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Tag: novels

A Santa Fe Xmas


This was a wonderful book to read over Christmas.

The story follows Evie And Alex. Evie bumps into Alex on the way to the family restaurant she runs and she ends up hiring him as a bartender. Things heat up between them and we learn some juicy family secrets.

Also included in this book are some family recipes from the author. I love this addition as it adds a personal touch. 

This is a really sweet story about the importance of family in times of grief. It also has some adorable romantic moments between Evie and Alex.

I found the writing very easy to read. It was simplistic, but flowed well and the style fitted nicely in the spirit of a holiday read. 

Overall, I definitely recommend A Santa Fe Xmas. It’s a quick read and a lot of fun. 

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Cosmogony (A romantic drama)


Cosmogony follows an interracial newly-engaged couple as they uncover the secrets of their new home, the conservative small town, Goldwater, California.

The novel is a quick, easy and engaging read. The writing is solid, although at times it can overuse the word, “and.”

The characters feel authentic and the relationship between Isaac and Ruth is romantic and satisfying. Perfect for the romance genre.   

This book packs a lot into 117 pages. There’s drama, shoot-outs, bank-robberies, government secrets, social justice, and romance. In other words, everything exciting is jammed into this short novel. However, the storyline never feels too busy, which can be a potential problem when reading complex plotlines.  

What I love most about this book is the empathy. Although it’s easy to preach on sensitive topics, such as racism and sexism, this book still manages to maintain a non-judgemental tone and trusts the story to open the discussion with the reader.

Overall, Cosmogony is definitely worth the read.

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The Dark Chorus


Before I begin this review of the horror novel, The Dark Chorus by Ashley Meggitt, I would like to give some trigger warnings for this book. There are graphic scenes of psychosis, and psychiatric patients being mistreated in a mental health facility. For readers who are sensitive to these kinds of topics, I wouldn’t recommend this book.

The Dark Chorus follows a boy without a name who can see and collect lost souls from the Dark Chorus, which is where the dead who are unable to move on to the afterlife remain – a limbo if you like. His mother is one of these lost souls and he attempts to save her from limbo by trapping her inside another woman, only unintentionally to drive that woman mad. He then kills the woman to get his mother’s soul back, but the murder lands him in an asylum for the criminally insane. The boy must find another way to save his mum’s soul, but that means escaping the asylum.

What I liked about this book was the writing. The story was scary in the right places, and you could feel the weather vividly, which is key for a good horror book. I also appreciated the themes regarding the mistreatment of and lack of empathy shown to some of the most vulnerable people, the mentally ill, even though I question the execution, which leads me to my next point.

I struggled to connect with the characters.

It is possibly because I am not the right audience. I have suffered with mental illness and feel the representation of conditions I am familiar with was not always accurate. So, I would ask you to keep that in mind before you read on.

The Psychiatrist, Dr Eve Rhodes, who is assigned the unnamed boy and assists the police with the murder investigation, is supposed to be a sympathetic character. However, several of her assessments of psychotic patients can be uncomfortable to read. For example, she explains how she must protect herself from violent patients, and there are no patients that we meet that aren’t violent. However, mentally ill patients, particularly psychotic ones, are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators. I would let this trope slide if the main character, who isn’t violent and is very well-behaved, was also mentally ill, but he isn’t. He’s psychic (rather than psychotic) and his experiences and beliefs are real. 

What also makes this read disturbing is that Makka, the boy’s friend and another patient of Dr Eve Rhodes, is an extremely violent psychotic, further perpetrating the idea that the mentally ill are violent. I’m not saying that there can’t be violent mentally ill characters in books, but to be an accurate representation they need to be mixed with some mellow mentally ill characters too, especially in a time where people still believe all psychotics are violent.

It is worth noting, though, that Makka is sympathetically drawn. 

The uniform representation of the psychiatric patients is a shame because otherwise this is a fascinating horror story addressing deep philosophical questions and with a tight plot. I feel down the road as we begin to build a repertoire of positive representation of the mentally ill, I might be able to enjoy this book more. But as it stands, it was a difficult read.

I still recommend it to fans of the horror genre. The Dark Chorus is a beautifully written book. But I would shy away from this if you know someone who has or if you have experienced a psychiatric illness.

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Chimera’s Fire (Project Chimera #1)


I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

It’s difficult to put this book into words.

At times I was totally immersed – it was fast-paced and entertaining – then, a spelling error, or a grammar error would knock me out of the hypnosis. It was a shame, because otherwise the book flowed well. There wasn’t a sentence that felt out of place – save for the odd sleezy line from Clark (I’ll get to him later). 

It’s a superhero whodunnit novella about three supernatural young adults who belong to a secret project called Project Chimera. The three return from a holiday to discover their boss and father-figure, Director Hunter, murdered and they’re the leading suspects. Together, the three young superspies must prove their innocence.

The protagonist, River Murphy, is a shapeshifter. I shamefully mistook him for a female for the first three quarters of the novella. Even when it was stated, quite boldly even, that he could only shapeshift into other men, my mind automatically dismissed the hint. It’s the way he describes himself… I can’t quite put my finger on why… but even now that I know he’s a he, I still picture a she. I’d be more convinced if he was a they.  

I also found something else puzzling about River. He never mentioned his parents. All we know of his backstory is that he was recruited at 17. Were his parents okay with that? Do they even know where he is? Or was he simply born by stalk? I’m curious because whatever the answer is changes the way we, the reader, would view Director Hunter’s decision to recruit him and his friends. 

River’s personality is a fascinating one. He’s a jokester – that is evident in his “literal” and funny impressions of his boss Director Hunter. He also likes to fool around with his friend, Clark. He has a quieter side too. He’s patient, observant and a strategist. It’s an interesting mix of traits that I haven’t seen very often in literature. In that sense, and it is the most important aspect of a character, he is well drawn. 

I can’t say the same for the other two heroes.

Verity – shy but hides it well thanks to years of training – has the power of invisibility. Two things I learnt about her; she fancies River, and she cannot control her temper (No spoilers!). There’s a missed opportunity here. It would be great if the reader could gain insight into how she overcame her shyness. It’s a fantastic idea to have a character who conquers their social anxiety, and I wish we became acquainted with Verity through her self-discovery. 

As for Clarke (the Truthsayer) … (oh boy). Disclaimer: Some of you are going to love him; some of you (me) are going to send his ass to a women’s group with a silver bullet in his butt (it prevents their magic from working). There he’ll be forced to earn a certificate in respecting women. For the duration of the book, he’s treating this perilous mission like a serial tinder date. I mean, I’m impressed by his ability to multitask (investigating a serious crime and dating), but come on, Clarke. You solve crimes with your head not with your… nevermind.

Onto the antagonist, I had him pinned three chapters in, so wasn’t surprised by the reveal. However, since finished the story, I realise it isn’t about who he is, but rather who he is working for. And with that, I applaud the author for hoodwinking me. It’s not a typical supernatural whodunnit… with the exception of maybe Supernatural!

I do have a problem with the book’s tone, nonetheless. It appears to dance between middle-grade and YA. One minute its style is closer to a Scooby-doo, then next minute it’s a more sophisticated X-men: First Class. I had to check Google to confirm it is indeed a YA. With that in mind, it should have been harder for the three superspies to defeat the villain and maybe a page or two about how River feels about the loss of his father-figure and the discovery of the big evil intelligence organisation that’s after him and other supernaturals.

Overall, this is a well-crafted tale. There wasn’t a moment I felt lost or my attention wandered. It’s succinct and entertaining and who knows? Clark might appeal to you.

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