Phoenix Rising: Anunnaki Wars by C S Wade

BLURB~

“Aidan a Murian prince awakens from a fiery crash in an unknown time. His people legends fading into the mist of time. Long forgotten. After an eon of hiding in the shadows sinister enemies from his past once more come forth spreading chaos as they pit empire against empire precipitating war and chaos across the galaxy. He discovers the oldest race in the galaxy betrayed by one they trusted. Whispers of foul deeds and unspeakable acts proliferates as death spills across battlefield’s. Rider merchants impressed to the gargantuan deepspace creatures called Solar Sailors carry news of the unrest to the Council of Nine and High Temple as they travel the great energy currents delivering goods and news. Ghost walkers, Temple warriors, powerful and mysterious are sent to investigate and discover an elusive, and savage enemy. At the center of the whirlwind is a battle for control of the Anunnaki Empire. Blood will flow as the wrath of war rises. Into this anarchy a young queen, her consort, and two powerful brothers fight for the very survival of their people, forced to sacrifice for love, house, and empire. Now the future of the galaxy rest upon two lost souls. How can an ancient prince, and an untried Queen hope to triumph over one of the most insidious forces the galaxy has seen since the time of powerful and long dead Phoenix Queens. Full of mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure. The rise and fall of powerful alliances fill the pages of this magnificent saga, Anunnaki Wars an epic series sure to delight Science Fiction/Ancient Aliens fans everywhere.”

REVIEW~

Hmmmmm… I am not certain how to review this book. The story itself is very interesting, but there were a lot of typos and grammatical errors that distracted me, as can be noted in the blurb alone. I found myself beta reading more than enjoying the story at first. I was still able to be drawn in, however, and I feel that with some editing, it could really be a wonderful fantasy/sci-fi read. What the blurb doesn’t tell you is that the story is about how a warrior princess/new, young queen and her two brothers are fighting to protect their family and society against an enemy that seems indomitable.  

The writer is very imaginative, and the premise of the novel is enrapturing, despite the errors. It sends readers through space and time to fascinating new galaxies. Wade has crafted a world full of depth. The writing style is very descriptive and dynamic. From the very beginning, the book is full of action and continues to be quickly paced till the very end. The plot is intricate and detailed, which allowed me to overlook the poor editing. The characters were easily visualized and developed. I found the tale intriguing and would like to read the sequel.

Because of the poor editing, I am going to give this book 3.5/5. It’s saving grace is that the characters are vivid, the basis of the story is captivating, and the author’s fresh and imaginative tale is truly enticing.

I was given this book by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This review, or portions thereof, will be posted (when able) on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, Kobo, IG, FB, Pinterest, Litsy, and my own blog.

Unfortunately, I am unable to provide links to all sites as I am using my phone.

On various sites I am:

Pinterest~ Pinterest.com/katskraps

Barnes & Noble~ Karyl-Ahn-white_7

Litsy~ Karylahn or Karyl White

The Hangman’s Secret: A Victorian Mystery (Victorian Mysteries #3) by Laura Joh Rowland

BLURB~

From award-winning author Laura Joh Rowland, a story about the darkness that lurks within and the deadly secrets that beg to be revealed.
Intrepid photographer Sarah Bain and her motley crew of friends are back to hunt criminals in the dark, seedy underbelly of Victorian London, but little do they know, the darkness may lurk closer than they first divined.
Photographer Sarah Bain and her friends Lord Hugh Staunton and sometime street urchin Mick O’Reilly are private detectives with a new gig―photographing crime scenes for London’s Daily World newspaper. The Daily World is the latest business venture of their sole client, Sir Gerald Mariner, a fabulously wealthy and powerful banker. 
One cold, snowy January morning, Sarah, Hugh, and Mick are summoned to the goriest crime scene they’ve ever encountered. A pub owner named Harry Warbrick has been found hanged and decapitated amid evidence of foul play. His murder becomes a sensation because he was England’s top hangman and he’s met the same fate that he inflicted on hundreds of criminals.Sir Gerald announces that the Daily World―meaning Sarah and her friends―will investigate and solve Harry Warbrick’s murder before the police do. The contest pits Sarah against the man she loves, Police Constable Barrett. She and her friends discover a connection between Harry Warbrick’s murder and the most notorious criminal he ever executed―Amelia Carlisle, the “Baby-Butcher,” who murdered hundreds of infants placed in her care. 
REVIEW~

This book is the third in the Victorian Mysteries series but can certainly be read as a standalone. It is told from the perspective of our protagonist, Sarah Bain. A scrappy and independent gal, which was uncommon in such times. I really liked her character.

I must say I found this to be an intriguing premise for a novel. The author’s writing style has quality. She is efficient at providing background information that helps readers that haven’t read the first two books, to understand what is going on. The characters play well off one another and each has their individual roles in the story. Each also has their own troubles, which enliven and enrich the tale.

The characters were fascinating and likeable. An unlikely group of friends who are amateur sleuths, each having their own backstories that add more to the tale. There is suspense, mystery, romance-all set in 18990s London. Each of the characters add to the story and make it an enjoyable read. It is a page turner that had me guessing till the very end, and what an ending it was! I had no clue who the killer was, although I had suspicions throughout the story. There are many to be suspicious of. SO many suspects., but each is ruled out. Just as Sarah gets closer to solving the mystery, she finds herself in more imminent danger.

The book was paced quite well. A steady stream of action and introduction of characters helped the narrative to flow easily. This was an enjoyable read. An intense mystery, though it was a light read for me. It was engaging and entertaining. I plan to read the first two in the series so that I can get to know the characters better since they are all so interesting.

The only criticism I have, is the verbalizations between the characters didn’t seem to fit well given the time period. The conversations and verbiage used seemed more modern. This, I feel, was an oversight that could not be ignored given the fact that otherwise, everything seemed so authentic. SO, I am giving it a 4/5 stars. 

All in all, it is a book that I enjoyed and enough so that I will surely read more of her work. I would also recommend this book despite my one misgiving. 

I was given this book by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Curses by Laura Eve – A Graces Novel

Blurb~

“Picking up the pieces after the chilling events of the previous year isn’t easy, but the Grace siblings are determined. Wolf is back after a mysterious disappearance, and everyone’s eager to return to normal. Except Summer, the youngest Grace. Summer has a knack for discovering the truth—and something is troubling her. But exposing secrets is a dangerous game, and it’s not one Summer can win alone. At Summer’s behest, the coven comes back together, drawing their erstwhile friend River back into the fold. But as the coven’s powers magnify, Wolf’s behavior becomes unpredictable—and Summer must question the nature of the friend she so loves. This riveting sequel to The Graces is saturated with magic, the destructive cost of power, and the nature of forgiveness.      

My Review~

“Ok, The Curses is not a stand-alone. Once again, I requested a book because the cover was so awesome! Not realizing it was part of a trilogy, I had to check out The Graces from the library before I could read this. JIC you’ve not read it already, I think the following review by: rhapsodyinbooks provides a good synopsis of The Graces without giving away spoilers, so I’ve included it here (with permission) so you can get the gist before reading my review of The Curses. From: rhapsodyinbooks.wordpress.com

“The Grapes are a family with rumored magical powers who draw everyone into their orbit and punish those they don’t like. Despite the risk however, “everyone in this town was in love with a Grace.” Summer Grace is 15, and twins Fenrin and Thalia are 17. All the girls at school try (unsuccessfully) to imitate the ethereal beauty of Thalia, and all of them are in love with Fenrin, “more creature than boy.” When River Page, 15, transfers into their school, she becomes fascinated with the Graces along with everyone else. She manages to become friends with Summer, who is in her grade. Through Summer, River also gets to know Fenrin and Thalia as well, even getting invited to the Grace house and to Grace parties, something no one else has managed to do. But River has secrets of her own, and soon the four of them get entangled in a situation that it seems even magic can’t fix. Or can it?

Evaluation: This is a book about magic, witches, coming of age, first love, and even the biggest hellscape of all: The High School Cafeteria! But in my opinion, the two biggest draws to this book are the fae aspect of the Grace family, and the excellent set of twists the author has woven into the plot. It reminded me in that way of the book We Were Liars. I think this will be very successful in the young adult market.”

Kinda get it now, right?

Okay, on with MY review of The Curses. This is pretty much a new favorite series for me. I was excited to read this one. Eve is a very good writer and lucky me- I got to read them back to back. The third is already on Amazon so YAY! I feel like Eve really captures the sense of Pagan witches in modern society and how they are so harshly judged, and outsiders are suspicious of them. She put a twist on this book by changing the character POV to Summer, the youngest Grace sibling. This allowed you to see things through a different lens, so to speak. Eve has a special talent for drawing you in to the story. It has magical and fantasy elements of course, but also has a bit of mystery and suspense.

 The story is fast paced, to me, for this type of novel. Things happen like waves, fast and almost drowning, but then the group uses powers to afront any wrongs or difficulties.  I couldn’t quite figure out exactly WHO was the “bad guy.”

This book is a page turner. Entrancing and engaging, I found it hard to put down and was engrossed in the story from the beginning of The Graces. I really like the family history aspect of the story. It adds dimension and gives a unique facet to the narrative.

The character development was solid. The siblings have a strong bond and stick together through thick and thin. And they go through a LOT in this book. Eve has written them to be resourceful and resilient, however, and you are pulled in by them as well. You get a better sense of their personalities in this book, especially Summer’s. Providing some background to the family in general, the reader feels a realistic dynamic between the brother and sisters.  The author has created characters that the reader can sympathize with.

The Curses was an easy and enjoyable read. There was an unexpected sort of shocker ending, and though somewhat sad, the reader is left hopeful. I will be glad to read the third in this trilogy and have everything tied up in a nice little bow.  I rate this book a 5/5 stars and am looking forward to adding the physical copies to my bookshelf.

I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A Bound Woman is a Dangerous Thing by DaMaris Hill -The incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland

This is going to be a different sort of review for me. It is a different kind of book than what I usually read.

I used to think I “had some color” in my family history line, so I have always been interested in the plight of African American women in history. I recently discovered I am completely white/caucasian- whatever term you’d choose. But I still find myself drawn to this sort of book and history. That being said, I don’t think I will ever understand the true legacy of these amazing women.

This book is so inspiring! Not just for women of color, but for all women. It is evocative and emotional. Empowering and enlightening. This book is one EVERY person should read, IMHO.

The poetry is phenomenal! I cannot even begin to convey the author’s talent for tugging at your heartstrings and making you REALLY THINK. If you can only try to imagine life from these exceptional ladies’ perspective, you will be forever altered.

I am unable to explain the visceral response I had while reading some of this poetry and prose. I was incensed, enraged, encouraged. In short, I was deeply moved.

This is a different sort of review because I have rarely been so deeply moved by an author’s work in such a way as this.

I don’t know what else to say.

Triumphant! I am in awe. 5/5 stars

I was given this book by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This review, or portions thereof, with be posted (when able) to Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, IG, Pinterest, FB, Litsy, Kobo, BAM, and my own blog.

Unfortunately I am unable to provide all links at this time as I am using my phone.

The Winter Road by Adrain Selby

Blurb~

“The brutally powerful story of a daring warrior traveling a path that might bring salvation to her people…or lead her to ruin. For fans of Mark Lawrence, Andrzej Sapkowski, and Joe Abercrombie.

The Circle – a thousand miles of perilous forests and warring clans. No one has ever tamed such treacherous territory before, but ex-soldier Teyr Amondsen, veteran of a hundred battles, is determined to try.

With a merchant caravan protected by a crew of skilled mercenaries, Teyr embarks on a dangerous mission to forge a road across the untamed wilderness that was once her home. But a warlord has risen in the wilds of the Circle, uniting its clans and terrorizing its people. Teyr’s battles are far from over . . .”

 

Review~

Wow! This dark fantasy is an intense read and definitely not for the faint of heart. It is brutally violent at times, and savage, wrought with much suffering and misery for the MC, Teyr. Selby’s writing style is evocative and the word building is phenomenal. There is such depth to this narrative, you become immersed in the story from almost the very beginning. The story is engrossing at the very least and can be attributed to the author’s skillful writing talent. This is a woeful tale, seemingly contrived to transport readers into a dark and penetrating world that sucks you in and takes you through a whirlwind of emotions. I cannot speak highly enough to the author’s ability to wrench your heart through the spell cast upon readers of this book!

Told from differing timelines ( then, now, and after), you are almost immediately dropped into a realm where violence rules and the action keeps going, propelling the story and the characters forward. The pace of this book is so captivating that you can NOT put it down. It moves fast enough to keep your interest while providing relief at just the right moments. It is in these moments that we get glimpses into the characters’ vulnerabilities and you can truly become endeared to them.

The plot and characters do drive the story forward, both being intertwined such that the characters themselves ARE the story. I don’t think this story would work without these characters. Teyr, the female protagonist, has got to be one of the strongest and most ferocious warriors I have ever read about. She is my newest favorite heroine. She is beleaguered with suffering but still has the softness of heart to be able to love just as fiercely as she fights. It makes her more believable and you just WANT her to win. The warlord,Khiese’s character is so vividly written, I actually DESPISE this guy. I became viscerally reactive to his tyrannical ways. The supporting characters are just as important to the plot as the MCs, and all are written very well too.

I don’t want to give any spoilers but let me tell you that if you like a strong female lead and a truly evil nemesis- this is definitely a book for you. I can’t say that this was an easy or enjoyable read. It wasn’t. It was gut wrenching and unrestrained. It will suck you in and take you to the brink- you will feel anger, resentment, pity, and eventually sorrow. This novel is AMAZING!

I have tried to review this in such a way that I don’t give any real clues or spoilers, but I hope this can relay how extreme this book is and how tumultuous a journey the reader takes when reading it. 10/5- can I do that?!?!? It is fantastic and a MUST read!

I was given this book by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Once a King by Erin Summerill Series: A Clash of Kingdoms, Book 3

Blurb~

Aodren: A lonely, young king, searching for a way to dismantle his father’s dark legacy.

Lirra: A girl with the power to control the wind, torn between duty and following her dreams

 

For twenty years, Channelers—women with a magical ability—have been persecuted in Malam by those without magic. Now King Aodren wants to end the bloody divide and unite his kingdom. But decades of hatred can’t be overcome by issuing decrees, and rumors of a deadly Channeler-made substance are only fueling people’s fears. Lirra has every reason to distrust Aodren. Yet when he asks for help to discover the truth behind the rumors, she can’t say no. With Lirra by his side, Aodren sees a way forward for his people. But can he rewrite the mistakes of the past before his enemies destroy the world he’s working so hard to rebuild? Erin Summerill returns with a high-stakes fantasy full of romance, magic, and revenge perfect for fans of Susan Dennard and C. J. Redwine.”

Review~

Told through the differing POVs of the two MC, Aodren and Lirra, this dark fantasy his basically a story of good vs evil set within the backdrop of a brewing romance.  A familiar trope of mistrust, if not actual dislike towards one another in the beginning, this story simmers with fantastic chemistry between Aodren and Lirra.  Although the arc is fairly standard, it is still engaging with some storyline surprises that make it a remarkable book. I won’t go into those, as it might spoil some things for you. Let’s just say this takes a different spin than what you might first surmise from the blurb. When I requested this book, I hadn’t realized it was the third in a series. I didn’t have time to read the first two books, but I wasn’t lost at all. I believe this speaks to the writer’s ability to contain one story within others, which takes quite a bit of talent, IMHO.

Summerill is a very descriptive and skillful writer. Her word building skills make the characters come alive and the settings more real. She has the ability to lead the reader to feel as if they are a bystander in an actual world with actual people and events taking places. You can totally get submerged in this novel. The world building and imagery conveyed through the author’s writing is fantastic.

The plot and characters were well developed and Summerill gives enough backstory that you can understand the characters and their motives for certain behaviors and actions. The plot is interesting and keeps you interested and entertained. This was an easy and enjoyable read for me. I look forward to reading the previous books and am anxious to read more from this author. 5/5

I was given this book by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Release of Jonathan Flite by Matthew J Beier

Blurb~
“Jonathan Flite wants to disappear. Apart from being Rhode Island’s infamous nurse killer about to walk free, he’s also facing more public scrutiny than ever before. The FBI has begun taking his connection to the long-lost Idle County Seven seriously, drawing links between people Jonathan claims to remember and last summer’s nuclear terrorist attack in Geneva, Switzerland. Furthermore, the perpetrator from last fall’s murders at Crescent Rehabilitation Center is still at large, leaving a number of questions unanswered about how and why the crimes might have been linked to the events in Europe.

When an anonymous stranger begins sending Jonathan letters encouraging him to tell the truth about the Idle County Seven mystery, his loved ones brace themselves for the onslaught of attention it might bring. As media reports creep toward the truth, the scientific and religious implications of Jonathan’s psychological condition begin to pique public interest—and expose those who would resort to violence in order to keep them under wraps.”

Review~
I cannot rave enough about how wonderfully Beier writes. His descriptions of places, characters, and even emotions are absolutely believable, and so realistic that the reader truly feels a part of the story. This is such a wonderfully written book! In fact, I’ll even give a list of just SOME of the emotions explored: loneliness, elation, forgiveness, compassion, mistrust, apprehension, sympathy, and inner turmoil. It also covers topics such as prejudice, religion, ignorance, sexual preference, family dynamics, psychology, and so much more. This is the second book of the series, and I liked it even more than the first. Beier is a phenomenal author.
The story advanced at a steady pace for the plotline. While the narrative moves back and forth between different times, places, and people- it was never confusing. There was always a clear sense of the timetable and the characters being written about.
The plot development was amazing. This story is entirely well crafted. Beier has presented a tale that is interwoven with such humanity that it will bring you to tears. I found myself captured in the story so much and felt a strong sympathy for the characters and their plights. I had an extreme dislike for what I considered, “the evil townsfolk.” I would literally get angry at times, while reading. As the storyline unfolds, coming to a conclusion, I was moved by the compassion a character, who could easily been resentful, showed towards those who had basically tormented him. The characters’ growth was inspiring and such pleasing wrap up. It is a wonderful and meaningful novel.
I am sure you can tell that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was an easy, though very emotional emotional read for me. It will stay with me long after I have read it. I can’t wait for the next installment. I cannot recommend it highly enough. 5/5 stars!

This book was given to me by the publisher via Netgalley. all thoughts and opinions are my own.

A Murder of Crows by Ian Skewis

Blurb~

“The most violent thunderstorm in living memory occurs above a sleepy village on the West Coast of Scotland.

A young couple take shelter in the woods, never to be seen again…

DCI Jack Russell is brought in to investigate. Nearing retirement, he agrees to undertake one last case, which he believes can be solved as a matter of routine.

But what Jack discovers in the forest leads him to the conclusion that he is following in the footsteps of a psychopath who is just getting started. Jack is flung headlong into a race against time to prevent the evolution of a serial killer…”

The writing is incredibly descriptive and creates a rich and dynamic setting that is full of buoyant characters. The imagery is fantastic. The narrative is stirring and exciting and brings forth emotion. This writer has a good sense of how to keep you in suspense. Skewis is an author with a great talent for using the written word and creating an atmosphere in the book that relates quite perfectly with the subject matter. I found myself immersed in this book. I can imagine that his natural talent and writing abilities will only grow stronger over time.

The pace had an even flow. The characters and subplots were introduced slowly enough to follow. There are various characters and each has their own secrets that you begin to learn in a way that is not confusing or overwhelming. The story and writing is fluid throughout and even though sometimes, you don’t like what you’re reading, it is still evenly threaded.

The development was amazing! Can I just say that again? AMAZING! The tone of the book was immensely pulling and dark. There are SO many suspects that you just don’t have a clue who the killer might be. Just when you think you might’ve guessed it- bam!- here comes another character with a motive. It was a perfect mystery thriller for me. I love all the different stories of all the characters, each with their own suspicious stories.

I was captivated the whole time.

While I don’t feel the characters was fully developed, I don’t think it was necessary to the overall story. You got just enough to understand how they each could’ve been the killer and why. Jack Russel was the perfect lead detective (DCI) for this story! Even though his character is soon to retire, I hope we learn more about him and are able to follow him through more mysteries- prequels perhaps? Anyway, the dynamic of animosity between he and his partner is palpable. They provide and excellent backdrop for the way the case is handled. One thing that caught my attention was the analogy of the weather and the sense of doom in the story. (Was it an analogy? Well, it seemed so to me.)

I have touched on the characters a bit but I just have to point out that I am a nurse and have worked with dementia patients. Skewis’s portrayal of a mother with dementia was dead on and brilliant. I enjoyed the different perspectives of the chapters and felt it gave a greater perspective on the story as a whole.

This was an enjoyable, albeit, intense read and I look forward to reading ore by this author. 5 stars from me!

This book was given to me by the publisher via Netgalley. all thoughts and opinions are my own.

A Prayer for the Necromancer by C. Wain (The Shinigami Tomes Book 1)

BLURB~

“Blood. Fear. Death. Love. The legends of old tell of a primordial Creator. Merciful and lonely he was when he breathed new life into the barren womb of Oar, the everlasting universe. The Creator’s very essence and mana stood silently for stability and life.

Amidst gods and mages, the warming darkness of a mysterious man enshrouds the life of a young village girl.
What happens when common beliefs hide the true evil in light?
What happens when a rogue and despised necromancer sacrifices his own flesh for the sake of others?”

REVIEW~

The writing style of this book is very different than what I am used to reading. There is a lot of “inner thoughts” or internal dialogue. The author is very good at illustrative writing. It is detailed and very expressive. Some scenes of violence are rather graphic, which serves the purpose of the story well. You GET that what is happening is horrific and those perpetrating the acts are evil beings. I use the term ‘beings’, because this story doesn’t take place in our universe, but some other realm. To be honest, I was a bit confused at first and had to re-read certain parts to understand what was going on (there was a lot going on throughout the entire book.) Once I had a clear grasp of what was happening, though, it was truly very interesting. The author’s sentence structure and word building are striking in that the images and scenes depicted can be easily imagined. The quality of expression is this author utilizes is quite evocative.

There was a good build up that flowed at a steady rate, but when there was action- it was FULL ON! The author brings you through this dark fantasy adventure at a perfect pace, holding back and then revving up again, driving the story in such a way as to keep you engaged. There were shifts in the flow of the tale that kept you on your toes while reading and provided a feeling of wanting to read further to see what would happen next.

I absolutely loved the character Aline. She is feisty, independent, and can hold her own. On of my favorite quotes from the book is when she is speaking with her father about marriage and she says “…ignorant men who think that women should stay at home and die alone after a miserable, uneventful life. No, Father! I will never be a man’s possession!” Talk about sass & strength of spirit! The other MC, Kaze, is a bit harder to pin down. I can’t decide if I like him or not. Of course, there are plenty of supporting characters, both friend and foe, that you get caught up in as well. At times, it seemed there were almost too many too keep up with.

The plot is so imaginative and complex. I was quite surprised at how intense the narrative is; a very well thought out premise on the part of the author. This book is truly unlike anything I have ever read before, which makes it more intriguing. I sensed undertones of religion and spirituality in the story that I had not expected. There many cliffhangers and loose ends that entice you to read the next book, hoping some of that will come together.

This was an entertaining bit of escapism for me. Although it was not as easy to read as I might have liked, it was still followable. I was delighted to see that book 2 is already available and I do intend to read it. I give it 4/5 only because it was a bit confusing and seemed to have a bit too much going on all at once. Of course, if Id not been distracted b reality, this may not have been the case. I am looking forward to continuing with the saga. 4/5.

This book was given to me by the publisher via Netgalley. all thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Lines We Leave Behind by Eliza Graham

BLURB~

“England, 1947: A young woman finds herself under close observation in an insane asylum, charged with a violent crime she has no memory of committing. As she tries to make sense of her recent past, she recalls very little.

But she still remembers wartime in Yugoslavia. There she and her lover risked everything to carry out dangerous work resisting the Germans—a heroic campaign in which many brave comrades were lost. After that, the trail disappears into confusion. How did she come to be trapped in a living nightmare?

As she struggles to piece together the missing years of her life, she will have to confront the harrowing experiences of her special-operations work and peacetime marriage. Only then can she hope to regain the vital memories that will uncover the truth: is she really a violent criminal…or was she betrayed?”

Review~

The basis of this story was so intriguing. The blurb captured me and I just had to read the book. The writing was fluent and pictorial. You could imagine yourself there. The story is told in first person, passing back and forth between the main character’s (MC) present day and through flashbacks. The dialogue and self-talk felt authentic and surpassed my expectation. In fact, I was a bit caught off guard at the verity with which the author presented the feelings of the MC, Maud/Amber. You could actually visualize and feel the things Maud saw and felt herself; the surrender of her sanity and memory to the trauma she’d experienced. All the characters were believable, even if not likeable. Graham is an excellent author with a clear expertise of the written word. She narrates in such a way that you get a feel for what it may have truly been like for the people of the time and setting.

Though engaging, the story moved forward at a slow pace in the beginning, but I attribute this to the fact that the story is being ‘told’ by the MC, who is, herself, very slowly remembering the fragments of her life that she has forgotten. This novel resonated with me profoundly. I was mortified, outraged, and even became viscerally incensed as Maud came to the realization of all that occurred that took her to the point of withering sanity. As she comes to grips with the trials she faced-how she was manipulated, exploited, betrayed, and unscrupulously robbed of her identity and life, I openly wept with sympathy for her.

Oh my word! The plot development was very taut and engrossing. As Maud’s story unfolds against the background of WWII Yugoslavia, Graham easily maneuvers between ‘present’ and ‘past’ during moments of memory, thoughts, and through sessions with her therapist. As Maud struggles to recall the events of her former life, from which she feels so detached; she is unsure what is real and what she may have imagined. Was she really a secret operative for the Allies in the Balkans during war? Or is this some trick of imagination conjured up in her addled brain? It is more towards the second half of the book, that we come to know the truth and can catch glimpses of a future, possibly happier life for our heroine. No spoilers, so I will not go further into the storyline.

I found this book immensely enjoyable. I loved the arc of the story. I also liked the bits of history I learned while reading it. In fact, I plan to read and learn more on the subject. It was easy and pleasant to read. I feel it is historical fiction, mixed with suspense, drama, and mystery. A sensational novel that is both compelling and inspiring. 5/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via Netgalley. all thoughts and opinions are my own.

This review, or portions thereof, with be posted (when able) to Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, IG, Pinterest, FB, Litsy, Kobo, BAM, and my own blog.

Unfortunately I am unable to provide all links at this time as I am using my phone.