Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

witches-abroad

Synopsis from Amazon:

It seemed an easy job…After all, how difficult could it be to make sure that a servant girl doesn’t marry a prince?

But for the witches Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick, travelling to the distant city of Genua, things are never that simple…

Servant girls have to marry the prince. That’s what life is all about. You can’t fight a Happy Ending.

At least – up until now…

Book 12 of the Discworld series sees a return of Granny Weatherwax. This time, with her partners, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick, they go travelling. Their aim: to stop a servant girl from marrying a prince. Based around fairy tales, namely The Wizard of Oz and Cinderella, the three witches travel abroad to fight mirror magic and happy endings.

As usual, Pratchett has delivered a treat. I love the Discworld books. None of them have disappointed me. Pratchett writes in a way that draws you in; he is engaging and funny; and when reading, although these books are fantasy, you have no trouble believing them. His descriptions are near perfect, and you find yourself there in the Disworld alongside the characters. I really enjoy how Terry Pratchett takes a story or a concept, so in this book it was fairy tales, and reinvents them and makes them his own. He is a very talented writer.

Along with his other books, Pratchett has a feast of characters who you just enjoy reading. The witches are so funny. Every book that features them is funny. Granny Weatherwax is legendary. She is witty, intelligent, and never backs down. My favourite bit was when she tried to dance. As for Nanny Ogg – she is a genius creation. Her post cards, and her translations, along with the drinking was very funny. Of course, Death features in this book too. And of course, he was not a let down. He is a very funny character.

I enjoyed this novel. It is full of fantasy, adventure, and a few family secrets. This book wasn’t a let down.

8/10

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Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris

grave-sight

Synopsis from Amazon:

Harper Connelly had a lucky escape when she was hit by lightning: she didn’t die. But sometimes she wishes she had died, because the lightning strike left her with an unusual talent: she can find dead people – and that’s not always comfortable. Everyone wants to know how she does it: it’s a little like hearing a bee droning inside her head, or maybe the pop of a Geiger counter, a persistent, irregular noise that increases in strength as she gets closer. It’s almost electric: a buzzing all through her body, and the fresher the corpse, the more intense the buzz. Harper and her brother Tolliver make their living from finding the dead, for desperate parents, worried friends . . . and police departments who have nowhere else to look. They may not believe in her abilities, but sometimes the proof is just too much for even the most sceptical of police chiefs to deny. But it’s not always easy for someone like Harper, for the dead *want* to be found – and too often, finding the body doesn’t bring closure; it opens a whole new can of worms.

I really enjoyed this book. It is the first Harris book I have read and I was gripped. We are introduced to Harper Connelly and her step-brother Tolliver. Having been struck by lightning at the age of 15 Harper was left with a unique gift – she finds dead people. This talent takes her to Sarne to find the body of a missing teenager. When found however, the town goes nuts. To separate Tolliver and Harper, Tolliver is arrested and thrown in jail, and Harper has several attacks on her life. In the midst of this, she does some investigating work, and this small town reveals some dark secrets…

This is the first book in the Harper Connelly series, and if all the books are this good, we will be in luck! This is an exciting, engaging and gripping book. I really enjoyed how Harris wrote. Even though Harper’s talent is questionable, I found myself pulled into the story and believing what was written. I was trying to solve the mystery too.

I enjoyed reading all the characters and the setting. I chuckled at the fact Sarne had been written as the stereotypical hill-billy small-town, with in-breeding. That did make for a fun read! I thought the way Harper and Tolliver were written were great. I connected with both of them and liked how Harris wrote in their history so we understood them better.

I don’t have any complaints about this book – I loved it. This is a must-read.

10/10

Murder on the Brighton Express by Edward Marston

murder-on-the-brighton-express

Synopsis from Amazon:

October 1854. As an autumnal evening draws to a close, crowds of passengers rush onto the soon to depart London to Brighton Express. A man watches from shadows nearby, grimly satisfied when the train pulls out of the station…Chaos, fatalities and unbelievable destruction are the scene soon after when the train derails on the last leg of its journey. What led to such devastation, and could it simply be a case of driver error? Detective Inspector Colbeck, dubbed the ‘railway detective’ thinks not. But digging deep to discover the target of the accident takes time, something Colbeck doesn’t have as the killer prepares to strike again.

This is the first Marston book I have read, and I really enjoyed it. Set in 1854, we meet the Railway Detective, Inspector Robert Colbeck. When the Brighton Express collides with a goods train, Colbeck has his work cut out for him. With his partner, Leeming, they have to find the man who instigated the crash, and all the people connected with this horrific incident. There are many lines of enquiry that Colbeck pursues. The adventure and excitement range from the first page to the last, with many suspects being chased, several attempted murders and obstacles to overcome such as unsupportive railway investigators.

I wasn’t excited to read this book, however, I quickly changed my mind. I feared it would be all about trains, but it wasn’t. Although the starting point is the train crash, the investigations take the reader away from the railways and into the heart of Brighton and London. Marston’s writing was engaging, gripping and enthralling. I found myself not wanting to put the book down. It was an easy read, but very enjoyable. Even people who are not fans of the crime genre will enjoy this book. I was guessing right up to the end. I did have my suspicions that were confirmed but with several leads the outcome was not clear.

I think the way Marston portrayed the characters. I was convinced by all of them. My favourite was Tallis, the scary superintendant. He made me laugh in several places. I was also impressed by the historical accuracy. At all times you were in Victorian England, which I appreciated.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. I can’t find any faults. A fast, enjoyable read, with several deaths, several leads and some great story telling.

10/10

Walking With God by Ginni Otto

Synopsis from back cover:

What if you could walk with Jesus, talk to Peter and witness the miracles that Christ performed over two thousand years ago? In “Walking with God” by Ginni Otto, that is exactly what young Rachel Rosenfold does. A heated argument with her father sends Rachel racing out into the street. A squeal of brakes, her mother’s horrified scream, and blinding headlights converge to begin a journey that finds Rachel literally “Walking with God” during the time of Christ’s ministry here on earth. The Gospels come alive as Rachel learns the power of grace, the miracles of faith, and the limitless love of out Lord. Readers of all ages will enjoy making this spiritual journey with Rachel and they, too, will find themselves “Walking with God”.

Wow, what a book. I didn’t quite know what to expect from Otto, but I really enjoyed this book. Meet Rachel, a Jewish girl who had a life-changing experience at university – she became a Christian and believed Jesus is the Messiah. She tries to explain this to her father, Abraham, who is a Rabbi, but all they do is fight. Abraham banishes her from the home, so she flees, right into the path of a car. When she wakes, she is in a field, two thousand years ago, right where Jesus is about to perform his first miracle. There she joins the group of followers who travel with Jesus, and stays with him all through his three-year ministry, learning from him and making friends with the disciples and the two Mary’s. Meanwhile, at home she is in a coma. Her mother Julia starts to ask the question, why did Rachel convert, and we see a friendship form between her and Rachel’s tutor Matthew. He becomes a close family friend as Julia, and Abraham study all the prophecies too see how Jesus fulfilled them. This book is the first in a series, where we are set to see Rachel fight for Jesus in the 21st century.

I really enjoyed this book. It is not a long book, only 208 pages, but I was gripped from the start. There is a lot of Biblical teaching, with the Gospel message explained throughout the story, and the events recorded in them replayed in this book. I also enjoyed how Otto explored what the Jews believe, and how she used the Bible to explain how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies. That is a very difficult topic and extremely brave, but I think she handled it perfectly.

There were a few bits of the story I wasn’t convinced about. Obviously the first is that no one is ever going to go back two thousand years, but that didn’t affect the story – that was what drew you in. I wasn’t convinced by the coma story, as she wasn’t really in a coma, just a deep sleep, but for three years. The other thing I was unsure about was some of the theology in the book. That said, the majority of it I agree with and this is only a minor point. I am sure others will not have the same disagreements as me.

I liked how Otto wrote. Like I said, I was hooked. I was drawn into the story. Even though it jumps about in time a bit, I was not confused, I actually liked that extra element. She was engaging and entertaining. I liked all the characters and connected with them all.

What I would say is, this is Christian fiction. If you don’t like being “preached at” or reading about the Christian faith, this book is not for you. However, I thought this was a good little book and would recommend it for both believers and those who don’t believe.

8/10

Shopaholic Ties the Knot by Sophie Kinsella

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Synopsis from Amazon:

Rebecca Bloomwood has the dream job. She’s a personal shopper, so is able to spend other people’s money all day instead of her own. And she gets paid for doing it. The perfect job, the perfect man – gorgeous Luke Brandon – and now…the perfect wedding. Yes, Luke has proposed and wedding bells are in sight. No excuses are needed to start the shopping trip of all time. And Becky’s parents are just assuming that the wedding will be at home – a marquee in the garden and Becky in her mum’s wedding dress, which she’s been saving specially for the occasion. But Luke’s mother has very different ideas – a huge affair in New York in a forest glade setting – or perhaps a Venetian Ball, or a fin de siecle extravagance? Now Becky’s getting confused. She doesn’t want to say ‘no’ to anyone. The plans are going ahead, and soon it will be too late to turn back – from either wedding…

This is the third book in the Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella. To be honest, this has been my least favourite so far. This book takes us through Becky’s struggles as she tries to decide where to get married, and how to get out of one of the already arranged weddings. We watch as Michael is taken ill and Luke has a mid-life crisis and Suze gets married and has a baby, and we see Becky getting wound tighter and tighter into her web of lies and confusion.

Although the other books are unrealistic and predictable, this book was the worst for that. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I have the others in the series. I found myself getting annoyed with Becky. In all the books she has been manipulative, but in the other stories I have felt for her, in this one I didn’t. I was intrigued, and finished the book, but wasn’t really drawn in and several times considered stopping.

There were people I did enjoy reading, such as Laurel, Michael and Suze. They made good reading – they were solid and honest, and many times Laurel and her grudges made me laugh. As always, Suze is a lovely friend and Michael is understanding and reliable. They make for enjoyable reading.

Overall, I wasn’t impressed by this book, I could take it or leave it. I really enjoyed Kinsella’s other works, but this to me was a let down.

6/10

My Best Friend’s Girl by Dorothy Koomson

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Synopsis from Amazon:

What would you do for the friend who broke your heart? Best friends Kamryn Matika and Adele Brannon thought nothing could come between them – until Adele did the unthinkable and slept with Kamryn’s fiance, Nate. Worse still, she got pregnant and had his child. When Kamryn discovered the truth about their betrayal she vowed never to see any of them again. Two years later, Kamryn receives a letter from Adele asking her to visit her in hospital. Adele is dying and begs Kamryn to adopt her daughter, Tegan. With a great job and a hectic social life, the last thing Kamryn needs is a five year old to disrupt things. Especially not one who reminds her of Nate. But with no one else to take care of Tegan and Adele fading fast, does she have any other choice? So begins a difficult journey that leads Kamryn towards forgiveness, love, responsibility and, ultimately, a better understanding of herself.

Meet Ryn, an independent woman, who works long hours and parties hard. Living in Leeds, she tries to distance herself from her past and the life she could have had. Two years before she discovered her best friend Adele and her fiance Nate slept together – the result being Adele’s child Tegan. Swearing to never see or speak to either again, Ryn is shocked when she discovers a birthday card from Adele telling her she is dying. After rushing to London, she realises what Adele’s dying wish is – that Kamryn adopts Tegan. This completely changes her life. She tracks down Tegan at Adele’s father’s house, in a shocking state, and leaves with her. When Adele dies, Ryn faces a long struggle alone. She battles with adjusting her life, getting Tegan to trust her, grief, love, Nate and the issue of adoption.

This is the first Dorothy Koomson book I have read and I really enjoyed it. I was drawn in emotionally and didn’t want to put the book down. What Ryn did deserves a medal – she took in Tegan, having not seen her for two years, even though she reminded her of why she left London and why she hurt so much. I loved Tegan, what a beautiful little girl. My heart ached when we first met her and saw the abuse she had suffered, and when she cried for her Mum, yet she was a bubbly and warm girl who you couldn’t help but fall in love with.

There are so many issues in this book, and Koomson dealt with them all wonderfully. Death, child abuse, adoption, race and love. I didn’t feel let down by the way she wrote these issues, nor how the story turned out. I think Koomson did a superb job.

This is a heart-warming and touching book. I could have cried throughout the whole book. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

9/10

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis

the-voyage-of-the-dawn-treader

Synopsis from Amazon:

Book five in the Chronicles of Narnia sees the intrepid Edmund and Lucy returning to Narnia–with their beastly cousin Eustace in tow–on the ship The Dawn Treader where their old friend Prince Caspian is searching for lost friends of his father’s. As the children take to the Eastern Seas in their hunt for the friends they find themselves embroiled in a dangerous adventure that leads them once again into the arms of Aslan the lion.

This is the fifth book in the reading order of The Chronicles of Narnia. In this book we only see two of the childern – Edmund and Lucy, as they go on their final journey through Narnia. The adventure starts in their Aunty’s house in Cambridge, in a room with a picture of a boat hanging up. On careful examination they discover the boat is Narnian, and all of a sudden they are in the sea, and not alone, they have their hideous cousin Eustace with them! They are rescued by Caspian and set sail in search of seven friends of Caspian’s father, who had been out-lawed by his evil uncle. Their adventures lead them to pirates, dragons, sea people and of course, Aslan. They travel to the end of the world, and see all sorts of magic, goodness and evil.

I enjoyed this book. Not my favourite of the series but still enjoyable. This book is full of fantasy, with the dragons and sea creatures, and all sorts of other magical beings. It was a good book, I had fun reading through it.

I was a bit disappointed it was only Edmund and Lucy this time, but I was aware that would be the case. I liked having Caspian in the book though, for a bit more consistency. We only really get fleeting glances at Aslan, but he is always there to teach them a lesson and help them out. I didn’t really have a favourite character this time round.

Overall, I found this book to be enjoyable like the others but not the best. I think both adults and children will like this story. It was easy to read and had its fair share of adventure and fantasy.

7/10