Books/book review/Sci-Fi
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And death has it secrets

Secrets in death Book Cover Secrets in death
Dallas, Eve (Fictitious character)
J. D. Robb
fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, crime fiction
Piatkus Books
September 5, 2017
384

No one is going to miss Larinda Mars. A ruthless gossip queen with a lucrative sideline in blackmail, there's no lack of suspects when she's murdered in a fashionable New York bar. With so many people wanting her dead, it's going to be a tough case to crack. Lieutenant Eve Dallas may not like this particular victim, but it's her duty to bring the killer to justice. As she digs deeper into Larinda's mysterious past, it becomes clear the reporter had a unique talent for uncovering secrets. Including ones very close to home for Eve and her husband Roarke... Someone was willing to commit murder to keep their secrets hidden. And with Eve now working to uncover the truth, she and her team are heading into serious danger.

Dallas rides again in a New York winter, with a hat with a pompom, which rally embarrasses her, but… there is a murder to be solved and Roarke and his eGeek friends have plenty to do.

Gossip columnists have lots of secrets and they hold secrets on others too it seems, secrets that make them a lot of money and give them a lot of power. So lots of enemies to comb through. Perhaps not quite as original as the earlier books in this series, but still, always worth a read.

As always, Peabody makes us smile, Roarke makes us lust, and we all want to be Dallas. And we’d also quite like that week in the Mexico hideaway she offered Peabody – especially if we fly by one of Roarke’s private planes.

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animals/Books/book review/fiction
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Llamas spit!

Reinventing Hillwilla Book Cover Reinventing Hillwilla
Hillwilla #3
Melanie Forde
contemporary fiction, romance, animals
Independently published

Life on a llama farm, set in remote “Seneca County,” West Virginia, transitions from contented to chaotic in this final novel in the Hillwill trilogy -- all under the watchful eye of canine guardian Ralph. Five years after we first met northern urban transplant Beatrice Desmond, she is finally adapting to her mountain hollow among the wary “born-heres” and is more open to the blessings in her life. She has developed a rewarding mother-daughter relationship with troubled local teenager Clara Buckhalter and is inching toward marriage with dashing, but complicated entrepreneur Tanner Fordyce. Meanwhile, Clara sets off on a productive new path, one that would have been unthinkable had Beatrice never come into her life. All of that progress is suddenly jeopardized by Clara’s scheming mother Charyce. Ultimately, the upheaval touched off by Charyce’s schemes serves as the catalyst for new beginnings for the Seneca County misfits (even Ralph).

This was the 3rd and final book in short series about life on a Llama farm and how a woman reinvented herself – more than once when settled on it in deepest West Virginia.

Now West virginia is a place I have only heard of in terms of Hill Billies and I am aware that they have their form of speech and customs derived from being isolated from the mainstream culture and poverty. So I had to look up the term Melungeon when I read it in the book. It appears that it is a term unique to the Southern Appalachians and means a tri-racial mix of European, African and Native American blood in a person. Now why you need a special term for this I am not sure but there you are.

Llamas being used a guard animals was something new to me as well, as I had never seen that in english sheep farms, but it appears to be quite common as they have good hearing and once bonded with the herd, are fierce protectors. to me, it seems like an excellent idea – if you look after the llamas that is, as their wool is wonderful and can be shorn just like the sheep. It is free of lanolin and reputed to be allergen free too, but a little coarse so is usually mixed with ordinary wool when spun. Vicuna and Alpacas produce better wool, but I don’t know if they are used as guard animals.

This was an interesting story as I learnt quite a bit about the area and customs and geology and thus weather. Though realistically, if you live up a mountain you must expect to be cold and have lots of snow, but why move yet further up?

The behaviour of some of the people just reinforced what I had heard about Hill Billies unfortunately and I wonder how much this stereotype is true. I also found that it was rather difficult to follow the story at first as i had not read the previous books in the series. It took me a while to settle into the story and i needed more background earlier on.

In the end, the final decisions were to be expected and thus the story lacked some of the expected tension for me.

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Books/book review/Fantasy/humour/cats
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And the magic word is?

Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets Book Cover Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets
(The Amanda Cadabra Cozy Paranormal Mysteries) #2
Holly Bell
humour, fantasy, female sleuths
Independently published
(24 Dec. 2018)

Amanda Cadabra, asthmatic furniture restorer and covert witch with irascible feline familiar, always said that was no place for a research centre. The lost village in Madley Wood, where the leaves don’t grow, and the birds don’t sing.

An old secret. A new build. A body. Only one witness. Only one person who can see that witness: Amanda Cadabra.

Only one place that can tell the story: the Cellar of Secrets, in 1940. And only one person who can go there: Amanda Cadabra. With, of course, only one grumpy cat.

Only one person who might help: the personable but intractable Inspector Trelawney. But this is a peaceful English village … who would do anything as criminal as murder? Will she find them before they find her?

Please note that to help the reader to be immersed in Amanda's world, this British-set story, by a British author, uses British English spelling, grammar and usage, and includes accents, dialects and a magical language.

Well not abracadabra of course… What a strange name, but of course, one that is very memorable.

So we have a cosy mystery novel set in a strange village with ghosts and witches and hidden secrets.

At times, I thought I was reading a book for teenagers or for US readers who wanted to have a traditional English village with all the traditional English characters in it. Including funny names and so on.

That said, it was an enjoyable and humorous tale with engaging lead characters – Amanda herself and her feline familiar and the detective who can’t know the real truth about witch-craft, but sort of knows about ghosts.

Very light reading but ..

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Books/book review/fiction
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Cultivating What?

The Farm Book Cover The Farm
Joanne Ramos
General Fiction (Adult) , Literary Fiction
Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ)
07 May 2019

THE MUST-READ DEBUT NOVEL OF 2019. Sharp, compulsive and darkly funny, this is an unforgettable novel about a world within touching distance of our own.

Ambitious businesswoman Mae Yu runs Golden Oaks – a luxury retreat transforming the fertility economy – where women get the very best of everything, so long as they play by the rules.

Jane is a young immigrant in search of a better future. Stuck living in a cramped dorm with her baby daughter and shrewd aunt Ate, she sees an unmissable chance to change her life. But at what cost?

A novel that explores the role of luck and merit, class, ambition and sacrifice, The Farm is an unforgettable story about how we live and who truly holds power.

A book that makes you think about your own moral code and just when you might be tempted to farm out a body! Yes, a body – perhaps your own body, or perhaps you might farm someone else’s?

And what would you be cultivating? Why a baby?

So The Handmaid’s Tale with a twist and actually something that is all too likely to be inexistence, and as it would be very secret, we would never know.

We all know that people use surrogate mothers when they can’t have babies for themselves – male couples for instance, or perhaps when they can’t carry a child themselves due to illness or…

But the premise in this book is that the uber-rich may want to use surrogates for other reasons. Perhaps they are too old have a child, perhaps they are too busy, or perhaps they just don’t want to ‘spoil’ their figures? Or just go through the grind of pregnancy?

And how to choose your surrogate? What would motivate them? There are good reasons why in the UK you cannot pay the surrogate expect for reasonable expenses, and also, even with a contract, the child is still the ‘property’ of the person who carries it through pregnancy. In Australia the law prevents commercial surrogacy, and this is the case in most countries. In some even altruistic surrogacy is banned, eg France and Germany; but in the US it is decided by the State. States generally considered to be surrogacy friendly include California, Illinois, Arkansas, Maryland, Washington D.C., Oregon and New Hampshire among others. Both New Hampshire and Washington State have laws permitting commercial surrogacy from 1/1/2019.

So a very timely book on a subject that is very controversial still. Well written and one that I couldn’t put down – I wanted to know what happened to the young women who contracted out their bodies for pregnancy and still think that Jane was badly treated despite what she thought!

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Books/book review/Fantasy/Romance
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Find the Prince

Lincoln Book Cover Lincoln
AngelBound
Christina Bauer
contemporary fiction, romance, fantasy, angels, demons
Monster House books
26 Feb 2019

When it comes to fighting demons, Prince Lincoln is the greatest warrior in the history of his people, the thrax. Now Lincoln faces his hardest fight yet...and it's not on a traditional battlefield. Lincoln is falling in love. And the girl is part demon. Between a fated dance at the Ryder mansion...a life-changing walk through a hedgerow maze...and a massive battle with none other than the King of Hell...Lincoln realizes that he wants to share his life with Myla Lewis, the part-demon girl who has captured his heart. However, an evil thrax noble--the powerful Earl of Acca--is prepared to do anything to stop Lincoln and Myla from having a future.

I am very fond of this version of world building and love the idea of demons getting loose and causing illnesses etc – but being invisible to the human eye. And that the Thrax and others like human ice-cream and films. The Ghouls are creepy and the monsters are very imaginative. Don’t read these books if you get nightmares as they will inhabit them!
I have now read all the books so far published in the series and found them enjoyable, but I thought that of all of them Armageddon was rather slow in tension building.
The story of Lincoln finally comes out now – his background and how he courted Myla from his perspective and then we learn about how Maxon got his night terrors in Armageddon.
Better to have read Armageddon before Maxon but this author does not produce books in chronological order so a bit tricky…
However, if you can manage to sort out the storyline in your own mind, then do read the books as they are published.

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