Grave-Reaping Hermit is the first book in The Grave Reaper urban fantasy series.
Historical romance writer Theodora (Theo) Edwards is living the life of a hermit, hiding away in her cabin while she works on her latest book.
Trouble begins when a law enforcement agent shows up and warns that her long-missing husband may be trying to find her and that he is now considered very dangerous. But the attack, when it comes, is from a dark fae creature – after which all sorts of magical beings start showing up at her cabin.
No longer alone, Theo now has a new dog, a sworn protector, her ex-husband and a host of other beings offering themselves to her—what has she done to deserve all this attention?
This was an impressive start to a new series; Theo was funny, ate cake and creatively dealt with a multitude of situations which involved the supernatural. I shall look forward to reading the next book in the series.
When self-professed hermit Theodora Edwards is attacked by a dark fae and infected with his magic, she finds herself thrust into the supernatural spotlight as the first possible changeling in centuries. As if surviving the transition isn’t hard enough, Theo has to deal with an attempted abduction by her newly turned vampire ex-husband, unwanted courting offers from salacious fae suitors, and her growing attraction to the guardian of the gate to Fairie. Caught in a cruel tug of war between the queen of the fae and a surly law-enforcement agent, Theo must find a way to free herself before she loses her hard-earned independence for good.
The Underground Railroad is historical fiction based on the many stories of enslaved African Americans in the early to mid-1800s.
This fictional story revolves around Cora, whose grandmother was taken from Africa; Cora and her mother were born on American soil to life on a plantation. It was brutal, made worse after Cora’s mother escaped. Cora was mis-treated and ostracised by many of the other slaves as well as the overseers and plantation owners.
Cora’s own dreams of ‘running’ are expedited after she tries to save another slave from a beating. Fellow slave Caesar invites her to escape with him; he has a friend who can get them away via the underground rail network.
This is Cora’s journey; the highs and the lows. The author gives the reader a window into the era, showing how group mentality and peer pressure make neighbour fear neighbour and rips families apart. This isn’t a light read, it is harrowing on so many levels.
I liked how the author used real trains as a metaphor for the brave souls who risked their own lives to help the runaways. Sadly, similar situations repeat themselves over and over in human history; I immediately thought of the world wars. This book has been on my ‘wish list’ for a while and I was glad when I was recently given a copy.
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood–where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned–Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor–engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.
Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey–hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.
Frank has been reading The Thin Blue-Yellow Line Between Love & Hate by Anton Eine.
In the spring of 1941 my mother left London. She was accompanied by her mother and carrying me in her womb. She had spent much of the preceding 12 months working in Air Raid Precautions. She was present in London during the 58 days of the ‘Blitz’ in September and October 1940, when she not only saw the devastation caused by Hitler’s bombers but assisted with the organisation of shelters and providing food for families whose homes had been destroyed.
In the summer of 1943 my father was one of 50,000 aircrew involved in the bombing of German cities. He took part in the raids which generated a fire storm over Hamburg, as a result of which 2 million civilians are said to have fled that city. He lost his life when the bomber of which he was Flight Engineer was shot down during a raid on Mannheim in November 1943.
Since 1945 neither the UK or Europe has had first hand experience of such a conflict. Whilst many US Army, Navy and Air Force personnel participated in that conflict and many others since, North America has never been under attack. Two generations of citizens in what we usually refer to as the Western Democracies have no idea what it is like to be subjected to bombardment on such a scale.
Since February 24th 2022, the citizens of Ukraine have had to get used to daily bombardments. For the first weeks after that date many also had to suffer the brutality of occupation by an army of individuals whose behaviour, revealed once they were driven back, marked some as psychopaths.
Anton Eine’s book documents the first 100 days following the unprovoked attack. The story of his own escape from Kyiv, with his young family, to the relative safety of Lviv in the west of the country, is harrowing enough. He brings together the tales of many other families from around Ukraine, collected via email and the internet. He also provides much more detail about the terrorising of Bucha, and other towns and neighbourhoods liberated from Russian occupation, than were shown on UK television at the time.
The book has been translated into English and is shows Eine’s diversity as an accomplished writer adding to his stable of works which include science fantasy novels. In this book he talks candidly about the difficulty of shielding his 3-year-old son from news about the ‘good soldiers’ and the ‘bad soldiers’.
‘Bad soldiers’ is a sanitised version of what Eine calls the Russian army and their leader. In fact, the most striking thing about the book, is the visceral hatred of the Russian ‘Orcs’ that comes across in every paragraph.
It is plain that the damage caused by Putin’s ‘Special Operation’ extends way beyond the destruction of buildings and infrastructure and the unnecessary deaths of civilians, to the minds of the people, leaving a scar that it will take generations to heal.
Although, I did not finish the book, I would suggest that it is essential reading for anyone who has not experienced the realities of modern warfare. Which means every citizen under 75 in most of Europe and North America. For that reason I cannot rate it less than 5 stars out of 5.
A diary chronicling the hopes, pain and fears of ordinary Ukrainians collected during the current war. Frank, emotional and straight from the heart.
This book is about the first 100 days of fascist Russia’s perfidious and unfounded invasion of Ukraine. But it is not an account of the war and its battlefield engagements. It’s about people. About their feelings and emotions, their experiences, fears and pain, their suffering, hope and love.
I started writing this book one sleepless night in Kyiv when I had been kept awake all night by the roar of our aerial defense system and explosions nearby, listening out for approaching rockets and bombs and wondering whether I should take my wife and young son and run for the air-raid shelter. That night, I realized that I had a duty as a writer to act as a voice for those whose stories desperately needed to be told to other people in the world.
I wrote about what I saw and felt. About the stories, my relatives and friends shared with me. It became a chronicle, memoir, diary and confession. I set down our stories so that the whole world might know and understand what we have been through. So that the whole world might share our experiences of this war alongside us – in our trembling buildings, in our freezing cold basements, underground parking lots, bomb shelters and metro stations and in the ruins of our burning cities. So that the world might be given a glimpse into our hearts through the lacerated wounds that have been inflicted on them by this cruel and barbaric war.
Georgia has been reading Fast Fiction by Scotty Cornfield
It takes a certain dedication, and discipline, to commit to writing a 101-word story every day for several years but this is exactly what Scotty Cornfield has done. He works from a prompt, which in this book he puts at the end of each story.
As I’ve attempted to write flash fiction, I know how difficult it can be so I am in admiration of Cornfield’s output and his ability to come up with as many and varied stories as he does. Some of the prompts were straight-forward, some were words I’d never heard before.
These are interesting and entertaining tales for anyone but if you have concentration issues or little time to indulge in reading then they are ideal as you can read a complete story in a minute. You can then leave it there or if you’re like me be unable to stop turning the pages to see what comes next.
There were obviously some stories I preferred over others but on the whole, this is a solid collection of entertainment which I recommend to anyone who enjoys fast fiction.
What I also liked is that you can contact him with your own prompt and get a credit when he writes it. Nice touch.
In FAST FICTION,you’ll enter a cafe where the menu is loaded with nothing but literary appetizers, designed to be quickly consumed and easily digested. You’ll meet people with secrets and others who wished they knew how to keep them; characters looking to exact revenge and others getting their just desserts when karma calls. Fans of the combo platter will see it all here, from the dark to the darkly comical; the laugh-out-loud funny to the thought-provoking; offering more twists and turns than a pretzel—more ups and downs than a soufflé.
Like the world of improv, each tale has been inspired by a prompt (a single word or a phrase) provided by readers. From those simple suggestions, the stories evolve. You’ll meet people from all walks of life, but they’ll all have at least one thing in common: Your brief encounter with them will be over in less than a minute. Welcome to FAST FICTION,where you’ll find 101 stories of exactly 101 words each. How’s that for symmetry?
Georgia has been reading A Mother’s Lament by Nikki Rodwell
Being a mother isn’t easy and in this collection of poetry Rodwell hopes mothers who have grieved in any way or who are struggling with their relationships with their children will be touched by her words.
The emotions and feelings around motherhood are complex for many and often all-consuming. It can be difficult as a mother to negotiate a way to successful adult relationships with their children and I firmly believe in the fact that a mother can only ever be as happy as her unhappiest child. It’s just the way it is.
In this book Rodwell bares her soul in her feelings around motherhood and it is clear how much she loves to be a mother but how heart-breaking she finds it too. The fractured bonds with her child/children are plain to see and you only hope that one day they will be restored. I can’t imagine how painful it must be to be separated from your child.
This is a short book of poetry with most of the poems short too. I enjoyed the read if one can say that about such an intense subject that mostly covers the bleaker side of motherhood. But I hope that others who read it will get something from Rodwell’s words that helps them in their situation too.
Making sense of pain is a complex and personal journey. In this collection of poems, Nikki bears her soul and reveals that the deeper the grief, the deeper the love. Although it’s easy to feel disempowered and lost within pain, she demonstrates how, by stepping into it, we can give ourselves permission to heal.
Brokenness can travel through generations. Her biggest wish in life, is for dysfunctional cycles to be broken. For her own children to be happy and find peace. For generational trauma to break free.
Barb has been reading Beyond The Speed Limit by Anton Eine.
My Review: 5 stars out of 5
“If you’re reading this, I’m either dead or behind bars.”
In the prequel to his Programagic Cycle, Author Anton Eine hooked me with that great first line. My review of that intro applies to Beyond The Speed Limit, the first book in his new series, which introduces us to a disturbingly familiar magic world.
These days, instead of a wave a wand all you have to say is, “Let there be light,” and the interface spell running your house or flying chariot will carry out your every command. They can cook you dinner using standard or customized recipes, order the shopping, clean the house, turn on the music or even transmit a live or recorded image on your crystal ball.
At least, it’s familiar to any of us who have wandered the aisles of Fry’s or Best Buy, tried to set up our own router, or attempted to understand anything a twelve-year-old child tells us. Or to anyone like me with a basement full of obsolete electronic relics of bygone days, and completely useless knowledge of forgotten programming languages like Basic. (VCR/Walkman/DOS anyone?)
Beyond The Speed Limit works on several levels. First, of course, it uses the technology rules we accept but for the most part don’t understand any more than if they were in truth magic. It’s as if the Apple Store had a Genius Bar in Diagon Alley. This world might be magic-powered, but it follows rules just as strict as the physics we know in our own. A magic wand dropped in water in Sanjar’s world is just as dead as a water-drenched cellphone here. Spells written in old languages won’t power a modern magic wand any more than DOS will run your iPhone.
Second is the tongue-in-cheek humor of the references to things in the magic universe that directly mimic familiar elements in our own. (Book of Faces, anyone?)
Third is the plot, a classic SciFi thriller with plenty of chase scenes, epic battles, and universe-high stakes, with a reluctant hero, Magister Sajar Randhar, trying to solve the murder of his friend.
Another element is The Singularity, which (for SciFi fans at least) refers to the moment that an artificial intelligence (AI) achieves self-awareness. Sajar’s creation, an experimental AI hologram he calls Spirit, somehow achieves this in the prequel. Now she’s Sanjar’s secret companion, a being whose processing power and speed far exceed those of humans, but who lacks understanding of the complex rituals that make up humanity, or the soul.
Her processing power was nothing short of incredible. However, she lacked the intuition to immediately spot unusual or important bits of data. Her analytic algorithms could miss things that might seem obvious to us or require more time to process them. I had provided her with something akin to a subconscious, and it was a very powerful source of her insights but an artificial soul nevertheless functions in ways that are different to us.
As the aging technomage Sanjar tries to solve his friend’s murder, Spirit is his secret weapon. But the AI construct is also a self-aware entity, applying her vast computing resources to develop her sense of identity into a female and somehow endowing that self with gender, and emotions such as fear, anger, jealousy, and even love.
To uncover and try to combat a deadly conspiracy that threatens their society, Sanjar and his secret companion take part in a deadly sport in which drivers of magically-enhanced racing vehicles race in a course full of high-speed danger and magic snares.
I thought the endless puns on things and locations in our world (God bless Murica and the Divided Kingdom!) were a little over the top. But I loved ultimate character development as Spirit invents herself while her supposed creator, Sanjar, looks on bemused. I enjoyed this update to the classic SciFi debate about whether a constructed being can become self-aware and what they might look like. If Spirit is clearly capable of computing vast amounts nearly instantaneously, what is to keep her from attempting to wrest control from her human creators? And of course, does her perception of these inequalities constitute a soul?
If you love the classic science fiction of Clarke and Asimov, the high-speed action of a James Bond thriller, or even just the speed and coordination of online gaming, I think you’ll appreciate the combination that is the official first book of Anton Eine’s Programagic Cycle, Beyond The Speed Limit.
Welcome to an alternative world of wonder, where magic and technology are inseparably entwined. A place where sorcerer programmers code spells and weave them into items and artefacts to imbue them with special and specific properties.
Magister Sajar Randhar, a seasoned expert in magic security, investigates crimes together with his greatest and most ingenious creation – Spirit, the world’s first and only artificial spirit. Magister keeps her existence a secret to protect her from the dangers posed by the magical world’s politicians, secret services, criminals and corporations. Or perhaps, to protect the magical world from her?
Programagic, a detective techno-fantasy series by Anton Eine is an explosive mix of science fiction, fantasy and magical realism, seasoned with a healthy pinch of exotic dark humor.
This collection includes the first two stories of the series – a short novella Behind the Fire Wall and a full-length novel Beyond the Speed Limit.
Sandra has been reading Murder & Mischief by Carol Hedges
I have been aware of this series for a while, but for some reason never got around to reading any. The first book, Diamonds and Dust, is buried somewhere deep in the depths of my kindle. I will certainly be catching up with all the others, as soon as I can fit them in, as I was very impressed with the writing style of Murder and Mischief. The story is told from several different perspectives in the present tense, so the reader has a bird’s-eye view of everything that is going on.
A dead body disguised as a snowman is discovered in the garden of property developer, James Barrowclough, but has a crime been committed or did he just succumb to the cold weather? Meanwhile, Liza and Flitch have run away from the workhouse following the death of their mother. Their father has returned from America to take his family back with him, and is devastated by what he finds. As he has to return right away, he hires a private detective, Lucy Landseer, to track down his missing children – no easy task in a city the size of London.
Carol Hedges skillfully weaves these two stories together into a tale with echoes of Dickens and Conan Doyle. The writer has done her research but displays it with a light touch. She paints a vivid picture – warts and all – of Victorian London. All our senses are in play here. The characters are well drawn, entirely believable and I had no trouble distinguishing them despite their large number. I particularly enjoyed the strand about the Transformative Brethren group of artists in Camden, and their connection with the runaway children. There’s even a cat called ‘sad ginge’. As this was the tenth novel in the series, and I had not met them before, the detectives did not really stand out for me, although the young DC Tom Williams shows a lot of promise. His visit to Birmingham was fascinating as it highlighted how different it was to London. I thoroughly enjoyed Murder and Mischief despite it being part of a well-developed series. It worked just fine as a standalone, but I’ve now got the added bonus of nine more to catch up with. Thanks to Carol for a digital copy that I review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT
It is January, a time of year when not much crime usually happens. But when Inspector Greig is unexpectedly summoned to the opulent Hampstead residence of Mr. James William Malin Barrowclough, a rich businessman, he embarks upon one of the strangest and most bizarre investigations that he has ever been involved in.
Why has Barrowclough been targeted? What is inside the mysterious parcels that keep arriving at Hill House, and why won’t he cooperate with the police? The case will take the Scotland Yard detectives on a journey out of London and into the victim’s past, to uncover the secrets and lies that haunt his present.
Murder & Mischief is the tenth novel in the series, and in the great tradition of Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, it entices the reader once again along the teeming streets and dimly gas lit thoroughfares of Victorian London, where rich and poor, friend and foe alike mix and mingle.
Fiona has been reading An End To Etcetera by B. Robert Conklin
Selena is pregnant, in the middle of a divorce, doesn’t know who the father of her child is, and is a psychologist to troubled adolescents. She has the job of assessing the very troubled Leal with a view to his continuance in school, and at first, this seems like high stakes in the context of life in the town of Ovid. (As a classicist currently writing a series about the Roman poet, you can imagine how happy I was just to be reading about a town called Ovid!)
But “An End to Etcetera” is so much more than an examination of small-town life. As we follow Selena’s increasing concern over Leal, layers of Ovid are peeled away and examined coolly and dispassionately – and it takes the whole book before we are convinced that we know what is real and what is the product of Leal’s story-telling mind. In the end, there are no angels or devils, but many flawed people, beautifully- portrayed and presented to the reader without judgement.
The whole narrative is superbly shaped and paced, a slow burn, but with a sense of disquiet that is built up skillfully. The quality of the writing is wonderful, spare, considered and clear. If this book doesn’t get a sled load of awards and become a Book Club hit, then life is unfair!
An End to Etcetera is a mystery/suspense novel for the adult literary market about an obsessive-compulsive psychologist who tries to uncover the truth behind her adolescent client’s confession to drowning an autistic boy left in his care. With no evidence to support Leal Porter’s allegation, the school has referred him to Selena Harris for counseling. Selena is going through troubles of her own: she’s separated from a husband who has ditched her for another woman, she’s pregnant after a one-night rebound with a former lover, and she’s moved back to her small hometown in Illinois to take care of her father who has suffered a debilitating stroke. Now she faces the toughest challenge of her career. Although she believes the alleged victim is the product of Leal’s overactive imagination and need for attention, she harbors one major doubt: What if she’s wrong? The novel would appeal to adult readers who enjoy solving psychological puzzles. Working alongside the psychologist, in the role of a detective.
Only The Beginning is a contemporary romance and book one of the Rockin’ Country series.
These books are music themed and this is the story of the romance between country singer Harmony Stewart and Garrett ‘Reaper’ Thompson, the leader of a rock band. At opposite ends of the music spectrum they seem like an unlikely match, but both understand the strains being on the road, and their connection blossoms quickly.
With romance around the corner Harmony has to work through her insecurities while Reaper’s temper may be too much for the couple. Can country meet rock and make a match? Will the fans approve of them getting together?
I enjoyed this story, the music scene was a setting that I don’t often choose to read about. There were some good secondary characters who will also have their own stories in following books.
Princess of Country Music. America’s sweetheart. Survivor of the scrutiny that comes with it all.
Hannah ‘Harmony’ Stewart has lived most of her adult life in the spotlight. It hasn’t always been easy. One heartbreak almost ruined her. Some days it’s hard to keep a smile on her face and stay positive, but there are a lot of people counting on her to keep it together. Just when it seems like she’s at the pinnacle of her career, her life takes a turn. She meets a man who challenges everything she knows about herself and makes her question if the life she’s living is for her or for the Nashville machine.
Heavy Metal’s bad boy. Hair trigger temper. Struggling to deal with pressure of the industry.
Garrett ‘Reaper’ Thompson is tired. Touring and keeping up appearances with his band “Black Friday” is beginning to wear him out. He’s ready for a change, ready for something different. When he meets Hannah at an awards show, he knows that she’s the one, he knows that he can’t live without her.
Their own insecurities, their fans, her ex-boyfriend, and the media themselves. Can they look past it all and come through on the other side? For their story – this is only the beginning.
Failosophy is a book written for teens on the subject of failure. It provides a seven step coping method which is interlaced with tips and true stories from a selection of celebrities.
Author Elizabeth Day has written this book in conjunction with her podcasts and live shows. It is an interesting subject, particularly with so much peer and social media pressure that focuses on success. Everyone fails at something and this book looks at ways to see adverse outcomes as life-lessons, and it also offers advice on how to cope with lack of success in many spheres of life.
The teen years can be tough, so this book may be very useful, especially to someone who feels isolated and alone due to their perception of their own failures.
Pretty much all of us would like to feel happier, less anxious, more successful and at ease with ourselves. Right?
The key may surprise you: FAILURE!
Failosophy For Teens is an inspiring and empowering guide to those moments when life doesn’t go to plan. Using personal experience and stories shared by guests on her award-winning podcast, How to Fail, Elizabeth’s book is full of creative and inspiring advice on how to:
– talk openly about failure – turn failure into success – build resilience for when life sends you curveballs – reframe negative thoughts about yourself
. . . and much more!
Failing better is the key to learning, growing and ultimately loving yourself as the truly AWESOME human being you are. Failosophy For Teens will challenge your self-perception and change your life!