Pigs by Daniel James – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

PigsPigs by Daniel James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pigs by Daniel James is an action packed crime novel, with plenty of twists and turns to keep readers on their feet. It follows Isaac, newly released from prison and determined to stay away from the life that got him locked up – a life that isn’t going to let him go so easily.

The book opens with a fairly graphic torture scene which sets the tone for the rest of the book. If you find that uncomfortable, you won’t enjoy the book. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of graphic violence but it added to the tension which got me hooked.

This is the kind of book where you can never really relax. Like Isaac, you’re always looking over your shoulder, never feeling safe. Although much of the story comes from Isaacs perspective, occasionally chapters show us what other characters are up to giving us a broader perspective and time to let Isaac stew.

Pretty much everyone in this story is a criminal, but James achieves a variety of motivations and personal morals which make it easy for readers to pick a side. I particularly liked Grace, who prefers to talk people into doing her bidding to avoid having to use her gun.

For me, this is a five star book. A real page turner, with plenty of interest and action to flesh it out. Once I got going, I struggled to put it down!

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Chasing Clay (The DeWitt Agency Files Book 3) by Lance Charnes – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Chasing Clay (The DeWitt Agency Files, #3)Chasing Clay by Lance Charnes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Chasing Clay is the third book in Lance Charnes’ The DeWitt Agency Files series. It’s a thrilling crime mystery, following ex-con Matt as he attempts to complete a mission for the agency that is guaranteed to bring his probation to an early end – either with his freedom or his incarceration.
Like the rest of the series so far, Chasing Clay focuses on art theft. As the name suggests, this book centres around ceramics. This was fascinating to read – I’m pretty sure all of the art crime books I’ve read so far have been about paintings so it was great to learn about a different art form with all of the history and culture surrounding it. Helpfully, Matt is also a bit out of his depth with ancient Asian ceramics so as he studies we get useful bits of information.
It’s a clever, action-packed book. The characters have understandable motivations (and reservations about what’s happening). It’s got plenty of mystery to keep you turning the pages!
I came into the series at this book, and I found I could follow the story well enough. Everything’s and everyone’s introduced to you and you get plenty of background. So if you’re particularly interested in ceramics you could jump in here. Having been captivated by this book, though, I’d now like to go back and read the previous two!
For me, this is a five star read. I’d recommend it to fans of art and mystery, particularly anyone interested in Thailand.

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Goddess of the Wild Thing by Paul DeBlassie III – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Goddess Of The Wild Thing: A Dynamic Spiritual JourneyGoddess Of The Wild Thing: A Dynamic Spiritual Journey by Paul DeBlassie III
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really didn’t know what to expect when I picked up Paul DeBlassie III’s Goddess of the Wild Thing. It stands out from other books I have read as a rich paranormal fantasy that draws on spiritual and psychological ideas to create a fascinating world and gripping story.
DeBlassie’s descriptive writing particularly caught my attention, with the level of detail and vivid language used really painting a picture. At times, I felt this slowed down the progress of the story or made it hard to keep up, but at others it really painted a picture for me.
The central characters are a group of four women – Eve, Shirley, Tanya and Samantha. It’s nice reading a book where the characters are a bit older and have experienced more in their lives. The characters are strong and not afraid to disagree with each other which leads to some interesting conflicts. Although it’s a story about love, it’s good to have such a focus on friendships that outlast the ups and downs of romantic affairs.
For me, this is a four star book. I found it very interesting, and it was good to read something a bit different! I’d recommend it to fans of the paranormal who are after a book that will keep them on the edge of their seat.

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Hidden Tracks by Zoe Lee – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Hidden TracksHidden Tracks by Zoe Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hidden Tracks by Zoe Lee is a romance that focuses on the music industry. Seth is a talented songwriter and musician who has re-joined his old band after living a quiet life for half a decade. Astrid is a former actress who used to be married to a rock star and is now a music journalist, writing a piece on Seth’s band.
It’s a sweet, slow-moving story. Both characters have lived. They’ve fallen in love and had their hearts broken. Astrid has a grown-up daughter. They’ve been in the limelight and stepped out of it, and are now on the brink of being pulled back in.
Astrid’s role as a journalist is quite handy in learning about Seth and his bandmates. There are formal interviews, and other occasions where informal discussions include probing questions (or less probing – “Dogs or cats?” is one!).
I particularly like the way Lee talks about sound – both musical and environmental. This struck me from the very beginning where Seth’s acoustic environment is described – “every subtle groan of the three-story house he had grown up in was like a vibrato note sung by a baritone.”. This is effective not only in painting a vivid picture of the scene, but also in giving us an insight into how Seth experiences the world.
For me, this is a four-star book. I’d recommend it to music lovers, particularly anyone who’s ever dreamed of getting together with a rock star!

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Diamonds & Deception (Karina Cardinal Mystery Book 3) by Ellen Butler – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Diamonds & Deception (Karina Cardinal Mystery, #3)Diamonds & Deception by Ellen Butler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Diamonds & Deception is the third book in Ellen Butler’s gripping Karina Cardinal Mystery series. We’ve had art theft, we’ve had assassination, and now we’re onto jewellery theft. Karina seems to get tangled up in everything!
Karina is a lobbyist whose past escapades have built her a network of talented, helpful people who are ready to leap into action when trouble comes. And trouble does always come. She’s resourceful, dedicated and doesn’t take no for an answer. There’s a brilliant scene where she can’t access her apartment as a man (who had the clever idea to get high on a weeknight) thinks there is a dragon in there. She’s tired, wants to go to bed, and so sets the imaginary dragon on him and walks through the door.
In this book we get to see a lot of Karina’s sister, Jillian. It’s good to see the supportive relationship between the sisters, how readily they come to each other’s aid. It is Jillian’s friend, Sadira, who is accused of stealing diamonds. What at first seems to be a simple misunderstanding escalates as the sisters learn more about Sadira and come up with more and more questions.
Diamonds & Deception is a real page-turner! It’s a great mystery, that keeps you on the edge of your seat. This is an exciting series with plenty of variety and brilliant characters – I would recommend starting at the beginning with Isabella’s Painting to enjoy the story as it unfolds. For me, this is definitely a five star book!

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Hitting The High Note (A Four Horsemen Novel Book 3) by C A King – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Hitting The High Note (A Four Horsemen Novel Book 3)Hitting The High Note by C.A. King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hitting the High Note is the third book in C.A. King’s fantasy series of Four Horsemen Novels. The series takes place in a modern day setting with a beautiful and elaborate mythology at its heart. There are demigods and demons, fighting over the fate of the world. There are horsemen and there are keys – soulmates tied together by their destiny.
As the title suggests, the protagonist of Hitting the High Note is a musician. Bekka has worked in her family music shop all her life, and it seems likely she will continue running it unless she plucks up the courage to audition for an orchestra. I enjoyed how the music was threaded through the plot – I’ve always been a fan of musical magic! I also appreciated Bekka’s taste for tea – the descriptions of her making and drinking tea made my mouth water!
This series is fantastic – the world is well developed and complex and the mythology links in with various familiar mythologies whilst still being unique and surprising. The characters at the centre of each book continue to appear in the background of subsequent books, so it’s great to catch up on them. And Uriel, the horseman this book focuses on, has already appeared in the past so I was eager to learn more of his character.
I would recommend reading the books in order, to get the full story, although King does a good job of reminding readers of what has happened so you could probably get away with reading this on its own if you’re particularly after a fantasy book about music.
For me, this is another five star book. It’s a great series, and I’m particularly excited about having a music-focused book! I’d recommend the series to fans of mythology and urban fantasy. Looking forward to reading the next one!

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Dark Feathers by Natalina Reis – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Dark FeathersDark Feathers by Natalina Reis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dark Feathers is a paranormal romance by Natalina Reis. It is a standalone novel, set in the same world as her book Lavender Fields with many characters appearing from the earlier book. It follows Phoenix, a dark angel sent to spy on Joan, a young woman who could see him when he was supposed to be invisible to humans. Joan’s search for a roommate provides the perfect opportunity for Phoenix to keep an eye on her, and (of course) fall in love.
Reis has a well-established system of angels, and Lavender Fields has already given us plenty of insight into the trouble they can get into. Although much of the world-building has been done before, Phoenix being a dark angel gives Reis a chance to explore more of the system and remind or introduce readers to the world from a different perspective.
Joan is a caring, loveable character. Her passion for baking speaks of her commitment to making others happy, and she is quick to note Phoenix’s favourite type of cookies. Phoenix is at times broody and reclusive, and Joan works hard to cheer him up and bring him out of his shell. As someone whose life experience so far has consisted almost entirely of pain and suffering, including sexual abuse, the positive and loving relationship does wonders for Phoenix, who reciprocates by setting out to protect Joan regardless of the cost.
This is an enjoyable page-turner of a book – definitely five stars! I would recommend it to fans of angel romances (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy a good angel romance?). You can definitely enjoy this book without having read Lavender Fields, but for me it was really great seeing how Caleb and Sky were getting on.

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Journeys Through SpaceTime (Journeys Through Book 1) by James Talisman – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Journeys Through SpaceTimeJourneys Through SpaceTime by James Talisman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Journeys Through SpaceTime is James Talisman’s debut novel, and the first in his Journeys Through series. It sits on the border between sci-fi and fantasy, with a story that transcends an array of times and places.
The story begins with an introduction to the different worlds we will encounter in the book, as characters in every setting have a similar, unsettling experience. Their stories unfold as they seek to understand the experience, and the reader seeks to understand what connects the strands of the story.
Talisman clearly has a passion for world-building, and readers are given a rich and detailed description of the many worlds the story inhabits. For the most part, it is easy to keep track of although there were times when I wished I had a paperback copy so I could refer back to the Dramatis Personae. The settings each very much have their own character, ranging from modern-day Earth to alien worlds that evoke ancient civilisations, each with their own cast of interesting and developed characters.
For me, this is a five-star book. It is a complex story that demands your full attention, and rewards with a rich tapestry of worlds held together by an original and engrossing story. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author!

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Not Fade Away (Interstellar Rescue Series Book 4) by Donna S. Frelick – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Not Fade Away: Interstellar Rescue Series Book 4Not Fade Away: Interstellar Rescue Series Book 4 by Donna S. Frelick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not Fade Away is an exciting science fiction book by Donna S. Frelick, the fourth in her Interstellar Rescue Series. It focuses on the characters of Del, a retired hero whose limited mobility and dementia means he needs to be cared for by his son, Rescue agent Rafe, and Charlie, a home care nurse in the American town Del and Rafe are hiding in. On the periphery are characters who have been the focus of earlier books, including Gabriel, Lana, Rayna and Sam.
I like how the Interstellar Rescue Series juxtaposes alien worlds and spaceships with normal, everyday Earth. The focus on dementia in this book is particularly poignant and works well within the plot. We get glimpses into Del’s past in the form of flashbacks that leave him disoriented and saying things that Charlie can’t quite make sense of.
Charlie has a dog, Happy, who is a wonderful addition to the cast! Happy and Del develop a very special relationship and Happy comes into his own warning Charlie and Rafe when they are in danger. Space, romance AND a dog – what more could you ask for?
I’ve been enjoying this series so far. The stories kind of work independently but it’s worth starting with the first book, Unchained Memory, to get more of the world-building and start meeting the characters. For me, this is a five star read which I would recommend to sci fi fans who enjoy stories with alien abductions and other interactions between the terrestrial and extraterrestrial.

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OF WAR AND TATERS by Ashley Chappell – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Of War and TatersOf War and Taters by Ashley Chappell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Of War and Taters by Ashley Chappell is a whimsical mystery with an endearing cast of characters. As I started reading the book I found it hard to figure out what kind of book it was supposed to be and where the story was going – it seemed like we were being shown a bunch of relatively unconnected events. But as the story progressed, everything began coming together and making sense (well, a bit of sense at least!).
At the centre of the story is a theme of gossip and misleading journalism that is all too familiar in our “post-truth” world. Stories are blown out of proportion or even fabricated for dramatic effect, and even threaten to become self-fulfilling prophecies.
There are characters for everyone to enjoy. The Upper and Lower Jelly River gangs are rival groups of mischievous, inquisitive children who have been thrust into the spotlight. They remind me of characters in books like Swallows and Amazons – sworn enemies until they find something else to team up against. Then there’s the Sherriff (double “r” intended) who seems to be doing quite well for someone whose usually quiet town has been turned upside down. There’s a circus to rival The Greatest Showman, with some excellent characters like Goliath the giant and Chaz the astigmatic ape. There’s Monty the thespian ghost, who reminded me somewhat of Gordon Way in Dirk Gently. I could go on! It’s an eclectic, endearing cast.
For me, this is a five star book. It’s entertaining, engaging and different. If you enjoy books that are both very clever and very silly, such as the works of Douglas Adams and Tom Holt, I would definitely recommend it!

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