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Taking the Mobster's Woman - Lynn Cooper

"Taking the Mobster's Woman" by Lynn Cooper is another hugely enjoyable romance with a good dose of suspense and action. This is sex and crime at its best with a hot FBI guy, a blonde bombshell, Mafia guys, lust and temptation.
Cooper is a master at creating believable chemistry that seeps off the pages, writing fun dialogues and keeping the reader glued to the stories full of tension and great dramatic pull.
Short and to the point the story takes no prisoners and runs quickly from start to finish. Hugely entertaining and well worth your time this should do very well with fans of the genre and those who want to give it a try. I'm a casual visitor to the genre and enjoyed it very much.

A very smooth and enjoyable read with great substance. Excellent.

Truth, Lies & Propaganda: in Africa (Truth, Lies and Propaganda Book 1) - Lucinda E Clarke

"Truth, Lies & Propaganda: in Africa (Truth, Lies and Propaganda Book 1)" by Lucinda E Clarke is a very entertaining and insightful story about a journalist working in various countries in Africa. The book works on many levels as it reads like an autobiography as well as a fictional story. The writing style is upbeat and often understated, then comes forth with journalistic sharpness and precision. You get to learn a lot of details, minor and major, about the countries and broadcasting stations involved while caring for the 'protagonist' and her personal life and career.
Libya, BOtswana and South Africa are amongst the locations. As writer I could relate to the theme of self doubt and 'making it as professional' that runs from the foreword to the end of this part in the series.
A very smooth and enjoyable read with great substance. Excellent.


Phoenix Rising: A novel of Anne Boleyn - Hunter S. Jones

"Phoenix Rising: A novel of Anne Boleyn" by Hunter Jones is a beautifully artistic and original piece of historical fiction that evoked a wide range of emotions in me. The book moved me and brought magic and wonder to the sad event in British History. Being a fan of fiction about the Tudor times I'm pleased to have found a book with such a unique and engaging approach.
Jones tells of the last hour of Queen Anne Boleyn and does so wonderfully with the help of an astrological chart: Twelve segments, all corresponding to the houses in astrology, focus on different aspects of her forthcoming death.
Letters, thoughts and actions come together in a small literary jigsaw that is a detailled, historically accurate and thought provoking.
The story is told from the inside and from the outside, with compassion and understanding, and with a view to the bigger picture.
Having read and loved Jones's September series I had high expectations for her stab at history but I was not prepared for the emotional impact the story had on me, nor for the ease with which her talent transferred to historical fiction.
This is very impressive.

Akaela (Mayake Chronicles #1) - E.E. Giorgi

“Akaela (Mayake Chronicles Book 1)” by E.E. Giorgi is the successful and hugely enjoyable excursion of a talented science fiction writer into young adult territory.

Set in the post-apocalyptic world of cyborgs, called the Mayake, the book sets a great scene for this futuristic fantasy adventure. Fifteen year old Akaela and her older brother have an encounter with scrap searching droids that seems at first to set off a war between the two people.

The existence of the Mayake is threatened by several things, not least of all the fight over resources and issues with the technology that is part of their non-human parts. Each individual of the Mayake has chip implants that give them certain non-human abilities, but these rely on battery power.

The siblings’ father is missing, having left on a mission to find more resources for the Mayake, which adds a personal component to the survival of the ‘species’.

The narrative alternates in its perspectives but always has an intimate and compelling feel that draws you right into the story and the desperate situation that the Mayakes find themselves in.

Our young heroes are well written as interesting characters and their conflicts feel realistic and urgent. The suspense in the story is constant, whether immediate or looming through anticipation of events to come. Giorgi has explored the concept of cyborgs very well with a complex and intelligent background story.

As first in the series the book ends with an outlook on things to come in Book 2 and beyond. Although written for young adults, older readers will find the story as compelling and gripping as younger ones. A promising start to the series that makes me look forward to the rest.

I received an ARC of the book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Catori's Worlds - Murielle Cyr

“Catori’s World” by Muriele Cyr is a wonderful and amazing book for young adults.
Right from the beginning the story draws the reader in with a powerful narrative voice, hinting at some unresolved family issues after her father’s death.
Catori is a lovely teenager, somewhat isolated and trying to make sense of her world, yet very likeable and compelling to watch. She has angst,some good fight in her and disarming honesty.
A bus journey one morning takes her to a new world where she becomes stuck. The parallel world has good and evil forces but also new wonders and some new friends that help her fight the evil that comes after her. The world is magical and provides a lot of food for thought for teenagers and adults alike.
Murielle Cyr has an imaginative and original mind and has written what I want to call a fantasy with a cause. Ideas in the other world, such as a crop that won’t need attention to grow, playfully mention some of the common problems the earth faces, but they form only part of an excellent fictitious narrative.
The story has a smooth flow, is written in impeccable prose with tight editing and offers – along the way - charming insights into human beings and our society. I really loved reading it and ran late for an appointment because of my involvement into the plot.
The book has an inspiring message about self-acceptance and self-realisation, it is fun to read and one of my reading highlights this year. Highly recommended.

Sea Witch (Sea Witch Series #1) - Helen Hollick

“Sea Witch” by Helen Hollick was a real treat for me. I picked up the book for its historical content, which is as immaculately researched as I was told. The story, however, is much more entertaining than I had anticipated: adventure, romance, action and some mythical element made this hugely enjoyable.
Set in the early 1700s this is a gripping pirate story with fascinating historical and nautical background details. The characters are well developed, the plot moves along fast and the suspense never lets up. A rich and rewarding read.

Miri's Song - Eleanor Stem

“Miri's Song” by Eleanor Stem is a fascinating book. Told from the perspective of Miri of Magdala it tells the story of her life and that of Jesus/ Joshua. I’m not Bible-read enough to know how much artistic freedom the author took in her deviations from the gospel. Particularly the ending is different from the official bible but it is also not an unheard of version of the story. I would have liked to have an explanation from the author about this although I can also the appeal of publishing the story without such a comment.
All biblical interest aside, reading it for its historical value of a prostitute in Palestine during that time the book provided interesting perspectives. Miri is a character you will easily feel for and her finding a good man to take care of her is a beautiful story.
Giving and authentic feel and well written this is definitely an interesting read I’d recommend.

A Medic On The Mekong - Dr Alan Goodwin

“A medic in the Mekong: Life and love in Laos” by Dr Alan Goodwin is a fascinating memoir set in pre-Communist Laos between 1967 and 1968. A British Doctor, who trained in Australia, joins a project to provide medical aid to Laos. Shocked by the primitive conditions he finds there he does his best to help and improve the standards of care provided.
Meanwhile a big focus of the novel is on his love and sex life with explicit descriptions of encounters and the moral musings behind his conduct. Being brutally honest about religious and moral implications of his thoughts and actions we get to witness him fall in love with a very young local girl and how he comes to terms with this.
There are some interesting parts about the political situation in Laos of that time and also great descriptions of the culture, the climate and day to day life in Laos.
Minor editing and formatting issues aside the book is well written with a compassionate voice and a narrative that is a pleasure to follow.
If you mind the erotic content, I understand there is a less explicit version of the book available. If you don’t mind then you will find this book as entertaining, thoughtful and educational as I did.

Struggling to Survive: A story of love, crime, and deception in the new Russia (Anya Series Book 2) - Julia Gousseva

“Struggling to Survive: A story of love, crime, and deception in the new Russia (Anya Series Book 2)” by Julia Gousseva is the long awaited sequel to Anya’s Story. Now a single mother and widow in the ever changing new Russia Anya meets her old friend Katia, who helps her make a living on the edge of legality. People are struggling to survive, as the title so rightfully says. The picture of life in Moscow with its supply issues, market forces, economics and criminals is very well depicted and made me realise how much I take for granted in my own life and how little I knew about living in a corrupt environment. A great story that is eye opening on a cultural and sociological scale but also a very good story when it comes to Anya and her life story and her love life. Her ex-boyfriend Victor reappears in this story although, again, things are not straightforward at all. Excellent sub-plots touch on Afghanistan under Russian rule and the drug trade. Gousseva has once again delivered a very readable and gripping book that will tear on your heartstrings and shed light on life in Moscow after Communism. I have a penchant for books set in foreign countries and this is one of the best I read in that genre for a while. I hope there will be more in the series.

No Book but the World - Leah Hager Cohen

“No Book but the World” by Leah Hager Cohen is a bittersweet and thoughtful story. It delves deep into the childhood of Ava and Fred, who is ‘different’. Their parents are one of a kind and in consequence their upbringing is too.
Now Fred is in county jail in connection with the death of a young boy with suspicions, prejudice and accusations flying about and a defence lawyer who hasn’t even spoken to the accused.
Much of the narrative focuses on the childhood so that the plot concerning the uncovering of the truth behind the crime seems on the backburner. I personally would have liked it to be the other way round but the end result is still a touching and moving story worth your time.

Lady Lilith and Other Stories: An anthology - E.E. Giorgi

“Lady Lilith and Other Stories: An anthology” by E.E. Giorgi is a surprisingly strong and deep selection of four short stories. Knowing the author as science fiction and thriller writer I was amazed at the versatility of talent. The first story, Elm Tree, literally blew me away: A tragic suicide and the uncovering of the unexpected background story. Moving, gripping and very well written.
The two main stories in this anthology work very well at their length. I usually prefer my reading novel size so I can get into the characters and plot more deeply. Giorgi has managed to draw me in and engage me within a short space of time and not make me feel that it ended too soon either.  The rest of the anthology is equally entertaining and shows Giorgi’s solid talent for complex and captivating storytelling.

Skin Cage - Nico Laeser

“Skin Cage” by Nico Laeser is an extraordinary and hugely rewarding story. Told from the perspective of a paralyzed young man the book has quite an ambitious premise and follows it through successfully.
Daniel Stockholm is not Danny, which is the name he has given his ‘skin cage’ or his biological prison. His mind sees himself differently and it is Daniel who tells us his gripping story.
The narrative is superb, intimate, honest and unique. The book is powerful, original and unlike any I have ever read. It shows a fascinating perspective on difficult issues and is thoughtful, thought provoking and thoroughly captivating. A great character and a good story.
Truly amazing, a must read. 

Family Life - Akhil Sharma

“Family Life” by Akhil Sharma is a beautiful and bitter sweet story. Immigration life in the 1970s US and family tragedy are well teamed together as main themes to make for a rich and emotional read. A great voice, likeable and with a fascinating perspective, the story only suffered for me from maybe a somewhat abrupt ending.

Lost and Found - Jeff LaFerney

“Lost and Found” by Jeff LaFerney is a complex story spanning segments from 1939, 1945 and 2014. The prologue, set in the past, is thoroughly engaging and I must admit that I was reluctant to move into the present narrative after it.
What follows is a mystery (that involves the past) to be solved by a teenage boy. Blake has his own problems: school bullies and his grandfather’s dementia, which adds more layers to the story.
There’s a lot going on in this book. It is a fascinating story, an emotional and thoughtful read, well-constructed in its narrative and plot.

I received an ARC to give an honest review.

Cisco Bandits: A Gwynn Reznick Novel - Inge-Lise Goss

“Cisco Bandits: A Gwynn Reznick Novel” by Inge-Lise Goss is a gripping thriller with a well-chosen heroine. Gwynn thinks fast on her feet and although new to her job as investigator she is resourceful and works her way through the investigation nicely. The plot throws a few surprises, always keeps you on your toes and the suspense is held throughout. Murder, blackmail, deceit and romance are some of the great ingredients in the mix. An excellent start to a promising series with a great heroine. Hugely enjoyable.

Cisco Bandits: A Gwynn Reznick Novel - Inge-Lise Goss

“Cisco Bandits: A Gwynn Reznick Novel” by Inge-Lise Goss is a gripping thriller with a well-chosen heroine. Gwynn thinks fast on her feet and although new to her job as investigator she is resourceful and works her way through the investigation nicely.
The plot throws a few surprises, always keeps you on your toes and the suspense is held throughout. Murder, blackmail, deceit and romance are some of the great ingredients in the mix. An excellent start to a promising series with a great heroine. Hugely enjoyable.