Reluctantly Charmed Blog Tour: Ellie O’Neill on Irish Fairy Lore

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Ellie O’Neill took the long way round. She sold spider catchers in Sydney, flipped burgers in Dublin and worked in advertising in London. All the while, she had that niggling feeling, that she had stories to tell. So, at thirty-something, she made the brave leap and moved back in with her parents to get the job done. Swopping the dizzy disco lights of London for their suburban Dublin house, she scribbled away knowing that there was something about Irish fairies she needed to share with the world. Then most unexpectedly Ellie fell madly in love. The only catch, he lived in Australia. True to form she couldn’t ignore the magic and followed her heart to Oz for what was supposed to be a long holiday. Five years later Australia is home to Ellie, her Joe and their fabulous baby (with an Irish name no one can pronounce).

Reluctantly Charmed (Simon and Schuster Au October 2014) is Ellie O’Neill’s first novel. My review will be posted later today, in the meantime, read on to learn more about this delightful novel…

reluctantlycharmedKate McDaid is listing her new-year’s resolutions hoping to kick-start her rather stagnant love life and career when she gets some very strange news. To her surprise, she is the sole benefactor of a great great-great-great aunt and self-proclaimed witch also called Kate McDaid, who died over 130 years ago. As if that isn’t strange enough, the will instructs that, in order to receive the inheritance, Kate must publish seven letters, one by one, week by week.
Burning with curiosity, Kate agrees and opens the first letter – and finds that it’s a passionate plea to reconnect with the long-forgotten fairies of Irish folklore. Almost instantaneously, Kate’s life is turned upside down. Her romantic life takes a surprising turn and she is catapulted into the public eye.
As events become stranger and stranger – and she discovers things about herself she’s never known before – Kate must decide whether she can fulfil her great-aunt’s final, devastating request … and whether she can face the consequences if she doesn’t.
Witty, enchanting and utterly addictive, Reluctantly Charmed is about what happens when life in the fast lane collides with the legacy of family, love and its possibilities … and a little bit of magic.

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I’m delighted to welcome Ellie O’Neill to Book’d Out today to share a little about how her granny and her belief in fairies inspired the writing of Reluctantly Charmed.

My Granny Believed in Fairies by Ellie McNeill

My granny believed in fairies. She was a formidable woman who shed her rural upbringing with delight and made a very modern life for herself in Dublin. She worked when that wasn’t the done thing for a woman, she dressed in the height of fashion at all times, she drank Brandy or champagne, and was a keen poker player. But there were old fashioned traditions from her upbringing that she was never able to shake, and one of them was her belief in fairies.

Fairy lore in Ireland has been handed down from one generation to the next and is a predominantly rural tradition. Irish fairies are not angelic woodland creatures, they like to drink whisky, dance, sing songs and play sports. The belief is that if they are not kept happy they will turn nasty and play an evil trick on you. The good news is that it’s not too difficult to keep them happy; leave them be, don’t disturb a fairy ring, leave a little bit of milk for them at the end of your glass, wash the steps at the front of your house for the fairies to have somewhere nice to rest as they’re passing by. If however, they are angered they could perform all manner of devilment on you. Granny told me stories of her village, and how a local farmer was said to have stepped into a fairy ring and that was the cause of his club foot. Back then, if a farmer had a bad harvest it was more often than not because of something he had done to the fairies. Ailments and disabilities were regularly attributed to their anger. She also had a story of a man who was given a hump on his back because he sang one of their favorite songs out of tune. Fairies were not to be messed with.

What’s interesting about this piece of Irish folklore is that, unlike in other cultures the fairies are not confined to childhood. They belong to the adult world. A thread of this superstition still exists today, the majority of farmers in Ireland would be incredibly reluctant to farm through a quarter of an acre of a field that houses a fairy ring. Just in case. They would also incur a government fine of up to $20,000 as fairy rings are seen as our cultural heritage and are protected landmarks.

After my Granny had passed away and I started to write Reluctantly Charmed, I could not shake the memory of her putting her glass on the window sill with two fingers of milk in it. What I had accepted in my childhood deserved some exploration in my adulthood. I investigated the folklore and fell in love with that romantic otherworld and all the magic and mystery that surrounds it.

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Review: The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott

 

Title: The Wonder of All Things

Author: Jason Mott

Published: Harlequin MIRA September 2014

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Status: Read from September 29 to October 01, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

In the Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott, thirteen year old Ava, trapped under a collapsed structure with her badly injured best friend, Wash, lays her hands on his wound, closes her eyes and wishes for him to be healed. To the astonishment of witnesses, including Ava’s police chief father, Wash’s injury vanishes, and Ava collapses. As word spreads of the ‘Miracle Child’, the small town in which Ava lives is inundated with people seeking her touch, and Ava and her family struggle under the weight of expectation, even as it becomes apparent that Ava’s gift comes at a grave cost to her own health.

The Wonder of All Things shares similar themes with Mott’s debut novel The Returned. Placing a young, innocent child at the center of the maelstrom of controversy, the author examines issues such as faith, morality, loss, love, duty, and sacrifice.

For Ava and her family, father Macon and pregnant stepmother, Carmen the conflict centers around ensuring their safety and well-being, and the demands the community is making to ‘share’ the miracle. Mott also explores the response of friends and strangers to the event and exposes the conflicting emotions of awe and suspicion, selflessness and greed that it provokes.

As with The Returned, Jason Mott offers no explanation for the occurrence of a miracle. I understand this is a source of frustration for many readers but it isn’t something I mind.

“And, sometimes in life, love and loving can still lead to an ending that we would otherwise choose. A fate with no blame to be taken. She understood that, in this world, there are unexplained wonders and faultless horrors both.”

Though ultimately there is nothing particularly original about its premise or in the way it plays out, I thought The Wonder of All Things was nevertheless a moving and thought provoking story.

 

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Review: Hello from the Gillespies by Monica McIerney

 

Title: Hello from the Gillespies

Author: Monica McIerney

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin AU September 2014

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Status: Read from September 25 to 27, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Australian-born but Dublin-based Monica McInerney is an internationally best selling author of novels that explore the joys and challenges of family and relationships. Hello from the Gillespies is her tenth novel, following on from her most recent successes, The House of Memories and Lola’s Secret.

For thirty three years, Angela Gillespie has sent a lighthearted letter on December 1st, updating family and friends on the lives of the Gillespies, who live on a large sheep station in outback South Australia, but this time when she sits down to write her annual missive she forgoes the usual niceties and vents her doubts about her marriage, her concerns about their financial affairs, her worries about her children, her frustrations with an interfering aunt and wonders, what could have been. The letter was never meant to be sent but Angela is interrupted by an emergency (her youngest son accidentally amputating the tip of a finger) and her husband, who hasn’t bothered to read the letters in years, thinks he is being helpful when he presses send.

Hello from the Gillespies offers a warm hearted, funny and sometimes poignant glimpse into family life. When Angela’s letter makes all their secrets public, the fall out for the family, which includes her husband Nick, their adult daughters Genevieve, Victoria and Lindy and ten year old son Ig, is mixed. As they struggle to come to grips with the truths laid bare, an unexpected twist in the tale challenges the very foundation of the Gillespie family.

McIereny’s characters are appealing and believable. As a wife and mother, I identified with Angela’s frustrations and concerns. It is a rare woman I suspect who hasn’t at least once wondered ‘what if?’ Perhaps my only niggle is that I felt the adult daughters behaved in ways more appropriate for twenty something rather than thirty something year old’s (I don’t have a lot of patience for the adultescent trend). However, the situations the characters find themselves in ring true, albeit slightly exaggerated, as do the dynamics between the family members.

Despite its length, the story had no trouble keeping my attention with several twists to the plot keeping it interesting, though the conclusion was predictable. The writing is accessible with natural dialogue. The settings, which includes the Gillespie station and brief glimpses of Ireland, London, New York and Adelaide, are authentically portrayed.

A heartfelt, witty and perceptive story about family, friendship and love, Hello from the Gillespies is an entertaining and charming read.

 

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Review: Rachael’s Gift by Alexandra Cameron

 

Title: Rachael’s Gift

Author: Alexandra Cameron

Published: Picador:Pan Macmillan September 2014

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Status: Read from September 20 to 22, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

An intriguing story about love, ambition, manipulation and betrayal, Rachael’s Gift pits husband against wife as they disagree about what they think is best for their child.

Rachael’s Gift unfolds from the alternating perspectives of husband and wife, Camille, a high-strung art historian who investigates the provenance of artwork, and once dreamed of being a famous painter, and Wolfe, an easygoing Aussie bloke who surfs every morning and shapes surfboards in his garage, who are the loving parents of Rachael. Fourteen year old Rachael, precocious and charming, is a gifted artist and Camille is determined to protect the future she has envisioned for her daughter at any cost. Wolfe is proud of Rachael’s talent but is increasingly concerned about his daughter’s gift for lying, especially when she accuses a teacher at her prestigious private school of sexual misconduct.

“She shook her head in disbelief, ‘You’re going to ruin her. Don’t you realise? I can’t let you do it.’ Her chest heaved and then some kind of realisation dawned in her face. ‘Oh my god, you don’t love her. You wouldn’t do this if you did.’
I felt as if my veins were bursting, ‘Of course I love her,’ I shouted, ‘It’s because I love her!’
‘This is not love.’
I stabbed my finger in her face, ‘You love her too much.'”

Unwilling to compromise, Camille flees with Rachael from their Sydney home to Paris, ostensibly to attend a family memorial service for her recently deceased mother, and to further investigate the provenance of a painting at the center of a dispute, but also with the hope she can wrangle Rachael an interview at the prestigious Beaux-Arts Institute. In Paris, Camille is faced with truths she would rather ignore and lies she has forgot she has told, but her focus is Rachael and she must decide what she is willing to sacrifice for the chance of her daughter’s success.

Meanwhile Wolfe, who arrives home to find his wife and daughter have fled without a word of warning, is left to cope with the fall out as word leaks of Rachael’s allegations. Wolfe is reluctant to believe his daughter would go so far as to ruin a man’s life with spurious allegations, but he can no longer ignore the evidence that suggests it is not only his daughter is a liar, but his wife too.

The protagonist’s of Rachael’s Gift are skillfully drawn and developed. Rachael is not unlike a modern day Lolita, whose age belies her innocence. Cameron portrays Camille’s and Wolfe’s emotional upheaval with authenticity. I sided with Wolfe in his arguments with Camille but as a mother I also understood her instinct to support her daughter.

Cameron also raises some of the modern concerns of parenting such as cyber-bullying, sexual predation and the narcissism of youth, and questions the choices parent have in an era where they are expected to protect their children from the consequences of their own behaviour and to support their ambitions without censure.

The pacing is perfect. There is increasing tension as the situation in Sydney spirals out of control and as the relationship between Camille and Rachael begins to fracture in Paris. The conclusion is startling in its honesty.

Part domestic drama, part psychological suspense this is a compelling read and an impressive novel from debut Australian author, Alexandra Cameron.

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Review: The Hawley Book of the Dead by Chrysler Szarlan

 

Title: The Hawley Book of the Dead

Author: Chrysler Szarlan

Published: Ballantine Books: Random House September 2014

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Status: Read from September 23 to 24, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

“On the day I killed my husband, the scent of lilacs startled me awake.”

When someone exchanges the blank in her prop gun for a real bullet, Revelation ‘Reve’ Dyer unwittingly shoots her beloved husband dead during the final act of their world renowned Las Vegas magic show. Reve is devastated and then terrified when she realises the murderer still has Reve and her three daughters in his sights. To protect her family, Reve flees Nevada and takes refuge at Hawley Five Corners, her family’s abandoned estate in the woods of Massachusetts. But Reve has something the killer wants and he won’t give up until he gets it.

With its blend of mystery, suspense and the supernatural, The Hawley Book of the Dead offers a complex story about family secrets, magic and revenge.

Told in the first person, it introduces Revelation and her intriguing family history. Reve is the descendant of a line of women who have always wielded great power. Her grandmother can transport people with a thought, her mother is a healer, Reve can disappear by stepping into the veil between worlds, a talent she was born with but has never fully explored, her ten year old daughter Caleigh can weave magic with string, but the abilities of Reve’s fifteen year old twins, Faith and Grace, have yet to manifest.

In general, I feel Szarlan created well rounded and interesting characters, I found Reve frustrating a lot of the time though. She has the ability to disappear, her family line is littered with women whom she has accepted have true magical abilities, yet she dismisses most other instances of magic out of hand. This ploy may serve the needs of the plot but I felt it damaged the credibility of her character.

I did enjoy the blend of magic and myth which Szarlan gives her own little twist. The true motivations of the ‘Fetch’ stalking the family turn out to be quite unique and his relentless pursuit of Reve provides plenty of tension. The romance element, involving childhood sweetheart, now Hawley chief of police, Jolon, is a little awkward though considering Reve’s husband has just died.

The setting is great, Szarlan’s description of Five Corners and the surrounding woods are evocative and atmospheric. I loved the stories of the vanishing townsfolk and the ghostly cowherd and could easily imagine the abandoned estate and the manor house that is home to Reve and her family.

Not so great is the uneven pacing and the author’s attempt to force suspense surrounding the disappearance of the twins when their fate is blindingly obvious.

I really like the concept of Hawley Book of the Dead and there are elements of the story and character I think are creative and well done, and while overall I am not excited by this book, I do think the series has potential.

 

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Review: Lyrebird Hill by Anna Romer

 

Title: Lyrebird Hill

Author: Anna Romer

Published: Simon & Schuster Au September 2014

Listen to an excerpt

Status: Read from September 18 to 19, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

As in Romer’s debut novel, Thornwood House, the past casts deep shadows over the present in Lyrebird Hill, a haunting story of family secrets, mystery and murder.

Ruby Cardel can’t remember the events surrounding the tragic death of her sister, Jamie. She knows only what she has been told, that Jamie died in an accident when they were children, slipping and falling into the river that bordered their property, Lyrebird Hill and that Ruby was found nearby, bruised and disorientated, her memory of the past year gone. Though Ruby has built a life for herself, opening a bookstore in Coffs Harbour and is in a relationship with handsome self help guru, Rob, her sister’s death continues to haunt her, and she is stunned when her mother is forced to confess that Jamie’s death was no accident. Despite a persistent feeling of dread, Ruby decides it is time to uncover the truth about that fateful day and returns to Lyrebird Hill in the hope of finding the answers she seeks.

As Ruby tries to unravel the mystery of Jamie’s death, a second narrative emerges telling the tale of Brenna Magavin. In 1898, nineteen year old Brenna was the carefree young mistress of Lyrebird Hill, owned by her father. When financial ruin threatened to force the sale of the property, Brenna agreed to marry a family friend, a peer of her father’s, in exchange for the clearance of the debt, only to discover she made a deal with the devil. When Ruby discovers a tin full of letters written by Brenna buried at Lyrebird Hill she learns her family’s history is blighted with tragedy, betrayal and murder and fears it is a legacy she has unwittingly perpetuated.

The dual narratives of Lyrebird Hill weave a captivating and complex tale as the mysteries surrounding Jamie’s and Brenna’s fate unravel. The atmosphere darkens as secrets are revealed and danger lurks. There is unspeakable violence, bitter regrets and shocking treachery but also a thread of redemption, of truth and even triumph.

The prose is lush and lyrical evoking both the landscape of Lyrebird Hill and the fraught emotions of Romer’s characters. There are distinct modern gothic undertones to the story, with a hint of fairytale morality. I did find the pacing a little slow, more so in the contemporary timeline, but the stunning twists presented in the conclusion of both narratives easily compensate for the small lag.

An absorbing and atmospheric tale, beautifully told, I enjoyed Lyrebird Hill and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

 

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Review: The Sunnyvale Girls by Fiona Palmer

 

Title: The Sunnyvale Girls

Author: Fiona Palmer

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin September 2014

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Status: Read from September 22 to 23, 2014 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

The Sunnyvale Girls, Fiona Palmer’s sixth novel, is an engaging story about family, self discovery, and romance.

‘Sunnyvale’, a sheep and wheat farm in regional Western Australia, is home to three generations of women, matriarch Maggie, her daughter Antonia (Toni) and granddaughter, twenty year old Felicity (Flick).

A dual narrative featuring a contemporary and historical timeline has become a popular element in recent rural romance novels. In The Sunnyvale Girls, Felicity discovers a hidden cache of unopened letters addressed to Maggie, and unearths a secret Maggie has kept for over 50 years. Through Maggie’s memories, we learn the origins of that secret – a forbidden wartime romance between Maggie and a young, handsome Italian POW billeted to Sunnyvale during the last years of World War Two. Toni is shocked by Maggie’s revelation, but Felicity reacts to the news with excitement and convinces Toni to accompany her to Italy to try and find Maggie’s lost love.

Both timelines feature family drama, romance and a hint of mystery. Palmer explores the individual journey’s of the three women with a deft hand by challenging her characters emotionally.
Maggie’s story reveals a bittersweet tale of first love, thwarted by prejudice and circumstance. Her secret is easily guessed, but the storyline is sweet, the historical details are interesting and I was eager to find out why Rocco never returned for Maggie as promised.
Toni, already simmering with long held resentments and low self esteem, is furious with her mother when Maggie’s secret is revealed. It makes her question the choices she has made in the past and forces her to confront the decisions she needs to make about her future, especially where Jimmy, Sunnyvale’s farm hand, is concerned.
Felicity is simply curious about Maggie’s past and excited at the prospect of reuniting her grandmother with her lost love. Having fought her mother’s attempts to get Felicity to explore the world beyond the boundaries of Sunnyvale, Italy is a revelation for Felicity, especially when she meets a handsome Italian waiter.

Palmer has always had success with creating a strong sense of place in her novels, drawing on her familiarity with the Australian rural landscape. The author’s descriptions of Italy, particularly of the village of Montone in which Maggie and Flick stay, are similarly evocative. (Check out Fiona’s guest post at Book’d Out to learn about her research trip to Italy.)

A lovely rural romance, with appealing characters, a strong storyline, and a historical twist, The Sunnyvale Girls is another enjoyable novel from Fiona Palmer.

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AWW Feature: Visiting Italy with Fiona Palmer and the Sunnyvale Girls

 

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Fiona Palmer is the bestselling author of five rural romance novels  The Family Farm (2010); Heart of Gold (2012); The Road Home (2012); The Sunburnt Country (2013); The Outback Heart (2013)  and today is celebrating the release of her sixth, The Sunnyvale Girls.

Three generations of Stewart women share a deep connection to their family farm, but a secret from the past threatens to tear them apart.

Widowed matriarch Maggie remembers a time when the Italian prisoners of war came to work on their land, changing her heart and her home forever. Single mum Toni has been tied to the place for as long as she can recall, although farming was never her dream. And Flick is as passionate about the farm as a young girl could be, despite the limited opportunities for love.

When a letter from 1946 is unearthed in an old cottage on the property, the Sunnyvale girls find themselves on a journey deep into their own hearts and all the way across the world to Italy. Their quest to solve a mystery leads to incredible discoveries about each other, and about themselves.

You can read my review of this lovely novel,  The Sunnyvale Girls by clicking HERE

While writing The Sunnyvale Girls, Fiona visited Italy in 2013 with her family, a long way from the tiny rural town of Pingaring in Western Australia, three and a half hours south-east of Perth where she lives. She posted about her trip on her blog and today I am sharing part of her journey with you.

 

Montone

* © Fiona Palmer. Republished with permission – see Montone Part 2

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After Venice we jumped on a train to Florence, changed trains to get to Arezzo and this is where we picked up our hire car to drive to Montone. I could tell you a few funny stories of starting to drive on the wrong side of the road (yes, I found myself here on the odd occassion) and indicating to turn off a road which left us gliding to a stop with a reving motor. You see where the flicker is normally for me was the gear leaver, so I kept accidently kicking the car out of gear when I wanted to indicate. But it didn’t take long to figure out and we were on our way south towards Perugia.

What made us stay here was my mum. She had seen this place advertised in a magazine and some Australians actually own Casa Valdeste where we stayed.  It looked perfect. Montone was founded between AD 800 and 1000, is a working village. The village is set on a small mountain, 482 metres above sea level, and is within easy reach of a large number of delightful medieval towns and cities in Umbria and Tuscany. And it all sounds so perfect right? Well it was even more amazing than we expected.

The village was inside/on top of this huge wall and from our window in Casa Valdeste we could see everything. And when the fog rolled in you felt like you were in the clouds on a mythical floating island.

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Below is our door to Casa Valdeste.

You can see more at Steve’s website here. From his website is the description of our little place.

Accommodating four guests, Casa Valdeste is a beautiful late 14th-century, terrace-style two-bedroom cottage on three floors, 60 metres from Montone’s centrepiece, Piazza Fortebraccio, the main square in the medieval village of Montone. The walls are of stone, about one metre thick and buttressed on the south-western side.  The house features huge oak and chestnut beams on all ceilings, double-glazed chestnut windows, world-renowned Cotto d’Este floor tiles and exquisite ceramic wall-hangings.

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I have heaps of photos all just from Montone. Every door we wanted to steal and bring home, the walls, the windows and shutters. It was heaven. I’d go back again in a heartbeat. We were like kids searching out every nook and cranny, places hidden away around arches or through tunnels. Is it not just the most gorgeous place?

Below is one of the main entries into the village.

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And the lights. I loved the lights!

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And it snows here too. (Not sure I’d want to be driving around those tiny roads and hairpin turns in snow! Heck it was scary enough without it at times. Especially when a big truck is coming the other way and hes cutting the corner!!)

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The view from our little mountain was breathtaking. We would sit for ages just watching.

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We used Montone as our base and drove around this area to Perugia, Gubbio, Umbertide etc.  After 11 days we were soon becoming familiar with the area. We would drive to the nearby train station and did trips to Florence, one to Pisa and also Lucca.  Below is the medieval town of Gubbio and the leaning tower of Pisa!

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And on the weekends we would take walks around Montone. We did a 12km walk one day. It was all good until the last 4km which was all up hill!! But it was great, on this walk we saw the farmers out in their fields, some shifting sheep with lots of dogs and we ate along the way. Grapes and figs just growing on the side of the roads. We were blessed on this trip. Everything went so well. (except maybe the washing machine that decided to flood itself and short out the power lol!)

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It was a sad day when we packed up to leave Montone and head to Rome. This was a big highlight of our trip and if anyone is thinking of travelling to Italy I recommend staying at Steve’s place. It felt like we really got to experience the heart of Italy.

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The Book of Days by K.A. Barker

 

Title: The Book of Days

Author: K.A. Barker

Published: PanMacmillan September 2014

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Most people believe the best way to forget someone is to throw them down a well. Or lock them in a room with eight keys, or bury them at a crossroad in the thirteenth hour. But they’re wrong. The best way to forget someone is for them never to have existed in the first place.

When sixteen-year-old Tuesday wakes from sleep for the first time, she opens her eyes to a world filled with wonder – and peril. Left only with a letter from the person she once was, Tuesday sets out to discover her past with the help of her charming and self-serving guide, Quintalion.

Along the way she runs into mercenaries, flying cities, airships, and a blind librarian. But what is her connection with the mysterious Book of Days – a book that holds untold power..

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Review: One Kick by Chelsea Cain

 

Title: One Kick {Kick Lannigan #1}

Author: Chelsea Cain

Published: Simon and Schuster UK/AU September 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from September 17 to 18, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

One Kick is the start of a new action packed series for suspense/thriller writer Chelsea Cain who is best known for her popular Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell series.

When the FBI raided an isolated farmhouse they were shocked to discover twelve year old Kathleen Lannigan, abducted six years earlier from outside her home, who destroyed their case against her abusers with a push of a button. Ten years later, ‘Kick’ as she insists she be called, is still struggling with the legacy of fear, shame and emotional trauma inflicted by her captors, and is desperate to find a way to redeem herself. Despite mastering skills in martial arts and marksmanship, amongst other things, to ensure she will never again be a victim, Kick feels useless, until a stranger breaks into her apartment and asks for her help. Bishop is hunting the pedophiles behind the recent abduction of two children and believes she is his best chance at finding them. Kick can’t refuse, but saving them may cost her everything.

With plenty of tension, convincing emotion and harrowing scenes, One Kick is a page turning thriller from the first page. The plot is fairly simple, but holds together well, anchored by Cain’s strong protagonist, Kick.

Kick is a survivor, and to be admired for all she has endured and battled to overcome, but she is damaged. She is all but estranged from her family, resists authority and is obsessed with abduction cases, though at a loss as to how to make a difference. She has never fully resolved her relationship with her abductor, Mel, and is overly attached to her aging dog, Monster. The story places Kick in circumstances that challenge her psychologically, forcing her to confront her dark past and it is impossible not to feel for her and hope that she will triumph. My only niggle with her character is that much emphasis is placed on her finely honed physical skills but when she needs to use them, they all but fail her.

Bishop is a fairly stereotypical character for the thriller genre – tough, enigmatic and ruggedly handsome, though not entirely infallible. His motivations for the hunt are revealed gradually, though his benefactor, who provides the money and resources needed to follow the clues from Seattle to San Diego, remains a shadowy figure.

Kick’s experiences as ‘Beth’ are never really articulated but what is implied is horribly confronting, and may be a trigger for some readers. Cain also exposes some of the sickening details of pedophile rings who rely on a network of safe houses, false identification and anonymous computer networks to procure and trade children while protecting their dirty secret. It makes for disturbing reading.

One Kick is a solid thriller with a strong protagonist and a storyline that is both confronting and exciting. I’m eager to see how the series and its characters will develop.

 

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