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review 2018-08-17 23:03
Book Review of The Devil's Cup: A Medieval Mystery (A Hawkenlye Mystery) by Alys Clare
The Devil's Cup - Alys Clare

Sir Josse d'Aquin is summoned to assist the beleaguered King John in the 17th - and final - Hawkenlye mystery.


September, 1216. A foreign army has invaded England. The country is divided. Some support the rebel barons and Prince Louis of France; others remain loyal to the king. His rule under threat, King John summons Sir Josse d'Acquin to support him. But can Sir Josse save the king from himself?


Meanwhile, Josse's daughter Meggie is summoned to Hawkenlye Abbey to attend a sick patient in a very distressed state. The elderly woman is warning of terrible danger unless she can complete her mission. What she learns from her patient will set Meggie on a perilous journey to retrieve a cursed treasure. But will she be in time to prevent a tragedy?


Review 3*


This story is the seventeenth and final book in the Hawkenlye mystery series. When I picked this book up at the library, I didn't realise it was part of a series at all. However, this didn't seem to matter, as the story reads as a stand-alone, though there are some references to other characters and books in the series.


Sir Josse d'Aquin is an interesting character; he's a knight of middle age, or maybe between the age of fifty or sixty years old in the year 1216. He finds himself being summoned by his childhood friend, King John, to help him as he tries to drive the invading force of Prince Louis of France out of England. But, while he's travelling with the King, Josse's daughter, Meggie, finds herself on a mission of her own.


Meggie is also an interesting character. She is a healer, working with the nuns at Hawkenlye Abbey as they tend to the sick and infirm. When a mysterious woman who is ill arrives at the Abbey with a warning of danger, Meggie finds herself journeying with the ailing woman's son, Faruq, to locate a relic that is cursed. But, as danger threatens, will they be able to retrieve the relic in time, or will it exact a terrible price?


As I said above, I saw this book in my local library. I love a good mystery, even a historical one, so after reading the synopsis, I decided to read it. I am struggling to write this review, not because it's bad (because it isn't), but because it isn't that good either. It is an okay read for me.


I found myself putting this book down, reading something else, and coming back to it with no problem. It is not a hard read by any means; in fact, it's a pretty easy read. This story told through several character's eyes, should have made it more interesting. However, something is missing from this tale. Maybe other mystery novels have spoilt me, but the plot is missing a crucial element - fast-paced suspense/mystery. This tale plods along at such a slow pace that I lost interest at times, which is why I would put it down and then come back to it. I've read other historical fiction novels that have sucked me in and left me breathless from the wild ride. Unfortunately, this book didn't do that to me. It is only in the last third of the book that the action picks up. The Devil's Cup of the title is an artefact that carries a curse. But the author, instead of using it as a tool to build suspense, focuses on King John and his attempt to forestall Prince Louis's invasion of England, which, I feel, is a shame as the object should have had a more significant role in this fictional tale.


Apart from the slow pace of the story, Alys Clare has written an intriguing story that brought the past to life. I love how she invoked the feeling of being transported into the past with her descriptive writing. The story flow is a little jerky in places where some of the scenes change in my opinion, but other readers may disagree with me, so will leave you to decide for yourselves. Nonetheless, I would consider reading more of this author's books in the future.


Due to some scenes of violence, I do not recommend this book to younger readers. However, I do recommend this book if you love historical fiction, mysteries, and thrillers. - Lynn Worton

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text 2018-08-17 16:28
Reading progress update: I've read 123 out of 529 pages.
The Good Daughter - Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter knows how to write a compelling story. It´s gritty and gory and there is so much drama in the life of the main character, it is unreal. But I cannot put this book down, even though I had other plans:




Well, at least I did a little bit of house cleaning today :).



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review 2018-08-16 21:21
Book Review of Sentinel (Book One of the Sentinel Trilogy) by Joshua Winning
Sentinel - Joshua Winning

This is a fantastic start to what looks like an exciting trilogy! I loved it!

Nicholas Hallow is a fantastic character. I liked him very much; and felt extremely sorry for him, as he dealt with a tragedy that destroyed his world. When he is sent to live with his godmother, Nicholas has no idea what mystery and danger awaits him.

This is an exciting, danger-filled YA Fantasy novel set it Cambridge, England. I found myself completely hooked from the first page! The characters come alive as the tale unfolds. Samuel Wilkins is Nicholas's parents friend. I liked his spirit! At 71 years old, he's still got a lot of it! Nicholas's godmother seemed a bit flighty to me, but when I read the full story of how she became that way, I could understand why. She's a powerful witch, but emotionally damaged by an event in her past. Isabel is a unique character, and her snarky and sarcastic comments had me giggling! I liked her very much! It's amazing what havoc a misfired spell can do to your perspective! However, there is one character that sent chills down my back, and her name is Malika. She is a creepy and dangerous individual! Well, I suppose you would have to be, working for a demon!

I struggled to put this book down, and couldn't wait to get back to it when I had to! There are several twists and turns in this book that I didn't see coming, but they just added to a totally enthralling read! By the end of the book I still had some questions that needed to be answered, such as: Why were the Sentinels created/formed? Who or what is Esus? And, what will happen next? I am now looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy as soon as I can!

Joshua Winning has written a debut novel that had me sitting on the edge of my seat! I loved his fast paced writing style, which made the story flow beautifully. This author is one to watch. If he's not careful, he'll be on my favourite authors list in no time at all! 

As this book is a Young Adult fantasy, I highly recommend this book to young readers aged 12+, and adults who love YA stories filled with witches, demons, supernatural beings, danger and adventure! - Lynn Worton

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review 2018-08-15 09:23
Kastrierte Priester und eine verliebte Katie
Gequälte Engel: Thriller - Graham Masterton


Welches Geheimnis verbirgt die katholische Kirche von Irland?

An einem kalten Frühlingsmorgen in der Grafschaft Cork finden zwei Fischer im Blackwater River den aufgeblähten Körper von Father Heaney. Hände und Füße sind gefesselt und um den Hals trägt er die Würgemale einer Garrotte. Zudem ist er kastriert worden. 
Kurz darauf wird ein zweiter Priester auf die gleiche Weise zu Tode gefoltert. 
Katie Maguire befürchtet, dass ein Serienmörder gerade erst mit seinen Taten begonnen hat… 


Meine Meinung 

Wer Katie Maguire bereits aus „Bleiche Knochen“ kennt, der weiß, dass ihr tote und kastrierte Priester deutlich besser stehen, als eine verliebte Blindheit.

Man gönnt der Frau als Leser ja so einiges an Glück, aber hier hat Graham ein wenig zu sehr auf rosarotes Papier gesetzt, aber dazu später mehr.


Nach dem Lesen des Klappentextes war ich mir noch nicht ganz sicher, ob mir die Thematik Kirche zusagt. Denn eigentlich ist das nicht mein Thema, aber der FESTA Verlag konnte mich bei „BIGHEAD“ schon einmal umstimmen.

Denn nach dem Auffinden des ersten toten Priesters und kurze Zeit später Opfer Nummer 2, wird schnell klar, dass der Autor hier weniger Wert auf die Kirche an sich legt, sondern die Story in eine blutige und von Rache getränkte Richtung fließen lässt.


Das erste WARUM und WER kommt einem beim Lesen sehr schnell in den Sinn, aber das stört hier nicht weiter, denn Masterton schreibt toll. Der Perspektivwechsel zwischen der ermittelnden Katie, dem Opfer und dem Täter bringt immer frischen Wind in die Geschichte. Vor 7 Jahren wurde gegen 12 Priestern wegen sexuellen Missbrauchs ermittelt. Kein neues Thema, ich weiß, aber der Autor bestätigt diesen Missbrauch nicht einfach, sondern lässt es offen.

Fakt ist, dass sich jemand an diesen Priestern rächt. Und Graham Masterton bringt hier für mich ein paar neue Foltermethoden ein, die ich mir auf meinem privaten Zettelchen vermerke. Falls es mal zum Äußersten kommen sollte, legt euch lieber mit jemand anderem an, denn ich lese FESTA- Bücher und bin zu allem bereit.


Der Fall hat es in sich und die Antwort auf die gequälten Engel wird recht lang zurückgehalten, kommt dann aber mit Blitz und Donner.


Und dann komme ich noch mal kurz auf Katie zu sprechen. Eigentlich darf ich sie hier gar nicht allein nennen, denn da fehlt noch die zweite Hälfte des Gefühlsübels. John, den einige noch aus dem ersten Band der Reihe kennen sollten, geht Katie nicht mehr aus dem Kopf und es bahnt sich was an. Vielen stößt allein dieser Part in dem Genre schon negativ auf. Ich muss sagen, dass ich eigentlich recht menschlich auf solche Szenen reagiere, ABER womit ich ein großes Problem habe, sind starke Frauen, die sich zu Mimosen verwandeln. Eigentlich verwende ich das Wort Mimosen lediglich für Männer, aber hier muss Katie auch mal dran glauben. Sie lässt ihre starken und selbstbewussten Charakterzüge hier durch einen Mann unterbinden und das finde ich schade.

Schreiend an Katie:

„Katie zieh den Finger und sei wieder die Alte!“


Denn ein kleiner Hoffnungsschimmer lässt mich sehnsüchtig auf Band 3 freuen.


Mein Fazit

Mit dem Fall an sich und seinem exzellenten Schreibstils kann mich Graham Masterton wieder für sich gewinnen. Lediglich Katie schwächelt mir hier zu sehr. Nicht so sehr bei den Ermittlungen, sondern es ist der Privatbereich, der mir hier ein Dorn im Auge ist.

Ansonsten lässt der KT zu Band 3 hoffen, also an alle Katie-Fans, verpasst diesen Fall nicht und Amen den armen Priestern!

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review 2018-08-14 12:48
"Bearskin" by James A. McLaughlin - Highly Recommended
Bearskin - James McLaughlin

"Bearskin" is a rare find: a literary thriller that is as lyrical as it is muscular.


Instead of choosing between writing a literary book about how a man can surrender himself to the dark sentience of an ancient forest and walk out more himself than he was before or a thriller about a man deeply maimed by violence who, although living an almost invisible life in the wilds, knows his past will catch up with him, James McLaughlinhas written a book that is both a literary achievement and a page-turning, viscerally realistic thriller.


Two things caught and kept my attention throughout this book: the development of Rice Moore, the man at the heart of the story and the sometimes total immersion into the ancient Appalachian forest. Either one would have been reason enough to read this book. Together they became compelling.


Rice Moore is a great creation. Recent acts of extreme violence against him and by him have left him emotionally scarred and subject to fugues states and hallucinations. A solitary man who no longer entirely trusts himself to play well with others, he seeks isolation, partly to hide from his enemies and partly to avoid people. Alone in the forest, feeling its pulse next to his own, his inability to let go of his territoriality or his instinct for violence, repeatedly draws him into conflict with the people around him.


Yet this isn't a one-man-triumphs-against-the-world sort of story. Moore is losing his mind. His fugue states, his obsession with protecting the black bears on the estate he is warden of and his personal ghosts, lead him down a path where he literally puts on another skin and enters a different kind of consciousness. James McLaughlin's ability to help me experience this altering of states as something real and raw was deeply impressive.


Even though "Bearskin" is as fast-paced and propulsive as a thriller needs to be, McLaughlin is able to incorporate the forest and its fauna and fauna as a deeply experienced part of the story. Ecology is more than a plot device or a scientific concept here, it is about understanding our place in the world and its rhythms.


In addition to these two strong themes, McLaughlin gives us an insight into the poaching of black bears, the vengeance of the Mexican drug cartels and the rules and rituals of outlaw motorcycle clubs and an up-close experience of violence that is hard to look away from.


I recommend the audiobook version of "Bearskin" as MacLeod Andrews' narration enhanced my experience of the book.


Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.


[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/441607044" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]


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