Book Review - The Tower Of Bones

by Frank P. Ryan (Jo Fletcher Books) ISBN: 978-1-78087-740-2


The Tower of Bones is book 2 in the Three Powers Series. I have not read the previous book, and although I found the story difficult to follow initially, the author’s knack for  description and character development kept my interest. I was soon able to work out what had happened in the previous book. This is a measure of an author’s skill, the ability to link the storyline seamlessly.

Four friends; Kate, Alan, Mark and Mo, are in an enchanted world that has been ravaged by the Great Witch, Olc. She is hungry for power and intends to resurrect the demi god Fangorath. Olc has kidnapped Kate and is luring the powerful Alan into a trap. Alan has to use his powers wisely in order to rescue Kate from the clutches. Kate is only just learning about her purpose in the war-ravaged world of Tir. Then we have Mo and Mark who have yet to discover their role in the enchanted land.

The descriptions are rich and I was absorbed by the otherworldly descriptions of this book – so different and yet believable. It has all the elements of a fantasy story: dragons, mortals with powers, winged bat-like creatures, an evil witch, dark places, and suspense. This is a book I would love to see in film.

4/5

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The Old Rectory

by Julia Ibbotson (iUniverse) ISBN: 978-1-4620-4468-9


The Old Rectory is the story about Julia and her husband who establish a lifestyle many dream about. The couple fall in love with an old rectory and decide to buy it. Julia writes about the challenges they faced renovating the house. 

Central to the story is her kitchen, the heart of the Victorian house set out in the moors in England. Food becomes an important aspect of country living. As the seasons change, Julia includes relevant recipes at the end of each chapter. I am not much of a cook but I like the romantic notion that food is a lifestyle concept and forms the backdrop to the stories we tell at the dinner table. 

I have not tried out any of the recipes but the names are enticing. For example, I could imagine myself ending off a sumptuous meal with Victorian Boozy Plum Pudding. This pudding would be perfect for a Christmas meal, unfortunately only if you live in the northern hemisphere. Despite this time-zone difference, the writing is excellent. 

The story captured my attention and the recipes have me waiting in anticipation for an invite from the author inviting me to dinner. My one criticism, I would love to have seen a picture of the rectory in the book. The cover looked more like an artist’s impression. 

Ulrike Hill
4.5/5

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Confessions of a Murder Suspect

by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro (Young Arrow) R150, ISBN: 978-0-099-56734-9 



The Angel children are overachievers, the product of their wealthy parents’ ambitions. They are also suspects in their parents’ murder. 
Teenager, Tandy Angel, decides to launch her own investigation. She wants to find the murderer and prove that her siblings are innocent. But she has become the prime suspect because she was the last one to see her parents alive. As Tandy uncovers clues, she realises that her family is far from normal. Memories seep into her mind and she wonders if she could have committed the crime. 

Confessions of a Murder Suspect is written in the first person. Tandy draws the reader into her confidence, revealing both her weaknesses and her strengths, as she tries to make sense of a life that has been protected and very privileged. I found Patterson’s characters to be both interesting and quirky.

The storyline left a few unresolved issues at the end. Although I found this frustrating, I still recommend this book to readers who enjoy the thriller genre and a quick read. 

Ulrike Hill
4/5

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50 Sheds of Grey

(A Parody) by C.T. Grey (Boxtree) ISBN: 978-0-7522-6545-2 



When I received this book to review, three things drew my attention. The first one was the blurb.“Hurt me!” she begged, raising her skirt as she bent over the workbench. “Very Well,” I replied, “You’ve got fat ankles and no dress sense.”

I just knew that I would enjoy reading this little book. The layout of the book was the second thing to impress me. It’s well laid out, easy to read (no more than an hour) and the pictures of sheds are beautiful. A perfect gift for that difficult-to-please person. 

The final thing to capture my attention was the sense of humour. It is written from a male’s perspective of the 2012 block-buster: 50 Shades of Grey, and had me grinning from beginning to end. The story is told from Mr Grey’s perspective (a play on author’s name and the love interest in the popular book) and how he is seduced but can never understand what women really want. In typical male fashion he sees life as black and white. 

The author (is it really C.T. Grey?) makes use of pun, ambiguity and innuendo. ‘Lady Christina bit her lip as she eyed my dripping brush. Somehow I knew it wouldn’t be long before I’d be touching up her gazebo’. The writing is intelligent and the innuendo is more of a turn-on than the original story. But, don’t take my word for it. Read it and decide. 

Ulrike Hill
5/5

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Book Review - The Girl On The Stairs

by Louise Welsh (John Murray) ISBN: 9781848546608


Jane is pregnant. She is living in a strange city, she cannot speak the language and feels isolated whilst her partner, Petra, works. 

Unable to sleep at night, she hears screams from the next-door apartment. The next morning she sees Anna Mann, the neighbour's teenage daughter, with bruises on her face. Jane is convinced that her father is abusing her. The problem is that no-one believes her. Herr Mann is a respectable doctor. People tell her that she is neurotic. Petra warns her not to interfere in other people's lives; that she should focus on her health and the birth of her baby. But how can Jane ignore abuse? And where is Anna's mother? 

Jane is determined to prove that her suspicions are true. She finds herself uncovering secrets and discovers that Anna is not as innocent as she appears. It seems that Berlin hides many ghosts. Or is Jane merely paranoid, her imagination a result of boredom and her loss of independence? 

I felt the beginning was a little slow but then found myself unable to put book down. The characters were intriguing. The ending tied everything into a neat bundle with a little surprise attached. Welsh's thriller kept me guessing until the very last page. 

Ulrike Hill
www.writerswrite.co.za
4/5

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Mystic City

by Theo Lawrence (Corgi), R115 ISBN: 978-0-552-56764-0

 

Aria Rose has lost her memory. When she regains consciousness from an overdose of Stic, she is faced with situations that do not seem 'right'.

 

She is engaged to Thomas Foster. The marriage is a political necessity and ends an old feud. Thomas' brother has to win the election in order to subdue the rising threats of the Mystics who live in the Depths of Manhattan and are society's rejects.

 

This futuristic fantasy has developed Manhattan into a city partly submerged under water. Global warming has created unbearably hot temperatures and the rise of the oceans. The Elite live in a city connected by access controlled walkways and apartments. The Elite never venture to the Depths. Aria is part of the Elite but she questions her memory loss and love for Thomas. Aria decides to visit the Depths to get answers and then meets the mystic rebel, Hunter.

 

Strangely, she is drawn to him and the Mystics' cause to overthrow the Foster and Rose families and bring equality back to Manhattan. As Aria's life becomes compromised she realises that it is imperative to regain her memory. But who can she trust?

 

Mystic City is a fast-paced story, similar to The Hunger Games and Divergent. Lawrence has a sequel to this book which was obvious by the book's ending. However I felt that he left too many story-lines up in the air.

 

Ulrike Hill

3.5/5

 

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Lone Wolf

by Jodi Picoult (Hodder & Stoughton) ISBN: 978-1-44472899-6

 

I have a confession. I have not read a Jodi Picoult novel before. I have always thought her topics were heart wrenching. Then Lone Wolf crossed my desk. I wondered if she had ventured into the supernatural genre. I was pleasantly surprised once I had finished reading Lone Wolf.

 

Luke Baxter is a man who neglects his family to live with wolves. His wife has divorced him and remarried. His son Edward has not spoken to him for six years. One night he collects his daughter, Cara from a party. On the way home, they crash. Life support systems keep him alive. The doctors feel he will never revive from his coma.

 

Luke Baxter has presented his family with a dilemma. Do they keep him alive? Or, do they let him die. Cara wants to save her father’s life. But, she is hiding a secret. Edward wants his father dead. He too has a secret.

 

Picoult’s story weaves its way into the thoughts of the characters and presents back-story so that the reader can participate in this dilemma. If Luke Baxter were your father, would you want him to live or die? The plot is tight and the scenes will keep you captivated.

 

I have another confession. I am a Jodi Picoult fan.

 

Ulrike Hill

5/5

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Defiance

by CJ Redwine (Atom Books) ISBN: 978-1-907411-22-1

 

Readers who liked The Hunger Games will enjoy this book. The setting is similar and the female protagonist is strong-willed with awesome fighting capabilities. The differences between the two books end there.

 

Rachel is confined within the walls of Baalboden. Baalboden should be a sanctuary for its citizens but living under the rule of the Commander is difficult. The Commander is a cruel autocrat and he will maintain his power at all costs. To venture beyond the walls is the same as committing suicide. The Wasteland is rife with Highwaymen and the Cursed One, a creature that will wipe out anything and everything in its path.

 

Rachel has to face these risks when she escapes the confines of a world that has become even more dangerous than the one she has to journey through to find her father. Her father, a courier, has not returned from his trip from the Wasteland. Logan, her protector, tries to help her but the Commander shows his cruel streak and separates the two. Rachel is on her own.

 

The pacing of the story is tight and the chapters short enough to make this book a page-turner. The ending suggests a sequel. I am waiting in anticipation.

 

Ulrike Hill

4/5

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Jane Eyre Laid Bare

by Charlotte Bronte & Eve Sinclair (Pan) ISBN: 978-1-4472-2928-5

 

Poor Jane Eyre. An orphan attracted to the unattainable and moody Mr Rochester has undergone many storylines to fit in with the modern reader. When I picked this book, I groaned. Is this another Fifty Shades of Grey copycat author? Another writer who has little understanding of storytelling or language? However, I was wrong. I enjoyed Jane Eyre Laid Bare.

 

Eve Sinclair, in her debut novel, has kept the plot true to the original. The language has remained formal with elaborate phrases. This will, undoubtedly disappoint the purists and frighten off the instant-gratification reader. Somehow, the language made the erotica more sensual.

 

The story is told in first person. Jane is virginal and attracted to her ‘master’. Her observation of her sexually awakening body is delightful and filled with innocence. Jane is a strong character and this is obvious from beginning to end. Her sexual attraction to Rochester is believable for a young girl exploring her sexuality.

 

I loved the story and enjoyed the ending even more. Sinclair ends on a surprising but far-from-disappointing scene. I realise many readers will not share my delight.

 

Ulrike Hill

4/5

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Pulse

by Tricia Rayburn (Faber and Faber) ISBN: 978-0-571-27396-6

 

The mythical femme fatale of the sea, the siren, seducer of men is the subject of this book.

 

Vanessa Sands life has turned upside down. Her sister has been murdered and it appears that the sirens are to blame and now they are after Vanessa.

 

Vanessa has a secret, a secret she has to keep from her boyfriend, Simon. I could not understand why Vanessa was continuously thirsty and kept drinking salt water, why she finds boys ‘cute’ when she is supposed to be depressed about her sister’s death. I eventually learnt that Vanessa was a siren.

 

The story was difficult to follow. Vanessa exists in her head and I found this boring. Scenes and chapters jumped from one story point to the next.

 

Pulse is the second book in the Siren trilogy. Most authors create some backstory for readers who enter the story in the second book to get some perspective. Rayburn doesn’t. You will have to read the first book to understand what is happening in this story.

 

Ulrike Hill

2/5

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