Saturday, 28 March 2015

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina is half human and half dragon, not exactly accepted by society or by either side of the coin.

To win the war Seraphina is following up on an idea and seeking the rest of the half-dragons, especially the ones in her mind-garden.There is a possibility of connecting them all to create a powerful trap that can be used to take down the enemy.

Unfortunately her nemesis Jannoula has similar plans or rather intends to use the same half-dragons for her own nefarious plot.
It is a tale of power, mind control and kinship. Intermingled with the complex relationships between mixed races and differences between humans and dragons.

My youngest daughter is an avid reader of fantasy, so I can see this series appealing to able readers age 10+. It is easy enough to follow, but has the complexity fantasy readers enjoy.

Not exactly sure where Hartman is going to take the ménage à trois of Seraphina,Glisselda and Lucian. How is Seraphina going to deal with the forthcoming events? Isn't it time for a new man in her life? No matter where I am sure it will be interesting.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Picture Perfect by Kate Forster

This most certainly has shades of Lace by Shirley Conran, a book turned into a TV mini series ( not sure if anyone knows or remembers it, because it aired in 1984).

Picture Perfect has the same kind of Hollywood flare that Lace had, and that one would expect from a Jackie Collins novel.

The reader follows the story of two best friends,  who are drawn to each other in an attempt to find some sort of comfort and support. They are both children in dysfunctional family situations, suffering abuse and neglect, and with no obvious way out.

One of them winds up pregnant, and that sets a series of events in motion, which will have an impact on both of them in the future.

In the midst of this brassy, emotional and glitzy story there is also an intricate look at the relationship between birth mother, adoptive mother and child.

Adopted children, who don't know anything about their birth parents, often feel as if something is missing. There is this need to know and need for closure. This is how and why Shay's daughter ends up looking for her birth mother. Kept in the dark by her adoptive parents, she is on a mission to find the woman who couldn't keep her.

I liked the way Forster handled the whole 'coming back for you' aspect of the story. Instead of adults filled with selfishness and interested in their own gratification, Forster has created characters, who choose in the best interest of the child.

Simultaneously the reader is treated to a whirlwind combination of relationships and romances. The thrill of young love, the complicated love between a loner and a player, and the erratic romance between a widower and a hardcore cynic.

P.S: I have to admit to getting a little teary-eyed about the dog, it was such an endearing sub-plot.

Buy Picture Perfect at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read The Last Will and Testament of Daphne Le Marche by Kate Forster.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Stranger Child by Rachel Abbott

Rachel Abbott is growing with each book and she certainly knows how to combine psychological tension with taboos, the dysfunctional with the depraved and still manage to keep the story realistic.

The story focuses on the disappearance of a young child and her unexplained reappearance many years later. One day she is just suddenly stood at the door, as if she had never been missing at all.

At that moment Natasha is the intruder, a threat to Emma and her small family. Emma knows instinctively that something isn't quite right, and she reacts like any mother would when she perceives a threat to her child.

The young girl is sullen, silent and there seems to be underlying aggression, especially towards the very people she should be glad to see.That in itself isn't unusual and it is common for 'returned' children to feel displaced, to feel anger and to feel out-of-place.

Emma has a gut feeling about Natasha, which her husband isn't interested in, and she quite frankly should have listed to her inner voice. Instead she trusts his good judgement and in doing so puts her baby in danger.

From the very beginning there was one person who didn't react the way they should have. It raised my suspicions and made for a much more sinister plot. The fact that this person could be at the bottom of everything puts a completely new slant on the whole story.

I really liked the way Abbott wasn't afraid to end the book the way she did. The circle doesn't have to be completed, not every thread needs to be tied off and not every story needs a predictably happy ending.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Buy Stranger Child at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Normal by Graeme Cameron

A psychological thriller with a serial killer you just might start to like, if you can look past all the dead bodies that is.

It wasn't until I read the conversation with Graeme Cameron in the back of the book that I realised something that I had completely missed. I was so engrossed in the read that I never queried it for one second. I won't tell you what it is though and I wonder if other readers will notice or not.

I think the point the author is trying to make is that he can be and is everyone. He can be the nice neighbour, the loving father, the one night stand or the nameless person stood next to you at the bus-stop. The killer is just so very normal.

Not sure what exactly is more disturbing, the fact he is so normal, whilst being so abnormal or the fact the author has captured the quintessence of him so well. Perhaps a little too well.

The inner dialogue was quite fascinating and revealing. He spends half his time killing and the other half trying to atone for those crimes by perpetrating acts of kindness. When he decides not to kill someone, who happens to wander into his web, that also counts as atonement in his mind.

Why is it different between him and Erica? Why is Erica not dead yet? It is perhaps because he sees something in her that he sees in himself? Or has she changed due to her new circumstances and that change has in turn made him change his attitude towards killing?

Fascinating read that had me shaking my head, speaking out loud to the potential victims, and at one point squinting and reading with one eye closed, because at times the ever so normal killer can be a bit gruesome..
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK and Harlequin MIRA.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Glass-sided Ant's Nest by Peter Dickinson

This was a quirky read, but also a very good one.
In our day and age it is definitely relevant, especially in regards to multi-cultural societies and foreign culture.

Having to assimilate a new culture when you move to a foreign country is difficult, but it is even more difficult when you try to maintain your own cultural ideas or the new ones don't gel with the old.

In this case The Ku are the remaining members of a small tribe from New Guinea, who have moved to Britain. They have staunchly refused to adapt to their new environment.

They uphold their customs, their rules in regards to gender roles, and now they are even bringing back rituals, which are deemed borderline abusive and criminal in their new country.

Now DI Pibbles has to breach that intense, secretive and complex wall of Ku society to find out who murdered one of their own.

I liked the way Dickinson embraced the complexity both from a cultural and literary point of view. He has picked a sub-plot, which will always be relevant to anthropology, history and the way we all interact with each other.
I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Lewis Man by Peter May

Every time I come away from a Peter May book I always find that I have taken some information from it that I didn't know before. He always manages to create a subtle mixture of fiction and historical fact.

May likes to wade in the complicated layers of genealogy and family dynamics. In The Lewis Man he creates a fascinating crime with a hefty layer of emotions and family secrets.

It isn't that uncommon for grandparents or parents to keep certain parts of their lives completely secret from their children or grandchildren. It might be because the pain and memories are hard to bear or perhaps the secrets are kept to keep the next generations safe.

In this case Fin Macleod's baby mama finds out that her father isn't who she thought he was. The body of a young man has been discovered in a peat bog. Perfectly preserved, and a DNA match to Tormod MacDonald.

May has the reader wander between the past and the present. Following young Tormod before he became Tormod, and the old Tormod to try to discover who killed the bog boy. It isn't quite as easy as it sounds, because Tormod is suffering from dementia, so retrieving information from his muddled brain becomes quite difficult.

I liked the way May integrated the dementia story into the mystery. He shows the difficulty, the pain, the emotional upheaval and the complete desperation of all the people involved. There is no candy coating of some of the more harsh reactions to the disease, which is an honest and realistic approach to the issue.

Once again May also highlights dark mistakes made in certain eras that tend to be swept under the carpet. The displacement, relocation, dumping and mistreatment of orphan children, who were scattered in large numbers over the Scottish Isles.
As always it was a very good read.
I received a copy of this book via Edelweiss, courtesy of the publisher.

Read more about the first book in this series The Blackhouse.

Monday, 2 March 2015

End of Enemies by Grant Blackwood

A fairly ambitious spy thriller with a 'save the world from complete annihilation' plot. It starts out quite well with a great opening chapter, which suggests quite a ride.

Instead it suffers slightly from overzealous plotting. Not that the premise wasn't interesting, the story was just a little improbable at times.

Everything just falls into Tanner's lap. No matter how difficult the situation or how extreme the circumstance.

I don't mind when the pieces of the puzzle all slide into place in a story. I do find it a different reading experience when it seems as if someone has bitten off bits of the jigsaw puzzle pieces to make it fit right.

The fact Tagaki knew where to find the submarine wasn't explained sufficiently for my liking. Taking into consideration that it had remained a secret for many decades, and for some reason the Americans didn't think it was important enough to look for, and yet all of a sudden someone just happens to tell Tagaki.

I do think the spunky adventurous and secretive military narrative will appeal to quite a few readers though.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.