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sharongoodwin77

Jera's Jamboree

I’m an avid reader, loving nothing more than expanding my microcosmic world. I enjoy escaping into all sorts of worlds through reading and also love to challenge my opinions and thoughts.

Jigsaw Pieces - Carol Herdges We’re introduced to a normal day at school for Annie as she is ridiculed and called ‘Viking’. 16 year old Annie moved here from Norway 4 years ago and has found it hard to adjust. Starting off using the customs she is used to, this causes her peers to begin the ‘Viking’ name calling that has followed her through her schooling. That evening, Grant Penney commits suicide. He wasn’t liked much before this but now everyone is being hypocritical, apart from Annie, which sets her outside of the norm once again.

The first intimation that all is not as it seems on the surface of Grant’s suicide is Annie seeing Grant’s abandoned bike in the shrubbery.

Another thread running through the plot is WW1. Poet Noel Clarke has sparked her interest at school so she is going to research and it is during her work experience in a nursing home that Annie spends time with mute WW1 soldier, Bill Dunne. Bill draws the same battle scene over and over again.

Through Annie’s character, Hedges explores a young person’s feelings of being uprooted from a family home due to parents splitting and not fitting in to a new country with its own customs. Annie questions herself about her parents split – was she the cause? Could she have done something differently? Close to her grandfather, she worries at the thought that she wasn’t there when he died in Norway. Annie is left to fend for herself most of the time with her mother working so this also gives a sense of isolation.

Investigating Grant’s suicide leads to her sparking off his best friend Lee. Following a lead from a card she finds in Grant’s pocket, she finds herself being almost drawn into something sordid … until she makes a realisation and removes herself from the situation. She finds that Lee also made the same conclusions. This thing that almost pulls her in is very topical being in the media almost constantly. Hedges tackles this with honesty and realism.

I enjoyed Annie’s visits to the nursing home to visit Bill. Her Christmas present to him and the resultant find tied this up and brings home the depravity the soldiers experienced.

I loved Annie’s character. Typical actions/reactions from a 16 year old, she is sharp and intelligent. Very abrupt, she does herself no favours, not willing to bend and compromise to fit in. She is a young person with integrity. Annie’s character is one that YA readers will readily identify with.

Jigsaw Pieces is a quick read that is engaging and has a good pace and rhythm. I loved the way it all tied up – the pieces all fitting together. I have no hesitation in recommending for readers of all ages.

I would like to thank the author for providing a PDF in exchange for an honest review.
Tide - Daniela Sacerdoti We begin the second book in the Sarah Midnight trilogy with a prologue. Sarah, aged 8, is with her grandmother Morag. Admonished to protect and preserve the Midnight family, this is the last thing her grandmother shared with her before she went back to where she belonged … the sea.

Chapter One begins almost where we left Sarah. Nicholas is spending a lot of time with her and Sean is on the outside watching over her (using one of his skills so that he can’t be detected).

Sarah is affected by a cloudy mind and loss of appetite when she’s with Nicholas. She’s lost her ability to dream. I wanted to shout at her to wake up and see what was happening rather succumbing to his power. Guess it’s not easy when you’re lulled into nothingness! It’s not long until we find out who Nicholas is and his motive. I loved this ‘darkness’ and how it fits with fairy tales/myths I know, although it is unique in itself.

Once again there are some terror filled scenes with the Sabha attacking those close to Sarah. I was wondering if we would be introduced to more otherworldly creatures/monsters in this mythology and I wasn’t disappointed!

Characters from Dreams come together – Elodie, Niall and Mike alongside Sarah, Nicholas and Sean. They all travel to Islay, to the Midnight family home. We meet Winter and learn more of the Midnight family history. These scenes are action-packed and the plot takes us deeper until we reach another pivotal point.

The love triangle reaches a climax when Sarah finally admits to herself how she feels although this is a relationship that’s destined not to be due to the Secret families code. How poignant the scene is at the end of this book!

The finding of the Carmina Prophetica tells us where we’ll be heading to in the final part of the trilogy … but who is that large bird who when we last saw it, was taking off its mask and afraid of failing? Where does this fit in?

Deception, truths uncovered, a character who I disliked intensely but actually ended up rooting for, terror, action packed scenes, magic and a fabulous mythology and of course the love triangle! has kept me riveted. I can’t wait to see how this will all play out!

Key knowledge we gained from Dreams is shared so if you read this a while ago, your memory is refreshed or if you’re starting the trilogy here, the story will make sense (but I would recommend reading Dreams first).

I would like to thank Janne Moller from Black & White Publishing for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
A Cornish Affair - Liz Fenwick We begin at Jude’s wedding to John in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The wedding is everything her mother wanted and she realises just as she’s about to walk up the aisle that it’s not in fact, what she wants. Having run, on her return she overhears her parents talking and realises she will always be in her sister’s shadow.

Jude decides to leave for Oxford and godmother Barbara but is only there a short time before the job cataloguing Petroc’s copious papers in Cornwall comes her way. From this time, alongside the romance is the intrigue and the mystery of the Trevillion gems… and intrigue from the silence of her parents.

We have plenty of conflict in A Cornish Affair. Jude with her parents; between Jude/the community and Tristran on the sale of Pengarrock; between Tristran and Mark Triggs. There are some uncomfortable moments for Jude when John visits. I’m so glad she didn’t give in to sympathy! Intrigue comes from the sudden silence of Jude’s parents and this is a key to another thread in the story.

The setting is so perfect. Fenwick’s writing transported me to this Cornish land amongst these Cornish people.

Pengarrock and Manaccan enchant her, allowing her to find and be herself for the first time in her life. I love a story when our main character ‘finds’ herself and in this story we have two people who find their own way having been on a journey through those childhood scars.

The romance is perfect but what made this book a keeper for me is the underlying mystery (and the family history!) Petroc’s journals felt very real as did the appearance of the portraits and the finding of the sketch book. I loved that I had no idea how the riddle would come together!

A Cornish Affair is very different to Liz Fenwick’s debut, The Cornish House. We have a love story, conflict, family relationships and community. Add in the mix the intrigue and mystery and we have a page turner that has kept me engaged and turning those pages.

I would like to thank the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
My Husband Next Door - Catherine Alliott We’re introduced to Ella and Ludo in the prologue when she’s asked to stand in for flowers in the village church for a wedding. Forgetting all about it, she asks the local florist to help out but the arrangements are not acceptable. Coming out of the church she bumps into Ludo who takes her to the field to collect wild flowers. This is the turning point in their friendship although still very innocent.

We move on to Ella and her sister Ginnie’s characters. Totally opposite, Ella is the scatty one who is broke and emotionally barren while Ginnie is living a life of opulence and is efficient and organised.

Through a reflective account we find out about Ella and Sebastian’s history and we get to know about Ella’s background and her parents. Her mother has always controlled her father, even down to the sock’s he wears!

Once the scene is set, we become involved in Ella’s life … her mother moving in to one of the cottages on the farm, her feelings growing for Ludo in proportion to the alienation with Sebastian, and as her sister’s perfect life changes.

Ella views Ludo through a rose-tinted hue. There’s intimation that he’s not all Ella paints him to be … their love reminded me very much of the chivalrous knight paying court to his lady. The passion and depth is still there for her feelings towards Sebastian, they were definitely soul mates, and I couldn’t work out exactly what the secret was that destroyed their marriage. This intrigued me throughout the story.

Ella is never very sure of who she is meant to be. Having married at Sebastian at 19, she always copied everyone else to fit in. As transformation takes place around her, her own life falls apart. She is a character that mothers everywhere will identify with as regards to her children and the decisions made … or decide not to make!

I love the art in the story, from the openness in the beginning to the darkness at the end. The author knows what she is writing about with the emotions that are involved and how it is in integral part to an artist’s heart and soul.

The ending was perfect and exactly what I hoped for (although we don’t know if things will have a happy ending but my romantic heart says yes!)

My Husband Next Door, for me, is a story about relationships and things we don’t say! From daughter to mother, parents to their children, sibling to sibling, husband to wife, lover to lover and friend to friend … all those important relationships that make up a life. It’s about the front we put on to the world and the expectations we have of others.

I read My Husband Next Door as part of The Real Reader programme.
Heart-Shaped - Siobhán Parkinson I haven’t read Bruised but that hasn’t affected my reading experience of Heart Shaped.

Narrated by 14 year old Annie, we get to experience the hell that her life becomes after stumbling on something that traumatises her and brings up unhealed emotional wounds from her own childhood.

The people in her life – best friend Emma, her father, her brother Jaimie, the psychiatrist and teacher Mr O’Connell all have a part to play in supporting her. The anguish she feels over Jono’s disappearance feels very real. Peer Keith Butler brings conflict and is your typical bully.

Annie is such a fabulous character. I identified with her random thought processes and enjoyed her dry humour. The lists show just how the changes have affected her – from the starting point through to the healing and the final list. The letter to her mum brought tears to my eyes as did the time she spent with Julie.

Heart Shaped will give comfort to other teens who have been through a similar experience. The painstaking look at emotions and comparing them to the reality of the situation is something we all need to do in our lives … an important message to everyone!

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a proof copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Longest Holiday - Paige Toon We begin with Laura, Marty and Bridget in the plane on their way to Key West. Laura is devastated from the collapse of her marriage.

In the hire car on their way to Key West, one thought portrays her emotional state:

“It’s hard to care about anything much these days.”

We learn the background to Laura and Marty’s friendship and how Laura feels in competition with Marty’s friendship with Bridget.

When I found out the reason for Laura’s distress it was one of those ‘wow’ moments. Obviously a fatal mistake and one with lifelong consequences. I wondered how this would colour her exchanges with Matthew while she was in Key West.

They hook up with three guys staying in the hotel while they’re taking part in a jet ski tournament but on their last night, Laura leaves one of them, Rick, on her balcony and following the sound of Latin music, stumbles across some people – one of who we will get to know as Leo.

Laura’s attraction to him is instant. Leo is dark and brooding and everything about him exudes ‘keep your distance from me – I’m not available emotionally.’ This attraction between them is HOT! That’s all I’m saying …

Through her time in Key West, Matthew is phoning. I really didn’t want her to go home to him or in fact, to go home at all!

The tangle of emotions that Laura feels, the emotional wounds Leo carry, Carmen and her bitchiness and Marty thinking she knows what’s best for Laura gives us plenty of conflict, making hackles rise and engaging us emotionally in their lives.

The scuba diving is a fantastic part of the plot. The night dive is heart pounding! My husband came up to bed after me one night and when he asked if I was ok, I replied I had been on a night dive – it felt so real!

The way of life in Key West and Miami feels authentic. I was transported totally into this life!

Just when I was wondering where else there was left to go, wham! Something spectacular happens which turns everything on its head. Loved being able to read Leo’s point of view and the way Bridget was on Laura’s side. Leo gave me butterflies before this but from this part? I fell in love with him myself :)

I was really, really, disappointed to come to the end of The Longest Holiday - very reluctant to get to those final pages. This is my all-time favourite of Paige Toon’s novels. Highly recommend you buy yourself a copy and for me, well, it’s staying on my shelf to be read again.

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Smuggler's Kiss - Marie-Louise Jensen I don’t usually comment on covers in my reviews but the cover of Smuggler’s Kiss is sumptuous!

We begin with a very dramatic scene – Isabelle walking into the sea! Rescued by the crew of The Invisible, she gives nothing away about herself, not telling the truth about her background or what she’s running away from.

Having been used to being waited on, life onboard is rough and harsh. Barely scraping through on votes from the crew to keep her alive, she’s involved in a scene at Studland to scare official’s away, which means she won’t be able to tell anyone about the cargo The Invisible carries.

Once the toast of London society and the reigning beauty of Bath, Isabelle is reduced in status and cleanliness! At first acting like a spoilt brat with tantrums and her high principles, having experienced things like the Quarry workers plight for herself, she re-examines what she believes about the world.

Throughout the time on the ship, we see Isabelle become stronger – both in health and character. The banter she has going with Will and the parental bond with Jacob draws her emotionally into the life they lead. She takes on a chore on ship and starts to belong to the community.

Exciting and heart-pounding smuggling runs (loved the scene smuggling lace into Weymouth!), the historical time the story is set (the politics and economy), the innocence of the romance, the conflict and intrigue with both Will and Isabelle’s backgrounds make this an exciting and engaging read for the YA reader. I would also recommend for the any age if you have an interest in history and of course, smuggling!

I would like to thank the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Shadow Year - Hannah Richell Hannah Richell’s debut, Secrets of the Tides, was a keeper for me. I subscribed to Hannah’s posts so when I saw that The Shadow Year was coming out I was VERY excited!

We begin with an ‘otherworldly’ prologue. It’s very dreamlike. I wanted to know who it was out on the lake and why didn’t she know if she was awake or dreaming?

In July, Lila is in the park. It’s that time of day when there’s a lull – after lunch but before the children come out of school. It’s obvious from this scene that Lila has suffered a loss of her own because of her emotional pain and her ‘almost’ actions. We can guess why but we have no idea about the physical pain.

She arrives home to find a courier at her door … an anonymous gift of a key and a plot of land. Having lost her father she wonders if the inheritance is something to do with him. The relationship with her husband Tom is strained, with a definite barrier between them.

Chapter Two we’re with Kat, Ben, Carla, Simon and Mac. Graduates, their time as students is almost at an end. It’s very hot and they want to do something tomorrow. It’s very obvious that Simon is the leader of the group! Mac takes them to a lake the next day and they decide to live off the land at Simon’s suggestion – living in a tumbledown cottage.

The year that follows is narrated with the two different timelines. With Lila we journey with her through her darkest time on a journey of healing. With the group, we experience the group dynamics with the addition of Kat’s sister, Freya, and their ordeals as they try to make a life from the land. Kat and Freya’s childhood is a key to the drama that unfolds. Obsessive love can lead to some awful decisions …

As the plot unfolds, I had my suspicions and was able to make links and predictions. There was one thing I hadn’t worked out but it became clear as I followed Freya on one of her solitary jaunts exactly how it tied in.

The pace of the plot and the writing style are perfect for the unfolding truths. I love the way the story becomes a cohesive whole. The group living off the land is authentic with the rhythms and the pace of the seasons.

I have to be honest and say that The Shadow Year grabbed me from the beginning. In fact I even dreamt about the group, the story carrying on in my subconscious while I was asleep. Even when out dog walking the dynamics of the group and Lila’s life were in my thoughts.

Once again, Richell uses her characters to look into the deepest and darkest places in our souls. The place where we usually feel the least comfortable.

The Shadow Year is a story about wanting to belong and being prepared to do anything to keep that place … and the effect that has on future lives. It’s about childhood parenting and the effect that has in believing in yourself. It shows how even in our deepest despair, there is a future of brightness and joy.

I would like to thank Hannah for sending me the Australian paperback version. My review is honest.
The String Diaries - Stephen Lloyd Jones The String Diaries is narrated in three timelines – Snowdonia now, Oxford in 1979 and Godollo, Hungary in 1873. We begin in Snowdonia with Hannah Wilde driving injured husband Nate away from whatever injured him to the bolt hole – Lyn Gwyr farmhouse. She’s been driving for 4 hours. She has to scan the farmhouse and surrounds to check for ambush before crossing the bridge. Their daughter Leah is asleep on the back seat.

This tense scene left me with questions … why do they need a bolt hole? What has injured Nate? Why do they have to be so careful? Who is going to ambush them?

We leave this timeline on a cliff hanger – Hannah has just got Nate inside when there’s a crash to the front door!

Next, were in Oxford 1979 with Charles Meredith. He’s due to deliver a lecture in Princeton, New Jersey in 6 weeks time and he’s using Balliol’s library for research. More questions from me with this scene but the predominant one … who is the girl? What is her significance?

Intrigue, intrigue, intrigue!

At the end of this timeline, we’re left on a cliff hanger. Have they survived the crash? Why did they run?

We alternate between these timelines as the tension and intrigue builds. Each chapter is very exciting but we still don’t know where the story is leading or what has been the cause. It’s not until I was 90+ pages into the story when I started making links and connecting with clues as to the relevance of the characters and what could be behind the terror experienced by the characters. I still didn’t know for sure who, what or why until the timeline in 1873 comes into force and my suspicions were proved accurate.

The plot in this supernatural thriller is AMAZING! and the characters are fabulous too. I loved the way we ended a timeline on a cliff hanger, making me want to turn those pages to see what would come next! The Snowdonia scenes are really atmospheric. The isolation and weather contributing to those heart pounding experiences. I loved the historical timeline too – the landscape, customs and characters felt very authentic. I loved that I never quite knew whether I could trust Sebastien or not and that although I guessed about Gabriel, I was never quite sure about him either.

The String Diaries is a story about a love obsession and the desire to own, control and possess, which echoes across time and devastates. It’s a story that will hold you in its grip, not only while you are reading but for some time afterwards as well.

A debut novel, I’ll definitely be looking out for more from this author in the future.

I would like to thank Caitlin Raynor (@bookywookydooda) at Headline for a proof copy in exchange for an honest review.
Love Is a Number - Lee Monroe Love is a Number begins with a prologue. Eloise is reflecting on how she felt when her grandma died when she was in junior school.

Chapter One we find out that Daniel is now in Madrid with mates Syd and Jamal. We find out how Dan feels about relationships. They re-meet up with a couple of lads they met in Granada last week. Lads that are suave, sophisticated and very charismatic … everything that Dan and his mates are not. An event causes Dan’s mates to return home but he decides to stay on.

Next, we’re with Eloise. It’s two weeks after Huck’s death and we spend time with her and her grief and how it is in her world with her family and friends. Eloise is a girl who simply, has (or rather had) it all. She’s become her mother’s ‘project’ and admits to arrogance. Since the age of 8 her mother has chosen her wardrobe and her friends.

Alternating chapters are narrated in the first person by our two main characters. Dan is getting involved in a community in Spain and Eloise is coming to the realisations that her relationship with Huck isn’t as great as it was on the surface.

Seemingly total opposites with their social backgrounds as well as personalities, we journey with Dan as he starts building belief in himself, finding out who he is and what he wants from a relationship while with Eloise, she’s peeling back the illusion to find the girl she used to be – the person that become buried under her mother’s emotionless snobbery.

What I really liked about this YA romance is that the main characters don’t meet until quite near the end of the story. Even with Eloise texting the phone Dan has, he doesn’t reply until we’re quite a way into the story, although there is a connection between them that neither know about…

Love is a Number is a refreshing romance and one that YA readers will love.

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a proof copy in exchange for an honest review.
Summer of '76 - Isabel Ashdown There’s intrigue as soon as we start reading … It’s December 31st 1971, Joanna Wolff and husband Richard are at a party. Whose key fob was Joanna looking for?

Leading on from this scene, it’s now early May 1976. Luke has just bought a new scooter … an orange Vespa. He’s just finished lovingly polishing it on their driveway when up rides his friend Martin. They go off to listen to David Bowie’s album. Feeling hungry, they go downstairs to the kitchen and we’re introduced properly to his parents and his 4 year old sister, Kitty. From this time, throughout the summer of ’76 we spend time with the Wolff family and friends as seen from Luke’s perspective as the community secret and family secret slowly unravels. Character’s backgrounds are revealed with more layers of sorrow underlying the face of situations.

Through Luke we get to experience his changing friendships, teenage angst, those awful feelings when we know we’ve made a wrong decision … and that feeling of being on the edge of something really exciting. His summer isn’t all about working at the holiday camp – plenty of time for sunbathing on the beach and alcohol that long, hot summer! We see him mature throughout the story. He’s even able to reason through the chaos of his thoughts and have a chuckle with his dad at the end … as opposed to slamming out of the house in frustration (I remember those days well!)

The characters are all fabulous. From pompous new neighbour Mike to 4 year old Kitty. One of my favourite scenes is with Kitty singing/performing at Martin’s 18th birthday tea. So funny! I will never hear Abba in the same way again!

Everything is very authentic from the music and fashion to the social and economical environment… I wasn’t a teen myself then, but do remember quite a lot! Just like Joanna, my mother used to run up outfits on the old Singer sewing machine (not just for us but for neighbours children too). I also had a similar elephant to Kitty so they must have been a craze!

Ashdown’s writing has transported me away from our awful summer weather, into a time when all the doors and windows had to be open and the beaches were jam-packed with tanned and gleaming bodies. I’ve believed I’ve been on this journey with Luke, right by his side. I’ve been at the funeral and climbed a tree. I’ve been drunk (and very sick!) I’ve been concerned about my mum, felt my dad ruffle my hair and been a part of Nan’s shenanigans. I’ve been anxious. I’ve also laughed with Gordon at work and loved my family.

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Dead Jealous - Sharon  Jones Dead Jealous takes place against the backdrop of the John Barleycorn pagan festival to celebrate Lughnasadh. Poppy and her family have attended this for years at Scariswater in the Lake District. Poppy’s mother and step-father will be having their handfasting ceremony too. We get to know a little of Poppy’s life, her family and Michael (long time best friend). Tariq comes onto the scene as the chip and burger van owner who helps Poppy out when she loses her money. Older than her, there is a sexual buzz between them.

Poppy moves away from the festival to eat and think when she stumbles on Beth. Holding a half empty bottle of Jack Daniel’s, she shares with Poppy that she’s looking for lost girlfriend Maya who was at the same festival last year but hasn’t been seen since.

From this moment, we’re taken through a tense and anxious weekend as a death occurs which only Poppy believes was murder. Feeling a connection with Beth, she does her own investigations.

Long time best friend Michael is also a large part of the story. Poppy has feelings for him that she knows aren’t reciprocated. She’s been pushing him away. She’s confused by her feelings for Tariq and confused about her relationship with Michael. Michael heads to the festival when he hears about the drowning, fearing the worst having been a part of her boating accident.

I loved the pagan festival! In some ways it reminded me of the rituals at Avebury and it made me realise that I miss those days. There’s an excellent scene in the sweat lodge, where Poppy is allowed to participate for the first time.

All the characters are brilliant. I loved Poppy’s wit. She acts exactly right for a 16 year old, a mixture of confidence and insecurity, sassiness and shyness.

I never guessed who the perpetrator was until it was almost there in front of me in black and white! I had been led down the wrong track with a red herring … brilliant!

The plot is engaging enough with just the murder and the anxieties that engenders, throw in the sweet young love of Poppy and Michael and the sexual attraction between Poppy and Tariq and you have a multi-layered plot that will hold even the most seasoned reader’s (whether you are a YA or an adult reader) attention.

Dead Jealous is the first in the Poppy Sinclair thrillers. I can wait until Dead Silent publishes in March next year!

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a proof copy in exchange for an honest review.
Billy and Me - Giovanna Fletcher The prologue hooked me in. Intrigue surrounded Sopie’s past – what happened to make her change from the extroverted primary aged child to the withdrawn and shy secondary school girl? I enjoyed reading about the tea shop, Tea –on-the-Hill, with nurturing owner Molly. I also enjoyed the scene where Sophie first meets Billy and I enjoyed the conflict when Billy’s manager, Paul, was involved (by the way, did I say I loved Molly’s character?) The plot is well paced and believable.

Unfortunately though, from the point that Sophie and Billy met I lost interest. I didn’t believe in Sophie and Billy’s relationship. Even from their first romantic date in Rosefont Hill, I didn’t ‘feel’ it. There was no zing, no pizzaz between them. It was flat. This coloured the whole story for me and because I couldn’t get into their relationship, I also couldn’t identify with Sophie. I had similar life experiences to Sophie when she was younger (no spoilers!) but even this didn’t hook me in to her character.

I know I am in the minority here, if you read the other reviews on Goodreads you will see many bloggers raving about Billy and Me. However, I have to share my honest opinion otherwise I would lose the integrity I have for myself!

I was disappointed, having been hooked in by the prologue, and enjoyed Fletcher’s writing style, I was expecting to at least recommend my blog readers buy a copy for yourself but my recommendation is to loan a copy from your library.

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Hubble Bubble - Jane Lovering Hubble Bubble starts with Holly round best friend Megan’s. Megan has split from boyfriend Tom. Rescuing an old half eaten takeaway wrapped in newspaper from the fridge (a meal she’d shared with him) Megan sees an advert on the newspaper for women to form a group.

Leaving Megan, Hol meets brother Nicholas in a pub and is introduced to journalist, Kai. She looks after Nicholas. We find out that Holly is a location scout and Kai has a gothic property on the edge of the woods. Holly has no time for men and she’s suspicious of Kai.

Vivienne is the one who advertised for ‘women interested in forming a group to practise a new branch of the magical arts.’ Holly’s appearance at the first meeting is highly amusing. Excellent characterisations of the group (and ALL the characters!) All of them want fulfilment. Their spell making is humorous although underlying this is a sinister aspect too (not the magic but the characters who intrude).

There’s intrigue about Kai – I wanted to know who he was writing the letters to! The attraction between Hol and Kai has barriers which they’ve put up themselves, in fact they are a mirror-image of each other underneath the façade.

All the characters are wonderful. Those I haven’t mentioned – Cerys, Aiden, Vivienne, Isobel, Eve, the bikers … each bring something to the story, alongside our main characters. This gives an added depth.

The locations and the weather are perfect for the building tension and the suspense.

Underlying the humour and the spells is the love story of two people, wearing their masks so they can’t be hurt. The intimacy is electrifying and even more so because of the slow build up! There’s intrigue by a group of men and their threatening behaviour … and intrigue with their connection to Kai; Intrigue with Kai’s letters; Holly’s brother Nicholas and his needs; Cerys and her pregnancy; the needs of the group of women.

As well as the plot and the characters, Lovering’s style of writing is brilliant. I loved this on page 154 describing the gale force winds:

“It was too busy working the tree tops, forcing the fingertips of branches to rake the sky and all the while sounding like an incoming tide.”

I could really ‘feel’ Lovering’s writing.

Don’t be fooled by the title or the blurb. This is a multi-layered story that will engage all your emotions and cause you to think about the characters, long after the story has ended.

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Boy Nobody - Allen Zadoff Chapter One introduces us to Boy Nobody. He has experience of the Fortune 500 circles and we know he is an experienced assassin by the fact that he knows he needs 15 seconds in total – 6 to lay his victim down, 5 to put away his innocuous equipment and 4 to let the chemical reaction to run its course.

He’s trained to listen to his intuition, notice the small changes in his environment and predict outcomes. He never knows why he’s been given an assignment but it’s all connected to what lies beneath – successful businessmen on the surface but involved in illegal activities. I must admit this did go some way to change my mind about the Program!

The technology employed by the Program blew me away. I have no idea if this could be used in practicality but I am guessing that it is possible!

For his new assignment, Boy Nobody attends a famous private school on the Upper West Side. He feels physical sensations but not emotions. Although he does sometimes have memories after an assignment but never during, that is until he meets the daughter of the assignment that carries us through this story.

The knowledge the author has of social groups and what makes people tick, the psychology behind our subconscious reactions, is amazing! Zadoff must have personal experience of martial arts because the discipline and understanding the ‘energy’ is one of Boy Nobody’s characteristics employed to its optimum level.

All the characters are believable and carry you along on the journey. This is one of those books that become your reality while you’re reading. I had no idea what was underlying the assignment and changes that ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’ made during the story until quite near the end.

Boy Nobody is action packed, fast paced, engrossing and totally believable. The first in a trilogy, I can’t wait to get my hands on the second! I’m sure ‘Mike’ has a part to play but I have no idea where Boy Nobody’s emotions that are coming to life will take him.

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a proof copy in exchange for an honest review.
In Her Shadow - Louise Douglas Loved the alternate timelines - builds so much suspense and intrigue.

Another one for Louise Douglas that's a keeper for me!

Full review coming soon.