A couple of weeks ago I read and reviewed ‘Blessedly Bound‘ by Lucretia Stanhope. ‘Burning Captivation’ is the sequel, the second in Stanhope’s Elemental Witch Trials series.
Stanhope’s supporting characters are complex and multi-dimensional, making them a challenge for both Gwen and the reader to figure out. The delicious way in which she blurs the lines between good and bad, friend and foe, adds layers of intrigue to the story and engages the reader deeply in the story.
‘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.
‘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.
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.
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.
The band of characters in this book are quite well developed, and the reader is drawn into a strong feeling of empathy with Conny, Frankie and Twig in particular. The villain is well-drawn and distinctly odious: there are times when his actions do make the reader uncomfortable and quite angry. This sets the action of the story in motion: each of the main characters and a number of the minor characters must work together to achieve justice and to reclaim that which has been taken from them.
The book brings some resolution to the conflicts faced by Twig and Conny, along with a sense of relief in the immediate circumstances, but the reader is also very aware that there are still questions and problems that remain unsolved. In this way, the reader is strongly motivated to read the second book in the series – ‘The Colour of Evil’. The title itself is both enticing and ominous, leaving the reader intrigued and eager to know more.
I’ve given this book a good solid 4 stars.
You can find Absence of Colour Book 1, and the rest of the series, on Susan Wee’s Amazon page.
History and the present intertwine in this ripping yarn of adventure and adversity deep in the Amazon jungle. This is an absolutely fantastic story in which Ben Hammott has crafted an ingenious tale full of great characters, all of whom are likeable but not necessarily always good people.
The story hooks readers with the mysteries of the past and legends of treasure, and then connects to them through the descendants of the original adventurers.
From that point on, this pair of books takes the reader on a journey through rough terrain, down treacherous rivers, and territory inhabited by previously unknown tribes.
Reading these books made me feel like I was on an Indiana Jones adventure, with a bit of King Solomon’s Mines thrown in for good measure. It had plenty of heart-in-your-throat moments, a tantalising amount of mystery and intrigue, and some really engaging characters and dialogue to keep the story moving.
5 stars for this great book that would suit any reader from YA upwards.
I cannot recommend these books highly enough.