Saturday, 21 July 2018

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

A Spark of Light

From Goodreads

The warm fall day starts like any other at the Center—a women’s reproductive health services clinic—its staff offering care to anyone who passes through its doors. Then, in late morning, a desperate and distraught gunman bursts in and opens fire, taking all inside hostage.

After rushing to the scene, Hugh McElroy, a police hostage negotiator, sets up a perimeter and begins making a plan to communicate with the gunman. As his phone vibrates with incoming text messages he glances at it and, to his horror, finds out that his fifteen-year-old daughter, Wren, is inside the clinic.

But Wren is not alone. She will share the next and tensest few hours of her young life with a cast of unforgettable characters: A nurse who calms her own panic in order save the life of a wounded woman. A doctor who does his work not in spite of his faith but because of it, and who will find that faith tested as never before. A pro-life protester disguised as a patient, who now stands in the cross hairs of the same rage she herself has felt. A young woman who has come to terminate her pregnancy. And the disturbed individual himself, vowing to be heard.

Told in a daring and enthralling narrative structure that counts backward through the hours of the standoff, this is a story that traces its way back to what brought each of these very different individuals to the same place on this fateful day.

Jodi Picoult—one of the most fearless writers of our time—tackles a complicated issue in this gripping and nuanced novel. How do we balance the rights of pregnant women with the rights of the unborn they carry? What does it mean to be a good parent? A Spark of Light will inspire debate, conversation . . . and, hopefully, understanding. 

My thoughts

As always Jodi Picoult has covered a controversial topic in this book. Her books are always thought provoking and most would make good reading group reads.

In this sample chapter that I was able to read with thanks to the Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, that will be altered if and when I read the full book. I gave it a 4 stars or 8/10.

Based around a Women's Medical Centre where medical care is given to all women, where gynaecological treatment and abortions are carried out. This sample sets out nicely the scene as a hostage situation is taking place. As usual there are many characters from both sides of the fence, so to speak who are both for and against the termination of life. Who determines what happens to a woman's body with regards to bearing a child? Surely, the woman should be able to determine what happens to her own body. Sadly, this is not always the case and as most of us know that Abortion is still and always will be a very touchy subject for many, in a religious, moral and emotional way. It's not something that most women will enter into without giving it a lot of thought, the consequences of their decision will stay with them forever.

This is going to be another unputdownable read by her. I can't wait to read more about the characters and the impact that the hostage situation will have on them.

The Retreat by Mark Edwards

The Retreat

From Goodreads

A missing child. A desperate mother. And a house full of secrets.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

From the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies comes his most terrifying novel yet. 

My thoughts

My thanks to the Publishers via NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review. I gave this a 5 stars or 10/10.

Can I just say that Mark Edwards never fails to deliver a book that draws you in and unsettles you and they are just right up my street. He has a knack of telling a story in a way that almost makes it fit the horror genre, yet it's not aimed at that genre specifically. There is always that underlying layer that just creeps you out and keeps you guessing. You just know that something sinister is going to happen at some point and that's one of the joys of reading his books.

Julia the owner of an old house with history, has had her share of bad luck in life. Following the loss of family members, she is left alone in the house. Deciding to turn the house into a writing retreat, the house is soon full of strangers and it's not long before a series of eerie things begin to happen.

Lucas, is an Author with at least one reasonably successful book behind him, he chances upon the retreat and it's not long before he's aware of  Julia's past. His career as a writer gives him the push to try to find out what's happening and what had happened to Julia in the past.

As Lucas's investigation begins, will he ever find out the truth or will he live to regret ever making the decision to start it.

Just read the book yourself to find out what I'm wittering about. Mark Edwards's books are always well written and I have to admit he's got a fan in me.

Blackwater: Vol 1 by T.W.M.Ashford

Blackwater: Vol. One

From Goodreads

How far would you go for the truth?

Hunter will kill for it. His daughter was abducted three years ago, and now he'll stop at nothing to find out what happened to her. At his wit's end, an elusive Thin Man offers him answers in exchange for taking on a simple security job. How could it go wrong? Framed for murder and on the run, Hunter has more than just shady mobsters to contend with. Something old and eldritch lurks beneath the streets, waiting to be reborn…

Blackwater: Vol. One is the first book in the Blackwater supernatural thriller trilogy. If you like psychotic gangsters, desperate vigilantes and all things Lovecraftian, then you’ll love T.W.M. Ashford’s darkest world to date.

My thoughts

This book fits into so many different genres. It's one that should and could be read by many as it will suit the type of book that so many readers enjoy reading. It's part thriller, part dystopian and also part horror with a slightly supernatural edge.

Hunter is a bounty hunter/vigilante, following the disappearance of his daughter Amy, he is keen to know what has happened to her. As he is offered employment by someone, who promises to help him find out what has happened to her. Are the promises that this person offers him of info about her disappearance as legitimate as they at first appear? It's not long before Hunter realises that what he was employed to do, isn't what he at first thought it was going to be. As events take an unusual turn and he finds himself on the wrong side of things, becoming the hunted rather than the hunter.

I enjoyed this first book in the Blackwater series and look forward to seeing how this series is going to pan out. I gave it a 4 stars or 8/10. I could so easily see this as a movie, finding it so easy to picture everything due to the Authors ability to transport the reader into the world that Hunter lives in.

My thanks to the Author via TBConFB, for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham


From Goodreads

A darkly satirical novel of love, revenge, and 1950s haute couture—now a major motion picture starring Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth, and Hugo Weaving.

After twenty years spent mastering the art of dressmaking at couture houses in Paris, Tilly Dunnage returns to the small Australian town she was banished from as a child. She plans only to check on her ailing mother and leave. But Tilly decides to stay, and though she is still an outcast, her lush, exquisite dresses prove irresistible to the prim women of Dungatar. Through her fashion business, her friendship with Sergeant Farrat—the town’s only policeman, who harbors an unusual passion for fabrics—and a budding romance with Teddy, the local football star whose family is almost as reviled as hers, she finds a measure of grudging acceptance. But as her dresses begin to arouse competition and envy in town, causing old resentments to surface, it becomes clear that Tilly’s mind is set on a darker design: exacting revenge on those who wronged her, in the most spectacular fashion.

My thoughts

I gave this a 4 star or 8/10.

I really enjoyed this tale of small town Australia and the machinations of the residents both past and present. With a great cast of quirky characters this was a joy to read. Told with flashbacks to the past this was a well written story, that will almost make you believe that you're a part of the community watching it all enfold. 

I'm glad that I picked it up from my local Library as a random choice, if you get the chance to read it, please do and enjoy being transported back in time to the 1950's.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi


From Goodreads

On the verge of completing a decade's worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. Kalanithi chronicles his transformation from a naive medical student into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality. 

My thoughts

I devoured this book in a day and gave it a 5 stars or 10/10. It was a very poignant book about a young trainee Neurosurgeon, who was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.

Paul Kalinithi had to come to terms with the fact that he might never qualify as a Neurosurgeon, following the diagnosis of his terminal illness. Even more heartbreaking though is the fact that he may never see his unborn child born, let alone grow up.

Telling the life of Paul and how he had to learn to try and cope with his diagnosis, and all the problems that arose as a result of a life being possibly taken far too soon. A very heartbreaking read that will stay with you for a long time.

This will probably be my read of the year for so many reasons.

Summer at Tiffany's (At Tiffany's #2) by Karen Swan


From Goodreads

A wedding to plan. A wedding to stop. What could go wrong?

Cassie loves Henry. Henry loves Cassie. With a Tiffany ring on her finger, all that Cassie has left to do is plan the wedding. It should be so simple but when Henry pushes for a date, Cassie pulls back.

Henry's wild, young cousin, Gem, has no such hesitations and is racing to the aisle at a sprint, determined to marry in the Cornish church where her parents were wed. But the family is set against it, and Cassie resolves to stop the wedding from going ahead.

When Henry lands an expedition sailing the Pacific for the summer, Cassie decamps to Cornwall, hoping to find the peace of mind she needs to move forwards. But in the dunes and coves of the northern Cornish coast, she soon discovers the past isn't finished with her yet? 

My thoughts

On paper I should have enjoyed this one more than I did. Having read and enjoyed The Paris Secret by her previously, I gave that a solid 4 stars or 8/10. However, this one didn't quite hit the mark for me. 

Cassie loves Henry and Henry loves Cassie. This should have been a good romantic read and a quick read at that. It took me some time to get through it, putting it to one side quite regularly as it wasn't just gripping me. I can't really put my finger on what the problem was and the reason why I didn't enjoy it as much as I should. Possibly, my reading mojo wasn't always there. 

I did find the second half of the book an easier read and certain aspects of it did keep me engaged, wanting to know what happened as a result of events that occurred.

If you fancy proving me wrong and giving this a better score than 3 stars or 6/10, then grab yourself a copy of it and settle down with something cold and wet to drink, as the temperatures rise outside.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

The Sacred Quest Trilogy by Skarlet Lu Realta

The Sacred Quest Trilogy (3 Book Series) by  Skarlet Lu Realta

From Amazon

The Quest Begins (Book 1)

When Louise uncovers a dark secret in an age-old Scottish castle, one that tore her from her mighty alchemist lover ‘Magus’ of an age long-past, her world shatters. Leaving the castle with a mysterious coded ring on her finger, she is catapulted headlong onto a thrilling deadly quest through a world of synchronistic supernatural magic to attempt to reunite with the Magus once more and complete what they once began. As she begins to recall and write the alchemy of their epic story, the ceremonial temple blood magic that binds them is unleashed as are the story’s characters and events which uncannily come to life, leading her on an incredible trail through quantum time to come face to face with the terror that once tore them apart.

The Flight of the Eagle (Book 2)

A name older than time. An initiation of ancient magik. A deadly truth.

The veils of reality pull back further as the Magus leads Louise back through time to show her the ancient magik he once taught her. 

Once, Louise was a mighty mage and her name was Ahqulieah. As the Magus insists she takes this name once more, the long-lost ancient magik of a name older than time is unleashed. Seven key initiations of alchemy shatter her understanding of reality while the deadly age-old enemy follows her across time, stalking her from the shadows ready to strike. Who or what is it really?

The stakes get higher as a dawning, terrifying realisation takes hold. What great secret will Louise and the Magus unleash if they succeed in reuniting to complete what they once began?
Return of the Magus (Book 3)

Ceremonial blood magik. A timeless cipher. A devastating choice.

As the race to return the Magus to earth hits a crescendo, the staggering truth of who he and Ahqulieah really are emerges. The ceremonial blood magic that binds them works its magic, igniting a highly engineered alchemical plan they once created together. This plan was designed for a single purpose; To join and fuse two worlds in order to create a new human.

The deadly ancient enemy finally reveals its harrowing identity as it wages the ultimate psychological, mind controlling war. The horrifying truth of its real control over Ahqulieah and the Magus, and over all of creation, becomes apparent in epic revelations.

As the gates of time and mortality come crashing down, Ahqulieah is faced with the devastating life or death choice she must now make in order to reunite with the man she has loved for eternity.

Nothing is what it seems.
My thoughts

The Sacred Quest trilogy will take you on a journey across many countries and depicts many religions, ancient civilizations and customs.

Louise is  married with children, her marriage is not an altogether happy one. As her marriage appears to draw to a close for several reasons. Louise begins a journey, she is on a quest to find someone, the Magus. Is he real or is he imaginary? Of this she is not sure, he is there when she is awake and also in her dreams.

Will Louise ever discover the true identity of the Magus and if he actually exists, to find this out you need to enter her world. A world shrouded in mystery, religion, alchemy and supernatural occurrences.

I enjoyed the trilogy and found it very thought provoking. It's clear to see that the Author has a passion for this subject matter and the trilogy is littered with descriptive passages that I felt had been well researched. If you like reading unusual and quirky then this is the perfect read for you. It will blow your mind at times and at others you'll be wondering what's going to happen next.