Review – Portals by Maer Wilson

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AMAZON

I love a good paranormal story, and this has all the right ingredients and then some.

I must admit there were some things that could be seen as distracting. There’s a lot of dimple flashing going on, as well as quit a few repetitions as well as lengthy descriptions, but somehow they didn’t diminish my reading pleasure. In fact at more than one time I found myself enjoying the fact that there’s a lot of openly affection between the characters. Which brings us to discussing those characters. Let me tell you there’s nothing wrong with them. They are fully developed, have the ability to make you root for them and even …

Well, want to yell at them. The main character often has a quirky way of expressing herself, which could be distracting if it wasn’t done in a way that makes it endearing instead.

What I mean is, that this author has the ability to make you believe these fictional characters in a paranormal novel are real, feeling persons. With lives that matter, encountering events that touch their lives in a very real way.

I love the twists and surprises that are foreshadowed as they should be, but still managed to surprise.

The way the author has build the worlds, yes worlds, is exactly how it should be done. Enough description to allow you to imagine them and yet leaves enough to that imagination.

To make a long story short, this novel is a keeper. Even though it is the second book in a series and I have not read the first, I could follow the whole and not once missed anything, nor did the author go out of her way to explain things which happened in the first book. It is done in a way that allows to read this book as a stand-alone, which I love! I’m not a fan of serialised novels, but I will most certainly read the first book just because I loved this one so much.

With pleasure I give this one a 5 star rating.

Before We Leave by Mari Collier

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AMAZON | KOBO | B&N | iTUNES

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Before We Leave is the saga of the Justine-Earth mutants and the Thalian-Justine Earth descendents living in Texas in 1869 through 1949 when they leave Earth.

Red O’Neal, Justine-Earth mutant delivers a punishing beating to his half-brother, Daniel Hunter, for courting Red’s Earth sister, Antoinette O’Neal. She is to be sent to a convent until she agrees to marry a much older, wealthier man. Antoinette had managed to send a letter to her betrothed Lorenz MacDonald about her danger. Lorenz rescues her on the journey to the convent. His mother and his adoptive father, MacDonald, the Thalian-Justine mutant, allow the marriage rather than lose Lorenz. The birth of their third child prompts Antoinette to ask Lorenz why he and two of their children have two hearts. He spends the night explaining about ships that do not require sails and beings from other planets.

During their years in Texas, the neighboring Rolfe ranch is attacked by Comanche raiders. Antoinette and her mother-in-law, Anna, are able to fight them off until help arrives and before Brigetta Rolfe gives birth to a baby girl.

If that has made you curious to the content of the book, the author, Mari Collier, was kind enough to give me an excerpt of the book, which you’ll find below.

Read it and tell me what you think of the story premise, did aliens always live on Earth?

Antoinette returned to the house after leaving Armeda in charge of the laundry. Her dark hair was pulled up and coiled at the top, looping around to brush the neck. Curls carefully made to look rebellious framed the sides of her face. Her cotton dress implied that this was a work day. Summer had set in and the grasses were drying, waiting for the late summer and fall rains that would sweep up from the coast. The day was warm, but not unbearable. Lorenz wouldn’t return from the cattle drive until sometime in August. Perhaps there would be an opportunity to work on her watercolors later. She held three-year-old Melissa’s hand firmly in hers.
Kendall could stay with the laundry workers’ children happily building his forts to fight off the Indians, wrestle with the others, and devise ways to shoot a missile or rock somewhere. He’d already been warned that one more rock landing near the wash tubs meant he was in his room until dinner. At five years of age Kendall needed to roughhouse with boys his own age or there would be a fight between him and his studious brother. A situation Antoinette would not risk with Lorenz away on a cattle drive.
She entered the back door through the covered porch and went to the kitchen. When they enlarged the main house they built the side of the kitchen out to butt against the springhouse. Now the door to the springhouse opened from the coat area. This technique had widened the kitchen by ten feet and it was now a spacious room for the huge cook stove, sturdy table, and cabinets. A veranda wrapped across the front of the house.
By adding five feet to the original great room, Antoinette had gained her dining room. True it was a bit narrow, but it was large enough to hold her fancy rosewood dining set. The sweeping stairway in the entrance and grand hall was her pride and joy. The hallway between the bedroom, the old stairwell and part of Mina’s bedroom was now a bath. By widening the east side of the house and using the rest of Mina’s bedroom she gained a parlor for the rosewood piano, fancy sofa, and needle worked cushioned chairs. Lorenz had painted a lovely portrait of her and hung it on the wall behind the piano.
They’d left the fireplace along the south wall of the hall. When one entered the front, the view ran straight to the French doors opening to the garden. She had laborers install a low, paved with stones, veranda between the French doors and garden. It was more like a Spanish patio or court area where one could catch the breezes. Lorenz’s office door was on the other side of the fireplace. She had disliked the original great room and modernized everything by eliminating the old dining and seating area and creating specific rooms. It was a shame there really wasn’t space enough for a separate music room, but she had conceded that he needed the office. The sewing room she located upstairs with the bedrooms for the children.
Six-year-old Randall was sitting on the fireplace hearth bent over a Dickens’s novel. She really didn’t think he could understand much of it, but was secretly afraid he understood far too much.
Melissa looked at Randall and then at her mother. “Why can’t I go back outside and play with Kendall?”
“Because he plays too rough for a young lady like y’all. Let’s find your colored chalk and y’all can draw something. Maybe Randall will help y’all with your numbers or alphabet.”
Antoinette didn’t think other children learned as rapidly as her first and last born. She wasn’t sure a governess would be sufficient this fall. Miss Ambrose was to return in September. Lorenz had mentioned he would look for a teacher after the drive. One was needed. Antoinette felt the Rolfe children would benefit as much as her own. It seemed Marty Rolfe was the only one receiving any instruction and that was in the ways of the wild from his grandfather. She shuddered at the thought.
The clatter of hooves, gunfire, men’s shouts and women’s screams interrupted her thoughts. Randall looked up at her, and his eyes widened.
“Mama, do y’all want me to find Pawpaw’s rifle? It’s danger.”
Antoinette looked out the huge front window and saw six horses. Two were heading for the house and four were racing for the barn and bunkhouse area.
“No, come with me both of you!” She picked up Melissa and ran to her bedroom and put Melissa and Randall in the closet.
“Don’t move. Randall, take care your sister. Be still, very, very still. Shh. Don’t come out of there until I say it’s all right!” Her voice was stern, insistent.
There wasn’t time to grab one of the larger guns from the office and she pulled her derringer from her purse and ran to the rocker by the window. From the table beside the rocker, she picked up her embroidery and covered the derringer with the linen scarf she was working on. Thank goodness the bed is made ran through her mind. She heard the man coming up the porch steps and wished she had had time to be sitting in the parlor. She did not want Randall to come out to protect her. Thank God it was Randall in the closet and not Kendall. Kendall would be arguing with her.
The man didn’t really knock at the door. He kicked against it and walked in. Julia had been in the kitchen, but must have run.
Antoinette walked to the open bedroom door with the linen strewn with a field of pink and blue flowers draped over her right hand and the needle in her left hand.
The man was clad in denims and a dirty, sweat-stained calico shirt. His grey hat was wide brimmed and two guns hung on his hips. Obviously, someone had told him the men were gone. He needed a bath, and Antoinette stilled a gag from the stench of him.
“Hallo, pretty lady. Greet the new man of the house. We’re taking over…”
Antoinette pulled the trigger.

Now go and get your copy from:

AMAZON | KOBO | B&N | iTUNES

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About the author

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Mari Collier was born and raised on a farm in Iowa. From there she moved to Phoenix, then to North Bend, WA, and found refuge in a small community in the high desert of California. She is an active member of the Desert Writers Guild, on the Board of Directors for The Historical Society of Twentynine Palms, and the congregational secretary for Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. She writes two columns for the Old Schoolhouse Journal and enjoys family, friends, the local art galleries, and theaters. Earthbound (Volume 1), Gather The Children, and Before We Leave are science fiction novels set on Earth.

She can be found online at her website, if you care to know more about her or her books, I strongly suggest you pop over and peruse her site because there’s loads to read on there too.

Her premise is that aliens have lived here and their genes are part of humanity’s genes. I’m currently working on the sequel to Before We Leave. MacDonald returns to his planet Thalia with part of his Earth family. He intends to free Thalia from the rule of the Justines. Things aren’t always as easy as they sound on paper. Watch for Return Of The Maca.

I must admit that this premise sounds plausible and I will put this book on my TBR list. What’s your take on alien life? Does it exist, and are they among us?

Featured Author – Ian Hutson

IanHutson 1 The author I’m featuring today has the ability to make me laugh out loud and keep my feet firmly on the ground by his uncanny ability to deflate any hot air from the balloon.

Hi Ian, thank you for allowing me this interview. 🙂

What did your parents think of you when you were little? Was you the accountant, or were you always this bubbly and generally fun person?

My mother had this unnerving tendency to stop, look lovingly at other, younger children and then say to me ‘I used to love you when you were that age.’ Then we’d walk on. I was very close to my mother (and vice versa, I think), and I’m very happy to say that I got the rare chance to become friends with my father during the last few years of his life.

That is wonderful Ian, I mean being close and becoming friends. A real thing to treasure, me thinks. 

Have you always lived in the UK?

I was fortunate to be born into a family that was permanently on the run from the authorities. Erm, I mean, into a family that moved around a lot with my father’s work (he was an electronics warfare expert during the Cold War and after). The two most memorable places have been Hong Kong and the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. In Hong Kong we had the worst cholera epidemic of the century, the worst drought and the worst typhoon. On Lewis we had a couple of pet sheep. As a child I initially spoke only Cantonese and a little pidgin English, and it wasn’t until we moved to Scotland that I learned to read and write.

Wow! Cantonese, that’s great, I’d love to be able to order my take-away in Cantonese. Do you ever? Or do you cook? No, don’t answer that last one, because I’ll come back to that subject.

I did once have a Chinese Takeaway shop trained so well that I could just open the door, stick a thumbs-up over the heads of the queue and my order would be cooked straight away for me. I think I accounted for a big percentage of their profits. I can’t speak a word of Cantonese now. No-one else in the family spoke it so I didn’t hear it again after we left Hong Kong and it has faded away over the years.

Can you tell us a bit about your path leading to this writing loop we’re stuck in, and is writing all you do nowadays?

I think like most writers I’ve done everything else before getting to this point. I worked for the British Civil Service for some years (incredibly boring) and then worked for several big corporations such as EDS and AVIVA (incredibly boring). Then one fine day my suits and ties and I parted company and I set up a couple of my own business. After a couple of years the global financial nonsense tripped up my best laid plans and I hurtled into personal bankruptcy (and wasn’t that just fun, losing my home and watching my car and valuables literally being auctioned off). Now I live very simply indeed and earn my living writing and as an Edwardian photographer (bellows cameras, powder flash, velvet dark-cloth and suchlike).

Whoopidoo, that’s great! The photography I mean, not the auctions, although I do love a good auction. 🙂

What is the best thing that could happen to you on any given day?

I’m quite fond of waking up and finding that I am still alive. Both of my parents have assumed room temperature and shuffled into wooden overcoats, so I know that life is short. Since I’ve been both reasonably liquid and bankrupt and on benefits (with the latter a vile place to be, at the mercy of every government agency) I know that most of what people worry about just really isn’t important. Waking up with a working body and a working mind each day is rather splendid.

Again you manage to, with a few words, put things into perspective. 

Thanks for answering my questions with such zeal. I love a man who can handle a bunch of words. Hahahaha. But that’s not all you are here for, is it? I guess you want to tell us about your writerly things.

So, what is the title of the book you would like to talk about?

Aha – the latest opus! The title is NGLND XPX. The title is a text message nod to Admiral Horatio Nelson and the message he sent at the start of that little rumble with the neighbours ‘England expects that every man will do his duty.’

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AMAZON | SMASHWORDS

Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

The title is a bit of a Sunday morning traffic cone in the dog’s bed – I have no idea where I found it. I did a lot of dithering between the text-message form and the proper English form, and decided that most folk would look at it and wonder what the heck it was, whereas with the proper English version they would probably think I was writing something historical.

Tell me more!

The book itself is a collection of ten very disparate stories but all with threads of humour, scifi and caricatured Englishness running through them. They are literally just whatever was playing in my head when I plugged in a fresh secretary and sat down to write them. We have some awfully English zombies (hard to tell the difference really with us English), an extinction-level comet (thwarted), a little robot accidentally meeting Mr Moses and issuing The Four Commandments, the Industrial Revolution re-imagined and First Contact, done by the Queen with tea and biscuits.

Hahahaha, that actually sounds like a book I might like, a lot even.

If you would have to change the genre in order to be able to publish it, what would it be then? i.e. would you conform to the market?

It’s difficult to tell with NGLND XPX whether it is humorous scifi or just pure humour. My trouble is that I see all of life as being ever so slightly ridiculous and have to write fiction in the same way. Life is too serious to be lived without a laugh, and I think that humour is a very under-appreciated and under-respected genre in and of itself.

But also a genre if not done right is very boring indeed. I guess with your sense of humour things can’t go wrong.

Can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that tricky chapter (or para) right?

I usually giggle. No, but seriously, when a bit of storyline or some few lines just “click” it is a feeling that deserves to be greeted with an all-out chuckle. Not because it’s funny, but because it’s satisfying putting together pieces of the puzzle.

What don’t you like about writing.

I’m not awfully fond of the way that some writers take themselves so seriously. Writing is an essential part of the world, yes, but we’re not heart surgeons or front-line soldiers. Some folk just don’t keep it in perspective. At the serious risk of setting myself up for a fall I dislike poor grammar and experience physical discomfort when I see it. Since I try to speak and to write in fairly old-fashioned English rather than this new-fangled “global” English, I’m in pain quite a lot!

Ian, although I’m not a grammar nazi either I do know what you mean, especially when I’ve bought a book and the author hasn’t bothered to take out the simplest of spelling and grammar issues.

What do you think you are going to do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to books?

A couple of years ago I spent three months on a marketing course and it was impressed upon me then that I would have to do some very uncomfortable, overtly expressive nonsense in order to have a hope of selling a single book. The Black Adder-esque cunning plan that I have been following and will continue to follow is to find folk writing for markets that may contain people who like humour – and to then do everything that those other writers do!

Sounds like a plan!

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?

Orange juice, coffee and curry. I can begin a day without fresh orange juice, and I can work without thick, evil coffee that has been soaked out of the living bean, but you’d rather not know me if I have to. Curry is the food of the gods, and I like mine to glow gently as though it is about to spontaneously combust. I’ve been vegetarian since my teens and vegan for the past five years – so you’ll never find animal guts, gristle or excretions on the menu in my books – unless I want to disgust the reader! I just make food either vegetarian or work around it.

What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?

My favourites change daily, but I will perform circus tricks for a really groovy mushroom curry. I could give you the recipe but then you’d know where I buy my mushrooms and then there would be less for me.

Bugger! Still I bet with a bit of research I can find the right groovy mushrooms and cook up a curry with them. I’ll let you know when I have. 🙂

Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!

S’easy! I have been out photographing a motorbike race or a car rally or some such. That’s one part of my other occupation that makes me forget that I should be writing. If I’m photographing a commercial event or am office party or a product launch or something I’ll actually be thinking about writing while I’m saying “freeze” and “hold still”, but if it’s a motorsports event then I’ll be concentrating too hard and having too much fun.

Okay now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

Some things I’ll need to take to the grave, or at the very least to the graveside. Talking of which, I hope to be buried at sea with all of my various in-laws-through-the-ages standing around the graveside. Not for a while yet though.

Gossip and scandal eh? I was once formally accused of a hit and run about twenty years ago, that was quite an experience. My partner of the era was getting lots of grief from his lunatic neighbours and when one of them fell off a ladder in his own garden he, quite literally, dragged himself out into the roadway before calling for police and ambulance, and telling them that I’d mounted the pavement and mown him down deliberately. Now if that isn’t grim determination I don’t know what is. My – highly successful, and quite serious – defence was that my car was so utterly filthy that it was obvious I’d hit nothing with it since buying it years before, not so much as a car-wash. During the Police investigation they had to clean it to confirm what colour it was for the records. The “gentleman” in question actually later died of unrelated causes before I got a chance to use double-jeopardy laws to my advantage. All that I have now is an A5 letter hand typed on an old-fashioned manual typewriter advising me that no further action would be taken against me by the Police!

Hahahaha, that is hilarious. Remember not to wash my car ever again. Not that I have since I’ve bought it though. 🙂

Thank again Ian, and remember whenever you feel the need to share that recipe after all, or have other news to spread around, give us a holler and we’ll come running notepad in hand.

Until then, where can we find you online?

Geographical location: Usually just above ground level, Lincolnshire, England.

Website/Blog: The Diesel-Electric Elephant Company, on Twitter @dieselelephants, and on The Book of Faces aka FaceBook, but the Diesel-Electric Company has its own Facebook page too.

And readers can find me on my Amazon Author page.

As for the question of the day I’d like to ask the readers, “Do you think it’s important that characters in books eat and drink?”

Featured Author Jacqueline Driggers

me (2)Today’s featured author is Jacqueline Driggers. 

Hi Jacqueline, I’d like to start this feature with some personal questions if that’s okay with you?

Sure, that’s fine.

Great! We’re off then.

Are you a city dweller or a country girl?

Really I’m more of a country girl.  I was born and raised, and still live in, my hometown of Hartford, Kentucky.  Smack dab beside it is the small town of Beaver Dam, Kentucky.  Between the two of them, they have a population of around 7,000-9,000 people, so I’m from a small Kentucky town; and those 2 towns are the biggest in the county.  My mom and dad had a place just outside of town that bordered a river, and I spent a lot of time in the woods with my dog, as a kid.

Have you always been a creative soul, or were you more of a in the box kind of woman before you became an author?

I’ve always been a creative soul.  I have always loved books, and was very imaginative as a child.  For me, books would create pictures in my head, like a movie.  I’ve always loved tinkering with crafts and stuff too.  I started writing back in high school, and have written all my life.

What keeps you busy on most days?

My day starts when I get to my desk in our office here at home.  I start on facebook, and go thru my messages, then events, then requests, then notifications.  Then I move on to what else I need to do.  I do freelance work in editing and other writing related services, plus I have several: blogs, facebook pages, groups – that I ride herd over.  Plus I do book reviews too.  All this most recent writing related activity started one day in April, back in 2012, when I opened up Word and started a book.

Thanks for sharing this, now over to what you really came for. 🙂

What is the title of the book you would like to talk about?

Well, I guess that would be my cookbook that I have in the works.  The working title is:  Recipes, cooking, and food presents Kitchen Drawer Recipes.

Ha! I love cookbooks and recipes. Remember me when yours is done, then maybe this won’t happen again.

fire in oven

Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

No, not really.

Can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that tricky chapter (or para) right?

Well, I’m still working on my cookbook and science fiction novel, so I’m not celebrating yet.

But you will when the work is done and then you might want to come back and tell us more about it.

If you would have to change the genre in order to be able to publish it, what would it be then? i.e. would you conform to the market?

Well, my two genres – cooking, and science fiction – are well established genres already, so I feel like that is a plus for me as a yet-to-be-published writer.

What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?

I’m not yet published, but I’m already working on marketing.  My aim or goal is that when I publish, I want people to say – Oh, she’s finally published! – rather than – Who’s she?  Towards that end, I am promoting myself as an author, and building up my blogs.  I’ve started posting my poetry and writing on wattpad, and I’m working on building up a following there.  Plus I have a writer’s page that I try to post to regularly.  My theory is that marketing begins way before you publish, in trying to get yourself known in the writing business.

Right with that out of the way and to confuse you we’ll take the alternative route now.

What don’t you like about writing.

There isn’t a single thing that I don’t like about it.  Writing and being a writer is more than what I do, it’s an integral part of who I am.

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?

In my life, sweet stuff.  I always have cakes or cookies or some sweet cereal to snack on.  I love my sweets.

Oh, me too! 🙂

What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?

I guess my favorite dish would have to be my Granny’s butter pie recipe.  The way we got the recipe is an interesting story.  You see, my grandmother didn’t have a written recipe; so one of my cousins went down there one day and watched her make one, and measured the ingredients.  Thus we have the recipe, and here it is:

Granny’s Butter Pie

Manchester-Food-Butter-Pie-Eunice1 to 1-1/2 cups water

1/2 to 1 stick margarine

1 cup sugar

1 t. vanilla

3 heaping T. flour

1 baked pie shell

In a double boiler, add the water and margarine; and cook, stirring frequently, until margarine is melted.  Then add sugar, and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Then add the vanilla, and stir.  Next add the flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring well.   Continue to cook, while stirring frequently, until mixture is thickened.  Pour into pie shell and cool.  Serve and enjoy.

I am certainly going to try this recipe, because it reads like something I’d like.

Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!

I have too many other things to do, that demand their share of my time.  Everything has it’s pecking order, including my writing.

And finally why would you ever want to live life behind a keyboard slaving over a manuscript?

Because putting it all on paper gets it out of my head.  For me, writing is like breathing, it’s something I just have to do.  I’ve wanted to be a published author since high school, which was back in 1976-1979.  And with self-publishing today, that high school dream is within reach finally.

Okay now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

I’ve always loved reading and books.  Back when I was too little to read it for myself, my mom and others would read to me.  I would read anything.  When I was little, I used to spend the night a lot with my dad’s mother; and they had an old house behind their house, where they stored stuff.  It always fascinated me as a child, and sparked my curiosity and imagination.  Up on the second floor, there were a bunch of old books.  One of my favorite things to do was to go through those old books and pick some to take home.  Most of them were old school books, I mean really old, but I didn’t care.  That’s how much I loved books.  My favorites were the literature books.  I loved reading those.

Back in high school, I was a voracious reader, and just devoured books.  Now that I have ebooks and a kindle device, I’m back to my old ways.  Sometimes I really get into a book, and can’t put it down until I finish it.

Thank you Jacqueline for giving me the opportunity to interview you and shine a little light on you and your books to come. 

Now where can your fans find you online?

I’m to be found at:

My author’s page on facebook,  my website, and finally here you can find a list of links for My blogs, facebook pages, and groups.

Should you have any questions not answered here, just let me know by leaving a comment below.

Shadow People by Jo Robinson

cover Shadow People

AMAZON UK | US | DE

It has been a while since I’ve read a sci-fi novel which I really enjoyed, mainly because it is hard to create a world and characters believable enough for the book not to become a laughing matter. The author of this one has balanced outlandish creatures, a new, strange, world, and technology which is real enough not to be thrown off by while reading the mind blowing adventures.

She also weaves in metaphysical elements into the story, but in a way that makes sense, because it is in essence about the ongoing battle between good and evil. Each and every action and reaction is neatly connected and leads us deeper into the story.

At first it reminded me of Avatar, but soon enough the author led me away from that thought by the way she gave her characters and worlds a signature of their own.

The only downside I can find is that however we know it all ends well, the author could have worked out the end a bit more. Don’t get me wrong the end is very satisfactory, but seems ‘rushed’.

All in all I am not a real fan of serialised novels, but seeing this is a stand-alone novel and we can either choose to read the next one or not, I will want to read the next one to. Because being honest, I want to know how the main character solves her next task.

(I did not receive any compensation for this review, and bought the book on Amazon.co.uk)