Book reviews

Reviews of books I've read - posted on Amazon & Smashwords


Circle City Blues - Susan Wells Bennett

I really enjoyed this book. It was a happy read. I had a feeling I was going to like it when I laughed about three times on the first page and I wasn't disappointed. It is nicely written and travels at a good pace. The people in it are fun and interesting. Mac is a solid central character and you are interested in what happens to him. I couldn't help thinking that some of the other characters could have their own spin-off books too, not mentioning any names! This is a good and funny book to escape into. Perfect for a long, boring train journey as you won't be putting it down. And the ending doesn't disappoint :)

Mementos of Mai - Helmy Kusuma

To me, this was part travel log, part food review and part nostalgic glance back over the life of a young man making decisions on life. The book took me to another place, filled with new sounds, a different language (I liked the touch of a dictionary at the back), new smells, different traditions, new foods and various scenery. The pace of the book is quite leisurely and the main character drifts along, remembering his experiences and trying to make sense of everything that is happening around him. On his search for his ‘true love’, he discovers many things about himself, his values and what he really wants.

Gary Hoover - Land of Nod, The Artifact

This is a fun, easy read. The pace is fast. The plot skims along happily and takes the reader with it on a crazy ride. I like books that take you to different worlds filled with imagined things – my fave books of childhood were all of that type – so I really enjoyed this one. I wanted more at the end, so the ‘to be continued’ note was good for me! I think readers of various ages are going to like this book. The main characters are likeable and well drawn. The plot is interesting. There’s suspense, thrills and comic bits too.  This one is a page turner. I don’t want to give anything away, but my fave character is the biggest one... you’ll know when you read. Come on book 2!

The Sable City (The Norothian Cycle) - M Edward McNally

I knew I was going to like this book as soon as I read the first page and the funny image I gained in my head of Block. The author has taken great pains to create the world inside his book, which is rich in description as he paints his canvas very fully, so you can visualise the landscape and literally taste the coffee. The characters are individually drawn, have their own issues, sense and ethics, and they develop as the book unfolds. The plot is interesting  and there are enough threads to keep you guessing. There is a broad range of personalities and creatures here - from humans to monsters and mages to dragons and demons.

The first quarter of the book is slower, building up the setting and background, and getting to know the various characters. It gives the novel an epic feel. Readers who like novels that plunge into the action immediately could find themselves a little impatient with the slow beginning and background building, but they should stick with it - when the action gets going it really gets going. They are in for a treat. The momentum builds up at the end of the  first quarter and by the halfway point it's rocketing - it really gets going, pulling the characters and plot threads together. The fight scenes are pretty awesome, and there is also a lot of humour and some comic characters.

It was good to read a book too with such strong female characters as Tilda and Nesha-Tari.
A swashbuckling delight, I would thoroughly recommend this book as a cracking read. Brilliant. If the second book is half as good as the first then this promises to be a thrilling and fascinating series. I've downloaded the second one already!

Remember... in your Dreams - Alex Canton-Dutari

I liked the originality of this book. The framework is of a man taking his grandson on a trip back through history and his memories by astral travel. The book has a spiritual edge to it, filled with crystal balls and mythical wanderings. There are many humorous stories about the  child’s grandmother, who is fun, talented, quite wild, tenacious and independent. The narrative switches between the first and third person; sometimes in sentences that bump each other, but I found this interesting and novel. There are some fascinating insights into the politics of Panama and a scene set on Black Friday. 

Something that stuck in my mind was when the narrator thought it a pity that children lose their glow as adults; that this glow is a gift. The silver thread linking the astral travellers made me think of the delicate, but strong thread connecting family members. It shimmers brightly with the memories of the grandfather narrator. He writes that one of his favourite animals is the elephant for, as they say, elephants never forget.

Zits ‘n’ Bits - Shaun Allan

This book is a fun collection of poems for kids. And I guess for adults too because I found them really funny. Unless that means I’m a big kid! Reading them, I was suddenly in primary school again, laughing at mentions of snot and other silly things. These rhymes brightened my journey home after a long day at work. I was giggling away. I reckon this book will be loved by children and adults with a kiddie sense of humour. My faves include The Bedroom (how true!), Fartz, Shambles, Five and Gobbling Goblin. If you “don’t want to worry about politics and war”, I’d recommend picking this up for a happy read.

Angelo’s Journey - Leland Dirks

I really enjoyed reading this book. It has a wonderful beginning. I liked the contrast between the two narrators at the start. The story is set up very well. You plunge straight into it. You’re taken on a ride by this black and white dog, and you want to know what happens. It’s an easy read and well edited. There are some interesting inclusions in the book, which I won’t give away, but I thought them innovative. Nice chapter headings. Well formatted. 

There’s an interesting conversation near the start about the nature of love in its many different forms, and its transience. Is it worth having if it doesn’t last? The book is divided into small stories, told from the view of each character that our four-legged adventurer encounters. All are interesting. All of the voices are individual. And there is the  framework of the ‘owner’ missing his dog and wondering where he is, and if he’ll ever find him again. Anyone picking up this book is in for a treat. Wagging tails all round.

Her Peaceful Sleep - Alex Canton-Dutari

This is a sad and touching story with a hint of mystery within it. Themes of love, loss, hope, clarity, distance, realisation, futility, life, family, customs, familiarity, loneliness, ageing, memories and the fragility of things. But also hope. I thought the mood of the book very peaceful as if there is a silent veil over everything and the narrative is moving in a kind of sleepwalk, drifting along, remembering. It seems to echo the fragility of life within the story. There is a simplicity to the framework, but deceptively simple as something foxed me until everything made total sense in the last sentence. That made the story more interesting for me and made me rethink. There are some painful times recorded here and touching ideas, such as how in the midst of confusion we try to carry on as normal with small things that keep us creatures of habit, but also keep us grounded and secure. A thoughtful read.

Upgrade - Stephen Hise

I enjoyed reading this book. It's well-edited and flows along really smoothly. It's also fun. The idea is novel and you dive into the story pretty swiftly. Here you have Mr Average Geeky Guy who would love to be Brad Pitt. The idea is: what would you wish for? And if you get your wish will it make you happy? Surrounded by what you wish for, what option would you choose? Imagine a box of chocolates, all tantalising and yummy... this book is like that. 

The female characters are all different and well developed (some more than others!!). Everyone is an individual - some have agendas, some don't. Brent is a curious character. Watching him deal with his new-found confidence is cool. What would you do in his position? Would you take advantage? Would you be nice? Would you stay the same? I also loved the ending. A well-written, fun, interesting and original read. I recommend it. 

Gerald and the Wee People - Greta Burroughs

This book opens with Gerald trying to persuade his sceptical best buddy, Vernon, to go down to the woods to help the Wee People who he has been seeing in visions since they were at school. Like all good adventures, we have a character who believes & a character who disbelieves... even what he’s seeing. This is a book that teens & adults will enjoy, I think. It’s good for young readers and there is enough going on to keep adults interested. I like fantasy books where the author builds a new world for you to exist in for a while. This is an enjoyable read and there are a variety of characters here. There’s also some morals and lessons to be learnt. Some characters grow, others... The interaction is good and the conversations natural. One of my favourites is the girl who is quite hot stuff – you’ll have to read to find out who I mean. I like the ending – everything is tied up at the end, but there is a strand or two that can be picked up in book two, and I look forward to reading it. 

The House on the Moor - Shaun Allan

“It was a simple job. Check out the house, see who owned it, knock it down.”
So begins the book, but the job of the estate agent is not as easy as it sounds. Cue a mysterious house in the woods, away from everywhere, seeming to stand apart from time. The estate agent enters, but things will never be the same again. What lurks inside? You’ll have to buy the book to find out. The story is well written and edited, with nice details. It keeps you wondering what is going on and what is going to happen next. There is much suspense, eeriness and creepiness. The flashbacks of the man’s life keep you rooted in reality and allow you to learn about him, while he wonders if he has lost reality as he tries to unravel the mysteries within the house. Will keep you guessing.

Doodling - Jonathan Gould

I discovered this book when I was reading an interview with Jonathan Gould and I thought it sounded an interesting read, so I bought it. Every work day, I fall out of bed a bit dazed, shower, stumble through the morning like a zombie on a bad day, and then step on the Tube to work. Cue people in a hurry, noise, bustle, pushing, complaining, stepping on feet, bags in the bum, people's armpits stuck in your face. Never joyous, the opening of Doodling struck a chord: when the world got too busy, Neville Lansdowne just wanted to step off! I know the feeling! I loved reading this book. I love quirky and it's definitely that. It's also full of interesting characters, never predictable and reads like it's dreaming a dream of purple elephants and jelly sandwiches. I recommend this book to anyone who ever wanted to just step off... and those looking for a fun, trippy, eventful read on the way to work. Now I fancy a nice crispy piece of buttered toast...  

Flidderbugs - Jonathan Gould

This well-written, enjoyable book could either be read on the surface as a cute children’s story or a cheeky satire for adults. Either a tale of two tribes of beetles who just can't agree or a reflection of modern-day politics and power struggles, complete with some wheeling and dealing. Our hero, Kriffle, lives in the Krephiloff Tree and his father, Proggle, is the leader of the Triplifers. He has high hopes for his son in political debate in the aptly named Fleedenhall. The Triplifers live on one side of the tree. On the other live their long adversaries, the Quadrigons. The beliefs of the two are at loggerheads, poised on the question of how many points have the leaves on the tree. 

I don’t want to spoil the plot so I won't reveal any more, but I really loved this book - and the cover too! The ideas behind the cute surface story are brilliant. It’s quirky, fun and interesting, full of cool characterisation and detail. The bug characters are great. I was rooting for Kriffle as he went on his search for the truth, meeting many other bugs along the way, including the daunting Fargeeta of the Quadrigons. At the end I was left wondering what happened next to Kriffle as he was a pretty neat little beetle hero. I’m not sure that I want to try the Klummerfly broth though! 

Wheezer and the Painted Frog - Kitty Sutton

This was one of my favourite books of 2011. When I neared the end, I didn’t want it to finish. The book opens with a dog running – who is he, where is he running to, where is he running from? From the beginning I was hooked. The background to the story is the plight of the Cherokee and their fight for rights, respect, justice and then pure survival. The story takes place after the Trail of Tears and the Long Walk. Although the book is fictional, you feel like history is flowing all around, with descriptions of the plight of the peoples of the Indian Territory. It also made me want to research this important part of history more. 

Our main characters – Sasa, Wheezer and Jackson – are well drawn, likeable, individual and interesting. The plot is good and well designed. There is a mystery at the heart of the book that keeps the reader wondering, along with tragedy – always in the background is the waste of life that marked this chapter of history. 

The reader follows the journey of Sasa, the last of her family, through loss and hope, and her search for justice, carried forward by her inner strength and her new companion. Her life entwines with the paths of others in the book, and there are many twists and turns. Characters come to life and struggle with their own problems, passions and ambitions. I found this book a joy to read and I’m hoping that this isn’t the end of this story for Sasa, Wheezer, Jackson and friends.

Cats: Instruction for Use - How to Survive Being Owned by a Cat - Annarita Guarnieri

As someone who is obsessed with cats and fluffy animals in general, I picked up this book excitedly. As a child, our house was literally filled with animals and as an adult I've had four of my own cats. Once, years ago, two of them got pregnant at the same time at only five months old. The result was ten little furry lives charging around my home. At the time, Annarita's book would have come in handy. Although I think I'm a sort of expert now on cats, I learn't quite a few things that I didn't know, such as why some cats will follow you around everywhere, sitting on you at every opportunity, while others remain aloof, or the best age to take in a kitten or how to deal with a difficult animal. Oh no, I'm not telling you... you'll have to read... 

This book provides a handy and intelligent guide for anyone thinking of getting a kitten or who finds themselves adopted by a homeless cat. There are many stories within these pages, many examples, many tips, many episodes from Annarita's experiences of bringing up her four-pawed friends. Even things she views as mistakes are catalogued, along with the better way of doing them. Useful advice includes how to feed a kitten a pill - I hadn't thought of that solution. Fascinating stories include one in which she drove 100 miles to adopt a kitten that needed a home with some crazy results. The story of the cat and the windowsills had me giggling on the train. Many other anecdotes reminded me of situations in the past with my own cats. 

All in all, you get the impression that Annarita loves her role as mother to 34 kitties. This would seem a daunting task to most people, but she relishes it. This book is a real labour of love and represents the sum of her experience, which she enthusiastically passes on. You also get the impression that you're listening to her in person as she brings all of these cats and their individual personalities to life on the page. Purrfect reading.

Patchwork Dog and Calico Cat - Greta Burroughs

I previously read Greta's book `Gerald and the Wee People' and really enjoyed it, so when she asked me to proof her latest book, which was for children, I didn't have to be asked twice. This book is written for early readers aged between 5 and 8. I don't have children myself, so I can't comment on how a child would react to them. I can say that I really like the book. The language is easy and flows well. The paragraphs are small and the storyline is easy to follow. It is deceptively simple though in that there are some ideas for children to think about. It's also funny and sweet, and the tales are interesting. 

Basically, Patchy is an all-out lover of fun and adventure, but his enthusiasm and overconfidence can lead to hiccups! Literally in some cases! Meanwhile, Calico is a bit more reserved and sensible, often trailing along behind Patchy, hoping to keep him out of trouble out of pure friendship. I love the way that the stories begin with the dog wanting to fly and end with him... I won't give it away! 

The relationship between the animals is cute and reads believably, so it works. I really like the pictures and the one with the dog trying to fly made me chuckle. I think it's good to include drawings in a book for kids. They suit the story because they are cute, fun and quirky. My favourite stories are Can dogs fly?, Wishes come true and Dogs can fly. I think the inclusion of questions at the end of each chapter is a brilliant idea - a way for children to look back over the story and think about it, and remember what happened. There are some lessons to be learnt, told through the two furry characters, and thoughts on friendship. I love the following quote from the first story, which sums up the book for me - "He learned a valuable lesson that day. Be happy with who you are and leave the flying to those who know how to do it." A lovely book for early readers.

Not Magic Enough (The Coming Storm) - Valerie Douglas

I read this story on the train to work and it brightened my commute. I found myself thinking 'damn' every time I got to my stop because I wanted to know what happened next. I enjoyed the storyline - who wouldn't mind meeting a handsome elf? The plot flows along well, with some dramatic situations, character development, twists and a lot of passion thrown in. The erotic scenes read hot and genuine, and are written with aplomb. Valerie seems to write effortlessly; her style is flowing, descriptive and graphic. She paints pictures. The characterisation is sensitive and the story is atmospheric. She captures everything well with a lightness of touch. It's all in the details. I thought the ending slightly abrupt, but I think that was because I wanted more. Just like the heroine of the story while she waits for her man. 

Susan Wells Bennett - Wild Life

Last year I read another book of Susan’s called Circle City Blues, which I enjoyed immensely, so I decided to try this one too - the first book in The Brass Monkey Series - and I wasn’t disappointed. The same good writing, tight plot creation and sense of humour is still there. I enjoyed the setting of the zoo, and the way in which the chapter names are linked to animals and the way they act. 

The central character is Milo Crosby, a likeable character and a bit eccentric. When I began reading, I didn’t think I’d like him as he seemed a bit dodgy at the start, but then as you read on you learn his background story and his personality begins to fill out. I ended up liking him a lot. He’s funny and interesting, but has some flaws, like most of the characters. I found it funny when he began to realise that women still found him attractive – at his age, he didn’t seem to think this was remotely possible and I thought it was like someone had turned the light on for him! The not-so-central characters are detailed and nicely drawn, from Milo’s rather intelligent though young granddaughter to the trashy but fun Sondra Lane.

Family plays an important part with some of the characters coming to terms with things that have happened in the past and attempting to reconcile events or their own feelings. There are Milo’s relationships with his son, granddaughter Alice Marie, Claire and an ageing movie star, Sondra Lane, and ghosts from his past. And then there is Claire with her sister Beryl  and her parents.

I liked Claire and was rooting for her.  When I began reading I started realising there was more to her than meets the eye and an interesting background story emerged. You want to find out more about her. You know there's something there.

This book is a rich mix of fun, tragedy, love and loss. The relation of the past and the present is important – the way the past sneaks in to stop you living fully in the present and some characters have some ghosts to put to rest. At the end you wonder what the future holds for these myriad characters. So I’ve just bought the second book, Charmed Life, which, the blurb says, focuses on Sondra Lane – now that should be interesting!

Double-Take Tales - Donna Brown

I really enjoyed reading this trio of dark stories with wry humour and some unexpected twists. First up is Round Trip, in which an unassuming little £5 note passes through the hands of an interesting mix of characters with different ways of thinking. Like some crazy relay race, this begins with Suzy Taylor. Will it bring good luck or bad? As you're reading, you wonder where the note will go next and if any of the characters will be linked by more than you're seeing at the time. This was my favourite story.

Next is Poison, about an abused and lonely wife who is tempted by the idea of bumping off her husband, who is allergic to nuts. Will she, won't she? I like the style of writing and how the viewpoint of the narrator sucks you in - "There is something about the slow, insidious nature of disappointment that is so damaging." The woman has begun to feel invisible in her husband's life and in her own. How will she go on?

Ending the trio is Ç'est La Vie, in which the police investigate a murder, watched by someone unknown. "They didn't find the body for three days. I know because I watched and waited." The character pulls you in straight away and you find yourself questioning who they are, what they want and what part they may have played. Fascinating study of emotion in relationships. I was totally surprised by the ending.
I read this collection on the train to work and recommend it.

Second Chances - Dannye Williamson

I enjoyed this supernatural thriller, with suspense, romance and murder thrown into the mix. It’s gripping stuff, well written and tightly plotted. I won’t tell you what happens as that info is in the book blurb and I don’t want to ruin any surprises, but I can say that this story is a definite page turner and will steal your attention. Towards the end, I was so rushing to get to the finale and find out what was going to happen that I missed my train stop! 

I really liked the character of Avatar, the wolf. He’s a rounded, thoughtful character who introduces the book and the sets the eerie, ‘what’s really going on here?’ atmosphere from the beginning. The personalities of Jeff, Garrison, Freddie, Darian and Jodi are all well-rounded individuals, especially the two central characters of Freddie and Darian. We watch as they lead their separate lives while the threads connecting them are secretly weaving more tightly.

What does a woman do when she finds that she can no longer keep chaos at bay with the forceful control she spreads over everything? The author tells us that Freddie had “spent most of her time trying to orchestrate her life in an attempt to not feel empty, to not feel like a failure despite her success, to not feel lonely.” In the book, she begins to learn new things about herself, her strengths and weaknesses, and the dark secrets that she has never been told. Who is the mystery shadow that comes to haunt her, which she nicknames Mr Personality?

Then there’s Darian. What does a man do when he is broken and becomes a fragment of those parts he once was? Ms Williamsen tells us: “Feelings were all Darian had that he could call his own. So he guarded them carefully, treasured them. Whenever an experience evoked a new feeling, he studied the experience and savoured the feeling in his mind until he could determine where it belonged. Each feeling had a place and a purpose in his mind. It was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. One day he would have all the pieces.”
There is a lot of philosophy and deep thinking in this novel, lying in the background, which I found interesting. I was underlining many things for the ‘notes’ section. The story investigates the yin and yang, the two sides of the coin; the dark and light of the human character. What makes us do what we do? 

It also steps into the nature versus nurture debate. Who are we really? What creates a person? Are people’s characters innate or do our experiences shape us? If someone’s experiences are only dark, how will they turn out? Can we sympathise if they also turn out dark? Then there is the idea of fate. What is fate, are we fated to take a certain path no matter how many choices are offered to us? And what is choice? Do we all deserve a second chance? Would everyone actually want a second chance? Everyone has choices. As Ms Williamsen writes, “Our lack of understanding of our relationship to the Universe is why we make choices that aren’t healthy.” There is a lot to tickle your thinking buds in here besides the actual story.

So, all in all, a good storyline, some fascinating ideas, a good plot, interesting and rounded characters, good pace and a definite page turner, along with some creepy scenes, a drop of romance and some genuinely spooky goings on. The only downside is that this book is a little too dark for me. This genre of book is not one that I normally read. But, that's just me. Anyone who does read horrors and supernatural dark stories will absolutely love it.

Magnus Opum by Jonathan Gould

I’ve read two of Jonathan Gould’s other books, Doodling and Flidderbugs, and Magnus Opum is just as magical – and fun. I was wondering about that title, so I just had to go Google... Magnum opus comes from ‘great work’ and refers to the largest or greatest, most renowned achievement of a writer, artist, composer or craftsman.  Meanwhile, ‘opum’ is the plural of the Latin ‘ops’, meaning resources, wealth and food. So, perhaps the title could mean something like great resources... or great food! So, there you go...

Our story begins in Lower Kertoob, which is inhabited by the Kertoobis, who have a healthy obsession with baking the very, very best, most perfect pflugberries. In this place, life is simple and safe, and simplicity reigns unless you get an attack of the dreaded Grompets – that itch in your foot to travel – which is feared as some kind of degenerative disease to be sprinted away from. This is what happens to Jango, the brother of our not-too-confident hero, Magnus Mandalora, and there begins an adventure.

There are many well imagined places here, from the sacred old battlefield of Ferelshine to eerie Krondeep forest, the colourful world of the Parsheeth and the beauty of Sweet Harmody. Over everything hangs the threat of the Glurgs – even their name sounds like the flush of a dirty toilet. There are some amusing side adventures; one with something called a Blerchherchh, and it has nothing to do with burping or anything worse!

The story follows Magnus as he tries to do the right thing while seeking the truth of what happened to his brother. But, things aren’t always what they seem in this world, as he discovers. The author writes: “What was he to do in a world that had turned as topsy-turvy as the plumiferous grousehen that walked on its head and sang through its feet?”

The story skips merrily along. The style of writing is easy to read and whizzes along happily. The tale is a fun one, told with confidence, and full of hilarity. I loved the silly names of everything – well, they are damn silly!

Many themes run through the book. Tharella the beautiful, tells us, “Everyone has their own gift. They just need to know where to look in order to find it.” This is a major theme, along with the idea of what is beautiful and what is ugly? External attributes are compared with internal ones. Assumptions and preconceptions are thrown up (no, that wasn’t the Blerchherchh) against reality. Gossip, represented by the Doosies (whose physical attributes match their personal ones), is compared to the truth. And then there is power – is it used for the general good or to corrupt?

I enjoyed the characters of Magnus and Shaindor, the polite, dashing and blue-eyed swordsman with a penchant for song. But my favourite character of all is Klugrok, who I found hilarious. The family welcome from Klugrok, Kruperke and the Glurglets is brilliant, and one of my favourite parts. To steal some of his words, pick up this book, enjoy it, and “may your dreams be dark and yucky”.

Noah Zarc – D Robert Pease

I really enjoyed this book. It had many themes: time travel, how we define disability, the environment, extinction, family, friendship, our relationship with nature and animals, and choice.

I thought it was interesting that the hero was a paraplegic. We are told: “I was born without the use of both of my legs. The only time I feel free is when I’m piloting a ship.” Our hero finds himself frustrated by his own body, which limits him, but he appears to be a born pilot. Through this he finds confidence and freedom. Cue an adventure.

For a world without animals, Noah and his family, and their own four-legged friend are the only hope. Earth has been saved for the animals, and humans are now living on Mars and Venus. It is the job of Noah’s parents, himself and his siblings, to travel through time on the Animal Rescue Cruiser to find those creatures now extinct in their own time. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks this is a good idea. And there begins the plot of the story.

I particularly liked the characters of Noah and his father. Adina, Hamilton, Sam and Haon are also well developed.

The author investigates how Noah sees himself and his disability, and how he grows. In this book he learns a lot about himself and his strengths, along with some things about his family and secrets long hidden. I found this book fun and easy to read. The style is easy. The plot is exciting. There’s suspense, fun and some heroics thrown in. I look forward to the author’s next books.

An enjoyable Halloween ride with a cool hero

I really enjoyed this book. I love Halloween and so it was cool for me that the book is set during that time, especially as we don’t celebrate it much in the UK. We are transported into Gage’s (main character) world and see everything through his eyes. Gage is also autistic, so the reader learns what this means for our hero. I found this an interesting addition and it opened my eyes to some things, such as how Gage’s senses are more acute than the average person – taste, smell and hearing, in particular. He also tries to control how he reacts or overreacts to things. It’s a really fascinating addition to the book and we get a youth who is not your typical hero, which is the point - everyone is a hero.

At the beginning of the book, we learn that Gage doesn’t really have any friends. His family seems a happy one and he loves his sister, Sydney, dearly. She gives him confidence. As the writer tells us, ‘in her eyes, he was a hero. Sydney made him feel important; she looked up at him when so many others simply looked through him.' Things like this made me remember how weird and baffling things often were when growing up, and the author gets it spot on. But Gage is not a sad character - instead I found him fun.

Gage has a big imagination and his own hideout – the fort, guarded by Tonka, the dog – where the boy likes to start a ‘mission... his monster-bashing adventures’, the writer tells us. Gage is also a budding writer, it seems, as he imagines his missions and writes them down. But things take a strange turn when the boy makes the discovery of an unusual object that shouldn’t really be there. Then he meets the odd, but enigmatic Eve and the adventure really takes off.

The author has created a believable setting for her characters to inhabit. There are rich descriptions of the human world and that of Grimsley Hollow, well-rounded players, a gripping plot and suspense. Gage is a great central character, and I enjoyed how he learns about himself and others, and slowly builds some confidence. 

I recommend this book simply because I know you’re going to enjoy it.