The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

“She would learn later that she had been making a strange sound, part moan, part scream: a single, guttural yell. This was why her son had walked towards her, but at the time, in her altered state of mind, she was unaware.”

Well I thought I wanted to read this book until I got partway through and realised that it was what I think people probably call ‘chicklit’, which is not a genre that I’m interested in.
It was certainly well written and crafted in a way that leads the reader nicely through the story.
However I made a mistake in selecting it and did not really enjoy it much at all.
So in fairness to the author I am not going to criticise it and will just say that it will probably suit those who like a story about life destroyed by disaster and then rebuilt through personal resilience.

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.

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

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Nina McCarrick has it all: a loving husband, two beautiful boys, a well-appointed home and more time than she knows what to do with. Life is perfect. Until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.
Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina’s life of luxury quickly disappears and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.
But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.
Stirring and empowering, this novel from bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this tale of one woman’s loss and love.

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The Last Librarian (Book One of the Justar Journal) by Brandt Legg

““I am not running, I am seeking. I am not hiding, I am finding.” “Where do you go? What do you do?” “I’m just dancing with time, and occasionally wrestling with it. Like my daddy used to say, ‘Time’s a funny thing.’ But I’m not laughing.” He sat next to Deuce again. “It’s almost over.””

This is a story set in the future, when all the books except those in the last library have been destroyed. Books are only available digitally now and the government agencies have decided that the last paper books are no longer necessary. The library is scheduled to be destroyed. The Last Librarian is Runit Happerman and he wants to save as many books as he can before ‘they’ come in 10 days to destroy his world, he just needs a little help with that.
His best friend Nelson is an author, he offers to help and gets his sister Chelle Andreas involved too. Runit is concerned about his son Grandyn becoming embroiled in the rebellious act, but is unable to prevent him joining the growing team and also bringing his girlfriend Vida along, as well as his Treerunner colleagues. Surely all those would be enough to achieve the saving of 100,000 books.
There are of course other factors involved, but to write them here would be to spoil the story for the next reader, so trust me when I say that it is a massive task, made difficult by shifting parameters and personal interactions.
The story could be considered a prophetic tale, with the prevalence of digital books, many people nowadays don’t need the paper books anymore. But who keeps the records of what the author intended to be read?
This was an interesting and involving read and I did enjoy my time with it.

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

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Official description:
USA Today Bestseller “Never let them catch you reading!”
In the year 2098, there is no more war, no more hunger and no more pollution. The world is secure and Earth’s 2.9 billion people are healthy and happy. There is also only one remaining library that still houses physical books. In addition to the dusty volumes, the library holds many secrets. But the government has decided to shut it down and burn the contents. Unless an unlikely trio can save the books, humanity will lose more than just what is printed on those antique pages.

With a single government ruling the entire planet, one currency, one language and no religion, the population is unified and enjoying the prosperity that comes with more than seven decades of peace. Free healthcare for all and guaranteed employment make the future a dream. But this future may only be safe if they can hide the past. The books must be saved . . . the impossible task is up to an angry author, a brazen revolutionary and the last librarian. When everything is perfect, the only thing left to fear is the truth.

The Lost TreeRunner (Justar Journal #2) available now – The Lost TreeRunner (The Justar Journal Book 2)
The List Keepers (Justar Journal #3) available now – The List Keepers (The Justar Journal Book 3)

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Blood and Stars (Legend of Rhyme Series Volume 1 Book 5 ) by Jaime Lee Mann

“Sibley sucks in her breath as the statue disappears. And Elora— in the flesh, in a long black gown— blinks her eyes, stretches her arms, and smiles. “Mother.””

Once again I read Jaime Lee Mann in one day, in one sitting. The stories she writes are so engaging!
This one covers the continuing adventures of the Caine children.
It is usual with this series to flick back and forth between the main characters to keep the time line development in sync for the reader, as this book is no exception.
I liked that the story of Teagan continues in an undersea world of mer folk, that Asher is still susceptible to the Darkness in the world. There are some new characters introduced to give depth to the story and these have back story to describe how they fit in.
Jaime Lee Mann manages to write such good stories, they are enjoyable for adults and children alike. Do give her Legend of Rhyme stories a read and then share them with your friends and family.

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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Thirteen-year-old Ariana Caine has woken in Coraira, and is torn between finding her brother Asher and learning how to rule the magic realm while Calla is under a protection spell.
Beneath the sea, Starla the mer-queen is bringing her apprentice, Teagan, to the Chamber of Memories to learn more about her parents. But when Starla is beckoned by one of the Ancients, Teagan is approached by a stranger, who promises to lead her to her mother and father. Meanwhile, the sea witch and her sisters are poised and ready to usurp the queen’s reign, and will stop at nothing to gain her powers.
On top of it all, Elora, the infamous witch who has caused so much heartache, is now asking for trust one last time.
Will Ariana choose Coraira over her brother?
Will the sea witch have her wish?
What are Elora’s true intentions?

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The Darkness Within by Lisa Stone 

“It was always worse when he’d had a beer or two. That Feeling. Hot, urgent and raw, tearing through him. Making him restless, argumentative. Angry. It was as though something or someone took control of him, forcing him to act badly, to be nasty and cruel.”

This is a story about a transplant patient, who starts to exhibit different characteristics than his normal ones. Is it his donors organ changing him, or did he always have a propensity to do that which he now does?

Jacob receives a new heart, even as he is coming round his character has changed, he swears, thinks little of women. Once home his family are grateful for his reprieve and do not immediately take in his changes.
Meanwhile his donor’s girlfriend has moved on and is living a happier life as a singleton, while keeping her job in a local bank. She hasn’t told anyone about how her previous relationship was and is taking life one day at a time.

As the story moves forward Jacob’s character changes ever more profoundly and his mother starts to feel concern. She starts to seek help for her son, always wondering whether it is the new heart or the way Jacob was brought up.

The ending is tense and fast paced, I was speed reading to see what the outcome would be for the individual characters. Would any of them be brave enough to solve the matter?

This was a cracking story, different than many others. It explores the idea of memory within donated organs being assimilated by the host bodies. Totally fascinating!

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.

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

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A gripping new thriller debut that asks the question, how deep in our hearts does evil lie?

When critically ill Jacob Wilson is given a life-saving heart transplant, his parents are relieved that their loving son has been saved.

However, before long, his family are forced to accept that something has changed in Jacob. Their once loving son is slowly being replaced by a violent man whose mood swings leave them terrified – but is it their fault?

Jacob’s girlfriend, Rosie, is convinced the man she loves is suffering from stress. But when his moods turn on her, she begins to doubt herself – and she can only hide the bruises for so long.

When a terrible crime is committed, Jacob’s family are forced to confront their darkest fears. Has the boy they raised become a monster? Or is someone else to blame?

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How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

“‘Sweetheart, where is Marion?’ I asked. She stared at me a long time. I readied myself for some terrible news. ‘She fled . . .’ ‘What?’ ‘She was like you.’ It took a moment to sink in. ‘She stopped growing old?’”

A story about life as an immortal, among mayfly (humans!).

Written in the first person, Tom Hazard is 439 years old and his tale is full of sadness, death and hope!

He was rescued by a group called ‘The Albatross Society.’ The society is run by one Hendrich Pietersen, who gives those who are members, a fine lifestyle. But every 8 years he requires those members to change their lives, and also to carry out a small task for him.

But Tom has also asked that Hendrich do something for him, find his daughter. Hendrich keeps saying that the society is getting closer, but hasn’t found her, yet!

Meanwhile, Tom tries to live a life that he chooses, for a change. And change is what he gets.

I enjoyed this book, it reminded me of something, but I can’t think what! I would certainly recommend it to my friends, and you of course.

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:
 ‘I am old. That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong.’

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life.

Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him. The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love.

How to Stop Time is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.

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Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

“Since Borne never displayed any kind of threatening behavior, I never thought to take him as a threat.”

This is a book that took me a long time to read, but only because my work/life balance was tipped over.

I enjoyed the story of Rachel and how she found and ‘brought up’, Borne. Also of Rachel’s relationship with Wick, both of them have secrets, both of them are stealing access to each others private space in search of answers.

They live in a world of scavengers, in a world of destruction and wreckage. Rachel makes her ‘living’ scavenging what she can, to enable her and Wick to continue living in their sanctuary apartment block. Wick contributes by manufacturing biotechnology goods to sell – basically the equivalent of a modern day drug dealer (a it of a weird choice of expression I know!).

“I believe in Borne.” I truly do. It struck me as I was reading that I do believe in Borne.

Obviously life is not easy in this post-catastrophic world and things change for Rachel, Wick and Borne – sometimes exponentially. Ultimately things change and life is never the same again. But don’t be despondent life goes on.

This book is extremely well written, with great character construction without being overly descriptive. And did I mention how Borne captivated me. I’d love a Borne to communicate with, as long as it treated me the same as Borne treated Rachel, of course.

I’m sure that a number of my friends will be reading this book very soon (once I tell them about it of course).

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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A novel that is simultaneously harrowing, dark, dangerous, funny and uplifting from the author of the Southern Reach trilogy
“Am I a person?” Borne asks Rachel, in extremis.
“Yes, you are a person,” Rachel tells him. “But like a person, you can be a weapon, too.”
In a ruined, nameless city of the future, Rachel makes her living as a scavenger. She finds a creature she names Borne entangled in the fur of Mord, a gigantic despotic bear that once prowled the corridors of a biotech firm, the Company, until he was experimented on, grew large, learned to fly, and broke free. Made insane by the company’s torture of him, Mord terrorizes the city even as he provides sustenance for scavengers.
At first, Borne looks like nothing at all―just a green lump that might be a discard from the Company, which, although severely damaged, is rumored to still make creatures and send them to far-distant places that have not yet suffered collapse.
Borne reminds Rachel of the island nation of her birth, now long lost to rising seas. She feels an attachment that she resents: attachments are traps, and in this world any weakness can kill you. Yet when she takes Borne to her subterranean sanctuary, Rachel convinces her lover, Wick―a special kind of dealer―not to render down Borne as raw genetic material for the drugs he sells.
But nothing is quite the way it seems: not the past, not the present, not the future. If Wick is hiding secrets, so is Rachel―and Borne most of all. What Rachel finds hidden deep within the Company will change everything and everyone. There, lost and forgotten things have lingered and grown. What they have grown into is mighty indeed.

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Assassin’s Fate (Book III of the Fitz and the Fool trilogy) by Robin Hobb

“Beware! Wolf-Father warned me. Spring away! But I was a cub and I did not see the danger.”

Robin Hobb writes detailed stories with characters that are realistic and full of history. She then places them in a world that is complete, that contains danger and delight.

This particular story focuses on Bee and her father FitzChivalry Farseer who hail from Buck in the Six Duchies. Bee has been taken and is being dragged across countryside and ocean as a prize for a group of cruel rulers.

FitzChivalry believes Bee dead at the hands of those who attacked them. He is intent on vengeance, recruiting others to his cause as he travels to Clerres with the Fool (also known as Beloved).

This book takes some reading, it is not a short tale. And, it is book three of a complete set (the first two being Fool’s Assassin and Fool’s Quest), so if you read it first, you really are missing out!

I have enjoyed continuing the stories of the Fool and FitzChivalry and have found it hard, waiting to read them. Now this book is published, it is a signal to all to start immersing in this tale.

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.

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

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The much-anticipated final conclusion to the Fitz and the Fool trilogy. 

Prince FitzChivalry Farseer’s daughter Bee was violently abducted from Withywoods by Servants of the Four in their search for the Unexpected Son, foretold to wield great power. With Fitz in pursuit, the Servants fled through a Skill-pillar, leaving no trace. It seems certain that they and their young hostage have perished in the Skill-river. 

Clerres, where White Prophets were trained by the Servants to set the world on a better path, has been corrupted by greed. Fitz is determined to reach the city and take vengeance on the Four, not only for the loss of Bee but also for their torture of the Fool. Accompanied by FitzVigilant, son of the assassin Chade, Chade’s protege Spark and the stableboy Perseverance, Bee’s only friend, their journey will take them from the Elderling city of Kelsingra, down the perilous Rain Wild River, and on to the Pirate Isles. Their mission for revenge will become a voyage of discovery, as well as of reunions, transformations and heartrending shocks. 

Startling answers to old mysteries are revealed. What became of the liveships Paragon and Vivacia and their crews? What is the origin of the Others and their eerie beach? How are liveships and dragons connected? But Fitz and his followers are not the only ones with a deadly grudge against the Four. An ancient wrong will bring them unlikely and dangerous allies in their quest. And if the corrupt society of Clerres is to be brought down, Fitz and the Fool will have to make a series of profound and fateful sacrifices. 

ASSASSIN’S FATE is a magnificent tour de force and with it Robin Hobb demonstrates yet again that she is the reigning queen of epic fantasy.

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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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http://changespell.com/index.html

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 Reckoners by Doranna Durgin

“Once upon a time, Rhonda Rose had opened the door to her power… and taken away her innocence, all in one fell swoop. Once upon a time.”

This book is about ghost hunters and aliens; and that is not a spoiler really. I don’t intend to spoil the story for anyone.

Garrie is bored of her job and is looking for something else for a change of routine. Then a stranger turns up at one of her jobs (with a cat) and not only messes things up, that she has to go back to finish next day, but books her and her team for a job in San Jose.

That job is not defined and, really, Garrie has no idea what she and her team are employed for.

Her client [Trevarr] has a companion; it looks like a cat, but it isn’t. Trevarr and Sklayne are from another world and have a job to do that specifically needs the help of Garrie to complete. They just aren’t telling her what.

Durgin tells the story from the point of view of Nevahn (Trevarr’s foster father), alongside Garrie’s point of view, Trevarr’s and even Sklayne’s.

Sklayne’s way of thinking and communicating is completely different than that of this world and Durgin manages to put this across very well with the use of :: double colon marks either side of Sklayne’s comments, to indicate his non-verbal communications.

Once the reader gets used to this, it is a fun read. I really liked Sklayne, even though he wasn’t one of the two main characters, and hope he continues to appear in subsequent books. He is very self centred and yet still would like to be able to look out for Trevarr.

If you like paranormal, ghost hunter, alien planet -style books, then I’m sure that you will find this book engaging.

I received an e-ARC of this novel 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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The Reckoners (Author’s Cut): A powerful ghostbuster raised by a spirit, her brilliantly eccentric backup team, a cat who isn’t a cat at all…and a fiercely driven bounty hunter from a different dimension who brings them together when worlds collide.

Skilled ghosthunter Lisa “Garrie” McGarrity not only sees dead people, she wrangles them into submission. But her beloved ghostly mentor moved on years ago, and the Southwest has gone quiet under Garrie’s hand. Garrie and her team have grown restless and…well, face it. Maybe willing to take a risk or two.

So when the relentlessly mysterious and fiercely driven Trevarr (and his not-cat!) shows up asking for help, Garrie is inclined to listen. And when he describes big trouble at the San Jose Winchester Mystery House, she’s inclined to go with him, even if it splits her team along the way.

But she doesn’t expect a mansion crammed with spirits on the brink of madness, and she doesn’t expect to face off against the powerful and unfamiliar energies of semi-ethereal beings from another dimension. She definitely doesn’t expect the fabric of her own world to unravel around her–with no one but her to stop it.

And truly, she has no idea how deep Trevarr’s secrets run.

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A Child Made to Order by Piotr Ryczko

“After all, she had the tendency to forget one simple fact: She was at Aftenposten on separate terms than most. She was the daughter of the chief editor. Maybe it was time to curb her gullibility.”

I figured this book would be a thriller-mystery type book, with some sleuthing from the main character to draw out the story.

The story was actually very deep, with many facets to it. The main character is Viola, a journalist on a family newspaper, her family’s newspaper. She is about to become the Middle East correspondent for that same paper as we join Viola at her celebration party.

Before Viola can really get into the swing of the party she receives a visitor, who make Viola think deeply about a previous story that she became very involved in.
From there we are introduced to Viola’s partner, Ronny, who, it seems, will do anything for her. If only Viola can hold on to him.
Of course, that is as long as Viola’s mother Anne doesn’t stick her oar in, as she is wont to do. Viola’s shrink had already told to get out of her mothers grip!

The upshot of her mid-party visit launches Viola into a personal crusade to find out what happened to a missing video blogger. She undergoes doubts and recriminations; fear and trepidation, as she makes her choices that WILL have a major impact on her career and personal life.

Her partner, Ronny, has his own story running through the book and I just wanted them to TALK to each other. But when do people do that , when they most need to, not often.

The story has an urgency to it, as at every turn there is a race against the clock. This kept me reading, even when I wanted to turn off the light and close my eyes!

I’m not going to comment on how the book was written or anything, because when I’m reading I don’t necessarily think about such things unless they are obvious, so why discuss it if it doesn’t impinge on the reading.

I received an e-ARC of this novel 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 description:
A finely-crafted psychological suspense thriller set in Norway’s capital city, Oslo, that will appeal to fans of Stieg Larsson. 

When a women’s fertility rights campaigner, Marianne Stine, mysteriously disappears, it hardly reaches the news. Only investigative journalist Viola Voss, harried by the blogger’s mother, shows any interest in finding out what happened to the young woman. Yet years pass and there is no further sign of Marianne.

However, on the eve of taking up a prestigious senior post in Norway’s largest newspaper, Voss is once again reminded of Marianne’s disappearance. In fact, Voss is soon presented with a tantalising clue that not only is Marianne alive, she has a healthy young child.

Part of Voss’s fascination with Marianne is because they share the same rare genetic condition that would be passed on to their children. Haunted by having lost her own child due to this hereditary disease, Voss determines – against the strong wishes of her own over-powering mother – to put her new job on hold, try to find Marianne, and an explanation.

Enlisting the help of an ex-police sergeant, the clues point to a fertility clinic on the outskirts of town. But this is where Voss’s problems begin. The clinic’s claim of a 100% fertility treatment success rate is beguiling and, with her inner world in turmoil, she decides to take a risk that will force her to confront her own fears, deal with her loss and decide between right and wrong. 

If you enjoy psychological mysteries with intense drama, look no further than A CHILD MADE TO ORDER 

The issue of genetic manipulation of human embryos, of children literally made to order, is increasingly becoming one of the most important ethical and medical issues of our time. With delicacy, and emotional sensitivity, the author makes you think about the matter like you never have before, in a novel where the tension increases on every page, and ends with a stunning climax. 

Piotr Ryczko is a Polish/Norwegian writer and film maker. A CHILD MADE TO ORDER is his first novel.

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