Sage Quintano shouldn’t still be fearful. The trauma of her near death at the hands of a serial killer, called the Romeo Killer, would naturally be difficult to overcome, but he was dead and Sage had no reason to believe she was a target. But she was fearful and she did believe she was a target. Sage has seen signs and indicators that force her to believe that somehow, her nemeses has returned to claim the ‘angel’ that got away.
Before the Romeo Killer comes for Sage, however, he intends to torment her. Playing games with his victims is what he does best. And no-one believes Sage’s claim that she is being stalked by a dead man, least of all her own husband, Niko, the local Sheriff.
Sage is an interesting character and is strong in many ways, overcoming significant health problems and protecting her young son. Her behaviour is a bit erratic and slightly hysterical which is why her husband puts her observations down to trauma from the past. Some of Sage’s behaviours were a little hard for me to believe in the circumstances, but the story was interesting and exciting and the author’s knowledge of serial killers and their thought processes is well researched and believable.
Part of the story was told through the eyes of the stalker and it was interesting to consider the action from that perspective. Despite this, the book is not overly gory and there are no detailed descriptions of the murders, only the state of the bodies afterwards. That is preferable for me.
The story was fast paced and the details all tied up well which is essential for me when reading a crime thriller. Readers of this genre will not be disappointed by this book.
She may be paranoid, but is she right?
A string of gruesome murders rocks the small town of Alexandria, New Hampshire, with all the victims staged to resemble dead angels, and strange red and pink balloons appearing out of nowhere.
All the clues point to the Romeo Killer’s return. Except one: he died eight years ago.
Paranoid and on edge, Sage’s theory makes no sense. Dead serial killers don’t rise from the grave. Yet she swears he’s here, hungering for the only angel to slip through his grasp—Sage.
With only hours left to live, how can Sage convince her Sheriff husband before the sand in her hourglass runs out?
Robbie has been reading The Peaceful Village by Paulette Mahurin
I enjoy reading books about World War II and I’ve read and enjoyed another book by this author, so when I saw The Peaceful Village, I knew I had to read it. I knew it would be a tough read before I started but I must admit that this particular event shocked me to my core. It seems beyond comprehension that any normal human being with a soul can behave in such a callous and brutal way towards civilians.
This book is historical fiction and based on a real event so I knew the ending before I began. Reading a couple of paragraphs about a tragedy of this nature is, however, quite a different experience to reading a fictionalized account of it. The author’s great strength with this book is the detailed manner in which she depicted the main characters and the specifics of their lives and how she made the reader care about them. Even the supporting characters feel like neighbours and friends.
Francoise is one of the main characters. The wife of a French carrot farmer, she is worn down from years of working the land and her spirit is ailing due to the German occupation. Francoise is given an opportunity of a job at the local church in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, which leads to her becoming involved in a small way with the French resistance and their efforts to hide Jewish families. Francoise blossoms in her new role and becomes the reader’s measure of normality and representation of the comfortable and peaceful lifestyles of the villagers.
The story moves between life in the village, largely told through the eyes of Francoise, and the activities of the French resistance who are using terrorist tactics to fight the occupying German forces. This tactic works well as the reader knows more about what is happening with the French resistance and the Nazi occupiers than the villagers of Oradour. It creates a lot of tension as the reader can see how the events are likely to unfold as the villagers go about their daily lives.
This is a beautifully written and heart rending book which has been well researched and presented. Anyone who is interested in WW2 and the effect of the Nazi regime on the local population in France will appreciate this book.
During the German occupation of France, nestled in the lush, verdant countryside in the Haute-Vienne department of central France was the peaceful village of Oradour-sur-Glane. It was a community where villagers woke to the medley of nature’s songs, roosters crowing, birds chirping, cats purring, and cows plodding on their way out to pasture. The people who lived there loved the tranquil nature of their beautiful home, a tranquility that existed year-round. Even with the German occupation, Oradour-sur-Glane – the village with cafés, shops, and a commuter tram to Limoges – remained relatively untouched by the stress of the occupation.
While Oradour-sur-Glane enjoyed the lack of German presence, twenty-two kilometers to the northwest in Limoges, the Germans were reacting with increasing cruelty to organized attacks on their soldiers by the armed resistance organization Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP). Headed by Amédé Fauré, the Limoges FTP was considered the most effective of the French Resistance groups. Fauré’s missions prompted the German military to kill and incarcerate in concentration camps anyone perceived as supporters or sympathizers of the Resistance.
Up until the middle of 1944, the German anti-partisan actions in France never rose to the level of brutality or number of civilian casualties that had occurred in eastern Europe. A little before the Allies landed in Normandy, all that changed, when German troops, and in particular the Waffen-SS, stationed on the Eastern Front were transferred to France. It was then that FTP’s increasing efforts to disrupt German communications and supply lines were met with disproportionate counter attacks, involving civilians. Fauré’s response was to target German officers. When he set his sights on two particular German officers, all hell broke loose.
Based on actual events as told by survivors, The Peaceful Village is the fictionalized story of the unfolding of the events that led up to one of the biggest World War II massacres on French soil. Much more than an account of Nazi brutality and the futility of war, this is a story of love.The love of family. The love of neighbor. The love of country. Compassion and courage burn from the pages as the villagers’ stories come alive. Written by the international bestselling author of The Seven Year Dress, Paulette Mahurin, this book pays homage to the villagers who lived and loved in Oradour-sur-Glane.
Robbie has been reading Golden Healer by M.J. Mallon
Golden Healer is the second book in The Curse of Time series and continues this unique fantasy story with its unusual and intriguing storyline. Book one ended with a happy environment after Ameline’s father was finally restored to his family at the correct age and Esme disappeared from the mirror, presumably to a better place. Book two starts with small but obvious indications that all is not as it seems and the issues involving both Emeline’s father and Esme are not adequately resolved.
The beginning is a bit slower moving as the author skillfully unwinds the reader’s beliefs that all is well and hammers cracks into the happy environment. The stage is set beautifully with fascinating and intricate scenes and dreams spun like a spiderweb from the author’s pen. Ameline’s first dream travel in this book has catastrophic results as while she is away from her body her bloodstone is stolen and this accelerates the cracks in her home environment.
This book is not an easy read and you have to concentrate as you read in the same way you would while reading a classic novel. It is worth the effort as the descriptions and concepts are outstanding and beautifully depicted.
There are a few stand out scenes for me in this book, as follows: the grasshopper in the meadow, the clowns in the café, and Aunt Karissa’s chocolates. For me, these were unbelievably imaginative and full of mystery.
Aunt Karissa features plays a small role in this book, introducing some welcome lightness and humour as Ryder’s darkness and power continue to grow. The reader learns a bit more about Ryder and his origins and homeland.
Another memorable feature of this book is that each chapter or puzzle piece starts with a tanka poem that hints at what is to follow in the chapter. The author is also an excellent poet and the poems were a lovely addition.
A few memorable quotes from this book:
“The grasshopper monster propelled time forward in a steady, slow, rocking motion, as if he was devouring our lives in seconds, minutes and hours as we gazed upon him.”
“Hello my beautiful reflection. You came! You always come when I need you the most. I have been so anxious listening to the troubles of this family which has become my family. What have you been doing? I see sweet flowers covering the red cuts on your left wrist.”
“”She opened the wrapper with trembling fingers. Inside, there was a small, round milk chocolate. It grew in her palm. the chocolate split into two halves, one half dark, and the other half white. In the centre, a dividing line moved form side to side as if whipping up the chocolate angrily.”
In conclusion, I would like to add that when I was a girl of 10 years old, I discovered the books written by Eva Ibottson. Every book of hers I read was a complete delight to me with its amazing fantasy creatures and gorgeous depictions of the lives of hags in dribbles and wizards in towers surrounded by mist. Throughout my adult life, I have search for an adult author who can invoke the same magical worlds and belief in magical creatures that I discovered in Miss Ibottson’s stories, and in this series by M.J. Mallon, I do believe I finally found an adult equivalent.
Amelina Scott’s destiny is to be a Krystallos: a magician of light, chosen to learn the ways of crystal magic on her 16th birthday. Located on a river pathway in a mysterious part of Cambridge, the Crystal Cottage is guarded by mythical beings.
Unfortunately, there are those who seek to harm this haven of light. Learning of Ryder – a Shadow Sorcerer with hypnotic powers – Amelina discovers that her own magic is now threatened, and that the Curse of Time might be unleashed again.
As secrets abound and the creatures of the Chronophage come alive, can Amelina become the true magician she needs to be?
Robbie has been reading Ending Forever by Nicholas Conley.
I read a review of this book and I was sufficiently interested to pick it up myself. I was not disappointed. This plotline is unique and interesting; a whole new take on corporate exploitation, this time in the temporary state between death and moving on into a permanent afterlife.
Axel Rivers drew a poor set of cards when his parents were killed when he was a youngster. He spent his life going from pillar to post without having a proper family or home until he met his deceased wife, Shoshana, and they had a son, creating their own small family. During his younger years, his friend and fellow orphan, Malik, is the closest relationship Alex has to family, but since the death of his wife and son, Malik’s friendship has not been enough to stop Axel from sinking into a state of chronic depression.
Axel is alone, without a job or money, and with an enormous burden of guilt due to the deaths of his family. He decides to volunteer as a test subject for a programme run by some of the wealthiest individuals in the world. A programme that requires the volunteers to die by artificial means and be resuscitated every day for a week. Axel is fearful of dying, but he wants the money and also has his own agenda so he agrees to participate on the terms stated.
It quickly becomes apparent that all is not as it should be in this twilight zone between dying and moving on to the afterlife and Axel finds himself embroiled in one of the most ambitious planned corporate takeovers ever. With the help of a new friend, Brooklyn and her young daughter, Axel finds new meaning in life and the will to overcome obstacles in his attempted path to resolve this corrupt and power-driven situation.
The story is told in the present with flashbacks to Axel’s earlier life before and after his parents died, as well as the time with his wife and child. I thought this worked well and I found it easy to follow.
A thoroughly enjoyable science fiction novel with a page turning storyline.
Axel Rivers can’t get his head above water. Throughout his life, he’s worn many hats — orphan, musician, veteran, husband, father—but a year ago, a horrific event he now calls The Bad Day tore down everything he’d built. Grief-stricken, unemployed, and drowning in debt, Axel needs cash, however he can find it.
Enter Kindred Eternal Solutions. Founded by the world’s six wealthiest trillionaires and billionaires, Kindred promises to create eternal life through mastering the science of human resurrection. With the technology still being developed, Kindred seeks paid volunteers to undergo tests that will kill and resurrect their body—again and again—in exchange for a check.
Axel signs up willingly, but when he undergoes the procedure—and comes back, over and over—what will he find on the other side of death?
Robbie has been reading Billy Bean’s Ghost by John York.
I chose to read this book because I was attracted to the blurb which made it sound like a fun and light hearted read. I was not disappointed. Although this is a murder mystery novella it is told in a delightfully enjoyable manner.
Billy Bean is a young man who has been disappointed by life. His father died in a nasty work accident when he was young and his mother is over-bearing and a bit clingy. Billy flung himself into his music and piano playing as a way of dealing with his grief over his father unexpected death. When he failed to gain acceptance to a well known music school, he’s life fell apart and he spiraled into a depression. He undertook tertiary training in finance and is working as a bank teller at the beginning of the story. He finds the work mundane and unrewarding, but it pays his bills and allows him to live in a small apartment attached to a large and empty manor house.
In exchange for a reduced rental, Billy is responsible for looking over the house on a weekly basis to ensure there are no issues that require attention. The house is creepy as most of the furniture is covered with sheeting and some of the rooms are locked. Billy discovers a beautiful piano in one of the rooms and is drawn to it. He succumbs to temptation and starts playing the piano. Before long, Billy starts hearing a voice in his head asking him for help.
Naturally, Billy thinks he is having some sort of break down and he seeks medical assistance from a newly establish psychiatrist, Abigail Applebee. Gradually, it becomes clear to them both that something strange is going on in the manor house and the pair set out to unravel the mystery together.
I enjoyed the character of Billy Bean and felt sorry for the disappointment he had suffered. He was a kind soul and just needed a break to come out of his shell and show his true colours. His romance with Abigail, who sees past his shyness to the lovely person inside, is sweet and feel-good.
Abbie and Billy’s romance and the unravelling of the mystery of the mysterious voice go hand in hand and lead to a lot of personal development by Billy. His relationship with Abbie, who has been neglected by both her parents her whole life, gives him a new perspective on his own relationship with his mother and he comes to appreciate how much she cares for him. Abbie also helps him to take a step towards reigniting his musical career by performing for his mother and her neighbours.
This is an entertaining book and the author’s style of writing is interesting and enjoyable. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy a lighter styled mystery story.
Billy Bean lives alone in the small attic apartment of an old, unoccupied mansion. His cheap rent is subsidized by an agreement to watch over the place while the owner is away. A bank teller and chronic introvert, Billy’s life is one boring, mind-numbing day after another. Since the age of four, at the exclusion of all the normal social interaction of activities other children his age enjoyed, he worked toward becoming a concert pianist. But, at age 18, after the horrific death of his father and then a rejection from the San Francisco Music Conservatory, Billy had plunged into a deep depression. He no longer felt the passion, the drive, or the need to play the piano, so he quit. During his weekly inspections of the old mansion, Billy discovers a treasure, a beautiful Steinway concert grand piano. He is so inspired by the magnificent instrument that he tentatively begins playing again, but there is a slight catch. Each time he plays this marvelous piano, he hears an imploring voice inside his head. The mysterious voice compels Billy to visit psychiatrist, Abigale Applebee, who agrees to help him sort out what kind of mental health problem he’s experiencing. They soon discover the voice is not the result of a psychosis, but rather something far more sinister. Led by the voice, Abby and Billy unexpectedly uncover the horrific secrets of a long-forgotten cellar below the house. But who is going to believe them?
Robbie has been reading The Winds Of Morning by Gifford MacShane
This story is set in Ireland during the potato famine. Molly O’Brien and her two brother have been left orphans following the deaths of their parents. Molly has taken her father’s job and is working to build a road in order to try and feed her brothers. The road goes no-where, and is merely a ploy by the authorities to force the starving Irish to work for their money in accordance with the mindset of the day. Her job as a stone breaker doesn’t bring in enough money to feed them and they are all in a bad way.
In desperation, Molly is in the process of making a decision to become a prostitute in order to feed her brothers, when a young man from a wealthy family, John Patrick, sees her. He intervenes to save Molly who he believes is planning to commit suicide. Molly is incredibly attractive, despite her circumstances and starvation and John Patrick chooses to save her and her brothers by marrying her.
His choice and Molly’s decision go ahead with a marriage to a stranger she does not love, changes the paths of both of their lives.
I have read other stories about the Irish famine and found them equally compelling to this book, however, this short story really charmed me. The author writes beautifully and the story has some nice and happy parts which offer relief from the horror of this historical era.
John Patrick is an honorable and upstanding fellow and despite his actions requiring a little suspension of belief due to their selflessness, he is a delightful character.
A lovely and entertaining short story. This series has a lot of potential and I would certainly be interested in reading more about these characters.
1848: the third year the potato crop failed in Ireland. The Protestant landlords have absconded back to Britain, leaving the Catholic peasants to fend for themselves, while the English government allowed the export of tens of thousands of tons of Irish food daily.
With two younger brothers to feed, Molly O’Brien took her father’s place on the road gang, building a road that runs from her tiny village to the river and no farther. Yet sixteen hours of labor a day would not garner enough wages to buy food for her family.
She was beyond despair. Beyond prayer. And so far beyond the tenets of her childhood, she’d decided to offer her body to the first man with the price of a loaf of bread. At that moment, a voice behind her spoke…
The Doll is based on the concept of humanoids with artificial intelligence who are capable of perfectly imitating human behaviour and emotions. Jeremy has recently lost his fiancé in a car accident. He is wracked by guilt about Jenna’s death because he asked her to drive to his home late at night, knowing she was tired. The fact that he asked her to do this is an early indication of Jeremy’s character which is a bit spoiled and selfish. Jeremy has a successful career as a restorer of properties which he acquires at good prices due to their run-down states, and sells at significant profits.
Jeremy is wallowing in self pity and has started drinking heavily when he is approached by a man in a bar and given a card for The Dollmaker who, the stranger assures him, can help him overcome his grief. He decides to go ahead and make contact with the company and is introduced to the idea of replacing Jenna with a doll. The doll has artificial intelligence and will be capable of interacting with the outside world in the same way as a human would. It will be programmed as a replica of his dead fiancé, although it would be built to look a bit different so as not to raise unnecessary questions. Jeremy will pass the doll off as his new girlfriend.
Jeremy orders the doll, an expensive piece of electronic equipment, based on the specs he is given by the company. It did require a bit of suspension of belief to accept that a young man would actually think he could replace his girlfriend with a machine and, having received the humanoid, almost immediately substitute his affection for his real life girlfriend with affection for a doll.
The humanoid that Jeremy receives is not a run-of-the-mill specimen. Carley has a greater ability than the other humanoid dolls to make decisions based on her experiences and learnings. She has unusual physical strength and abilities and has more human-like emotions. Jeremy quickly becomes devoted to Carley, the doll, and when it becomes apparent that people are hunting for her, he choses to oppose them and behaves as if Carley is a real person.
The story is entertaining, if a little unbelievable, and the idea of a humanoid like Carley is rather thrilling. Jeremy comes across as a bit wishy-washy and overly reliant on Carley to make any decisions and find ways to protect them both.
I think this concept is to complex for a novella and needs a longer book to develop the ideas more fully, both in the context of storyline and from a character development point of view.
A fun and quick read which will be enjoyed by readers who like a fast-paced plot with less characterisation and detail.
In the wake of Jenna Hess’ sudden death, Jeremy Dillon is devastated. His only hope of easing the pain lies in alcohol…until he meets The Dollmaker. Meet CR1XY, the Dollmaker’s Elite doll, created especially for Jeremy. But is she?
Robbie has been reading The Exhumation by Nick Padron
The Exhumation is an exciting adventure, overlaid with a romance, set in war torn Spain during the civil war of 1937. This is not a period of history I know a lot about so I was keen to read this book and learn more.
Three Americans, an ex-military ‘hired gun’ nicknamed The Major, his interpreter and ‘right hand man’ who goes by the pseudonym of John and an older individual, Mr Jordan, travel to Spain to bring back the body of a young American, Robert Jordan, who has been killed in the fighting. His wealthy parents are prepared to pay a great deal of money for the return of their son’s body and have sent his uncle along to make any necessary payments to ensure it happens. The information the three men have to work with is scanty, but meetings have been arranged with people who know him to enable their investigation.
John is concerned that they will run into trouble going behind the enemy lines in Spain, but The Major is confident that with the help of a few locals, he and John can successfully find the corpse and bring it back to Madrid, and from there back to the US.
During their brief stay in Madrid, prior to the expedition into enemy territory, John meets a lovely young woman called Maripaz. He spends two evening with her and becomes emotionally attached. He resolves to persuade her to leave Spain and return with him to the US after the job is done.
The pursuit of the body and John’s romance entwine beautiful to create and interesting and exciting storyline.
The Major is a strong character who, despite being unorthodox and quite brutal in his methods, is able to put on a good show of being an amiable and likeable personality. He is driven by personal gain and is prepared to go to extreme lengths to obtain the money he has been promised for the return of Robert Jordan’s body. He is exposed as being unethical and ruthless in his behaviour with little consideration for consequences or respect for the lives of others. Despite his character flaws, he is held in high regard by John whom he saved from a difficult and life threatening situation.
John is a conflicted person who has become attached to The Major whom he treats like a replacement father. He comes across as a person who is searching for love and affection and quite easily falls under the spell of Maripaz, a nice woman from a good family. He quickly escalates their brief affair into the great love of his life and becomes quite obsessed with her. The romance is a branch of the main adventure, but it is important to the way the entire novel plays out.
The history is nicely woven into the novel and this book is an entertaining way to learn more about this time period. All in, an interesting and entertaining read.
In the fall of 1937, besieged Madrid lies in near ruins, its people struggling under nightly bombardments. Into this uncertain world, enter three Americans assigned with the task to find and exhume the remains of Robert Jordan – a member of the International Brigade killed in action –and bring him home for proper burial in the States. They are Jordan’s uncle and the two-man team hired for the job: the amoral but winsome Major Williamson and their interpreter, John, who tells us the story of how one man’s greed-driven final act becomes another man’s shot at redemption.
Set over the course of three days, amid vivid depictions of wartime Madrid, we follow the team through the violent drama that surrounds Robert Jordan’s exhumation, the human cost of the undertaking, and then John’s Maripaz’s, the beautiful piano teacher he meets during an artillery attack, fateful escape from Madrid. More than a tale of action and suspense set in a world at war, THE EXHUMATION is a story about the meaning of loyalty, of love and loss and, finally, the unending search for a lasting ideal.
Robbie has been reading Over The Hedge by Paulette Mahurin
When I saw the blurb of this book, I knew I had to read it. I am fascinated by books set during periods of war and am especially interested in how war impacts on the civilian populations in war torn countries.
Over the Hedge is a book that explores the horror of WWII and how the Nazi occupation impacted on the population of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It explores the psychology of various people and demonstrates how fear can tear societies apart and cause women fearing for the lives of their own children to perform the heinous act of handing Jewish relatives, including small babies, over to the Nazis, knowing they were destined for deportation to camps. I think this aspect of this book is closest to my heart as I consider the internal conflict of such women and wonder what I would do in a similar situation. I hope I would behave better than they did, but it eats at my mind.
The story centres around the true facts of a trio of members of the Dutch resistance who worked with other brave men and women to save 600 small children from the concentration camps. These three people from vastly different backgrounds were Walter Süskind, a German Jew living in the Netherlands, Henriëtte Pimentel, a Sephardic Jew, and Johan van Hulst, the principal of a Christian college.
Walter works for the Hollandsche Schouwburg deportation centre for Dutch Jews which is situated across the street from the daycare operated by Henriëtte. The Christian college is located next door to the day care. The Jewish families arriving at the deportation centre are separated from their children who are sent across the street to the day care for the night. Walter finds a way of altering the arrivals records of selected small children who are then smuggled ‘over the hedge’ to the college where they are taken, at great personal risk, by various students and other resistance members to Dutch families willing to care for these children. The author provides some details on a few of the children and the sad state they arrive in which makes the drama and emotion of the story much more intense.
One such child was Aviva, a two-and-a-half-year-old girl who is deaf and mute. This is a short extract: “”Aviva …,” Johan let out a chuckle, “laughed.” “Laughed? But she’s mute-“ “Yes. She’s quite expressive with bodily motions. Silent laughter, a new one on me. Kaat too.” “Well, that’s good, she’s adjusting, but … it seems unusual she didn’t act fearful.” “The affectionate dedication of a good mother can do wonders,” said Johan. “The mother must have been an extraordinarily loving women.”
Walter is a scared, worn-out shell of a man, whose own wife and daughter are in hiding in a Dutch resistance member household. He has to deal with the Nazis who are fearful of their own positions and lives and take their anger out on the Jews in the deportation centre, and later anywhere they find hidden Jews. Despite his own personal fear, Walter manages to bring some comfort to the Jewish mothers and fathers in the centre and ask their permission to help their babies. Walter lives for the babies he is able to help save. The strain on him in his untenable position as part of the conduit between life and death for the deportees wears him down over the course of the book, but Walter shows extraordinary determination and tenacity in helping save the children.
Henriëtte is also an extraordinary woman, who does a lot to uplift the spirits of the Jewish workers at the daycare and also Walter. She is a woman of excellent insight and is able to judge character when Walter’s abilities falter. Her kind and loving nature made her story all the more sad and poignant.
Johan was a brave man, who put himself at risk to help save others. I think this is the height of bravery; to act when you are afraid and do what you believe to be right. Without all three of these dedicated and selfless people, the 600 children who were passed ‘over the fence’ would have died.
Aside from Johan, there were many other Dutch people who contributed to the rescue operation and their actions gave me some comfort that even in the most terrible situations, the good in many people still comes to the fore and all is not lost because of it.
This is a very compelling story and is one that everyone should read to ensure that mankind remembers and takes steps to ensure this history is never repeated. Congratulations to the author on an excellent and well researched book.
During one of the darkest times in history, at the height of the German occupation of the Netherlands in 1943, members of the Dutch resistance began a mission to rescue Jewish children from the deportation center in Amsterdam. Heading the mission were Walter Süskind, a German Jew living in the Netherlands, Henriëtte Pimentel, a Sephardic Jew, and Johan van Hulst, principal of a Christian college. As Nazis rounded up Jewish families at gunpoint, the three discreetly moved children from the deportation center to the daycare across the street and over the backyard hedge to the college next door. From the college, the children were transported to live with Dutch families. Working against irate orders from Hitler to rid the Netherlands of all Jews and increasing Nazi hostilities on the Resistance, the trio worked tirelessly to overcome barriers. Ingenious plans were implemented to remove children’s names from the registry of captured Jews. To sneak them out of the college undetected past guards patrolling the deportation center. To meld them in with their new families to avoid detection. Based on actual events, Over the Hedge is the story of how against escalating Nazi brutality when millions of Jews were disposed of in camps, Walter Süskind, Henriëtte Pimentel, and Johan van Hulst worked heroically with the Dutch resistance to save Jewish children. But it is not just a story of their courageous endeavors. It is a story of the resilience of the human spirit. Of friendship and selfless love. The love that continues on in the hearts of over six hundred Dutch Jewish children.
Bloodstone is a fascinating book, beautifully written and full of mystery and imagination.
Amelina is a sixteen year old girl who is caught in a cycle of unhappiness. Her happy family life changed on her thirteen birthday. She can’t remember the details but “[her] mind, resurrecting buried memories from [her] thirteenth birthday: an imprint on glass, a charades card, and a young man’s beguiling voice bewitching [her].” Since that dreadful night when her father disappeared and returned months later an altered man, whose youth had been stolen, Amelina has been sad. Her mother changed on that day and became a harridan who works all the time and who cannot ever be pleased.
Amelina’s only ‘friends’ in her own home are self-harming Esme, an ex-school colleague who seemed to have the perfect life but is now trapped behind the mirrors in Amalina’s family home, and Shadow, her creepy black cat. Amelina does have some strong friendships outside of her home which are her saving grace.
The story starts with Amelina receiving a strange invitation to visit the mythical Crystal Cottage. On the same day, while out for a walk to think about this unusual invitation, she meets the mysterious and handsome Ryder to whom she is instantly attracted.
These two events trigger an unusual adventure where Amelina must take certain actions in order to save her father and restore the happiness of her family.
I enjoyed the character of Amelina. She had a troubled and difficult life with her disapproving mother and elderly and convalescent father. She just want’s her life to return to how it was before and she knows that her lot in life is poor compared to her best friends. I admired Amelina for being sensible and seeing the reality of her relationship with Ryder, despite her anguished state of mind and intense attraction to the man. I think this shows great strength of character and sends an excellent message to YA female readers of this book. I also liked the fact that Amelina looked for solutions to her problems and actively sought happiness. These are all positive characteristics.
Amelina has a gift for art and is given a magic art set by her aunt. The scenes involving Amelina painting with this gift are among my favorite in the book.
The following extract demonstrates the energy and mystery of the painting:
“As I dipped the brush into the paint, a gripping sensation overcame me. I painted in haste with a multitude of dissolving crystal paint flecks staring back at me from the canvas. A dark grey, bluish black, sinister tinge blemished the artwork. Shares of varying hues moved across the painting, competing for supremacy in a powerful duality of light and darkness.”
Ryder was a dark character and that was evident form his first encounter with Amelina. It was satisfyingly for me that Amelina did not succumb to his charms in a completely thoughtless and silly way. She kept her head and assessed Ryder’s behaviour even though it hurt her to do so.
The self harm references could be a trigger for some young readers, but they are skillfully and carefully handled so I think it is unlikely to cause distress. They are more likely to provide comfort, but that is just my opinion and I haven’t had any dealings with the victims of self harming.
An excellent and engrossing read and one I recommend to young adult and adult readers alike.
I didn’t think my life could get weirder, but I was wrong…
Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who is imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house.
When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden path where she encounters Ryder: a charismatic, perplexing stranger.
With the help of a magical paint set and some crystal wizard stones, can Amelina discover the truth about her family?
A unique, imaginative mystery full of magic-wielding and dark elements, Bloodstone is a riveting adventure for anyone interested in fantasy, mythology or the world of the paranormal.