#Book #Review: Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen

A Jewish girl-turned-spy must infiltrate an elite Nazi boarding school in this highly commercial, relentlessly nail-biting World War II drama!

After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah–blonde, blue-eyed, and Jewish–finds herself on the run from a government that wants to see every person like her dead. Then Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He’s a spy, and he needs Sarah to become one, too, to pull off a mission he can’t attempt on his own: infiltrate a boarding school attended by the daughters of top Nazi brass, befriend the daughter of a key scientist, and steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. With years of training from her actress mother in the art of impersonation, Sarah thinks she’s ready. But nothing prepares her for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she’d ever imagined. 

Review:

I’ve been keen to read his for a while and I am so glad I took the plunge! I absolutely loved Orphan Monster Spy from page one right through to the fabulous ending. Matt Killeen has a wonderful way with words and I loved the heroine of the story: Sarah. She’s so feisty and rises above all her terrible experiences, (including the death of her mother,) to be a truly awesome, fierce, brave and engaging character.

You’d enjoy this if you like stories set in Nazi Germany.

It doesn’t shy away from the ugly side of this time period of history. This is a different take, focusing on a young Jewish girl infiltrating a Nazi school for the ‘elite,’ and convincing them that she is one of them. What a great idea for a story.

It is obviously well researched and the author Matt Killeen’s compassion and humanity is evident in his writing.

It’s an easy one to rate. A five stars without a doubt. Definitely a favourite. Highly recommended.

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Book Review: Academic Curveball by James J Cudney #murder #mystery

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Kellan Ayrwick returns home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds a dead body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell.

Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Soon after, the college’s athletic program receives mysterious donations, a nasty blog denounces his father and someone attempts to change students’ grades.

Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. And if that wasn’t enough already, his own past comes spiraling back to change his life forever.

In the debut novel in the Braxton Campus Mysteries Series, you’ll discover a cozy, secluded Pennsylvania village full of quirky, sarcastic and nosy residents. 

My review:

A light-hearted murder mystery set in an academic setting with strong family vibes. I enjoyed this cozy story. It is for you if you like a well written story with lots of engaging dialogue. It is perhaps a bit different from what I would normally read but it is good to try new genres from time to time. I particularly enjoyed the main character’s Kellan Ayrwick’s feisty Nana who is such a fun character!  Kellan is a widower with a young daughter, he works on a true crime television series called “Dark Reality.” His father’s retirement party at Braxton Campus brings more than he expects when Abby Monroe is found dead and it soon becomes clear that her death is not of natural causes.

Recommended  reading for murder mystery fans who enjoy humour as a side dish to the murder mystery.

My rating 4 stars.

Social Media Links

Authors Websitehttps://mjmallon.com
Collaborative Bloghttps://sistersofthefey.wordpress.com
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time
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Book Review: Marriage Unarranged Ritu Bhathal #ARC #Review

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Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

 

My review:

Well, I loved Marriage Unarranged so much I read it twice. Lol. It’s quite a long book!

I read it for the first time as a beta reader with an ARC and then again for this review. Everything about this engaging romance appealed to me: the characters, the cultural aspects, the little touches of humour, the Asian family dynamics,  the beautiful and informative descriptions of India, (I’ve never been, but it has always been forever on my bucket list,) This story transported me there, and I especially loved the detail in the Gurdwara  scenes in which Sikh’s come together to worship and share simple community tasks. Oh, how I would love to visit!

I found it particularly relatable as my mother is from an Asian background and the first thing she says to me in the morning is ‘What are we having for dinner!’ The lovely cooking scene between two of the characters in the book, sums this up so much. Food is of prime importance in Asian culture and can be a great ice breaker.

I also loved how Aashi ‘s character changed as the story progressed, retaining all her admirable qualities (and she has these in abundance,) but becoming more confident. To begin with she is cossetted by her family and her brothers, Sunny and Bali. But, away from home, her trip to India with her brothers and her best friend Kiran does wonders for her flagging self-esteem after Ravi’s selfish treatment.

All the characters in the story are well crafted. I especially have a soft spot for: Aashi, her best friend Kiran, (who fights her corner like every best friend should,) her feisty brother Bali, and Arjun, the potential love interest otherwise known as ‘Pillow.’ Even the subsidiary characters such as the fashion designer Milan are well crafted and entertaining! And, Ravi well he’s a rat!

The fledgling romance unfolding between Aashi and her ‘Pillow’ was just so lovely, especially after all the heartbreak she experienced with a broken engagement.

The reveal towards the end of the story regarding Arjun was an interesting addition and I loved the humorous ending!

I better not say anymore for fear of spoiling the story for you.

My recommendation: Go get a copy! My rating 5 stars.

Have you read Marriage Unarranged? Please do comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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Book Review: The New Asylum: a memoir of psychiatry

Goodreads Synopsis:

The New Asylum is the third volume in a series of free-verse poetry anthologies and personal memoirs from Australian author Frank Prem (Small Town Kid, Devil In The Wind).

This collection is an exposé of life in the public psychiatric system, spanning five decades and describing sometimes graphically, sometimes ironically, often poignantly, and always honestly, a search for meaning in extraordinary and often incomprehensible circumstances.

The journey begins with childhood experiences of watching immigrant parents earn their living in the Mayday Hills Mental Asylum… progresses through the oddities and antics of psychiatric nurse training in the 1970s… on to the high-pressure coalface of managing regional centres facing an inundation of modern urban challenges… and finally, settles into the generally calmer waters of a small town residential facility.

Join Frank Prem on his New Asylum journey, and discover what it means to become that particular ‘mental health creature’ that is a psychiatric nurse.

 

My review:

I have the utmost respect for those who work with mental health patients. It must be one of the most challenging jobs to be a psychiatric nurse. The relentless and at times hopelessness of such an experience is delivered in poetic form in this memoir with a wry mixture of sadness, melancholy and just the right amount of humour. The free style verse is a perfect stylistic choice for this type of memoir.

Frank Prem’s poetry delivers a powerful punch – I also enjoyed Devil in The Wind: https://mjmallon.com/2019/06/17/book-review-of-devil-in-the-wind-by-frank-prem-poetry-blacksaturday-wildfires/

My rating of The New Asylum: 5 stars. #highlyrecommended

 

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Social Media Links

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Collaborative Bloghttps://sistersofthefey.wordpress.com
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time
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Book Review: Catling’s Bane by D Wallace Peach #Bookreview

Goodreads Synopsis

In the tiers of Ellegeance, the elite Influencers’ Guild holds the power to manipulate emotions. Love and fear, pain and pleasure, healing and death mark the extremes of their sway, but it’s the subtle blends that hook their victims’ hearts. They hide behind oaths of loyalty and rule the world.

A child born in the grim warrens beneath the city, Catling rues the rose birthmark encircling her eye. Yet, it grants her the ability to disrupt the influencers’ sway. Established methods of civil control disintegrate before her. She’s a weapon desired by those who reign and those who rebel.

To the Influencer’s Guild, she’s an aberration, a threat. They order her death and thus the betrayals begin. One woman protects and trains her, plotting to use her shield to further imperial goals. No longer a helpless child, Catling has other plans. As chaos shakes the foundations of order and rule, will she become the realm’s savior? Or its executioner?

The Rose Shield Tetralogy – a blend of science fiction and fantasy.

Welcome to a world of three moons, a sentient landscape, rivers of light, and tier cities that rise from the swamps like otherworld flowers. A planet of waterdragons, where humans are the aliens living among three-fingered natives with spotted skin. Where a half-blood converses with the fog and the goddess plans her final reckoning.

Follow Catling’s journey as she grows from childhood into the deadly force that shapes the future. She is the realm’s shield, an influencer, assassin, healer, mother, and avenger. And all she wants is to go home.

 

My review:

Catling’s Bane is the first in the Rose Shield series and showcases D. Wallace Peach’s wonderful fantasy writing. It is a character driven story with a young girl: Catling taking centre stage. BUT don’t be fooled into thinking this is a gentle read. It is not. There are influencers at work, who think nothing of killing people, even the youngest members of society are cruelly eliminated for minor crimes, whilst their peers, and family members are ‘influenced,’ to believe that their hangings are no more than a fun day of entertainment.There is a strong political element to the story, with warrens representing the classes of society. Also, there is a sense of wanting to belong, to be part of a caring family, and poor Catling longs for that more than anything: even though her mother isn’t exactly maternal Catling still cares for her.

The beginning was a little difficult to follow due to the large cast of characters. A short introduction to them all would have been welcome.

At times the plot shifted in an unexpected way but the ending had me buzzing for more. The ending was brutal but beautifully written. I couldn’t look away! Oh my!

This is my first introduction to D. Wallace Peach’s novels. I’ve been following her blog for a long while and been impressed by her writing. There is no doubt in my mind that D. Wallace Peach is a talented author.

Beautiful writing in all categories: descriptive, emotive and very entertaining dialogue and I couldn’t help but be invested in Catling’s plight.

#highlyrecommended

My rating: 4.5 stars.

Social Media Links

Authors Websitehttps://mjmallon.com
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Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time
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Book Review: The Magisters by Jack Eason #Bookreview

 

Synopsis:

The Magisters is a science fiction story with a difference. Apart from chronicling the ultimate change of life for a select few individuals, it questions all accepted ideas by closeminded academics that leave no room for alternative thinking by some among their number. It is about a woman born ten years after the Romans left Britannia forever and a man born in the twentieth century. Add to that everything that is currently environmentally wrong with our planet today. Now read on…

My review

The engaging story makes the reader wonder. What if our ancient monuments were resurrected, what would the outcome be? And what would happen if a modern day man could meet a beautiful woman from a previous time period? This, and many other questions are answered, some with a political/environmental slant.

Certain lines in the novella made me wish we could be the ones wielding an other worldly Science Fiction power over our Politicians! Now, wouldn’t that be great!

I believe this is book one and there is more to come. #highlyrecommended #reading – 5 stars.

 

Author Profile on Goodreads;

 

Jack Eason lived in New Zealand for forty-two years until 2000 when he returned to his birthplace in England. As far as he is concerned he will always consider himself to be a Kiwi. After military service in the 1960’s, he travelled the world, visiting exotic lands and making many friends. Now retired,he is content to write and travel via the Internet. Besides writing novels and short stories. Some of his short stories and numerous articles appear in the No: 1 online E-zine “Angie’s DIARY”. His literary interests include science fiction, history, both ancient and modern, and humorous tales like those written by his fellow writer Derek Haines, such as “HAL”. He lives in retirement in his home town surrounded by his favourite books, ranging from historical fact to science fiction. His literary icons are J.R.R Tolkien, George Orwell, Arthur C Clarke and John Wyndham.

He also contributes to his blog “Have We Had Help” at: http://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/ along with articles and short stories to “Angie’s Diary at: http://angiesdiary.com/.
You can also find some of his short stories under the ‘writings’ button at his goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/jackeason

 

http://mybook.to/TheCurseofTime

 

Unique Selling Point: Unique, Imaginative, ‘Charming, enchanting and richly layered this is purely delightful.’

“This delightful book will appeal to teens and young adults who love stories filled with magical crystals, dark family curses, and mysteries waiting to be solved around every corner. Each chapter leads you on a journey of discovery where Amelina earns the right to use three wizard stones to reset the balance of time and finally break the curse that holds her family hostage. A captivating tale!” – Colleen M. Chesebro (Editor)

 

#BookReview: Space Dust by Eloise De Sousa #Picturebook

We’re going on a trip to the stars in Big Ox’s canoe.
Watch fire bears roar on Venus,
as pepper pot trees grow on the moon.
As Big Ox steers us to the planets
using his absolute favourite spoon,
Little one sits wondering if mum will come home soon.

 

Review

A very cute picture book that will make both the adult and the child smile. Lovely simple illustrations by the author which are colourful and fun. A recommendation for parents, carers and grandparents to read to their little ones.

Received a copy of the book from the author but my opinions are my own and unbiased.

Rating: 5 stars.

I featured Eloise Space Dust Blog Tour here: https://mjmallon.com/2019/10/04/eloise-de-sousas-space-dust-blog-tour/

Authors website: http://eloisedesousa.wordpress.com

Amazon Buying Link below.

 

Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and are getting a chance to read and relax over the holidays! I’ve added a new contact form below so please do leave a comment so I can see it works!

Many thanks.

Review Rogue Elements – The Gamma Sequence Book 2 by Dan Alatorre

FROM USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR DAN ALATORRE

THE PAST DOESN’T DIE. IT WAITS TO BE FORGOTTEN.

After completing the biggest case of his career, private detective Hank DeShear returns home to start treatment for a disabling genetic condition that could end his life, but he learns his partner on the prior case has just been murdered. Was he wrong to conclude the secretive killer known as The Greyhound had declared a truce? Or have disciples of The Greyhound surfaced to carry on with the murders?

DeShear is able to attach himself to an overseas goodwill mission headed by the U. S. Vice President, enabling him to pursue leads in foreign hospitals he thinks could be offshoots of Angelus Genetics’ illegal organ harvesting programs and human trafficking operations. Determined to pursue the truth wherever it leads, DeShear must also keep a low profile so he doesn’t become the next murder victim—but the onset of his debilitating condition may kill DeShear before the murderer gets a chance.

FANS OF ROBIN COOK AND MICHAEL CRICHTON WILL LOVE THE LATEST ADDITION TO THIS WELL-WRITTEN AND SUSPENSEFUL SERIES.

 

My review:

This is very different from my usual go to read, (which is often YA Fantasy/Paranormal,) but that’s a good thing. It’s great to immerse yourself in new genres from time to time. Rogue Elements: The Gamma Sequence Book 2 is a Medical thriller which packs a punch, with some truly gripping moments which will stay with me for a long time. There are a couple of real, ‘Oh my God,’ instances.. where I could almost see the events/trauma unfolding before my eyes and making me squirm as if it was happening to me…

You really wouldn’t want that!

Dan Alatorre is a talented multi-genre author with wide ranging abilities extending from, for example: cookery books, to paranormal, thrillers, sci/fiction, horror, realistic fiction/fatherly experiences and even romance!

But, from reading this second book in the Rogue Elements series, (unfortunately I haven’t read the first,) and his short stories in Nightmareland I get a gut feeling that his writing style excels whilst scaring and thrilling his readers!

Therefore, if you crave books that aren’t afraid to broach difficult subjects and touch upon dreadful evils such as ruthless organ harvesting –   this is for you! Rogue Elements is a fast paced narrative, full of engaging dialogue and the characters are well written and believable.

Alatorre’s strength lies in his ability to write scenes that are almost cinematic in their execution. I wish I could say more but if I did it would spoil the book for you and I really don’t want to do that.

My recommendation: Highly recommended. 5 stars.

Please note: I received a copy from the author but this in no way influences my review.

 

So, what’s next on my reading shelf?

I’m currently reading Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights which was recommended by a colleague at work, who complimented me saying that there are similarities in our writing style! Now, that’s a compliment… More about that soon, plus do come back for more Indie Book Reviews…

What are you reading? Have you read Dan Alatorre’s Rogue Elements: The Gamma Sequence?

Social Media Links

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Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time
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The Lost Princess Richard Dee #ARC #BookReview #IndieAuthor #Betaread

The Lost Princess (2)

Goodreads Synopsis:

The prequel to Ribbonworld and Jungle Green 
Where is Layla Balcom?
The most famous woman in the Galaxy, heiress to the Balcom empire, has vanished. 
Has she simply exchanged her celebrity life for peace and quiet or has the unthinkable happened?

In the midst of the search, where rumours and speculation are rife, journalist Miles Goram thinks that he’s found the answer. A girl on the run suggests that Layla could be a hostage, in a club where the rich indulge their fantasies. 

It’s located on Dalyster, a corrupt and secretive world. A place where his status as a reporter will do him no favours in his efforts to uncover the truth.

With his world falling apart, Miles is caught in the rivalry between politicians and businessmen.

Review

Many thanks to Richard Dee for an Advanced Reader’s beta copy of the novella The Lost Princess – all opinions are my own.

This is the prequel to Ribbonworld and Jungle Green. I really loved the premise of this story and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy and it did not disappoint. I feel very privileged to have had a chance to beta read this novella – a great honour indeed. The narrative starts of at an intriguing pace and continues to keep the reader absorbed throughout.

It is a quick, well-crafted read with fantastic characters and an imaginative Sci-Fi setting: Dalyster: An obscure planet, it had a reputation for corrupt officials and illicit pleasure, provided you had the funds.

It is an imaginative and engaging way to introduce readers to Ribbonworld and Jungle Green.

Here’s a link to the latest news about The Lost Princess, Ribbonworld and Jungle Green: https://richarddeescifi.co.uk/the-lost-princess-arriving-soon/

Ribbonworld is the prequel to the Balcom Dynasty #1 – A sci fi which I’ve uploaded to my kindle.

Ribbonworld is set in: ‘Reevis, a planet without days or nights where life is only possible under a vast pressure dome.’

Richard Dee’s Sci fi is very readable. #highlyrecommended.

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I am looking forward to reading more from Richard Dee.  Richard is a talented author and great supporter of the indie community.

My rating: 5 stars.

 

I also enjoyed reading Andorra Pett and The Oort Cloud Cafe – check out my review here:  https://mjmallon.com/2019/03/30/bookreview-andorra-pett-and-the-oort-cloud-cafe-mystery-scifi/

Richard runs The Indie Showcase on his blog to help support and introduce indie authors to the larger community: https://richarddeescifi.co.uk/the-indie-showcase/

Don’t miss out, do check out his blog: https://richarddeescifi.co.uk/

 

Have you read any of Richard’s books? Do comment I’d love to hear from you.

Happy reading!

I’ve written loads of reviews. Please follow to links to read more of my reviews:

https://mjmallon.com/2015/09/28/a-m-of-my-book-reviews/

https://mjmallon.com/2016/11/27/my-kyrosmagica-reviews-n-z/

A magical blog of books, writing and inspiration

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Buy Book: myBook.to/TheCurseofTime

Social Media Links

Authors Websitehttps://mjmallon.com
Collaborative Bloghttps://sistersofthefey.wordpress.com
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time
#ABRSC: Authors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook
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Book Review of Ripples From The Edge Of Life by Roland Chesters #Aids #HIV

Synopsis:

If, out of the blue, you were given just two weeks to live, how would you feel? What would you do? How would you prepare for the end? Who would you tell – and how?

This was the terrible position Roland Chesters found himself in in the late summer of 2006. He knew he was seriously ill – but had no idea he had both HIV and AIDS.

Luckily, Roland did not die. Expert medical help and his own determination not to give in saw him through. His life, though, had changed forever…

‘Ripples From the Edge of Life’ is Roland’s account of a life-changing diagnosis and its impact on him and those closest to him. More than a memoir, Roland’s story is not unique; ripples spread outwards, and this empowering collection gives voice to fourteen others who have survived similar traumatic diagnoses.

This book contains wisdom, hope, humour and inspiration in equal measure. It is an essential read for anyone living with a life-changing condition, and for those who support them.

My review

Roland Chesters didn’t expect to be diagnosed with HIV.

Why would he, when he had a monogamous relationship with his partner Richard, and only had one previous partner? This personal account documents the shock and aftermath of his diagnosis. It takes the reader on a journey through his treatment, his subsequent difficulties at work and the impact of learning to live with such a shattering, life-changing illness.

Undoubtedly, Roland reached some terrible low points, but his fighting spirit to overcome is inspiring. How amazing his partner was – I think this is one of the major points conveyed – that having a loving, supportive partner, family and friends is so important.

I have enormous admiration for Roland and all the other contributors who have shared such personal experiences to help others with such openness and candour. 

The latter part of the book includes the diverse experiences of men and women living with HIV. I was truly moved by all of these accounts.

My recommendation: Definitely read – 5 stars – An educational and enlightening read on the challenges of those diagnosed with HIV which facilitates discussion on the topic of  life changing hidden illnesses and AIDS/HIV.

 

Note: Thank you to the author for a paperback copy which I was pleased to give an honest review for.

Roland Chesters links: https://luminate.uk.com/who-i-am/

Have you read Ripples From The Edge of Life? Do comment below.

A magical blog of books, writing and inspiration

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