Tag Archives: paranormal

Teaser Tuesday – 27th December, 2016

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tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This is my choice of the day:
Freeks by Amanda Hocking
34% “I did, of course, I did.” He moved back into the doorway, and motioned for us to come in. “Come freeks1on in. Welcome to my home.”

Since he was so tall, he had to hunch over to invite us in, and he kept his long arms folded up so we could pass. He looked very much like a praying mantis, and suddenly, I heard Blossom’s voice in my head—as crisp and clear as if she were standing beside me right now—reading aloud from a book of poetry, “ʽWill you walk into my parlor?’ said the Spider to the Fly.”

BLURB: Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night. When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

This NetGalley arc is due out at the start of January and I’m part of the blog tour. So far I’m really enjoying this paranormal crime thriller. Mara is an appealing protagonist and the low level tension that something isn’t quite right is steadily ramping up. I’m looking forward to diving back into this one during the holiday break.

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Shift by Em Bailey

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Yes… I know this one has been around since 2012 and indeed, collected The Inky Awards for Gold in that year. But it turned up as a NetGalley arc and I opened up the first couple of pages and was lured by the smart, funny writing which had me laughing aloud.

shiftOlive Corbett is not crazy. Not anymore.
She obediently takes her meds and stays under the radar at school. After “the incident,” Olive just wants to avoid any more trouble, so she knows the smartest thing is to stay clear of the new girl who is rumored to have quite the creepy past. But there’s no avoiding Miranda Vaile. As mousy Miranda edges her way into the popular group, right up to the side of queen bee Katie – and pushes the others right out – only Olive seems to notice that something strange is going on.

That is part of the rather chatty blurb, which gives you an idea of the book. Olive is back at school after suffering a major, traumatic upheaval in her life – which means she is no longer best friends with Katie. Or even on reasonable terms with her… Instead, Ami features in her life and between them, they provide a lovely, snarky commentary on Olive’s current life. Until Miranda arrives…

I am aware that I am waaay outside the target age for this book, so Olive’s fluttery response to the new boy somewhat slid past me. Miranda’s appearance is far more intriguing – until the last third, when the plot seemed to slightly lose momentum, allowing me to guess the outcome of the main storyline.

That said, Olive’s character pings off the page, with an enjoyably grumpy take on the world around her – it was a delight to find so much wit alongside the teen whinge about school, erstwhile friends and family. I also thought the family worked well, too. It was refreshing change in a YA book not to have a monster for a mother, but a rather nice, if rather frazzled newly-divorced woman trying to hold down a job with two children. Her vegetarian recipes are hilarious – so long as you don’t have to eat them…

But this book is as much about the main antagonist as it is about Olive. Throughout the story, this character steadily gains in compelling menace – although I felt we knew far too much about their capabilities early on, which robbed the latter part of the book of some narrative tension. However, it is still an enjoyable adventure that I devoured in one sitting and would be an ideal beach read. I received this NetGalley arc from the publisher in return for an honest review
8/10

Sunday Post – 24th July

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Sunday Post

This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

Yippee! Summer finally blazed into being in our damp corner of the world… Finally I get to shed my winter weight clothes, wake up to sun streaming through the window and have the back door open while cooking.

I’m now timelining The Sunblinded trilogy and have got halfway through Dying for Space as the next stage of the editing process. It’s been a busy week with a writing group meeting on Wednesday evening; the last lesson of the year with my autistic student; my son coming down for a few days; out celebrating a birthday with a friend and my one-day Summer Surgery writing course at Northbrook on Friday.northbrookcollege

It was lovely to meet up with a number of my regular students and welcome a talented young writer. We had a great day, catching up with students’ writing during the summer break and working on writing exercises – the bonus being the promised spectacular thunderstorms decided to stay away.

While I’m fitter and feeling better than I have for a decade – despite not losing any weight, my clothes are all noticeably looser – I have struggled with eczema around my eyes for a month, which has been steadily getting worse. So this week, I turned to Debbie Watkins, one of my writing buddies, who also specialises in health screening. I’ve changed my diet so radically in the last few months, I knew it would take me ages to work out which food I’m eating was causing the problem. Debbie nailed it, giving me some necessary supplements and a detox programme and now the eczema is beginning to ease down – thankfully the culprit turned out to be chickpeas, something I can easily avoid.

Yesterday, my mate Mhairi Simpson came over for the day and we completed on our tax returns online  and submitted them as a team effort. What would have been a daunting, miserable business alone, became far more of a semi-hilarious adventure when working through the form together. And they’re now done for a whole year – yessss!

This week I’ve managed to read:
Shift – by Em Bailey
Olive Corbett is not crazy. Not anymore.
shiftShe obediently takes her meds and stays under the radar at school. After “the incident,” Olive just wants to avoid any more trouble, so she knows the smartest thing is to stay clear of the new girl who is rumored to have quite the creepy past. But there’s no avoiding Miranda Vaile. As mousy Miranda edges her way into the popular group, right up to the side of queen bee Katie – and pushes the others right out – only Olive seems to notice that something strange is going on.

This YA read has some interesting twists and turns, giving an eerie twist on the intense teen relationships, while Miranda grapples to come to terms with a family upheaval. I shall be reviewing it in due course.

 

 

 

Riddler’s Fayre: The First Matter by Steve Carroll and Jeff Anderson
Aeden is young man with no memory, adrift in a world of riddles. His only friend – a man hated for his Riddler's Fayrerace and creed, their only hope – a nun on the run for opposing the Holy Wars. Meanwhile a veteran of the Third Crusade is hunting Aeden, believing him to be the clue to discovering the greatest secret in alchemy – the identity of the First Matter.

Steve Carroll is a fellow tutor at Northbrook, a talented artist and a really great bloke – none of which would count if I didn’t also think his series of graphic novels set in the Middle Ages was something special. This first instalment has recently been re-released and I reviewed it during the week.

 

 

 

Solar Express by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
solarexpressYou can’t militarize space. This one rule has led to decades of peaceful development of space programs worldwide. However, increasing resource scarcity and a changing climate on Earth’s surface is causing some interested parties to militarize, namely India, the North American Union, and the Sinese Federation. The discovery of a strange artifact by Dr. Alayna Wong precipitates a crisis. What appears to be a hitherto undiscovered comet is soon revealed to be an alien structure on a cometary trajectory toward the sun. Now there is a race between countries to see who can study and control the artifact dubbed the “Solar Express” before it perhaps destroys itself.

This enjoyable sci fi adventure took me a while to get through, given it is reasonably densely written and littered with techie detail – all adding to the story, but meaning I couldn’t just burn through the prose at my normal reading speed. It was worth the effort, though – I thoroughly enjoyed this one and will be reviewing it here in due course.

 

My posts last week:
Sunday Post – 17th July

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* – Review of Woman of the House – Book 1 of the StoryWorld series by Jane Lythell

Teaser Tuesday – Solar Express by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Review of Speak by Louisa Hall

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Inborn – Book 1 of The Birthright series by Amy Saunders

Friday Faceoff – Who’s at the Door? Featuring Overbite by Meg Cabot

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Riddler’s Fayre: The First Matter by Steve Carroll and Jeff Anderson

Other interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

Adventures in Science Fiction Art: Haunting Landscapes and Cityscapes: The 1970s Italian SF Art of Allison aka Mariella Anderlini
https://sciencefictionruminations.wordpress.com/2016/07/23/adventures-in-science-fiction-art-haunting-landscapes-and-cityscapes-the-1970s-italian-sf-art-of-allison-a-k-a-mariella-anderlini/
This site is a goldmine if you enjoy perusing the extraordinary artwork that flowered during the ‘golden age’ of science fiction. Joachim Boaz also reviews a wide range of books written during that time. But this particular article features some really beautiful covers…

Another book cover feature – this week’s Friday Face-off was nailed by Lynn’s wonderful selection of covers for the children’s classic The Secret Garden
https://lynns-books.com/2016/07/22/i-am-the-keymaster-are-you-the-gatekeeper/
Check this out if you fancy a delightful stroll down memory lane.

Viv Tuffnell’s articles are some of the best written in the blogosphere – and this one is right up there – Lost books, libraries, L-space and the odour of bananas
https://zenandtheartoftightropewalking.wordpress.com/2016/07/21/lost-books-l-space-libraries-and-the-odour-of-bananas/
She writes excellent books, too…

By contrast, this offering is short – The Meaning of Travel in 5 Quotes – https://memoirsonthemove.com/2016/07/17/the-meaning-of-travel-in-5-quotes/

The grandchildren will be arriving this coming week, so I have to get going and do some housework before they arrive. Let’s just hope the weather stays fine – this is a fabulous part of the world to spend a summer, so long as it isn’t wet and rainy! Many thanks for visiting and taking the time and trouble to comment – and may you have a wonderful reading and blogging week.

Review of Night Shift – Book 3 of the Midnight, Texas series by Charlaine Harris

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I’ve really enjoyed this quirky series where Harris follows a small community, who have pitched up at this isolated crossroads in the middle of nowhere because they are all trying to keep a low profile. The first book, Midnight Crossroad – see my review here – immediately sucked me in and I have been on the lookout for the subsequent books in the series.

nightshiftAt Midnight’s local pawnshop, weapons are flying off the shelves—only to be used in sudden and dramatic suicides right at the main crossroads in town. Who better to figure out why blood is being spilled than the vampire Lemuel, who, while translating mysterious texts, discovers what makes Midnight the town it is. There’s a reason why witches and werewolves, killers and psychics, have been drawn to this place. And now they must come together to stop the bloodshed in the heart of Midnight. For if all hell breaks loose—which just might happen—it will put the secretive town on the map, where no one wants it to be…

Once again, the residents of Midnight have to pull together to discover what is going on. I really like the premise where Harris explores slices of each character as they fit into each story, slowly revealing more about their personalities and their histories. In this instalment, the main protagonist is Fiji, the witch. She is very appealing, with her kindness and good nature, her insecurity about her appearance and her unrequited love for another of the residents. In this story, we also learn more about her background and family, when her bitchy sister comes to stay. This provides some enjoyable humour and gives us a satisfyingly awful character to tut over – as while no one in Midnight is particularly cosy, neither are they utterly repellent.

The other character we learn a lot more about is the town’s vampire, Lemuel. He is an authority on paranormal lore, so has a nasty feeling about what is going on behind the suicides at Midnight – I’m not saying more as I don’t want to lurch into Spoiler territory, but I won’t be giving away too much if I reveal that his worst fears are confirmed… Not a surprise as it wouldn’t be much of a story if they weren’t.

Harris weaves the community dynamic in amongst the dramatic happenings at Midnight, so once more we have an unfolding picture of the everyday alongside the havoc that has to be stopped. I really like this juxtaposition and find it makes this series a very satisfying read. However, I firmly advise that because of the ongoing character development, this isn’t a series to drop into halfway through. While you would certainly be able to pick up on the main drama easily enough, you wouldn’t get a proper feel for the continuing character reveal as we gradually get to know the residents of Midnight. This isn’t a demanding read, though technically more tricky to pull off than it at first appears and one I would recommend for a relaxing holiday read.
9/10

Friday Faceoff – Like One, That on a Lonesome Road

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This is a new meme started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week’s topic is to find two eyecatching covers featuring a road.  This book seemed the obvious choice…

 midnightcrossroaduk

 This haunting UK cover of Midnight Crossroad was produced by Gollancz when the book was published in 2014. I’d enjoyed the Sukie Stackhouse series and pounced on this offering with joy, when I realised I could lose myself in yet another Harris world. While it does give a sense of the book, Midnight Crossroad is not quite as dark and creepy as the cover suggests.

 midnightcrossroadus


The US version was produced by Ace, also published in 2014. While it doesn’t have quite the intensity and power of the UK cover, it does communicate the quirky sense that something isn’t quite right about this roadside settlement.

            This week, I’m really torn. I love the arresting image and sense of menace of the UK cover – and it’s the one I associate with the book. But I think in many ways, the slightly skewed perspective of the US version better represents the book… Nope – I think the UK cover just edges it for me. What about you?

 

 

 

Teaser Tuesday – 5th April 2016

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Teaser

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books and a Beat.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This is my choice of the day:
Desolation – Book 2 of The Demon Road trilogy by Derek Landy
1%: It was safe in here. None of these people wanted to kill her. She was getting good at spotting the Desolationtelltale signs.

BLURB: Reeling from their bloody encounter in New York City at the end of Demon Road, Amber and Milo flee north. On their trail are the Hounds of Hell – five demonic bikers who will stop at nothing to drag their quarries back to their unholy master.
Amber and Milo’s only hope lies within Desolation Hill – a small town with a big secret; a town with a darkness to it, where evil seeps through the very floorboards. Until, on one night every year, it spills over onto the streets and all hell breaks loose.
And that night is coming…

I hadn’t PLANNED on reviewing this book – but when those nice people at NetGalley told me I was auto-approved and I looked twice at the cover, I somehow couldn’t resist. Yes… I know, I know – I’ve cheated, I’ve posted THREE sentences instead of TWO. And? They’re short sentences. So, bite me. Um – erm – no… please don’t! What I meant to say was…

A review will be along shortly, given this book is due to be published on 7th April.

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of KINDLE Ebook Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

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I had encountered McGuire’s work earlier this year, thanks to a recommendation by Himself – read my review of Rosemary and Rue here. So when this novella featured on NetGalley, my attention was Everyheartadoorwaycaught. However, I’m not a fan of novellas, generally. Far too often, I’m just getting into the swing of the story when it all comes skidding to a halt. Would this be the case, this time around?

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests
Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else. But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children. Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things. No matter the cost.

It’s an intriguing premise. I was convinced I was reading one type of genre – and then found I was reading something quite different. Huge kudos to whoever wrote the blurb to this story – it’s smart and snappy and sets up the narrative without revealing anything vital.

The McGuire magic soon had me engrossed in this little treasure. This delicately told tale pulled me into heartbreak and strangeness of the situation, before ambushing me with the gothic element that ripples through this story. We get sprinkles, unicorns and blood-dripping horror all wrapped up in this story, which is beautifully paced and perfectly concluded.

In short, this is a gem. And I read the last page with a lump in my throat – something that rarely happens in full-length books when I have 300+ pages to grow to care for a character.
10/10

Weekly Wrap-Up – 3rd April 2016

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This is my second short summary of my week to share at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s Sunday meme, which is an awesome idea…

This week I completed and wrote reviews for five books. This isn’t quite as impressive as it first appears, as one is a novella and the other is a Children’s book I finished reading aloud to my grandson. As yet, I haven’t posted any of these, because they are mostly NetGalley arcs so I am waiting for their publishing dates before posting them on my blog.

The Last Gasp by Trevor Hoylethelastgasp
This book has an interesting history. It was first published in 1983, when it was treated as straight science fiction with emphasis on the fiction. However, as some of the predictions made by Hoyle have now become frighteningly accurate, given the grim finale, Quercus are now republishing it.
I shall be posting my review of this book on Thursday, 7th April.

DeceptionsDeceptions – Book 3 of the Cainsville series by Kelley Armstrong
I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in this riveting series – see my review of Omens here. Now Olivia learns more about her parents tragic, bloody past and attempts to help them – when once more, a murder derails her life… I will probably be posting this review during the week, all being well.

 

Beaver Towers by Nigel Hintonbeavertowers
This charming Fantasy adventure entranced my granddaughter sufficiently that we went out and bought the series for her, and now my grandson is the right age, I started reading it to him. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting him to enjoy it, but as the book progressed, he also fell under the spell of Hinton’s storytelling, so that we have now moved straight onto the second book. This review will appear in due course.

 

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshithestartouchedqueen
This lush, beautifully told Fantasy tale of an outcast princess and magical beings reminded me in places of N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. This book is due for publication on Tuesday 3rd May, so I will be posting my review Monday 2nd May.

 

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuireEveryheartadoorway
Earlier this year, I read Rosemary and Rue – read my review here, so immediately noticed this one on the NetGalley shelves. Though novellas aren’t generally my favourite storytelling format, I gave this one a whirl and was very glad I did. I’ll post the review tomorrow.

 

These are last week’s posts:

Weekly Wrap-Up – 27th March 2016
NEW RELEASE SPECIAL – Review of World of Water by James Lovegrove
Teaser Tuesday – 29th March 2016
Review of Uprooted by Naomi Novik
2016 Discovery Challenge – March Roundup
Review of Bronze Gods by A.A. Guirre
Favourite Space Operas – Part 2

It’s been a busy week, as I am able to spend a bit more time on my blog given I am on holiday from my teaching duties at present. My most popular post, was last Sunday’s Weekly Wrap Up, closely followed by my review of James Lovegrove’s World of Water.

Many thanks to all of you who visited and I am especially grateful to those of you who took the time to comment. I keep thinking about my fabulous grandfather – and how he would have loved to chat online about his favourite books with like-minded people. This, truly, is an amazing time to be alive…

Review of Heart of Obsidian – Book 12 of the Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh

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I picked this up as the cover intrigued me and the first couple of pages drew me in with the narrative tension and strong characterisation.

A dangerous, volatile rebel, hands stained blood red. A woman whose very existence has been erased. A love story so dark, it may shatter the world itself. A deadly price that must be paid. The day of reckoning is here.

heartofobsidianAs blurbs go, it certainly doesn’t give away much of the story. So, given I’d plunged right into the middle of a long-running, established world, was it much of a struggle? No. Singh is very deft at providing enough context so that I quickly grasped the important aspects of the world and the laws that were now in place given humanity has evolved, with two lethal sub-species in the mix.

The narrative engine of this story is the tale of Kaleb and Sahara. That they have a tangled and rather fraught past is complicated by the fact that Sahara, for a variety of complex and spoiler-connected reasons, cannot recall this past. Another difficulty is that Kaleb is insanely powerful, with a mind that can teleport him anywhere on the planet in the blink of an eye. So what can undermine and cause havoc to such a very powerful protagonist? His fierce, single-minded love for a girl who may grow to hate him, once she becomes well enough to remember what he has done, that’s what. It’s a nifty plot device.

Singh writes with the brakes off, her prose is drenched with emotion and the tumult of her conflicted main characters. In less skilful hands, this could have descended into a parody of itself. But Singh manages to pull it off, because she writes with focus and conviction. This is mainly a love story and while I generally avoid books featuring romance, I was held by this particular narrative due to the sheer originality of the setup.

As far as the world went, it seems to hang together well enough, though details are somewhat sketchy – but that is more of an observation, rather than a criticism. Does the romance work and did I believe in it? Oh yes. But do be warned – the sex in this book is dialled up to steamy with a number of explicit scenes, and if you have a youngsters in your household in the habit of picking up your fantasy offerings, this may be one you wish to keep out of their reach.

Another reason I kept reading, although romantic and erotic fantasy aren’t generally sub-genres I enjoy, was that the actual love story is tender with a strong emotional connection between the characters. There is also plenty of danger and some good action scenes – other than those in the bedroom – which were also well written and enjoyable. Overall, I can well see why Singh is a New York Times bestselling author with this series. If you taste runs to sexy protagonists with more than a hint of danger around them, set in an interesting world, then track down this series, though I’d recommend to get the best out of it, head for the first book, Slave to Sensation.
8/10

Review of Touch by Claire North

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I’ve been a major fan of this author during her incarnation as Kate Griffin – see my review of The Glass God here. But I was blown away last year by her first Claire North book The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which is on the literary end of the fantasy genre and is simply remarkable – see my review here. Would I find Touch as impressive?

TouchHe tried to take my life. Instead, I took his. It was a long time ago. I remember it was dark, and I didn’t see my killer until it was too late. As I died, my hand touched his. That’s when the first switch took place. Suddenly, I was looking through the eyes of my killer, and I was watching myself die. Now switching is easy. I can jump from body to body, have any life, be anyone. Some people touch lives. Others take them. I do both.

So there you have it. The premise is that there are a few individuals out there who can inhabit a body with a simple touch, skin on skin. And we’re right alongside Kepler as he comes under a sudden, shocking attack. The book takes us on a tension-filled adventure as he struggles to discover exactly who is stalking him and why. It would be an intriguing page-turner if it was a straight thriller. But, this being North, it also becomes far more than that.

She takes us inside the mind of Kepler in the first person viewpoint. We learn the origins of his current existence and throughout the book, we also learn of how and when he jumped. And details of his career as an estate agent. No… he wasn’t busy selling houses – he was checking out suitable hosts for the scattered community of others like him. They mostly wanted people who were young, healthy and rich – or those down on their luck willing to agree to donate a slice of their life to come out the other end drug-free with a lump sum in their bank account…

These insights intersperse the main narrative – a roller-coaster chase in which Kepler is both pursued and pursuer as he tried to unravel exactly who is behind the attack on him. I can’t say too much more without straying into spoiler territory, which in a classy thriller of this calibre would be little short of wicked – suffice to say that after you’ve read it, a certain catchphrase will send a shiver up your spine. By any measure, this book is worth reading – both as a slice of escapist adventure and as an examination on the human condition. So once more, North has nailed it. This prolific and multi-talented author has already racked up an impressive back catalogue and is still only in her 20’s.
She is an outstanding talent, who goes on getting better with every book. I can’t wait to see what she will next produce.
10/10