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The Last Changeling: A Review

We picked out this book for bookclub a few months back based partially on the cover and partially on the description. It sounded like a very interesting blend of Sherlock esque stuff and mythological fairy-like creatures.

The Last ChangelingThe book started off a little on the slow side, I was intrigued but it felt a little wandering in plot and ideas. There was plenty of talk of metahominids (the books version of fairies) and how evil they are. by a third of the way in it pulled together and had plenty of action, some great bad guys and abilities and some very interesting cool characters.

I struggled to put the book down until I got to about three-quarters in and then it felt like the book went downhill a little. There were some chunks of text from what seemed like completely pointless points of viw, like an underground train driver, and after setting up lots of different metahominids with different strengths they onle really shot bows and arrows at people.

Also there were a few bits where I got completely confused as to whose point of view it was from. Something was really hinky with the formatting which made it difficult to tell when it switched, but that was only a problem a couple of times.

Finally the ending felt a bit like a wash out. There was some Deus Ex Machina with a plane that our main hero could suddenly just go get and someone’s fairy uncle who suddenly united the fairies, but then they turned out to not understand humans at all. The ending felt rather rushed and like the author had put all these cool fairie powers together and then couldn’t actually think of a way for the good guys to win against those odds, so conveniently made the metahominids weaker all of a sudden.

All in all there was a lot of great potential in the book and I’d definitely read a sequel, just wish it could have ended a little better.

Imperfect Strangers: A Review

This is another ebook I was gifted by the author, David Staniforth, in return for my review. It’s also another book that’s a departure from the usual genre of the author (honestly something I think authors should risk more often).

Imperfect StrangersI was a little worried about taking this book on as it’s not normally a genre I like reading. I find life can be scary enough without reading stuff that scares me even more, but I’m glad I did. I immediately connected with the main character Keith and what he’d been through.

Although I knew where the book was leading it didn’t make it any less boring to read for the most part, although I felt it dragged a little in the middle and found some of the relationships Sally had with other people to be not quite real. To me she didn’t seem to get along very well with her friends and it made me wonder what had made her like them in the first place, but explaining it might have bogged the story down so… tough to say how that could have been made better.

I must admit there was a part of me that felt very sorry for Keith and kept hoping the book would have a twist at the end and make him the hero, but it was more realistic for it not to so I’m not complaining and I think it’s a credit to the author for making me so attached to his character for me to hope he could redeem himself.

Very interesting thriller with some very realistic messed up characters. Not a perfect story but still well written.

A Mug’s Game: A Review

I was given a copy of this ebook by the author, C. D. Swanson, in exchange for my review.

A Mug's GameThis book started of very intriguing, and had a very interesting main character. It’s a bit of a mystery/thriller type book and has some elements of science fiction with the references to advanced video gaming. I found the way of building suspense by withholding information rather than letting events build tension to grate on me a little. I’d have kept turing the pages anyway even if I’d known more, but it was only a minor irritation.

Character wise there were some really interesting and diverse characters and I liked the main character and how he wrestled with what was right and necessary. The detectives were a little stereotypical but otherwise fine as well.

I had a few problems with the formating and there were quite a few spelling mistakes still in the text, which was surprising for a book that appears to have a publishing company behind it. The first letter in each chapter was englarged and apart from one chapter the third line didn’t indent to make room for it so it covered up some words. There was also one strange bit in the third or fourth chapter where a sentence was all jumbled, then there was a gap and then the next sentence was in a completely different font.

All in all, not a bad book, although I’m not sure exactly what genre to call it. I’d read the author again but I’m not sure I think much of the publisher.

Gone Girl: A Review

I read this book for my bookclub in November. I must admit we only read it because the trailer for the film made us curious.

Gone GirlThe book has a bit of a slow start and isn’t quite missleading enough for you to not know what’s happened, although it makes a good stab at being unobvious. Then strangely a little after 50% of the way through the book they let you know what happened and give you the whodunnit part of the storyline.

After that the book just gets more and more twisted. I kept reading because I had to know if there was justice and exactly how the author was going to end this crazy crazy idea, but it was with a sort of dread that it was going to end the way I feared. But it didn’t. The ending was worse. I won’t have any spoilers here but suffice to say I think I may well hate a character more than I hate Joffrey from Game of Thrones and that’s saying something.

In terms of writing style, it wasn’t anything exceptional, but I definitely can’t complain either. There are a lot of bestsellers that aren’t written this well.

Character wise all of the main characters and side characters have plenty of depth to them. They have quirks and everything that makes them come alive so a lot of respect to the writer for that. Her characterisation is wonderful.

Do I recommend the book? No, not really. It’s just too twisted and there are just a few too many complete sociopaths in here (one is debatably a psychopath) for me to suggest people should read it. The book is interesting in terms of the psychology of it all but otherwise, steer clear! You won’t be satisfied and you’ll feel totally creeped out.

Sherdan’s Legacy

The eBook of this sequel to Sherdan’s Prophecy was published recently so I thought I’d share a chapter from it so you could have a read. If you’ve not read the first book yet you can do so on my blog here.

Sleep was caught in snatches for Anya over the next few hours. Every hour or so someone looked in on her and woke her up. For some reason she was meant to stay alert, although no one else came to question her.

Time was impossible to keep track of. Not a single person wore a watch and the room had no clock in it. They had taken her mobile phone when they brought her there but even if they hadn’t the handcuffs would have prevented her from looking at it.

Her only hope of keeping track of time was counting the number of times someone came to check on her and assuming it was a scheduled disturbance. The same person only bothered her a few times in a row so it seemed like it might be a regular thing.

Her tenth visit revealed Mr Jeffreys again. He had both the folder and recorder with him this time.

“My, my, aren’t we serious, my file and proper documentation of what I say.” She sat down on the chair again, expecting she would be asked if she didn’t.

“So are you going to answer my questions now?”

“Not if they are the ones you’ve already asked me.”

“All right, I don’t like repeating myself anyway.” He opened the file and sat back, “So, tell me what your relationship with Dr Sherdan Harper is?”

“Not as important as the relationship I’d like to start establishing with a lawyer.”

“So you admit you know Dr Sherdan Harper?”

“Seriously? He was all over the news for months, who doesn’t know him?”

“Do you agree with Utopia’s stance?”

“The way the word looks or the ideology of a perfect society?”

“Miss Price!”

“Lawyer, remember. I asked for one of those yesterday.”

“Look, no one wants to charge you with anything. You’re not the kind of person who we feel is a major threat but we do want to make sure we know what we’re dealing with. We’re just asking for some information. As soon as we have everything we need you will be returned home,” he said.

She laughed and stuck her feet up on the table again, narrowly missing the papers.

“I did wonder when you’d try that tactic. I don’t actually believe you. I think you want more than information and I think that you would absolutely love to lock some people up just to show to the British government that you are doing something about Dr Harper.”

“That would be illegal.”

“It would be wouldn’t it, but denying me a lawyer is also illegal so we’re already past that point aren’t we?”

Mr Jeffreys reached forward and switched the recorder off.

“Miss Price. I am sure you really don’t want this to get ugly. You’re a young girl, with a bright future ahead of you. Your art work is fantastic and you could have a very happy life with the right man. We want to help you with that. There’s nothing more rewarding for me than seeing the young people of this nation free to be themselves and enjoy their life.”

“Well, if you care so much about my happy life I suggest you go fetch that lawyer now.” Anya got up and walked off to sit down with her back to the table. She heard the scrape of the chair and a little while later the opening and closing of the door. Repeating the same request for a lawyer over and over again was getting boring for her and she wondered if it was for them too.

As soon as she was sure she had been left alone she swivelled around so she could see the rest of the room again and tried to get some more sleep. Power napping would have to keep her going until something changed.

The rest of the day was a blur of attempted interviews with Mr Jeffreys. He wouldn’t tell her anything about where she was and she wouldn’t answer his questions, insisting on having a lawyer.

By the time the day had drawn to another close and she could rest again she was feeling very hungry. There had been plenty of water brought to her but no food at all. No one offered her any and she didn’t ask. Instead she focused on God and prayer. If she was fasting, even if involuntarily, she might as well make the most of it.

Night came and went, although the only reason she knew it was not day was the lack of interrogations and the regular waking from the other people on duty. Despite the lack of food and the very broken sleep she felt fine the following day. She had been working hard over the last few weeks and actually stopping and resting had made her feel less stressed.

Anya was thanking God for this when someone completely new came in to talk to her. She watched the grey haired man walk over to the table and pull a chair out. After looking at her he motioned for her to sit on it and waited.

At first she just stared at him but he met her gaze and held it for some minutes. She grinned at the boldness of this new person and decided to see what he had to say.

Once she had sat down he even helped her tuck the chair in. He then poured her a drink, added a straw so she wouldn’t need her hands and sat down opposite.

“Good morning, Miss Price, I’m Jacob Schmidt.”

“Good morning.” She took a gulp from the water, pleased her voice worked after being unused all night.

He clasped his hands together on the desk and sat waiting, but she couldn’t figure out what for. When she raised her eyebrow and he still did nothing she assumed he must be waiting for her.

“Are you a lawyer?”

“No, I’m a psychiatrist.”

“Oh, do the government think I’m insane?”

“No. You appear rational enough.”

“Good. I may well be an artist but that’s not full blown psycho territory.” Surprisingly, he chuckled at this statement.

“I’m here out of concern for your well being, that’s all. I want to make sure you are emotionally well and functioning normally. I take it you are a Christian?”

“Yup, born and bred a Jesus Freak.” She grinned again. Having a psychiatrist sat opposite her had tickled her somewhat and coupled with the rebellious attitude she’d felt like, so far it was having interesting results. So much so she was talking without really thinking.

“Jesus Freak is an odd term.”

“It’s in a song by a Christian band.”

“Interesting.” Mr Schmidt started making notes as he nodded his head up and down a few times, “And do you ever question your faith?”

“Sometimes, I mean who doesn’t in their darkest moments but mostly God gets me through stuff. He’s pretty awesome like that.”

“You’ve been through things where you’ve needed God then?”

“Of course, I think all Christians do.”

“Like being held a prisoner in another country?” he asked.

“Smooth. I like how you slipped that in there. I assume you’re referring to Utopia?”

“You tell me? Were you trapped there?”

“You’re assuming I was ever there.”

Mr Schmidt put down his paper, pen and took his spectacles off, also laying them down on the table.

“I think it’s acceptable of me to say that we know you were there, Miss Price.”

“Can you prove it?”

“I’m sure we can or you wouldn’t be here.”

“I’d like to see that proof then.”

“Did you enter of your own free will, Miss Price?”

“Mr Jeffreys already asked me a very similar question. I told him I wouldn’t answer without a lawyer.”

“Well thank you for everything you’ve told me so far, Miss Price. May we continue this discussion later?”

“You can try.”

Mr Schmidt left her alone and oddly no one came to see her at all for the rest of the day. No food or water came and no one checked up on her. After a few hours she settled down to get some sleep but found she couldn’t.

Before sleeping she always said a prayer of thanks to God, for whatever she thought she had to be thankful of that day, and she found as soon as she started talking to God that she felt wide awake. Instead of sleeping she paced the room, talking to Him and pondering over the conference she was missing.

The people would have all flown in by now and be staying in the church’s accommodation. None of them would realise she had vanished until the meeting she was meant to lead and that was sometime this afternoon.

She prayed that their journey wouldn’t be wasted and hoped they would all stick around so she could meet with them when she did get back. For the first time since being locked up she felt tempted to use her ability and escape. If she left in the next few minutes there was a chance she could get back in time to see everyone and do a later conference.

As time went by, however, the idea faded from her mind. Using her ability and going back home would arouse suspicion and then take that attention right back to the people she was trying to help. Staying put would be best for now.

When her legs grew tired she sat and rested but continued praying. Somehow she kept finding things to pray about, despite nothing changing in the immediate vicinity of her world.

She remained in a cycle of pacing and resting for longer than she could estimate, until she saw and heard the door handle rattle. Despite the movement, the door didn’t open. After a few minutes she got up and walked towards it.

She stood only four feet from it when it opened a crack and a head appeared around the edge.

“Julie!” Anya rushed forward and squealed. Julie wrapped her up in a big hug, letting her see the others who had come to rescue her. Nathan stood there, as well as four other men she didn’t recognise. She smiled at them all.

“Can you get the handcuffs off?”

“Not yet, we’ll get them off in the car, we’ve got to hurry.” Nathan ushered her into the middle of the group.

“Thank you for coming to get me.”

“We couldn’t have left you, but why did you not escape yourself?”

“I didn’t want to give your secret away. If I had just disappeared they would be even more suspicious. At the moment they appear to think Utopia is some kind of cult.”

“Well thank you for being so careful. But quickly now, let’s go.”

“Lead the way.”

Anya smiled and jogged along, flanked by the bulky Utopian security guards. Her heart felt light. Sherdan had sent his men for her and that meant he still cared.

They led her down many corridors, always checking if people were coming when they got to a junction or corner, but no one disturbed them. After several minutes of this process Nathan and Julie stopped. Everyone else ground to a halt behind them.

After a brief pause Julie beckoned for them to follow her through the nearest door. As soon as they were all inside the store cupboard she shut the door as softly as she could. They huddled in silence as the sounds of footsteps came closer.

The small room soon felt claustrophobic and hot as she had to stand stock still to avoid awkward contact with the men around her; a task made more difficult by the handcuffs still holding her hands behind her back. She wished Nathan had removed them already so she could rub the aches out.

To try and keep quiet she inhaled her breath and held it, counting past the seconds and listening to any and all sounds from outside as the person came closer and closer. Just as Anya thought she could stay silent no longer the sounds receded down the corridor, the way they had come.

After a few more minutes Julie opened the door and everyone hurriedly filed out. They led her to the elevator and strapped a harness around her waist.

“What’s this for?”

“We came down a maintenance shaft by the elevators to avoid the cameras. We need to climb back up so you’ll be strapped to Nathan to help you. We have to go quickly before they notice you are gone and lock down the building.”

She nodded and gulped. Her harness was attached to Nathan’s so she hung below him and he climbed up the rope first, using ascenders.

“Use your feet to steady yourself against the sides and stop the spinning,” Nathan said when he noticed her flailing and twisting around. She did as he suggested and he pulled them both up the fifteen floors. All the other men came behind and then Julie last.

They paused at the top before emerging from a hatch and packing away the equipment. Rather than going out the very obvious front door right by them Julie and Nathan led the group down another intricate maze of corridors, many of which were dark and empty. Whenever it got too dark to see well enough, one of the extra men lifted a hand and a faint glow emanated from it, lighting the way for everyone.

Eventually they halted outside a fire door. Another of Anya’s guards crept forward and after fiddling with something she couldn’t see for a moment they pushed the door open. There was a pause as Julie listened for something.

“All clear.” She led them out the door and down a dark alleyway. Right near the end, two of the men pulled on black masks and rushed off into the night.

“What are we waiting for?” Anya whispered in Nathan’s ear.

“They’ve gone to get the cars.”

She stayed right by him while they waited, shivering in the cold air. As soon as he noticed her reaction to being outside he shrugged off his jacket and wrapped it around her. She muttered her thank you and moved even further behind him to use his body to block the wind that whistled past them down the alley.

The cars weren’t long in pulling part way up the alley, one after the other. Right away she felt Nathan’s hand on the small of her back, guiding her towards the back of the nearest car. He opened the door for her, helped her inside and followed after her.

As soon as every door was shut the cars reversed back out of the alley and set off towards home.

“Thank you very much, Nathan. You all risked a lot coming to get me.”

“Don’t mention it, Anya. You’re important to us.” He grinned and ran his hands through his hair, something he often did when she thanked him or made a fuss over something he had done, “Here, let me get those handcuffs undone now.”

She turned so he could access her hands and waited as he pulled out an odd looking instrument and picked the lock.

“These are much easier than those room doors,” he said as the cuffs slide open, only a few seconds later.

She rubbed her wrists to try and stir some life back into them. They hurt as blood reached the places that had been restricted, but it was a bearable pain and she knew it would soon fade.

“So, is Sherdan here somewhere or are we meeting him in Utopia?” Anya’s eyes lit up with the idea of seeing him after so long.

“He couldn’t leave Utopia and we’re taking you home.”

“Oh. I’m not sure home would be safe for me. Whoever took me did so less than two-hundred metres from my flat. I expect they know where I live. Surely Utopia would be the best place for me?”

“I can’t take you into the country without orders. Sorry, Anya.”

“Will you let me grab some stuff from home and take me to a friend’s house then?”

“Of course, anything we can do to help you stay safe.”

“Except take me to Sherdan.” Anya didn’t phrase it like a question.

“Except that.”

She knew it wasn’t Nathan’s fault Sherdan didn’t want to see her but it felt like all her relief from being rescued and crushed it under the weight of a thousand elephants.

“Does he hate me, Nathan?” She asked a few minutes later.

“No, I don’t think so. But he’s hurt, very hurt. Give him time, I’m sure he will talk to you again.”

“I didn’t want to leave but I had stuff to do. One day, I think I’d like to come back. Bath… well… It’s just not the same any more. Sherdan and Utopia changed something and I’m not sure it can change back.”

“I know, I understand. You had a duty to do for your church, but he loved you, he loves you. That’s important too.”

“Thank you, Nathan. That helps, I think.”

 

If you enjoyed that and want to read more, the book is on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and all the other Amazon eBook stores.

Character Spotlight: Sherdan

This is one of my special characters. I love all my characters but a few always stick out in my head and this is one of those. He’s my first male leading character and although he’s far from perfect he’s still one of my favs.

I have two books out with him in now and I’m putting together the plot for a third, which feels kinda nice. I really like writing sequels. I suspect I’ll get bored of the characters eventually but for now starting a sequel feels a lot like visiting old friends. I just pick up where I left off.

Sherdan comes across as a complete meglomaniac at the start of the first book. He doesn’t care who gets hurt in his quest for the greater good. Has people tortured on almost a whim and is more than happy to bribe people or even blackmail them to get what he wants. He also even plays God a little with his enzyme and the people he gives it to.

Despite all that though, there is a softer side, he just tries to push it aside, thinking it’s weaker. He’s a scientist who, until recently, bought into the idea that we evolve and life is purely survival of the fittest. Compassion, love and mercy are often considered to be weaknesses by people in those schools of thought.

However, I love throwing my characters curveballs and seeing how they react. Sherdan soon falls in love, as all my MC’s often do. This is a really good thing for him and softens him in all the right ways.

Through Anya he does also get challenged about the idea of a God and what that might look like as well, which is a new thing for him. Whatever he decides he believes in it starts making him think about what he’s doing and whether he wants the destination he’s heading towards.

Overall Sherdan is one of those characters people love, despite all his many flaws and imperfections. You just can’t dislike him, even though you know you ought to. And no matter what he does I think he’ll always be one of my favourites. Maybe because he’s my first male lead. He’s just… rather special.

Deadly Eyes: A Review

I was given a copy of this book by the author Michael Meyer in exchange for a review.

And I’m so glad I was. This is another of those books that I really loved getting the opportunity to read. The locations were described well and the details given bit by bit to build the picture and suspense up and I struggled to put the book down.

I’ve already recommended it to some friends and family who like the genre and I read both of the endings that were provided. Yup, that’s right. This book has two possible endings to read.

I think I prefered the first one as it was happier but it was a really interesting twist to have two alternatives. Great book and going on my favourites of the year list.

I am so convinced this is one you should all go buy, here’s the buy links – UK & US

Trade: A Review

Trade by Tareq Hassan is a book that I picked up as part of an indie reviewers circle. It’s cover and blurb had me totaly suckered into checking the book out. I generally love myself a good spy book, especially if there’s some action in there as well as investigation sort of stuff.

Unfortunately that was pretty much where my love ended. Now don’t get me wrong for a foreign writer the English was pretty darn good. There was the odd word or two that seemed odd but for the most part the book was written in as good an English as I manage.

The problem was in all the jargon and dialogue the characters used. I just couldn’t understand the conversations and what half the characters were saying and therefore who worked for who and what they thought of everyone else. I also couldn’t at all work out what some of the characters had to do with the plot, or even what the plot seemed to be, except something to do with 9/11, a legal firm, drugs and muslims that might become terrorists.

I got so frustrated that I put the book down for a few days about 25% of the way in and tried to come back to it later. I then managed to get about 40% of the way in before getting more confused and putting it down again. When I gave it it’s third try I only got to 42% before I just really couldn’t go any further.

The final straw for me was a scene where one of the characters who was introduced earlier called Danny (I think it said he was from MI but I can’t remember and I think it should have been MI5 or MI6 rather than MI) showed up at 10 Downing Street and just walked in to talk to the Prime Minister. I thought just walking in was a bit odd but didn’t think too much of it until the conversation between PM and Danny started. The PM spoke like an American and a very crude one at that. I’m sorry but I just couldn’t imagine Gordon Brown or David Cameron talking like that.

I know the PM is much more polite when he’s in front of the cameras but they still speak very differently to the standard yank. They most definitely don’t say ass for one. I’m fairly sure it’s arse.

As a result I have my first ever did not finish. I’m sorry I just really can’t believe this book anymore.