Book Review: Blessedly Bound by Lucretia Stanhope

Lucretia Stanhope Blessedly Bound

‘Blessedly Bound’ is so bewitching,I found it hard to put down.

The central character, Gwen, is an enigma of strength and vulnerability combined, which makes her easy to empathise with: surely, when we are being honest, that is how we perceive ourselves?

The reader is also tantalised by the fact that the reader doesn’t ever really know who the good guys are – the candidates for Gwen’s “hero” are compelling blends of good and bad, so that one is never really sure which way each of them will turn out.

While the pivotal storyline of the book is brought to a satisfying resolution, there is still plenty of mystery and intrigue left for sequels as questions, doubts, and fears remain.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I’ll definitely be reading the sequel.
I’ve given this great paranormal mystery read five stars.

Blessedly Bound and other books by the same author are available on Amazon.

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Book Review: ‘Leger – Cat Sleuth’ by Lacie Dearie

‘Leger – Cat Sleuth’ is a delightful short story in which a cat takes on the role of detective to solve a mystery that unfolds very close to his home.

It’s written with good humor and clever characterization of the protagonist and his animal friends, feline and otherwise, who help him find the pieces of the puzzle and find the culprit he seeks. 
Suitable for any reader from young adult upwards, this story is a short read but contains enough charm and interest to engage a reader and entertain their imagination.

‘Leger – Cat Sleuth’ and others in the series are available on Amazon.

Book Review: The Undernet by J.S. Frankel

‘The Undernet’ by J. S. Frankel brings new definition to the age-old contest between good and evil, and between truth and deceit as a young man seeks answers that seem determined to remain hidden.

Jesse Frankel The Undernet

Frankel has crafted realistic, likeable and engaging central characters in Milt and his girlfriend, Robbie.  They’re not perfect, and their mistakes have consequences, which makes them easier to empathise with and understand. Insights into Milt’s thoughts and gut reactions, and his feelings about Robbie, draw the reader into the often very confronting story of his quest for justice and truth.

Part of Frankel’s genius in casting this story is designing characters who live and work in the shadows, so that the reader has to keep questioning whether they are the good guys or the bad guys. There are so many layers of intrigue and concealment in this story that the reader is kept curious and wanting to know, much like Milt throughout this story, seeing the truth despite layers of concealment and misinformation. In this sense, the Undernet and the Dark Net take on the roles of additional impersonal characters that deliberately obscure reality in this story, just as they seem to in actual fact.

Some parts of The Undernet are definitely uncomfortable to read. In graphic contrast to the sincere and honest friendship Milt has with Robbie and with his best friend, Simon, Frankel gives his readers a solidly-written exposè of the dark side of human nature as one is likely to find it on the dark side of the internet – or anywhere. This is delivered with confronting realism and honesty. Through all of this, It was the strong identification I felt with with Milt’s “ordinary person” response to the ugly side of life that enabled me to keep reading and hoping for him to find the resolution he was so desperate to find.

The Undernet is available on Amazon or from devinedestinies.com

Book Review: Sweet Discovery by Aliya DalRae

Having thoroughly enjoyed Sweet Vengeance, the first book in Aliya DalRae‘s Jessica Sweet mysteries, and Bittersweet, the back story of Malcom, I was keen to read Sweet Discovery.

Aliya DalRae Sweet Discovery

Not until I started reading did I realise how ironic the title is – many more questions than discoveries were arising in the most fascinating and heart-stopping ways. Absolutely, 110% intrigued, I had to keep on reading to find the answers to my own questions and theories, as well as Jessica’s.

This book is a fast-paced roller coaster of emotions, complete with loop-the-loops and tilt-a-whirls of mystery, secrets, horror, and intense personal conflicts for a number of key characters.

It’s a mark of a great writer that a story can take you on the journey not just of the main characters and the key plot, but also of the other characters through sub-plots that weave seamlessly with the main story. Characters I disliked intensely in the first book became more likeable not only through the development of their personality and actions, but also through gaining a greater understanding of their motivations and histories. Other characters that I quite liked in the first book underwent an almost opposite kind of transition. Once again, DalRae reminds us through this fabulous book that no matter how confident we might be that we’re right about people or situations, or even that we know something for sure, things aren’t always what they seem.

If you’re looking for delicious paranormal mystery adventure laced with more than a dash of hot sauce and romance, look no further. DalRae’s Jessica Sweet mysteries are the books for you.

Now, I’m waiting with bated breath for the next in the series. I’m definitely hungry for the next course.

Aliya DalRae’s Jessica Sweet mysteries are all available on Amazon.

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Book Review: Four American Tales by Jack Messenger

Jack Messenger Four American Tales.jpg

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On starting this collection with the first story, Wichega, I was immediately drawn in by the wistful, melancholic voice of Sweet Pea, telling her story so powerfully. This story is so evocative of memories, of sights and smells and sensations, that I almost felt that I was right there in the scene. This story is such an engaging way to open the quartet of stories.

Messenger’s writing is equally powerful and emotive in the other stories. The characters are developed richly, each having their own distinct voice and mannerisms that portray far more than what is told of them in the stories themselves.

These stories, and the characters in them, are varied enough to keep the reader engaged and curious throughout the book. There is neither cliche nor repetition in the plots, characters and imagery delivered by Messenger.

These stories are, without doubt, American in both style and setting, at different times reminding me of the imagery and eloquence of John Steinbeck.

This is the first of his books that I have read, but I definitely hope to read more of his writing. I enjoyed Four American Tales very much.

Four American Tales is available on Amazon.

‘Bittersweet’ by Aliya DalRae

Aliya DalRae Bittersweet
‘Bittersweet’ by Aliya DalRae is the story of Malcolm, the black cat who features in Sweet Vengeance and Sweet Discovery, the first two novels in the Jessica Sweet trilogy.

The Jessica Sweet paranormal/mystery/romance novels portray Malcolm as a dark, mysterious creature who keeps his secrets closely concealed. ‘Bittersweet’ shows much more of who he is – sensitive and loving, yet carrying a burden that nobody else can understand.

This is a powerful and moving story, even for readers who are not familiar with DalRae’s Jessica Sweet novels. It works equally well as a standalone story, a companion backstory to the novels, or a very effective appetizer as an introduction to the novels.

DalRae’s writing is highly expressive and yet still so comfortable that the reader is drawn right into the world of Fallen Cross.

This book can be easily read in an hour, so ‘Bittersweet’ would be a perfect lazy afternoon or end of day read.

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I’ve given this ADR novella five shiny stars.

‘Bittersweet’ is available on Amazon as an ebook or in paperback.
Alternatively, you can get it free via Instafreebie by signing up to Aliya DalRae’s mailing list.

Book Review: ‘The Gift’ by Nikki Landis

Nikki Landis The Gift

Narrated in the first person by the character of Gemma Harding, ‘The Gift’ keeps the reader guessing right to the end. This story draws the reader into a complicated web of deceit and carefully constructed appearances that leave Gemma able to trust only  herself and her gift in her search for the answers she needs.

The reader is drawn into Gemma’s character in the first chapter by a  narration that is almost a stream-of-consciousness passage, through which Landis reveals Gemma’s special ability and how it has impacted on her life thus far. The reader, familiar with Gemma’s thoughts and feelings, follows her through this story sharing her thrills, fears and questions as events unfold.

This is a brilliant read. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys the mystery/thriller genre, particularly with a psychological edge to it.

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