My Friday Images: Christmas reads

 

Dying For Christmas cover

 

A bit of a departure from my usual inspiring images on a Friday but as Christmas is fast approaching thought I’d mention some Christmas books, and other book bloggers here on WordPress and Tumblr.  I’m kicking off my Christmas reads suggestion with this beauty, oops, sorry for being so dark, but this one kind of stood out for me. Well it sounds a bit different. Dying for Christmas. A psychological thriller/crime drama which I found via Scatterbooker on WordPress here’s her review link:

http://scatterbooker.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/book-review-dying-for-christmas-by-tammy-cohen/

Also I really like the sound of Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares. This made a change from the usual titles that are heavily laden with the words, Mistletoe, Christmas, Snow, yes, you get the picture. It sounds light-hearted and fun,  a YA contemporary romance.

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If you’re hoping for snow then look no further. Came across Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle while I was on Tumblr. Thanks for the recommendation: Books and sugar Quills on Tumblr.

Here’s the link: http://booksandsugarquills.tumblr.com/

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Then while I was searching Amazon I spotted My True Love Gave To Me! Twelve Holiday Stories by a whole lot of authors, some of my favourites there!

 

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Sometimes Christmas can be a bit overwhelming, so why not put your oven gloves away and go On Strike for Christmas? Found this beauty via Girls Love to Read. Here’s the link to her book review:

http://girlslovetoread.com/2014/12/book-review-on-strike-for-christmas-by-sheila-roberts/?tm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+GirlsLoveToRead+%28Girls+Love+To+Read%

 

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Okay, I succumbed to a bit of mistletoe love but this cover is just too pretty to resist! The review for this Judy Astley Chick lit, romance offering is at Pages and Tea blog on WordPress. Here’s the link: http://pagesandteablog.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/book-review-it-must-have-been-the-mistletoe-by-judy-Astley/

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Now if you fancy a bit of Christmas romance I’d definitely recommend that you rush over to Sonya Heaney’s blog because she has a whole host of Christmas novels, including those by #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr. I knew a stocking would creep in somewhere! Here’s the link to one of her reviews:

Christmas Reads: ‘Tis the Season by Robyn Carr

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Are you heading home for Christmas?

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Do comment below if I haven’t mentioned a Christmas book you would really like to recommend. Oh, and just in case I haven’t found that Christmas novel for you to read, or gift for you to give, here are some other places to look:

http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/22453.YA_Christmas_Reads_WINTER_STYLE_

http://www.burnleyexpress.net/what-s-on/reviews/book-review-christmas-books-for-all-the-family-1-6982004

https://catherinecastle1.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/here-comes-christmas-2014-holiday-reads-a-shenandoah-christmas/

http://literaryattic.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/6-great-christmasholiday-themed-books/

12 Kids Holiday Book Favorites

My Kyrosmagica Review of Puppet by Pauline C Harris

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Penelope lives in a world of advanced technology but many claim society has yet to catch up. Marionettes have advanced in the form of robots; lifelike creations remote controlled to perform super human tasks.

When Penelope makes a deal with Jed, a marionette-obsessed scientist, she doesn’t fully realize what she’s getting herself into. In order for Jed to take her away from the orphanage she lives in, she must first agree to undergo his experiments and tests, ultimately creating something no one ever dreamed possible; the first living marionette.

As Jed shows off his scientific creation to the world, concerns arise surrounding Penelope’s abilities and what she’s capable of doing. Ordered to somehow lessen her abilities, Jed makes a desperate attempt to change Penelope to make her more human, more vulnerable. After Penelope lies to the officials about her past, Jed makes sure it’s the last one she’ll ever utter. The truth is now the only thing she is capable of telling.

As Penelope struggles with her past, her disturbingly new present, and her uncertain future, she is thrust into a magically twisted world of mayhem in search of the one thing she wants, but knows she can never have. The chance to be just a girl again. To be normal. To be real.

My review:

I received a copy of Puppet via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Even though I enjoyed Puppet there were a few issues with the book.  Initially I felt that the first two chapters told us too much about Penelope too early on. These ‘facts’ could have been fed into the narrative slowly rather than been thrust into the opening chapters of the book. In some ways, chapter three felt like the perfect place to begin the narrative, suddenly the story took me by surprise, and began to capture my attention. Also there was a definite tendency for Pauline C Harris to tell rather than show which is a typical error that new writers, myself included, often make when beginning to write. So in my opinion, I do think that Pauline could have benefited from tighter editing from a professional  in order for this novel to reach its full potential.

On the plus side I do think that the premise for Puppet is an interesting concept, an imaginative twist on the Pinocchio tale. Penelope is a troubled teenager living in an orphanage when Jed, a mad scientist offers to take her away in exchange for agreeing to be his experimental guinea pig! Under Jed’s scientific care Penelope becomes a human marionette and “her strings” are not physical attachments controlling her but the result of a drug administered to give her the ability to exert super human powers.  When the “Administrators” find out about her abilities, and her lying, they  threaten to take her away from Jed and James, so in desperation Jed takes away her ability to lie to compensate the Administrators. I found Penelope’s reaction to this interesting, she was distressed that this freedom which we take for granted is no longer something she is capable of. The pain of this loss is intense because in Penelope’s eyes lying is evidence of the last scrap of her humanity. Can you imagine never being able to lie?  Lying isn’t always necessarily a wicked thing to do, sometimes we lie because we want to protect people’s feelings, e.g. when someone asks us if we like the way they dress! Ultimately the “Administrators” and in particular the evil Edelin’s intentions towards Penelope become clear. Her powers are forcibly used in a way that she finds abhorrent and distressing. She no longer has any control over her body’s potential for cruelty. The plot twists at the end of the narrative are unexpected and a welcome aspect of the fast paced story line, characterised by short punchy chapters.

I didn’t quite buy into the romance between Penelope and James, somehow it seemed a bit forced to me. Also it seemed a bit odd because I had considered them to be more like brother and sister, up until the point when they kissed each other!

I was surprised that Penelope didn’t have more qualms about participating in Jed’s experiments, after all who would want to? I know that she felt grateful for being released from the Orphanage and her debt to them, but somehow this just didn’t seem enough cause for her to allow Jed to inject her with a cocktail of unknown and potentially dangerous chemicals. Somehow she just seemed a little too compliant. In addition, I think that the characterisation of the characters could have been developed more as could the setting and background to the story. More detail about the science in the story and world building in this futuristic land would undoubtedly have made the story a richer read.This novel had a lot more to give and I was a little disappointed that it just didn’t quite get to the giddy heights that I had expected.

Having said all of this, I did enjoy the premise for the story, and the pace of the novel.  I found it a quick read, gripping at times, and I do think this author has such potential. Pauline C Harris is a young writer, she is the same age as my eldest daughter who also loves to write! So well done to her for publishing at such a young age. Incidentally this is not her first novel she has already written a trilogy in 2013: Mechanical, Perfect, and Flawed, as well as children’s/middle grade fiction, The Secret’s of Evelyn Taylor, and another fairy tale retelling is coming out in 2015, Hourglass. Oh and she loves Star Trek and tea, so she gets a high five for that!

So if you like a quick read, and an unusual re-telling of Pinocchio pick up Puppet. For readers of Young Adult, Romance, and Fantasy.

Favourite quotes:

“We won’t kill you,” the administrator repeats. “But …if you forgive the pun…” he trails off, smiling to himself at some internal joke. “There will be strings attached.”

Being forced to tell the truth doesn’t make me better than a criminal with a lie detector. Choice is what matters and my choice has been taken away.

I can feel panic slowly pulsing through my veins like venom.

The marionettes’ bodies are indestructible. They are capable of shuffling and dealing cards faster than the eye can perceive, of crushing rocks in the palms of their hands, of darting across rooms in the blink of an eye.

And now I am too.

It scares me more than it empowers me.

My rating:

3 stars.

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Book Trailer on Pauline C Harris’s WordPress Blog: paulinecharris.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/puppet-book-trailer

Have you read Puppet? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

My Kyrosmagica Review of The Archived Victoria Schwab

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what she once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

My review:

Well before I even start my review I would like to say that I just loved the cover art, and the title too!  In Victoria Schwab’s The Archive the library isn’t just a place to store books, no it is so much more than this, it is a mysterious place where people’s dead loved ones are archived away like precious memories. More and more of them are waking up, and it is Mac’s job as a Keeper to make sure that they return to the Archive. As you can imagine this is no easy task, but Mac has been trained well by her grandfather Da who has every faith in her.

This is the second Victoria Schwab novel that I have read, my first being Vicious, so I had high hopes. Like I said, The Archive is a truly fascinating concept and I think Schawb really pulled it off well.  I think every single person would do what they could to keep the memory of their loves ones who have passed away alive.  Mac is just so relatable, and so  human, of course she can’t bear the thought of her dead brother being locked away in a drawer. But is her brother really her brother anymore? Or is he something else entirely?

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In the Archived we have a world in which the Histories, the Librarians, The Archive, The Returns,  and the Outer exist alongside a family still coming to terms with the sudden death of Mac’s brother.  We sense the personal and individual responses to  grief in Mac’s relationship with her mother and her father. Along the way Mac meets Owen and Wesley, (super cute guy-liner guy), and these three characters drive the plot forward. Mac’s father seems to do his best to encourage Mac to spend time with Wesley. Not the way most fathers behave!  I found this quite touching and cute.

To begin with I  have to admit that I struggled with some of the details of the novel. I found Da a bit confusing, I started off thinking he was Mac’s father but realised that he was in fact her grandfather. I also thought that Mac sounded more like a boy than a girl. BUT, and this is a big BUT. Victoria Schwab knows how to write, she writes amazing characters that draw you into the story and her dialogue is just spot on. I am so jealous of her dialogue! I really enjoyed the second half of the novel, very mysterious and exciting, with a great plot twist, and Mac is just so fearless in solving the mystery. A big high five for Mac!

So overall my advice would be to read The Archived, not to shelve it, go on read it! Most definitely. I will definitely be picking up the second in the series, The Unbound.

Highly recommended for readers of YA fantasy, paranormal, romance, mystery….

My star rating:

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Author’s website – very unusual opening page! See how quickly you can uncrumple the paper.

http://www.victoriaschwab.com/

and her WordPress blog:

http://veschwab.wordpress.com

Have you read The Archived? Do leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

My Kyrosmagica Review of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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Goodreads Synopsis:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

My review:

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I just loved Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. A big, full,  book case heart for this one, great cover art, perfect YA novel within. My only regret, that I didn’t read it when I was a teenager myself! Shame I can’t time travel back to do a bit of reading. Anyway I’m still in touch with that side of me, my teenage self is still there somewhere deep in the layers of my enforced adulthood!

The initial idea behind the book, the hidden letters to her crushes, is a simple concept but the way Jenny Han develops upon this and draws us into the story is just wonderful. Lara Jean’s relationship with her older sister Margo begins to change when Margo goes off to University in Scotland and dumps her boyfriend Josh just before she goes.  Lara is shocked, Josh is like one of the family and everyone loves him, and when I say love him, I mean love him. She finds herself now taking the role of “big sister” to her younger sister Kitty, who is wise beyond her years.  I love how Jenny Han expresses Lara Jean’s confusion and distress at her new role by placing her behind a steering wheel and making her face her fears. Okay so it’s a bit of a disaster, she doesn’t manage to do everything perfectly like Margo does but that’s what makes her so endearing. She isn’t Miss Popularity. She isn’t Miss Confident, but none of that matters because she is Lara Jean, and Lara Jean is infinitely more likeable than some overconfident, pretentious girl.  I found the relationships between the sisters so touching, probably because it spoke to me personally as I have an older daughter going off to University this September and both of my girls will be affected by the change. Jenny Han writes about the bonds, and dynamics of  sisterly relationships with such humour and empathy. The fake relationship between Lara and Peter is perfectly written. Peter’s character evolves so naturally.  I can’t find fault with any aspect of the book, the dialogue, and every single one of the characters are so convincing that by the end of the book it was almost as if Lara Jean and her family and friends live and breathe. In the beginning her fake boyfriend Peter doesn’t seem the right choice for her,  but by the end of the book he steals the show from Josh.  There are sad elements of the novel, that tug at your heartstrings but there are also happy and laugh out loud moments. In fact if there is a moral to this story it is that you can rise above the worst things that can happen to you,  (her mother’s death), if you have one simple ingredient, a loving family that pulls together. It just encapsulates life’s up and downs in such a lovely, sweet way. It is without doubt one of my favourite YA novels to date. Oh, and the references to Korean food well that just sealed the deal for me, yum, yum.

As to the ending well let’s just say thank goodness there’s going to be a sequel, or we’d have to get a petition letter out there to Jenny Han super pronto!

I would highly recommend, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,  100%  to readers of YA, Contemporary, romance.

My star rating, well of course it has to be an excellent, well deserved 5 stars!

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DISCLAIMER: “As of 13th September 2017 we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”  

My opinions are my own and any reviews on this site have not been swayed or altered in any way by monetary compensation, or by the offer of a free book in exchange for a review. 

Buying Links:

Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/2xv3oJF

Paperback UK: http://amzn.to/2y3q9rf

Favourite quotes:

“When someone’s been gone a long time, at first you save up all the things you want to tell them. You try to keep track of everything in your head. But it’s like trying to hold on to a fistful of sand: all the little bits slip out of your hands, and then you’re just clutching air and grit.”

”If love is like a possession, maybe my letter are like my exorcisms.”   

“I wonder what it’s like to have that much power over a boy. I don’t think I’d want it; it’s a lot of responsibility to hold a person’s heart in your hands.”   

“I delete the picture of him from my phone; I delete his number. I think that if I just delete him enough, it will be like none of it ever happened and my heart won’t hurt so badly.”

“Margot would say she belongs to herself. Kitty would say she belongs to no one. And I guess I would say I belong to my sisters and my dad, but that won’t always be true. To belong to someone—I didn’t know it, but now that I think about, it seems like that’s all I’ve ever wanted. To really be somebody’s, and to have them be mine.”

“If you were mine, I would never have broken up with you, not in a million years.”

Authors website: http://dearjennyhan.com/

Have you read To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

My Kyrosmagica Review of Landline by Rainbow Rowell

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

My review:

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This is the third Rainbow Rowell book that I have read. My favourites up to now have been Eleanor and Park, and Attachments. I still have to delve into the wonders of Fan Girl, (I have heard so many good things about this  coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.)  So I must add it to my TBR list.
Of course  Landline was good, but it wasn’t my favourite Rainbow Rowell book. It didn’t quite have the quirkiness of the characters in Eleanor and Park, or the humour of Attachments. I’m not sure if the telephone landline really worked for me, at times it felt a little bit repetitive, the magic of the time travelling phone  didn’t quite match up to my expectations.

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There were a lot of aspects of the novel that I really enjoyed. At times the story line really touched my heart. Neal and Georgie’s marriage was on the rocks,  and by the end of the book I really felt  for these two characters and wanted them to work it out and be happy.  I enjoyed the role reversal, Neal stayed at home to look after the kids while Georgie went out to pursue her career. Neal was happy with the arrangement at the beginning but nevertheless problems began to show. Neal didn’t fit in to Georgie’s world and Georgie felt left out of the perfect family group of Neal and his kids. Cracks started to show when a wonderful opportunity came up for Georgie to work on a sitcom over Christmas.  She expected that Neil would  agree to have Christmas in Los Angeles instead of going to Omaha, but Neal surprised her by standing his ground. He took the children with him to Omaha, without Georgie. Georgie’s life started to fall apart. Neal made matters worse by ignoring her calls, and Georgie ended up back at her Mum’s house where she used the old yellow Landline in her room to call Neal. What she actually ended up finding is a way to connect with him in the past. Will this be an opportunity to rekindle the original spark of their love, or to set things right?  She started  to question the way that she treated Neal, and wondered  if she had been taking him for granted. She missed her children terribly, and feared that a life without them would be no life at all.  I thought it interesting how she went to live with her mother, behaving like a child herself in need of  the security of her family home. I enjoyed her relationship with her co-worker Seth, and  her family relationships with her mother, step father and sister. Oh and the pug dogs, and the washing machine were a cute touch. You will have to read Landline to see what I mean!  Rainbow Rowell’s strength in this novel is undoubtedly her ability to write about love, families and relationships in a very moving and honest way. Who knows what may have happened in life if you take another path and marry a different person? It is an interesting observation, with no real answers.

My rating:

Overall I enjoyed Landline, and I would give it 3.75 stars.

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My favourite quotes:

“You don’t know when you’re twenty-three.
You don’t know what it really means to crawl into someone else’s life and stay there. You can’t see all the ways you’re going to get tangled, how you’re going to bond skin to skin. How the idea of separating will feel in five years, in ten – in fifteen. When Georgie thought about divorce now, she imagined lying side by side with Neal on two operating tables while a team of doctors tried to unthread their vascular systems.
She didn’t know at twenty-three.”

“Nobody’s lives just fit together. Fitting together is something you work at. It’s something you make happen – because you love each other.”

“Having kids sent a tornado through your marriage, then made you happy for the devastation. Even if you could rebuild everything just the way it was before, you’d never want to.”

“That’s what Georgie did to him. She pulled the blood to the surface of his skin. She acted on him. Tidally. She made him feel like things were happening. Like life was happening – and even if he was miserable sometimes, he wasn’t going to sleep through it.”

“Georgie, “he said. “I love you. I love you more than I hate everything else. We’ll make our own enough  – will you marry me?”

They are just such so perceptive, wonderfully thoughtful observations about love, marriage, and having kids.

I would recommend Landline to readers of Contemporary, Romance, Chick Lit, and Adult Fiction.

http://rainbowrowell.com/

Have you read Landline? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

My Kyrosmagica review of Swamp Ghosts by Marcia Meara

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Wildlife photographer Gunnar Wolfe looked like the kind of guy every man wanted to be and every woman just plain wanted, and the St. Johns River of central Florida drew him like a magnet. EcoTour boat owner Maggie Devlin knew all the river’s secrets, including the deadliest ones found in the swamps. But neither Maggie nor Gunn was prepared for the danger that would come after them on two legs.

On a quest to make history photographing the rarest birds of them all, Gunnar hires the fiery, no-nonsense Maggie to canoe him into the most remote wetland areas in the state. He was unprepared for how much he would enjoy both the trips and Maggie’s company. He soon realizes he wants more than she’s prepared to give, but before he can win her over, they make a grisly discovery that changes everything, and turns the quiet little town of Riverbend upside down. A serial killer is on the prowl among them.

Authors Websites:

https://marciameara.wordpress.com/

https://mmeara.wordpress.com/

I won  a kindle copy of this book from Marcia. My review  has not been influenced in any way by receiving a free copy of this book. It is my honest opinion.

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http://www.pixabay.com

Swamp Ghosts is a novel that manages to combine romance, a murder mystery, and wonderfully descriptive passages of the animals, flora, and fauna of the St. John’s River. Quite a tall order, but I think on the whole Marcia Meara pulls it off very well. I enjoyed the interplay between the lightness of the two main protagonist’s developing love, and the darkness that lies hidden within a murderer’s heart.  The killer’s portrait is chillingly believable and at times makes you gasp, wince and reflect. So even though Marcia Meara is an older lady , she sure doesn’t write like one! She crafts a story-line with a heck of a punch. So beware!

Having said that, Maggie and Gunnar fall in love very quickly. This seems somewhat at odds with Maggie’s inability to trust. Personally I would have liked to see the love interest develop a little more slowly. Though Marcia does a great job depicting Maggie and Gunnar’s enthusiasm for each other in the bedroom department! Wonderfully sensual, without being overtly erotic.

Swamp Ghosts is an absorbing, and at times disturbing read. There is an underlying sense of uncertainty that threads throughout the novel, twisting and turning like the St. John’s River itself. Is Maggie safe with this stranger, even if he looks like a Viking, in a canoe down the St. John’s river? Will Maggie ever be able trust anyone ever again, after all that has happened to her in her past? Will Maggie lay her soul bare to Gunn? Will Gunn be able to cope with Maggie’s insecurities? Will they find what they are looking for? Or will they find something so disturbing that they wished they had never gone? This list could just go on and on ……………

Temptation lurks at every corner, and both the innocent and the guilty can’t help but give into their differing temptations. Maggie is tempted  by Gunn’s perfection.   He has the physique of a Viking. Yet he never works out, he is  naturally a hunk!  The killer kills once and he gives into temptation to kill again.

This is not a novel that concentrates on a single point of view. Instead we see into the minds of several of the protagonists that are central to the plot.

Lester is chillingly portrayed in short punchy chapters, and believe me this works well. This weird guy who lives with a whole host of albino reptiles has many facets to his personality.  He may be one of society’s misfits but he sure loves and cares for his creatures, and boy are they strange creatures just like him!

I particularly liked the twist in the tale towards the end of the novel, I won’t go into details, for fear of spoiling it for you. Oh, and I loved the title, Swamp Ghosts!

My rating:

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Overall, I would recommend Swamp Ghosts to readers who enjoy a murder mystery, and readers who enjoy romance.

Have you read Swamp Ghosts. Do leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx