A Thousand Rooms by Helen Jones

“The edge of the little pool is fringed with sea anemones, purple and green tendrils like soft feathers waving in the water. Dad reaches in and gently tickles the middle of one with his finger and I squeal with delight as the tendrils close around his finger.”

Katie has died! And she doesn’t know what to do. She drifts from place to place and time to time, trying to find out how to get to where she should be now. Seeing her friends and family grieving for her is so difficult, as she feels guilty for dying so inconsiderately!

Katie has to find her own way after her death. It seems to take forever for her to find out how to get to heaven, but she has to do it the right way. She gets thrown out of one or two places that she thinks are heaven on her way to her destination! She does eventually find her soul mate, Jason, who comes along later to help her adjust to what and where she is.

Then a guardian comes along and reassigns him, which Katie finds devastating, but she has another person to help her along.

This book had so much going for it in terms of the subject matter, but I so struggled with the way the author had written it. It was so simpering and in the style of a romance story. I struggled to continue reading it, but ploughed on to see how it actually went on to finish.

Unless you like romance, I really cannot recommend this book.

If you like romance stories, then this book is a fantastic read, you should enjoy it totally. And in that case I would recommend this book to you.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

2/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
You don’t wake up expecting to die.
Katie is thirty-four, single, and used to work in advertising, She’s also dead. A lost soul hitching rides with the dying trying to find… wherever she’s supposed to be.
And whoever she’s supposed to be with.
If Heaven has a thousand rooms, what will it take to find hers?
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Samhain Heartsong by Doranna Durgin

““I had not intended to intrude. Your song—” “Yes, let’s talk about that,” she said. “I’ve been doing it since forever. No one ever emerged from elsewhere into my arroyo before.””

Doranna Durgin wrote this short story as part of a featured read on a publisher website and she very kindly sent me a link to advance read it.

I read it straight away way back in March and didn’t get round to writing a review, so I have just re-read it to make sure I remember it true. I think I pretty much did, except for the names.

The outline of the story is that of Arlie, who likes to sit by a tree-lined gully on her land and create music with her voice. It is as she does so that a pair of fighters cross into her gully from nowhere.

The scenario repeats over time, with one of the individuals against other opponents. Arlie starts to look forward to the occurrences with anticipation and is badly affected when they stop.

The rest of the story takes an even more paranormal turn and builds what I think would be a really good basis for a series; if Durgin ever considers it. I would like to read more of this and whatever happens next.

On my first read I originally gave a 5/5 stars, however, on re-reading I have reduced that – in order to comply with my own rules of ‘5-stars applied’.

I received a preview of this short story from the author  in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official introduction from the Author:
While I was finishing work on my final Sentinels book, I was invited to write this daily Featured Read for the Harlequin site–a paranormal stand-alone, relationship-oriented as all the Nocturnes are. It had to be under a certain number of words, divided into equal chapters, and complete unto itself. Also, because it ran the entire month of October, culminating on Halloween, it needed to touch on the season. In the end (to maintain my own sanity) I wrote the story to the targeted word count, divided it, and created transitions as necessary. The story itself was as magical in the writing as I could have hoped for–it had its own character and epic fantasy tone, and flowed readily from my brain. It’s one of my favorites now, and I won’t be surprised if it always is. ~Doranna

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The Vets at Hope Green: Part Three Too Close to Home by Sheila Norton

“‘You are allowed to breathe,’ the sonographer joked with me. ‘In fact we tend to prefer it.’ ‘Sorry.’ I tried to smile. ‘I’m a bit tense’.”

This is part three of the story about Sam, who is expecting her first child, having split from her boyfriend. And she has moved to Dorset, to her Nan’s house, to take on a job at the local vets. Nan lives in a little village, where the locals all know each other and soon it will be difficult to keep her pregnancy hidden from the locals and her boss, Joe.

Sam made a friend on one of her previous visits to her Nan’s and David has started to look out for her. Probably a bit too much for Sam’s liking, so she needs to let him know that he is just a friend.
Sam has her girl friend, from where she used to work in London, come and visit, which causes a few ripples. And makes Sam feel the need to get back in touch with her ex-boyfriend.

Then her job starts to get more complex as her boss starts taking her on client visits when the veterinary nurses are not available. This is where she meets Hugo, her boss’s, daughter’s pony. And Hugo makes a big contribution to the next stage of the working situation at the vets for Sam.

At the end of the book, Sam has a crisis to deal with that supersedes even her working issues with her boss!

And I cannot wait to find out what happens next. It is probably as well this book is serialised, else I would get nothing else done while I was reading it! Part 4 should be out soon I hope and the whole book will be released in June, if you cannot bear to read it in instalments. I read this one in one sitting.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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PART THREE of a serialised novel – a heartwarming and inspiring story about living the simple life and the joy of animals.

Things are finally starting to look up for Sam – a chance at her dream job as a vet, and a new friend (who is a huge animal lover himself – a very important detail!) What more could she ask for?

But a something is eating away at her: her boss Joe is acting strangely around her – he’s definitely hiding something. And having dreamed of being a vet for so long, she cannot afford to put a foot wrong.

When a call to tend to a sick pony comes into the practice, it all strikes too close to home for Sam and Joe. The odds are stacked against her, and she risks losing everything…

Note: this is part three of a four-part serialised novel. The full length paperback will be available in June.

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The Inscription by Pam Binder

“She lives, but death chases her soul.” ‘Tis a long time since you have brought a lost one to my door. Where was she found?”

“Loch Ness.”

A mystery story placed across the boundaries of time maybe. And based in Scotland so I expected plenty of scenery and draughty castles. Perhaps the love of a woman brings an immortal man into the human world and creates ripples of change across time.

Actually, I wasn’t too far off with the immortal man in the human world because of the love of a woman. Except that he was already living in the world as a Laird of a Scottish castle. And Amber McPhee travelled through time to him. Having arrived she has to adapt to the 16th century way of life. The clothes, the food, the personal hygiene!

Now they need to fulfil an ancient prophesy and fall in love within a moon’s cycle or they will be separated again. This isn’t made easy by Amber’s determination to have her say about things nor Lachan’s determination to be absolutely totally sure that AAmber loves him truly.

Needless to say the story is very convoluted and even Queen Elizabeth I has some input into events.

The medieval fayre they visit in Inverness sounded so lovely and I would have enjoyed going along myself, had I had the opportunity!

The book is well written, Pam carried me along with the characters as if I were a miniaturised drone camera tracking their activities. I wanted to stay with Amber in Urquhart Castle to see her live her life out there. It was such a disappointment to come to the last word in the book. I will be keeping an eye out for further books written by Pam Binder.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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An immortal warrior has conquered death.
Now he must conquer living.
When immortal warrior Lachlan MacAlpin rescues a woman from the depths of Loch Ness, he knows she is his one true love foretold by an ancient prophecy. But imagine American Amber McPhee’s surprise when she awakens in Urquhart Castle to discover that she has fallen more than four hundred years into the past – and into a love that will shatter the barriers of time.

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas

‘It’s been such a long time,’ he says, his eyes fixed on mine. ‘So many years. So many lies.’

I expected a crime thriller, with a darker than usual thread running through it.

Frankie is surprised to receive a call from her old best friends brother, Daniel, asking her to cone back to her old home to go with him to identify her remains, which have turned up after nearly 20 years since her death/suspected murder. He arranges an apartment for her to stay in, while they try and work out what happened to Sophie at the end.

Frankie finds it difficult being back in Oldcliffe-On-Sea, there are too many memories and she finds herself obsessing about her dead best friend Sophie to the point that she starts seeing her: on the pier, in the apartment where she is staying, at places around Oldcliffe-On-Sea.

Frankie has had a hard life, a failed marriage and failed to have children, she feels these things strongly and they affect her ability to think about men in a rational way. As she spends more time in Oldcliffe-On-Sea, she starts to drink too much and struggles to stay rational about her dead best friend, Sophie, as well.

How did she die? What happened before she died? Who, if anyone, killed her?

At one point I knew who had killed Sophie, even before their involvement in the story became clear. But then, I’m not always right about everything!

This story allowed me to think that I knew where it was heading. Then it tripped me up just before the end and sent me down a different route. Meanwhile it was still engaging enough to keep me reading and guessing about the finer details of the story until the very end. It was a good read and I think anyone who has read the likes of Redemption Road by Lisa Ballantyne (you can read my review of that book here: https://julieshort.wordpress.com/2015/07/03/redemption-road-by-lisa-ballantyne-finished-12-april-2015/) will enjoy it as much as me. That book stayed with me for a long time after I had finished reading it, and I don’t doubt that this book will too.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE SISTERS – ONE OF THE BEST SELLING DÉBUTS OF 2015 – COMES A TENSE PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER RIPPED STRAIGHT FROM THE HEADLINES . . . Twenty years ago 21-year-old Sophie Collier vanishes one night. She leaves nothing behind but a trainer on the old pier – and a hole in the heart of her best friend Francesca. Now A body’s been found. And Francesca’s drawn back to the seaside town she’s tried to forget. Perhaps the truth of what happened to Sophie will finally come out. Yet Francesca is beginning to wish she hadn’t returned. Everywhere she turns are ghosts from her past. The same old faces and familiar haunts of her youth. But if someone knows what really happened to Sophie that night then now’s the time to find out – isn’t it? Except sometimes discovering the truth can cost you everything you hold dear – your family, your sanity and even your life . . .

Night Draws In By C.H. Alexander

“They only tell stories about the people who save the world and survive. A lot of people get ‘chosen,’ “He repeated Barnum’s gesture of air quotes around the word “chosen.” “but most of them don’t live to tell about it.”

This story tells of a changeling returned and the trials she goes through on returning to the human landscape. It isn’t easy for her and there is no let up as she is immediately sent away by her natural mother.

When Angela joins her sister she starts at a new school immediately, and her new classmates are involved, as strange things start to happen in the area. Angela believes she has been trained to be a hero, so stands up for her new found friends. The rest is for you to read!

A good book, I read it in one sitting. I think this is worth reading if you like supernatural and fae. The story continues into another book and I would really like to know what happens next. A fairy story with a difference!

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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“You three need to understand, you’re being drawn into things a lot bigger than yourselves.”

Dark things. Things that should only live in fantasy. The Nain Rouge was recently sighted in Detroit and Black Eyed Children haunt Washtenaw County.

“If the Dark holds sway, all the more reason I am needed.”

Angela is a changeling, fostered by the Fae and recently returned from the Twilight Realm. Raised to be a champion and still healing from the passage to the human world, she struggles to catch up to the life she never lived.

“You have a Destiny? Well, I didn’t sign up for this.”

Lydia is underestimated by many because of her deformity. She scoffs at the paranormal but her innate skepticism cannot prevent her hobby of stage magic evolving into something more real.

“Listen to me very carefully, Mr. Bailey. You are aware that this is not just a dream, correct?”

Bailey is a queer teenager trying to keep a low profile until he can escape high school. He is haunted by dreams and premonitions of a menacing evil.

Skeptical mage, queer seer, and brain injured warrior. Destined to save us.

Hunted by supernatural predators that want to end them before they reach their heroic potential, these teenagers will have to travel to Fairy and back if they want to survive long enough to save the world.

Preserving Hope (The Aliomenti Saga – Book 2) by Alex Albrinck

Started 23 June 2016 | Finished 26 June 2016

“…our mission is one which cannot be shared outside these walls. It promises to be one full of personal growth and enrichment, beyond what you could possibly imagine. Would you be interested in living in that fashion?”

What I expected:
I recently read book 1 of this series and found it to be an interesting story. I expected this book to be about Will’s life with his wife and the development of the Aliomenti society during his time with her.

What it was:
Well, what a surprise! This book was totally not what I expected it to be, though that is not a bad thing. The story gripped me. It had me coming back to pick up where I left off, each time having read much more than I had intended, before putting the book down to go about my daily life.
In essense, Will arrives back in the youth of Elizabeth, to find her a slave to those living the village in which she was born. He sets about finding a way to free her from this life of servitude and oppression.
Will had previously promised those who sent him to this time, that he would not use his skills to hurt anyone, but at times he finds keeping his promise difficult, once he discovers the conditions under which she is living.
I will certainly be reading book 3, I have it ready to start already, and I am looking forward to resuming Will’s journey. For those who think they may want to read this book, I recommend that you read book 1 (A question of Will) first. Then definitely read this one.

5/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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It was his mission to save her life.
But first… he’d need to convince her that hers was a life worth saving.

Will Stark finds himself on a mission. He must use his new Energy abilities – abilities long thought the realm of magic by humanity – and his army of self-aware nanobots to save the life of a young woman named Elizabeth.

Elizabeth is treated as if she is a slave, forced to endure all manner of human testing to find the method to unlock all human potential. It is treatment encouraged by a man named Arthur – her father – and it is her fondest wish that her father treat her as his beloved child rather than a piece of property. She refuses to leave until she’s reformed him, for she believes that if he cannot change, she herself is predestined to be a monster, and a person not worthy of living.

She’ll fight to change Arthur, with Will’s help, until she succeeds.

Or until she’s buried next to her mother, who sought the same reform – and was murdered for trying.

A Feral Darkness by Doranna Durgin

“…as darkness thundered up the hill for her, ripping through the creek, shredding what brush remained on the island, churning a wide path up the hill, she dropped the rifle and yanked Druid’s leash, jerking him right off his feet and into the area she’d always considered part of the spring.”

Telling it from the end, I sobbed out loud and hoped no-one in the room heard, so that I didn’t have to explain why!
The story was a good one, engaging and intriguing.
Brenna links the spring on her parents farm to an old God when she is a girl of 9. Later a group of lads bring a darker force to the area, which wants to take up its own residence at the spring. Brenna must work out who is ‘with her’ and who is ‘against her’, including her mother, brother and the new dog obedience trainer at the pet store, where she is a groomer.
I found Durgin’s description of the dog ‘speak’ very realistic. My own dog also ‘speaks’ to me and some of her words are just like Druid’s or Sunny’s such as “Whoouh” 😀.
I have read other reviews where the references to Brenna’s hair are criticised as over the top. Myself, I didn’t notice these! Every author gives personal details to their characters to make them real, if you have long hair, you behave differently to someone with short hair. I’ve had both, so didn’t find Brenna’s behaviour odd, as regards her hair, or anything else.
This book was one of the most enjoyable ones I have read. It isn’t the type of book I usually go out of my way to read, I am glad I did and I recommend it to anyone who has a slight interest in ‘old gods’ and human/animal relationships.

5/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
As a child, dog-loving Brenna Fallon naívely invokes an ancient Celtic deity to save her beloved hound–and inadvertently anchors the new-found power at a spring on her family’s farm.

She doesn’t know she’s also left an opening for a far more malevolent force.

Years later, thanks to the actions of several angry young men, Brenna discovers the terrible potential of that gateway. With a devastating plague unfolding abruptly around her, she must depend on her wits, a stranger she doesn’t trust, and a mysterious stray dog who becomes more than just a faithful companion as she struggles to drive back the threat of a modern Black Death.

Welded by a desperate sacrifice, woman, man, and dog face the feral darkness together.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

““What is that she’s touching?” “Some kind of sculpture, I don’t know.” The woman shrugs. “She stares at it a lot, though.” I recognize it from somewhere—from Tobias’s room, where I slept after my almost-execution in Erudite headquarters. It’s made of blue glass, an abstract shape that looks like falling water frozen in time.”

What I expected:
I was so looking forward to finding out how Tris and Four would put things right  and sort out the factions an factionless with their fellows. 

What it was:
This was both refreshing and a let down. I blame it on someone who had already read the whole series giving me a heads up on the type of ending it would have (deliberately not saying what so it doesn’t spoil it for anyone else). I was looking for indicators the whole time and even saw some bits coming as a consequence! Such a shame as I was enjoying reading the whole series.
Tris is her usual strong gritty self, sometimes a bit abrasive. Four is fragile and strong at the same time as usual. Very much like real humans really, which makes the whole plot structure very firm footed.
I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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What if your whole world was a lie? The thrillingly dark conclusion to the No. 1 New York Times bestselling DIVERGENT trilogy.

A Question of Will The Aliomenti Saga – Book One by Alex Albrinck

The investigations into the fire at the home of Will and Hope Stark had finally ended. The fire itself had burned with such intensity that everything within the walls of the house had been turned to ash.

What I expected:
A tale of someone battling a sect or some such, with twists of demons thrown possibly.

What it was:
It was the tale of a family and the groups they are linked to, focuses around one man Will Stark. It was mostly a well told tale. I enjoyed reading it. I finished is some time ago and have had time to ponder it and mull over the storyline somewhat. I guess I will have forgotten any annoyances that there may have been, but they can’t have been too bad if indeed they were there, else I would remember them! The story does keep coming back to me and not in a bad way, like some books or films where you keep going over the flaws in the plot or execution. I will be reading the second book in due course to see where the story goes and to see if the author maintains the standard of the first book.

3/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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A Question of Will (The Aliomenti Saga – Book 1): Volume 1

Kindle, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi (Black) – Includes Special Offers

Official description:
They murdered his wife and son. They burned down his house. They beat him within an inch of his life. And then they realized they had the wrong man.

They should have killed him when they had the chance.

Will Stark is a self-made multi-billionaire, happily married and a proud father. He arrives home to find his house destroyed and his family murdered, and is himself rescued from certain death by a mysterious trio.

His rescuers are part of a splinter faction of a centuries-old secret society that has developed incredible technological advances, and unlocked the method to release humanity’s innate potential, and skills long thought the realm of magic. Will was mistakenly believed to be a key dissident and fugitive, on the run from the primary group, known as the Aliomenti.

Society believes him dead, and Will elects to work from the shadows to learn the secrets of the Aliomenti, secrets that can help him seek his own form of vengeance.

Or, perhaps, become the man they’d sought all along.

About the Author
Alex Albrinck is a lifelong Ohio resident, where he lives with his wife and three children. When he’s not trying to be in three places at once with his active youngsters, he’s following local professional and collegiate sports teams, or possibly unscrambling a Rubik’s Cube. In lieu of sleep, he writes fiction. You can learn when his next work is available at http://eepurl.com/o03Gv. His debut novel, A QUESTION OF WILL, explores themes of technological advancement, human potential (good and bad), and the love bonding a family together. It reached the Amazon Top 100 in Science Fiction -> High Tech less than a week after publication. The sequel, PRESERVING HOPE, follows Will Stark as he continues his epic quest to save and reunite his family against all odds, and continues exploration of advanced technology and Energy skills.