overpowering…
Will Kelly do the ghost’s bidding? How will it affect her? And just how strange is this pug?
“I have read all of Effrosyni’s books, the characters become your friends. Running Haunted is the perfect summer read set in Greece.”
~Just Kay, Amazon UK reviewer
“Another charming book from Effrosyni. Read it, and you’ll be transported to Greece & never look a dog the same way again!”
~Just Me.Mo, Amazon UK reviewer
“A fast-paced original story with attention to detail and engaging dialog. A heartfelt emotional read, with family love, romance and a lovable ghost. I highly recommend it.”
~Sheri Wilkinson, Amazon reviewer
Effrosyni Moschoudi was born and raised in Athens, Greece. As a child, she loved to sit alone in her garden scribbling rhymes about flowers, butterflies and ants. Today, she writes stories for the romantic at heart. She lives in a quaint seaside town near Athens with her husband Andy. Her mind forever drifts to her beloved Greek island of Corfu.
Her debut novel, The Necklace of Goddess Athena, has won a silver medal in the 2017 book awards of Readers’ Favorite. The Ebb, her romance set in Moraitika, Corfu that’s inspired from her summers there in the 1980s, is an ABNA Q-Finalist.
Her novels are Amazon bestsellers, having hit #1 several times, and are available in kindle and paperback format.
What others say about Effrosyni’s books:
“Effrosyni layers her words on the page like music.”
~Jackie Weger, author of The House on Persimmon Road
“Very few writers have such a gift for realism.”
~Kelly Smith Reviews
I purchased a copy of this novel, which I also review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here).
I had read and reviewed a novella by this author before and enjoyed it (you can find my review for The Amulethere). It perfectly combined a lightness of touch, humour, a paranormal element (not in a heavy-handed manner but rather whimsically), and a lovely setting in Greece, with plenty of gorgeous locations and pretty tasty-sounding food. The ideal read for a holiday or for those occasions when we need a holiday but are not in a position to take one (and also perfect for the winter months, when we need a bit of sun, even if it is just coming from a page). I was therefore well-predisposed toward the writer’s offerings, and when I came across an interview where she explained how personal this novel had become for her, I had to buy it and add it to my list to read. I can confirm that it shares many characteristics with the novella I had read before, down to the wonderful settings, the food, the paranormal element (that becomes quite poignant here, in places), and the light and humorous touches.
The description of the book provides a good summary of the plot. There are some surprises along the way (that I won’t go into), and the book fits in well within the romance genre, down to the gorgeous protagonists (both), some difficulties and hindrances along the way (including old lovers and others), plenty of wish fulfilment, and a great ending which will make readers see things in a new light (and will leave them smiling). I have mentioned the paranormal element, and as the blurb explains, we have a ghost who becomes an important protagonist of the book, as well as quite a few unexplained things (and I’m going to avoid spoilers as usual).
All the characters are easy to like (well, almost all, but I won’t get into that). They are far from perfect, though. We have Kelly, who has transformed her life after an abusive relationship (no physical violence, but her ex-boyfriend always put her down and made her feel insecure) and has turned into a woman who won’t let anybody tell her what she can or can’t do, who will fight to become the person she wants and will help others do the same. On the other hand, she can rush into things without thinking about the consequence; she can be pushy and too direct; and the way she approaches some topics might be one-sided and simplistic (her approach to bullying and to the excess weight of one of the kids, for example), but it’s difficult not to be won over by her enthusiasm and goodwill. Alex is still grieving his wife and finds it difficult to know how best to deal with his children, but he is (as usual in romances) pretty perfect otherwise. The children all have their problems but are good kids and loveable, and what can I say about Charlie, the dog. I adored it! None of the characters are very complex, and this is even more so if we talk about their friends and other secondary characters we see little of. On the other hand, the connection between the members of the family, once the problems have been solved, feels real, and readers are likely to enjoy becoming an ersatz member of the household as much as Kelly does. I really liked Lauren, though, and she is perhaps the one aspect of the novel that feels a little less traditional, as we tend to see women mostly in domestic roles, and there are no particular challenges to the status quo. Lauren’s love for her family is inspiring, and it’s easy to understand why they have all struggled so much to cope without her. She and Kelly seem to have much in common, and I loved her resourcefulness and her wicked sense of humour.
The novel touches upon the different ways people deal with grief, and I found particularly interesting the examples of young children trying to come to terms with the death of their mother. There are very touching moments in the book, and although there is a great deal of humour, the subject is sensitively approached, and I think many people who have suffered losses will feel inspired and comforted by this story.
The writing is fluid and the story is told in the third-person, mostly from the point of view of Kelly, the main protagonist, although there are a few snippets from other characters’ viewpoints, which help readers be a step ahead sometimes but not always (the author keeps a few tricks up her sleeve). There are lovely descriptions of locations and mentions of Greek food, but those do not interfere with the action of the rhythm of the story but rather enhance the enjoyment and help readers immerse themselves in the narrative.
I have mentioned the ending before, and it is a joy. Not only will most readers be left with a smile, but I suspect a few will laugh out loud as well. Well done!
If you are looking for a book that challenges genre and gender conventions, whose characters are diverse, and/or want to avoid triggers related to fat-shaming and bullying, this is not your book. On the other hand, this is a great read for those looking for a sweet romance (no sex or erotica here), in a gorgeous setting, who love the inclusion of humour and paranormal elements. I particularly recommend it to readers who love dogs, Greece, and who can’t go on a real holiday. I enjoyed my time with Kelly and Alex’s family, and I’m sure you’ll do too.
Thanks to the author for her book, to Rosie and the members of the team for their support, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, keep smiling, and keep safe!
I bring you a book difficult to classify (I like those) and one I’m sure will intrigue a lot of you.
Draca by Geoffrey Gudgion
‘A terrific and compelling story which highlights mental and physical challenges that many who have served will recognise.’General Sir Nick Parker, Commander British Forces Afghanistan 2010
Draca was a vintage sailing cutter, Old Eddie’s pride and joy. But now she’s beached, her varnish peeling. She’s dying, just like Eddie.
Eddie leaves Draca to his grandson Jack, a legacy that’s the final wedge between Jack and his father. Yet for Jack, the old boat is a lifeline. Medically discharged from the Marines, with his marriage on the rocks, the damaged veteran finds new purpose; Draca will sail again. Wonderful therapy for a wounded hero, people say.
Young Georgia ‘George’ Fenton, who runs the boatyard, has doubts. She saw changes in Old Eddie that were more sinister even than cancer. And by the time Draca tastes the sea again, the man she dares to love is going the same way. To George, Jack’s ‘purpose’ has become ‘possession’; the boat owns the man and her flawed hero is on a mission to self-destruct. As his controlling and disinherited father pushes him closer to the edge, she gives all she has to hold him back.
And between them all, there’s an old boat with dark secrets, and perhaps a mind of its own.
Geoffrey Gudgion served for over 10 years in the armed forces, and made his first attempts at writing fiction during quiet moments on deployment. He later stepped off the corporate ladder, in the midst of a career in marketing and general management, specifically to release time to write. Freelance consultancy paid the bills. His first novel, Saxon’s Bane, reached #1 in Kindle’s ‘Ghost’ category, and he now writes full time.
Gudgion’s second novel, Draca, will be released by Unbound on 14 May 2020. Draca is also a subtle ghost story; a veteran with PTSD is haunted by his past, or perhaps simply haunted.
When not crafting words Gudgion is an enthusiastic amateur equestrian and a very bad pianist.
I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.
I didn’t know Geoffrey Gudgion before I read this novel, but the description and the cover called me (a bit worrying when I think about it after finishing the book), and my reward was a fantastic read that combines many elements likely to interest a large variety of readers. Draca, the vessel of the title, is a haunting presence throughout the book. Old Eddie, its owner, was fascinated by old Norse mythology and his Viking heritage, and there are fragments from the Saga of King Guthrum (c a AD 875) heading each new chapter and telling a fascinating story of the Vikings’ incursions into Britain and their battles with the Saxons. This mythological background and the story of King Guthrum and his son Jarl Harald moves apace with the adventures of Draca and Jack, Eddie’s grandson and new owner of the sailing cutter. There are adventures that will delight those who love sailing (but also those who don’t. I haven’t done any proper sailing but have a soft spot for books and movies set at sea, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Let me clarify that although there is ample evidence of knowledge and research on the topic of sailing, no expertise is required to enjoy the novel). The characters and especially the relationship between the male members of the Ahlquist fmaily, make for fascinating reading, as we have parents and sons of different generations with complex love-hate relationships, and they relive their conflicts on and off the ship.
Other themes are also explored and add to the overall interest of the novel: Jack, the main protagonist of the story, was a decorated Royal Marine who was severely wounded during the war, and now suffers from PTSD and is finding it difficult to adjust to civilian life. His flashbacks and his account of his experiences are realistic and compelling (not surprising when we take into account the author’s background), and it makes him a particularly sympathetic character. We also have romance (although the two characters seemed made for each other from the beginning, and I’m sure most readers will enjoy it, considering the background of both characters it seemed a bit too perfect for me, especially if readers are expecting a standard horror story); a woman with a gift for healing and for sensing things about people; and a paranormal element that I felt worked very well.
I think the description offers more than enough information about the plot, and I want to avoid spoilers. I think this novel cuts across a few genres. There are very realistic elements, in particular those depicting the psychological state of the characters, PTSD and obsession; there are also mythological and fantastical elements; paranormal/horror elements; sailing adventures; family relationships (a family saga, to a point); and a romance (there is some sex, but it is pretty mild and not very explicit, and people who follow my review know I don’t like erotica, so…). If I had to choose, I enjoyed the mythological/fantastical aspects of the story, the sailing adventure, and the realistic aspects, especially the relationship between the men, the most.
I have mentioned some of the characters already. The story is narrated in the third person, each chapter usually following the point of view of one of the main characters (Harry, Old Eddie’s son and Jack’s father, not a particularly likeable character and not somebody who evolves much during the novel, but he is not all bad either; Jack; and George, the main female character, who runs the boatyard and seems to combine characteristics of the caring female who would do anything for her man, with an independent and wise woman who tries hard to keep trouble at bay), interspersed with the Saga of King Guthrum and also, especially at the beginning, with fragments of Eddie’s diary, which help us understand more about the man and about Draca. We also meet Charlotte (Charlie), Jack’s wife, who is a very intriguing character, but her story is not developed in a lot of detail (and we don’t see things from her point of view), not is that of Jack’s mother, who seems to be an old-fashioned housewife and hardly has a voice of her own. We don’t see enough of Tilly, Jack’s sister, for her to play a part in the story (other than being a hindrance at times).
The writing is excellent. There are beautiful descriptions of sailing, not only of the act of sailing but also of the emotions it creates, and as I’ve said already, the psychological experiences of the characters, particularly of Jack are rendered in such a way that we can’t help but feel as if we were there, sharing in his anguish and feelings. There are lyrical passages that made me reread them again, and this is a book that combines an absorbing story that makes you keep turning the pages with a style of writing that demands to be savoured and enjoyed. I’ve highlighted many fragments, but I thought I’d share a couple to give you some idea of what to expect:
When the tide was just on the ebb it sucked at the beach below the cottage, a soft susurration at the limit of hearing. In the pre-dawn darkness it sounded like whispering, so human that he strained to distinguish the words.
Draca was a bit like some men she’d met who were handsome on the outside and dangerous on the inside. In that way, Draca was the opposite of Jack. He was dangerous on the outside but probably dead gentle on the inside, like he was wearing a suit of armour, or a shell, like a crab.
The ending… I think the author has managed to pull quite a trick there, because all the different elements come to a satisfactory ending (no, I’m not saying happy), and I enjoyed it, for sure. And it does not leave us hanging, so people who don’t appreciate cliff-hangers don’t need to worry… much.
The author mentions his sources (people and books) in his acknowledgments, and I was particularly happy to learn about Unbound, the first crowdfunding publisher, which made the book possible. The book also includes a list of supporters and patrons, and I will try to keep track of their future projects.
In brief, a great read, that I’d recommend to people interested in male family relationships, PTSD, and who don’t mind a touch of the paranormal and romance. Fans of sailing stories and those who love Norse mythology and Old Saxon history will enjoy it even more. There are some chilling and eerie moments, but the horror, such as it is, is mostly psychological, so this should not put off people who usually avoid the genre. I won’t forget Draca in a long time, and I’m sure if you read it you won’t, either.
Thanks to the author, the publisher and to Rosie and her team, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, smile, and always keep safe.
I have known author JP McLean for quite a while (she was one of the authors I met through social media shortly after I started blogging and publishing my own books), and her books and news have featured on my blog a number of times. Although I’ve followed her career with interest (I confess I was fascinated by her trilogy that kept producing more and more books), I hadn’t yet managed to read any of her books, partly because I kept putting it off to make sure I’d have time to go back and start at the beginning of the series. When she contacted me to let me know that she was relaunching and rebranding the whole series, I was keen to feature her books, and she kindly offered to write a guest post enlightening both, readers and other writers, on her reasons to relaunch and rebrand her series. And the relaunch also gave me the perfect excuse (if I ever needed one!) to start reading her series. So here goes. First, the author’s guest post, where she answers a few questions that most of us would think about when an author takes such an important decision:
A Rebranding Q&A
JP McLean recently rebranded her Gift Legacy series of books. She’s here to answer a few questions about why she rebranded, and what steps were involved.
Q: Why did you decide to rebrand your books?
A: I discovered that the books weren’t attracting their intended contemporary fantasy audience. The books were gathering great reviews, and selling modest numbers, but primarily by word of mouth. What I learned was that contemporary fantasy readers were bypassing my books believing them to be religious or spiritual in nature. The reason was not only the titles of the books (Awakening, Revelation, Redemption and Penance) but the beautiful covers that reinforced that impression.
Q: What were your considerations before rebranding?
A: Readers were my first and most important consideration. I didn’t want to misdirect readers who were looking for spiritual or religious material, and I wanted to attract readers interested in contemporary fantasy.
Another consideration was the cost involved. Covers, like editors, are one of the major expenses of publishing. New covers meant new marketing materials like bookmarks, posters and banners. I would also have to invest in new book stock to have on hand. Though I’m Canadian and ISBNs are free, they aren’t free in all countries and this could be a major cost consideration depending on how many books you rebrand. You also have to consider the cost to have the interior files reformatted to incorporate the changed titles in your front and back matter.
But perhaps the most critical consideration was for the hard-earned reviews the books had garnered over the years. You can change your cover with no impact on your reviews at all. You can change publisher and ISBN and though you’ll have to ask, you can have your reviews transferred to the new publisher/ISBN. But when you change titles, some retailers view this as a new book and WILL NOT transfer your reviews.
Q: What steps are involved in rebranding?
A: Finding a cover designer who is available and within your price range.
Brainstorming new titles, new taglines and new book descriptions in a variety of lengths.
Editing the books’ interior files to replace references to the old titles, and having the files reformatted.
Obtaining new ISBNs (new titles mean new ISBNs).
Designing or hiring a designer to prepare new bookmarks, banners and other marketing material.
Making changes to your social media platforms to reflect the new branding.
Q: Do you have any advice for those considering a rebrand?
A: If you believe a rebrand is necessary, consider if a new cover alone will do the job. It will preserve your existing reviews.
If you do decide to change the title, be sure to make it clear in your copyright and wherever the book is sold that the new title is a republication of an old title. You don’t want readers re-purchasing a book they’ve already read. You’ll end up with unhappy customers who may return the book, leave a scathing review, or even complain to the retailer.
If you are rebranding more than one book, consider asking if your cover designer can work on the covers concurrently rather than consecutively to speed up the design process.
Develop a re-release schedule to keep you on track and on top of the details and deadlines required for each book.
Give yourself more time than you think you need.
JP McLean’s bio
JP (JO-ANNE) McLEAN writes contemporary fantasy thrillers that readers describe as addictive, smart and fun. Her debut novel earned honourable mention at the Whistler Independent Book Awards. JP is a graduate of the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, and she makes her home on Denman Island, off the coast of British Columbia. Visit her at https://jpmcleanauthor.com.
An intrepid young woman. An incredible gift. A terrible price to pay.
As a child, Emelynn Taylor accepted a stranger’s gift that changed her life forever. This gift wasn’t wrapped in pretty paper and tied with a bow, nor could it ever be returned. Now, it’s taken over her life. Striking without warning, it strips Emelynn of gravity and sends her airborne, unchecked.
Haunted by terrifying flights she can’t control, Emelynn returns to the seaside cottage of her childhood, where she vows to take command of her dangerous gift. Here, she discovers an underground society whose members share her hidden ability, and a man who sends her heart soaring.
But is this secret society using the gift for good, or for evil? Unravelling the truth will plunge Emelynn into a fight for her freedom—and her life.
The first book in The Gift Legacy series, Secret Sky is a thriller that skirts the edges of reality in a world within our own. Buckle up and escape the ordinary: take flight with Emelynn Taylor.
(Secret Sky was previously published as The Gift: Awakening)
My review: Be prepared for flights of fancy, magical experiences and wonderful locations.
I was sent an ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review.
I had been aware of The Gift Legacy series and its author for a while, and felt curious about it, but as happens sometimes when I discover a series with several books published already, I never seemed to find the time to catch up on it, and the collection kept growing. When I heard that the series was being relaunched with new covers and titles, I grabbed the opportunity to finally start reading it. And I’m pleased I did.
It is a bit difficult to talk about this novel without revealing too much of what happens, but from the description, you can probably guess some important aspects of it. Emelynn, or Em, as she is known, is the protagonist and first-person narrator of the book. We meet her at an inflection point in her life. She’s finished her studies and has decided that it is time to tackle her “gift”. Her dreams and memories give us a good understanding of the background to her situation and how she came to be in possession of her gift, at least to the extent she understands it. After all, she was a young girl and she was never given much information about what had happened to her. We also learn about her personal life, the death of her father, the move to Toronto, her mother’s taking refuge in her work, and Em’s difficulties fitting in, partly (mostly) caused by her gift. Although she found ways to deal with the disruption to her life caused by the gift, from a practical perspective, she had never been able to have a “normal” life, and that had made her decide to go back to the cottage where her family lived when she was a child, as it was more remote, it had always felt like a refuge and a safe-place to her, and it would give her the breathing space to experiment.
Her plan works although not in the way she intended, and she gets into contact with people who can guide her and teach her to tame her gift, although this is not at first evident to her. Having grown up hiding things and never trusting anyone, she finds it difficult to trust these strangers whose agendas she does not fully understand, and who seem to keep some things under wraps. Despite her initial reluctance, Em discovers a new world, a new group of people she finally belongs to, and a level of skill and power she had never suspected. But things don’t run smoothly: there are threats, mysterious forces at work, and missions that have to be accomplished. And of course, romance and love don’t always mix well with such complications.
I know first-person-narrations are a bit like marmite for readers: some love them and others don’t. In this particular case, Em’s narration is perfect for the story. Although she has a gift (or power, although at times it feel like a curse to her), she does not understand it, and readers have the privilege of experiencing with her the thrill of discovery, the fear of the unknown, her suspicions of the motives of the new people that come into her life, and we also learn about her and what makes her tick. In contrast to many books with a paranormal aspect where characters discover a power or an ability they knew nothing about, Em doesn’t just wake up one day and is somebody completely different, proficient at her ability, and a total kick-ass hero. She has doubts, she hesitates, she does not always want to push the boundaries, she gets tired and sleeps in, she feels pain, she gets hungry, she lacks in self-confidence and doubts herself, she makes mistakes and misjudges people, she feels bad for not phoning her mother… In sum, she is a pretty normal human being, sometimes low and sometimes happy, with a good sense of humour and of observation, and it is easy to empathise with her, even if we might not have much in common with her.
She is also a young woman with zero love experience, and she seems to fall in love easily, perhaps because she had been trying so hard and for so long to block those kinds of feelings. There are sex scenes in the book, and although they are not the most explicit I’ve ever read, they are explicit and this is not a sweet and clean romance. I am not fond of sex scenes, although at least her first time is not totally unrealistic, as it often happens in romances, but yes, I won’t talk too much about that.
The book also has elements of mystery and thriller, and they are worked well into the story. We have several intriguing events going on at the same time: first, there is the attempt at trying to find information about the person who passed the gift to Em (this is far from resolved is this book, but we learn some things); there is the search for a woman who has gone missing that takes up centre stage, especially towards the end of the book, and brings in action scenes and an interesting twist (that I had suspected all along, but it’s a twist nonetheless); and there is also a mystery involving Em and her house, which is seemingly resolved in the novel but has left me wondering. As pertains to this genre of books, there are red herrings, plenty of clues thrown in, information and misinformation, although the book has so many other things going on that I am not sure it will work for people who are looking for a straightforward mystery or thriller. The pace of the book ebbs and flows, with some pretty contemplative moments and some pretty fast ones (when the action kicks in), and there are lengthy and beautiful descriptions of locations, and especially of experiences, that I particularly enjoyed, turning this book into something more than a page-turning by-the-numbers thriller.
There is a paranormal element in the book, but this is not high-fantasy where you need to read pages and pages to gain an understanding of a new world order. This is the world we all know (especially Canadians), and although the lyrical way in which some of the descriptions are written and some of the remote locations give it a timeless quality, the story takes place in contemporary times. We are familiar with the world and the social order portrayed in the book, and we get to know about groups of individuals who are seemingly “normal” but share something “extra”, the “gift” of the title, and it seems this legacy can have as many variants as individuals possess it. Although there are fantasy and paranormal aspects to the novel, I felt they were particularly well integrated into the plot and did not require an extreme grade of suspension of disbelief, and I don’t think you need to be an enthusiast of fantasy or paranormal books to enjoy this series.
This is a book I’d recommend to people who enjoy credible characters, a touch of the paranormal, mysteries that go beyond who-done-it, and who don’t mind a story that builds up slowly and takes readers on flights of fancy through magical experiences and wonderful locations. Oh, and who don’t mind a touch of sex. I’ve become very fond of Em and many of the other characters in the book (Avery is a favourite as well), and I hope to learn how her gift develops further in the future.
Lover Betrayed (The Gift Legacy Companion Book 1) by JP McLean Fathers, sons, betrayals and a gift with many shades.
A son in mourning. A disputed inheritance. A shocking betrayal.
When Jackson Delaney’s father dies unexpectedly, Jackson inherits a booming New Orleans development company with a tarnished reputation. Jackson pledges to clean up his family’s name, but his plans are thwarted by a disowned half-brother who lays claim to Jackson’s inheritance.
Then Jackson’s wife disappears. Desperate to find her, he calls in favours from his father’s nefarious colleagues and flirts with the feared Tribunal Novem—a ruthless organization of elite Fliers.
But nothing is what it seems, and from a single deception grows a suffocating web of lies. And when Jackson meets Emelynn Taylor, a mysterious young woman with no knowledge of her powerful gift of flight, he recklessly lures her into his vengeful mission.
How far will Jackson go? And how much is he prepared to sacrifice before he finds his way home?
Lover Betrayed retells Secret Sky, the first book in The Gift Legacy series, from the viewpoint of Emelynn Taylor’s lover: handsome, charming, ruthless Jackson Delaney.
(Lover Betrayed was previously published as The Gift: Betrayal)
I was sent an ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review.
As I said in my review of Secret Sky, I had known about this series for a while but never seemed to find the time to read it as more books kept being added to it. After finally reading the first novel, I had the opportunity to read this one, that in effect covers much of the same ground as Secret Sky, but it is told from a different perspective, that of Jackson Delaney, the man who trains Em in the first book, and teaches her quite a number of things (and in case you haven’t read it, I won’t say any more). I must confess that my curiosity was two-fold. On finishing that novel, I think most readers will be left wondering the reasons for Jackson’s behaviour. Although he was never a favourite of mine (he seemed too good to be true and too secretive to be trustworthy), the things we learn about him at the end of the story would make most people reconsider what they had read and make conjectures as to why he had done what he did. As a writer, I was also intrigued about how the author would approach the challenge of telling the same story from a different perspective, or at least, including part of the same story into another story told by somebody else. It is not the same to write a book that includes different perspectives as writing two separate books giving us different accounts of the same story. By using a first-person narrative again, we get inside of the character’s head, and it makes for a very interesting experience, especially if one has read the other book very recently, as you can see the same scene, and read the same dialogue, but interpret it in a completely different way. It must have been a challenge, and I must say that although I read both books back to back and was, therefore, very familiar with the story, the nuances and the change in point of view kept it fresh and intriguing.
This novel talks about families and family relationships, particularly between fathers and sons, although the relationship of Jackson’s wife to her family is also key to the development of the story. The novel opens at the funeral for Jackson’s father, and the author sets the scene beautifully, with great descriptions of the setting, the characters, the funeral arrangements, down to the heat (this is New Orleans in August, and having visited it in September, I can only imagine how suffocating it must be). The author also manages to convey a lot of information about Jackson’s father and his somewhat “dubious” business practices, without making the reader feel there is too much telling. Being inside of Jackson’s head, we share in his perspective and, at least at first, it seems as if he is trying to leave his mark on things and do things more ethically and stand his moral ground, in contrast to his father. (Of course, having read the other book, I had my doubts as to how things would work out, but I think he makes for a very credible character if somebody reads this book first). It doesn’t take long though before it becomes evident that perhaps he is more of his father’s son than he wants to believe, and some of the lessons he learned from his father prove difficult to unlearn, like his lack of confidence and mistrust of women, and his attitude towards family, his and others.
This is another book that has paranormal elements at its heart although, at least at first sight, the novel is set in our everyday world, only with some enhancements and secrets most of us know nothing about. This novel can also be enjoyed by people who don’t often read fantasy, but here we come to realise much sooner than in Secret Sky that the gift can be manipulated and put to uses far from harmless, and we get the perspective of somebody who has grown up with the gift, rather than learning about it with the main character. Jackson moves between both worlds with ease and manages to keep them separate most of the time, but perhaps not as well as he imagines.
I enjoyed reading the same story from a different perspective, although I would not say the book has managed to endear me to Jackson, in particular. He is a solid character, his motivations are plausible, and whatever we might think of his behaviour, he is not all good or all bad. He is quick to think the worst of people; at times he seems cocky and full of confidence but some of his actions and reactions prove he is not as strong and self-confident as he’d like others to believe; he misjudges people often and holds grudges that seem unjustified; he is rather egotistical and thinks of his own interests first; he manipulates others to get what he wants, but he is ambivalent and tries to avoid causing unnecessary harm, can be generous on occasion, and is a dutiful son. His attitude towards women is problematic, but this seems to be part of his inheritance, and yes, we do get the male perspective of the sexual encounters as well (not something I particularly cared for, but like the rest of the book, I thought Jackson’s voice felt genuine and worked well). There is a clear ARC to the character and by the end he has learned a lot about himself, not all of it flattering.
I read a description of the book which mentioned Rashomon and it got me thinking. Rashomon tells the same story from the perspectives of several of the witnesses present, and in this case I wondered how other characters would have seen the events, or rather, thought about Jackson and his actions at the time. But that would be another book. (Just saying!)
The novel also contains questions for book clubs (don’t read them before you read the novel, as there are spoilers) and a glossary of terms that hints at a much more complex world than we have so far glimpsed. That and the description of the rest of the books in the series piqued my curiosity, and I suspect this would not be the last book in the series I read.
I think this book can be enjoyed on its own, and I’d be curious to hear the opinion of somebody who read it without being familiar with the series, but to fully appreciate it I’d recommend reading at least the first of the Gift Legacy series first. A book for readers who enjoy a touch of fantasy and fancy, combined with a good story of family relationships, betrayal, and mystery. And if you like boats and sailing, even better.
Here, if you’ve been intrigued by the guest post and my reviews, are the links to the whole series:
I bring you a book by one of the authors I discovered though Rosie’s team. This is the second of her novels and… she’s a keeper!
The Last Thing She Said by Rachel Walkley. Women’s fiction with a touch of the paranormal. A beautifully written feel-good story.
“Beware of a man named Frederick and his offer of marriage.”
Rose’s granddaughters, Rebecca, Leia and Naomi, have never taken her prophecies seriously. But now that Rose is dead, and Naomi has a new man in her life, should they take heed of this mysterious warning?
Naomi needs to master the art of performing. Rebecca rarely ventures out of her house. She’s afraid of what she might see. As for Rebecca’s twin, everyone admires Leia’s giant brain, but now the genius is on the verge of a breakdown.
Rebecca suspects Naomi’s new boyfriend is hiding something. She begs Leia, now living in the US, to investigate.
Leia’s search takes her to a remote farm in Ohio on the trail of the truth behind a tragic death.
Just who is Ethan? And what isn’t he telling Naomi?
In a story full of drama and mystery, the sisters discover there is more that connects them than they realise, and that only together can they discover exactly what’s behind Rose’s prophecy.
Born in the Midlands, I grew up in East Anglia and am now firmly lodged in the North West of England. My first writing achievement was my Brownie badge and after that I’ve never let go of the dream of becoming an author. Once a librarian and caretaker of books, I’m now a teller of tales and want to share with you the secrets that hide in the pages of my books.
Please stop by my website – rachelwalkley.com and find out more about my books in the making.
I am writing this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you’re looking for reviews, I recommend you check her amazing site here), and I thank her and the publisher for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.
I recently read and reviewed Rachel Walkley’s first novel The Women of Heachley Hall (you can check my review here) and enjoyed it so much that I had to check her second novel as soon as it became available. And I thoroughly enjoyed it as well.
This is the story of three sisters, twins Rebecca and Leia, as different as two sisters can be (or perhaps not), and younger sister Naomi. Their parents move to the US when the youngest sister is in her late teens and she refuses to go with them. Rebecca becomes her ersatz mother (Nancy, their mother, does not seem particularly close to any of them, although perhaps that is the sisters’ impression) and eventually Leia also moves to the US to work on her medical research.
The three sisters are gifted, although they all have trouble dealing with their gifts, which are very different. Rebecca gives up her career as a lawyer to take refuge at home, bringing up her children and looking after her husband and the house; Naomi, a talented flute player, loves to perform but does not feel confident and dedicates most of her life to teaching music to children; Leia has a big brain and dedicates her efforts to useful research, but hates the limelight and would prefer all the credit to go to her team. Their grandmother, the member of the family that managed to get them all together with her traditional birthday celebration, also had a gift, but most people dismissed her birthday predictions as an eccentricity. When Rebecca starts investigating her grandmother’s past pronouncements —for very personal reasons—, she gets a big surprise.
The story is told in the third person from different points of view, mostly those of the sisters, although we get some glimpses into other characters’ minds as well, and in chronological order for the most part. There are some short chapters that go back to show us past events (there are no lengthy explanations or “telling” in the novel), and these flow logically from the narrative. For example, if Naomi is thinking about the relationship with her parents, her memory might go back to how she had felt when her parents decided to leave the country. It is a great way of layering the background story of the characters without disrupting the action for too long, and it also helps us understand where the characters are coming from, and their reasons for being the people they are. Each chapter and fragment is clearly labelled with the character’s name and the date, and it is not an effort to follow the story, as it flows naturally, at a sometimes wandering but engaging pace.
There are some descriptions of places and locations, but these are limited to what is necessary to tell the story and to allow readers to see it. The story is more interested in the psychological makeup of these characters, and the author does a great work of making us understand them in their own terms. We see each protagonist from her sisters’ point of view first, but on later seeing things from their perspective, we get a completely different picture of them. By the end of the story I was attached to all of the characters, even the ones that at first I was not sure about. And although not all the characters are sympathetic, the novel is not judgmental about any of them, giving them the benefit of the doubt.
I particularly enjoyed the character of Rose, the grandmother, the passages about Naomi’s playing and her thoughts about it (if you read the author’s note at the end you’ll understand why these scenes appear so vivid), and grew very fond of Leia and Howard. That is not to say I don’t like Rebecca and the rest of the chapters from Naomi’s perspective, but perhaps because they are the ones we get to know first, we are on their side from the beginning, and the rest of the characters came as a revelation much later on. There are secrets and lies, but none are Earth-shattering or beyond most reader’s expectations and experiences, and they do not require a huge amount of suspension of disbelief, even the paranormal elements. There is mystery, but the strongest element of the story is the relationship between the three sisters and how they all become more their individual selves by working together and protecting each other.
The novel is both easy to read and beautifully written, and the ending… No, I won’t give you details, but let’s say I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did. Definitely a feel-good story.
A book I recommend to anybody who enjoys contemporary women’s fiction, optimistic stories about family relationships with a touch of the paranormal, and who are eager to discover a new and talented writer.
Thanks to Rosie and to the author for this opportunity, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, review and always, keep smiling! And reading (even in Christmas)!
Today I bring you the two first books in a series. I don’t usually read a lot in this genre but I’m pleased I decided to read these ones.
The Devil’s Apprentice: The Great Devil War I by Kenneth B. Andersen (Kenneth Bøgh Andersen)
Philip is a good boy, a really good boy, who accidentally gets sent to Hell to become the Devil’s heir.
The Devil, Lucifer, is dying and desperately in need of a successor, but there’s been a mistake and Philip is the wrong boy.
Philip is terrible at being bad, but Lucifer has no other choice than to begin the difficult task of training him in the ways of evil.
Philip finds both friends and enemies in this odd, gloomy underworld— but who can he trust, when he discovers an evil-minded plot against the dark throne?
The Devil’s Apprentice is volume 1 in The Great Devil War-series.
The Great Devil War-series is a humorous and gripping tale about good and evil, filled with biblical and historical characters, such as Judas, Goliath, and Pontius Pilate, as well as modern figures such as Elvis Presley, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and many more.
The Great Devil War-series is a Danish bestseller, topping library and school reading lists among teens and young adults. The books have been published in more than ten countries and have won numerous awards.
I was born in Denmark on a dark and stormy night in November 1976. I began writing when I was a teenager. My first book was a really awful horror novel titled Nidhug’s Slaves. It didn’t get published. Luckily.
During the next 7 years, I wrote nearly 20 novels–all of which were rejected–while working as a school teacher. The rest of the time I spent writing.
In 2000 I published my debut fantasy book, The Battle of Caïssa, and that’s when things really took off. Since then I’ve published more than thirty-five books for children and young adults in genres ranging from fantasy to horror and science fiction.
My books have been translated into more than 15 languages and my series about the superhero Antboy has been adapted for film, which is available on Netflix. An animated tv series is currently in development.
A musical of The Devil’s Apprentice opens in the fall 2018 and the movie rights for the series have also been optioned.
I live in Copenhagen with my wife, two boys, a dog named Milo and spiders in the basement.
I am writing this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you’re looking for reviews, I recommend you check her amazing site here), and I thank her and the author for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.
This is a fun book. Written in the third-person form the point of view of Philip, a thirteen-year-old boy who lives with his mother and who lost his father when he was very young, this novel is suitable for younger readers and also for adults. If you have given up on new adult stories because of their heavy reliance on romance and low-grade erotica, you are safe with this book. Yes, there is a love interest, but the book is a great adventure first and foremost. Rather than a reluctant hero, we have here a reluctant villain (well, more or less). A tragic mistake makes Philip end up in a situation that is totally out of his comfort zone, and he has to undergo a training that I’m sure many boys and girls would take to like a duck to water, but not him. He has to learn to be bad, and it is a challenge.
There are some world-building and some wonderful descriptions (of locations, like Lucifer’s castle, a church with a very interesting graveyard, the doors of Hell…), but it is not excessively complex, and it does not slow down the adventures. Philip, like the readers, is totally new to this place, and his descriptions help us share in his adventures more fully. He gets a variety of guides and people explaining how things work there: Grumblebeard, the hospitable devil guarding the doors of Hell, Lucifax (Lucifer’s wonderful cat), Satina (a young female demon and a Tempter) and Lucifer in person (in demon?). Everything is dark and night (people do not wish each other good day, but good night, you don’t write in a diary, but in a nightary…) everywhere, there are many types of demons, each one with his own characteristics and roles to play, and bad humans (and there are a few not-unexpected jokes about politicians, although some of the others who end up in hell might be a bit more surprising) get punished in many different ways, but Hell itself is a place where demons go about their daily lives, have their jobs, go to school, get married, tend to their gardens… It is a place full of dangers but also full of interest, and Philip gets to experience plenty of new things, not all bad.
The book’s view of Heaven, Hell and moral issues is far from orthodox. Personally, I did not find it irreverent, but it is a matter of personal opinion. Even though I did not necessarily agree with all the views exposed, these are issues well-worth thinking and talking about and I am sure those who read the novel will feel the same. I enjoyed the sense of humour, and I liked most of the characters, from the secondary ones (I’ve already said I love Lucifax, but I grew fond of most, from the cook, Ravine, to Death himself), to the main protagonists, like Lucifer, wonderful Satina, and Philip. He is not perfect (well, he is perhaps too perfect to begin with, and then he turns… but I won’t spoil the book for you), and he learns important lessons on the way, and he is not the only one. Although I felt at first that some of the changes that take place in the book stretch the imagination, when I thought more about it, time in Hell moves at a different pace, and for a character who is as inflexible and extreme as Philip, for whom everything is black or white —at least to begin with— the process he goes through makes sense. And by the end of the novel, he has become more human and more humane.
The book is a page-turner, there are heroes and villains (or baddies and really evil characters), a few secrets, betrayals, red-herrings, tricks and deceits, an assassination attempt, and a mystery that will keep readers intrigued. And a great final twist. (Yes and a fantastic ending. I had an inkling about it and about some other aspects of the plot, but the beauty is in how well they are resolved). The novel is well-written, flows well, with a language of a level of complexity that should suit adults as well as younger readers, and it managed to make me care for the characters and want to keep reading their adventures.
A few quotes to give you a taster of the style of the pitch of the book.
“Let that be your first lesson, Philip. Down here, humor is always dark.”
“God and the Devil roll dice at the birth of every human being,” the cat explained. “A one-hundred-sided die determines the degree of evil or goodness in each person. The results fix the nature of each individual.”
I particularly loved this accusation addressed at Philip:
“You look like a devil, but you’re not one. You are nothing but a sheep in wolf’s clothing.”
I am not surprised that this book is a popular read in Denmark. I expect it will do well in its English version too. And I’ll be eagerly waiting for the adaptation to the screen. I recommend it to anybody who enjoys well-written YA books in the fantasy genre, without an excessive emphasis on world building, who don’t mind some creepy and dark elements and appreciate a good dose of dark humour. I have a copy of the second book as well, and I can’t wait to see what Philip and his underworld friends get up to next.
The Die of Death: The Great Devil War II.
Philip’s adventures as the Devil’s apprentice have changed him—in a good way. Although he misses his friends in Hell, he has made new friends in life.
But when the future of the underworld is threatened once again, Philip’s help is needed. Death’s Die has been stolen and immortality is spreading across the globe.
Philip throws himself into the search—and discovers a horrible truth about his own life along the way.
The Die of Death is volume 2 in The Great Devil War-series.
The Great Devil War-series is a humorous and gripping tale about good and evil, filled with biblical and historical characters, such as Judas, Goliath, and Pontius Pilate, as well as modern figures such as Elvis Presley, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and many more.
The Great Devil War-series is a Danish bestseller, topping library and school reading lists among teens and young adults. The books have been published in more than ten countries and have won numerous awards.
When I reviewed the first book in this series for Rosie’s Book Review Team, the author was kind enough to send me the second. There are, at least for the moment, four more to come (you can check them in the author’s website), and I, for starters, I’m looking forward to them.
The second book in the series picks up where the first one left, a few months after the protagonist, Philip visited Hell, and we see what has happened to him when he went back to life. Things are looking up for him. He has made some new friends, and he has become more popular. But then, strange things start to happen, he cheats death a few times, but eventually…
This time he is brought back to the Underworld (well, Underworlds), by Death himself, because Lucifer and Mortimer (Death) think he is the boy for the job. This time, the job involves retrieving the die of death (as you might have surmised from the title) that has been stolen. With Satina’s help (his girl-demon-friend) he starts investigating, and the search gets more desperate when the stakes become much higher and more personal.
I really enjoyed this book. Although there are reminders of what had happened in the first book in the series, and I guess regular readers of the genre might be able to pick up the clues quickly enough and follow the story, I would advise reading the books in the right order. There is much background covered in the first book that is relevant to the second book’s adventures, one gets a much better sense of how the different characters have evolved, and there are beautiful details and insights that would be lost if this book was read on its own.
For those of us who enjoyed the first book, this novel allows us to meet some of our favourite characters again (and some, perhaps, not as favourite), we discover some wonderfully creepy new locations and characters (death’s horse and his home are chilling, but I was particularly taken by the Purgatory), there are new dark jokes, and we get to know the fate of some interesting historical figures, like Hitler, Epicurus, and even Elvis!, and there are plenty of adventures. There are red-herrings and betrayals as would pertain a book about Hell, but I was gripped by some of the themes touched upon, like immortality (and, of course, mortality), fate, sin and guilt, getting old. If you’ve always wondered what it would be like to be immortal, this book will give you pause. (Yes, in most stories, the immortal are eternally young, but what would happen if they grew old?)
Although the book starts slowly, because trying to find clues about the whereabouts of the die proves hard and frustrating, the adventures soon pick up, and there are rich details all throughout the story that we need to pay attention to if we don’t want to miss anything. The rhythm increases quickly, and once Philip returns to Hell, we know we are in for a wild ride.
As I said when talking about the first book, this is a book for young adults and adults, especially those who enjoy dark adventures and fantasy with paranormal elements included. But, although the cruelty and violence are not described in extreme gory detail, this is a book that some would include into the horror category, and I would not recommend it for children or adults who are squeamish or scare easily. Some of the topics are also quite difficult, as we have broken families, illness, death, and matters of heaven and hell, and I’d recommend parents to check the book first themselves.
The book is well-written, has great characters (we get to see a more reflective Philip, who has to confront personal challenges and make some extremely difficult decisions), and it succeeds in building up the world of the series and in increasing its complexity. We also get a sample of the next book in the series, The Wrongful Death, which is scheduled for publication in the spring of 2019, at the back of the novel. Personally, I can’t wait.
Thanks to Rosie, to the author, and especially to all of you for reading. If you’ve enjoyed it, remember to like, share, comment, click, review and always, keep smiling!
You know I’m a bit fan of Teagan Geneviene’s books and her blog, so, of course, I could not resist the invitation to take part in her Blog-Party Bus. But, me being me, I’ve included a review of Atonement in Bloom as well. Here comes the bus!!!
It’s best if you read the first book first. So, for the launch of “Bloom,” Atonement, Tennessee is on sale for 99¢ (e-book). Click Atonement book covers for purchase links.
Residents of my fictional town might be of any race and from any ancestry. So author and translator Olga Núñez Miret translated the debut novel to Spanish! For that language I changed the title to Expiación y Magia!
Speaking of the otherworldly pigs, I should mention the order of the Atonement stories. Your first visit to the town is Atonement, Tennessee. It’s an urban fantasy — set in our present-day, real world but with magical elements. Aside from the heroine and her neighbor-friends (or as Diana Peach likes to call them, the gall palls (Diana’s review here), you’ll meet the grumpy sheriff, Robin Warden.
The first “snort” in The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee is about a very young Deputy Robin. (Review by Dr. Phuong Callaway here.) That particular story is tied to the novel I’m launching today, Atonement in Bloom.
Here’s the blurb!
The quaint town was stranger than Ralda Lawton could have imagined. The local population included supernatural beings of the fae variety. Although only she and a few others knew about that.
In a past life, Ralda ― Esmeralda had been involved in something with those supernaturals and it had carried into her present life. In Atonement, Tennessee, that almost got her killed. Now she has new problems, and new supes to complicate matters.
Atonement in Bloom continues the misadventures of Ralda, her friends, and neighbors in the small (but far from peaceful) town of Atonement, Tennessee. Her old house and cemetery are still there, along with Lilith the cat, quirky townsfolk, and assorted supernaturals.
Now Lilith the calico sniffs out a strange beast.
Fae foolery backfires. A friend is abducted.
On a cold December day, Atonement, Tennessee comes into bloom.
Here comes my review of Atonement in Bloom!
I was offered an ARC copy of this novel, that I had been after for some time, and I enthusiastically decided to review it as soon as I was able to.
I have followed Teagan Geneviene’s blog for a few years and have long been amazed by her creativity and her power to weave stories from the most unlikely jumble of elements, always rising to the challenges set by her readers, and writing by the seat of her pants. I am inclined to think there is some kind of magic at work, and I am not surprised by the genre she has chosen for her novels.
I have read and reviewed several of her books (you can check my most recent review of one of her serials here) and have long been a fan of her first-novel, Atonement, Tennessee (you can check my review, here). I had been waiting for the next instalment of the series for some time and had eagerly read any stories and snippets the author has shared in her blog about the Atonement universe. And I jumped at the opportunity to read an ARC copy of this novel, the second one in the series.
The author has tried to make this book stand alone, to ensure that anybody who started reading the series at this point would be given enough background to follow the events and enjoy the narrative, without slowing down those of us familiar with the story. Having read the first novel a while back and having reread it recently, I am probably not the best person to comment, but, in my opinion, she succeeds, although I would recommend anybody considering the purchase of this novel to go ahead and get the whole series, as they will be able to more fully appreciate the plot twists and the character development that take place in the series. And there are some companion stories available that you will enjoy as well.
The story is told from two different points of view, as was the case with the first novel. We have Lilith, Esmeralda’s (Ralda for short) calico cat, whose narrative is told in the third-person, and whose personality (her likes and dislikes, her strong opinions, and, indeed, her all-appropriate curiosity) shines through even more than in the first novel. She is witness to a number of events that allow the reader to be slightly ahead of Ralda at some points, but also increase the suspense and the expectations. She is not a human narrator and her understanding of events is often puzzling for us, so her clues are a bit like cryptic crossword prompts, familiar and alien at the same time. She gets involved in some hair-raising adventures of her own, and the end of the novel hints at many interesting things to come for our favourite feline narrator.
Ralda is the other narrator, and she tells the story in the first person. Those of us who have read the first novel know that she is a Southerner at heart, although she has spent many not-very-happy years in Washington DC. Atonement, Tennessee proves to be anything but the quiet and charming little town she imagines at first, secrets and supernatural events abound, and most of them centre on her house and her family line. She is a woman of strong intuition, but there is more to the events unfolding around her than a sixth sense. If the first novel saw her teetering between real-world difficulties (the move, the state of her house, the problems of her new-found friends), and some strange and decidedly supernatural events, in this second novel she at first suspects, and later comes to realise, that in Atonement, Tennessee, there is no clear separation between the “normal” and the “supernatural”. One of the things that make her a very compelling character, apart from her lack of ego and her self-deprecating sense of humour, is her open spirit and her ability to experience the wonder of the world around her. By her own confession, she has suffered the nasty side of things and people, and she at times appears overcautious and paranoid, but she is unable to say no to anybody needing help, and no matter how hard she resists, she finds it difficult to believe the worst of anybody. She might hesitate, but she will get in harm’s way if any of those close to her are in danger (and that includes Lilith, of course).
As for the plot… After taking stock of what happened in the first novel, things start getting interesting very soon. Some of the characters we thought we knew are revealed not to have been how they looked like at first (some for the better, some for the worse), and we have quite a few new characters turn up, some supernatural without a doubt (including my beloved glowing pigs), and others… well, I’ll leave you to see what you think. But there are unrequited loves, magical objects (one of my favourite things, both in fantasy and in the horror genre), some very Shakespearian turns of events, kidnappings, natural (or supernatural) wonders, and a fantastic battle scene (and I won’t reveal anything else).
Although the storyline is complete in itself and the events that unfold during the book get a resolution (and a more than satisfying one, I might add), there are mysteries still to be solved, some new ones hinted at, and I can’t wait to read the next book. If you love fantasy, supernatural events, folklore, myths and legends, Shakespeare, and appreciate a wild-tale full of imagination, you’ll be delighted by this book. I know I was.
And now, back to the party and to Teagan!
I don’t know why the party bus is stopping. Oh! It’s a delivery of flowers in honor of the book launch from Kirt Tisdale of The Wall Gallery! Wow… beautiful blue roses. Thank you, Kirt. The blue rose of the impossible is an important element of Atonement in Bloom.
Hang on to your seat-belt. Lilith just took a sharp curve and we are magically in Kentucky. Deme wanted to check out Teri Polen’s October horror and suspense book fest, Bad Moon Rising! You’ll find 31 authors and their books there!
Welcome to Atonement, TN! Everybody in town is taking part in the fun. Annie’s Antiques is hosting an exhibit of Art by Rob Goldstein.
What’s that on the next table? It looks like an Aladin’s lamp. And a puff of colorful smoke! Oh, it’s the Lamp Magician. Welcome, Magician. I’m glad you could join the party bus!
My stomach is growling. Thank goodness Carol Taylor and Gerlinde de Broekert have catered the book fair. There are delicious foods at every booth! However, Deme and Honeybell love to read, so they ran straight to the Atonement, TN Book Fair. They’re in hog heaven with so many great books!
Heartfelt thanks to everyone for supporting this Bloomin’ Party Bus. Click the author names for more info.
(If anyone wants to share a link to a review of your book, or anything about yourself, please leave a comment with the link.)
Resawill help you find the right thing to wear. She’s a costume designer. She would have enjoyed helping Ralda, Bethany, and Lacey search through the antique clothes in Sunhold’s closets (scene in “Bloom”).
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