Hard Steele by Ashley Ford

Hard SteeleIf you want to read about witches, werewolves, vampires and supernatural bounty hunters you really must read Hard Steele!

What a combination: Steele is a tough woman who can really dish out some trouble to the supernatural creatures she hunts. Cast first appears to be quite an impressive witch and a really good friend… she ends up being an incredible force that I wouldn’t like to tangle with. There’s going to be some pretty amazing stuff happening with these two as your friends!

Add a mixture of male hormones … an alpha male who know he wants; a physical trainer who knows Steele’s weaknesses – and strengths; and a suave and charming hunk that sends tingles up your spine.

All that testosterone is bound to cause trouble. Eric has been a friend for many years (although he’d like to be more). Ray/Razr is the boss man of the local werewolf chapter who fancies making Steele is partner in life and love, but Steele says he’s not her type at all. Outlaw is a (rather handsome) vampire, who gets on Steele’s nerves, and won’t go away.

This is a fast-paced story with good strong characters, good development and a solid storyline … Steele and Cast are a great team, whose skills complement each other well so there’s not many creatures that will get the better of them.

And who is this mysterious woman that no-one has met? I can’t help but think there may be some clues in the story but you will have to draw your own conclusions…

Me? I’m waiting (not so patiently) for the next instalment in this Fantastic trilogy.

(I was given an electronic copy of this to read for my review: This has in no way affected my review. I will only give an honest review to books regardless of the source.)

 

This is Book 1 of the Steele Trilogy … find it here: Goodreads/Hard Steele  or Amazon/Hard Steele

Room by Emma Donoghue

RoomWell, what an incredible story this is. I couldn’t write this review straight away after reading it… I had to let it settle inside me, and yet settle isn’t the right word at all. A story like this leaves a woman somewhat unsettled. This story has come up often in conversations with others that I hear have read it. I would recommend it to almost anyone.

The story is not based on true events but was inspired by true events. However, I think the way the feelings are described leaves you feeling anguish for Ma and Jack as though they really are real live people who have gone through this. As a Mother, I was in awe of the way Ma managed to raise Jack and teach him about his life and surroundings in a way that fostered learning and yet shielded him from the ghastly story that is his history. How could a mum do it any other way, you simply wouldn’t want your child to know there was a life outside that was free and happy without fear – not if you couldn’t let your child go into that good world. So Ma taught him everything and incorporated trying to escape (screaming at the skylight) into their routine without Jack understanding the enormity of their situation. The Room, all 11 feet square was the entire world to Jack. He was happy with it and Ma and their Sunday Treats as he knew nothing else … but he did feel uneasy about Old Nick. Ma’s protection of him was absolute. Old Nick had an easy prisoner for those years that Jack was too young – no way would Ma risk Jack, so she stayed put and made the best of an awful situation.

 

SPOILER ALERT: (of sorts) once they leave the Room and get out into the world, they both have a lot of adjusting to do. You are reminded that Ma was a teenager, and quite innocent of so much, when she was taken… she had no-one to teach her about womanhood, never mind about motherhood. What a difficult transition is before her.

I could write about this story all day… suffice to say – You should read it yourself.  There is nothing graphic really, except your own imagination. Some moments make your skin crawl because you understand so much more than little Jack about what it is he’s describing.

This is an intense and powerful story. Really quite incredible… and recounted through the eyes of Jack who turned five on the first page.  I’m not sure which moved me more: the opening scene in a world that we know is awful and yet to Jack is simply quite normal; or the closing scene… where I felt Ma’s tremble of courage, and the relief of letting go.

Just read it.

Goodreads or  Amazon 

The Big Egg ( a children’s book by Emily Gravett)

Odd EggWhat a delightful book to read to your toddler … if you don’t have one of your own then borrow a niece or nephew.
The illustrations are detailed and really quite beautiful, I love the way some pages were trimmed to show a sequence, very clever.
Very cute ending for duck and his egg …. and a gorgeous support cast of other egg-layers.

There are many elements that offer points for discussion: these include mums and dads (duck is a boy), what love is all about, waiting for something you really want,  and ways to show you care about someone – I love the scarf and shoes in the last scene.

Also perhaps, you discuss the “Nurture over Nature” subject, I think this could useful for parents of an adopted child, or perhaps for a “non-traditional” family, with maybe dads and no mums or what ever way your family is made up. No, there are no clearly defined sexist/gender roles… it’s a simple story that show a collection of Mum waiting for their eggs to hatch, along comes Duck who is later described as “he” who also wants a child.

I see some reviews have expressed concern over the ending…. I want to be clear that I think the ending was really sweet… and surprising for everyone. I can’t imagine a kid actually being scared unless the reader makes it so.

SPOILER ALERT…

the Snap!! can be interpreted in lots of ways. I was more surprised by some reviews (warning that it may be scary), than I ever was at the baby croc hatching, but love wins out in the end.  (And in response to one comment I read  – no – it’s not correct for size in relation to the other creatures. Just get over it – it’s called artistic license :)

I give this gorgeous wee story 5 stars – I know my panel of experts would have agreed if they were still getting bedtime stories from me!

Goodreads/The Big Egg

The Rhyme’s Library by Kristy Tate

Rhymes LibraryI really enjoyed this book :)

The characters each have their own quirks and the twists and turns to the storyline keep it interesting to the end. I like characters who have personality – and these really do. The reader is kept wondering about the motives behind many of the residents of the peaceful Rose Arbor… for such a quiet little town there is a lot going on, and isn’t that just like a small town, so many noses in so much business?

The history of Crazy Aunt Charlotte gives everyone lots to think about, the vulnerability of Blair keeps you keen and the intricacies of the neighbourhood give you laughs, creepy moments galore, and a couple of frights. The emotional pulls from the likes of Drake and Alec are well written and well, quite hilarious at times. Of course Poor Blair’s emotions get a bit of a workout, but from all the right causes. It’s not as though she’s a soppy girl – I thought it quite brave of her to go into the basement in the first place, and resourceful to climb onto the roof to save the kitten (good suspense), and to talk to herself about her fears seemed a very human thing to do :)  … I could imagine me doing that.

I like the word definition at the beginning of each chapter… sometimes it gave a hint about what was in store, and other times I wondered how would that word be incorporated into the story!

A very enjoyable novel.

Find out more here: Goodreads

 

A Time of Souls by Bruce G. Bennett

Time_of_Souls_AYou get a really good sense of who the characters are… the opening scene is reasonably sizzling, but it’s not an erotica work.

The sex scenes were well described and in keeping with the characters, giving you a good feel for the morals, motives and methods of each character involved. As the stories unfold, you wonder how they will connect, but connect they do, and interweave very nicely.
An unlikely alliance forms, and investigations ensue. The stories told to the journalist are said in unique ways fitted to each individual, obviously a pattern forms but it’s not repetitive for the reader.

The gamut of emotions felt by each, and recounted are very well described and thought provoking. The threads meander suitably and gather together again in an ending that makes you guess, but keeps you wondering for a short while… and then keep you thinking about things for a bit.
Although the central character wrestles with his thoughts on God and the Devil,  the hereafter, and ‘just what is After?’ the book is no way a theological treatise. All human beings die one day, regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs… and then what?

A very enjoyable read.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23158735-a-time-of-souls

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Boy in Striped PJEveryone should read this. Absolutely Stunning. I was swept into this time and place, and saw the world through Bruno’s eyes… and felt all the emotions as he did. Until the end of course, then I felt what a mother would.

A boy Bruno’s age should be free to play – just as he thought, and did… this story shows how individuals can be swept along so easily by the currents around them. Even the characters that knew things were wrong did nothing to change it because there were expectation upon them.

Feeling the tensions mount, and understanding the deeper meaning behind some of the conversations gives the reader a perspective that perhaps the characters themselves would have wished to have. The story unfolds of course, to charged emotions and tragic consequences.

Beautifully written, raw and tragic, harsh at times but this is such a good read.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39999.The_Boy_in_the_Striped_Pajamas

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Kite_Runner_ThePowerful story. Graphic in so many ways but poignant and profound too. The graphic content is written is a very sensitive way, not that it lessens the effect, but it’s not graphic like a blood-fest movie is – it’s descriptive and takes you into the heart of the scene, leaves you feeling all those emotions. The horrors and violence in the environment around was justly described, and sadly, very true to life. The social structures and cultural differences, the politics that divided families and towns, and the conscience and heartache that travels across time and space, never quite leaving or relieving your mind…

Wow. This was indeed a powerful story, that was told so well. I read it a while ago now, and still feel this strongly about it.

 

Highly recommended

See more on Goodreads