Lacy’s End, Victoria Schwimley

Lacy’s End, Victoria Schwimley

Lacy’s End

Lacy’s End, by Victoria Schwimley, paints a graphic picture of domestic abuse from the point of view of Lacy, the teenage daughter of the town sheriff. Her frequent injuries have been ignored for years by Lacy’s school and the town at large alike, underpinned by the small-town belief that it’s a man’s right to rape his wife and discipline his daughter with his fists, and it takes a visit too many to the local hospital to tip one out-of-town doctor past the point of being able to overlook the situation. Allen Petoro involves social services, and stirs up more fuss than even the sheriff’s office can ignore, but Sheriff Waldrip has a badge, and a gun, and isn’t about to let some upstart doctor stand between him and his rights.

Lacy’s End is a compelling book, well-written and offering a glimpse into the psychology of the abused and the abuser, as well as the all-too-common bystander effect. Victoria Schwimley creates a realistic setting for her story, including a neat contrast between Lacy’s existence and the world of Allen Petoro, and the characters are well-developed and gripping. The touches of romance are well-done, and don’t detract from the main message of the plot. This book has much to offer to all ages of readers – definitely a worth-while read.

Run from the Stars, R Billing

Run from the Stars, R Billing

Run from the Stars (The Arcturian Confederation Book 1)

The Arcturians are the only space fleet in human space with faster-than-light drive; the conduit through which all interstellar commerce and travellers must flow. Following a kidnap attempt that she successfully derailed, Jane Gould was recruited by the Arcturians, and she’s never looked back; the Space Fleet is her life. However, an old feud is heating up between planets, and when Jane goes undercover, things get complicated fast.

Run from the Stars is an explosion-filled, think-on-your feet read, with a protagonist who looks about as dangerous as a candyfloss cone and uses that appearance to kick a lot of ass. Jane is one of those absolutely non-stereotypical heroines who will make you breathe a sigh of relief – she rarely needs rescuing, she’s a top-rank pilot, she can shoot straight, and she doesn’t do gooey. I felt that some of the secondary characters could have been fleshed out a little more, and sometimes the explanations run a little long, but by and large this was a highly enjoyable read. R. Billing’s writing is action-packed and technically sound, with enough tech to make it fun but not enough to mire the pace of the story in technobabble. Definitely one to recommend to any sci-fi fans on the hunt for their next book.

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The Watch, Amanda Witt

The Watch, Amanda Witt

The Watch (The Red Series Book 1)

The Watch, by Amanda Witt, is set in a closed community under constant surveillance, where walls provide protection from the things that are rumoured to haunt the surrounding woods. Red, so-called for her flaming red hair, is the maverick in a society of martinets, the only child born during the time of the ashes, the only person on the island with that distinctive shade of hair, and she is both watched and shunned because of it. Red’s existence is precarious, and her penchant for breaking rules with her charismatic friend Meritt makes it more so. It isn’t until a dangerous brush with the Wardens that Red becomes increasingly aware that it isn’t just her existence that’s precarious…

Amada Witt offers an action-packed story in The Watch, fast-paced and with rags and tags of buried history drawn unexpectedly from dark corners as the plot progresses, building a fascinating dual picture of a highly-regimented society underlaid by foundations that are crumbling into the abyss at an ever-increasing rate. Red, the wild card, is a strong protagonist, the unknowns in her background drawing the reader on page by page in the quest to discover more. This book offers a wealth of adventure, mystery, and plot twists that will draw you in and surprise you right through to the final paragraph.

Thanks, PG!, John Isaac Jones

Thanks, PG!, John Isaac Jones

Thanks, PG!: Memoirs of a Tabloid Reporter

In Thanks, PG!, John Isaac Jones takes us on an in-depth exploration of the world of tabloids through the eyes of Billy Don Johnson, a pharmacist turned reporter from Alabama whose ideals of reporting are not matching up to the realities of the traditional press. Driven to seek out something new and different, he tries out for the National Insider, a tabloid headquartered in Florida. Once there, Billy Don is immediately enthralled by the complete contrast of the Insider’s style with the papers he’s worked for previously, and awed by the mythos of PG, the owner and editor in chief. Billy Don goes on to cover everything from the history of the ascension of Mao Zedong to the many affairs of Marlon Brando.

John Isaac Jones’s protagonist is an Alabama boy with a yearning to break away from the expectations set on him, willing to take some risks to make his dream for his life come true. As a character, he is eminently relatable, and that underlies and links the cameo stories of events and people that comprise much of the book. Written in a quirky first person, this book will draw you into Billy Don’s life and offer a fascinating, insider view of the world of tabloid reporting. Thanks, PG! showcases the proverb that the truth is stranger than fiction. Definitely a recommended read.

Who By Water, Victoria Raschke

Who By Water, Victoria Raschke

Who By Water (Voices of the Dead Book 1)

Jo Wiley is one of those anomalies: an American living in Slovenia. With a group of friends, she manages a tea house in Ljubljana and keeps the various aspects of her social life strictly separate. When Jo accompanies a friend to the opening of a new archaeological exhibit in town, the worst she’s expecting to have to deal with is being polite to a slimy bar owner who fancies himself irresistible to women. She’s not expecting to see one of her lovers murdered, or to suddenly receive a warning from her dead father…

Who by Water layers realistic fantasy and fantastic reality over the ancient setting of Slovenia’s capital, weaving in allusions to the Catholic Inquisition, witch hunters, and older than both, the Roman settlement of Iulia Aemona that preceded the city. Victoria Raschke’s writing provides an eminently plausible scenario of ancient artifacts and psychic abilities drawn to Ljubljana’s historic nexus, with Jo Wiley, our pragmatic protagonist, front and centre with a talent for speaking to the dead that she wasn’t aware she possessed. I found the pacing of the novel was excellent, and while some of the characters hinted at far more backstory than was actually explored in the book, the story was well-written and a highly enjoyable start to the series.