Saturday, January 30, 2016

The disappearing Duchess by Imogen Rossi

Bianca is a young apprentice to the great artist Annunzio di Lombardi, learning the secrets of his craft so that one day she too will be able to create works of art that seem like they are alive.  She has already shown such a knack for the work that he has been teaching her techniques that the older apprentices don't know and taking her to support the art lessons of importnat people like the Duchess Catriona.  

When her master takes ill Bianca and the other apprentices are taken in by a former apprentice, Filpepi, who now has a studio and apprentices of his own.  Something is not right though, and when Bianca manages to return to her master it is to find a greater tragedy.  There is something sinister going on, and the Duchess doesn't seem at all concerned about what is happening to Bianca and di Lombardi.  When Bianca makes a shocking discovery her own life is in danger because there are people putting plans into motion, plans that they will stop at nothing to see through.

I picked up The disappearing Duchess after seeing the books on Instagram and thought they looked really interesting, and when I read the blurb I ordered the first book through the library to see if the series was as good as it promised to be - it wasn't, it was better!  Bianca and her world are magical and mysterious, a subtle blend of historical fiction that makes it feel very authentic, and a well developed magical world and mythology that makes it a believable and intriguing series.  

Bianca lives as a character off the page, it is very easy to believe that she exists in this world.  She is strong, stubborn, head strong, passionate, and loyal - all the characteristics that make the perfect hero because she is both a paragon of virtue and completely flawed like the rest of us.  I have to admit I saw where the book was headed but the ride was so good I got tangled up in the story and the characters rather than the moment when I could go "ah ha I guessed that was coming!"  I am waiting on the next books in the series to see what happens to Bianca and her friends in the rest of the series.

If you like this book then try:
  • The star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson
  • Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo
  • Museum of thieves by Lian Tanner
  • Stone heart by Charlie Fletcher
  • Bartlett and the ice voyage by Odo Hirsch
  • Dragon shield by Charlie Fletcher
  • Under the mountain by Maurice Gee
  • Stone heart by Charlie Fletcher
  • The eighth day by Dianne K. Salerni
  • Maddy West and the tongue taker by Brian Falkner
  • The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland
  • Pangur ban the white cat by Fay Sampson
  • Northwood by Brian Falkner
  • Finding the fox by Ali Sparkes
  • Hollow Earth by John Barrownman and Carole Barrowman
  • The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
  • Ella enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  • Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
  • Museum of thieves by Lian Tanner
Reviewed by Brilla

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The hob's bargain by Patricia Briggs

Aren of Fallbrook thought she would never marry, her chances tainted by the touch of magic that saw her brother kill himself rather than be taken by the Bloodmage who demanded his life when he refused to train to become a Bloodmage himself.  It is a taint made worse by the secret that Aren herself is magic touched, she has the sight which allows her to see glimpses of what might happen, snatched feelings of dread or warning that are usually too vague and garbled to make sense until their time has passed.  

The unthinkable has happened though, Aren has found a husband who loves her and who is willing to work the land with her father to ensure their future, and even though their marriage is only one day old it seems like it will be a good one - until the vision of her family murdered in the field by bandits steals her breath away, a vision that comes too late for her to do anything.  Widowed and orphaned in the blink of an eye Aren has lost everything, and when she admits to the elders of the village that she has the sight it makes her the target for hostile glances, frosty distance, and outright hostility.

The people of Fallbrook are in danger from the bandits that are trying to claim their valley, but also from the creatures of magic that are returning to the land now that the binding power of the Bloodmages has been stripped away.  It is a new and dangerous world, and Aren shines like a beacon to magic creatures - a tasty morsel for some and a target for others.  The only hope for Aren and the village that loathes her is to make a bargain with the hob that lives on the mountain of the same name - and it is Aren who must pay the price the hob asks.  In dangerous times people will do desperate things, but in dangerous times people can also discover the goodness that lives inside - and they can see what lies behind the rumours, the myths, and the legends.  

I have been enjoying the urban fantasy series by Briggs and thought it was time to try reading some of her other fantasy works and I was delighted with what I found in The hob's bargain.  Aren and her world were a wonderful discovery full of well defined mythology, drama, adventure, and a delightful sense of humour.  There are hints that it is a dangerous time and place and that the hob's bargain is a dark and dangerous one to make, but as you read through the story it becomes clear that there is a lot of humour and compassion in the hob that make him seem more than human rather than less.  

I am not sure if Briggs intended it to be the case, but after reading quite a few fractured fairytales over the past year or so it feels like The hob's bargain has it's roots in a certain classic fairytale about a beast and a woman forced to interact with him for the sake of her loved ones.  I could be reading too much into it, it could just be a great fantasy read that feels familiar because it is a quest to save a village that leads to discovery of self and others.

If you like this book then try:
  • Moon called by Patricia Briggs
  • Arrows of the queen by Mercedes Lackey
  • Throne of glass by Sarah J. Maas
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  • Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
  • The Fire rose by Mercedes Lackey
  • Home from the sea by Mercedes Lackey
  • Reserved for the cat by Mercedes Lackey
  • Steadfast by Mercedes Lackey
  • Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey
  • From a high tower by Mercedes Lackey
  • A court of thorns and roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • Deerskin by Robin McKinley
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley
  • Rose daughter by Robin McKinley
  • Spindle's end by Robin McKinley
  • Sing the four quarters by Tanya Huff
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, January 25, 2016

The red pyramid by Rick Riordan

For the past few years Carter and Sadie Kane have lived very different lives.  Sadie has lived in London with her maternal grandparents, while Carter has traveled the world with their father.  They see each other on only two days a year, a tense time for everyone at the best of times, but this year things are really going to blow up on them.  Visiting the British Museum after hours would be a real treat for most people but for Carter and Sadie it is the start of a fly by the seat of your pants adventure where everyone seems to be out to get them, they don't know what the rules are.  Normally when your a teenager if something goes wrong it's not the end of the world, but in Carter and Sadie's case if things go wrong it really WILL be the end of the world!

Sadie and Carter are at a distinct disadvantage in this race against time because not only do they know piratically nothing about the world of Egyptian magic, they also know practically nothing about each other.  You can change a lot in a few years, and when you only get to see each other two days a year it is a challenge to really get to know your sibling.  From Sadie's point of view Carter is the lucky one because he got to travel the world with their dad, and while he might be serious and dress like a miniature professor at least he got quality dad time.  From Carter's point of view Sadie is the lucky one because she has a normal home with their grandparents including friends and a cat, even though she can be really stubborn and in your face.  As they race against time they have a lot to learn about each other - and themselves.

The red pyramid is the first book in a trilogy based on Egyptian mythology - a change from the world of Greek god and demigods that made the Percy Jackson series so unique and fresh.  With the Kane chronicles Riordan has made more than a change of mythology, he has also changed the way the story is told and it takes getting used to - the story is "transcribed" from a recording, which means you get the story but also some little sibling rivalry asides which can be amusing or distracting depending on your point of view.  It took me a little while to get used to, and I am not 100% convinced I like the style, but it does add a unique voice to the series which makes it stand out a little more compared to the Percy Jackson series which is good because other Riordan could be accused of being a one trick pony!

Taking something that is well known and working it into a work of fiction is always risky and challenging, yet Riordan makes it seem easy.  His characters are well developed and are complete - they have strengths and weaknesses, hopes and dreams, flaws and faults, and histories.  In the case of The red pyramid they also have more than 500 pages of adventure, mystery, fantasy, and danger to get through.  The library where I work has this series in the children's fiction area, and while it is easily accessible to 'tweens (ages 10+) this series seems best suited to children 12+ because of the commitment it takes to read through the whole book, and because there are themes that younger readers may struggle with a little (but this was also true of the Percy Jackson series).  

One of the "funnest" parts of the book is (as always) the chapter headings, Riordan has a somewhat twisted sense of humour and that shines through in some of the incidents and the chapter names.  There is a lot to love here and very little to dislike.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Lies we tell ourselves by Robin Talley

Sarah Dunbar, her sister Ruth, and a handful of other black students are about to break new ground - they will be the first black students to attend Jefferson High School in Virginia.  The law and the courts may be on their side, but to the students and parents of Jefferson High School desegregation is wrong and must be stopped by whatever means necessary.  The first day of school is full of screaming and yelling, and small and not so small acts of violence follow.  The belief in segregation runs so deep that some of the parents are determined to create their own all white academy to protect their precious children from the influence of the black students.  

It appears that the school is following the letter of the law by admitting the black students, but not the spirit.  Sarah was at the top of her old school, but at Jefferson she is placed in remedial classes.  It is a bitter pill to swallow, and it has the potential to affect her acceptance to University.  Everyday is a struggle, and when the first of her fellow black students gives up and decides to return to their old school it has the potential to fan the flames.  When Sarah has to work with one of the white students for a class project it is a real eye opening experience - for both of them.  

Her whole life Linda has lived under the thumb of her controlling and violent father who ignores her one moment and lashes out at her the next - and she firmly believes that the blacks are inferior to the whites and that segregation must stay in place.  As she spends more time with Sarah she comes to see more similarities than differences, although at times she finds Sarah to be almost too confrontational to believe.  All Linda dreams about is marrying her secret fiance and escaping her family home, but her senior year has been thrown completely into chaos - and that may be the best thing that ever happened to her.

Lies we tell ourselves tackles two taboo topics with style, grace, and sensitivity.  Most people would love to forget the way black Americans were treated before desegregation, echoes of which are still felt today.  Words like segregation, apartheid, and dawn raids bring intense shame for different people around the world, but for similar reasons.  Not only does Robin Talley touch on the topic of ingrained and institutionalised racism, she also touches on the taboo topic of lesbian relationships and coming of age as a lesbian in a time when such relationships were seen as unnatural and could result in institutionalisation for mental illness.  

Lies we tell ourselves is in turns deeply emotional, horrifying, and satisfying, made more powerful by the switching viewpoints between Sarah and Linda.  By switching viewpoints we get to under more about each character, filling out the picture of each young woman so they are entire beings rather than cardboard cut outs or caricatures.  There are elements of archetypes here, with the strong female lead (who happens to be black in this story) who is facing challenges at school, and the popular girl (who in this case happens to be white) who seems to be leading the charge - but by switching viewpoints we get to see that Linda is not what she appears and that neither is Sarah.

As someone who is not American there are subtleties of this story that I would have missed, although that being said it is a very accessible book and most of the themes are universal.  In the days when I was a student we studied black civil rights as part of the New Zealand high school curriculum and some of the names and places are still easily recalled - Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks - but Lies we tell ourselves breathes fresh life into those memories, giving the struggle for equality a name and a life that will resonate with young people everywhere.  This is a confronting read because of what the black students went through, and it took me a few days to read because it was a very emotionally draining read, but it is also a book where the characters and their coming of age will stay with me for quite some time.  

There are some truly amazing themes explored here and it is a highly recommended read for people of all ages.  I have not read a book like Lies we tell ourselves before so I don't have any recommended reads that exactly fit, but if you explore some of the tags you may find other reads you will enjoy.

Reviewed by Brilla

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tarnished by Kate Jarvik Birch

Tarnished is the sequel to Perfected so this review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the first book in the series.  This is a series that really needs to be read in order so stop reading this review and read Perfected instead!

Ella has achieved the impossible - she has escaped from America into the relative safety of Canada, emphasis on the "relative" part.  She may be free of the Congressman, but she is not truly free, trapped in a centre where escaped pets are housed together.  In many ways it is no different to being a pet in America, they are fed and clothed, but they are also treated as though they need protection and guidance.  Escaping from the centre Ella stumbles into another pet who has managed to survive on her own, someone who is willing to help her get back into the United States so she can get back to Penn - even though that means she will have to risk being recaptured by Congressman Gibbs.

The world is a big and scary place, especially for a pet who is considered nothing but property.  The black market is their best chance at getting back into the States and close enough to Penn, but it is also a dangerous place for a naive pet like Ella to be.  The safe world of an owned pet is a far cry from the pets who find their home in the black market - where any pet can be sold to the highest bidder.  As Ella gets closer to her goal she comes to realise that the black market is hiding all kinds of secrets, and that no pet is truly safe from the storm that is approaching on the horizon.  Ella has been pushed around her whole life, treated like property with no right to her own emotions - can she find her voice and fight for her right to freedom?

I have been looking forward to Tarnished since I finished reading Perfected - even before I knew what the book would be called!  Perfected was a strong voice in the dystopian genre, standing out for a number of reasons - it was well written, had strong characters, and was believable.  Tarnished picks up the action immediately, driving the story forward and dragging you along on an emotional roller coaster of hopes and dreams - yours and Ella's.  Ella was soft and cowed in the first book, but here we see her developing a voice and trying to shake off the years of conditioning she received while she was in the kennels.  Without belittling what domestic violence victims go through, a lot of what Ella went though can be compared to the long term psychological abuse of women who are moulded by and abuser telling them what they are worth and what they should be like.  

Without ruining any surprises her travelling companion also develops and grows during their journey, becoming a more rounded personality and taking on a surprising amount of responsibility for both of them.  While I had hoped that this might be the end of the story (because while I don't want it to end the wait for the next book would have been akin to torture) it does appear that there is at least one more book to come in the series because while Tarnished is a complete story in itself it does leave hints that there is more to come.  

This is a mind blowing series that is just screaming out to be adapted to the big screen or as a mini series, and it is one of my must read series of the dystopian genre because Birch has written a well crafted world that is believable but also just that little bit horrifying and disturbing.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, January 4, 2016

The white rose by Amy Ewing

The white rose is the second book in the Jewel trilogy so this review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the first book in the series.  This series really needs to be read in order so if you have not already read The Jewel then I suggest you do before reading this review!

Violet has done the unthinkable for a surrogate - she has become romantically entangled with a companion.  It is an act of treason and now Ash has been sentenced to death, a sentence the Duchess seems all too eager to carry out.  The chains of her servitude are bound even tighter than before, but the worst thing for Violet is knowing that people have died and are going to die for her - a surrogate, a disposable life, a tool in the hands of the Duchess and her doctor.  When she manages to achieve the impossible and escapes from the manor it is only the start of a hair raising and dangerous escape from The Jewel, because the Duchess is determined to get her back, and Violet is not travelling alone.

The world beyond the walls of The Jewel is chaotic and dangerous, each ring of the city full of it's own dangers and challenges.  Violet and her companions are at a distinct disadvantage, depending on Lucien and his plans to get them to safety.  It is a dangerous situation, and not just because the Regimentals are searching high and low for them, although for some strange reason the Duchess has kept news of her escape very quiet.  Even when they reach their destination in the Farm they may not truly be safe, because although Lucien has plans for Violet those plans depend on her learning how to harness the power of the Augeries.  Any rebellion carries risks, especially if you can not always trust the people around you.  Violet has a lot to do, and very little time in which to do it - and to achieve her goals she may have to sacrifice everything.

The Jewel was an outstanding debut novel, a fresh voice in the world of dystopian novels, a glimpse of a world where the few rule the many with an iron fist.  Violet and her world were expertly sketched out and then populated with interesting and humanly complicated characters that have continued to grow and devlop in this gripping sequel.  In The white rose we learn more about what the Augeries are and where they come from, as well as learning more about the history of the island where Violet and her fellow surrogates live - but don't worry it is not a boring history lesson, it's more dynamic than that!  Through her escape we learn more about Violet's world and it's rulers, and we learn that there is a rebellion afoot that has plans for Violet.

Violet's world is controlled and she is a slave to her place in life, but this series is not as dark and despairing as some of the other dystopian series - in many ways it is presented as a glittering world of glamour and luxury, with a rotten core of power plays and manipulation.  As Violet learns more about her world so do we, and it becomes clear that everyone wants something from Violet, some people are just more obvious about it than others.  This is a series that would be suitable for younger teens who are interested in reading dystopian series without too much of the outright gruesome and grim that you get with series like The hunger games or even The testing.  One of my colleagues read The Jewel and felt it was quite cliched, but I found a lot to like and enough subtleties to enjoy it as a unique voice.  The white rose continues on well from The Jewel, and it will be interesting to see how Ewing brings the trilogy to a close.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Percy Jackson and the last Olympian by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson and the last Olympian is the fifth and final book in the  Percy Jackson and the Olympians series so this review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the first books in the series.  This is one of those series where it really pays to read them in order so if you have not already read the other books then I suggest you do so before reading anymore of this review!

For the past four years Percy Jackson's life has been all about the prophecy, the one that says a child of one of the three great gods will decide the fate of the world.  As a son of Poseidon Percy is likely to be that child, and the last few years may have thrown up a few false leads but the great Titan Kronos has his sights set on destroying Percy and the gods of Olympus.  There have been skirmishes in the past, and Percy has lost friends and foes, but the great battle is approaching and it appears that the gods and their demigod children are divided and ill prepared for the battle that is approaching.  The titans have stirred and while they may have their own agendas they are powerful allies for Kronos, and to make matters worse some of the minor gods have joined team Kronos to take down the gods of Olympus and their children.

Battle lines have been drawn and sides have been chosen, and for Percy the time has finally come to discover what he is really capable of - and for him to hear the full prophecy.  Allies old and new are needed for this last mighty quest, and if they are to succeed they need to find courage and cunning, because Kronos is not playing fair.  As his sixteenth birthday approaches Percy is willing to try just about anything to stop Kronos and save his father (and the other gods of course).  That willingness to put himself at risk, to try anything to save the world is Percy's greatest strength and his greatest weakness - there is a fine line between bravery and courage, and being a seaweed brain and brash.  If Percy is going to save the world he needs to understand history, ancient history and more recent history, otherwise he may make the same mistakes they made in the past and doom the world.  

The Percy Jackson series has been a real delight to read, not only because of the readability of the series and the engaging characters, but also because it brings the wealth of Greek mythology to life for modern readers.  This has also been a surprisingly meaty read, with Percy and his friends experiencing hardship and the loss of friends and family, as well as having to make very mature decisions for young people their age (or people of any age really).  Over the course of the novels Percy has developed as a character and as a person, he has become a living breathing person that could step off the page and into the real world.  His closest friends and enemies are the same, characters that have been fleshed out over the series to become more than just names on a page.  The cast of hundreds for Camp Half-Blood also developed, but to a realistic background noise rather than overwhelming the reader with details and side stories that go nowhere.  

I came to the series late, and in one way that was a good thing because it meant I could read the books quite quickly - with only a matter of days between the last two books.  It must have been torture for die hard fans to have to wait for the last books in the series to come out!  It is unusual to find a series that has strong male and female main characters that are instantly relateable and you get that with the main characters of Percy, Annabeth, and in his own way Grover.  The characters grow and change, in much the same way as the readers themselves would grow over the years of the series.  I have seen comments calling Rick Riordan the "US Rowling" and in many ways that is a disservice as while Rowling wrote an amazing series it was not the easy to access world that Riordan has created - Rowling was more bookish and clever, while Riordan has created a world of action and discovering the hero within (my personal opinion, but after all the series I have read over the years I think its valid!).

It has been a pleasure to meet Percy Jackson and his world, and I am all set to jump into The red pyramid to see if Riordan has breathed such believable life into ancient Egyptian mythology.  If you have not discovered the Percy Jackson series then try it, and that includes the adults reading this review thinking about buying/borrowing this series for the young people in their lives - this is a series that adults need to discover too!

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Percy Jackson and the battle of the labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson and the battle of the labyrinth is the fourth book in the  Percy Jackson and the Olympians series so this review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the first books in the series.  This is one of those series where it really pays to read them in order so if you have not already read the other books then I suggest you do so before reading anymore of this review!

It seems as though no summer is complete for Percy Jackson without him being held responsible for the destruction of school property, closely followed by expulsion or criminal charges - and this year looks as though it will be no different.  Fleeing the scene has also become part of the usual process, but this time when he arrives at Camp Half-Blood he finds that his friend Grover is in trouble and that even Camp Half-Blood is not safe from danger.  Each year there are less and less campers, not just because they are dying but also because they are defecting to the other side.  Percy and his friends know it is only a matter of time before war arrives, but it seems as though Kronos is not content to wait for war, that he would rather take the demigods out of the equation before events can escalate to full scale war.

Their only hope of protecting themselves and slowing down the enemy is to enter the labyrinth of legend and find it's creator - because only he has the power to navigate the labyrinth freely and without distraction.  This will not be an easy quest, because Luke is also searching for a way to navigate the maze and he doesn't have to navigate the bad guys dotting the labyrinth the way Percy and his companions do.  As they pursue their quest they uncover more surprises and secrets - some will help them, while others will hinder them.  It doesn't help matters that Annabeth is acting strange, especially when Percy's new friend Rachael is mentioned.  Fate is marching ever closer for Percy and his friends, and the Fates can play nasty tricks when they want to.  Can Percy and Annabeth find a way through the Labyrinth before it is too late?

Percy Jackson and the battle of the labyrinth is the fifth book in a series that has completely exceeded my expectations - not only in terms of readability (the words seem to flow all by themselves) but also in terms of remaining true to the mythology of ancient Greece without being bound by it.  This is a series that should be recommended reading for any reluctant reader, not just because of the careful balance between adventure and characters that scream "I'm real!", but also because it takes a subject that has a rich history and injects it into the modern world and the modern world into it.  My first experience of Percy Jackson and his world was the two movies made based on the books and I am so glad that I decided to pick up the books because the books are so much better.

The writing style for Percy Jackson is engaging and world building, without bogging you down with too much detail or too many complicated and confusing words.  It is easy to see the origins of the story here (a son with dyslexia and ADHD) because not only are the demigods usually identifiable by their dyslexia, there is also a certain amount of messages around being different is okay (and sometimes even better than okay).  It has been a pleasure getting to know Percy Jackson and his world, and I have already started reading book five in the series and I am desperately hoping that it does the rest of the series justice.  It is unusual to have a children's series that features such prominent themes of death, but it is well handled and as long as children can ask questions of a responsible adult/older sibling then everything should be fine.  Hopefully if they make any more movies in the series they will do the books justice!

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Friday, January 1, 2016

Silent Creed by Alex Kava

Silent Creed is the second book in the Ryder Creed series, and while it can be read as a stand alone novel I would recommend reading the series in order starting with Breaking Creed.

A massive mudslide in North Carolina has buried a top secret research facility under the umbrella of DARPA and with such a sensitive location there is only one man that can be trusted to search for survivors - Ryder Creed.  When an old army colleague calls in a favour, Ryder heads to North Carolina to start the search with Bolo, but it seems as though there are secrets buried in the mud.  The facility is completely buried which will make finding survivors difficult, and when a body is recovered it has an execution style bullet wound that has the powers that be on the side all flustered and secretive.  The landslides are far from over and the ground is likely to move under their feet as they search, and it seems as though the mud clogged slopes aren't the only things that are slippery.

When FBI Agent Maggie O'Dell arrives on the scene she finds an injured Creed and more questions than answers.  Bodies recovered from the filed of debris have been badly injured, and there are remains that need to be examined but no one seems to be in a hurry to examine them.  As O'Dell and Creed settle into the site it becomes apparent that the mudslide is a tragedy for the civillian population in the area, and that there is something not quite right happening on the ground where they are putting their lives at risk to search for answers.  While Creed and his dogs search for answers O'Dell needs to watch their backs because some secrets are meant to remain buried - no matter what the cost.

This was my second outing with Creed and O'Dell and I thoroughly enjoyed it, finding it a well paced and evenly balanced read from the point of view of both characters without one voice taking too much of the story.  Once again the dogs feature strongly in the story, with their own strong presence and point of view - Grace is still absolutely charming and reminds me very much of several little terriers I know who also deploy their little dog charms to devastating effect.  The other characters are also rounding out more, not just Creed and O'Dell, but the other people that inhabit their world.  This is a book that can be read independently of Breaking Creed, but I think I enjoyed it more because I had the background from the first book.

Ryder Creed and his dogs occur a unique piece of the crime genre - they are based on real working dogs and their handlers, and their multiple skills mean that there are many opporuntinies for future storylines.  Working dogs are often underestimated or misunderstood, but they are finely tuned and carefully trained to be very good at what they do - and any working dog develops an intense bond with their human partner that should not be underestimated either.  There are some interesting developments with personal lives and relationships here and it will be worthwhile following the storylines to see what happens to Ryder, his dogs, and all the people in their lives.  

Hopefully we don't have to wait too long for the next book in this series because this was another thoroughly enjoyable escape from the world into a richly imagined disaster that make you feel like shaking off the mud and rain yourself.

If you like this book then try:
  • Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge
  • Vodka doesn't freeze by Leah Giarratano
  • The surgeon by Tess Gerritsen
  • One step too far by Tina Seskis
  • The postcard killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund
  • The basement by Stephen Leather
  • The silence of the lambs by Thomas Harris
  • Level 26: Dark origins by Anthony E. Zuiker and Duane Swierczynski
  • Now you see her by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • The postcard killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund
  • Private Oz by James Patterson and Michael White
  • The survivors club by Lisa Gardner
  • Darkly dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
  • Kill switch by Neal Baer & Jonathan Greene
  • The edge of normal by Carla Norton

Reviewed by Brilla