The Shifters of 2040 is the first to be released of a six part story. Chronologically, it is the third book however the prequels are yet to be release...moreThe Shifters of 2040 is the first to be released of a six part story. Chronologically, it is the third book however the prequels are yet to be released. I think this is a great concept- you can choose whether to read the future or the past – very cool!
The Shifters of 2040, introduces the main (human) characters Melissa Marn and Dr Bruce Wilder who are both scientists who conduct experiments on (shape) shifters. They are employed by the SCM (Shifter-Contingency Military) which aim to eradicate the shifters from earth and to keep their plan active they maintain fear in the civilians about the danger that the shifters pose. The shifters invaded earth in 2020 and have the ability to turn into animals or humans for short periods of time but the hybrids (part human part shifter) have evolving DNA and this allows them to infiltrate with humans for longer and be unnoticed.
Melissa is a hard worker at SCM and risks her life everyday to conduct research on the shifters and is strictly monitored by her father, Major Marn. Since her mother died whilst giving birth, Melissa’s father has never been the same. His need to protect Melissa from a similar fate is carried out through controlling his behaviour and Melissa is struggles to make decisions for herself. At her father’s demand Melissa undergoes a procedure so that she can never bear children- and so he will not lose her the way he lost his wife.
After a difficult day at work, Melissa heads to Kino’s Bar to try and forget all about her worries for just one night. When she meets a tall, handsome stranger she forgets all about the shifter world and falls into his arms during one hot intimate evening. Only, this stranger turns out to be the one thing that Melissa has been trained to fear and despise- a shifter. Melissa feels betrayed and used and experiences a confusing mix of feelings towards him but tries her best to get on with life by throwing herself back into her work. Until she finds out she is pregnant. It seems that her arch enemy, a shifter has given her the one thing she thought she could never have- a baby.
Torn between her allegiance with the SCM and her connection with the life growing within her- Melissa chooses to continue with the pregnancy and keep it hidden from the military. Her colleague Bruce, who has always had strong feelings for Melissa, helps her keep the secret and they begin to fantasise about their future together as a family.
Despite the part shifter baby growing within her, Melissa’s training has infiltrated her mind and she struggles to view shifters as anything but a threat. But when hybrid children are caught and caged for experimentation at the SCM, she begins to soften. Melissa needs to figure out how she can protect her offspring without risking her life.
Ami has a talent for writing about real-life issues within a world of fantasy and futurism. The underlying theme of the Shifter Evolutions is the power of human prejudice and the influence of authorities in society.
At first glimpse the book outlines the character relationships and a glossary of terms and I found this a bit overwhelming! However, I was pleasantly surprised that it all seems to fall into place once you get stuck into the reading. I wouldn’t recommend reading over these pages first up as it can be a bit confusing, rather use it as a reference to go back to throughout the story- I did this and found it very helpful. Despite the many characters- human, shifters, animals I certainly was not lost at any point during the story. Ami had my attention captured from the very first chapter.
I like how Ami provides different voices and perspectives of the characters in the story- there are plenty of little sub-plots to keep you engaged. It is action packed and I never really knew what was going to happen next- which I love!
I really enjoyed this read and definitely want to know what happens next among the conflict ridden world of the humans and shifters. The next book in the Shifter Evolutions series, The Hybrids of 2050 was released in March 2011 and is available in paperback or e-book.
View this review and Ami's book blog tour at my blog
The story begins with Bria, at ten years old she has already had a tough life. Domestic violence coupled with physical and emotional...more WOW. What a read.
The story begins with Bria, at ten years old she has already had a tough life. Domestic violence coupled with physical and emotional abuse, Bria’s notion of the world is formed based on these early experiences. When she is abandoned by her mother after the death of her step father, Bria is taken in by Jack and his aunt Mary for a short while before she goes off to live with other relatives along with her half-sister Tara. Bria strikes up a trusting friendship with Jack who is thirteen years her senior. He is studying to be a lawyer and becomes one of the few people in her life who she can truly count on.
Bria, a determined and strong-willed young girl makes the decision to leave home and get help for her and Tara and save them from further abuse. She runs away in search of Jack, but doesn’t make it. She becomes a victim of the child sex trade. She is only twelve.
When Bria is reunited with Jack and Mary her sense of self is damaged and she struggles to make sense of her experience and feel safe again. Bria’s strength and determination is amazing and it gets her through this turbulent time along with the help of her trusting friend Jack.
This story shows us how a young child’s innocence is stolen, and how she fights back and tries to make sense of this scary, unsafe world.
This story is told from the perspectives of Bria and her aunt Mary. I was instantly drawn in and felt Bria’s pain, confusion and anger alongside her. I cried. I laughed. I hoped that she would find happiness. It’s not often that a story like this comes along and reminds you of what is truly important in life.
Having worked in the child protection field inAustraliawith abused children and now working with women, some with childhood trauma I am well aware that stories like Bria’s are not uncommon. I have also read many memoirs where survivors have shared their experiences of trauma. But what I think Linda does so well in her fiction novel, This Bird Flew Away is to show the range of emotions and inner conflicts a young child’s experience after trauma in an objective but empathetic fashion. The range of perspectives and Bria’s interactions with those around her makes the people real- flaws and all.
I must warn you though; this story is not for those with a sensitive stomach. But if you can stick out the bad parts and stay alongside Bria as she transforms from a girl into a woman you will be pleasantly rewarded with this well told story.
Bria’s relationship with Jack did initially make me squirm at times (probably because of my own professional background- on face value their relationship just seems wrong). I felt protective of Bria. When will this man abuse her trust, like every other? But as the story evolved, despite my unease with their age difference I can see that Jack and Bria truly love each other. They know each other at a very deep and trusting level and I think well could any other man have looked after and kept her so emotionally contained over all those years? If a warm-hearted, gentle and caring man like Jack was not in her life- Bria’s life would have taken a much different course- most likely for the worse.
This Bird Flew Away identifies many psychosocial issues in our society. I think it’s an important reminder for people to think about where someone has come from, their early experiences before they judge who they are today. Young women are often judged by their behaviour; whether it be promiscuity or other risk taking behaviours – but there is a reason behind this behaviour- conscious or not. What this story shows nicely is how early experiences can shape the way we view the world.
This Bird Flew Away is a truly touching story of pain, survival and hope. Although, the ending was not exactly what I had hoped, I was thrilled to find a sneak preview for the sequel. I am looking forward to finding out what happens with Jack and Bria in the future. 5/5!
This book is very deceiving. The title and the cover aren’t very appealing, but the writing is really wonderful. Such simple and eloquent prose. Prait...moreThis book is very deceiving. The title and the cover aren’t very appealing, but the writing is really wonderful. Such simple and eloquent prose. Praitis depicts vignettes of Lithuanian woman Ona Kartanas from a derelict childhood to a war-torn adult life.
I felt like I was reading the journal entries of a war survivor and was rewarded with snapshots of this one woman’s life. Ona, was orphaned as a child and when taken in by another family she had to work hard on the farm to make her keep. The only thing that kept her going was her positive school experience and the thought that she could continue her education. When that was no longer a reality, she takes off and finds her place with another family before furthering her education and getting a job in the city. She meets Jouzas who becomes her husband and goes on to have five children with him. Ona is a strong female who worked very hard and despite the emerging war spilling intoLithuaniashe does whatever she can to survive, to feed her children and help the vulnerable. She is the woman whose family is starving but she still hands over a piece of bread to another family in need.
I couldn’t believe when Ona birthed in a Hospital in the middle of a bombing situation where all the staff and patients fled. She stayed by her baby’s side protecting and nurturing despite the threat to their survival happening outside. At times I got frustrated with her husband Jouzas, who in comparison to Ona I felt he was weak at times. He didn’t seem like a strong man, he wasn’t the breadwinner, the protector or the decision maker which was traditionally expected of men of the time. I feel he let Ona down many times but her resilience and strength probably created the only stability and love for those five young children raised in an environment of fear, hate and prejudice.
I really liked Irena’s writing style and the way she told Ona’s story through the vignettes- she gave me just enough information without giving me too much all at once. Despite the trauma and atrocities that Ona’s family (and many, many others!) experienced, this is a great read, written by a talented writer.
I always love a Monica McInerney read. In Upside Down Inside Out, Eva Kennedy leaves behind her mundane life inIreland to have some fun with her frien...moreI always love a Monica McInerney read. In Upside Down Inside Out, Eva Kennedy leaves behind her mundane life inIreland to have some fun with her friend inAustralia. McInerney is obviously blessed to be familiar with both countries and call both home. So she is able to show how Eva experiencesAustralia as a traveller but not in an overly stereotypical way. It’s interesting how the voice of Eva and Joseph are integrated throughout the story and I couldn’t wait for their paths to cross- despite its predictability, I am a sucker for romance and happy endings. As a McInerney fan I especially appreciated the little references to characters in another novel, A Taste For It (see my review)- although they are both standalone novels, it made me smile as I felt as though Iwas in on some private joke with the author herself. Eva’s persona is definitely entertaining and a little cringe-worthy at times where I was wondering when they would both finally just tell each other the truth! As always, McInerney provides an easy read, with likeable, well-developed characters and interesting storylines.
This (ashamedly) is my first encounter with a Bronte novel. For the Goodreads Monthly challenge (to read Classic English Literature)I decided to pick...moreThis (ashamedly) is my first encounter with a Bronte novel. For the Goodreads Monthly challenge (to read Classic English Literature)I decided to pick up a hardcover Jane Eyre novel that has been gathering dust on my to- read pile for quite some time.
Firstly, it was a lot darker than I had expected. Jane, as a young girl is orphaned and then taken into a home where she is not wanted nor loved. At about age 10 she is sent off to a boarding home where attains an education for eight years before she applies and is offered a governess role at Thornfield, where Mr Rochester is Master.
My feelings on her relationship with Mr Rochester are mixed. I know that things were different in those times and age differences of 10 and 20 years were not too looked down upon as they may be nowadays. Perhaps my professional background left me a little suspicious of this character throughout most of the story. It is not uncommon for a young woman of a neglected background to seek out an older, stable man when she has had no such father-figure before. Jane does not seem the slight worried about the 20 year age difference between the two.
She has been deprived of kindness and warmth and feels drawn to a character whom is consistent with this nature. She indicates many times that if he were to flatter or be kind to her then she would withdraw or feel unease. The power imbalance in this developing relationship is evident as he is her Master and she is the governess. He is in a position of authority, much older and very much in a position of influence. But I also see that Jane is very intelligent and strong willed and that it is she who first announces her feelings, not him.
It is no wonder that a woman of her emotionally deprived background would be drawn to someone who (although he is not cruel) is stern and authoritative. She would not know how to relate if he were kind and soft due to her innate suspicious nature. I relate this to what we see nowadays in abusive relationships, such as those where there is domestic balance. It’s a combination of early experiences, unhealthy relationships and being drawn to a strong, fatherly figure where the power imbalance can be taken advantage of.
In saying that I don’t think Jane was taken advantage of, she very well made up her own mind and in the end I think Mr Rochester became weak and desperate which in turn lifted Jane's position as very much in charge. I just find it interesting to draw parallels in Bronte’s writing to what I have seen in modern day.
Overall, it took me awhile- a good 100 pages or so- to get into this story but once I was underway I found it quite enjoyable. Bronte tells a story that I very much felt a part of and I felt I could visualise everything from the residence to the countryside and each of the characters in my mind.
3.5/ 5 stars
See my blog post regarding this challenge & review at The Australian Bookshelf.
Evan is the average teenager, living in Elbow Creek hanging out with his best mate Denny- until his fa...moreThis review featured on The Australian Bookshelf
Evan is the average teenager, living in Elbow Creek hanging out with his best mate Denny- until his family need to relocate to Lincoln Heights for his dad’s job. He has to find a way to fit in at a big new school whilst dealing with his strict parental rules. He finds himself caught up in the partying scene along with his ‘loser’ friend, Roger. Caloyeras provides an insight into the troubles and experience of an adolescent boy dealing with parties, girls and family secrets. Evan meets Maya who encourages his photography interests and she becomes his first girlfriend. There is a sex scene in this book, although it’s not too graphic.
Although I enjoyed the writing style of Caloyeras and the real life issues that this teenage boy comes across- I felt there could have been more character development for Evan, Maya and even high school trouble-maker Nicole. Evan is a likeable character, he is endearing with a hint of adolescent insecurity that teenage girls will find appealing. I had empathy for him but I don’t feel like I got to know him as well as I would have liked. Maya remains a mysterious character as I wanted to know a bit more of her inner workings and to discover a bit more depth in her relationship with Evan. It seemed like the plot was leading up to something and some things were resolved quite quickly whilst others were left open ended. I did enjoy Evan’s big blow up with his parents at the end as I felt his frustration bubbling away and wanted him to step up and stand up for himself.
Although I would have like to know the characters better, overall Urban Falcon was an absorbing story that provides a glimpse of the inner world of an adolescent boy.
A Ranger’s Tale is a fantasy romance novel. I really enjoy forbidden love stories, where two people come together despite all odds because of true lov...moreA Ranger’s Tale is a fantasy romance novel. I really enjoy forbidden love stories, where two people come together despite all odds because of true love. In a Ranger’s Tale, Caliphany is a high elf, niece of the King of Leopald and a mage in training to become a wizard like her father. He plans to marry her off to another elf of high standing. Caliphany has always dreamt of travel and one day leaving Leogard. When Galadin a halfling and a ranger rescues her on the docks from two brutes she finds a way out. She asks him to train her to become a ranger so she will have the skills to travel solo, without her father’s knowledge. Their relationship transforms in a short few weeks and despite their differing backgrounds they long to be together whilst trying to fight off their own insecurities.
I enjoyed Caliphany and Galadin’s adventures and how Caliphany transforms from elegant royalty into a strong independent woman with the help of Galadin. The setting for this fantasy story is quite different to what i have read previously. I don’t think I have ever read a story where the elves are the main characters and it provides a nice spin to typical fantasy stories. There’s even a guest appearance of the infamous trolls!
I like Cali’s strong character and stubborness to break away from her father’s control and do what she really wants, travel the world. I am also drawn into the ruggedness of Galadin and how he wants Cali to have a well-deserving man in her life.
Although I did find it frustrating when Cali and Galadin were separated for quite some time ( I don’t want to give away all the details) but I knew he would come back on the scene and it kind of annoyed me when she moved on to another relationship, because the whole time I was thinking but what about Galadin? This view has nothing to do with the quality of the plot or storyline, i just personally don’t like it when that happens. But it kept me turning the pages until the very end as I rooted for Galadin to make it back to Caliphany. A Ranger’s Tale is a really enjoyable read and i recommend it to any fantasy romance fan.
I wasn’t quite sure how to rate the Secret Ones. Its premise was definitely promising and I wa...moreThis review was first posted at The Australian Bookshelf
I wasn’t quite sure how to rate the Secret Ones. Its premise was definitely promising and I was very enthusiastic to read an Aussie SciFi fantasy novel, however I was left feeling a little underwhelmed.
Stretching out of the usual paranormal genre, Murphy introduces us to Maggie Shaunessy who is gadda, a secret race on earth with hidden powers. They mainly conjugate in the town of Sclossin in Ireland. Maggie has a big mouth and is always getting herself into trouble. When she upsets the gadda elders one too many times she is sentenced back to her hometown Winton in Australia for two years with no contact from friends. One last night out on the town, Maggie winds up in bed with fellow gadda Sean Flaherty who happens to fall madly in love with her whilst she was left relatively underwhelmed by their encounter. She returns to Australia to work in the University where her grandfather runs a science department and she meets hunky scientist Lucas Valeroso, who has no idea that he is a gadda. Little does she know, Sean is on his way to Australia to pledge his love to Maggie at becomes an obsessional character who does not seem to take no for an answer.
When a creature is sent to attack Maggie’s grandfather, Lucas soon realises that there aren’t just humans on the planet earth and begins to wonder about all his own oddities that have never before made sense. Maggie is recruited to train Lucas to climb the ranks of the gadda whilst they try to figure out who wants to harm her family members.
Like I said the premise of the story is really quite good and a little out of the usual for a fantasy SciFi genre which I found appealing. However, there were many things about the story that I found frustrating. Firstly, I am always a sucker for a love story and Secret Ones is very much one of these. But I wasn’t really convinced about this couple, the author did a lot of ‘telling’ about their attraction and developing feelings but she didn’t really ‘show’ it. In saying that I was also quite aware of the actual writing style of the author which was distracting as I like to become so engrossed in a story that I don’t notice the writing. I was told there was a connection between the two but I didn’t really feel it.
I also thought it was a bit of a shock when Maggie was promoted in the ranks of the gadda considering all the trouble she has caused along the way. That didn’t really make sense to me.
The role of Holly, a woman from Lucas’s past was a bit odd. When she was first introduced I thought for sure she was going to cause some havoc and of course cause a scene between Lucas and Maggie. I know that is a bit predictable but we all love some tension and conflicts in a relationship. However Holly didn’t really make much of an impact and I think she could have caused more trouble for Lucas to keep up the suspense. Instead, most of the problems that come up in the plot were resolved relatively quickly.
The subtitle of the book is ‘dream of asarlai’ which seemed to be a very subtle undertone of the book and again not much purpose. Asarlai is introduced at the beginning of the book and then once or twice she is mentioned in the middle of the book and again at the end. I guess what is good about her character is the problems she has caused were left unresolved and so I expect this will become more of a focus in the second novel. In this first novel though I wondered whether we really needed to be introduced to Asarlai or whether she could have become more of a main character in the book.
In saying all that, I did enjoy the storyline and the different take on the fantasy genre. Given it is the first in a series and was a starting point for introducing all the background information, I would like to see what is in stall for the Maggie and Lucas in the next novel, Power Unbound. (less)
This is the second book in the Dream of Asarlai series by Nicole Murphy following the first boo...moreThis review was first posted @ The Australian Bookshelf
This is the second book in the Dream of Asarlai series by Nicole Murphy following the first book, Secret Ones (see my review). Secret Ones introduces us to the Gadda, a secret human race who have access extraordinary power and magic. The love story between Maggie and Lucas was the focus of the first book alongside the investigation of trying to find who stole The Forbidden Texts which contain pertinent ancient Gadda information.
I was actually expecting Power Unbound to continue with the story of Maggie and Lucas. Rather, it is from the point of view from two new characters, Ione a mother of young Jack and also Maggie’s closest friend along with Stephen O’Malley a determined American who is studying to be a sixth order gadda- the highest ranking and level of training in the gadda community. The Forbidden Texts are still missing and Asarlai continues to cause destruction and endangering the lives of gadda to ensure the texts remain with her.
I really enjoy learning about the gadda, their hierachy and the powers that they have. It is interesting that some of the gadda are considered ‘humanists’ which mean they try to use their powers to help the good of humankind while the ‘purists’ are those who think the gadda should not have anything to do with them. This is an interesting undertone throughout the book.
Although I was disappointed not to continue on with the journey of Maggie and Lucas, Ione was a quirky character who I liked instantly. She has a knack for computers and as a widowed mother she does her best to provide for her son Jack. However, Ione does not have access to her gadda powers because she flunked out of her studies and didn’t even pass the first order gadda- which apparently teenagers undertake. So, when she meets determined and strong-willed Stephen who is a bit of a high achiever their differences are a nice compliment of each other.
As in the first novel, there were a few things that stopped me from rating this 4/5. Firstly, I would have liked the gadda to have been more focussed in Australia, especially since it is an Aussie author. However, the gadda clan reside in Sclossin, Ireland and there were no trips Down Under in Power Unbound. Secondly, there were some plot details that didn’t really convince me. Stephen wants to become a sixth order gadda to avenge for his teenage bullies and to make a name for his family. Stephen and his father had a falling out several years prior due to him taking the side of the bully over Stephen. It just seemed a bit far-fetched that that incident would be Stephen’s motive for trying to excel and the conflict with his father just seemed silly. I am not saying that bullying doesn’t leave a lasting mark on someone, but it just didn’t seem to fit right with this character.
Anyway, Power Unbound does have a nice romantic element as did Secret Ones, this time we see Ione and Stephen develop a friendship and then more. Maggie and Lucas also pop in at times. Overall, the Dream of Asarlai series provides much enjoyment with a combination of paranormal and scifi elements with plenty of romance. I will be posting my review for Rogue Gadda (Dream of Asarlai #3) on Thursday and an interview with Nicole Murphy on Friday. (less)
It has been awhile since I have given a five star rating to a novel and The Wedding Shroud is...moreThis review was first posted @ The Australian Bookshelf
It has been awhile since I have given a five star rating to a novel and The Wedding Shroud is certainly worthy of this. If I wasn’t a fan of historical romance before, I certainly am now! The Wedding Shroud is a tale of early Rome and it had me hooked from the very first page.
At 18 years of age, Caecilia has only ever experienced genuine love and care from one man in her life, her father. When he dies she is sent away to live with her aunt and uncle. She develops fleeting feelings for her cousin’s friend, Drusus a young strong willed Roman man who wishes to wed her. However, Caecilia’s uncle has other plans in mind and arranges for her to wed an Entruscan fromVeii to continue a lengthy treaty between the neighbours.
Scared, naïve and against her will she marries Vel Mastarna, the wealthy nobleman. Caecilia is thrown into a lifestyle of lust, feminism and temptations completely against her Roman values and beliefs. She struggles to find a balance between her Roman virtues and the way of the Entruscans.
She yearns to return to Roman society and what is left of her family within the year but her husband’s strong desire to have a child dampens her prospects. Caecila develops unexpected friendships with flamboyant step-son Tarchon, compassionate mother-in-law Larthia and her wise servant, Cytheris. Her longing wish to return toRomebecomes a fixation and she seeks out Mastarna’s brother Artile, a priest who she recruits to delay her fate of bearing a child. Caecilia becomes enslaved to these rituals and it clouds her judgement and like most unhealthy obsessions this affects her marriage and friendships. Caecilia learns the role of an Etruscan wife in an unfamiliar city; she learns of Mastarna’s dark and painful past and despite herself learns to love him.
Caecilia is an engaging character and the wave of emotions she experiences- confusion, disgust, betrayal- were so beautifully portrayed that my experience mirrored them. I found my own morality questioned just as Caecilia’s when presented with the various characters and their life choices in these times. I was taken on a journey of discovering a new culture, customs, beliefs just as Caecilia and was trying to make sense of their ways. Just like Caecilia I softened towards the Entruscan lifestyle and although I initially was hoping for Caecilia to escape her unwanted marriage, by the end I wanted her and Mastarna to find love and happiness together.
I could go on and on about the intricacies of this novel but I don’t want to give it all away, because the beauty of reading this story is that I never knew what was around the corner and so I was always pleasantly surprised.
Storrs has a very skilful way of entwining history lessons in a beautiful historical romance story and it all came together very nicely. Upon closing the book I felt educated on roman history, entertained and longing for more.
The ending I had to read a couple of times and I think (if I have gotten it right) the author leaves you to make up your own mind about whether Caecilia chooses to stay in Veii or Rome. So I will just pretend that I got the happily ever after I was hoping for and claim ignorance is bliss. But I am so thankful to hear thatStorrsis working on a sequel to The Wedding Shroud and I will definitely be reading what will be in stall for Caecilia (and hopefully Mastarna) in the next book.
Damont Langorn is just your average youth who goes fishing with his best mate Caleb, gives his...moreThis review was first posted @ The Australian Bookshelf
Damont Langorn is just your average youth who goes fishing with his best mate Caleb, gives his Uncle cheek and falls asleep in history class. Until the day he discovers that he isn’t just an average boy after all, in fact he is the long lost King of Haldina who has visions of the future. He is shocked by the uncovering of his lineage and is uncertain whether he can live up to the name of his forefather. He leaves the small fishing town of Garribus to make the journey with his uncle to Haldina where he hopes to meet his mother, who abandoned him many years ago.
He is sent off on a quest from Haldina with a tall mysterious warrior named Virden and the fiesty sorceress Amber. On the brink of a war, Damont must find his footing so he can take the throne but first he must gain the respect of the town. Amber and Virden have their own secrets and will they betray their newfound King to keep them?
The author very skilfully creates a fantasy world that was easy to visualise and get caught up in. He has a very articulate and wonderful way with language which fitted with the dialogue of earlier times. Damont is a likeable guy who is a little naive but also headstrong and willing to please. Although I would have preferred a bit more of a love story (it’s my weakness not the authors’) it was an enjoyable read and I would like to see what is next in store for Damont in the Acadian trilogy.
* I was provided a digital version of this book to review from the author.
This is the first book I have read from the crime thriller genre and I wasn’t quite sure wheth...moreThis review was first posted @ The Australian Bookshelf
This is the first book I have read from the crime thriller genre and I wasn’t quite sure whether it would keep me interested but I was pleasantly surprised.
Jana is an expert art conservator from Australia who is doing a stint in Venice. Newly single, Jana is quite happy residing on her own, in her tiny Venetian apartment. She loves her job and especially loves living on the other side of the world away from her high achieving mother, Felicity.
Jana comes across an ancient religious icon that will change her life forever. One evening whilst walking home from work, she is mugged and the information she has collated on the artefact is stolen. Jana’s colleague is then murdered and it becomes clear that her life may be in danger and the secret they uncover about the icon could bring down the Catholic Church. With mysterious Australian priest, Rob by her side they embark on an adventure as they discover something about Saint Luke that the Catholics want hidden and the Muslims want to expose. Jana and Rob recruit symbolist Bryn and Jana’s millionaire mother Felicity which adds interesting dimensions to the story. They hightail across Italy, Malta and Syria to find answers and to keep the icon safe while also risking their lives.
I particularly like the relationship development between Jana and Rob. Although their feelings do develop quickly, it does seem really natural and I completely get their attraction. Rob struggles with his faith and religious responsibilities while Jana tries to open her mindset to the possibilities beyond science. Bryn, the Welshman is the intelligent mentor for the duo and Felicity’s appearance on the scene makes the foursome a dynamic team who all bring their own knowledge and skills to manage their dilemma.
Jana is a likeable, independent woman and I sympathised for Rob’s turmoil between his beliefs and his very real feelings for Jana.
It was quite an engaging read with plenty of action, suspense and the underpinning love story definitely gave this novel a well-rounded plot. After relaying the plot to my partner, he seems to think it is along the lines of a Steve Berry or Dan Brown novel (which I haven’t read), so if you are into these kinds of books then you will probably really enjoy According to Luke. Or if like me you don’t tend to read from this genre then this might be a nice introduction.
I have loved the Sookie Stackhouse series (and I am now a converted True Blood Fan) but I have...moreThis review was first posted @ The Australian Bookshelf
I have loved the Sookie Stackhouse series (and I am now a converted True Blood Fan) but I have never taken this long to read a Sookie novel before!
The story carries on from the aftermath of the fairy war and it was surprising that Claude, Sookie’s attractive but arrogant fairy cousin turns up on her doorstep due to loneliness and asks to move in with Sook for awhile and she reluctantly agrees. Alcide and his wolfpack are back on the scene as they camp out on Sookie’s land during the full moon night prowl. It was nice to have him back on the scene and I would have liked for there to be a bit more happening between the two of them. When a body turns up in Sookie’s backyard it’s not just a question of who is responsible- fae, vamp or were but why they were trying to set up Sookie to get the blame. On top of all this she has law enforcement watching over her every move trying to catch her out. It was nice to see Sookie’s little cousin Hunter back on the scene but his presence didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose to the storyline. While Eric is struggling to bring his division under control, his maker (the one who turned him) and new sire turns up at Sookie’s the tension rises as they try to figure out what they want.
To be honest Dead in the Family was a little slow. Sookie (understandably) wasn’t her usual feisty self until much later in the book and so most of the story is a little solemn. I couldn’t really remember much of what happened in the last novel as it has been about a year since I’ve read it but I’m certain that Sookie’s relationship with vampire Eric was a lot more passionate and exciting than this time around. It’s almost like they have fallen into a usual couple routine characterised with a bit of post war misery and leaving me a little underwhelmed. It’s just not the style of a Sookie novel. Fair enough she has been through a lot of crap over the past 9 books but it didn’t make for interesting reading. Nevertheless, my feelings about what was happening was probably how Sookie was feeling; a bit over it all and just wanting to move on.
What was helpful was that this book goes into a lot of the back stories of some of peripheral characters such as Claude and even Bill and how he was turned to a vamp. But again some of the background story didn’t really lead onto much in this story. I wonder if this book was a bit of a filler to catch up on all the holes and to set up the next novel? Anyway, it was good to see Sookie come to life again in the second half of the novel and in the next installment Dead Reckoning #11 I would love to see more of Sam, Bill and Alcide.
The White Earth is a very well written piece of Australian literature which highlights our short yet complex history, the invasion of the land by the...moreThe White Earth is a very well written piece of Australian literature which highlights our short yet complex history, the invasion of the land by the white people and the disruptions it caused for many, many generations and how it still impacts society today. Young William is the POV, his father dies in a farm fire leaving his already mentally unstable mother a widow and penniless. They move in with his great uncle John McIvor, into a dilapidated homestead on Kuran Station in the Darling Downs. William finds his new home aversive and is intrigued by his mysterious uncle who doesn't introduce himself until a week later. William is diagnosed with a fake illness so he can take 3 months off school to fulfil a role his Uncle has in store for him. His uncle has a strong connection with the land, a connection he doesn't want lost when he dies. William has until the end of the year to earn the right to inherit the station but at 9 years old he isn't even sure he wants it. We learn of his uncle's long fight to be the landowner of Kuran Station which took more than 40 years. John's story was told very well and it made the story so much more robust as the present day was complimented with the past.
The characters of John and William were very well developed and to a lesser extent Ruth, John's daughter. They had very real motivations, desires and conflicts. I felt frustration and anger towards William's mother who remains indifferent and depressed throughout the story, unaware of the impact her emotional absence has on her young son. The White Earth had me guessing to the very end what would happen to the property and how William would make sense of it all. It was very cleverly written and left me contemplating historical and political issues that have persisted into modern day Australia. (less)
Winter Adams is a self-conscious introverted teen who is coming to terms with her parent’s dea...moreThis review was first posted at The Australian Bookshelf
Winter Adams is a self-conscious introverted teen who is coming to terms with her parent’s death six months prior. A near death experience at an abandoned church leads to an encounter with the mysterious Blake Duchamp. She is instantly drawn to him but he keeps her at arm’s-length because he has secrets of his own. Now that Winter has escaped death, death follows her. Blake may be her only chance at survival.
I don’t really want to give away the plot because I think the beauty of this story is that the author’s eloquent way with language and a well thought out plot will have you guessing what will happen next until the very end. It was a long way into the book before things really started to happen, but the slow lead up and character development makes the action so much more meaningful. The author has a wonderful way with evoking emotion and the romance between Winter and Blake is believable and engaging.
Although Winter’s demeanor of helplessness and passivity was endearing at times I also found it a little frustrating. It did fit with the context though, considering her parents had died, she was inexperienced with the opposite sex and well she was just an average teenage girl. I was happy when she strengthened up a bit and took charge near the end of the novel though.
The ending wasn’t quite what I expected but I was not disappointed. Everything was all tied up and I feel like I had a good understanding of all the elements at play- whereas in some paranormal plots I get a bit lost at times. The last two pages have given me some hope and I am pleased to hear that the author is working on a sequel because I will definitely be checking this out!
Winter’s Shadow is a unique story about falling in love, loss and the sacrifices that have to be made. The best way to explain it is that it’s a cross between Twilight (minus the vampires) and Final Destination (the movie). It’s definitely a must read for paranormal fans who want a new spin on the genre. (less)