Blood Mark (#1) by JP McLean #BookReview @jpmcleanauthor

BloodMark

Cover: Blood Mark (Series, #1) by JP McLean

The author sent me an ARC of this book (epub format) in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)

Plot
(by Goodreads)

What if your lifelong curse is the only thing keeping you alive? Abandoned at birth, life has always been a battle for Jane Walker. She and her best friend, Sadie, spent years fighting to survive Vancouver’s cutthroat underbelly. That would have been tough enough without Jane’s mysterious afflictions: an intricate pattern of blood-red birthmarks that snake around her body and vivid, heart-wrenching nightmares that feel so real she wakes up screaming.

After she meets the first man who isn’t repulsed by her birthmarks, Jane thinks she might finally have a chance at happiness. Her belief seems confirmed as the birthmarks she’s spent her life so ashamed of magically begin to disappear. Yet, the quicker her scarlet marks vanish, the more lucid and disturbing Jane’s nightmares become—until it’s impossible to discern her dreams from reality, and Jane comes to a horrifying realization:

The nightmares that have plagued her since childhood are actually visions of real people being stalked by a deadly killer. And all this time, her birthmarks have been the only things protecting her from becoming his next victim.

Blood Mark is the first in a brand-new paranormal thriller series by JP McLean, author of The Gift Legacy series and whose writing has been described as “. . . deftly crafted, impressively original, and inherently compelling from first page to last.”

Genre(s): > Ghost Suspense
> Women’s Fantasy Fiction
> Contemporary Fantasy Fiction
Series: [], #1
Length: 328 pages
Release date: 2021-10-19

Teaser


The next morning, Jane had difficulty shaking the dream. It felt like a hangover.

“You okay? Sadie asked, taking her coffee to the sofa. She plopped down beside Jane, who’d wrapped her arms around her knees. “Bad dream?”

“Yeah,” Jane said. “Ethan.”


My Opinion

This book introduces you to Jane Walker who is on a rescue mission, saving her drunk roommate from her ‘keen’ companion.

With “Blood Mark”, JP McLean has once again created a thrilling combination of mystery, paranormal, myth, and a touch of romance. Despite this intro which is admittedly similar to my Gift Legacy reviews, it is as different as Jane and Emelynn (Gift Legacy) are. It is a very compelling read centred on Jane, Sadie, and Rick, drawing you very close to Jane. JP McLean paints a clear picture of the main characters’ mindsets while the story evolves. In this first thrilling story of a new series, I felt immediately very close to Jane – like an invisible friend and ally; trying to find out the truth about her marks and her dreams. Jane is complex, the other characters are also skillfully elaborated and of sufficient depth, believable with their flaws and virtues. The story is a very nicely woven combination of several genres, has a wonderful flow; it was easy to get hooked. I had a great time reading “Blood Mark”. Reading the first book in this series was simply fantastic.

This is a book for you if you like excellent story-telling, mysteries with a touch of myth and romance, and believable characters, and some violent events.

The remarkable first book in JP McLean’s new series!

Highly recommended! A book to read again.

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (four stars)
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Mood Suspenseful
Pace Steady
POV Third person – past tense
Language :mrgreen:  (decent enough, some mild swearing)
Violence 😳 – 😡  (some medium fight scenes)
Sexual content 😳  (several sensual activities)

About the author

I’m very fortunate to live in a writer’s paradise on one of the small northern Gulf Islands off the eastern shore of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The rugged beaches and towering fir and arbutus trees that surround me often end up in my stories. When I’m not pouring my imagination into my computer, I’m futzing in gardens, making a mess of the kitchen or hiking local trails. I write stories that entice you to believe the impossible and escape the everyday for a while. Enjoy the read!

Connect with the author:


Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about Blood Mark”?  Or – if you did not yet read “Blood Mark” – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂


Book review – Lover Betrayed (The Gift Legacy Companion, #1)

Book review – Secret Sky (The Gift Legacy, #1)

Book review – Hidden Enemy (The Gift Legacy, #2)

Book review – Burning Lies (The Gift Legacy, #3)

Book review – Lethal Waters (The Gift Legacy, #4)

Book review – Deadly Deception (The Gift Legacy, #5)

Book review – Wings of Prey (The Gift Legacy, #6)

>>> The links above show the new titles of “The Gift Legacy” series. <<<

10 Statements – J. P. McLean

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The Trouble with Belonging by Magdalena Stanhoff #BookReview

TheTroubleWithBelonging

Cover: The Trouble With Belonging by Magdalena Stanhoff

The author sent me an ARC of this book (epub format) in exchange for an honest review).

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)

Plot
(by Goodreads)

When those two first met as children, they brought light and hope into each other’s lives. Now they’ll have to find out if the bond between them can survive a catastrophe…and growing up.

New city, again. New language, new school, new people. Another place where he doesn’t belong. Chen Kehuan is a boy adrift: he has no mother, no friends, and no true homeland, and he doesn’t care much for anyone. Until one day that carefree street child appears on his path and turns his life upside down.
Little Niki roams around the city, making things out of nothing and talking to strangers on a whim. She’s stayed out of harm’s way so far, but how long will the good luck hold? And then that boy who doesn’t even speak her language enters her life and takes it upon himself to completely remake it.
Only, sometimes the best intentions can lead to a disaster. What will Kehuan do when Niki’s world is suddenly torn apart and she disappears without a trace?

Genre(s): > Coming of Age Fiction (Kindle Store)
> Contemporary Literary Fiction
> in Romance Literary Fiction
Series: n.a.
Length: 374 pages
Release date: 2021-11-18
   

Teaser


Niki in the meantime finished copying the character and was now drawing a cat next to it. It was a very simple drawing, as could be expected from a child of her age, and yet she managed to capture the features of the animal surprisingly well. When she finished, she turned around and poked Kehuan unceremoniously with the pencil.

Chen Xiao half-expected an angry reaction from the boy, or at least the usual scowl, but Kehuan turned round without protest and simply asked, “What word now?”

Niki thought for a moment and said a word in Polish, and Kehuan wrote the character for wolf.

“Why wolf?”, asked Chen Xiao with interest.

“We watched Princess Mononoke two days ago,” Kehuan said with a little smile, “and now she says I’m her wolf.”


My Opinion

This book introduces you to Kehuan, an eight-year-old lonely boy.

With “The Trouble with Belonging”, Magdalena Stanhoff has created an irresistible and unforgettable as well as intriguing story about a boy and a little girl. When Kehuan met Niki, he was not aware that his life was going to change. Most of the characters are complex, all are realistic with all virtues and flaws. The story comprises a variety of craftily elaborated characters with sufficient depth and interesting interactions until the last page. Magdalena Stanhoff introduces each character in a way that the reader automatically wants to read on – to get to know them better. I had a great time reading “The Trouble with Belonging” – it is a captivating read that warms you to Kehuan and Niki’s story. I was immediately drawn into the story, soon feeling very close to Kehuan and Niki. For me, “The Trouble with Belonging” is a surprising work of contemporary fiction (not one of my usual genres) – a story I will read again.

This is for you if you like contemporary fiction and/or coming-of-age fiction with a touch of romance, complex characters, and heart-warming stories.

Recommended.

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Mood Hopeful
Pace Steady
POV Third person – past tense
Language :mrgreen:  (decent)
Violence :mrgreen: – 😳  (there is some violence, not too detailed)
Sexual content :mrgreen:  (decent enough)
   

About the author

I’ve always loved books, and I’ve always wanted to see the world. ​But while I read compulsively in my childhood and teenage years, traveling used to be just an unrealistic dream. Many years had to pass before I could pack my bag and set off on my first journey abroad, but it happened in the end. Since then, I’ve visited many countries and met many amazing people of different nationalities and cultures. We worked, and learned, and played together, and I’ve gained some wonderful friends this way. My life would’ve been so much duller and paler without them. 
​Books and travels have made me who I am. ​And my family, of course, but that goes without saying. 
​As for my books, I write what I like to read: stories about people overcoming various difficulties, sometimes fighting their inner demons, sometimes struggling to fit in or starting anew from the scratch, and finding love and happiness with a little help from their friends and family. Throw in the motif of clashing cultures and world views, and the mess and growth that can come out of it. And since I’m an incurable dreamer, also the obligatory HEA. ​

P.S. As you may have already guessed, Magdalena Stanhoff is a pen name. My real name wouldn’t fit on any book cover, and besides, ​most of you wouldn’t be able to pronounce it anyway.

 

Connect with the Author:


Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading. Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you? What did you think about “The Trouble with Belonging”? Or – if you did not yet read “The Trouble with Belonging” – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂

 

 

Bells, Tails and Murder (A Dickens and Christie Mystery, #1) by Kathy Manos Penn #RBRT #BookReview @KathyManosPenn

Christie-n-Dickens_01_

Cover: Bells, Tails & Murder (A Dickens & Christie Mystery, #1) by Kathy Manos Penn

The author sent me an ARC (mobi format) in exchange for an honest review (a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team).

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (5  stars)

Plot
(by Goodreads)

A Cotswolds village . . . a grieving heroine . . . two furry sidekicks . . . and a murder!
Do you like heroines who’ve lived a little? Who’ve suffered life’s ups and downs but kept on trucking? Then you’ll love Leta Parker and her new friends in the Cotswold village of Astonbury.
When tragedy strikes Leta Parker’s life, the successful banker and closet sleuth chases a lifelong dream to retire to England. Leaving her friends and neighbors in Atlanta, she settles into Astonbury with her talkative dog and cat, Dickens and Christie.

Picture her driving a refurbished London taxi to the bookshop and the tearoom, enjoying leisurely walks with Dickens the dog, and sipping coffee in the garden with Christie, her sassy cat.
When Leta stumbles across the dead body of a new acquaintance, her inner Nancy Drew comes out. Before you know it, she’s enlisted the help of Wendy, a retired English teacher friend—and even Wendy’s elderly mum.

Two whipsmart retirees, one spunky senior citizen, and a feisty dog and cat are on the case!
Who better to unearth clues from their friends in the village? Even Dickens and Christie get in on the act gathering intelligence from their four-legged friends and pointing out the obvious to Leta.

What do authors A. A. Milne, Arthur Conan Doyle, and J. M. Barrie have to do with all this?
Is their connection with the Cotswolds merely an interesting bit of trivia, or is it more? Will Leta and Wendy let their literary noses lead them astray?
You’ll be captivated as this unlikely team chases clues and ferrets out a long-buried secret—a scenario that would make any BBC cozy mystery producer proud.  No matter the clues uncovered by Dickens and Christie, you’ll be hard-pressed to guess who the villain is unless, like Leta, you’re able to “talk to the animals.”

Genre(s): > Cozy Culinary Mystery
> Mystery Series
> Cozy Crafts & Hobbies Mystery
Series: A Dickens & Christie Mystery, #1
Length: 230 pages
Release date: 2020-02-17

Teaser


I called Dickens to my side and coaxed him to sit before I moved closer. I’d watched enough BBC murder mysteries to know I shouldn’t disturb the scene, but I had to check for a pulse. I pressed my fingers to her wrist. Her skin was cold, and I couldn’t find a pulse.

Take a breath, calm down, what do you do now? I thought. My first inclination was to call Libby in the hope that Gemma was still at home. I stood staring at the body as I dialed the inn. “Libby, Libby, Libby,” I gasped. “Please tell me Gemma’s there.”

“Leta? What’s wrong? You sound frantic. And yes, she’s here. This is her day off. She was on her way out for a run.”


My Opinion

A little more than a year after her husband’s tragic bicycle accident, Leta needs a change of scenery. She and her husband have always liked the Cotswolds – so retiring there with her furry family would certainly find his approval.

With Bells, Tails & Murder”, Kathy Manos Penn has created a nicely woven plot, an intriguing story of Leta, Dickens, Christie, and their new-found friends who need to deal with a murder in their midst. “Bells, Tails & Murder” comprises authentic main characters with sufficient depth, nice turns, and room for ‘sleuthing along’. I had a great time reading – this is a very entertaining compelling read; I was drawn into the story right away, close to Leta and her canine and feline friends. I liked Leta’s stubbornness, the teamwork, the warm-hearted characters, and the knowledge that there are more books in this series. I consider “Bells, Tails & Murder” a highly enjoyable read of the ‘feel-good’ category

This is for you if you like cosy mysteries, real communication between humans and animals, and authentic characters.

Highly recommended.

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Mood Suspenseful
Pace Steady
POV First person – past tense
Language :mrgreen:  (very decent)
Violence :mrgreen:  (a tad of violence)
Sexual content :mrgreen:  (very decent)

About the author

A Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Winner for Book I in her Dickens & Christie cozy mystery series, Kathy Manos Penn went from crafting communications in corporate America to plotting page-turners in retirement.

Adhering to the adage to “write what you know,” she populates her mysteries with well-read, witty senior women, a sassy cat, and a loyal dog. The murders and talking pets, however, exist only in her imagination.

She lives in Atlanta with her husband and the two four-legged office assistants who inspire the personalities of Dickens & Christie. Why is Dickens a fiend for belly rubs? Because Kathy’s real-life dog is. The same goes for Christie’s finicky eating habits and penchant for lolling on top of the desk or in the file drawer. She gets it from the calico cat who rules the roost.

Connect with the Author:

Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about Bells, Tails & Murder”?  Or – if you did not yet read Bells, Tails & Murder”  – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂

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Dark is the Grave (DCI Bone Scottish Crime Thrillers, #1) by TG Reid #RBRT #BookReview @tgreidbooks

DCI-Bone_SCT_1

Cover: Dark is the Grave (DCI Bone Scottish Crime Thrillers, #1) by TG Reid

The author sent me an ARC (epub format) in exchange for an honest review (a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team).

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ star:  (5  stars)

Plot
(by Goodreads)

A dead cop. A damaged detective. A copycat killer on the loose.

When the chief suspect in the notorious Peek-a-boo cop killer case blew himself up, almost taking lead investigator DCI Duncan Bone with him, the psychologically damaged detective thought his days on the force were over. But when another PC is abducted and murdered in the same deranged Peek-a-boo fashion, Bone is persuaded to return to lead the new investigation. But as Bone and his team hunt a copycat killer, and with time running out before yet another cop is slain, Bone’s terrifying past returns to tear open old wounds and push him to very edge of the abyss.

Can DCI Bone end the killing before the killing ends him?

Set among the dramatic hills and glens of Scotland’s Campsie Fells, Dark is the Grave is the first in a series of edge-of-your-seat crime thrillers that will keep you guessing right up to the nail-biting, heart-stopping climax.

Perfect for fans of JD Kirk, Alex Smith, David J. Gatward and J.E. Mayhew.

Genre(s): > Police Procedurals (Kindle Store)
> Police Procedurals (Books)
> Suspense (Kindle Store)
Series: DCI Bone Scottish Crime Thrillers, #1
Length: 324 pages
Release date: 2021-07-01

Teaser


“So what have you found?”

“So we excavated the area. That took forever, trying not to disturb or contaminate the scene, which of course is bloody impossible. But we got there in the end, and sadly we unearthed a deceased female body approximately three metres down.”


My Opinion

The story starts in darkness; PC Hazel Garvey is bound and gagged, trying to remember what might have gotten her into this situation.

With Dark is the Grave”, TG Reid has created an expertly woven plot, an intriguing story of  a damaged (not broken!) investigator and his team chasing a copycat killer. “Dark is the Grave” comprises authentic main characters with sufficient depth – they gain complexity throughout the story. I had a great time reading – this is a very compelling read; I was drawn into the story right away, close to Duncan Bone, freshly reinstated to chase a copycat killer. The plot offers clues, investigative progress and throwbacks, and it is a true edge-of-your-seat read. I liked Bone’s thoroughness and stubbornness, the teamwork, and the determination to stop the killer. I consider “Dark is the Grave” a remarkable mixture of police procedural, psychology, and close-to-home story-telling. It is good to know that the next book in the series is on its way – I know that I have to read it!

This is for you if you like thrilling police procedurals, occasional insights into the mental abyss, and authentic characters.

A remarkable story that requires reading the next in the series as well.

Highly recommended.

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Mood Suspenseful
Pace Steady
POV Third person – past tense
Language :mrgreen: – 😳  (some light to medium swearwords)
Violence 😳  (some violence that not everyone might be comfortable with)
Sexual content :mrgreen:  (the focus is clearly elsewhere)

About the author

TG Reid is a Scottish-born novel and short story writer, now living in exile in Bath, England. His award-winning novels and stories been published worldwide. TG Reid also writes dark literary thrillers under the pen name of Tom Gillespie. Tom (Gillespie’s) latest novel, The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce, has been praised by critics as ‘utterly spellbinding’, ‘brilliantly unsettling’, ‘obsessively compelling’, and ‘a masterful composition’.

The DCI Bone series is set in Tom’s hometown, among the the hills and glens of the Scottish Campsie Fells. This is Tom’s first foray into the murky, pulse-pounding world of police thrillers.

Connect with the Author:

Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about Dark is the Grave”?  Or – if you did not yet read Dark is the Grave”  – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂

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Lydia’s #Gamble (Pride & Prejudice Variation Vignette) by Margaret Lynette Sharp #BookReview @MargaretLynett1

Lydias_Gamble

Cover: Lydia’s Gamble (A Pride & Prejudice Vignette) by Margaret Lynette Sharp

The author sent me an ARC of this book (HTML format) in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)

Plot
(by Goodreads)

Elizabeth is astounded when she hears news from her closest friend, Charlotte Lucas – news concerning young Lydia Bennet and, indeed, the remainder of the Bennet girls. Whatever will Mr and Mrs Bennet say when the truth is finally revealed?

This is another captivating vignette by Australian author Margaret Lynette Sharp.

Genre(s): Fan Fiction
Kindle eBooks
> Literary Fiction
> Historical Romantic Novels
> in Romance
Series: Pride & Prejudice Variation Vignette
Length: 11 pages
Release date: 2021-09-01

Teaser


“Dearest Lizzy,” Charlotte began as soon as the pair were out of the earshot of those left behind, “I hardly know whether to tell you this. I know you are troubled, already, by Jane’s malaise.”
Elizabeth’s brow wrinkled. “Pray enlighten me, dear Charlotte. For I simply must know whatever it is that you have on your mind.”
”’Tis the strangest thing – I have never heard the likes of it before.” Charlotte drew a breath.


My Opinion

As this book is a work of fan fiction, it takes you back to the places and characters of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice”.

With “Lydia’s Gamble”, Margaret Lynette Sharp has created another nice piece of fan fiction. If you have read Pride and Prejudice” or even watched the remarkable TV mini-series (1980), you recognize the world of Elizabeth Bennet. This vignette shows us a troubled Elizabeth; Elizabeth, whose warmth and intelligence made Pride and Prejudice” special, learns of Lydia’s latest act. It is a short read, taking you back to the home of the Bennets and their troublesome youngest daughter Lydia. Margaret Lynette Sharp again took up the hard challenge of writing fan fiction on a classic by Jane Austen, aptly enhancing the story without changing the characters’ ways. If you loved Pride and Prejudice, you will appreciate the additional stories this courageous author has to offer.

“Lydia’s Gamble” is a typical Bennet story, a lovely – and worthy – enhancement of Elizabeth and her family’s story.

This is a book for you if you like Pride and Prejudice”, fan fiction, classic reads, classic reads’ aptly written fan fiction, and short instalments.

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)
Mood Hopeful, nostalgic
Pace Steady
POV Third person – past tense
Language :mrgreen:  (decent, no swearwords)
Violence :mrgreen:  (none)
Sexual content :mrgreen:  (none)

About the author

My name is Margaret Lynette Sharp, and I’m the wife of the creator of the Grand Organ in the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House, Ronald Sharp B.E.M. I’m proud to say that I’ve won two literary awards – one each at the 2014 and 2015 Short Story Writing Competition held as part of the Hurstville (in suburban Sydney, Australia) Discovery Festival of Community Arts.
These stories have been published in prizewinners’ anthologies, ‘Write Out Loud’ and ‘The Art of Writing’.

My first venture into Jane Austen fan fiction resulted in the best-selling ‘Longbourn Revisited’.
Next came the well-reviewed title, ‘An Encounter at Longbourn’, followed by ‘A Party at Longbourn’, ‘And from Longbourn, A Wedding Comes,’ and ‘Much Ado at Longbourn’. Recently, these five stories were combined, forming the novel-length ‘From Longbourn, With Love’. To date, I have forty published eBooks, and some of these are also available as paperbacks.

I grew up in an inner city suburb of Sydney, moving to a pleasant, tree-filled outer suburb at the age of ten. Ron and I currently live in this same house, a small Federation brick and tile home.

I’m thankful that we live near a river that has a large, netted swimming baths. I love to swim, and I’ve been a member of the local swimming club for well over thirty years. Our little white rescue dog, Chicki, comes with me and waits patiently while I enjoy the water. Afterwards comes her reward – a walk beside the river, and a chance to play on a little, sandy beach. Who knows what doggy friends she’ll find there…

Connect with the author:

Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading. Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you? What did you think about “Lydia’s Gamble? Or – if you did not yet read “Lydia’s Gamble” – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂

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