Star Trek Discovery: The Way to the Stars by Una McCormack (Review)

Star Trek Discovery: The Way to the Stars by Una McCormack

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About the author

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Una McCormack is the author of seven previous Star Trek novels and four Doctor Who novels. She has also written numerous short stories and audio dramas. She lives in Cambridge, England, with her partner of many years and their daughter.

Blurb

Despite being an inexperienced Starfleet cadet, Sylvia Tilly became essential to the U.S.S. Discovery finding its way back home from the Mirror Universe. But how did she find that courage? From where did she get that steel? Who nurtured that spark of brilliance.

It’s not easy being sixteen, especially when everyone expects the best from Tilly. It’s even harder when her mother and father are Federation luminaries pressing her to attend one the best schools that the Federation has to offer. Tilly desires to achieve great things-even though she hasn’t quite worked out how to do that or what it is she wants to do. But this year, everything will change for Tilly, as she is about to embark upon the adventure of a lifetime- an adventure that will take her ever closer to the stars…

Review

This is the fourth Star Trek Discovery book I have read and another that I loved. I love how the books tie in so brilliantly with the TV series and give you such excellent back stories. I have preordered the next one and I can not wait for it to arrive on my door mat!

I found this a wonderful little story of a young girl becoming a young woman and most importantly finding out her true self and worth. Poor Tilly has spent her life trying to please her mother, father, grandmother and Quinn her grandmother’s husband. She has always tried to be her best at everything but it has not always made her happy. It was fascinating to learn how Tilly entered Starfleet and where she got her bravery and confidence.

Tilly is adorable if rather awkward and at one point dam right rude and in need of a good shake and somebody teaching her some manners but somehow I always found myself forgiving her.

I really did not like Tilly’s mother in this book and was pleased she did not feature greatly in the book, the woman was every child’s worst nightmare. I am surprised Tilly did not turn out very differently with that much pressure in her life. Tilly’s dad is quite different but really should have stuck up for Tilly better and been there more for her.

The other element I really liked was seeing Michael Burnham in a totally different light, although she did not really feature in the book the part she was in was lovely and showed her to be an amazing friend to have in your corner.

This book read very much like a YA book but that did not effect my opinion of it or my enjoyment. If it was not for the reason I needed sleep to go to work in the morning I would have not put it down. The only reason I did not give the book a full 5 Dragons and only 4 was because the ending was a little bit too perfect for my liking. This is a fantastic read and I highly recommend it to any Star Trek fan.

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The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins (Review)

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

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About the Author

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Sara Collins studied Law at the London School of Economics and worked as a lawyer for seventeen years. In 2014 she embarked upon the Creative Writing Masters at Cambridge University, where she won the 2015 Michael Holroyd Prize for Recreative Writing and was shortlisted for the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Prize for a book inspired by her love of Gothic Fiction. This turned into her first novel, The Confessions of Frannie Langton.

Blurb

1826, and all of London is in a frenzy. Crowds gather at the gates of the Old Bailey to watch as Frannie Langton, maid to Mr and Mrs Benham, goes on trial for their murder. The testimonies against her are damning – slave, whore, seductress. And they may be the truth. But they are not the whole truth.

For the first time Frannie must tell her story. It begins with a girl learning to read on a plantation in Jamaica, and it ends in a grand house in London, where a beautiful woman waits to be freed.

But through her fevered confessions, one burning question haunts Frannie Langton: could she have murdered the only person she ever loved?

Review

I must admit I was really excited to get this book and read it after seeing it on Facebook with rave reviews. I was also really pleased to get a signed copy from Waterstones. So it was moved to the top of my TBR pile. Sadly, I was very disappointed.

I found this book really annoying, when I first started it I was happily reading away, however it then began to get on my nerves and I was reluctant to keep going. I even stopped reading it for about a week but did return because I wanted to know what happened at the end.

I’m not entirely sure what it was that got on my nerves so much but I think it was the writing style. It just made me reluctant to pick the book up and read it. I also did not like the fact that the blurb pointed that there would be more of a trial being featured and sadly there was hardly any of the trial in the story, it just felt like an afterthought added at the end.

This book includes many themes, slavery, drug abuse, abuse, depression and much more and I think overall there are too many themes covered and it makes the story murky. I also found that certain elements of the story were highly predictable and that made it rather dull to read at times.

Overall, I felt no sympathy for the characters especially Frannie and some of them really got on my nerves, mainly Madame. I felt no real love for the story and will not be reading it again. Most people I am sure will enjoy this book but sadly it was just not my cup of tea. I have given this book 2 out of 5 Dragons.

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Too Many Coincidences by Jeffrey Archer (Review)

Too Many Coincidences by Jeffrey Archer

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About the Author

Jeffrey Archer was born in England in 1940, he is a former politician and author. Archer was a member of parliament from 1969-1974 but did not seek re-election due to a financial scandal that almost bankrupt him. Facing bankruptcy Archer began to write and in so doing revived his fortunes. Archer’s political career has been filled with scandal and in 2001 he was sent to jail for perjury and perverting the course of justice, in 2003 he was released. All his life experiences influence his writing and make for interesting reading.

Blurb

Too Many Coincidences is part of The Year of Short Stories and is one of a limited number of digital shorts released to celebrate the publication of Jeffrey Archer’s magnificent seventh short-story collection, Tell Tale.

Taken from To Cut a Long Story Short, Jeffrey Archer’s fourth collection of short stories, Too Many Coincidences is a gripping short read featuring Archer’s trademark wit and memorable characters.

For Ruth Anderson continuing her whirlwind love affair with Max Bennett is made infinitely easier with the death of her husband. However, the perfect marriage she envisaged starts to disintegrate as Max becomes increasingly inattentive and reluctant to spend time with his new wife. Now, looking back, Ruth might have to consider whether their affair began with one coincidence too many . . .

Review

I had a gap when teaching at school and thankfully had my Kindle so I decided to read another short story by Jeffrey Archer. All I can say is thankfully it was a short story otherwise I would have not continued.

This story really got on my nerves I simply could not believe the character of Ruth, she was so easily seduced it was unbelievable and so naive I found it hard to believe a woman could be so shallow. In fact I was rather offended that Archer could create such a woman, I had hoped he had a higher opinion of women.

Too many things in this story were unbelievable for me and I found it a difficult read. In my opinion not one of Archer’s best short stories but it will not put me off from reading the rest.

If you are a strong independent woman than really do not read this story as it will make you cringe. I sadly only gave this short story 1 Dragon out of 5 Dragons, I hope the next short story I read will be better. 

The Immortal City by Amy Kuivalainen (ARC Review)

The Immortal City by Amy Kuivalainen

About the author

Amy Kuivalainen is a Finnish-Australian writer that is obsessed with magical wardrobes, doors, auroras and burial mounds that might offer her a way into another realm. Until then, she will write about fairy tales, monsters, magic and mythology because that’s the next best thing. She is the author of The Firebird Fairytales Trilogy and The Blood Lake Chronicles series that mash up traditional tales and mythology in new and interesting ways.

Blurb

In the heart of Venice, a woman is sacrificed to a forgotten god, sparking a mystery lost for thousands of years.

Dr. Penelope Bryne is ridiculed by the academic community for her quest to find the remnants of Atlantis, but when an ancient and mysterious script is found at a murder site, she flies to Venice determined to help the police before the killer strikes again.

Penelope has spent her entire life trying to ignore the unexplainable and magical history of Atlantis, but when she meets the enigmatic Alexis Donato, everything she believes will be challenged. Little does she know, Alexis has spent the last three years doing his best to sabotage Penelope’s career so doesn’t learn the truth—Atlantis had seven magicians who survived, and who he has a duty to protect.

As Alexis draws her into the darkly, seductive world of magic and history, Penelope will have to use her heart as well as her head if she is to find the answers she seeks. 

With the new MOSE system due to come online, and Carnivale exploding around them, Penelope and Alexis will have to work together to stop the killer and prevent dark magic from pulling Venice into the sea.

Review

Thank you to NetGalley and BHC Press for granting me an advanced copy of this book for an honest review.

I was so happy that my request on NetGalley was granted for this book and a couple of days ago I started the book and to be honest finished it in a matter of hours, I simply could not put it down. Even though the book has not been published yet I am desperate for the sequel to be published.

I found the story to immediately hook me in and wanted to keep reading, the idea of a forgotten language and god suddenly arising after thousands of years was fascinating. I also thoroughly enjoyed the idea of magicians existing in the world for thousands of years hidden from mankind but one human has managed to get through to them and that person is Dr Penelope Bryne.

Penelope has always loved the mystery of Atlantis and even though people make fun of her she never gives up trying to find it and prove that it exists. I loved her drive and passion in the book, she is a massively strong character but also has her weaknesses but she knows how to control this using her yoga and meditation practises. I have never had much time for yoga but reading this book has made me want to try it again.

The setting of the book was beautifully chosen, what better place to choose than Venice? I would love to visit Venice because it always strikes me as a magical place especially when Carnivale is taking place. I hope in the next books Venice will feature heavily and we get to see more of the catacombs and hidden parts of Venice.

The seven magicians were brilliant as they all have their own individual characters which comes through their magic. So each magician engages their magic differently depending on how their magic is formed and created. They all reminded me of Greek Gods and by their descriptions they look like Greek Gods as well. Although they also seem like teenagers when left unattended by a responsible person for too long. All in all it seems like a fun place to be when they are all playing around.

I loved this book so much I have actually pre-ordered the hardback of the book to read again and hopefully one day will have a hardback sequel to add to the collection. I highly recommend this book to fantasy and history lovers. I give this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons and cannot wait to read it again.

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Under the Garden by Graham Greene (Review)

Under the Garden by Graham Greene

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About the author

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Graham Greene (1904-1991) wrote over twenty novels, including the masterpieces The Power and the Glory and The Heart of the Matter, as well as three volumes of autobiography, four travel books and essays, short stories, plays and numerous book and film reviews.

Blurb

Strange characters and mysterious threats will keep readers enraptured in this tale of a man who revisits his childhood home and recalls a youthful adventure “under the garden”.

Review

This short story first appeared in A Sense of Reality, I have read it as a Penguin 60 but it is available in the Graham Greene Twenty-One Stories.

So this is my first read of the Penguin 60’s that I bought whilst on holiday, at 87 pages long it did not take me long to read.

The story is based on Wilditch, a man who has health problems, returning to his childhood home and reliving an adventure he had in the garden as a child. The question is did it really happen or is it a young boy’s imagination running wild?

Wilditch is clearly a man of the world, he has been in WWII and has traveled almost everywhere but now he is back in England at his childhood home trying to decide what to do next with his health. Wilditch is clearly very different from his brother and was obviously different to his mother who sounds like a real awkward character who hates mistakes, fantasy and rejoices in cold hard facts, not an ideal mother when you are a child with a wild imagination. It is no wonder that Wilditch spent all his time as a child in the garden and when he was old enough left home as soon as he could.

Wilditch’s memory of his childhood adventure is amazingly vivd and made me wonder how a child could make up such an adventure and all the details of the conversations he had. The story left me wanting to know more and desperately wanting Wilditch to go back to the garden and check the story and although he does it still doesn’t answer all my questions.

I enjoyed the story but just felt dissatisfied at the end and wanting more which is the reason I only gave the story 3 out of 5 Dragons. A good little read and I think I will get the complete short stories and have a read of those as well.

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Star Sullivan by Maeve Binchy (Review)

Star Sullivan by Maeve Binchy

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About the author

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Maeve Binchy was born on the 28th May 1939 in County Dublin and was an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer and journalist. After a short spell as a teacher Binchy became a journalist with the Irish Times, for which she wrote feature articles and columns. Her first novel Light a Penny Candle, was published in 1982, and from then she has written more than a dozen novels and short stories. Several of her novels have been adapted for cinema and television. She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award at the British Book Awards in 1999. She sadly passed away in 2012 at the age of 73.

Blurb

Molly Sullivan said that the new baby was a little star. She was no trouble at all and she was always smiling… so she became known as Star.

Star Sullivan just wanted everyone to be happy- her father to stop gambling, her mother not to work so hard, her brother to stay out of trouble, her sister to stop worrying about every little thing she ate. Then Laddy moved in next door – and everything began to change, until Star was no longer the sweet, thoughtful girl everyone loved and no one worried about…

Review

I’ve never read a book by Maeve Binchy and when I saw this in the book pile at church I thought I would give it a try as it was only a quick read of 106 pages. I must admit I read it in one sitting but shouldn’t have started it so late at night because I ended up going to bed at 1am. Not good when you have work in the morning.

I really enjoyed Binchy’s style of writing and I will definitely read more of her books. I liked how real life the story was and how well it all flowed. I also appreciated how Binchy fit a good story into such a short space without the story suffering.

Star, the main character of the book, in my opinion has been let down massively by her family. She is a beautifully kind soul who worries about everyone, she worries so much that she doesn’t notice or care about her own wellbeing. She is very naive and her parents and older siblings do not try to help, teach or really notice the poor girl. Everyone is wrapped up in their own lives and worries that they do not nice Star worrying about everyone else and not growing up herself.

The other element I do not understand in this book is why they turn on her? When I read the blurb I thought it was going to be a typical tale of good girl goes bad because of bad friends etc. However that is not the case, Star still remains her good natured self just trying to help her family and friends.

I also did not understand Laddy at all especially at the end when he turned on Star’s family. The whole thing was rather a mystery to me as was Kenny’s sudden turn of character.

Overall I enjoyed the book and was pleased with the ending, although I was a little confused in places, may be the confusion is just me though. I think Star was very let down by her family and friends but thankfully rose above all this and turned into a mature, hard working adult, who didn’t worry so much about others. I gave this story 3 out 5 Dragons and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a quick little read.

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The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (Review)

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

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About the author

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Elly Griffiths was born in London and began her career in publishing, she then turned to writing full time. In 2016 she won the CWA Dagger in the Library for her work. Griffiths lives in Brighton with her family and the cat Gus.

Blurb

A child’s bones are discovered near the site of a pre-historic henge on the north Norfolk coast, and the police ask local forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway to date them. Are these the remains of a local girl who disappeared ten years ago?

DCI Harry Nelson refuses to give up the hunt for this missing child. Ever since she vanished, someone has been sending him bizarre anonymous notes about ritual sacrifice, quoting Shakespeare and the Bible. He knows Ruth’s instincts and experience can help him finally put this case to rest.

Then a second child goes missing, and Ruth finds herself in danger from a killer who knows she’s getting ever closer to the truth…

Review

A couple of months ago I read the latest Dr Ruth Galloway book The Stone Circle and absolutely loved it. Since then I was determined to read all of the series and have been buying the books when visiting Waterstones stores. So a few days ago I began the first novel in the series which actually links in with The Stone Circle.

I just love the character of Ruth, she is an academic who doesn’t seem to care about what people’s opinions of her are. It is clear her weight is an issue though as she thinks about it a lot in this book but doesn’t really do anything about it. She is a woman who just seems to have reached a certain age and has decided she is happy in her own skin and circumstances. She lives in a tiny remote cottage in the middle of nowhere but she loves it and she definitely loves her own company.

Harry is a tough DCI who takes no nonsense and has seen a lot in his job. He has developed a hard shell that takes a lot to break but certain cases like child abductions do get through and cause him a lot of pain. He comes across as an arrogant and grumpy cop but he has a heart and a caring side, which comes across as the story goes on.

I loved how this story has the archaeology in it as well, I found it so fascinating how Ruth excavated the bones and recorded everything down. I loved the references in the mysterious letters and how Ruth methodically works out where they all come from. Ruth is methodical in everything she does and gets excellent results. Harry does not come across as methodical, more run from one clue to another and try and figure it out as he goes along. Even though he says to Ruth he likes lists, he doesn’t come across as a list person to me, but maybe that is just how I am interpreting him.

The ending of the book was a massive surprise to me as I did not see the end result at all and that made me love the book even more. I do have a habit of predicting the end of crime novels but with this book I thought I knew the ending but was very wrong. The other element I loved was that I started to meet Harry’s team and hope in the following books I learn more of the team members as I find them very intriguing.

The other character I absolutely loved was Cathbad, he seems surreal to me and rather amusing with his druid ways. The main thing that comes across though is that he is happy, unbelievably happy and completely at one with himself and nature. The druid way of life obviously has some benefits.

Overall I loved this book and would happily recommend it to anybody who will listen to me. I will be lending my copy to my dad as he loves a good crime novel. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons and I can not wait to start reading the next one in the series. I am officially hooked to the Dr Ruth Galloway Mystery series.

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