There are some questions in life that we have all wondered at some point. Like what would happen if all the people on the planet disappeared. Or what if gravity failed? Or if money all became worthless? Well in Femlandia, society has collapsed, leaving no value in money, or much else. The breakdown of all social norms followed, and fast. Supermarkets quickly ran out of food, riots became common, muggings, house burglaries even more commonplace. People got desperate, and if they didn’t have it, and you did, they would try to take it.

Miranda Reynonlds was already coming close to the poverty line before the total economic collapse. Her husband had left her and her 16 year old daughter, Emma, with nothing. The power had been cut off, debt collectors had taken her car, her furniture, even her pots and pans. Then when things couldn’t look much worse, they suddenly were. Riots, looting, suicides, murder. Miranda decided they had to leave the city, and fast. If they stayed they risked dying. Of course leaving was a risk too, but better to try, right?

When they left she only had a vague idea of where to go, but as they walked, the idea formed in her mind. Femlandia. The women only commune, a safe place for women, from all walks of life. Years ago Miranda swore blind she would never enter Femlandia again. But she needed to make sure Emma was safe. So she made the difficult decision.

When they arrive, it is paradise. An off grid, self sufficient, paradise. There is food for everyone, a pool, and beautiful cottages. Everyone shares workloads, everyone is happy. But when Miranda looks further, the cracks begin to show. Then Emma starts to turn against her. What seems like the perfect society quickly proves to be anything but. Just how far will Femlandia go to keep Miranda from the truth? And what exactly is the truth?

*I received this book from NetGalley for review but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: Femlandia by Christina Dalcher

Given the current global crises, books, tv shows and movies on plagues, epidemics and outbreaks have seen an upsurge in popularity. Some have been uncanny in their closeness to the current situation we find ourselves in. Others so far removed they serve as a reminder of how much worse it could be. It is human nature to want to read or view things and reassure ourselves that it could always be worse. To The Lake was inspired by a flu epidemic that happened in Moscow, Russia. The writer took this situation, and thought, what if…

The story starts with Anya and her husband Sergei sitting it out in their house, outside of the capital. But when Sergei’s father makes his way to them, he insists they are not far enough away, and they need to flee civilization, in order to survive. This sets them off on a journey that sees them navigate across Russia in the middle of winter, thrown together with neighbours they don’t particularly like, Sergei’s ex wife, and others picked up along the way. The story is told from Anya’s perspective, and she is not the most likable, but the story is all the more real for it. It shows how a group of people who don’t really get along will put everything aside to survive. How they can work together, fight together, and struggle on every step of the journey to try and reach their goal.

I found this a gripping read, and when it ended, quite abruptly I was taken aback. I felt like I had journeyed along so far with the group, I need to know what happens to them next! A very good read, with a great cultural insight into how other countries approach all aspects of life.

*I received this book from NetGalley for review but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: To The Lake by Yana Vagner

I first discovered M.A.Hunters work through the Missing Children Case Files series. It is a fantastic series that had me eagerly awaiting each instalment. I will admit when I started reading Mummy’s Little Secret, I felt for a few moments that it was slipping back into the Case Files domain. “She’s not my mum”. But how wrong I was, and gladly so. This book introduces us to Jess, whose life has been recently completely torn apart. She meets Morag, and her daughter Daisy in the park when Jess brings her own daughter there to play. But Daisy utters the words in a fearful whisper to Jess. These four words send Jess into a spiral. 

Already struggling with life day to day, Jess suddenly finds herself becoming paranoid, and fighting to get to the bottom of this mystery. Jess’s family and friends fear she is becoming increasingly paranoid and off her medication, becoming a danger to herself and others. 

Then the police become involved.

The story is told in two storylines, making it even more enjoyable to read, really building up the drame. The then and now storylines keep you guessing, working alongside the police trying to figure out just who did it….before it becomes a frantic race at the end to save those who most need saving. Every time you think you have it figured there is another twist and turn. M.A. Hunter excels at keeping you guessing to the end, and writing absolutely impossible to put down books, keeping you reading until the small hours of the morning!

*I received this book from NetGalley for review but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: Mummy’s Little Secret by M. A. Hunter

“Based on the true story of Belle Gunness whose murderous rampage began in Chicago in 1900” – this description had me want to read this book. I had never heard of Belle Gunness. Tell me more, please! As I started reading, the opening scenes were not what I expected, but quickly hooked me. This book does a skillful job of imagining the creation of a female serial killer. At first killing for revenge. Then it becomes something much more. 

The world in the 1900’s is made for men (has much changed?). Women are barely second class citizens. They are expected to get married, produce babies, and care for their husbands. But Belle Gunness nee Sorensen quickly finds out that this is not the life for her. She  discovers that the world view of women as weak, feeble and helpless will, however, work well in her favour. She can manipulate men, she can steer them into her doing, and above all, she can kill them for her benefit. 

From the impoverished farms of Norway, to the big city in Chicago, to her retreat to farm life, Belle forges her own path in life. It is a path unique to her, and not one to be inspired to follow. As tortured as she is, as horrific as her upbringing was, and the events that set her on this bloody journey, it is hard to feel sorry for Belle. Yet you turn the pages with a grim horror, as her life unravels further and further. Just how far will she go to get what she thinks she really wants? What will she stop at? 

This book winds fact with fiction in a macabre manner. Where the two meet is not quite clear. But what is clear is that this book will leave you unsettled, fascinated, horrified, and deeply disturbed. How much creative liberty has been taken will be a question on your mind? Was Belle Gunness really that horrifying a character?? Overall I couldn’t put this book down, yet was glad when it was finally over, and people were safe from Belle….or were they??

*I received this book from NetGalley for review but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: Triflers Need Not Apply by Camilla Bruce

A trio in their seventies – Grace, Daphne and Meg, are enjoying a cup of tea and forming tentative yet reserved friendships after their pilates class. They are suddenly thrown into the middle of an unexpected drama when seventeen year old Nina bursts in, clearly terrified, and trying to hide from someone. The trio’s maternal instincts kick in and they rush to protect her. This sets off a chain of events which sees them embroiled in scheming murder for hire. 

They are such an unlikely group of heroes, but this book serves to remind us that elderly people should not be written off because of their age. They still have brains, intelligence, and talents (but perhaps we don’t encourage the murder aspect!). Isolation, loneliness and the struggles of life and long kept secrets are all unearthed, as the trio form a friendship that goes beyond anything that their regular pilates class would have forged.

In their fight to save Nini, our unexpected heroes also save themselves, opening up their hearts to much needed friendships, and unburdening to one another. While at times this book was funny when it perhaps shouldn’t be – murder, kidnap of minors, people trafficking, and prostitution is at the heart of it – it was a dark humour, showing how humans can cope with so much more than they realise. Resilience and friendship can get you through anything. Even murder!

This was a very enjoyable read, and a very welcome change of main characters. 

*I received this book from NetGalley for review but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: A Beginner’s Guide to Murder by Rosalind Stopps

When I first started reading this book, I will be honest I found it confusing, and a bit slow and tedious. The jumping from chapter to chapter was just not making sense, and dragged a bit. Why were we being presented with new life stories over and over? With characters of the same names? Yet of different ages, with different relationships to one another? While confused, and at times frustrated, I wanted to understand what was happening. The more I read the more the commonalities became clear, and the threads linking the life stories began to weave their way into each chapter, and I found myself well and truly gripped. Santi and Thora were on a mission to discover why this was happening to them, and I went from a curious reader, to one just as frantic in the race against the clock.

A beautifully written piece, unique, thought provoking and complex.

*I received this book from NetGalley for review but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: Meet Me In Another Life by Catriona Silvey

This is book 6 in the Missing Children Case Files, and a cumulation of all of the searching Emma Hunter has been carrying out for the past few years into the horrifying child abductions and abuse ring. The level of corruption being uncovered is staggering, with few that she can turn to in full trust. A shooting leads to Emma being requested to come to a Leicestershire police station, as the suspect arrested will only speak to her. But upon arrival Emma realises there is much more to the arrest than she was told. She finds herself questioned by the local police about her involvement in the crime. As if that was not enough, the next revelation dropped on her during the questioning shatters her.

This book is a full cumulation of all of Emma Hunter’s tenacious research, that started as the search for her sister, that unearthed some cases of kidnapped children, and that became bigger than anything she ever could have dreamed in her wildest nightmares. She finally gets a chance to reflect on the loss of her sister and just how fully it shattered her family, and learn exactly why it happened. 

As with all the books in this series, once you start you can not stop reading it. Just one more chapter, just one more chapter, soon has you reading until late in the morning. But every moment of lack of sleep is worth it for the rollercoaster you are brought on!

*I received this book from NetGalley for review but all opinions are my own.

Book Review – Exposed by M.A. Hunter

This series gripped me from the start, and I was eagerly anticipating book three. I devoured it when it arrived – and it did not disappoint. A web of lies, deceit, where no one, and nothing can be trusted, all controlled by a Network creating world class killers controlled to do their every bidding. 

All Michael wants is his life back, his job at the MI5 to return to normal, his sister to be able to leave protective custody, and just some sense of normality. He wants nothing to do with the Network. With his upbringing, his dark past, part of him knows this can never be. Plus, the Network wants him. When ex Network assassin Neva comes back into his life, all thoughts of making her pay for all his hurt and pain flee. Michael suddenly has another objective. Suddenly more is at stake than he could have ever fathomed. Michael has to make a final decision about what direction he is going to take.

I loved every moment of this book, it kept the same pace as the previous ones in the series, jumping you from action, to intrigue, and never a moment to breathe. I don’t often use the word unputdownable. But I will make an exception in this case. I did not want to stop until I finished this one. Then I still wanted more. One of the best spy series I have ever read, my only complaint – don’t leave us hanging with that ending!!

*I received this book from NetGalley for review but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: Kill A Spy by Samantha Lee Howe

The King of Nightmare by [A. Rogers]

When Jason gets robbed of his last few scraps of food, little does he know that such a simple, almost mundane act, will spin him into a new life, a new family, and something so much stranger than he could have ever imagined. Ending up in Taylor Point House alongside a group of people who appear so at odds to one another, Jason seems to fit right in. The occupants of the house are an odd bunch. The story skillfully entwines their journeys together, while simultaneously weaving the readers on a journey through another world. As the crack between the two words grows larger, we start to see more and more of the other world, of the Gods fighting to save it, of the Horrors trying to destroy all. This book was a page turner. I found myself reading faster and faster, caught up in both storylines, waiting to see when they would overlap, teased by the potential merging, taunted by the almost, not quite there, and willing our Taylor Point crew to start to see through the cracks. I was engrossed, horrified, sad, happy, fearful. I didn’t know if The King of Nightmare was on our side or not. Ultimately I could not put this book down, and loved every moment of the journey it took me on.

*I received this book from NetGalley for review but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: The King Of Nightmare by A.Rogers

This is the second book in this series, and it really did not disappoint. I finished the first book and was left immediately wanting more and this one delivered! With Michael partially reinstated at MI5, but under a heavy watch, restrictions, and no trust in him, he is trying to rebuild his life that had been so fully ripped apart in book one. 

Meanwhile, (former?!) assassin Neva, is still on the run, trying to find out more about her past. Both Neva and Michael know they should stay away from one another, but they keep getting drawn back in. Both to help one anothers cases, and also due to the obvious magnetism between them. Neither are willing to let up on their way of life however. Until events change and they are thrown back together and on the run. But nothing is as obvious or simple as it seems, not with Neva around.

This story is fast paced, with the multiple character viewpoints keeping you on the edge of your seat, and guessing who really is the instigator of all the evil. You are continually second guessing every person’s actions, and feel Michael’s exhaustion as he storms along trying to get his life back on track. When will we ever get to the bottom of the mystery? Or will it ever end?? I loved every moment of this book, and absolutely can’t wait until book 3!

*I received this book from NetGalley for review but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: Kill Or Die by Samantha Lee Howe